Muslimat Al Nisaa: Shelter our Sisters!

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 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.

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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.

This past summer, during Sacred Scrolls with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and Imam Suhaib Webb 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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19 responses to “Muslimat Al Nisaa: Shelter our Sisters!”

  1. innalhamdolillah. audhobillah, wa bismillah:

    وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
    Surah Aali-Imran, ayat 104:
    Sahih International: And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.

    may Allah count all of those working on this project, you, and all of those who contribute to it, among the successful ones. we all look with hope to mansions in Jannat al Firdaus, and indeed, when we close our doors in the dunya to brothers, sisters, families in need — we should pray hard that Allah will leave open for us doors to Paradise. astagfirAllah! astagfirAllah wa attoobu alayh!

    please also vist niswa.org — west coast shelter for women and children.

  2. Abd- Allah says:

    Once a homeless brother came to the masjid asking for help, and after salah everyone left and no one even bothered helping him out, and he was stranded in the masjid parking lot at night without having anyone give him a ride or money. The brother mentioned that he wants to get a job to work, and he was willing to work anywhere like a gas station, but it was hard for him to find a job. I also heard (don’t know how true this is, so if anyone knows please correct me) that according to the government, you don’t exist if you don’t have an address, so you can’t even apply for aid or anything. Not to mention that if you apply for a job but don’t have a place to live or an address to put down on the application, many places will not even hire you. Many of the homeless brothers and sisters would love to work, they just don’t have the opportunity or means of finding a job. I think a muslim organization which has a main goal of helping homeless muslims find jobs and a place to live, and after the first few weeks or month, these people can take care of themselves and won’t need anyone’s help anymore except Allah’s help and mercy. So I really think that this is what we are missing, and this will help out many people, because how long can a person keep donating to a brother or sister to help them out to eat and stuff, but in the end that brother or sister is still dependant on that person and they are still homeless and hungry. Most of them are normal people but become homeless due to a major problem that happens to them which destroys their life, and so they become homeless and their life falls apart and they lose their job and become hungry…. the point is if we can start an organization that not just shelters them, but also helps them get their lives back together and find a job and settle down, it will be much better than to try put them in shelters and keep collecting food for them and donations. I mean that will still have to be done for the ones who can’t work or won’t be able to support themselves and become independant, but some of them only need temporary help to get their lives back on track, and it isn’t really hard for us to provide that help for them. I mean how would you feel if you had no place to live and you always were looking for donations to eat? yea most of us don’t even know how it feels. Alhamdulillah, thank and praise Allah for that blessing, and then go help out your brothers and sisters in need, because you never know you might become homeless one day. By the way, if you have Zakat money, this might be a good place to put it, and Allah knows best.
    May Allah make it easy for all our homeless brothers and sisters.

  3. br Abd-Allah: one of the goals of Muslimat al Nisaa (if you check out their website) is to provide our sisters with workshops and training to enter the work field. The issue is however that many of these homeless women have children and no one to take care of them. The best option for these sisters is to receive aid and funds to provide for their children so they can stay home and raise them.

    When I think about the situation of homeless Muslims, I cannot help but think how much of a mess we have here…InshaAllah once we get our priorities straight, remove our biases against them, we can progress somewhere to helping our brothers and sisters.

    I sincerely am scared for our carelessness; subhanAllah, your own brother asking for help and you turn him down…And we wonder why our ummah is in the state we are in. Allahul Musta’aan.

    Ameen to the duaas. Jazaakum Allahu khayran Abu AbdAllah and Ayesha for sharing those organizations with us, may Allah ta’ala grant us success in helping our brothers and sisters. Ameen.

    Amatullah

  4. Abd- Allah says:

    yea but what I meant is to help them find a job, especially the brothers who don’t have kids to take care of. Some of them already have experience or training in some field of work, but they just need to find a job. Like this brother that I saw at the masjid, he is alone without kids and has over 10 years of experience as a salesman, but he couldn’t get a job because he is homeless. So I mean for a brother like him, the community provides no help at all, and that day after isha prayer, he was in the parking lot because he has no place to go and no one would even give him a ride to the shelter nor even give him money to ride the bus or something. Like there are a lot of muslims who own businesses and shops, so why can’t they hire some of these qualified brothers and sisters that might be looking for a job. Most likely, they would hire them if they were asked to, but the problem is that no one is matching up these homeless muslims who might need a job with the muslim business owners who might be offering one. Some one needs to connect these 2 groups of people, and I would love to see our masajid start some sort of program to do that.
    Of course we should also still give our homeless brothers and sisters the financial, emotional, and spriritual support they need, especially to those who aren’t able to work or those who have children to take care of, and the elderly brothers and sisters.

  5. Dawud Israel says:

    Ma sha Allah, this is awesome. It’s all about being relevant. Keep it up! :D

    I am just wondering how these places are run…in the post it said:


    Alhamdulillah sister Asma recognizes AlMaghrib Institute as one of the shelter’s supporters and we greatly appreciate this gesture from her and the organization.

    That kinda made me think…who is we? It kinda felt “us and them”–like a division…separate from the ummah and more for a certain group?

    And if so, then, I hope sisters who come with maybe a different understanding of Islam, that is different from AlMaghribies, will be treated with respect and their beliefs respected. I’d hate to imagine a sister’s shelter that makes “creed” differences an issue and instead of attracting sisters who need help…pushes them away by preaching about deviances etc. Like in “exchange” for helping them? I understand it’s a place for non-Muslims, but for some reason Muslims think of each other as better “game” than approaching a non-Muslim and those issues are for shaykhs to teach.

  6. Abd- Allah says:

    “who is we? It kinda felt “us and them”–like a division
    Brother Dawud Israel, I think you misunderstood. The ‘we‘ probably refers to Sr Amatullah and Almaghrib. Yes there is a division, a division between Muslimat Al Nisaa and Almaghrib, as they are both seperate entities and not one organization. This organization Muslimat Al Nisaa is NOT run by Almaghrib. Almiaghrib merely supports it. Muslimat Al Nisaa is an independant organization which could use all the help it can get. No homeless sister is treated differently because of her “creed”, and therefore we should ask the other organizations that might have different “creed” to join Almaghrib in supporting Muslimat Al Nisaa. Almaghrib is just one of the several organizations that support Muslimat Al Nisaa.

    http://www.mnisaa.org/About%20Us/Supporters.html

  7. Jazaakum Allahu khayran br Abd-Allah for clearing it up…br Dawud, in no way shape or form was I alluding to creed differences and such. By “we” all I meant was the projects committee at our qabeelah that organized this, as well as the qabeelah as a whole, to sister Asma and her colleagues for putting the institute up on the website. As the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: whoever does not thank the people does not thank Allah, and we all appreciate her kindness and gesture for thanking us in such a way. AlMaghrib was also recognized at a conference they had in August for the funds we collected alhamdulillah.

    I remember when the sisters called her and informed her how much we raised and collected–although it really was not much–she was very emotional to know that we as youth CARED and were able to do SOMETHING. May Allah ta’ala bless her and her organization, Ameen.

    and Allah knows best

    Amatullah

  8. Dawud Israel says:

    :)

    Thanks for the clarification.

  9. mulsimah says:

    Asalamualaikum

    JazakAllahu kair for posting this…I had left my abusive husband very recently..and all I can tell you is that more of this is needed… and one thing I encourage is DONT go to Imam for help but stuff like this is what muslimahs need.

  10. bintashraf says:

    Mashallah this is an excellent step forward. Let’s all spread the word and help and support the shelter as much as we can inshallah, to help alleviate the suffering and grief of our Muslim sisters and brothers here at home.

  11. SearchingPeace says:

    My sister is in great need right now, and we are at lost. She is suffering mentally and making her children one 2 years old and one 3 1/2 years old suffer as well. I have a full time job and can’t quit to be with her cuz i have to pay my rent and bills (student loans). Her husband has to work and he is constanly coming home early anyways, so now he hardly has enough money to survive. He works in Dunkin Donut, has no education….

    About a month ago we took her to the hospital cuz she tried to cut herself but hospital was horrible…crazy men and women living together, no halal food… we took her back home, but her condition is getting worst. Just the other day she tried to put the house on fire! And the children are with her. Social worker may take these two beautiful Muslim children if they find out!

    I really feel helpless. I can’t quit the work to be with her. Plus my husband will not let me cuz he doesn’t like my sister’s husband, simply dispises him. My sister lives in northern NJ. My plea here is: If any of you guys can give me ideas or know how to help her please e-mail me. We need to put her to psychiatric care and find a place for her children untill she recovers. At least for about two months untill our mother comes from our country. Any ideas Please!!! Also she has insurance and I think its Medicaid (Americhoice) and she is eligible for governtment aid i think, but we just don’t know how to get that…. She can’t drive and her husband has no clue….

    With great hope…. Pray for our family Please. I believe Only Allah can help us to pass through these difficult time. I pray for all my Muslim brothers and sisters. I know that compare to the world problem our problems are nothing…but still its just killing us….

    Praying for Peace of mind and soul….for all of us.

    Ma Salaama

  12. Olivia says:

    masha’Allah, i see this group at every conference here in the USA in the bazaar trying to raise money, may Allah reward them.

  13. UmmeAmmaarah says:

    Dear Searching Peace, i would have no idea of how to help, but InshaAllah, we will make du’a to Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’Ala, for your sister, and all our sisters in these kind of situations.and Allah puts not a burden on a soul greater than it can bear, and Indeed after Hardship comes ease. Do not lose hope, and try and keep counselling your sister. If she is disturbed due to financial or personal problems, keep reminding her that losing hope is as bad as ‘kufr’, and that no calamity befalls a believer than that Allah shall compensate him/her for it with something better. Try and convey to her that forrall the hardship she has borne, she has increased her chance of ‘eternal happiness’ manifold, and to not waste that chance by hurting herself, and thereby, comitting a grievous sin. May Allah give Hikmah to all men and women, increase our Iman, and not make any of us responsible for hurting any fellow creature. May Allah give us the ‘Ilm, the resources, the will power and the know-how to abolish all our social problems. Aameen.

  14. Nazia says:

    Asalaam alaikum SearchingPeace,
    Our duas are with you and your sister in this difficult time for you. InshAllah, I’m not sure how I can help, but there is a women’s shelter in Passic County, which may be able to help? http://www.wafahouse.org/index.php. Try giving them a call. Maybe they could advise you and guide you to a solution for your situation. May Allah SWT grant you ease and resolution.

  15. redknight770 says:

    Asalaamwa’ alaikum

    Really nice article about the need for muslim based social services. The one question i have is that when we talk about these services, why do we only limit ourselves to helping muslims? Do the hadiths and quotes we use from the Qur’an only apply to helping the muslim poor, the muslim women, and the muslim orphans? There are so many organizations in the US today fighting issues of hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, etc. Is it agaisnt our religion to aid those organizations as well even though they may be Chrisitan/Jewish based?) I’m not saying we shouldn’t be starting Muslim-based social service organizations, but where in our religion does it say we shouldn’t partner with organizations in other faiths that are geared to addressing the same problems we are???

    • Abd- Allah says:

      it is NOT limited to muslims only, however in my opinion, muslims do get priority over others, because that is simply how life is. Ask yourself, if 2 people needed help, and one of them was your brother/sister/mother/father…. or any close relative of yours, and the other person was a complete stranger. of course you would want to help them both out, but lets say you can only help one ofthem for now, then who would you help out first? your close relative or family member of course, it is only natural for a human being to do so. and this is exactly the same way here, becase most muslims consider themselves part of one big family.

  16. Redknight770 says:

    JAK. You answered my question. Agreed that Muslims do take first party but we shouldn’t limit efforts to ONLY helping Muslims but to all of humanity.

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