sad article from the NY Times

I recently read an article about Iraqi refugees in Syria turning to prostitution to alleviate their poverty.

Some thoughts that came to my mind when I read this article:

1. I’ve heard a lot of Syrians complain about the Iraqi refugees, and they seem to blame them for many things, including increasing levels of traffic, the jump in housing costs, and a proliferation of crime and places of indecency. It really has a lot to do with the sheer number of people that have come into Syria in such a short time period (which I’ve heard is closer to 2 or 2 and a half million than the number mentioned in the article), and the lack of any sort of infrastructure that would help them transition into a healthy life here, such as viable working alternatives or assisted housing, etc. I think this is a clear example of how an unjust war inevitably breeds more and more harm, including the breakdown of family structure and a negative impact on neighboring countries.

2. I cannot imagine the desperation that would lead a believing Muslim woman, who prayed and practiced (like it’s mentioned in the article) go so far, and I can only attribute it to a state of real trauma, a hopelessness, that is beyond our understanding.

We really have no idea how big a fitna (challenge or test) poverty is for so many people in this world and how it can lead to a real shaking of faith. There are so many texts in which the Prophet, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, would seek refuge from ‘al-kufr wal-faqr’ (unbelief and poverty), as if there’s a direct connection between the two.

And wealth is an equally disastrous fitna, as can be seen by its misuse in the hands of the men who visit these places. The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam would also pray, “O Lord, I seek Thy refuge from […]the evil of the challenge of wealth and the evil of the challenge of poverty…” (Bukhari and Muslim).

3. It makes me really appreciate how appealing and dignified the quality of hayaa’ (modesty, chastity) is, especially in men, and how low, base and weak a man seems without it.

There’s a story of a righteous young man from the time of the tabi’i tabi’een (the third generation after the prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam) who was once traveling. While he was alone in his tent in the desert, in the darkness of the night, a beautiful woman approached him and presented herself to him. Hearing her offer his eyes filled with tears. She asked him why he had begun to cry and he said, “Out of a feeling of lowliness before God, that He would test me in this way.” And he asked her, “Do you not fear God, that you might die at this very moment?” The woman left, weeping in repentance.

A few months later he had a dream in which the Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) came to him. The man said to Yusuf (alayhis salaam), “I was amazed by your story in the Quran, and your honor and steadfastness before the wife of Azeez.” The Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) said to him in return, “and I am amazed at your story, when a woman approached you in a tent in the depths of night, and you remained steadfast.”

4. It also makes me think: Isn’t this a perfect example of when polygamy would be a healthy option in a society? These same rich Gulf Arab men who frequent these places… how much better would the situation be if they married some of these women, and honored them with the full rights, material and spiritual, that a wife deserves, instead of using them in this way, which only harms everyone involved: it hurts the men’s own souls and hurts the well-being of their marriages and their families, and it harms these women in such a horrible way, putting them at risk to disease, affecting their psychology and feelings of self-worth, damaging them spiritually… There really is so much wisdom in the Shari’ah, and its goal truly is ‘to bring about benefit and good and to avoid and push away harm’ in all of its rulings.

5. When I read things like this I really think about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. There are so many people in this world whose life struggle is simply to survive. What about me and you… what’s our struggle? What are we supposed to be doing, seeing as we’ve been blessed with so many things, not the least of which is well-being, safety and wealth?

May Allah protect us from the harms of poverty and the tests of wealth and make us people of courage, uprightness, honor and ‘iffah. May Allah make things easy for our brothers and sisters suffering in this world, and take us collectively from darkness into light, ameen.

Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 12:23 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. Ameen Jazakullah kheyrun.

    SubhanAllah : ‘There are so many texts in which the Prophet, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, would seek refuge from ‘al-kufr wal-faqr’ (unbelief and poverty), as if there’s a direct connection between the two.’

    scary because we’ve never really been in poverty, so how can i be sure im ready for it if it comes. and Allah says that He will test our imaan. May Allah grant us preparedness for this museebah ameen.

  2. ‘When I read things like this I really think about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. There are so many people in this world whose life struggle is simply to survive. What about me and you… what’s our struggle?’

    yes, I think about this all the time, but thinking isn’t enough.

  3. I have read this article and it shocked me. That out of billion + strong Ummah we are treating Muslim widows and children as described in the NY Times article.

    It is no wonder that Allah has removed his protection from the Muslims. The treatment of these widows is a collective shame.

    1. It is a shame on the Arab Muslims first as they speak the language and many have the wealth to take care of these widows.

    2. It is a shame on the collective Muslims as a whole. It is no good to stand and whine about gulf Arabs Muslims or the blizzard of sheiks kings and dictators leaching into the blood of the Muslim Ummah.

    This problem is not a problem for Busharraf or Horsny Mubarak. They are munafiq from the word go.

    Now as far as solutions go it is much harder as we have to look into our own soul and purify our intentions and motivations.

    My suggested solution (please remember that my solution may have its own bias).

    Let us say one brother goes to Damascus rents a 4 bedroom apartment asks local relief agencies to find him 3 widows with children that love our deen/Islam and need help.

    Make an offer of nikah with the three women with the requirement to take care and educate their children as maher. In return the widows are required to stay away from fahishat and also not permit their children to get involved in fahishat. It would also be good if one of the widows has education and know English.
    Do thoroughly explain your plan and or have a translator explain it to them so they understand clearly. I would go for the widows with the most children (6 or 8) so as to maximize my score with Allah and His messenger but other can make offer to widows with only 1 or 2 children as they see fit.

    Once the widows accept the offer of nikah have some local sheikh perform the nikah and have small ceremony with food and gifts for all the children.

    The wives and children then move into the apartment one room per widow and children. For this proposal let us assume that each widow has 4 to 5 children and her age is around 40.

    In the apartment set up a schedule for the teaching and home schooling of children.

    I.e.:
    1. 5:00 AM Get up early and Pray Fajr.

    2. 5:30 All the widows and children do calisthenics for 10 minutes.

    3. 5:45 All the children and two of the widows go for a 15 minute walk

    4. 6:00 to 7:00 The widow staying at home makes breakfast for when the children and moms return. The stay at home widow can change every day so as to give all the widows some exercise.

    5. 7:00 to 8:00 clean up apartment and bedrooms wash-up and get apartment organized for study.

    6. 8:00 to 12:00 The children start on a home schooling program. Each of them spend 1 hour each on social studies, languages, history, religion, physics, chemistry, math and computers. Most of what is required can be obtained free of the internet.

    7. 12:00 to 12:30 lunch.

    8. 12:30 to 1:15 relax, make wudu and get ready for Zuhr salaat.

    9. 1:15 to 1:30 Zuhr salaat.

    10. 1:30 to 2:30 Islamiat

    11. 2:30 to 3:30 Hifz of Quran.

    12. End of home school get some light snacks go to local park if available and play soccer or other games.

    13. Pray Asr set time children must be back and pray Asr in jamaat.

    14. From Asr to Maghrib relax study Islamiat and memorization of Quran.

    15. Pray Maghrib in jamaat.

    16. Between Maghrib and Dinner is an entertainment gap. Entertainment will be playing games like chess checkers and reading.

    17. One of the widows makes dinner with cooking responsibilities are shared.

    18. After Dinner everyone including moms and kids write one page in their diary.

    19. Joint jamaat of Aisha closes the day. Aisha salaat also includes special dua from the children for their father and their mother.

    20 After finish of Aisha salaat the Children and mother will do another 10 minutes of calisthenics.

    20. After night calisthenics the kids will go setup their sleeping bags, brush their teeth and do light reading for 10-15 minutes. Then they read Quran for 10 minutes. After reading Quran and Dua the lights are turned off all children are in bed and lights are off.

    This schedule runs from Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday off. During the off days the children pray Juma and make special prayers for their parents. During Saturday the children go to some museums or walking or hiking. If a local park is not available they make a trip to the closest park.

    These are of course a first cut and their maybe much better methods and this schedule/agenda may need a lot of flexibility.

    The cost of this program is as follows.

    1. Rent of apartment on outskirts or other inexpensive area should be around $300 to $400. Another $500 is used to run the house hold. $100 to $200 is put into savings each month as reserve for a rainy day.

    Since Syria has inexpensive healthcare, food and even schools you may not need to do full spectrum of home schooling and may use the local schools instead. Unfortunately traumatized refugee children sometimes are taunted in public schools so they lose the drive to learn. Maybe do home schooling for a few years till the children are over the trauma and have built up confidence and can be placed in regular schools.

    The home schooling should also use any of the older children who have some education to help and teach the small ones who do not. Part of the home schooling agenda will be for the children to bond with each other and protect each other.

    There also the issue of mahrem/ non mahrem for the older girls. Since the boys and girls from different widows have different parents they are non-mahrem to each other. This has to be very carefully monitored by their parents. When they are of age they should be married off as soon as possible.

    Since the brother has made nikah to the three widows he has the option to satisfy them. This is where the issues get complicated as the brother’s existing family structure may not be amenable to such a solution. For brothers who are themselves widower this is generally not an issue. For others who have existing family wife and children should first of all look at their financial structure and ability to spend an additional $1000 per month. Also they should consult their wife with what is the best solution for this.

    The Quran has clear statement about such a solution but the brother should make sure about his own intentions. Even if the intention is self gratification it is still permitted since our Creator Allah knows us very well and has permitted this mechanism so as to both safeguard both the widows and the husband. Taking care of the widows and their children in a halal way leads to benefit for them, satisfaction for the brothers and inshallah mercy from Allah and of course a notice from our Prophet of our closeness to him. A regular win win win.

    So what do you people think? I am thinking of this but I am concerned about my own intentions. Is the evil one leading me to evil in the guise of doing good? On the other hand reading the NYtimes article has been bothering me every day since I read it.

    Is my suggestion a solution? or is it a bised trick in which I am only tricking myself and will have to answer before Allah

  4. I believe in your will to help, may Allah guide those muslims to the right path. And your plan does sound feasible to me, but it might take alot of the higher authorities(govt, muslim leaders) from your region to approve such plans. Insya’Allah, one way or another, our Muslim brothers and sisters will be saved. Ameen.

    And this makes me realise, how lucky most people are..
    Im ashamed of who i am, when i think about those who go through these challenges that Allah has tested them with. It makes me think, doesnt Allah want me tested? Am i not in his sight? Astarghfirullah.

    May Allah bless all muslims, for only HE determines how it goes. Salaam.

    -dhil

  5. […] sad article from the NY Times […]


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