This article was reprinted from the Jan 20, 2006 issue in order to correct some information.
Almost 2 dozen Muslim women in need received gift baskets for Eid Al-Adha from the Association of Muslim Women in America Inc. (AMWA). These gift baskets were created and distributed by AMWA in order to reach out to and assist needy Muslim women with families. By carrying out this act of charity, the organization hoped to fulfill its Islamic obligation to care for those who are less fortunate. This responsibility is especially felt by Muslims at time of the two Eids.
AMWA, based in Richmond, Virginia, is non-profit organization created for and by Muslim women in order to one, educate Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam, and two, provide a support group for Muslim women in crisis. The organization is divided into four program areas, which focus on Islamic education, media and public relations, family and domestic relations, and economic development. Each program is managed by a separate member of the board of directors.
AMWA has more than 70 registered members, many of whom are converts to Islam, in no less than 11 states in the U.S. AMWA’s e-group has more than 300 members from around the world to include the U.S., Canada, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, UK, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia and Japan. Muslim women from AMWA are proactively changing the negative stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media by promoting the best examples of the role of Muslim women in the communities. AMWA just finished a project for Eid-Adha to deliver food baskets with udhiyyah/qurbani and gifts to Muslim women and children their communities in need.
During Ramadan, AMWA held feeding programs that served more than 300 indigent and working poor non-Muslims. AMWA holds an annual awards conference to highlight the work of Muslim women in the public square in service of Muslim communities to show that there is no contradiction between correct Islamic Aqheedah and Islamic Adhab and living a normal, virtuous life as women in their communities.
“Our organization is largely focused on providing Islamic Education to our communities, said Aisha Muhammad, Director of Islamic Education.
Muhammad adds that it is highly beneficial for Muslim women to attend Islamic halaqahs to learn every major and minor detail about Islam so that Muslim women may be able to properly raise and educate their children.
“Most sisters are happy to learn and pleased to have an educational forum,” said Muhammad.
The organization’s primary objective is to educate women on their Islamic requirements, Islamic rights as women, as wives, as daughters, Islamic law and jurisprudence and how it relates to their daily lives, and how to effectively dispel negative stereotypes promoted by the media. The secondary objective is to provide moral, and in some cases financial support, to sisters in crisis or those struggling to survive.
The topic of AMWA’s first seminar held in 2002 was “Battered Women.” AMWA currently has “sister’s sadaqah fund,” which continues to assist sisters who reach out for moral and financial support. The organization also continuously finds women in special need to invite them to the Islamic halaqahs for moral support. Any funds distributed to women in need are provided on confidential basis.
When there is a domestic violence case reported to the organization, AMWA serves as a liaison between the support networks and the victims of violence. The organization refers cases to social workers, lawyers and Islamic leaders to guide and stand as a backbone for the sisters encountering the trauma. This is a group of people that will be on AMWA’s panel for their “Domestic Violence Conference,” but AMWA does not necessarily work closely with them.
On Eid Al-Adha, AMWA distributed 164 gift baskets to needy women with children. This past Ramadan, AMWA also held a “pre-Ramadan retreat.” The retreat included speeches from renounced speakers, workshops and small group discussions on what Muslim women can to do to strengthen themselves Islamically throughout the month of fasting.
In the future, the organization hopes to increase its membership and open more chapters throughout the nation. AMWA’s vision is to equip itself with more resources in order to be able to assist Muslim women in every aspect of their lives.
“Eventually, we would like to assist Muslim women in many different ways,” said Muhammad.
When asked how AMWA is different from any other women’s organization, Muhammad commented that AMWA is not a “feminist” organization. “Our goal is to strengthen women, but we encourage Muslim men’s support for our cause and we welcome their participation.”
AMWA is currently organizing a “Domestic Violence Conference” which is set to be held on February 18th, 2006. The location of the conference will be posted on AMWA’s website at www.amwanet.org.
AMWA is an independently funded organization solely dependent on its founding members’ support and some donations. The organization has a yearly membership fee of $40 for those who wish to become members. There is no membership fee to join the e-group.