What We Can Learn from Aisha Khan


by Huma Ahmad (jannah.org

For the last two weeks, Muslims on the internet have been enthralled by a real-life drama playing out before their eyes. On Friday, December 16th, Aisha Khan, a 19-year-old Muslim woman from Kansas City, disappeared. According to media reports, she left voicemails with her family two hours before a final exam, describing a drunk man who accosted her. When her family raced to the campus location she specified, they found only her backpack and mobile phone and Aisha was nowhere to be found.

Thereafter followed what can only be described as an on-the-ground and online media blitz. Police coordinated a search with over ten detectives, 50 officers and security from campus, while officers on horseback diligently searched nearby parks and other locations. Video surveillance footage from nearby businesses were studied and every house within a mile of the University was canvassed. Family and friends created fliers of the beautiful Muslim girl showing her with and without a hijab, to blanket the city and the internet. Hundreds of emails were sent to Islamic lists and national Islamic leaders sent out tweets asking for people to help. Muslims and non-Muslims updated their social network statuses and added links about the disappearance, asking everyone to spread the news and pray for her return. Aisha’s parents, siblings and husband appeared tearfully on national television pleading with kidnappers for the return of their daughter, sister, and wife. The FBI was called in to help and a $10,000 reward was announced for any information leading to her safe return.

A facebook page was created with news and updates and people were asked to change their profile pictures to Aisha’s “Missing!” poster. Hundreds of comments appeared on the page by the hour from Muslims and non-Muslims as far away as Australia and Egypt with messages saying they were praying for Aisha and her family. Some said they were depressed, anxious, crying and praying all night and couldn’t sleep for worry.

The critical 72-hour mark came and went and still officials were no closer to finding out what happened to Aisha Khan.

Finally, on the night of Dec. 21, five days after Aisha went missing, the news broke. She had been found. She was safe and unharmed and was never held against her will.  “On behalf of the Khan family, we are ecstatic to announce that Aisha has been found,” her family said in a statement posted on the ‘Help Find Aisha Khan’ Facebook page. “She is safe and is unharmed. The family is truly grateful to each and every one of your support and encouragement during this difficult journey.”

Within minutes, there was an outpouring of thankfulness and gratefulness, immediately followed by a firestorm of messages and statuses asking where Aisha Khan had been and what had happened to her. People were upset and felt betrayed. That were angry she had “lied and staged a kidnapping” and that she “had wasted the resources of the police, the media, the internet and the Muslim community.” Some were upset that she could put her parents through something like this. They called her “selfish”, “immature”, and “a brat” and using her “Missing” poster, created profile pictures with wording to mock her. Those who posted prayers for her just days before now were full of hate against her. Some were upset that the next Muslim girl who went missing would not be taken seriously. Others were upset that this was another reason for people to attack Muslims and Islam in a time of heightened Islamophobia. On the other side, rumors abounded that she was forced into an unhappy marriage and had sent emails to her family indicating she wanted to leave, and that she still wanted nothing to do with them. Other conspiracy theories included that something did happen to her but that the family wanted to keep it quiet for the sake of her reputation or that she might have had a nervous breakdown or had psychological problems. New articles in the media appeared talking about the “Facebook Mob” that wanted answers from Aisha Khan. Comments full of vitriol and argumentation for and against Aisha Khan and her family number into the thousands and continue until today.

….

The circumstances and reasons behind Aisha Khan’s disappearance are a mystery to us, and will probably remain so well into the future.  The reasons may be difficult to understand and appreciate even for her family – and as a psychology major, I would say perhaps even to Aisha herself.  I believe that we only know perhaps 10% of this story, while the controversy and speculation surrounding it have spun completely and disproportionately out of control.  I don’t think we as Muslims should be fighting over what happened and who is to blame. There’s a larger and more important story here and that’s recognizing and working on the problems in our community.

As the transition from largely first generation Muslims moves to a second generation, a host of new problems and challenges will be presented to us. Whatever the truth may be in the Aisha Khan story, we can’t ignore the fact we have major problems affecting Muslims and their families in the U.S.  We can choose to ignore them and have story after story and controversy after controversy affect us; or we can acknowledge that we have to change and work on certain things from the inside out in our communities first.

I thought that we together could come up with some *positive* things we can start working on in our community instead of arguing about the details of this controversy.

Let’s begin with…

    • We need more trained Muslim counselors and mediators. These are people who are well-versed in Islam as well as in social work. Communities can set aside scholarship money for students or even adults to go back to school and do a degree in counseling in exchange for having open office hours for the community. Confidentiality agreements would be extremely important here. Perhaps we can bring in non-Muslim counselors along with an imam for when there is a problem in the meantime.
    • Announce that our mosques are safe havens and if any kids feel that they cannot stand things at home anymore and want to run away, they can come to the mosque with impunity, and without judgment or punishment.  Members of the community can help take care of them and try to work out solutions with the families.
    • Educate our communities on the practice of forced marriage and how it is wrong in Islam. A girl always has the right to not marry someone. Parents are not the final authority, especially if they are acting in a way that is oppressive. We should recognize that forced marriages nowadays are not going to be with father holding a gun to a daughter’s head, but often through psychological pressure, which amounts to the same and is just as wrong.
    • Educate the youth on how to deal with their problems in a mature way. They can go to other community members, family, imams, teachers or organizations for help as well.
    • As Muslim communities we need to learn not to hide the very real problems going on among our youth and families. Yes, it is difficult to talk about domestic violence, child abuse, adultery, forced marriages and so many other of a myriad of issues. But it’s important for us to bring them out into the open and so that we can deal with them.
    • Hold parenting seminars on a regular basis. Teach Muslims parents how to communicate and educate their children from an Islamic perspective.
    • As in the story of Prophet David `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), authorities and people should be careful not to make judgments or take a side until they have heard both sides, and even then they should admit they do not know the whole story.
    • Pre-marital counseling. In some faiths couples have a minimum of three to four sessions with their pastor to make sure they are compatible, ready for marriage and understand their rights and responsibilities before they are allowed to marry.
    • Leaders in Muslim communities can hold crisis management seminars so families can understand how to deal with family issues in a productive way.
    • Mosques and imams need to make themselves more open to women. Their education and spiritual needs should be met. Muslim women should not be left out in the cold and made to believe that mosques are “good ole boys clubs” and that they are second class citizens in Islam with no rights. They need the support and welcome of the entire community.
    • Better marriage system and community support for Muslims to meet compatible people for marriage. The alarming divorce rate and amount of singles in our community who can’t get married is too high. We need to work on this problem as soon as possible.

Please add your suggestions here.

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89 Comments

  1. Thank you for illustrating the challenges in the Muslim community

    I left an abusive marriage of 21 years and I am raising my five children on my own now

    I became a certified life coach to help others with these challenges. We are here to help

    It takes you to reach out to us because we are not psychic

    When we keep secrets that are not benefitting us … We hurt ourselves and our families

    May ALLAH swt give us clarity and trust so that we have the courage to reach out for help

    To serve ALLAH is to help HIS creation

    Love, Fatima

  2. shakeel says:

    Can i copy paste the suggestions you have mentioned ?

  3. Anne says:

    Subhanallah, a beautifully written article. I especially love the point about masjids being “safe havens”.

  4. KM says:

    Excellant article, although it sounds like we need alot of input / hours from Muslim scholars for this to work as a whole? I’m not sure if, in reality, we have enough organisation to manage the resources we have as a community here in the West.

    I’d also be interested to know what a ‘better marriage system’ would entail?

    • jannah says:

      Salam KM,

      We could really use the input from Muslim scholars to help guide us and give us wisdom, although these initiatives do not necessarily have to come from a scholar. These are things we can implement in our communities with their help but run by the people and professionals.

      As for a better marriage system… anything better than what we have now (internet matrimonials & random auntie hookups) would probably be good ;)

  5. Jeremiah says:

    Great suggestions, mashallah, but I am not sure how we can link this to the sister’s situation without knowing the details of the case.

    • jannah says:

      Salam Jeremiah,

      You are quite right. These are just suggestions having to do with the problems in our communities. The Aisha Khan example is just to bring us to an understanding that we *do* need to do something.

      And also if you go to the ‘Find Aisha Khan’ page on Facebook you’ll find thousands of comments from Muslims just arguing back and forth with a lot of hateful angry comments! Just makes me feel like it’s such a waste when we could be working together to better our communities!

      Alhamdulillah suhaibwebb.com allowed me this platform to try to get people to start talking about something else, rather than the details of that whole controversy!

  6. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    This is a good article with things that our communities need. We should have a good suspicion about our brothers and sisters in Islam. At the end of the day,those that made efforts to support finding Sister Aisha must realize this is what we’re suppose to do. We shouldn’t be looking for the TMZ, Extra downlow on what actually happened. We should continue to make dua for her and her family and stop speculating. When the Prophet’s (SAW) wife Aisha was accused of adultery, Allah admonished the believers for not defending their Mother. Allah knows best what happened to the sister who is also named Aisha and I continue to make the dua that Allah guide her and her family aright and straighten out their affairs. May Allah have mercy on them all and make this experience an expiation of their sins.

  7. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    Jazzakom Allahu Khairun for this article. Makes me proud to be a psych major.

    I would add that we need to create spaces where our youth can openly explore their issues, questions, doubts and discoveries. Where they can develop relationships with trusted adults in their communities. These could be youth groups or other activities.

    Here, we are organizing youth seminars to be held quarterly, where we’ll explore issues such as having different norms than your friends, answering questions and accusations about Islam, etc.

    But the key is that the youth will not be preached at, they will be active participants in the seminars, able to truly contemplate and discuss their feelings. A place at the mosque that truly accepts them and addresses their needs rather than sitting them in the corner and expecting perfection while ignoring evidence to the contrary. We are losing so many youth to their feeling that Muslim adults are judgmental, hypocritical and ignorant of the lives they live.

    Bismillah alaihom wa alaina.

    • jannah says:

      Walaikum salam Najiyah,

      That is a really excellent idea! I think “youth groups” have gone out of style since the 80s and 90s but they need to be brought back in a more modern engaging way for the youth. JazakiAllah khair for your comments!

  8. Tina Durbin says:

    This is all so true! I am an ESL teacher and I have seen many things in the Islamic Community – good and bad, right and wrong, psychological issues, family concerns, misguided youth, abuse, and normal family drama. It takes a religion and it’s people to make things right regardless of the faith. We could all use guidance in this world especially our youth.

  9. Jibril Martinez says:

    The Umah in America has been in need of radical, outside the box, paradigm shift change for decades now. A redirection back to the essence of community building, devotion, compassion, knowledge, wisdom & understanding THROUGH Islam & its cultural unifying significance & ability to bind us & not by way of the separation & dogma running a muck among us.

    Sheikh Imran Nazar Hosein said in regards to Arab spring…
    “You can start in the Arab world by creating a new generation of scholars of Islam who have the capacity to study & deliver Islamic eschatology that you’ll understand the reality that your facing in the world today. Unless you understand that reality you can not respond to it.”

    This same advice can be directed toward the current foreign Islamic leadership in America today & the cultural colonialism plaguing our communities. Begin by creating a new generation of scholars of Islam who have the capacity to study & deliver Islamic altruistic sociology & understand the reality that we are facing in America today. Unless that reality is understood & respected you can not respond to it. Unless their is empathy for the native born in this country you can not help them or yourselves. Further more they should have the moral capacity to step down from their positions & allow the American scholarship to lead the future of community building so desperately needed today.

    Jibril~By The Will

    • jannah says:

      Salam Jibril,

      Brother very profound comments. This is truly the vision our communities need in America. We do have some students studying overseas but it is slow going and it is mostly independent from our communities. May Allah give them Tawfeeq.

  10. Wasi says:

    Thank you so much for this. I agree on so many levels.

    I’m hoping to go back to uni to study counselling next year, though doubt that my knowledge of Islam is enough to properly be able to call myself a ‘muslim counsellor’, but, we’ll see.

    There is such a need in our community for greater understanding and compassion, and a stronger network of support that is not judgemental nor imposing.

    • jannah says:

      Salam Wasi,

      I am so happy to hear that. I don’t think counselors have to be ‘perfect Muslims’ or those at the level of ‘scholars’. We just really need professionals or experts to teach us things like how to communicate, how to work through issues, how to build programs and so on. Compassion is a beautiful word and I pray our communities can build based on that in the future.

  11. Mariam says:

    Jazakullah kair for this eye opening article and the great suggestions. May Allah swt bless you!

  12. Um Aboodi says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    I congratulate Ms. Huma Ahmed on an excellent article! It is a positive step toward addressing the issues surrounding Muslim youth. Maybe Ms. Ahmed can even found and chair a national organization, e.g. Muslim American Youth or MAY for short, that may serve as an advisory body to Muslim communities, masajid, and various levels of government (municipal, state, federal). There is a dire need for youth centred efforts. MAY can have various professionals on its board of directors such as social scientiests, youth activists, and community leaders. It can have chapters in different states. And through MAY, parenting courses, youth counselling, pre-marital courses can be co-ordinated. You will need funding for sure, but there should be enough community interest after what has been happenning to the youth. There is an Arab proverb, the 10,000 mile journey starts with one step.

    Please consider it.

    Jazaki Allah khair for your efforts and may He shower you and your family with blessings in the dunya and hereafter.

    • jannah says:

      Walaikum Salam Um Aboodi,

      That is a truly wonderful suggestion but I will say that you’re talking about the work of a lifetime! I do believe there are some youth organizations that are out there already, such as MYNA or MAS and others. I think Muslims in each community should start working with them again. They really need an infusion to revive them and to change their model to fit where we are now.

      MYNA and the camp/conference model really helped us in the 90s but I don’t know if the same model can work today. More work needs to be done on this to try to figure out the best approach to the problems of our youth.

      I’m more a person that believes solutions to our problems need to begin at the local level of our communities. Something each one of us can do and work on.

      Ameen on your Duas and I pray the same for you :)

  13. AamenaO says:

    I have been saying this for years! Thanks for posting this!!!

  14. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this much needed and very informative post!

  15. HijabMan says:

    except our mosques are not safe havens :)

  16. Mahmood Marfani says:

    Parents and Youth.. Open your eyes before it’s top late. Use organizations play serious role instead few individuals.
    This is serious issue and Some broad base organization can establish a Team of Qualified,
    Professional and experience Consellers to educate and help communities. I open to participate in any such organizations.
    Mahmood Marfani, Social Service Volunteer,
    Shifa Clinic Houston/

    • jannah says:

      Salam,

      MashaAllah, jazakAllah khair brother. Maybe the first step is to have a list of resource people in each community so when a problem comes up Mosques can refer them.

  17. Saifullah says:

    I agree that our ummah needs radical change to remove the radical ideologies.
    Radical in the sense that women are treated as second-class by so many people in our communities.
    Radical in the sense that wives are nearly enslaved to their husbands and all marital problems are borne solely on their shoulders.
    Radical in the sense that we are heavily discouraged from talking about marital problems with “outsiders” and when they are discussed with family the problems are dismissed.
    Radical in the sense that culture has overridden faith in so many of our communities.

    As a convert I was told so many things to do and not do and when I questioned them I was told “This is part of Islam!” only to later discover that it was not, and they are part of individual cultures. Converts are bounced around like ping pong balls between Arab, South Asian, African and Eastern European Muslim communtities and see so much difference that many of us give up on finding the real Islam that we fell in love with. Many Converts stop going to the Mosque altogether.

    As an Ummah we must purge the “us versus them” mentality which is typified by defining anything non-Muslim as “Western” or “Kaffir”

    It is not anti-Muslim zealots like Pam Gellar nor is it the extremists with bombs that will destroy the Muslim community. No, it is everyday radicals that are corroding our communities from within.

    • jannah says:

      Salam saifullah,

      So true brother, those are major problems we need to work on. Converts too need a whole separate amount of resources and help and #1 like you said is for people to recognize the differences between Islam and culture and to not impose those things on people coming into the Deen.

  18. Halimah says:

    Your article is very concise and yes your suggestions sounds really good maybe a little too ideal. The masjid which I live very close to and my kids attend is surely NOT a safe haven. Too many pedifiles/child molesters go there….they accepted Islam while in prison then they come out and doing the same things. Intact they are sending the little kids to buy drugs for them. I’m in a horrible financial situation ever since October and still I am unable to go back to work. My son spoke to the Imaan and explained our situation. All I can say is the Church treats the Christians better than the masjids do for Muslims. Maybe as a nation we can make dua that only people with humanity and compassion should have “Imam” status same rule applies to the brothers on the Shura.
    Ameen!

    • jannah says:

      Salam Halimah,

      Too ideal :) Possibly… but they’re just suggestions to start with. It’s a hard long road to get to where we have solutions like that in our community, it takes years too. But I just hope these ideas start getting talked about, problems are recognized and then inshaAllah people can start working towards them.

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation and hope you can look into the other Mosques in your area and perhaps other Muslims who can help you on an individual basis. And I agree that our Mosques have yet to develop the kind of social resources people turn to their houses of worship for. I don’t think we quite have that model yet in N. America, but hopefully we can think about how Churches are set up and the amount of things they do to support their congregants, ie even down to English classes for immigrants! Ameen on your dua sis!

  19. Roziah says:

    I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia & attend religious talks every now & then at the majids. Listenng to these talks, by men & women, there is always this undertone that women must always be subservient to men and do all just to please their husbands. Even on radio. Yes, so we as wives must; but when do they start telling the men that they too must begin to understand their wives; to say and do things to please their wives?? We are told that even during confinement, we must “help” our husbands. We are asked do we not want the “golden parasol” by allowing our husbands to marry another, ( or even 3 others – this is allowed for Muslim men in Malaysia.) I’ ve stopped going for talks by certain ustadz at the masjids. When are they going to be fair to women?? I say “fair”, not “equal”. And I believe this is why the younger generation are looking up to and turn to converts and other prominent Muslims especially from Western countries, bcause they already have this mindset of equality or at least, fairness for both sexes.

    • jannah says:

      Salah Roziah,

      Thank you for your interesting viewpoint from Malaysia. It’s sad to hear that you feel some speakers are not being fair to women. Maybe you can speak up and ask them to give a talk on what a husband’s duties are to their wives and things like that! Hopefully they will take the example of other scholars that speak about this issue more. I know Imam Suhaib visits Malaysia sometimes so hope you can attend his talks there inshaAllah.

  20. N. says:

    These suggestions are all on point. Jazaki Allahu khairan. One issue, however, is at the core. It is the issue you mentioned in your first item — “confidentiality.”

    Unless the concept and practice of confidentiality — and related concepts like privacy, discretion, minding one’s own business, respecting personal boundaries — becomes more deeply rooted within the majority of individuals in the community, then the points on your list can’t be implemented in a healthy way.

    Connected to this is a need for more and more community members to see themselves as individuals with personal accountability, and not just as part of a gang, pack, or mob (or institution) called “The Community” that can act with impunity as a collective to pass judgement on, stigmatize, scapegoat, expose private issues of, or otherwise strong arm certain of its members (particularly its weakest, most vulnerable).

    • jannah says:

      Salam,

      Totally agree with you N. I think the #1 reason why Muslims don’t go to a Muslim counselor is that they feel what they say won’t be private or confidential! We need to make this an essential part of the process so that people feel comfortable and safe when they need help.

      About “community” it’s true there seems to be that mentality there, kind of like in high school when the “popular group” would do the same to others. Simplistic example I know, but both could definitely use some maturity!

  21. Rubina says:

    MAsha’Allah beautiful article, very informative and reading this really made me see the actual issues that we need to address and work on in our society.

  22. sarah says:

    MashAllah soo well said,loved the points u mentioned,,being residence of US I felt very embarrassed at that moment when my American neighbour was discussing me about the Aisha matter and I didn’t know wht to say.where was she and why she disappeared are the questions everyone looking.

  23. Yaqub says:

    As’salaamolaikum to ALL!

    It’s VERY IMPORTANT to remind ourselves and others that Islam is not only a way of life providing guidance to the approach of every sector and niche of humanity. Along with that; it’s a way of life that if followed according to guidance and principles laid out by Allah (swt) and exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)…is a PERFECT way of life. However reminders aren’t enough…actions are.

    It’s the followers that are IMPERFECT.

  24. Sarah says:

    Great article, but in reality the article is too ideal.
    It would be brilliant if Masjids were a safe haven, but in reality, the Masjid would be the first place to turn away someone in need as speculated in the Aisha Khan case.
    The Masjids, community members would prefer that such a thing not be discussed and nor are they willing to address such issues. They themselves do not want to feel responsible for giving a safe haven to the youth and more.

    I have a son who has begun distancing himself away from Islam. It pains me when we tried to speak with various Imams and youth leaders to intervene, that our needs were ignored and we were never responded to.

    Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that people of wealth and stature, someone who has contacts and knows somebody is more welcomed and their concerns are heard. For the average Joe, we simply need to make duaas.

    • jannah says:

      Salam Sarah,

      It is ideal, but something we should work towards. I don’t think it’s an impossible reality to have counselors that can help people in need, or have parenting seminars or things like that.

      It’s sad about your son, and the response of the people you contacted. I pray we come to realize that rich or poor, elite or not, the most important thing for the future is supporting our youth.

  25. Dyhia says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article and the suggestions of its author.
    There is so much we need to do to overcome the challenges faced by the Muslim society in North America. We are turning people away from the Mosques because we are not addressing their needs, this is worse for youth who facing worse problems.
    I wish mosques would focus more on fundraising to set up programs that can benefit youths.
    I feel bad for what this young lady must have gone through, and Allah knows how many you g ladies are facing similar problems and have no one to turn to.
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

    • jannah says:

      Salam Dyhia,

      Thanks for writing from Alberta! Fundraising is definitely important. We keep fundraising to build more and more mosques, but in the meantime what is happening to our youth. Every mosque should keep youth programs as a priority.

  26. UmmDanyal says:

    Ma’shAllah sister! I wish this approach could be adopted by more Muslims around the world. I pray we all learn to take positive lessons away from other people’s experiences. We need to learn from one another’s mistakes instead of focusing on critising.

  27. Tareq says:

    Nice list. If I may add to your points: Call things by their names. A liar is a liar! Finding psychological & social excuses is a cover up and will not deter future liars. A plague that I see spreading is that people “us” are confused about dark and light wrong or right.

  28. jannah says:

    Salam Tareq,

    I think looking at the world in black and white isn’t fair to it’s complexities. Even Islamic rules have leniencies depending upon the circumstances. If we never examine the underlying causes and factors of things that happen and plague our communities, we will always see the world with shallow eyes and it will be *us* who are ocnfused about dark and light, wrong and right.

  29. Dyhia says:

    @Tareq
    Your criticism is very harsh. You cannot judge what you cannot understand. Like Jannah said even Islamic ruling has leniency based on circumstances. We don’t know what this lady went through or what state she was in. You cannot argue that people can be pushed to do things they will never otherwise do under certain circumstances. Mental illness is very real and depression can hit the best believer among us. Life is not all black or white especially when we deal with such complex problems.
    May Allah guide us all and help us find compassion. What this lady needs is our duaa/ compassion not being ostracized by the community. It is bad enough that young girls have nowhere to turn to when faced with domestic problems at home. We have had cases here in Canada where young women died at the hand of their parents/brothers….
    I do not know what the situation is for Aisha but if it’s related to some of the above listed problems then we need to focus on implementing solutions and support to provide the vulnerable members of our Muslim society instead of criticizing them and shunning them.
    Salam,

  30. sara says:

    can you add a like option for facebook?

    • WebbStaff says:

      It’s on the left hand side of the webpage. If you’re viewing it on a smaller computer screen, it’ll be at the top of the post inshaAllah!

  31. Ahmad Abd Raffur says:

    Thank you for your well-written article. They are definitely good points to reflect upon. In a recent Friday’s khutbah, Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick pointed out that we need to reflect AND project. I believe your suggestions carry a lot of weight.

    Unfortunately, piggy-backing on Tareq, the fact of the matter is, someone lied. The prophet (pbuh) was very adamant about Muslims always telling the truth. I believe this should be addressed first rather than finding excuses for the perpetrator.

    Finding excuses doesn’t improve one’s character. Stepping up to the plate, taking up responsibility, and being accountable; do.

    Whoever lied in this case need to apologize.

    Shouldn’t that be another important learned lesson from Aisha Khan?

    • jannah says:

      walaikum salam brother ahmad,

      The truth of the matter is that we only know 10% of what happened in this controversy. We don’t even know who lied – the parents, the police, aisha, the ppl or media who propagated a certain story? You cannot make a judgement without knowing the whole story. See story of prophet Sulaiman.

      Take a little field trip to the Find Aisha Khan page on FB. You’ll see literally thousands of people (mostly Muslims) fighting over who they think “lied”, what they think “happened”, and who they think should “apologize”. That was the whole impetus for me writing this article. In the end we will never know, and we are wasting our energies there when we could be helping ourselves and our communities.

      I read a quote recently that was very interesting: “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves.” So true, and in this case… everyone wants to “gossip” and “make a judgement” and no one wants to actually do anything in their communities to make life better for the youth. Talk is cheap among Muslims it seems, but action very dear as usual.

  32. HennaK says:

    Salaam Huma,

    Thank you for writing a VERY necessary article. As a South Asian Muslim woman who is also a Social Worker in Canada, I can completely echo your suggestions. These are all essential and services such as Pre-Marital Counselling should be a mandated process of the Nikkah. It is so refreshing to hear that this is coming from a Psychology Major – I have so much faith in this generation. There is just an abundance of potential, mashAllah.

    Thank you again. I pray that people will open their hearts and take heed of your beautiful suggestions. Ameen.

    - Henna.

  33. K. says:

    Salaam,

    All of those suggestions are good but I note that none really covered the idea of girls and women being able to defend themselves. For all we know, Aisha was attacked and might even been suffering from actions of a sick man that could have been prevented.

    Learning how to defend yourself is part of the Sunnah. Please let brothers know that allowing their wives to fight back doesn’t mean that she’s going to rebel.

    • jannah says:

      walaikum salaam,

      that is actually a very good suggestion. i remember someone mentioning it in the beginning when this whole story broke, but forgot about it since then. we’ve had a few classes for sisters in this area and they are definitely very beneficial!

  34. Ahmad Abd Raffur says:

    I’ve been to FB site and I’ve read some comments.

    Contrary to your speculation, I don’t see myself as wasting my energy. During the ending session of RIS 2010, California, Sh. Suhaib said, ” Haq is haq and ought to be spoken”.

    The first step to help ourselves is to identify which areas that we need the most help in. Obviously, we differ in this aspect. I propose that those who made a mistake ought to apologize while yours, based on your article, revolves around how communities of Muslims can be proactive in many issues.

    Your generalization about “everyone wants to gossip” and “make judgement” are uncalled for. By these statements you judged me and many others whose intentions you might not have any clues about.

    You also made a harsh generalization by writing, “No one wants to actually do anything in their communities to make life better for the youth”. I invite you to come to Tulsa, OK, and see how many people are trying their very best to involve the youth and make them safe. I’m pretty sure, Tulsa is not unique in this matter. There are many communities who are very successful in their efforts in implementing sound tarbiyah for adults and youth alike. Your writing undermined their effort.

    Talk is not cheap among ALL muslims ya ukhti.

    Fi amanillah.

    • Dyhia says:

      Tulsa may be an exception and part of a small percentage on positive things that are implemented in Muslim societies in North America.
      I am not a counselor nor am I qualified to make statements. I rely on the Imams and scholars who are well versed in Islam and are very familiar with the Muslims in North America. They have talked about the numerous problems that have plagued Muslims in North America.
      You are focusing on criticism and negativity when we should all be working to improve the situation of those who need help.
      You cannot judge what you cannot understand. If the person is mentally ill or not stable then Islamic law would not apply to her or, like the sister said, the law would be lenient.
      I agree there are communities out there who are trying hard to improve the situation of Youths, but they represent a minority, and having [rograms geared towards youth doesn’t mean there are no problems in our society. Some of the problems are just taboo and not welcome in mosques: sexual abuse, emotional abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, to name just few, are all happening in North American Muslim society. Maybe as a man you have not been exposed or are not aware of the extent of the problems. I suggest you check some of the Khutbas made by well-known Imams in North America.
      Adultery, physical/emotional abuse are much more serious than lying under dire circumstances we don’t even know.
      As for the author of the article, I am so pleased for her initiative, and the numerous positive comments state an opinion different than yours. Having said that you are entitled to your opinion even if it’s part of small minority.

      May Allah guide us and help us be more compassionate and understanding.

    • jannah says:

      Salam,

      Hmmm the only person that has the “HAQ” here is Aisha Khan, so unless you are her, you are speculating about her thoughts and actions. That is no generalization, but fact.

      Not sure which of the thousands of comments you read, but I dunno, when people start talking about someone’s supposed boyfriend and what sexual positions she has been in the last 5 days, that sounds not only like “gossiping” to me but outright slander. Another fact.

      If you think that’s “Haq” to talk about those things and demand someone apologize without knowing 90% of what’s going on and believe that’s not making a judgement that’s your choice.

      I’m glad you believe Tulsa, OK is a great place for the youth, but sorry to say there are youth up and down the US that do not feel their Mosques are a great place, have major family, marriage problems and so on.

      Talking about issues and problems does not undermine anyone’s effort. If you believe yourself and your community immune, so be it.

      • Ahmad Abd Raffur says:

        Sister Huma,

        I re-read my posts and unfortunately I could not find anywhere in my posts that I speculated Aisha Khan’s thoughts and actions. Please enlighten us.(Unless the word “you” that is used in your response to my post meant the public “you” and was not directed to me.)

        I never implied that Muslims or comments on Facebook regarding this issue are not gossips. I wrote, “Your generalization about “everyone wants to gossip” and “make judgement” are uncalled for. By these statements you judged me and many others whose intentions you might not have any clues about”. I just reminded you that you generalized the public because you wrote, “I read a quote recently that was very interesting: “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves.” So true, and in this case… everyone wants to “gossip” and “make a judgement” and no one wants to actually do anything in their communities to make life better for the youth. Talk is cheap among Muslims it seems, but action very dear as usual. With this phrase alone, you put all Muslims (including your readers) in the same basket. And the truth is, not all Muslims like to gossip.

        Yes, alhamdulillah, Tulsa is great for many youths but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its issues. Nowhere in my response I implied that my community and I are immune (quoting your sentence). My words were, “…and see how many people are trying their very best to involve the youth and make them safe”.

        No one (as far I have know based on my reading of this article and its comments) is denying the validity of your suggestions. Some people pointed out some negatives and they are right too. If you do not agree at how some readers see the issue, it is definitely your choice. IMHO, listing “positive outcomes” does not render the negatives non-existent.

        Dyhia,

        Thank you for your suggestions and yes, I acknowledge that Muslims, in general, are not immune to experiencing social ills. I pointed just one of them. I wrote, “Finding excuses doesn’t improve one’s character. Stepping up to the plate, taking up responsibility, and being accountable; do”

        And thank you for not generalizing that I am naive by writing, “Maybe as a man you have not been exposed or are not aware of the extent of the problems”. I don’t want to claim savoire-faire but I am aware of many of them.

        In her response to wmjaved, Huma wrote, “why don’t we just admit that we have problems and work on our own instead of blaming others?”.

        Let us follow her advice and stop blaming the masjid, the imam, the police, the Facebook bashers, and all other entities whose response and actions are out of our control.

        So, if one has lied and wasted the public resources, just admit it and say sorry. Hmm… I wonder what the ruling is to unscrupulously use public resources for your own agenda.

        Like I said, “Finding excuses doesn’t improve one’s character. Stepping up to the plate, taking up responsibility, and being accountable; do”.
        :-D

  35. wmjaved says:

    Unfortunately without knowing the details of the true cause of the Aisha incident, a lot of the responses here would qualify as typical male bashing.

    I am not sure that Muslim women are so powerless in the
    Western socities. I can understand that Muslim women not being treated fairly few decades back in the muslim world and still you see some reminiscences of those in that part of the world but definitely not in the western world.

    How well the non-muslim women are treated in the western world? Have you seen the treatment of hispanics/blacks/white women in US, this is despite the fact that most of them work full time and take care of the kids at home?

    • jannah says:

      salam wmjaved,

      The Aisha case was just used as an example to show how people are fighting over something when they could be using their energies to better their communities instead. So the problems and suggestions highlighted don’t necessarily have anything to do with that story.

      About Muslim women being powerless in Western societies. Yes it does happen. Family pressure does happen, forced marriages do happen, domestic violence does happen. Not all is perfect just because someone lives in the West :) Sorry if you think that’s “male bashing” but our problems are what they are.

      Treatment of non-Muslims is a whole other issue, why don’t we just admit that we have problems and work on our own instead of blaming others?

  36. shakib says:

    every marriage has its meridian point. i have seen marriages borne out of love and surrounded with loved children far from perfect. infact many a times an uneasy understanding is reached, albeit at different times, through considerable pain and a feeling of entrapped bondage that looks normal from the outside. the discordant instruments warps into divergent notes that turns a baritone duet into high pitched soliloquies that seems to bounce off the walls. the disagreements stays unheeded and angers die down in the ashes of future discontent. the make-ups and break-downs occur so numerously that the words often loose its meaning and the distances their bite. the two people who were once swimming gradually stays afloat in a choreograhy of apathy caught up in the turmoils of life’s cesspool.

    aisha’s story or those of so many unmarried (by choice) young women or of their parents who are married yet psychologically divorced, are the symptoms of our dysfunctional diasporic communities caught up in imaginary and real pathology of our own making. maybe we as muhammed asad, pointed out in his Road to Mecca, have not been able to incorporate the western ‘progress’ within our spiritual ascent. as cultural muslims, we often become victims of our own habits of cultural oppressions that neither benefits us nor is from islam. the people who once loved each other but no longer does so, choose to stay violently faithful within a system of oppression because the option of not doing so is a social no-go; when that option often is the only door to some sort of mental rectitude, if not a closure.

    • jannah says:

      Salam shakib,

      Very interesting post bro. While we don’t know the details of the Aisha case, your philosophical thoughts are one’s every Muslim should ponder.

      JazakAllah khair.

  37. Tareq says:

    I have no doubt that Aisha has her own “good” reasons for doing what she did. The scale that her case been escalated to, oblige her and her family to explain and to apologize. Obviously, the family is embarrassed and failed to meet their obligation toward the people who helped them!

  38. Aminah says:

    Salaam,

    All of this things are available in every city in America. Until Muslims assimilate we will be isolate ourself.

    • jannah says:

      Walaikum salam,

      This is a good point sister, some things are available like marriage counseling and we should be using other resources and working with others as much as we can. But some Muslims do not feel comfortable with going to non-Muslims with their problems. Also there are some things that are just unique to Muslims even culturally that others would not understand. Specifically courses like marriage, parenting, and crisis seminars can be tailored with Islamic perspective, advice and examples to help people.

  39. Nahid Mohamed says:

    We need to establish scholarship programs that could recrute students to study in such fields, councling, family councling, teenagers challenges…etc.

    • Ahmad Abd Raffur says:

      Your ideas are very valid and essential at this present time.

      I am a school teacher and sometimes I randomly asked my students what they want to do when they go to college. I don’t have numerical data, but most of the time, many of them answered that they wanted to go into the medical field. Many of these students are born and raised here, in the USA.

      The most ideal and balanced picture would be, IMHO, that we, as parents and adults give our children the sense of necessity and impress upon them that Muslims are problem solvers not problem makers. Undoubtedly, it is a feat since many times, many children would witness animosity among adults at their local masajid.

      The essential question is, “How do we, as adults, model to our children that most of our actions are based on necessity not our whims and fancy?”.

      If we patiently educate and nurture our youth that their career choices in the future would impact their society (muslims and people of other faiths alike), we can actually see our children choosing career paths that not only benefit them but benefit the society as a whole.

      The world needs caring, justice, and trustworthiness. Who else could fit the above criteria other than practicing Muslims?

      Choosing a career path based on personal choice is a right, but choosing a career path based on a more global idea of reaching out to people so that one can have a virtuous impact on the society, is thoughtful, purposeful, and noble.

      Why don’t all of us who are connected with the youth or young children do a small informal survey and ask what their career choices are and then ask why those choices are made? That is a good start in designing a tarbiyah program at our local MSA’s, Sunday schools, or Islamic school.

      What does your child want to be when he/she grows up?

  40. Tarek says:

    Jazakallahu khairan for a very introspective post. I really wish people who spent SO much energy talking about this spend a fraction of the energy enacting any one of your suggestions.

    Small correction, I believe the story you alluded to in your seventh point is by Prophet Dawoud (David) PBUH and not Solomon (the two foes who climbed over the wall to showcase a problem to him and he took sides too quickly).

    Also, you said “Radi Allahu anhu” (may Allah be pleased with) after a prophet’s name instead of “sallallahu alaihi wa sallam” or “alaihi assalam.” Technically it’s not wrong (may Allah be pleased with all prophets), but I think the form you used is usually reserved for companions of the prophet PBUH.

    • jannah says:

      Wa iyyak brother Tarek,

      Wow bro, I must have been really asleep…I need you to be my editor!! I can’t edit these articles here but so noted. Jazaks for the corrections!

  41. ummohammad says:

    I have found it is very helpful to find a counsler or family therapist that is muslim to understand the different problems women in our culture face.
    We have here a few younger generation students who havve mastered in counsling and family therapy.

  42. muhammad says:

    mashallah amazing article and the suggestions are very realistic and very beneficial.

  43. Farihah says:

    Huma, these are excellent suggestions! The US has lost an important voice and progressive Muslim thinker =).

  44. shaghil says:

    mashaAllah Huma Appi

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