Bismillah walhamdulillah[Written by Amatullah]
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 masājid 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), alḥamdulillāh. 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 Allāh ta'ala have mercy upon her, āmīn, and now this organization is run by sister Asma Hanif. Video on Muslimat Al Nisaa.
This past summer, during Sacred Scrolls with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and imām Suhaib Webb in Qabeelat Nurayn, we organized a donation and items drive for Muslimat Al Nisaa and alḥamdulillāh 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. Alḥamdulillāh sister Asma recognizes AlMaghrib Institute as one of the shelter's supporters and we greatly appreciate this gesture from her and the organization. Imām 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 Allāh for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children?“ (4:75)
- Allāh 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, Allāh will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the lot of] a needy person, Allāh will alleviate [his lot] in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allāh will shield him in this world and the next. Allāh 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, Allāh will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allāh will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone covers up a Muslim (his sins), Allāh will cover him up (his sins) on the Resurrection Day”. (Bukhāri and Muslim)
- Mus`ab bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas (May Allāh 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”. (Bukhāri)
- The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allāh, 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 masājid? Love for your brother what you love for yourself (Bukhāri).
2- Spread the word! Alḥamdulillāh communication nowadays is very easy. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said that a good word is a charity (Bukhāri). So if you cannot donate to this cause, give a kalimatan tayyibah, a good word, and email this to others inshā'Allāh.
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 imām 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)! SubḥānAllāh, 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 Allāh azza wa jal on the Day of Judgment? Seriously think about these issues, and do whatever you can inshā'Allāh.
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 Allāh 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, āmīn.