Contrary to popular belief, Islam demands respect for women

Syed Rizvi

Editor’s Note: “Peace be upon him” (abbreviated “pbuh”) is a salutation for the prophets of Islam. Who receives salutations depends on the school of thought. It is a mandatory practice per the Quran and hadiths.

NFL players such as Ray Rice and others have infamously made national headlines for alleged abuse. Unfortunately, some of our very own Longhorns are facing the same charges. Martez Walker, of the Longhorn basketball team, has been suspended indefinitely after being charged for assaulting a woman, and both Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, of the Longhorn football team, were suspended indefinitely after being arrested and charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony. This streak of violent acts making the headlines exposes a longstanding reality of sexual violence, causing alarm to many communities. Actress Emma Watson recently gave a speech at the U.N that highlighted the HeForShe campaign, “a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.” On this same note of solidarity for justice, the Texas Muslim Council, a representative body of all the Muslim organizations at the University of Texas at Austin, released a statement on Tuesday spurning such acts and calling for community wide solidarity against this “stain on humanity.” 

Eight Muslim organizations make up the Texas Muslim Council, representing a diverse Muslim demographic. Their public statement came out of an obligation to speak up against what they see as an “injustice that threatens justice everywhere.” They argue that remaining silent makes one complicit in any form of oppression. This is also an opportunity to make clear that while the Muslim world does experience gross violations of women’s rights, Islam is very clear on protecting women’s rights. The unfortunate reality of women’s rights in the Muslim world is the result of culture corrupting religion and ignorance betraying the legal sources, like the Quran.  

Islamic law is derived from three sources, the Quran, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the traditions or actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). From each of these sources, the message of love, affection and mercy are consistently made clear. Of the many instances, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is said to have consoled his wife, lain in her lap and assisted in housework. Such narrations and traditions exemplify what the Quran preaches. 

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”

In addition to speaking out against these violations, the Muslim community is taking an active role in providing relief and combating the problem. For example, on Oct. 9, the UT Muslim Students Association will be holding its first-ever fundraising dinner concerning domestic abuse. The charity dinner will be co-hosted with UT Voices Against Violence, a program under the Counseling and Mental Health Center that addresses issues such as relationship violence, sexual violence and stalking, and the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, an organization that seeks to empower, promote and support all women and their families. The fundraiser will be the first of the “Be an Anchor” initiative through VAV. The proceeds raised will support VAV Survivor’s Emergency Fund, which provides aid to victims of domestic and sexual violence in the UT Community, and will go toward making UT MSA the first “anchor,” or sponsor, for VAV. 

It is regrettable that it takes the suspensions of football players and the like to have this conversation, but nonetheless, we are presented with an opportunity to make it extremely clear that violence against women will not be tolerated and will not represent the UT community or humanity. The march in solidarity for women’s justice is a long one, but the right one. It will not be easy, but we have a diverse group of allies. Islam is not a religion that condones abuse against women, and its followers are allies. Let’s end abuse together.

Rizvi is a government senior from Chicago.