What could have been done to avoid it?

To many of us, it’s a dejavu. It reminds us all about Sr. Aasiya Zubair’s murder in February of 2009.
As I write this post, it has been five days since the murder of Nazish Noorani, 27, a mother of two, in Boonton, NJ.

In the few weeks prior to her death, she texted her brother,

“I dont no wht to do…Cant talk to him cuz he abuse me than…He dosent wanna live with me…I dont no kids get scared of him sometimes…I m so tired of this…I dont no i m scared…someday u will find me dead but its cuz of kashi…he wants to kill me.”

Unfortunately, regardless of her warning, she could not save herself. Her husband, Kashif Pervaiz, successfully plotted and killed her with the help of his girlfriend, Antoinette Stephen.

Inna lillahi wa inna illaihi raajioon. To God we belong and to Him we return. May God rest her soul in peace and may He grant patience to her family and loved ones.

How sad, gruesome, and alarming this murder is for the Muslim Community!

To many of us, it’s a dejavu. It reminds us all about Sr. Aasiya Zubair’s murder in February of 2009. Just like Aasiya, Nazish is also gone forever and her family, along with her two sons, 5 and 3, are left behind grieving.

As some details of Sr. Nazish’s dysfunctional married life are disclosed now, it is obvious that Pervaiz was not only abusive but was also cheating with her for long time. She had been openly communicating with her siblings for quite some time and was very confused about how to deal with the situation.

We don’t know a lot about how her brother responded to her grievances. But we know that her sister, Lubna Chaudry, begged her to leave the marriage which Nazish refused, according to a few newspaper reports. She loved him, sister says. This is typical of abused women in love relationships. More reasons of why victims stay in abusive relationships can be seen here.

A common question that family and friends often ask each other after such incidents is: What could have been done to avoid it? What do you do when your daughter or sister text you a message like Nazish did about her abusive married life? Life or marriage, what would/should you pick? Where do you draw the line and decide to be safe than sorry.

Also, if it is not life threatening, how long is long enough for a person in an abusive relationship? What should a family/community member do after learning about the situation? When does it become community business?

These are tough questions and need serious dialogue within Muslim community.

In order to initiate this dialogue at community level, Dar al Islam launched Project Sakinah (Sakinah means tranquility) after the gruesome murder of Sr. Aasiya in 2009. Although various DV organizations have already been working within Muslim community for years, Project Sakinah has become the first national platform in last two and a half years.

After initial research, intensive brainstorming with several Muslim and non-Muslim DV advocates and several sessions with professional consultants, we have now launched a 6-point action plan for our community. We call upon all concerned community members to join hands with us and help us making it a success.

Beginning this Fall, in October, we will be offering training workshops for community organizers against domestic violence. These workshops are not for professionals. These are for regular people. We call upon you to help us organize these workshops in your city, at your mosques and community centers.

As we walk on this road to Sakinah, we invite you too to join the caravan. Following are few initial steps that you can take right away:

Explore Project Sakinah’s website and educate yourself about the issue and possible ways to combat it within your individual capacity.

1. Share the site with your friends and family members.

2. Join our online national team and help us through your direct participation and feedback.

3. Like our Facebook page and help spread the word to your online friends.

4. Request our free campaign material (postcards, posters and brochures) to be distributed at your mosque and local businesses. Email your request to gathering@projectsakinah.org

5. Take our online survey “Where Do You Stand?” The Attitudes of Muslim Men and Women Toward Domestic Violence. This will help us in improving our plan and strategy to combat this evil within Muslim community.

6. Donate to support Project Sakinah so we can continue this work for long time with better quality.

Last but not least is the fact that domestic violence is a global issue. One in every three women becomes a victim of domestic violence at some point of her life in the United States. But this fact does not make it less of a Muslim problem.

Unfortunately, the media is once again sensationalizing this news around Islam and Ramadan suggesting it is a Muslim problem. The best way to counter the media hype is through showing the serious commitment of the Muslim community against domestic violence. We have talked and reacted enough. It does not really help much. It’s time to walk, and the road to Sakinah is wide enough for us all to walk together.

Zerqa Abid is Campaign Manager of Project Sakinah.

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