“Marriage is a Mosque”: A Poem on Domestic Violence

Trigger warning: abuse.

This is a poem I wrote about a year ago about my observations in my own South Asian/Mauritian Muslim community, about how domestic violence remains a taboo subject — something people and even (or maybe especially) religious leaders remain uneducated about and quick to think can be solved by mere patience/sabr/prayers from women. This attitude doesn’t come from bad intentions, but simply from: a lack of education about the real causes of domestic violence (the man is consciously abusing power, not possessed by a jinn); the severity of its physical and psychological damage, the pragmatic steps to take to help the woman in question, and the overriding fear of gossip and tainting the “family reputation.”

“Marriage is a mosque- don’t tear it down.”
Green churidars, gold bangles, the gossip of empty cupboards.
“Marriage is -” Green churidars, gold bangles, “You are from
a good family, he is from a good family.” “He is a doctor, well-
educated man, how can he do this?” A broken set of porcelain
tableware; the imaam, kind and ignorant, gives good advice.
“Marriage is a mosque- pray in it, have patience in it, sabr,
women must have sabr, women can-” “Think of your family,
your parents have such a good reputation; the woman waits
and then everything is alright. He is a good man, he has a degree,
his family has no scandal, he wears polished black, black, black shoes.”
Somebody in a fit of anger broke the dining room table. Good oak.
“He is a good man, he just can’t control himself. A mosque is a marriage-
don’t tear it down and don’t walk with your shoes into it.” Your child
is seeing the psychologist, he smashed your face into the bathroom
mirror because- He is a good man, but he just can’t control himself sometimes.
The gossip of empty cupboards. “Women must have patience, sabr. He will
change. And if he doesn’t, so what? Women must- He is a good man,
from a good family, doesn’t mean it.”

By Ameerah Arjanee