In the Middle East, suicide among women is on the rise due to a unique set of challenges that women in the west may not be aware of.
Women in the Middle East commit suicide three times more than men. One study reports an increase of 66% in the last five years and another states a 100% increase since 1990, although this number is assumed to be higher since most suicides are kept secret by families.
Governments, society and family reinforce laws that discriminate against and oppress women. Many national leaders view women as slaves with few rights. While women are allowed one husband, men can have several wives. Men can divorce by telling their wife “I divorce you” three times. Many times when a woman is raped, she is blamed and executed.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Right’s Commission interviewed women who had tried to commit suicide. Almost every time, the reason they gave was forced marriage. Men are generally able to reject their family’s choice of a bride or sometimes can even choose their own. In Muslim culture and law, women are forced into marriage. As many as 80% of marriages in Afghanistan take place without the consent of the bride, who is often a child. In Iran, the legal age to marry is 13, although some fathers give permission earlier. It is known that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, married Aisha when she was 9 years old.
Early forced marriage has detrimental consequences for girls such as the inability to obtain an education or acquire skills to work independently. Because their young bodies are not yet developed for childbirth they may also suffer physical harm, resulting in mental, emotional, and physical trauma for the girl and her baby.
Any person living under these oppressive circumstances would have a tendency toward depression, discouragement or just giving up. But God loves all Muslims. Many Christians do not pray for them because of their own fear, prejudice, or just don’t think about it. Now that you understand a little more about the oppressive lives women face in the Middle East, consider adding all Muslims, but especially the women, to your regular prayer list.
PRAYER STARTERS FOR PRAYING FOR MUSLIM WOMEN
Begin by asking God to give you a heart filled with compassion and love toward Muslims.
Muslims believe that Allah is creative, eternal, all powerful and supreme, but also that it is impossible to ever really know or have a personal relationship with him because Allah holds himself apart from mankind. Pray that Muslims will have a revelation of the true God and His love for them.
Muslims are strongly influenced by an awareness of good and evil in the supernatural realm. Evil spirits are known as jinn. Superstitions can result in constant fear and controls many aspects of their lives. Pray for the power of God’s love to dispel all fear.
Islam means submission. Muslims understand that they are the servant of Allah, which is an incomplete aspect of our relationship with God. Pray that Muslims will understand that God desires them to move from slaves to His sons and daughters.
Muslims believe in order to make it to paradise their good deeds must outweigh their bad deeds. Even then, there is no guarantee. Muhammad, their prophet, was not even guaranteed to make it to paradise. Because of this, it is difficult for Muslims to understand repentance and forgiveness of sins. Pray that they would know conviction of sin and true repentance and have the assurance of salvation through Jesus—something Islam cannot offer.
Reports are increasing that many Muslims have come to Christ as a result of supernatural encounters. Pray that God would soften their hearts and open their eyes through dreams and visions.