The Center for Disease Control estimates of 1.2 million people living with HIV/Aids in the U.S., 29,000 live in Maryland, 19,000 in Virginia, and 15,000 in DC.
A small percentage of these local cases – but a percentage nonetheless – involve Muslims.
HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) is a deadly condition in which the body’s immune system ceases to function properly. This virus is known to cause Aids. The virus spread first among homosexuals but is now widespread in the general population.
Seventy five percent of the U.S. HIV cases are men. African Americans account for 51% of HIV cases, followed by whites (29%) and then Hispanics/Latinos (18%).
For Muslims with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the social stigma attached to the disease puts many roadblocks in their community involvement. In particular, marriage within the Muslim community is a near impossibility.
Now, a local Muslimah intends to help change that.
Because sexually transmitted diseases become a complication for people when trying to meet future marriage candidates, Sister Zaynah from Virginia decided to start a matrimonial service for Muslims who carry incurable STDs. The service is designed to “help you meet someone, without being blamed, and help you get over the headache of having to explain what you have, because they already know,” explained Sister Zaynah.
One major teaching of Islam is that people who enter this religion are forgiven for any past misdeeds. However incurable sexually contracted diseases, such as HIV/Aids; they carry with them for life. “You can’t turn back the hands of time,” said Zaynah as she told her story. “It’s not just the converts, some Muslims born into Islam sway, even for awhile, from what is right.”
Zaynah became sexually active in her 12th year of high school. While in a relationship with a man she knew for 8 months, she contracted two incurable sexually transmitted diseases: herpes, which causes blisters and sores in the mouth and genital areas, and HPV (human papillomavirus), a virus that causes warts in the genital areas which can leads to cancer. She was not a Muslim at the time.
Later she became friends with a Muslim man who lived in her neighborhood. The two married and she became a Muslim in May of 2007.
The new marriage service, started in December 2009, is in its early stages of development and doesn’t have much activity now. Zaynah asks Muslims with STDs to submit a description of themselves and the disease(s) they carry. Based on the information submitted, she matches people up and then contacts the female’s guardian.
The site address is www.blessedmarriagesinsha-allah.com.
Zaynah does not guarantee that matched people may end up getting married but she is intent on giving them the key that will open the door to marital possibilities.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said that, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities (but he remains patient till Allah removes his difficulties.) And an impious wicked person is like a pine tree which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts (breaks) it down when He wishes.” [Sahih Bukhari]