We would like to extend heartfelt well wishes and prayers for our brothers and sisters celebrating their major holy seasons during December. We hope that you will experience happiness, health and good friendship within your communities and within this whole nation. We pray that the alienation, negativity, resentment and fear of the “other” will be replaced with the spirit that ALL faiths emphasize – the spirit of compassion, hospitality and good will to one and to all.
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all our friends and supporters for enabling us to continue being the “voice for the voiceless” – please see the feature on TMWF “Out of the Shadows” Plano Profile December 2016 (page 42-45), and the article featuring IARS in the Arts Link Magazine (pages 20-21), and the youth leadership empowerment organization (since 2007, our youth program has empowered approximately 500 young Muslim boys and girls in high school and college. The program has enabled them to serve their community in senior homes, hospitals, soup kitchens, in homeless services, and these young men and women have continued their undergraduate and graduate education in business, law, health professions, premed, and they are continuing to give back to society.
We continue to build friendships in our interfaith and outreach program, (please see the Shoulder To Shoulder program at Frisco Mosque) on November 2, 2016. We are really the symbol for what was stated recently “The Muslim community has the lowest crime rate, the highest entrepreneurship, the highest educational attainment for women in the country. They are the model American community.” Van Jones on CNN via Zainab Chaudry.
And yet, this year has also brought major heartaches with the senseless murders of three members of our community. We are doing everything in our power to educate about Domestic Abuse, and have provided workshops for the community, the youth and mainstream audiences. We continue to provide shelter for women and children who are suffering, and yet each month we turn away at least 40 women requesting shelter because we do not have any vacancy for them in our Peaceful Oasis Shelter – that is almost 377 victims to date this year!
Brothers and Sisters, we need your financial support to meet all the needs for shelter. We have used your tax and fitra money in the amount of $50,000 to pay for rent, utilities, medications, and registration fees.
Please make your end of year tax-deductible donation to TMWF and save lives.
Thank you for being a #PeaceChampion.
Hind Jarrah, Ph.D.
The months leading up to and after the U.S. Presidential Elections have left me with mixed emotions. I have been stunned and confused by the divisive speech and hate crimes being perpetuated and even endorsed by many in power, not only in my beloved U.S., but also world-wide. The cry of the not so distant past, “Never again!” fades with every seething fear monger’s pen and every hate filled fist pounding a pulpit for more death and destruction of the “other.” The louder voice calls, “You are either with us, or you’re against us!”
I cry, “Where is my beloved America headed? How is it that this land is more your land, than it is mine?” I’ve grown up here and interacted with so many different ethnicities, and that’s the very thing that has made me love my country: it’s tenacious hold on the belief that, “We are all created equal.” That’s why I am proud to be an American. I have been aware of the power-hungry in other parts of the world, where the 1% rule without regard for the suffering masses. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be here! The U.S. should be leading the way as the model for the rest of the planet. We should be seeing the humanity in each and every person, and in that we are stronger working together, for everyone’s well being, not just a randomly selected few.
While, I have been disheartened by what I have seen around me. I have also seen signs of hope. Americans who may not have been talking before to each other, are trying to have conversations, even if they begin as stilted ones. Americans who have been active for years trying to promote inclusivity, are ramping up their efforts with an infusion of new colleagues who may have been previously only inactive well-wishers. Americans are reaching out to ask their fellow Americans, “Hey, are you ok?”, and the answer is “Yes, thanks for asking, how about you?”
After the elections, I was concerned about attending my local mosque having learned of the rise of Islamophobia leading an increase in threats and hate crimes against law abiding, peaceful American Muslims. But I was very pleasantly surprised as I drove up to the first Friday prayers after the election. I found a small crowd of different ages of well-wishers of other faiths holding up signs of friendship to greet all the Muslim congregants as they drove into the parking lot of their mosque for the regular Friday sermon. Some of the signs read, “You are not alone,” “We stand with you, together,” “I love our Muslim friends,” and “Y’all means ALL!”
I waved at these dear strangers and mouthed, “Thank you!”, as I dropped my husband off at the mosque parking lot. I decided not to attend the sermon, so that I could show these kind folks how much my community and I appreciated them. I drove quickly to get them some flowers from a nearby grocery store. When I came back to hand them each a rose, I only caught a few of the sign holders as they were just dissipating. I managed to find out that they were actually strangers to each other as well, not affiliated with any organization. They happened to have shared similar ideas and connected on the Internet. Just strangers getting together to tell other strangers, “You’re welcome here.”
Meanwhile, my husband told me that inside the mosque the imam acknowledged these sign holders and their random act of kindness. He said their presence were signs of hope sent from God. May God continue to bless America.
– By Nagia E. Moharram
From Hind Jarrah, Ph.D., Executive Director:
“One more domestic violence tragedy”
One more tragedy of domestic violence (DV) occurred on October 23, 2016, in Richardson, Texas. The victim, Hanan Seid was a young mother of two children, a 3 year old and an 18 month old. She was gunned down by her estranged husband, after having moved out for her and her children’s safety.
I would like to express my utmost appreciation to our Imams who made sure to dedicate their Friday Khutbahs (sermons) to domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness month in October. Imam Nadim Bashir of EPIC, Imam Zia-ul Haque of Irving, Imam Yaser Birjas and Omar Suleiman of Valley Ranch, Imam of Islamic Association of Collin County, including Imam Yaseen Shaikh in Maryland, all raised their voices and condemned domestic abuse, and yet the murders continue.
As part of our awareness campaign, we interviewed Mufti Mohamed Umer Esmail from the Nueces Mosque in Austin, Texas. He highlighted their efforts in educating and supporting the Austin community, regarding the importance of peaceful relationships within a family and among men and women as well as the need to emphasize the equality of men and women as stated in the Holy Quran. Read more.
This year alone TMWF has served …
So what should be done?
Within the Mosques:
In the Communities At Large
We at TMWF are doing our best to address this issue, through a very thorough and focused comprehensive approach: both by serving the victims, and also by actively raising awareness. But we cannot do this alone. Saving lives and strengthening families requires the efforts of the entire community. Please join us, learn to recognize the red flags, know the resources available, be generous in your donations of funds, time, and expertise. Let’s work together to become a community of agents of change and of peace champions. Below are some of the resources available for educators and survivors:
Lastly, I would like to request everyone to exercise their right and sacred duty to elect the next President of this great country. Please click here to find your polling locations, and encourage all your friends to vote, too.
Thank you for being a #PeaceChampion.
Hind Jarrah, Ph.D.
Sadly, Governor Abbot has decided to withdraw Texas from the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program.
We at TMWF join refugee resettlement agencies and faith communities in objecting to Governor Abbott’s Decision.
Our agency and many others support re-settlement of Syrian refugees. It is to our advantage to welcome refugees. They are not a burden nor are they taking away jobs. On the contrary, they make significant contributions for the betterment of our society.
We believe that The United States of America is a nation of immigrants and refugees who came to this country seeking a better life. It’s interesting when reviewing the names of prominent refugees worldwide and nationwide to see a long list including co-founder and former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, and founder of Kinko’s, Paul Orfalea. Simply Googling names of important refugees and immigrants reveals names like Albert Einstein, Steve Forbes, Yo-Yo Ma, and Khalil Gibran among others.
Bill Holston, Executive Director of Human Rights Initiative in response to this decision by the governor sent this appeal to his church:
“On September 21, Governor Abbott declared his intention for our state to withdraw from the Refugee Resettlement Program. Refugees are people who have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or social group. Texas has led the nation in resettling those who have fled war torture and abuse.
This decision to withdraw from the Refugee Resettlement Program is wrong for many reasons.
First, it violates scripture. Among other places, Scripture records in Deuteronomy: 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
Second, it violates Methodist teaching. Our Bishops have said in response:
As Christians and as Texans our values are grounded in respect and hospitality toward newcomers. Those values lead us to welcome refugees to our state. We recognize that these are difficult and complex times but as Christians, we rely on Jesus Christ to overcome our fear of those who may be different.
So, please let the Governor know you disapprove of his decision as well as the hateful language that has been used in connection with demonizing those whose only action is fleeing war and chaos to seek refuge.”
Urgent Take Action Alert
Please call the Governor’s office: 512-463-1782 and use the sample script below:
“Texas has a proud history of helping refugees. We cannot turn our backs on families who are seeking refuge and a chance to rebuild their lives in peace. That is not who we are as Texans. I am extremely disappointed by the Governor’s decision and I will continue to support refugee resettlement in Texas.
Texas has the largest resettlement program in the country and has been successfully welcoming refugees for over 40 years. Despite the Governor’s decision, Texans will continue to welcome and serve refugees. Local charitable organizations will step up and take on the role of coordinating resettlement services.
The Governor’s decision goes against the overwhelmingly welcoming spirit from faith and community partners across Texas and around the country. Every day we see Texans practicing their commitment to courage and hospitality by welcoming refugee families.
The United States has the most stringent security screening process in the world. Refugees who come to our state want nothing more than to work hard, send their children to school, and build new lives in safety. We cannot allow our state to abandon families who have already gone through so much. That’s not who we are as Texans.
We are extremely disappointed by the Governor’s decision and we are determined to continue supporting the refugee resettlement program in Texas.”
This is a critical time to show your support for refugees. Every action counts. Make your voice heard today!
Your voice can also make a difference in the upcoming national elections. Please take advantage of this great right and go out and vote. I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on the issues and the platform of every candidate before you cast your vote.
On Sept. 17, 2016, at the multi-purpose hall of the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), TMWF in partnership with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) hosted an orientation workshop for newly arrived Syrian refugee families to familiarize them with their new home in the USA. The workshop was extremely well attended, with close to 80 attendees.
The host agencies aim was to make the new arriving families aware of important facts pertaining to their children, including parent children interactions, safety, Internet security, law requirements for driving, school attendance, etc.
The host agencies aim was to form long time relations with these families, setting up mentoring programs for them with current resident families who can “adopt” them and help them transition smoothly into the new culture and the new country.
If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please send in your contact information to email@example.com.
On a related note, Barbara Whitesides, author of the Arabic alphabet book, Sugar Comes from Arabic, read about TMWF’s workshop and graciously donated 5 copies of her book, to mentor families trying to communicate with their Syrian families.
What a kind and helpful gesture! Thank you, Ms. Whitesides! Both non-Arabic and Arabic speakers can learn simple basics about both English and Arabic, so they can begin their language studies to better communicate with one another.
What is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Every October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is observed to bring to light an issue that effects our community in a staggering way. DVAM is an opportunity for domestic violence organizations like TMWF, to connect with the community through meaningful outreach and awareness raising events.
Our “Peace in the Home” program has helped families to survive the trauma of abuse and achieve well-being, such as Uma and her family. Uma’s story below is just one instance where YOUR belief in our mission has made a life-changing difference.
#TakeaStand. Together we can stop this epidemic.
Talk about domestic violence and help us fight the cycle of abuse!
Victims of domestic violence like Uma live in constant fear. They feel the abuse is their fault and often times try to either minimize, or take responsibility for the abuser’s behavior. For victims of domestic violence home becomes a walk in a field of land mines – a place of constant terror.
Domestic violence at home also robs children of their childhood! Children are impacted by abuse sometimes even more than the victim. A child does not need to be directly abused or witness abuse to suffer its consequences; if abuse happens in the home, they know and are impacted for life. More.
YOUR contributions make it possible for us to provide 24-hour emergency shelter, 24-hour hotline, case management, legal representation as well as counseling for the victims and their children.
Everyone has a role to play in building a safer Texas. There are many ways you can show your support for family violence victims and survivors, and help create communities free from violence (tcfv.org).
Thank you for your generous donation to Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation on North Texas Giving Day 2016. The results are in!
We are humbled and honored by your continued support to fulfill our mission to empower, promote and support all women and their families.
TMWF uses your valuable contributions in the most effective way possible to bring renewed hope for the community’s most vulnerable members; promise of a brighter future for our youth; and education to build a stronger community.
Dear TMWF Friends and Supporters,
From the Executive Director:
“September: A Month of Remembrance, Celebration and Coming Together Emphasizing Our Common Bonds of Compassion, Kindness and Mutual Respect”
In contemplating the coming month’s events, I am deeply moved by their tremendous significance, locally, nationally, and internationally. September is an extremely busy month for TMWF, as you will see in this newsletter. Please join us for the wonderful programs, events, and presentations, which you will find extremely informative and relevant to ensuring a society of compassion, care, and positive social change.
I. September 5, 2016, Labor Day was a celebration of all the workers who contribute their expertise and knowledge to help society function smoothly.
II. September 11, 2016, is the remembrance of the tragic events of 9-11-2001, which changed history for us here as well as the whole world. We make sincere prayers for the families of the victims and all people in the world to live together in peace, harmony, and good will.
III. This year September 11, 2016, coincides with The Day of Arafah on the Islamic lunar calendar. The Day of Arafah is the final day of the annual Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. September 12, 2016 coincides with the celebration that culminates the ending of the Hajj, called Eid al Adha, known as the Festival of Sacrifice (celebrated for four days). These holy days will be observed by about three million pilgrims while they fulfill the fifth obligatory Tenant of Islam, the Hajj, as well as the rest of the 1.6 billion Muslims all over the world. During this major observance, Muslims are paying tribute and enacting the story of Abraham-the patriarch of prophets and messengers for Jews, Christians, and Muslims-therefore emphasizing that the essence of these three major world religions is the same.
I cannot help noting that the Day of Arafah this year is falling on September 11. Three million pilgrims will gather on the small hilltop called Arafah (Arabic for “to recognize”) in Mecca, where tradition claims that this is where Adam reunited with Eve after they descended from Heaven! It is such a sobering reminder that all of humanity are children of one couple, and all are brothers and sisters and cousins of one another, with common bonds uniting them together, irrespective of their different faiths, denominations, genders, ages, languages, customs, and economic statuses. While the Muslim pilgrims are on Mount Arafah (September 11, 2016), dressed in the simplest of outfits, they are indistinguishable from one another in their observance of the ritual. They all are actually rehearsing how all of humanity will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement, and will be standing before the ultimate and just Creator, with only their deeds and actions to speak for them!
As a Muslim, I feel that we are sending a message to our brothers and sisters in humanity, that should also be the most eloquent response to Islamophobes and hate-mongers, who are trying to separate God’s creation into ‘them’ and ‘us’, and turning races and faiths against one another: On this September 11, 2016, all Muslims worldwide will stand together as one compassionate caring human community, exchanging good wishes of peace together, and donating generously to feed and help those less fortunate, while following the example of Abraham-the father of all the monotheistic messengers-unified in their humanity and humility.
“Eid Mubarak” to all our Muslim brothers and sisters here in North Texas and to the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide for the great celebration of Eid-ul-Adha-the major Feast of Sacrifice.
IV. September 17, 2016, is the official opening of the Islamic Art Revival Series 5th Annual International Juried Exhibition at the Irving Arts Center. This event also highlights our shared humanity as it uses the universal language of art to communicate to all world cultures. Artists from different countries will present their talent and show the expansive influence of Islamic art on a large range of cultures resulting in a unique as well as inclusive whole.
V. September 22, 2016, North Texas Giving Day is another great day witnessing the bond among ALL people in support of charities benefitting different causes and needs. In fact, it is a miniature replication of Muslim giving during Eid-ul-Adha! Last year North Texas Giving Day raised $33 million through more than 118,000 gifts benefiting 2,020 nonprofits. Can you imagine what 1.6 billion Muslims giving on any Eid can amount to and how many people can benefit?
VI. September 24, 2016, is Muslim Day of Dignity where all Muslim charities come together to feed the homeless in South Dallas, and when TMWF will be sponsoring a workshop on “Establishing Peaceful Families” at EPIC Mosque in Plano.
My dear TMWF friends, members, staff, donors, I am inviting you all to join us at the upcoming celebrations, remembrances, and charitable giving to spread good will and compassion among all our brothers and sisters in North Texas.
I’m also asking for your sincere and heartfelt prayers for our loved ones experiencing very serious challenges to their health and emotional, economic, and physical well-being. May God bestow infinite blessings of healing and stability in their lives!
Why should you give on North Texas Giving Day?
Your support of TMWF’s various programs makes a difference in so many ways. When you:
We encourage you to give generously to TMWF and other charities of your choice on North Texas Giving Day. Donations that range between $25 to $50,000 will be multiplied by $2.5 million in bonus funds and prizes, which increases the value of the donation!
By giving during North Texas Giving Day, you show the care and compassion of the Muslim community.
Mark your calendars and be part of the excitement and incredible generosity!
TMWF services also include:
HELP IS AVAILABLE!! Please reach out for help if you or someone you know needs help.
Zika Repellent Update: Materials Now Available
With the rise of the Zika Virus outbreak, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is sharing information to help prevent the spread of the Zika Virus in Texas. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) issued a press release confirming that Healthy Texas Women and Texas Medicaid will cover the cost of mosquito repellent for women who are between the ages of 10 and 45 or pregnant.
DSHS has developed materials, including a digital information toolkit with newsletter copy, flyers/fact sheets, posters, social media content and PSA’s for organizations to share with their constituents and employees. These resources offer information regarding simple but important steps Texans can take to help prevent the spread of the Zika virus. The materials are free and available to download or available to order online through this link: http://www.texaszika.org.
September 17 – Opening Public Reception of The Islamic Arts Revival Series (IARS) International Juried Art Exhibition at the Irving Arts CenterBring family and friends to celebrate and learn from this unique international exhibit of art, workshops, and performances of Islamic art and its world-wide influences.
Where: Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75062
Time: 6:30-9:00 pm
Free admission but please RSVP at http://bit.ly/2c274s8
We are proud to announce that artwork created by our own Islamic Art Revival Series Curator, Shafaq Ahmad, “Ilm o Ishk” (Knowledge and Love), sculpture of plexi-glass, won best work in the juried art exhibit of the Dallas Public Library.
Additionally, Ms. Ahmad will exhibit her installation in the main gallery at the Irving Art Center during the IARS 5th Annual International Juried Art Exhibition. On October 22, after the Jason Moriyama lecture, she will have a brief collaborative presentation and performance with the Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir of Dallas.
Sept. 18 – Workshop: Orientation for New Refugees
North Texas is receiving a large number of Syrian families who will need our community’s support. This workshop co-sponsored by TMWF and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) provides insight on the needs of new refugees joining our community. Please consider contacting TMWF, not just to give short-term support of food or clothing, but for long-term support such as adopting a family, mentoring youth, or teaching English as a Second Language.
Where: Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), 840 Abrams Rd, Richardson, TX 75081
Time: 2:00-6:00 pm
For more information and registration email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 20 – TMWF Women’s Cultural Day Luncheon
Hosted at Zonga’s Mediterranean Grill
Where: 7657 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Time: 11:30 am- 2:00 pm
Admission: $20 donation
By early reservation only.
Seats limited/First come first served.
For more information and reservations please contact us at email@example.com or call 469.467.6241.
To join the mailing list to receive notification of upcoming “Ladies Only” Monthly Luncheons Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 24 – TMWF Presentation at East Plano Islamic Center: “Are We Establishing Peaceful Families?”
Please join TMWF and EPIC Community in learning about the elements necessary for establishing peaceful families and addressing the scourge of domestic violence that disrupts the sanctity of our homes.
Where: East Plano Islamic Center, 1350 Star Court, Plano, TX 75074
Time: 2:00-6:00 pm
Click here for more information and registration.
Hope everyone has had an amazing summer! Here are some of our upcoming events for this fall.
On September 24, we will be volunteering at Day of Dignity to help provide hygiene kits, clothes, household items, health screenings, and fruit to the underprivileged in Dallas. The address is Martin Luther King Center on MLK Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75215. We will announce the time soon. Also, TMWF will be collecting fruit to distribute on the Day of Dignity, so please email email@example.com to sign up to donate fruit. It will be greatly appreciated by the recipients!
On October 8, we will be volunteering at the White Rock Lake Cleanup. Location is White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX and the time will be announced soon. We will be picking up trash around White Rock Lake in Dallas. Volunteers will be provided with disposable raincoats (depending on the weather forecast), trash bags, tools to pick up trash, as well as hot coffee, water, and breakfast (fruit, granola bars, cookies, donuts, etc.). This is a great opportunity to easily gain volunteer hours while also enjoying fresh air and the beauty of the lake.
On November 19, we will volunteer at the Plano Community Garden from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Location is 4030 W Plano Pkwy, Plano, TX 75093.
Tasks vary each month but they always need help with weeding, mulching, pruning and turning the compost piles. They provide adult gardening gloves and tools but volunteers may bring their own. Since no gardening experience is necessary, even non-gardeners can join in the fun. Please be aware that parking in the gardens is limited so carpooling is encouraged, whenever possible. Only 10 volunteer spots are available. Email us to RSVP your spot!
Note: Volunteers 13 and younger should be accompanied by a parent or guardian
All volunteers can earn volunteer hours for their service. To sign up for these events, please respond email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay up to date with future fall TMWF Youth volunteer activities by visiting our Facebook page!
Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation continues building bridges of understanding and goodwill among peoples of all faiths and races.
There are many upcoming opportunities for you to meet your neighbors and make new friends. Please join us for these events.
We continue our interfaith outreach, via our membership in the The 2nd Community – a multi-faith community program formed to share faith stories “freely and fearlessly” and hosted by Northaven United Methodist Church. The 2nd Community events serve to facilitate a respectful understanding of the beliefs and practices of others and, in so doing, enriching one’s own faith perspective.
“The theme of the ten monthly sessions of The 2nd Community in 2016 (February-November) focuses on “Owning Violence: Affirming Nonviolence”. During these sessions, participants will develop an informed understanding of violence and nonviolence from various perspectives.”
Click here to register.
We appreciate our supporters!
“My life and the lives of my children have been forever changed, they have been restored to a peaceful place and none of this would have been possible had I not reached out to TMWF.” – TMWF Client, S.B.*
We would like to congratulate and thank the Irving Arts Center Staff and the Islamic Art Revival Series (IARS) Team for an outstanding Public Opening Reception on September 17, 2016, of IARS 5th Annual Juried International Exhibition of Contemporary Islamic Art at the Irving Arts Center.
Fifteen of the participating artists were on hand to welcome over 200 guests at the private and public screening. Among the guests were Irving Art Center’s board members, and directors of the greater Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Fashion Design Department at UNT, the Arts and Technology Department at UTD, the Perkins School of Theology at SMU, and interfaith friends and community leaders from all over the Metroplex. Aramco World Magazine’s editor Richard Doughty attended as well.
We are very appreciative of all the Irving Arts Center staff, especially, Todd Eric Hawkins, Executive Director, and Marcie Inman, Director of Exhibitions and Education, for graciously hosting and helping put together the exhibition. Special thanks to the hard working IARS team, Shafaq Ahmad, Art Director and Exhibit Curator; Samia Khan, Program Director; Almas Muscatwalla, Workshops Coordinator; Tasnim McCormick Benhalim, Fundraiser Director; and Reshma Syed, Volunteer Coordinator. A special thank you to Mr. Bassam Odeh, owner of Zonga’s Mediterranean Grill, for providing the delicious appetizers at the reception (thanks to Mr. Odeh and Zonga’s for also hosting September’s Ladies Only Monthly luncheon).
Much gratitude also to our very knowledgeable keynote speaker for the evening, Louise Mackie, the Curator for Islamic Textiles and Art at Cleveland Museum of Art, who taught us about the importance of textiles in Islamic art and gave us the foundation for further understanding of the beautiful exhibit. Much thanks goes out to the esteemed juror of the exhibition, Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, who is the Associate Curator of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And, of course, last but certainly not least, we applaud and greatly appreciate all the artists who applied to the exhibit and shared their expressive work for all to enjoy and ponder the message of art as a universal language and a connecting bridge between all cultures.
We were also honored to have had Richard Doughty, the editor of Aramco World Magazine attend the IARS 5th Annual Juried International Art Exhibition, and we thank him for including the event in the international magazine.
We cordially invite you to join us for with your family and friends at this educational, contemporary Islamic art event, with workshops, presentations, musical performances, tours, and juried Islamic art exhibit of 54 artists from 23 US states and 9 countries.
Private tours may also be scheduled at your request, and all activities are free. The exhibit runs from now through November 13. Gallery Admission is FREE. Click here for Gallery hours.
Click here to learn more about all the upcoming events.
Presented by the Islamic Art Revival Series in partnership with Irving Arts Center, the 5th Annual Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Islamic Art is a program of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation. Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will act as juror for the exhibition which will be on display in the Main Gallery at Irving Arts Center September 17 – November 13.
“This prestigious international exhibition of artwork is inspired by Islamic culture, art, literature and architecture and features works in a variety of styles and media from artists around the world,” states Shafaq Ahmad, Art Director for the Islamic Art Revival Series. “Showcasing the work of artists from diverse backgrounds, the exhibit offers a window through contemporary art to one fifth of the world’s population, spread out over five continents.”
Interview With Salma Abugideiri, Peaceful Families Project (PFP) Trainer and Consultant
The Annual Ramadan Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign is a partnership between TMWF and local imams. This partnership aims to cultivate peace in our homes especially given the emphasis during this holy month on self-improvement and reflection. The campaign’s goal is to educate the community regarding how to recognize as well as prevent domestic violence (DV), and to highlight sources that are available to help.
The Peaceful Families Project (PFP) is a national organization, which assists TMWF in its campaign. PFP is an educational and resource program dedicated to ending DV in Muslim families. Salma Abugideiri is a PFP trainer and consultant. She is also a licensed professional counselor providing individual and family therapy in private practice in Virginia, and has authored and co-authored several articles, books, and training manuals. She explains that PFP defines healthy relationships and DV through the Islamic perspective. It offers training and develops resources, but does not offer direct counseling services. It educates imams and offers community workshops.
Abugideiri says, the Qur’an and Sunnah (the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]) are used “to shift people’s attitudes.” The Islamic teachings help guide individuals to answer such questions as: Is it ok to make a police report? In what case is it ok to talk publicly about what is going on in your family? What are the roles and rights of each spouse? When is it ok to go to a shelter? Etc. Abugideiri highlights, “We use Islamic teachings, and we talk about DV under the context of oppression. As Muslims, we have a mandate to stand for justice and fight oppression. That’s how we frame what we teach.”
Abugideiri highly values education and sees it as the best way to promote awareness and prevention. She highlights the importance of premarital counseling as an educational tool. There is a great deal of research that supports its effectiveness in nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships.
Premarital counseling “prepares people and helps them think through what their expectations are, what their vision is of their relationship… to make sure that when they are considering someone for marriage, they are making wise choices…[and are] marrying people that have a common vision…common goals…[and] helps them learn good communication skills.”
Abugideiri further elaborates on the benefits of premarital counseling as “not only can it prevent divorce, but it can also allow couples to have a more stable start and to know when they need to seek help.” She stresses that while she strongly advocates premarital counseling, it does not prevent all problems, “but it provides couples with some tools… [It can teach] healthy relationship dynamics, [so that if] a few months into the marriage there is DV occurring… a problem that was not avoided, people will seek help much earlier than they do to get early intervention. That is the hope [of premarital counseling] and the research does bear that out.”
When PFP trains imams, PFP encourages imams to require premarital counseling as a prerequisite before they issue a marriage certificate. PFP has found that there are now many mosques that have made it a mandatory requirement. However, not all mosques do, and some couples, who do not see the need or do not understand the importance of premarital counseling, seek out such mosques. Nevertheless, premarital counseling, premarital workshops, and couples workshops are becoming an emerging trend.
When asked if she thought public awareness campaigns are working, Abugideiri says she sees a definite difference over the twenty plus years that she has been a practicing counselor.
“I have seen a huge shift from people being very reluctant not only to seek counseling, but also to even go into the field as a professional.” She adds, “When I started…I might have even been the only licensed mental health professional in private practice in my area [Northern Virginia] who wanted to practice with the Muslim community. Now…that people are coming forward…we can accommodate the needs.”
She applauds imams for having helped to increase awareness and create an attitude shift regarding DV, as well as general mental health issues, which have made a difference in the way that people come forward. She admits that, “My dream has always been that people would think of mental health like they think of dental health…that they would have well visits or check ups.” She cites that recently she has been encouraged by some young couples who have spoken publicly at workshops, saying, “We are going for mental health check ups, relationship check ups. We love it, [and] we want everybody to do it.”
Abugideiri does make the distinction between the response of the community to DV and mental health issues. She says that with mental health, as in issues of depression or anxiety, the individual is seeking help for him or herself. However, there is a greater resistance to admitting the need for help with DV, because that involves the whole family.
“The issues are a little bit different in that it is not just an individual that is going forward for treatment. It is an individual who is coming forward saying, ‘My family is broken’ basically. So there are a lot more people impacted when someone comes forward, and the community is still very conflicted about filing police reports, going through the court system, seeking actions that are much more public. Ultimately, it can lead to the family splitting apart.”
There is still a great lack of understanding of DV. An individual who needs to seek mental health counseling might mistakenly believe that prayer and a strengthening of faith are sufficient to combat anxiety and depression. The DV victim might also be mistakenly convinced that it is shameful to talk of divorce and/or to get law enforcement involved. Additionally, the DV victim might stay in an abusive relationship without seeking help because they mistakenly believe their tragic situation is their fate, so it is their duty to be patient and endure the abuse.
In her private practice, when there is active DV, Abugideiri focuses on the victim and the perpetrator as individuals not as a couple. First she ensures that the victim is in a safe place. She emphasizes that DV counseling is very different from individual mental health issues. Depending on the situation, counseling as a couple may not be an option. The treatment approach depends on the issues involved. If children are involved, there is an emphasis on their safety as well as breaking the cycle of violence. In the PFP workshops and trainings, “we talk about the impact of DV on children and the importance of understanding that nobody is doing any favors to a child by keeping them in a violent home. We talk about the impact psychologically, the legal impact, the health impact, all of that.”
By the time people have come to see a counselor they have overcome whatever stigma they had about coming forward. The initial hurdle is actually calling to make the appointment. Some victims make appointments several years after having heard of the counselor, citing being embarrassed, or ashamed to make the call. Unfortunately, it is sometimes not until things get really bad, or the crisis is unbearable, that people call.
Abugideiri concludes that every person in the community can make a difference in preventing or ending DV simply by “learning about the dynamics, being aware when they see things happening around them…when we hear people making comments that are either disparaging to women or that misrepresent the Islamic perspective on relationships, people should speak up.”
Additionally, when the community is aware of DV and someone notices “somebody may be in an abusive relationship they should give them information about resources, whether it’s TMWF or whether it’s the National DV Hotline. If someone discloses to a friend that they are in an abusive situation…simply by listening and believing what they are telling you, you are making a difference. We have at the PFP website some tips, under DV facts.”
Abugideiri emphasizes, “I think it is very important for people to know that it is everybody’s problem. It’s not just a woman’s problem. It’s not just the problem of the person who has been abused. But all of us in the community are impacted when there is violence in our homes.” She highlights the need to break the cycle of violence that repeats from one generation to the next “because those kids are impacted, when they grow up and become teenagers they are bullied or become bullies. When they grow up and marry they might be abusive or victimized. We want to reverse the cycle. Everybody needs to realize it is everybody’s problem.”
DV awareness must be an on going conversation within the community, “Just try to think of something that…might have an impact, even if it is simply…[to] speak about the issue, don’t be silent.”
Abugideiri ends on a positive note stating that things are changing for the better with people becoming more aware and more imams around the country who are understanding of the issue. There are more resources for Muslim communities around the country, such as social services organizations, shelters, hotlines, counseling services, and DV organizations.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We still have a lot of people who need to be trained but there is definitely progress. The more that we work as a community to address this issue, the more of a dent we put into it.”
1 The late educator and activist, Sharifa Alkhateeb began PFP in 1998 as a survey of 63 Muslim leaders and their congregations, which was sponsored by the Department of Justice to investigate violence in the Muslim community. Alkhateeb founded the existing organization in 2000, to address the findings of that survey which showed 10% of the congregants’ families had experienced DV. The survey focused on physical and sexual abuse, but not emotional, verbal, financial, or spiritual abuse. PFP has been both an independent organization (2008-2015) and a program of other organizations due to sustainability and funding issues. However, these structural changes have not changed its purpose and work. As of 2016, it is currently an initiative of United Muslim Relief.
The emotional toll from the mass shooting earlier this week in Orlando, Florida, continues to resonate both locally and nationwide. Following a tragedy of this magnitude, mental health support can make a substantial difference in beginning to heal a traumatized community. SAMHSA has tools and resources to support survivors, community members, responders, and behavioral health providers to foster recovery and resilience.
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