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Understanding the Dynamics of Abusive Relationships

Abusive relationships are fairly simple. They are driven by insecurity, fear that feeds that insecurity and an expectation of inconsistency, both real and perceived.

An abuser is morbidly insecure. S/he (yes, potentially, she) has little sense of his/her own social value and makes an effort to gain or re-gain some semblance of that value through domination and control. The fear that feeds that insecurity has two fronts: fear of not being lovable, and fear of appearing weak. The paradox here is that the abuser is, in fact, weak, which is why s/he abuses — to maintain a sense of control — in the first place. The perceived inconsistency on the part of the abuser by the victim is that the victim is not submitting to the abuser’s domination.

The victim is also morbidly insecure and for surprisingly similar reasons. S/he also has little sense of his/her own social value, but makes an effort to establish that value by losing him/herself to the demand for submission. The fear that feeds this insecurity is also about not being lovable or loved, and there is a willingness to accept the inconsistency of the abuser’s attention for the sake of being loved.

The pathological need to control on the part of the abuser and the pathological need for attention on the part of the victim is a match made in heaven. We are all just a bunch of neurotic habits that tend to find a fit with our opposite to create a psychosocial balance. Abusive relationships are one of the most extreme cases of this dynamic.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).