17 August 2022

I write this with the greatest of respect for the Ulama of South Africa. I write this as an ordinary Muslim woman who was offended by the small-minded action of an Islamic leader, Moulana Dawood Sampson, who saw the need to make a video of his thoughts of marrying a second wife.

The video, which the Moulana said, was made in jest, smacks of disrespect towards his future wife. While I am sure many people are sharing this video in the effort of being funny and probably many ‘patting him on the back’ and ‘egging’ him on for doing so, it is disgusting, let alone downright deplorable.

This continued commodification of women by some of our leaders are unacceptable. This Moulana’s behavior should be called out. He should be held accountable for it. My meagre understanding of the Deen teaches me that Muslim women are to be respected as human beings with rights as equal citizens that have the highest place of respect in our deen.

It is a shame that such behavior can be considered ‘okay’ because it is part of our culture. This type of behavior is harmful towards the dignity of Muslim women and should be challenged and eradicated. This behavior perpetuates the perception of women in society as “nothing.”

What are we saying about Muslim women by broadcasting videos of such nature? What are we saying to our youth and children, that it is okay to treat women in this way and that it is okay to accept being treated in this way? What is the impact of encouraging such behavior towards Muslim women and girls? I can think of a few: (1) Girls develop low self-esteem because they are likened to being chickens devoid of opinions and therefore incapable of making decisions;

(2) Mothers can be disrespected by their sons because they are only on this earth in service to men and therefore it is justified to physically abuse and kick a woman like a dog (something we should not even be doing to animals) if she did not live up to that perception.

Let’s take a moment to ask why we have the social problems that we have, of which the Muslim community is no exception. It is because we have leaders such as Moulana Dawood Sampson spewing derogatory notions of women from the pulpits thereby influencing social behavior that breaks down the fabric of society resulting in women and girls carrying the burden at the receiving end.

From examples of leadership from the Rashidun Caliphate, we know that Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Uthman liberated mostly women or old and frail men, instead of strong and young slaves for the sake of Allah and not for his sake.

Ali Ibn Abu –Talib was reported to have said, “If the eyes of a female cry over a man that oppressed her, then the Angels will curse him with every step he walks.’

One chapter of the Qur’an begins by mentioning the plaintive entreaties of a woman to the Prophet (SAW), testifying: ‘Surely, Allah has heard the speech of the woman who argues with you [O Muhammad] concerning her husband and directing her complaint to Allah. And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing’ [Qur’an 58:1]

It is the Power within our community to stand up against this tyranny of dominance over women. It is opportune within this Woman’s Month to show zero tolerance towards toxic masculine behavior that is oppressive and terrorizes women into submission.

While it is commendable is that the MJC has approached Moulana Dawood Sampson to post an apology, which he did, this is not enough! This is not leadership – this is like a parent disciplining a child.

I do acknowledge that the MJC affirmed their collective responsibility to protect the women of our society. There is no mention on how this is done, this comes across as the usual lip- service women receive in order to shut us up.

I challenge all members of society (a culture comprises of societal inter- exchange) and especially our Islamic Leadershipto raise theirvoices in dialoguesand do atrue analysis of the behaviours of our leaders and men(the Imams and leaders of their households) and their contributions towards Gender Based Violence (GBV)and jointly develop aplan of actionwherein we allhold each other accountablefor ourun-Islamic behavior.

Yumnah Hattas

Daughter, sister, wife and mother of 3 adolescent daughters.

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