I’ll be blunt. There are a lot of issues with the NFL, and I mean a lot. From the fines players get, to the suspensions the players get, the unions, the alarming rate of concussions. But right now, nothing is standing out from the NFL more than the domestic violence from various players, and some of these players are of the best in the league.
It all began when Ray Rice was accused of beating his then-fiancée in an elevator, where he was arrested and charges were filed. He was initially suspended for two games by commissioner Roger Goodell. This suspension caused outrage from fans all over who believed the NFL did not take a strong enough stance on domestic violence and were not respecting womens’ integrity. But suddenly, a video surfaced of Rice punching and spitting at his then-fiancée, and one of the punches was so hard it knocked her unconscious to the point where Rice had to literally drag her out of the elevator. As a result, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens cut him from the team claiming they had not seen the video.
This story resulted in a firestorm of domestic violence stories coming from NFL players. They are now the main headliners when you go on ESPN or NFL.com. Other players accused of domestic violence include Adrian Peterson, who was accused on separate charges on beating two of his sons with a “switch” or a tree branch for disciplinary reasons. People questioned whether he went too far, as one of his sons suffered wounds to his legs, arms, and back, while in another incident his other son was seen having a wound and bandages on his head. As a result he was placed on the NFL’s exempt list, where he now cannot participate in team activities until everything is sorted out.
Carolina Panthers defensive end (and their best one) Greg Hardy, who was accused of beating his then-girlfriend, is now awaiting a decision from the NFL. So is 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, accused of hitting his pregnant fiancée. He too is awaiting a decision. And recently Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was accused of punching his wife and throwing a shoe at his 18-month-old child. The violence just seems to be erupting at the wrong time.
As a result, the NFL retooled it’s domestic violence policy, where a first offense is a 6-game suspension and a second offense is a lifetime ban. The NFL attempted to make a response—now the question is how do we respond, how do we deal with issues of domestic violence? What does Islam say about domestic violence?
Now my initial response to this is what on earth is happening? How could someone beat the person they love? How could someone knock someone out or give their wives bruises? How does one truly love someone if they are being abusive? How does one beat their kids and give them very noticeable wounds? Times are changing and what may have been acceptable in the past could be considered unacceptable now. This also includes beatings of the people you love.
In Islam, there are verses that condemn domestic violence, and men are to treat their wives with nobility, kindness, and respect.
The nobler among you in the sight of God is the more righteous among you. (49:13)
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave his take on how men should treat their wives:
The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are best to their women. (Tirmidhi)
And in another tradition:
The best among you are those who are kindest to their wives. (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet ﷺ said that we should be kind to our women and be positive and patient with them. Treating a man’s wife with respect is a reflection of good Muslim character.
Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) instructs men to be nice to their wives and to treat them well to the best of their ability. A Muslim, or quite frankly people in general, should always remember that treating their women well earns Allah’s pleasure and an abundance of good deeds, but bad treatment will result in His anger. When a companion asked the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, “What is the right of a wife over her husband?”, he ﷺ said,
That you feed her when you eat and clothe her when you clothe yourself and do not strike her face. Do not malign her and do not keep apart from her, except in the house. (Abu Dawood)
There. Right there. This is a prime example where the Prophet himself even states that you should not beat women, but treat them with the utmost respect.
Child abuse is also viewed as wrong in Islam. Actually, the first thing is to teach a child right from wrong before even daring to use physical action, as stated in the Qur’an:
O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. (66:6)
Instead of using violence, the first and foremost thing is to educate children and teach them right from wrong.
Domestic violence is wrong. It is wrong on many levels. What we see coming from the NFL should have us reflect on how we conduct ourselves and how we should deter away from violent acts of behavior. It is a very touchy and very sensitive topic, but thankfully Islam condemns any sort of abuse. Rather, it condones kind treatment and educating our families. This does not apply to just women and children. This applies to every human being. When in conflict, do not resort to violence but rather resort to reason. Tell them why they are not right and what must be done to make it right. The goal is make the wound stop bleeding, not continue it. If we want to end domestic violence, not just in the NFL, but in society, it is on us to step up and do not only what the Qur’an and the Prophet’s ahadith say, but simply do what is right. To not resort to violence so immediately, but fight through and control our anger and use our emotions to create solutions. Because when we do, the world around us will be a little more peaceful, Insha Allah.