Channel: The Baba Ali Show
Special guest Siara Shah joins Baba Ali in discussing:
- her battle with domestic violence and how she overcame it
- if domestic violence an Islamic issue or a cultural issue
- the challenges of dealing with the Muslim Community afterwards
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Bobby Lee Show Episode 12 domestic violence in the Muslim community. This podcast has been brought to you by half our Dean calm and Muslim marriage website designed for those who want to find that other half privately because the only people that should know you're looking to get married or people who are looking to get married. Try half our Deen today. Domestic Violence is one of those topics they just don't hear about in the Muslim community. I think some speakers are scared to cover this topic because of the backlash. I'm probably gonna lose a lot of subscribers for doing this episode, but I couldn't care less. In fact, if you're one of those cowards who beats his wife, you
don't want me to cover this issue and go to iTunes search for Bob Marley show and click unsubscribe. I don't get paid to do this podcast. I do it because I want to make a positive difference. Let's do this.
In a world where cultural Muslims have confused the masses, and speakers are forced to be politically correct.
Hey, man, why Oh, serious. This is just a podcast.
Before we start today's podcast, I want to clear something up. Domestic Violence is not a religious problem, but rather it's a human problem. Pakistan has the highest percentage of domestic violence in the world, while Indonesia has the lowest. Both countries are predominantly Muslim, which tells you that it has nothing to do with religion, but rather it's about culture. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam never beat any of his wives. In fact, he taught us that the best of you is whose best to his wife. Some people wonder why most women are afraid to speak up, put yourself in their shoes. Not only is there a fear of receiving a beating when you get home, but sadly, the emotional
beating that comes from the community can be even worse. It's a problem that we've hidden under the rug for long enough. Today's guest was once one of those victims. She's an attorney and a social activist and a voice for the voiceless. Welcome to the Bob Marley show as salaam aleikum wa Salaam, we're going to talk about this issue that a lot of sisters can't talk about, for one reason or another. Can you tell us why you agree to do it? I myself have experienced domestic violence, and I understand what it's like to go through it. And I want to be the voice for all the women who suffer in some measurable way some a lot more than what I have ever experienced. And some may be less than
what I've experienced. But I want to give everyone a voice and know that we are working hard in our community to change the view on domestic violence. So can you share your story with our listeners, please? I married someone that I absolutely loved. He was the first anything I've ever had. And I just loved him and I wanted to marry him. And my father objected. And my father's objection was you're not even married to him yet. And he's telling you how to dress. He said, I'm your father Syrah, and I've never asked you how to dress. If you wear a hijab, it's your choice. And no one should force you to wear something or not to wear something. My father was just appalled. You know,
he said, You allow this man to control you. In my mind. It was no big deal if I accommodated my husband in some way. But my father saw something more sinister behind that. And he saw it as a way to control me. I just was in love. And I thought, well, what's the big deal? If I were my dupatta this way? You know, my scarf this way? Or what's the big deal? If I you know, I just love this man, dad, and he's making sense. Do you think the problem with the emotions and love sometimes line sisters for making the right decision? Definitely, definitely. I didn't listen to my father. I fought with them. And finally my father said, Okay, if this is what you want, I'll I'll give it to
you. And but he was trying to tell me that no man should tell you how you should spend your money or how you should dress. These are things that they can advise you on. You can talk about, but no one should force you to be one way or the other. You should have mercy in his heart to overlook your shortcomings and to help you arrive at decisions but not to force them on you. And that I didn't understand at the time. So when you got married, did the domestic violence start off right from the beginning? Or did it take time for it to develop? It started off right from the very beginning. We actually had our Lima ceremony in Sharjah, and when we went there, my brother showed up for the Lima
and he was there for one night. 24 hours maximum he came in to represent the family. And so that night after the Lima I actually went and spent some time in my brother's hotel room, and my husband was very angry. He's my brother, you know, this is weird. I just wanted to talk to him.
Before he went on his journey, he just was very angry that I had gotten into my brother's room and that now I was married to him. And I shouldn't be doing that. That was a shock to me, because that's my brother. I can't You can't separate us, right? We're very, very close, I would die for my brother. So to me, that was just weird. So that was the first fight we had. And then when we went on our honeymoon to Switzerland, we spent two days there. And the last night we were in Switzerland, he got very angry with me because I wanted to go out for dinner. So let's go out. It's our last night in Switzerland. We were only here for a few days, can we just go and have dinner and he's like, you
are out all day. And you just want to keep going out and you're just want to keep having a good time. And why do you need to go out to dinner? Why do you need to eat and I said, Well, during the day, you only let me eat half a sandwich because you wanted to save money. And you told me we would have a nice big dinner. And so if I saved money, and I only ate half a sandwich during the day, we would have a good dinner at night. And he just to keep a book, you know, he kept a log of all the money, we spent even 50 cents on a bottle of Coke. He kept it you know, like, Oh, we spent $1 here or even showed it to my dad, is he an accountant, you know, an engineer. So what was the log for
that I spent too much money. And she wanted to show my dad anyway, he got mad at me. And he threw the keys at me. And he was really angry. And the keys went by and move to the side, I was like God have the keys could have hit my head and I was shaking, and my legs became like jelly. And I went in the bathroom, and I lock the bathroom door and I spent the night in the bathtub. And the next morning we flew out. And that was the honeymoon. So when you saw that first red flag, What kept you to keep ignoring it. The interesting thing is that it is really a cycle. And when you read about domestic violence, it has this universal quality to it. And so I'm an attorney, I'm making really
good money. I'm at one of the biggest law firms in Houston. And yet I got caught in the cycle. So he would have these bursts of outrage, just very angry. But then the next day, he's bringing home flowers. Or he's he made me a bubble bath with candles all around and made dinner. But then the night before he was violent, you know, he was very angry. And so you would have these moments of just pure bliss, and then pure anger, and you're just on this emotional roller coaster, and you're thinking he's going to be different this time, or that was just an off moment, or it won't happen again, or, you know, he's really a good guy. Look, he's making, you know, dinner and you you can't
really put your finger on it, but you're in a cycle. And that's the domestic violence cycle where there's a moment of happiness, and then the tension builds, builds, builds, and then there's an outburst or an incident happens, and then everything resolves, and then you go back to that happy mode, it could really be about nothing. Or it could be about something very serious. It doesn't matter. It is what it is. Wow. There are many people at home that don't speak up about this issue. And why do you think they don't do that? I think it's hard to get a divorce. Even for me, I didn't want a divorce, I fought, I didn't want it. And I remember I came upon an email that my ex husband's
brother sent to him. And it was, hey, she's a lawyer. If you keep having these moments, then somebody will hurt you. And you know, someone might do something, she might call the cops on you something may happen. And so get out of this relationship before she calls the cops on you. So basically, his brother is telling him that, hey, you can't keep doing this to her because you might get caught. So get out of this relationship. And yeah, she's a lawyer, she may call the cops on you, and then you're screwed. You're in trouble. And I saw the email. And I was just shocked. And the whole brother's family was well, what did you do to make him so angry? You must have done something
to bring this out. And I didn't you make dinner that way? Or why wasn't dinner ready. When he came home, I was an attorney. So I would come home all kinds of odd hours. And when you work at a big law firm, it's hard. You know, you may be there till eight, nine o'clock at night or other days, you may be home at four, you know, depends on the project. And so he would keep a list of what time I came home from work. And he would say, Well, she didn't have dinner ready on this day when I came home from work. So dinner wasn't ready on that day, and just insane kind of stuff. And he went to my dad with this and my dad was just floored. You know? Like, really? This is so strange. Like I would I
don't know how to like I'm quiet right now because I don't know how to respond to this because I could just imagine if someone's sitting there, I'm talking them and you're actually writing down everything I say imagine like we're having this conversation I'm actually writing down. Well, you said um three times and you laugh twice. So keeping a record of this
So I asked you if he's an accountant or not, because this is very strange behavior. It's almost like, yeah, I mean, one time. So for example, one time we drove to Austin, on the way back, we're talking about how we would spend money. If we won the lottery. I said, Oh, I would pay off my student loans and buy a house. I said, Oh, yeah, do the same thing. And I'd buy a house to he goes, but you know, what kind of house do you want? And I said, Well, you know, I'd want this kind of, because I know you'd want a better house than what I would want. I said, What? He said, Well, you would want a much more lavish house than what I would want. And I said, Okay, and you know, you're a
materialistic person, you just care about money. And that's all you care about. You just care about money and you're materialistic. And I'm going, Well, why did I marry you? If I was going to be a money grubbing person, then I certainly wouldn't marry a guy who's making 30 40,000 a year. And I'm making six figures. So why would I marry you? I'm thinking in my head, I'm just going okay, to driving on the highway. And he goes through three lanes, pulls to the side of the highway and just takes off, gets out of the car and starts running down the road. He's angry. I don't want this. I'm going back to Pakistan. You're just a materialistic person. And you know, and nothing's happened.
We've bought a house, we haven't won the lottery.
He's angry. And then some lady and a pickup truck came up and pulled up beside our car and asked me, are you okay? Are you okay? Because she saw him, you know, visibly angry and the side of the highway? I said, No, No, I'm fine. Can I take you somewhere? I didn't know what to do. I'm freaking out. I was like, I've got to get him back in the car. I'm like, fine, you want to leave me Just leave me. But you know, just let's get me back to Houston. Leave me on the side of that.
Like the weirdest thing. And then finally, he got back in the car. And it was scary because we could have gotten into an accident. Or Finally I said, What is this about what is and he started crying. And he said, I missed my dad. And it was somebody who's just not in a good place, emotionally stable and needs control. The guy who says you're materialistic, and all you do is think about money is the same guy who has a book of every single pennies is being spent. So that's why I find kind of odd. Definitely, my dad said to him, he said, You keep saying that my daughter is spending money. But what is she done? Has she bought new clothes? Has she gone shopping? Can we pull her wardrobe? Did
she buy jewelry? You know, what kind of shoes did she buy? And it wasn't any of that he couldn't point to a single thing. All he could say is well, the apartment is nice. She got a nice apartment. And this is more rent than I would pay. And I think we were paying $1,000 for a two bedroom. How often did the domestic violence thing come up? Was it just once in a while? Did it come up? Or is it come up? I thought it was quite often. So once a week, and it's just constant. Is it always physical? Or is it emotional as well, I would say it would be more emotional than physical. But there were definitely physical moments. He even one time grabbed the phone out of the socket and
said go ahead and try to call 911. Now, I never called 911 on him. I always threatened it just to put him in check. But one time, he just grabbed the phone and my legs just would turn to jelly. I mean, I remember that feeling of just oh my god, you know, please don't hurt me. Were you scared of him? Yeah, definitely. I was scared of him. There were moments when I was terrified of him. And when he made me feel scared, but then I loved him too. So it's a very confusing mix of emotions. As a woman, you have this huge capacity to forgive and overlook and have hope and have a dream for a better tomorrow. So every day you just wake up the next morning thinking, you know, I love Please
help me and please put me in a better place. And please give this man in his heart Love for me, make him care about me. What made you leave at one point because you have that love for him? Because you have those mixed emotions. What was the straw that broke the camel's back, he was gonna leave me because he was worried that I was an attorney and that he would have these angry moments. And he was worried that he would end up in jail, or I would call 911. And his family was pressuring him to leave me. So it was gonna happen. It wasn't something that I wanted to happen. In the end. I didn't want him to leave me but he was scared that I was going to call the police. I remember one thing
that to this day, he said to me, he said, You know you're a beautiful vase that's empty. Well, there's nothing to you know nothing to you. I don't want to stay with you. You just look nice on the outside but there's nothing you're not worthy of being someone's wife. That was that just struck me you know, I can imagine like how much it takes to just keep going at this point because you're constantly again this verbal, physical
emotional abuse, yeah, it just breaks you down. And this is a person that you love and that you respect. And they're saying such horrible things about you. And it really destroys your own sense of self. Once you walk away from that situation, and you give it a few years, you actually find yourself in a much better place. And I've been blessed with my husband now. And so he's always uplifting, and always putting me in a better place, I joke with him, I say, you know, when I came into this marriage, I didn't just come with a suitcase, I came with trunks, baggage, you know, like really huge amounts of baggage that I brought with me into this marriage. And it was all from my
previous marriage. And there's so many times where I'll just talk to him, or I'll cry with him or say, you know, this happened to me, and he will just hold me and tell me, well, it will never happen to you, again, no one will ever hurt you again. And I can promise you that. And that, to me, is as a woman and as a Muslim woman as extremely comforting. And so I feel blessed that I'm in that place. When you left this marriage, and you went to the Muslim community, did the Muslim community accept you with open arms? I think the biggest struggle I had was not in the marriage. But the most difficult part I had was after the marriage in the community itself, because now I was damaged
goods. And so people would show up with you know, 5060 year old men and saying, Well, you know, you should accept him, you're divorced. And this is a good deal. And he's a doctor, and he's got 3.5 kids and this nice car, and he'll take care of you. You know, I'm going, Wow, what, and it doesn't matter if it's your fault or not. It's always the woman's fault that I heard over and over again, is this coming off? For men? It's coming from women.
It's mostly from women. The other thing I experienced was a lot of married men felt like it was open season on me. So now that I was divorced, that somehow I was gonna be sexually open to other experiences with them. It was amazing to me that in our community, people that we respect, and we'll call them uncle and they're married, and they have children. And they will see this woman who is divorced, and they just show up, and they want to take advantage of that situation. And they pretend to be your friend and your confidant. That was the most difficult part. And the community kind of will look at you and say, Well, look, you know, she's divorced, so she must be egging on my husband,
or she must be, you know, that's the sense of it. She's a loose woman, she's divorced. And so as a divorced woman, you feel like you have to take greater care to preserve your wholesome image, so to speak, you know, like, it's very odd. It sounds so strange. I mean, what made them think that way? And how did you know they were thinking that way? I mean, they weren't subtle about it. I had a man very well respected calling me in Dallas. I mean, I hadn't moved to Dallas and accepted a different job there. And he would call me from Houston and recite love poetry and talk about how his wife doesn't sexually satisfy him. And I mean, I try to hang up on him, I please stop calling me or I
don't want to have these conversations with you. And then he would call with another excuse. Oh, we'll you know, Syrah I'm working on this. I'm trying to help this lady in this domestic violence situation, or I'm trying to help this person, you know, or I'm distributing food here. Would you like to join me? And then he would just go back and eventually I just cut him off completely. And I said, this is crazy, you know? Yeah, I mean, they are very over with you. They'll tell you. These are married people. They're married people with children. Oh, my mind is blown right now. Okay. Yeah, they're married. They have children and they see this divorce woman and they say, I mean, I
had one man say, well, you run you know, you keep yourself fit. My wife. She's just let herself go. And, you know, I just sexually we don't have any man thinking Really? I don't want to have this conversation with you. I'm hanging up justicia awkward conversation. Why does a random guy call you and talk about his sexual frustration? Exactly, exactly what the my brother's friends called me and said Oh, Syrah good news. I've grown an inch. And I said, You've What? At first I was floored. I said, Really? And then finally I you know, I thought you know, I'm not gonna I my response was, Oh, that's good. I've heard that you're very small. Thank you very much. Please don't call me again.
Weird conversations Okay. And then the OTS and the whole circle and they see me as divorce. They see me as a weak person, you know, as damaged or somehow used or
Get out or whatever. And so they see me that way. And so they feel that they have power over me. That's more of a cultural thing, right? I'm like, I never heard of this stuff before. I mean, I want to say it's culture. I know it's not religion, it's 100%. Not religion is our religion tells us to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves and islamically the best of us is best to his wife. Exactly. And that way of thinking, I really feel like it transcends even culture sometimes, because that need to put someone down is a universal need, you know, a human condition. So there's a lot of people who are listening right now, who are probably going through what you went through,
what advice do you have for them? It's very difficult. I was lucky, I was an attorney. And I could pick myself up very easily and move on with my life. And for people who are not able to do that it is extremely difficult. I understand that. But please, for the sake of your children, you need to find a way to get out and the mustards also. I mean, it's not just the woman or the man who needs to leave. It's also the community who needs to embrace them as they're leaving. So I would say that it's not just about the person who's in that situation. It's also an obligation of us as members of our community to greet them with open arms and give them shelter and give them food and give them
away out and hold people who are abusing their spouses accountable. With that, I think all my listeners who have been listening to this podcast and for everyone who's been supporting this entire series does Arkel affair. This is the Bob Marley show. Sorry, I'm a little bit lost with words this time because this topic is something that's very dear to me. Please visit Bob Ali's show.com or you can visit us at iTunes. You can subscribe to this podcast and make sure to share it with others. The only way we're going to make a difference is if we work together to talk about their assalamu Aleikum