Tag Archives: love

Speak up for Her #Violence Isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey


Who is she?

She is the girl in your neighborhood, at your masjid, or college. She is the girl who doesn’t have a voice across the world. Who accepts what life has given her. She is the child that was never given a choice. She is the quiet one whose eyes tell a story. Who’s plight is undermined by industries that sell women. She is the writer who converts her sorrows to poetry. Who speaks volumes without speaking. Speak up, for her.

You have a voice. Speak up, for her.

You have a voice. Speak up, for her. (photo: Baby Z proudly supports #SpeakOut tabarakAllah, mashaAllah)

Today is February 14th 2015. Valentines day: a day to celebrate love. Love is defined as a special, sacred bond of deep affection shared between individuals. However, many within our communities are not celebrating love. Many are entrapped in a difficult cycle: the cycle of abuse. It does not discriminate. Men, women, and children are all affected and violence is not fifty shades of grey.

If you have not already heard from Kim K’s tweet, this year a racy film will also be released just in time for the occasion. The book and film itself are shocking to those who have experienced abusive relationships, as the film romanticizes abuse.

But, this post is not about Fifty Shades of Grey-the book or movie.

Rather, we hope to use the fame and platform that both the book and film will generate to shine light a problem within our communities.

Why are we taking the time to talk about this issue?

Research has shown that 1 in 4 women from around the world will be a victim of violent abuse in her lifetime. Within our communities, especially our Muslims communities, abuse can be a taboo topic. The environment created around even mentioning the topic of domestic violence is met by harsh glances, stares, and forced apathy. It is not our business to pry into the private life of others-this much is true, but if we cannot be receptive to those who are in need of help, then we have failed one another. Many of us live in a confusing culture; on one spectrum the issue is hushed over and on the other in a society that promotes movies like Fifty Shades. Enough said.

A recent study of 57 closed-case files from an American Muslim women’s shelter revealed that 37% had experienced multiple types of abuse, 23% experienced physical abuse, and 12% experienced emotional abuse.1

In a study of 190 Muslims seeking mental health counseling in Northern Virginia, 41% experienced domestic violence in the form of verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Victims were 71% adult females, 12% adult males, and 16% children. 60% of all clients experienced verbal or psychological abuse in their lifetime, 50% physical abuse, 14% sexual abuse, and 3% reported having a relative killed.2

So, what can we do?

We are not counselors or therapists. Not wanting to make familial situations worse, sometimes it feels as if there is nothing we can do to help…however that is not that case. There is always hope!

Here at Handbags and Hijabs we’re going to be running a series of posts under the tag #ViolenceIsntFiftyShadesOfGrey. We will be doing research within our communities to learn about programs that exist to help those in unfortunate situations.

A few key points to keep in mind are:

  1. Be aware. Be open and more importantly able to listen. Once we open ourselves up to be supportive to individuals undergoing situations of domestic abuse, Those in need will only be wiling to speak up if they know that someone is willing to listen.
  2. Speak Out. Dialogue. Talk. You shouldnot advise someone if you do not have the proper training or experience. But, you can speak up about your stance, and speak out against violence. It is important to realize that many victims feel guilty for the situations they are in. When we express our views against violence, we are emphasizing to those who reach out that they should not feel bad in doing so.
  3. Reach out to your community. Talk to our local communities. Ensure there are programs for women, men and child where they can go for support. You do not have create them, many times programs are out there, but taking the time to find them, find out what they’re about, and support them!

Our research will be bringing you organizations and support centers that are actively working to help in this cause. Insha’Allah with each post we will highlight the work and efforts of these organizations to further strengthen their efforts, promote awareness and ultimately help save lives.

The first group who’s initiatives we would like to highlight is the Thakaat Foundation. Thakaat Foundation is not your ordinary volunteer group. Thakaat is innovative and constantly tackling real-hard-issues yet are determined to find silver linings. At Thakaat the issue of domestic violence is headed by executive director Uzma Banwany. Uzma’s energy and support really helped move this project forward. Thakaat has two campaigns to promote awareness, the first of which is known as their Break The Silence campaign. Break The Silence is their year round project. This project aims to shed light on the increasing instances of violence against women in order to create a world where women and girls are safe from violence. This initiative is not just a local effort but has hopes that raising awareness at home can honor the plight of women worldwide. Proceeds from the Break The Silence campaign assist women in Ghana, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

Thakaat also does a L.O.V.E campaign every February. L.O.V.E or Love Over Violence Everywhere encourages others to SPEAK UP to for their raise awareness. The love campaign allows you to send a Valentine’s day card with to someone you love with a donation made in their name. You can unite with Thakaat in SPEAKING UP by contributing a donation on the L.O.V.E. Campaign webpage, www.tinyurl.com/lovethywoman.

This initiative was inspired by a sister who reached out to me, we hope you find this insightful and join us on this journey. Speak up, for her.

  1. Abdullah, Keilani. “A peaceful ideal, violent realities: A study on Muslim female domestic violence survivors.” In: Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri (Eds.) Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 69-89.
  2. Abugideiri, Salma Elkadi. “Domestic violence among Muslims seeking mental health counseling.” Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 91-115.

Learning to Love Him #SeerahClass Reflection


greendomePlease take a short moment to read darood (send peace and blessings on the Prophet (S) before reading this post).

While most of us live our lives knowing Rasoolullah (S), seerah class does what books and hours of Sunday school does not; it breaths life into the knowing, by allowing us to fall unequivocally in love. Emotions are tangible and they are real. What we feel truly affects us, physically.

After tuning into seerah classes via the Qalam institute podcasts with Moulana ANJ for sometime, I decided to share some of the thoughts that preoccupy my mind through the week between each class.

Seerah is the study of the life of Muhammad (S); the difficulties, the struggles and the eventual triumph. Most of us learn this at an early age in Islamic schools, weekend, regular or over the summer. Most of us carry a basic outline of the life of the Prophet (S)’s life in our mind: Cave of Hira, Revelation, Makkah, Boycott, Hijra are all terms we were essentially familiar with. Nonetheless, the seerah brings us something incomprehensibly greater and that is love.

Unlike so much of what we feel through out our day to day lives, whether it is love for a celebrity who will never know us, the desire to impress someone who will never give us a second thought, or the hope to become successful as strictly defined by societal parameters, we remain unfulfilled in our quests. Contrary to all that we keep near and dear to our hearts, it is the love that Muhammad (S) had for us, that gives us more than we can return. And it is regrettable that we often feel unable to return this love simply because we do not know him (S).

We know the facts, most children do, but we do not fall in love with facts, we do not fall in love with numbers, and we certainly do not fall in love with over-played emotions that we have become desensitized to. I recall siting in my Sunday School class while our teacher said, “Do you know how great Rasoolullah (S) was? He was kind to everyone. He was the kindest person. Kindest.” I remember feeling unfortunate to be unable to classify the words. Maybe I was to young to have met cruel, stingy people, or maybe I did not know what real kindness was, nevertheless, I remember feeling hopeless unengaged and equally worried that my classmates would feel similarly and would thusly write Rasoolullah (S) off with the simple adjective and would never desire to know more. Kind is good, mean is bad, but we still love both and in between, don’t we?

Love is tangible and listening to life of Rasoolullah (S)’s makes it 3D, makes it tangible, brings it within our grasps, allows us to venture into our mind’s eye and envision, sense, breath, and live in a time and feel something more than textbook historical figure “greatness” or philanthropist “kindness.” Seerah brings along connectedness that only love can foster.

I have noticed a trend. Many times great historical figures are referred by how much they conquest and how big their empires were. Very rarely are they considered great for their treatment of conquered people and even more rare are those of high moral character. I have noticed how their morals are written off as insignificant, by “look how much land and resources they accumulated, who cares how many were displaced or murdered, who cares about how he or she cheated on their spouse by engaging in immorality…” Historical greatness, it seems, is flawed. There is a simple trade off between greatness achieved and morality. This can never be the case with Muhammad (S): He was a successful military leader yet a loving father and husband, a ruler who sat with and befriended the poor and visited the sick, a Prophet who never gave a believer priority over a non-believer when it came to social justice, a man who was trusted by his own enemies-the very people that planned to kill him (S).

His greatness did not diminish his moral character nor did his morality decrease his greatness. Today Muhammad is the most common name in the world; a man of great simplicity has 1.6 billion followers currently worldwide (you can forget about counting your number twitter followers!) and people constantly speaking of him, thinking of him and teaching what he (S) taught. The daunting question that arises is: How does one fall in love with man so, so, so amazing? So accomplished, so great? Here’s what I am learning in seerah class…

Muhammad (S) cared. He cared about the people he met and interacted with. He loved his followers, and each person who spoke with him (S) would feel as though he or she were the most important or closest to him (S). Imagine this: meeting the President once on a trip to the state capital, and then imagine him calling you up and saying, “I’ve been thinking about you. I’ve been worried about you. I’ve been hoping you do well. I will do everything I can to see you succeed.” The President would never do this, you might get a signed letter in the mail, but a part of you knows someone else wrote the letter and the President hardly looked down before signing it. But Muhammad (S) did, he thought about us, he worried about us, he hoped we were doing well and he wanted to see us succeed. It is why he spent hours in prayer with swollen feet, for us. He (S) did not just lay down the law, accept the power and rule a people who showed fierce loyalty, he cared. He cared so much so that in the last moments of his blessed life who did he think of? Us.

He believed in us. And not just for the people who were already recognized and on their way to greatness but the average folks, the ones that tend to be overlooked by society, Rasoolullah (S) believed in them. To me this was tremendously eye opening. Many times within our own masjid people clamor over a few, while the rest of the youth are discounted. In fact, a leader at the local masjid once swore that two boys at our masjid would never become huffaz because “they don’t have what it takes!” SubhanAllah, it really makes me think that Rasoolullah (S) would have never discounted those boys.* A sister I used to go to school with tried to learn the recitation of the Quran, when she presented herself to the expert tajweed teachers they similarly discounted her, telling her she didn’t really know how to recite properly and picked the same few students participate in their group. I remember consoling her and wondering why, rather than foster her interest in Quran and recitation, they so simply tossed her aside.

Muhammad (S) gave importance to each of us and he (S) believed that we all could in some way succeed in being pleasing to our Lord (SWT). He never discounted anyone; he never picked a few and left the rest. This is seen in his love for the Ansar (the Helpers). Moulana ANJ described the people of medina as a group of “small town farmers” the ones who lived simply and were not given importance by the neighboring tribes and communities. Only years later would the world see greatness in these men and women that Muhammad (S) had seen in them during their very first meeting.

Muhammad (S) felt. It was never easy to do what he (S) did. Often times we chalk it up to “Well, he was the Prophet” and assume that he “would obviously be successful.” We fail to realize that the greatness and success took time, not minutes or hours but years…Years. Thirteen years spent in Makkah among not only enemies but hypocrites as well. Thirteen years working and waiting and calling while watching the few followers he did have be tortured. Thirteen years of abuses from the very people he grew up with, and it was difficult for him as it would be for anybody. This very human aspect of our Nabi is often left out of the conversation. Maybe we do not talk about the Prophet (S)’s pain, because it is unimaginable. Because it is too painful even in reflection, it is the hardship only a prophet (A) could endure. He was patient and forbearing and the extraordinary truth is that only Allah (SWT) could comfort and console Rasoolullah (S). (ref: Surah Yasin, Surah Taha tafseer by M.ANJ). The very human side of the Prophet (S) allows us to love a man who reached greatness, but still felt the way we feel. Our frustrations, downfalls and limitations were not strange to him (S). If anything, he (S) knew it better than we ever could.

Finally, Muhammad (S) smiled. For so many of us Islam is a set of rules and regulations and we think if we were to meet the Prophet (S) he would simply chastise us, tell us what we were doing wrong like so many do at the masjids today. What we fail to realize is that the Prophet (S) treated people as people, gave them their right and they were so incredibly surprised and taken aback by this that they immediately loved him (S) and they immediately accepted Islam. Muhammad (S) was a man who believed in them even if no one else did, who worried and cared for them as no one else did. He welcomed them to Islam in such a beautiful way that they would go to him with nothing, empty as those who are surrounded by dunya often are, and they would leave with everything, leaving behind the dunya and all it’s wonders and replacing it only with their love and loyalty for the Messenger (S), and they say that when he (S) smiled, his face was brighter than the full moon.


Sharing this reflection on the far-reaching efforts of M. ANJ and Qalam Institute and the seerah podcast series! Only a great teacher inspires students. While nothing matches sitting in a masjid and at the feet of a scholar, who can be opposed to learning small gems from the life of the Rasoolullah by any means possible? Links are in the Library of Gems to tune into live seerah class and access podscasts! Thanks for reading!

Necessary Accessories: Hijab And Medical School


Necessary Accessories: What I learned In Medical School [<—This is the link]

Sister Nusheen Ameenuddin kindly shared with us a link to her article about the role of HIJAB while in medical school.

Many of us are students pursuing professional degrees in all different fields and we often wonder: how might wearing Hijab might affect our future plans?

Sister Nusheen shines light on her personal experience with Hijab. How she over came fears of hypocrisy and negative reactions by building a relationship with Allah (SWT) through Qur’an. And how her future career as a doctor played a role in the importance of her identity as a muslima. Please check out her article via google documents on the attached link!

JazakAllah khair to sister Nusheen for sharing this with us! May you be rewarded for all the hearts you strengthen! Aameen.


Revved2013 Ramadan Reflection: The Sliver Linings


I’m writing this because I don’t want to ever forget. I don’t want to forget this moment. This second. This Ramadan in which I took a class you might have heard of called Revved for Ramadan.

I can’t explain precisely what Revved is, and when people ask I usually say it is a Quran class, because in my humble opinion that sounds pretty awesome within itself. At this point most people usually tell me, ‘Oh, interesting..’ but they’re not really interested and they don’t really want to know. They give me that patronizing look like, ‘are you really going to keep talking?’ and causally look around at the walls as if they’ll find a more interesting topic of discussion written on it’s panels.

So, here’s the more descriptive description:

Imagine settling in to take a trip, one of those super posh helicopter tours. You’re sitting with with nervous anticipation. You’re not sure what you’re going to see but you’re excited. Will you be able to stop at places on your trip? Are you prepared? Have you made all the proper accommodations? Who else is going with you?

And then the helicopter lifts off, you start and something amazing happens… and by the end of your trip you realize a very small price was paid for a journey so amazing that you can’t really put it into words. Sights you see leave you breathless gardens, canyons, caves, and oceans. If you stop for a moment, stick your hand out the window you can feel the breeze, taste the sweetness of the air in moments that can only be described as a miracle. Beautiful people surround you, they encourage and inspire you despite never having known you. They remember you and pray for you and wish you well. You quickly find out this isn’t just any ordinary helicopter, it functions also as a time machine. You watch the greatest moments in human history on the earth unfold. You watch Moses (Musa (A)) speak to Allah (SWT) for the first time, then prepare to face off the greatest Tyrant of all time. You watch Joseph (Yusuf (A)) wronged by his brothers rise to prominence in the Kingdom and reunite with his father. You watch young Maryam (A) place all her trust in Allah (SWT) and grow up to give birth to a miracle, Jesus (Isa (A)).

Essentially, it’s the feeling that you’ve won the lottery. And while you can’t really explain in words to those around you what you’ve gained except you realized one thing, Allah (SWT) answered your dua in the best of ways.

What was my dua? Well, that’s between me and Allah (SWT) and each day I see a beautifully crafted plan being laid out in front of me, and all those long commutes to university with my heart singing its deepest desires to Allah (SWT) are so rewarding…I can tear up just thinking about.

Now while I really wish I could share all the gems I’ve collected from Revved for Ramadan (better understood as: A Journey through the Quran). But I cannot. I have a beautiful 150 page notebook that is covered with these gems because I just had to write everything down. If you would like, you can most certainly come over and I will go through my notes with you. It’s a lot of fun! In fact I had made it a habit for going through my notes during tahajud with my family, and tweeting some gems (#revved2013) that you can find on Twitter.

These are the miracles, the magic moments, the silver linings.