Muslim divorce is a taboo topic in some communities.
Until I’d been married for 16 years did I realize that I would have to divorce my husband in order to live the life I envisioned for myself.
Abuse is a widespread captor. For years, I endured because I thought it was best to keep the family together. Finally, however, I decided that keeping my family together was not protecting anyone, but instead was hurting us all. Divorcing my husband was taboo in my Muslim community, as was speaking out about abuse. In ending my marriage, I also shed my hijab , a traditional head covering for many Muslim women. Removing that veil, a symbol which, to me, represented the voiceless and painful darkness in which I had lived for 16 years, was like lifting the curtain to my soul. The woman that had been locked inside for so long was finally set free.
I returned to school, completing my bachelor’s degree. This was wonderful. Many teachers inspired me, and one in particular helped me to see the world from new perspectives. I began to understand more about my role in the world. After graduating with my bachelor’s, I began working. My desire now is to help improve the health and well-being of the men, women and children of the Arab-American community. I strive to empower others, to plant in them the beliefs that my mother implanted in me. I am blessed to be able to do this work.
In 2007 I was awarded the Spirit Award by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. People in my community call me the “Tiny Mighty”—tiny, in that I stand less than five feet tall, and mighty, in that I am driven to give a voice to the voiceless. I have also been called “Phoenix,” one who rose from the ashes with determination to live and to provide a decent life for her children. I’ve been called “Th e Lotus Flower,” a symbol of rebirth. Such acknowledgement only encourages me to aim higher. I am now back in school, obtaining my master’s and hoping to study for my Ph.D. My dream is to become an inspirational public speaker on empowering communities, especially for women. To live in the land of the free is one thing, but to actually live the life of the free is another.
I no longer dream of honoring my mother. It now is a part of my everyday life—all I have to do is choose, each day, to make her proud. Now, I know that can be done.
Read the stories from the Women of WISDOM:
This story about Muslim divorce is part of a collection of personal stories from Friendship & Faith, a book that delves into the decisions and experiences about faith and friendship shared by a group of Detroit-area women. This particular story about divorce in the Muslim community is by Mona Farroukh, a woman of WISDOM.
Want more? Read another story or check out Friendship & Faith.