Today, we would like to take the opportunity to honor our dear sister, Asma Hanif. Sister Asma is our latest example of Muslims making a positive contribution in the West. Sister Asma is one of the founders and the current Vice-Chairperson of Muslimat Al-Nisaa, a women's shelter in Baltimore, Maryland (USA) that was designed to assist homeless, Muslim females across the United States. Originally founded in 1987 as a non-profit organization to provide social services to Muslim women and children, the organization realized in 2005 that it needed a shelter to house our sisters who were going through tough times. The Muslim community is not immune to issues like domestic abuse and thus many times our sisters need a safe haven where they can seek refuge from their abusive lives.
The Muslimat Al-Nisaa is possibly the only woman's shelter in the entire United States that is 100% Muslim. To receive government funding, an organization is required to be open to everyone regardless of religion. Because of its commitment to serving only the Muslim population, the shelter does not receive any government funding and relies solely on donations. When asked why the shelter does not accept federal money, Sister Asma stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy Muslim environment at the shelter. She stressed the need of giving our Muslim sisters a safe haven where they can practice what they believe without judgment, criticism, or fear of retaliation. Furthermore, Sister Asma stated that the Muslim Ummah in this country and elsewhere is supposed to be a mercy to mankind instead of a burden on it. She wants the community to be self-sufficient. Indeed, as Muslims, we do not reach out to the federal government for financial support in building our masājid, so then why should we allow our sisters to beg the federal government for social services. The Jewish community takes complete control and care of its domestic issues. Yet the majority of our community seems to be dropping the ball on issues like domestic violence, women's rights, and social services. Indeed, a community is only as strong as its weakest link and one of the most vulnerable groups in our community is our abused and abandoned sisters.
Alḥamdulillāh, Muslimat Al-Nisaa has been a blessing for our struggling sisters in the community. Not only does the shelter strive to give housing to struggling sisters in their time of need, but it aims to provide proper counseling as well as to help our sisters figure out their next step in life. The shelter continues to provide basic needs and rights for our beloved sisters and it relies on donations from people like us. Many of us all claim to care for our abused and abandoned sisters, but actions speak louder than words, so ask yourself, “How many of us truly show our support for our abused and needy sisters with both our prayers (duas) and wallets (sadaqa)?”
Serving the Creator by serving His creation, Sister Asma Hanif is an inspiration for all of us living as Muslims in the West and everywhere else! May Allāh (SWT) bless Sister Asma and her family with steadfastness and sincerity in all of their work and May He bless the work of Muslimat Al-Nisaa and help those in need both domestically and abroad, āmīn!
To learn more about Muslimat Al-Nisaa and to find out how you can help, please check out their website, http://mnisaa.org/