Taking on
Gender-Based Violence

An Online Certificate Course
for Muslim Leaders

December 6, 2020 – February 28, 2021


Registration Period: October 15 – November 15

Pre-Course Period: November 1 – December 5 (begin accessing course materials)

First Scheduled Session: Sunday, December 6, 2020

Final Scheduled Session: Sunday, February 28, 2021

All live class sessions will take place in Zoom
on Sundays (9:00-10:30am PT / 12:00-1:30pm ET).
Course materials/assignments will be provided in Canvas LMS.

Be part of the initial cohort of imams, chaplains, and leaders to enroll in this first-of-its-kind online course, and become empowered to address one of the most critical issues facing our communities today.


This curriculum has been developed with the partnership of HEART (Health Education, Advocacy, Research and Training), a leading non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all Muslims have the resources, language, and choice to nurture sexual health and confront sexual violence. HEART’s subject area expertise and on-going professional efforts in this arena provide scholars and community leaders with the knowledge and resources to make informed, compassionate and ethical decisions in navigating complex interpersonal issues in consonance with Islamic teachings and principles of fairness, justice, and personal agency. Learn more about HEART.


What is this course about?

American Muslims are among the most diverse religious communities in the world, striving to live out the values of Islam while contending with complex socio-cultural dynamics. The phenomenon of gender-based violence (GBV), reflected in all societies and certainly within the US broadly-speaking, is unfortunately also present among Muslims.

For too long, physical, emotional and spiritual harm, and other forms of injustice, have been manifesting in our communities, without a sustained, systematic, and appropriate response on the part of religious leaders and others responsible for the well-being of all.

While positive religious education is important for developing healthy understandings regarding marriage, intimacy, gender, sexuality, boundaries, trust and related matters, we must also put in place the means to intervene when violations of personal rights and Islamic ethical norms occur. This is all the more crucial when those in positions of authority, leadership, power and influence are found to be the ones transgressing and causing harm.

This fully-online course is the first of its kind, bringing together the knowledge, expertise and wisdom of scholars, leaders, and experts in various domains who are involved in educating communities about the dynamics, impacts, and implications of gender-based violence for maintaining trust, accountability and safety within our communities.

The course identifies key principles that Muslims should uphold when crafting community spaces, adhere to when investigating incidents that are reported to have occurred, and implement when performing due diligence and demonstrating transparency in the pursuit of justice for victims.

This course will serve as a foundation for those in leadership roles to achieve a common baseline understanding of the forms of gender-based violence, of challenges and pitfalls in addressing GBV and spiritual abuse (harmful actions justified in religious terms) in community contexts, and of resources available to support investigations, resolutions and on-going community engagement that empowers families and individuals and increasingly mitigates the scourge of such harm.

Who should enroll?

The aim of this course is to prepare a nationwide network of like-minded and similarly-equipped leaders in various roles and contexts, whether as imams, chaplains, mosque leaders, organizational staff, counselors/therapists, and others in positions of authority within a congregational or community context.

The first cohort of 25 participants to enroll in the course will be selected based on applications received, and the instructional team will seek to ensure a diverse mix of participants representing these various professional backgrounds.

Who are the instructors?

The weekly course modules will feature a range of scholars and experts, including the following facilitators/presenters:

  • Dr. Ingrid Mattson (Professor and Scholar, University of Western Ontario; Hurma Project; past-president of ISNA)
  • Salma Abugidieri (Peaceful Families Project)
  • Imam Mohamed Magid (ADAMS Center, VA; past-president of ISNA)
  • Nadiah Mohajir (Executive Director, HEART)
  • Aisha Rahman (former Executive Director, Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights)
  • Dr. Kameelah Mu’min Rashad (President, Muslim Wellness Foundation)
  • Dr. Najeeba Syeed (Assoc. Professor, Chicago Theological Seminary)
  • Munir Shaikh (Vice President, Bayan Islamic Graduate School)

Additionally, the course will include publicly-available content and resources from:

  • Dr. Hina Azam (Professor, University of Texas – Austin)
  • Margari Hill (Executive Director, MuslimARC)
  • Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri (President, Karamah)
  • Imam Khalid Latif (Director, Islamic Center of New York University)
  • FACE (Facing Abuse in Community Environments)
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
  • Muhsen
  • In Shaykh’s Clothing

What is the content and schedule?

The course features 10 modules spread out over 15 weeks. Each module will include some brief reading assignments and a scheduled live online class session with our expert facilitators. Each required online session will be 90 minutes in length, including time for Q&A and discussion among the instructors and participants.

There will be follow-up written assignments in connection with the module topics, culminating with the creation of a draft Action Plan that you can refine and implement in your congregational, community or organizational setting. Thus, this course will provide you with a knowledge foundation in the relevant issues for addressing GBV, and empower you with a practical outcome by the completion of the course.

Topics include:

  • Islamic perspectives on hurma (sacred inviolability), abuse and accountability
  • Community agreements on the move to end violence
  • Defining Gender-Based Violence and related terms/concepts
  • Domestic violence / Intimate partner violence
  • Religious leadership, boundaries and spiritual abuse
  • Secret and temporary marriages
  • Root causes of GBV and barriers to disclosure
  • Gender-based violence and the Law
  • Impacts of GBV in light of intersectionality
  • Muslim survivors and trauma (individual, family, community, society)
  • Safety planning for survivors/victims
  • Self-care and vicarious trauma in receiving disclosures
  • Frameworks for supporting survivors and seeking justice
  • Individual vs. communal/organizational accountability
  • Traditional and Restorative justice approaches, in connection to Islamic teachings
  • Referral and resource networks for Muslim survivors
  • Leadership and community awareness education

What is involved in the application process and getting enrolled?

To be eligible to join the first cohort of 25 participants for this online course, applicants should currently be in a position of leadership in a community or congregational setting. In other words, the applicant is involved in policy conversations within an organization, participates in decision-making, and/or implements practices within their institutional setting. The application process entails:

  1. Fill out the application form (allot about 20 minutes) as soon as possible.
  2. You will be contacted to schedule a brief follow-up phone or online conversation to better understand your role/context and verify your eligibility. This conversation will also enable the instructional team to shape conversations during the course.
  3. After the application deadline, all accepted participants will be notified, and emailed course materials. Participants will also be provided access to the online course site and the link for the live online sessions (in Zoom).
  4. Before the first online session, participants are expected to login to the course site and complete a pre-course questionnaire, and assigned readings for the first module.

What do I have to do to complete the course successfully?

Participants who attend all of the live online sessions, complete the readings and module assignments, and share their draft Action Plan will receive an official Certificate of Completion from Bayan Islamic Graduate School, as well as a $500 stipend for being part of the first cohort. Those unable to attend all of the online sessions will become ineligible to receive the stipend, and those who attend seven or more sessions will remain eligible to receive the certificate of completion.

Upon conclusion of the course, successful participants (and their organizational affiliations) will be listed on the project webpage as certificate recipients.

Why is Bayan offering this course?

Bayan is a premier Muslim higher education institution, offering accredited graduate degrees in partnership with Chicago Theological Seminary. Bayan also participates in national leadership conversations about Islamic Studies, Islamic education, chaplaincy, leadership development, civic engagement, interreligious issues, and other dimensions of religious life in our pluralistic context.

This course is made possible by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation that Bayan has been implementing throughout 2019-2020. The grant supports: curriculum development for Bayan Islamic Graduate School’s Master of Divinity (MDiv) chaplaincy courses; research and publishing on efforts to address GBV within Muslim communities; and the design and implementation of this online course for community leaders to expand awareness and improve support for survivors and accountability.

Participants who successfully complete the online course will receive an official certificate of completion from Bayan and a stipend. Certificate recipients will be listed on this site.

Application Deadline is Nov. 15.
Limited Space for 25 participants.

Acceptance letters will be issued on a rolling basis until Dec. 1.