Muslimat Al Nisaa: Shelter our Sisters!


Bismillah walhamdulillah

If you do not live in the Maryland-DC-Virginia area then you’ve probably never heard of Muslimat Al Nisaa. Before mentioning what this organization is, I’d like to bring to your attention a fact that many Muslims fail to recognize: there is such a thing as a homeless Muslim.

Homelessness does not discriminate.

For some strange reason, the problem of homelessness in the Muslim community is not discussed nor are solutions found by masajid for families who are struggling with homelessness. I can count on one hand the organizations that cater specifically for homeless Muslims, and even less are those that have a home/shelter for them.

It is a sad fact that most of these homeless Muslims are sisters with children, who have no family to seek assistance from. How do these sisters end up homeless? For many reasons, a few of them being: rejection of family after conversion to Islam, sisters who face physical abuse, sisters from overseas who are forced to provide for their households without job skills and sisters marrying men from overseas who desert them after receiving a green card.

Muslimat Al Nisaa is a homeless women’s shelter based in Baltimore, Maryland which has recently opened its first home called the Muslim Women’s Center (MWC), alhamdulillah. Sister Asma Hanif and sister Maryam Funches officially began working to create a full time shelter for women: non Muslim and Muslim alike in 2005. In 2007, sister Maryam Funches passed away, may Allah ta’ala have mercy upon her, Ameen, and now this organization is run by sister Asma Hanif. Video on Muslimat Al Nisaa.

During Sacred Scrolls with Imam Suhaib in Qabeelat Nurayn, we organized a donation and items drive for Muslimat Al Nisaa and alhamdulillah we were very successful and exceeded our goals, having raised more than $3000 and two trunk loads worth of non-perishable food items and toiletries in one weekend. Alhamdulillah sister Asma recognizes AlMaghrib Institute as one of the shelter’s supporters and we greatly appreciate this gesture from her and the organization. Imam Suhaib discussed with us many stories that he has dealt with concerning homeless Muslims and we thank him for enlightening us with a topic that is taboo to discuss.

It is disappointing knowing that we as Muslims turn our own sisters away, and they end up going to non Muslim organizations where many of them end up being harassed for their islam.

What does Islam teach us?

  • One of the themes we learn from Suratun Nisaa is that we have an obligation to help the weak of the society. “And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children? (4:75)
  • Allah ta’ala tells the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Rabb morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world.” (18:28)
  • The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allah will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant [of His] so long as the servant aids his brother…”(Muslim)
  • The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “A Muslim is a brother of (another) Muslim, he neither wrongs him nor does hand him over to one who does him wrong. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone covers up a Muslim (his sins), Allah will cover him up (his sins) on the Resurrection Day”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
  • Mus`ab bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Sa`d considered himself better than his inferiors, so the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said to him, “You are given help and provision because of your weak ones”. (Bukhari)
  • The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: the orphans and women”. (An-Nisaa’i)

How can you help?

1- Donate to Muslimat Al Nisaa. Many Muslims wonder why Islamic organizations “always” fundraise. Well my response to that is if we had a full fledged zakah and Islamic finance system in place, then these organizations would not need to fundraise, however this is not available to us and the only way these organizations can thrive in this country is with the help of their fellow Muslims. Do not let this dunya sway your heart from spending, nor let shaytan threaten you with poverty (2:268). The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam promised us that spending sadaqah does not decrease wealth (Muslim). Imagine it was our own mother or sister or aunt who was homeless, wouldn’t we want other Muslims to assist them to their utmost capability? How would you feel if they were turned away by their own masajid? Love for your brother what you love for yourself (Bukhari).

2- Spread the word! Alhamdulillah communication nowadays is very easy. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said that a good word is a charity (Bukhari). So if you cannot donate to this cause, give a kalimatan tayyibah, a good word, and email this to others inshaAllah.

3- Find local organizations in your community that cater to homeless Muslims, and if there aren’t any, try and get your masjid involved in at least providing services to this underprivileged sector of the Muslim society. Furthermore, raise awareness by  getting local speakers who know firsthand the real deal with homelessness, such as Imam Suhaib, to discuss this issue to an open forum or panel. Another shelter for women and children is Baitul Salam in Atlanta.

I promise you that there are many families who are in need of assistance in your community, whether you acknowledge it or not. The other day at the masjid, they announced that some Muslims passed away and they didn’t even have the funds for their own janaazah (Islamic burial)! SubhanAllah, brothers and sisters, how can we live in utter heedlessness of these people?! Why aren’t we doing anything? What would the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam say to us? What will we say to Allah azza wa jal on the Day of Judgment? Seriously think about these issues, and do whatever you can inshaAllah.

4-Use your weapon of duaa.Is not He (best) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls on Him, and Who removes the evil?” (27:62)

5-Any more ideas? Know any other organizations? Post in the comments!

May Allah ta’ala bless all the organizations such as Muslimat Al Nisaa, may He ta’ala alleviate their difficulties and may He make us among those who support and assist them in these trials, Ameen.

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9 Comments

  1. Affad Shaikh says:

    excellent reminder. i would only add that there is such a thing as domestic violence. often times women are homeless because of this, and other issues. Domestic violence cases are the most difficult for me to deal with. My heart just rips out of my body and i want to go pummel the man who abuses his wife and his children and turns them into outcasts.

    Muslims become double victims when they turn to non-Muslim, often Christian based organizations that do not understand, nor do they always go out of their way to accomadate the Muslims that happen to come into the shelters. I have not had the unfortunate task of dealing with to many of these types of cases, however, because of my civil rights work, i end up having to see the effects of domestic violence when friends, neighbors and sometimes children call seeking assistance.

    If Muslims can work on something locally it would be to examine and work to fund places that are truly shelters for not just muslims but all people seeking a place of rest- physical, mental, financial and most importantly spiritual. May Allah help the Ummah cope with this.

  2. Tahnia says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    This is a really good reminder to our community that we are not immune from such social problems. As a sister in the UK I have been homeless and its a very hard situation for anyone but for a Muslim and a woman, finding where to turn can be confusing at best.
    Not only do many homeless Muslim brothers and sisters not recieve support they recieve censure and get ostracised. This is something we as a community need to work on as well.

    The Muslim community needs to wake up and realise that we are not exempt from these issues and we need to help our brothers and sisters and become unified and supportive.

  3. Amatullah says:

    Jazakum Allahu khayran brother Affad, you’re 100% right about domestic violence. I just did not focus on it in this article because personally, I have not worked with sisters who have been abused but inshaAllah I hope I can. The sister who is running the shelter, Asma Hanif, actually has an article on domestic violence here: http://www.muslimlinkpaper.com/mybo2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1510&Itemid=0

    Tahnia: wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah, May Allah ta’ala ease your difficulties, Ameen. Jazakum Allahu khayran for your comment, very moving sister and you’re absolutely right about our communities. I thought it was more of a US thing, but subhanAllah I guess it’s with the whole ummah.

  4. NOVA MSA says:

    Small MSA Makes Big Impact this Winter

    By Amalia Rehman
    Muslim Link Contributing Writer

    The Woodbridge NVCC (Northern Virginia Community College) campus is a small, unimpressive campus with a few new buildings and a large parking lot.

    But in spite of its modest dimensions a small group of committed students is making an impression and a difference that extends far beyond their small neighborhood. They are the members of the Executive Committee of the MSA (Muslim Student Association) Organization.

    “The MSA was founded by three freshmen girls, and soon became the most active organization at the NOVA campus. Our main goal is to better represent Muslims, and show a better image than what most have seen. We have had great success because of the will of Allah, and the many great staff at NOVA who have supported us from the start. It’s an organization that promotes diversity. We have so many non-Muslims that have been part of this because of the many successful projects that are held toward uniting people of all faiths.” commented Sumaya Al-Hajeb, Vice President of the MSA at NVCC Woodbridge.

    These committed members meet regularly and try to put together a project for each month. This month they are having a clothing drive for the Muslimat Al-Nisa Women’s Shelter in Maryland.

    “The project was started in the beginning of November and will continue through December. When we were talking to the women’s shelter, they told us that they needed personal grooming products… We had one brother go out and buy a lot of shampoo and conditioner and soap. Another person donated lots of hotel shampoos and soap products. We are getting so much stuff; we are considering giving some of it to a local homeless shelter called ACTS.”

    “We also had a fast-a-thon last month where about 150 people showed up. Al-Zaytuna restaurant (a local family-owned business in Woodbridge) donated more food than we could eat. The proceeds from that event were donated to Muslimat Al-Nisa Women’s Shelter,” added Sister Sumaya.

    The spirit of these students is inspiring.

    “It feels great knowing I’ll be able to help keep someone warm this winter. It is doing small things like this that will help better our community as a whole, and strengthen the bond of unity with everyone around us. Not only are we doing something good for others, but it’s also a religious duty asked out of all of us. Even if we are in bad conditions, we should always remember that there are those out there that have it a lot worse than we do!” explained Sister Sumaya.

    Rahela Fazal, the Treasurer of the MSA at NVCC Woodbridge said da’wa was also a goal.

    “Our overall goal is to portray a better image of Islam and Muslims. I think our activities have brought the Muslims on campus closer together and, at the same time, we have non-Muslims getting a better understanding and perspective on what Islam really is. I think we have gotten our point across and achieved our goal… Last semester we coordinated a fast-a-thon. Our goal was to raise $300.00 dollars but we were very pleased when we raised $500.00 dollars. We’ve also been selling pizza this last week and the proceeds will also go to the Muslimat Al-Nisa Women’s Shelter.

    Sami Ahmed, the Events Coordinator of the MSA at NVCC Woodbridge portrayed the quality of humility when he commented, “It was primarily Sumaya who had the idea to do a winter clothing drive. She was the one who suggested we do one for the women’s shelter in Baltimore… We advertised on campus by putting out collection bins on every level of the school and also advertised through Dar Al-Noor Mosque. We have had a great response. A student from the Loudon County campus of NVCC contacted the activities coordinator of our campus about collecting some donations from there.”

    This handful of students, which also include Sabah Bashiruddin, the MSA President, and Galarza Luis, the MSA Secretary, are enthusiastic and driven by the tenets of Islam they grew up with in their homes. They have successfully pushed forward their agenda and have impacted not only those that they reached out to help, but the larger community of NVCC students who now have a glimpse of the promise that Islam has to offer America.

    “Being considerate of others will take us a lot further in life than a college degree, we hope this can make a small difference within our world,” NVCC MSA Officers said in a collective statement.

  5. NOVA MSA says:

    The Muslim Student Association At Northern Virginia Community College (Woodbridge)
    is sponsoring:
    Winter Clothing Drive for the Women’s Homeless Shelter

    “Help Keep Someone Warm this Winter!”

    When: Month of November

    Where: NOVA (Woodbridge) Student Activities Room 158 (Bins will be provided on Each Level as well)

    What: Drop off Coats, Winter Cloths, Shoes, Shampoo, Body Wash, Soap, etc. & Money Donations!
    (Please Wash all clothes)

    Please Check out Flyer for more info.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/islam4life90/MSA#5271836576654341842

  6. huggy says:

    as salaamu alaikum im interested in starting a national islamic base for homless muslim men ,can you give me some advice on how to get started. may ALLAH reward you.

  7. Aasilah says:

    Assalamualikum,

    Is there an email address of Sister Asma Hanif or an address of this women’s shelter where I could help in person and in kind?

    JazaakAllah

    Wassalam

  8. Iyisha Zafeerah Moses says:

    As-Salaam Walakum sisters, I am inquiring about Muslim Women Shelters here in Philadelphia if you know of any please email me with information that can help me at this time. Shrukran

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