Muslim Student Association hosts domestic violence workshop

Guest speakers Sheikh Isma’il and April Arman discuss domestic violence with UB community

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The Muslim Student Association held “Love Shouldn’t Hurt,” a domestic violence workshop Friday, which featured guest speakers Sheikh Isma’il and April Arman. 

Muslim Women’s Council, a sub-group of MSA, organized the event as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year, roughly 60 students attended, as this was the first time MWC opened the workshop to the entire UB community. Isma’il, an imam –– person who leads prayers in a mosque –– from Masjid Al-Eiman, spoke at the event about the importance of community in domestic violence discussions. Arman is the board president of Resources and Help Against Marital Abuse, and discussed the group’s role working with Muslims, immigrants and refugees who are victims of domestic abuse.

MSA member and event coordinator Ilhan Noor said domestic violence needs to be discussed more than one month out of the year.

“This discussion is very important because within our community, when we think of things like domestic violence and marital abuse, we either don’t talk about it or we make it solely the responsibility of a woman to deal with those types of barriers on her own,” Noor said.

Noor, a senior health and human services major, said it’s important for men to be involved in domestic violence discussions. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe domestic abuse, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

“Having more men involved in this issue is not to tell them that they are an issue themselves, but it’s to show them that this is a human rights issue and we all need to come together to fight it,” Noor said.


Guest speaker April Arman talks about domestic violence and RAHAMA, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, at the Muslim Student Association's domestic violence workshop.


During the event, Isma’il discussed the stigmas of imams speaking out.

“We expect imams to only speak about how to pray, how to do your zakat (charity), how to fast,” Isma’il said. “… [But] we should care and take care of the community, fix the problems in it and unfortunately, domestic violence is a part of that.” 

MWC President Rifah Tasnim, a senior health and human services major, wanted the event to be open to everyone because domestic violence is not “one-sided.”

“We wanted to include the guys and make sure guys feel comfortable here,” Tasnim said. “We’re not there to attack them, we’re not there to call them out, we’re not there to lecture them. [Domestic violence comes] from both sides.” 

Arman discussed RAHAMA’s services, such as housing, support groups and planning for victims. She said RAHAMA is different than other domestic violence prevention groups because it can assist non-native English speakers and incorporates an understanding of religious and cultural aspects. 

Arman said domestic violence is not an Islamic issue, it’s a global issue, and specifically discussed the importance of talking about domestic violence and its connection to Islam.

When domestic violence occurs in a family, it doesn’t just affect the abuser and victim but every member of the family, Arman said. In New York, if a child witnesses domestic abuse, it is considered child abuse due to the psychological harm it causes. Arman emphasized the discussion’s importance because of this, as spouses –– and parents –– should be a source of positivity, not violence. 

“In Quran, it says that a marriage is about spouses being a garment to one another. A garment is the closest thing to us, it protects, it keeps us warm,” Arman said.

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