Beaten in The Name of God
I want to blame my mother, but nothing she would have said would have prepared me for the next three years of my life. He promised her that he would protect, love and cherish me. We were so perfect. Our union was for the sake of God alone. We pledged to build our new home on the teachings of Islam. We had dreams; we made promises. Happiness was in the air.
Ten hours post the marriage vows exchanged in front of my father and the respected Imams, my husband started beating me–in the name of God.
At first I pretended that nothing happened. Mother would call to see how her happy, newly married daughter was doing: “I am fine mom, we went out today. I love it here!” I learned quickly how to lie to my mother. I trained myself to hang up before I burst into tears and screamed for help. I always had a believable excuse on hand, “We are going shopping, Mom. Love you and talk to you later.” Mom believed I was happy; I wanted to believe I was too.
I can’t remember how it all started. I think I left the kitchen cupboard open by mistake. He slapped me on my face and reminded me that God created women inferior to men. And somehow I believed him. I remember running from the kitchen, thrusting my body on the sheets on the floor and crying myself to sleep. When I woke up, he was nice again. He apologized for his behavior and promised to never touch me again.
He would break that same promise for the next three years.
He grew out his beard, wore the Arab garb and said bismillah (in the name of God) with every sentence. Eventually the first slap turned into pushing, which later evolved into punching, kicking and verbal abuse. His dream was to become a Muslim scholar. He ordered me to work to support him while he studied the religion of God, Islam. His ultimate goal was for me to “better” my career so I would bring in more money as he slept all day. I could only obey.
If the food wasn’t ready when I got home after long hours at work, I was beaten and reminded that I could easily be replaced by a second, third or fourth wife. Sometimes when he had me in a headlock, and while I begged him to release me, I would pray that he would marry another. At least, I thought to myself, I would no longer be the only target for his blind anger.
I did everything to be the perfect Muslim wife. I listened to lectures, attended talks and sought advice of the knowledgeable. Nothing seemed to work. I cooked, cleaned, worked, studied and obeyed, yet nothing satisfied him. I adorned myself; I smelled nice. Yet with all the efforts, I was still a bad wife, a bad choice that he regretted. He compared me to every woman we knew; they were smarter, prettier and made better wives. The sad part, I started believing him. I blamed myself, could he really be right?
I prayed. But my prayers to God were all the same. I wanted to be a better wife for my abusive husband. I believed wholeheartedly if only I could become a more pleasing wife he would stop. We would be the perfect couple as the outside world viewed us. There would be no need to cover up the scars, the bruises or the broken dishes. I wouldn’t have to cry myself to sleep each night or endure the curses of the angels with every fight.
Eventually, I couldn’t handle it anymore. For once I gathered the courage to speak out, hit back, and push back. I had a speech ready. I had my demands on a list. I would threaten to expose him to the world that saw him as the pious, God-fearing brother of Islam. I wanted it to stop. Please make it stop. Anybody? The world. The neighbors. My family. Help.
But you know, it’s not that easy when you are beaten in the name of God. Who was to stop him anyways?
To be continued.
Photo Courtesy: Cindy A