Throughout history, mosques have acted as hubs of the community, providing a key source of intellectual, political and religious guidance for millions of people. They have acted as places of learning and education, in which everything from the mundane to the controversial have been discussed and debated in line with Quranic teachings.
Islamic Relief UK is delighted when our mosques continue this proud tradition.
It’s crucial that mosques and faith leaders acknowledge that gender-based violence (GBV) knows no place in Islam. As part of our Honour Her campaign, we want every mosque to stand up and declare that we must eradicate this injustice at home and abroad.
That’s why we’re asking you to reach out to local mosques to encourage them to show their objection to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). You can play a part in breaking the myth that VAWG is prescribed by Islamic scripture.
We know that discussing this issue can be complicated. That’s why we’ve put together a list of key tips to engage your mosque. Here’s how you can reach out and get the best results.
1. Use the Friday Khutbah
Khutbahs (sermons) are central to our mosques. They are the key to mobilising worshipers to an important cause and this is the biggest thing to remember when reaching out to your local mosque.
We’d love you to get your Mosque to pledge its commitment to action against VAWG. Even better if you can get your Mosque to deliver a Friday sermon on the issue of VAWG. It really is the perfect opportunity for maximum exposure and effect on this holy day. We all know that on Friday more people attend the mosque and with the sermon open to a broader audience, it’s a great opportunity to reach out!
2. Keep things simple
Mosques are incredibly busy places often with limited resources and capacity. It’s therefore really important that you make it as easy as possible for Imams to take up this message. Print out our key messages and sample Khutbah or direct them to our website to make it as easy as possible.
3. Be mindful of language
The language you use is incredibly important when conversing with your Imam on the topic of GBV and VAWG. Don’t use unnecessary jargon or complex terminology as often this can overcomplicate the messaging or even worse, deter people from engaging with the subject.
In addition, it’s also important to remember that English is not everyone’s first language. So when visiting your local mosque to talk about VAWG, be mindful of this. Try and rally round friends and family with skills in the relevant languages such as Urdu, Bengali, Somali or Arabic. This will keep communication lines open and ensure that dialogue is authentic with both your Imam and the wider local congregation.
4. Provide Quranic reasoning
When reaching out to your mosque and faith leaders, it’s really important to offer Quranic justifications for your opposition to GBV and VAWG,.
Scholar, author and public speaker Shaykh Fahim gives a great overview which you’ll no doubt find helpful when communicating with others:
“If anyone thinks that violence against women or girls is acceptable they must know that any kind of violence against women, girls or weaker people is haram (forbidden) and is condemned in Islam.”
Islam is very clear on protecting and honouring women. God Almighty says in the second chapter of the Qur’an that men and women are garments for each other meaning He commands us to protect the honour of women. We, the Imams and faith leaders, have a very important role to create awareness and work collectively with the community to talk against wrong practices such as violence and abuse against women and girls”.
Take a look also at our khutbah guidelines which give some key information on the Islamic perspective on GBV and VAWG.
5. Make networking your new best friend
If you’re finding it difficult to engage with your mosque or arrange a meeting, wider networking is a must! Mosques have a lot of requests coming in and there is stiff competition on what goes on the agenda for the Friday khutbah. It’s here where your networks can come in handy. If you have any friends, family or acquaintances who have a good relationship with the Imam or the mosque staff, try and utilise these connections to increase your access to – and also the quality of dialogue with – your chosen mosque.
6. Give stats, facts and key information!
When talking to your mosques about GBV and VAWG, it’s important to present facts and statistics that truly show the stark reality of GBV and VAWG and the consequences of this injustice. This helps to outline the issues and engage with people on a human level.
Here’s some key information to incorporate in your conversations with mosques and faith leaders:
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in three women worldwide have or will experience violence in their lifetime, and that women and girls are disproportionately affected.
- An estimated 100 million to 140 million women and girls have suffered from FGM.
- More than 230 million women alive today were married below the age of 15.
Should you want to send even more information, you can also read Islamic Relief Worldwide’s three policy papers on Early and Forced Marriage, Domestic Abuse, and Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting. These will provide lots of useful information in your discussions. You can download them all here to help you be even more persuasive.
7. Find the right channel of persuasion
There are many ways to engage your mosque. Engaging directly through face-to-face contact tends to have the most impact but you can also use other channels to engage with your mosque. Social media, for example, is a great way to reach out. You could tweet or Facebook message your local mosque to take action.