[Editor’s note: The following text is taken from an article by Minister Louis Farrakhan that originally appeared in Vol. 11 No. 11, April 20, 1992.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
There never was a time that so many of us have killed and abused one another as we are doing today. There never was a time when Black women were so abused and misused as they are today. There never was a time when Black children have been so abused and misused as we find them today. The violence and abuse in the home is so great that every teacher or leader of any consequence should begin to look at the destruction of the Black home, the Black family and the Black community and address these concerns with truth.
Why are Black men beating women as women are being beaten today? Many of you who are married suffer because your husband beats you. There are many men in the Muslim world who think that it is okay to beat your wife. This is not the conduct of a true man of Allah (God)—beating women. A true man of Allah (God) knows how to handle a woman without beating and abusing her. The problem today is that we, as men, have lost the knowledge of how to handle ourselves, so it becomes exceedingly difficult for us to handle our mate.
Yet nature forces us to come together, but we don’t know what to do with each other after we come together. We make each other’s lives miserable, thus, wife beating is on the increase. I don’t even want to say “wife-beating,” because men aren’t marrying women that much today. Marriage is a dying institution. What is the cause of this? We want to get to the root cause of why domestic violence is on the rise.
Not only is this happening in the Black community, it is happening on an increasing scale in the White community and in the community of so-called civilized peoples of the earth. Female abuse and child abuse are not only violent in terms of physical punishment, but sexual assault in the home is on the increase. Men are sneaking up on their own biological daughters and having sex with them. Fathers are abusing their stepdaughters or beating and brutalizing their stepchildren who are male.
In the beginning
The Bible opens in Genesis with the story of a family being created by Allah (God)—Adam, Eve, Cain and Able. The first violence took place between two brothers in the same family. One brother killed the other. In the Bible, again, you have the story of Joseph and his brethren. Envy, jealousy, enmity and strife caused members of the family to come together to kill Joseph. They agreed, however, to put him in a pit and to sell him off into bondage. These are family members doing this. Look at the Prophet David and his son Absalom. It wasn’t an outsider that became his great enemy. It was someone from his own loins. In the New Testament, Jesus was betrayed by a member of his own circle of disciples.
In the history of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Allah (God) says to the prophet, “Among your wives and your children, there is an enemy for you, so be aware of them.” You have not had an enemy until an enemy rises right out of your own loins. You have not had an enemy until the woman that you sleep with or the man with whom you sleep with becomes you mortal enemy, because those closest to you observe you, learn your weaknesses and then use your weaknesses with your enemy to help destroy you.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad did not want us with any weapons, not because he wanted us to be defenseless in the face of our oppressors, but because he knew the tendency in us to settle all our disputes with a gun. He wanted us to build our intelligence to deal with our problems properly and not rely on a weapon to resolve our problems.
Most of the people who are in prison today—having killed some friend, neighbor, husband or wife—are living with intense regret because they really didn’t want to do it, but in anger they did. If the weapon was not there, they might not have done it.
We are disproportionately represented in homicide statistics because we are constrained from expressing our will to be in direct control of our destiny. The Black-on-Black homicide statistics are a barometer of our oppression in America.
I want to help you, sisters, to understand what you can do for this male who desperately wants to become a man and has all the potential to be a great man. Your problem, sisters, is you really don’t know how to handle today’s Black man.
When you have Black men who don’t have jobs, it’s very difficult for them to stay in a home that constantly reminds them of their impotence. So they flee the home. Many of you were married, had children, divorced and now have no stable relationship with a man. Men are just abandoning and neglecting their children. That’s a form of abuse.
Brothers, we make babies, right? So we have a responsibility, don’t we? But if you don’t have a job, no way to make a dollar, then men don’t want to stay there and face the fact. So you leave the woman. You are out of the picture, but the sex drive doesn’t diminish because you don’t have a job. In fact, the sex drive may increase because every avenue of pleasure is closed to you except the avenue of sex. That’s terrible.
You can’t tell these young girls and boys, “You shouldn’t commit fornication.” You can’t tell that to grown men and women. Satan has gone under the law of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and has tapped the very law of nature itself. The law of God is correct. We shouldn’t commit fornication or adultery. These are acts that destroy families and break the brotherhood. But when you live in a society that is constantly feeding the sex drive and there is no monitoring of male-female relations, people fall in love and you leave them alone without chaperone or supervision, then the law of nature subverts the law of “you shouldn’t commit fornication.” You all are not watching your children, you are too busy watching soap operas, you are too busy pursuing a living and you think your youngsters are watching themselves.
What nature demands
Most often the males who are abusive to the children are not biologically related to the children but are in a relationship with the female head of the household. If the male lives there, it is usually temporary. His presence is then followed by a period of time when there is no male present; then a different male is brought into the home. This cycle creates confusion among the children as to the authority in the home and it creates resentment as well.
Do you know what it does to a male child to hear his mother carrying on in the next room with a strange man that is not his father? Do you know what you are doing? You don’t care any more. We have become so much like animals that we will bring a man into the home knowing that your children are there and you will make the children look at the TV while you go into the next room to perform acts with strangers.
What is the demand of nature in the man of you (woman), and what is the demand of in the nature of the woman for the man? The Qur’an teaches, “Men are the maintainers of women with what Allah has made some of them to excel others and with what they spend out of their wealth.”
That is a very weighty statement. Women today say, “I don’t need a man to maintain me. I’ll maintain myself.” These are very independent sisters today. In some respects that’s bad, but in other respects it’s good. But, when we start getting away from the nature in which Allah (God) created us, we start getting into problems.
Allah (God) says in the Qur’an that men are a degree above women. Now, that may hurt feminists. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. We’re not a degree above you in our condition now; we’re several degrees below you. But in the nature in which Allah (God) created you, brother, He created you a degree above the woman. Otherwise the woman would not be able to look up to you. Anytime you have a woman that does not look up to you, brother, you’re in trouble.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that the self-creation of the Originator out of darkness is a very painful process. Not just pain to the woman but pain to the child that is forming in the womb and coming through the canal. And when the baby gets here, the first thing it needs is comfort.
So it cries, “I’m here now!” “What are you crying for?” “It was a hard journey getting here, will you comfort me?” And you put the baby where? On your breast, and you console and comfort it. That is so beautiful. But let me tell you something. Allah (God) created man, now I’m speaking from the Bible, “in His image.” The Qur’an says that Allah (God) made man his vicegerent, which means that man stands in the place of Allah (God). The Qur’an says that the woman is made to console the man. She is created that we may find peace and quiet of mind in her. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said it like this: “Woman is man’s heaven.” No wonder we’re in hell. We do not know what to do for and with a woman.
Allah (God) says He is the source of peace. He is the abode of peace, and the greatest heaven is peace and contentment of mind. Then Allah (God) gives you a woman to give you peace and contentment of mind. But we do not know how to handle her, therefore, we end up with no peace, no contentment of mind. We are in constant hell with our woman because we don’t know how to bring out of her what is in her nature for us. And there is not a woman on this earth that doesn’t wish to give what nature has put within her to give.
The Qur’an says, “Men are the maintainers of women.” What does maintenance mean here? Maintenance means to keep in existence or continuance. It is man’s job to keep the woman in existence and in continuance. It is his duty to preserve her. It is his duty to keep her in due condition. This is not dealing with money; it’s dealing with her head, essence and nature. You always want to deal with her from the navel down. You don’t want to deal with her from the neck up and she resents that. A woman resents a man only looking at her as an object of pleasure when Allah (God) created her as a very serious manifestation of His own Will.
To maintain means to keep unimpaired. We are to keep her in the nature in which Allah (God) created her. We are to keep her in a specified state. Who specified the state that she should be kept in? Who but her Creator? And what is that state that she should be kept in?
A man’s duty is to keep or hold her against attack; and the last thing in maintenance is to provide for her upkeep and to carry the expenses of the woman. The money part has to be there. Don’t ever think that you are going to have a good relationship with a woman if you can’t keep up some expenses, but at the same time, sister, in today’s world where the man has to struggle so much for what little he gets, you have to keep your desires in line with what this man is able to afford, lest your desires drive him to do the wrong things just to please you.
If that is our duty as a man, then have we done it? You would have kept her if you would have been left alone but Satan has altered your nature. Now you have to take control again. It is not that you are guilty. If you are guilty you are guilty today of being too lazy to take control after you know better.
A man’s duty to the woman is to preserve, protect and upkeep her and to keep you in the specified state that Allah (God) has made for you. This is why men fight over women, but you fight over her for the wrong reasons. A man is not worth anything if he will not protect the woman that gives birth to his own nation. Once you are a free Black man, you must free your woman and children and become the man to her that Allah (God) demands of you and me. What does Allah (God) demand of us?
Allah (God) does not demand that we picket White people to build us a school. Allah (God) doesn’t demand for us as men to pick up a picket sign and go downtown and say, “We want justice.” If we are men, we’ll get our heads together and take justice. Allah (God) doesn’t ask another man for freedom. Allah (God) gives us the right to be free and any man that wants to be free, he’ll earn his freedom by blood and sweat.
In the Black man is that potential. But you must stop destroying yourself and one another and you must come into the knowledge that will allow you to be what Allah (God) has created you to be, and you can’t be that without knowledge.