This book is described as, ‘…a book for us all: to raise awareness in the male population of their divinely prescribed role as protectors and maintainers of women; to highlight the devastating impact of domestic abuse for members of the public…’ (Ta-Ha Publishers)
Reading this description made me understand the title a bit more. ‘Qawwamoon’ is an Arabic word taken from the Holy Qur’an which can be defined as men’s roles of protectors and maintainers of women in Islam. More definitions can be found here.
The book opens with advice on selecting a suitable partner and gives general marriage guidance in accordance with Islam, which did surprise me. This isn’t to say I didn’t agree with some of the advice only that it wasn’t expected.
What I liked most about the book was that it was written in easy to read, concise sections that can be referred to quickly and easily depending on what you’re looking for. It identifies the different types of domestic abuse which contains chapters on financial and mental abuse as well as physical. It also explains ‘The cycle of abuse’, and a chapter on the question, ‘Why do women stay?’. I thought that was particularly relevant as it helps to give an insight into the emotions and trauma involved in domestic abuse.
The book addresses the role society and the community has in identifying victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. It also addresses community leaders who may be approached for help, with the author writing that she hopes it can increase their knowledge and help it to be ‘be more accessible and beneficial’. And where domestic violence is concerned, not knowing how to handle it correctly can have devastating consequences. For example, if a woman reaches out to you or a community leader, ‘she is desperate if not already beyond desperate. It is not the time to be told to be patient. This type of advice could put her life at risk.’
Written with Islamic guiding principles, Chowdhury reinforces that in Islam, ‘religious evidences that state in no ambiguous terms that such oppression is not permitted.’ Chowdhury urges the community to adhere to the ‘clear cut’ religious rules and not use ‘cultural slants or variations’ which can often result in extra stigma and difficulties which can further exacerbate abuse.
Chowdhury is powerful in her stance that those in the Muslim community have a religious and ‘a collective obligation’ to help with domestic violence in their communities. As Chowdhury states, ‘it is sadly the silence which allows the oppression and suffering to continue’.
The advice is also interspersed with emotional writing in a more personal style, including poetry. I felt that this was a sensitive break in the text whilst helping to highlight the emotional side of abuse. This, ‘aims to provide a voice for victims of domestic abuse, emotional support and practical advice for the road to recovery.’ (Ta-Ha Publishers)
I could not find out much about the author, but the basis of the work here seems well researched and to stem from a place of experience in dealing with victims from domestic abuse. Overall, I thought the book was empathetically written and provides a good starting point to understanding domestic abuse.
This endemic issue can only benefit from us seeking to understand it better and this book has helped me to do that.
You can buy a copy of the book here.