Muslimat Al-Nissa: MSA collects supplies for Muslim women’s shelter

by   Posted on May 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Shafi Khan, Broadside Correspondent

The Muslimat Al-Nisaa, a shelter for abused and battered Muslim women is currently located in Baltimore, Md. The shelter for safety reasons does not give out its address, vetted guests are asked to meet at an address a few blocks away and then follow a car to the house that blends into its unassuming street.

Once inside, the large house is warm and full of life, children running and playing, as their mothers try to cope from the trauma of broken homes they left behind. In the tight knit American Muslim Community, where there is always family, these women are the ones that really have nowhere else to turn, and it if it wasn’t for this shelter, the cold streets would be their home.

After being moved by the scene, students in the GMU Muslim Students’ Association started to brainstorm on how they could increase their involvement in community service projects and also reach out to the George Mason University community. Out of this brainstorming, the GMU Muslim Students’ Association launched the newly formed outreach committee. “The outreach committee is a branch of the GMU Muslim Students’ Association which focuses on involving individuals in philanthropic, community-engaging activities,” explained Sarah Albani, a freshman neuroscience major and one of the founders of the outreach committee. She added “we hope to raise awareness about our faith by bridging gaps that may exist and promoting collective involvement within our society.”

In this spirit of service the outreach committee dedicated its first project to supporting Muslimat Al-Nisaa, the only shelter serving homeless and battered Muslim women and children since 1987. It began a coordinated and large-scale effort to collect supplies for the shelter while raising awareness about the importance of the services it provides.

On Friday, April 9, the outreach committee invited Imam Johari Abdulmalik who delivered a rousing and emotional talk at Mason beseeching the students to get more involved in community service projects.

Supplies collected for the shelter piled up in a large corner of the room as Ms. Asma Hanif, the co-founder and current director of Muslimat Al-Nisaa, explained the importance of the shelter to the women and children who have no alternative source of support and expressed her gratitude for the efforts of the outreach committee. She stated that those efforts had increased awareness about the shelter and led more women to seek its help.

The MSA outreach committee used this event to launch a two-week long drive to collect supplies and toiletries for Muslimat Al-Nisaa, and with the permission of the university, a bin was placed in the Johnson Center near the Information Desk to collect more supplies until the April 23.

This effort, however, is only the beginning for the outreach committee. Hanaa Garaad, a sophomore studying healthcare administration and psychology and an organizer with the outreach committee, said, “One event we’re planning for next October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will be an evening dedicated to domestic violence awareness. We’re also hoping to do a project with Habitat for Humanity at some point during the academic year.”

The outreach committee also hopes to garner the support of dedicated volunteers to make its future projects successful. Hamna Riaz, a junior bio-chemistry major, and chair of the project, urged students to get more involved with the outreach committee’s efforts. She said that “students are able to support our committee by signing up on the MSA listserv as volunteers. We understand that as students, we have time limitations. However, with our combined efforts we will be able to accomplish many great things, God willing.”

Many of those who have volunteered with the outreach committee and assisted in organizing the drive for Muslimat Al-Nisaa have found it to be a rewarding experience. Muhammad Elsayed, a senior administration of justice major, said that “the most rewarding part of being involved in community service is seeing the impact that it has on our community members. The women and children at Muslimat Al-Nisaa shelter have been deeply impacted by the work of the volunteers, and this has been a very moving and rewarding experience for all those involved.” Sumaya Al-Hajebi, a junior sociology major, stated that “the best part of being part of such a committee is the feeling you get afterwards when you see how much difference you’ve made in someone’s life. The smile, the tears of joy, and the gratefulness they show makes all of your hard work pays off.”

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