Grieving Muslims and Predators in the Community

Jamerican Muslimah wrote a post titled, “Where do Grieving Muslims Go?” Her post was not just thought provoking, it is seriously a call to action in the Muslim community. We really need an army of psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, and social workers to deal with the host of problems that, for the most part, our community leaders sweep under the rug.

I started asking myself, where do Muslims go when we’re suffering? Have I ever attended a masjid that had a support group for me; as a convert (being the only Muslim in my family), as someone who has experienced divorce, the murder of my older brother, financial loss and so much more? I know sisters who have been homeless, on drugs, near prostitution, suffering from tremendous grief as a result of divorce or the death of a spouse or family member. I also know sisters who are single parents. They’re struggling to make ends meet, raising kids by themselves as the righteous brother moves on to his next victim wife.

I really encourage you to read the post in its entirety here. But I wanted to highlight some things that came to mind as I have dealt with some major losses, upheavals, and struggles over the past 15 years. Outside of my mentor who has often given me important insight to understand the spiritual meaning of my struggles and given me assurances that in my evolving outlook that I am maturing, I received very little spiritual and emotional counsel in the Muslim community. B
Kwame Madden related a really sad story about a suicidal brother who lives in isolation. He wrote:

Mental health issues are serious .This a much needed post. Imams are not all time the solution.Professional men and woman trained in this type of work should be able to adminster it our communties.

Where is the support for this brother? Who can he call who understands the social and religious context of this brother who is struggling to get by. Are there any social workers or counselors that can help this brother empower himself and rebuild and refashion a fulfilling life for himself?

So often the Muslim communities lack the kind of support systems that would be beneficial to its members. Even worse, I’ve seen MALE perpetrators of crimes (legal, Islamic and moral) continue to work in the Muslim community, sometimes occupying prestigious positions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say things like, “It’s not my business”, or “He’s a good brother he just has some personal problems” or “No one else is willing to do what he does for the masjid.” Too often nothing is said AT ALL. People just pretend everything’s fine. Unfortunately, by choosing not to address perpetrators of crimes (again, legal, moral and Islamic) we’re sending a message to the victim(s) that their behavior is acceptable.

I’ve been in some long standing discussion online, through list groups, and in person with academics, activists, and community members at large who have expressed similar concerns about the predatory nature of some rock star imams and community leaders. What is sad is that often the most vulnerable members of the community are more likely to fall into their hands. Not only do they lack the clarity of vision to distinguish between healthy relationships and abusive ones, but they often lack the foresight and counsel to make sound decisions about their futures. Married sisters are often wrapped up in their problems or day-to-day affairs or fearful that the newly single sister with emotional needs will be a threat. So, a grieving divorcee or struggling single sister with kids becomes prey to a predatorial member of the community. This is why the MANA marriage initiative is very important, that we find community leaders who will not officiate marriages irresponsibly.

We need community leaders and spiritual guides who are equipped to deal with local issues. This is why I think it is important that we move away from the movement type mentality and the cult of personality. We have to think about functional communities. We need to think about providing real services that can uplift our community. This takes a different type of vision, and a different type of investment in our future. Otherwise, we will continue to limp along, highly disfunctional and prone to blaming everyone else for our problems.

What makes it difficult is that both the Black American community and the Muslim community are suspicious about mental health professionals. But both have their share of trauma and difficulties in coping with the challenges of this society. For years, I’ve seen Muslims join some group, some movement, throw themselves into some cause in a hope to fill some void or deal with some pain. We have to address these issues, by training social workers and therapists who can work with Muslims, developing wellness programs, establishing grief support groups, and help lines for Muslims in crisis. Otherwise we are not only encouraging social pathologies, but fostering a culture of denial which further exacerbates the psychological and emotional ills that our people are suffering from.

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6 thoughts on “Grieving Muslims and Predators in the Community

  1. Salaams Gazelledusahara:

    Do you know of a “hotline” like this for adults? Or women only?

    Great post sister Margari. I read Jamerican’s post and hers was great, too. I am a certified substance abuse counselor. Treating Muslims is initially difficult. I think it’s because of the Islamic position that khamr use is a sin. Many Muslims are ashamed to seek help unless it’s really critical. Another issue is a female substance abuse counselor having male clients. That presents a whole different set of dynamics.

    But our communities need to address this need.

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  2. Thank you for this post. I am a graduate student training to become a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), and I wish that there were Muslim organizations and masajid that would get their acts together and utilize the slowly growing number of Muslims in this field. I find that Muslim organizations are either uninterested or under-equipped to organize such services so they lose any Muslims in the field to other established organizations. These services are crucial for the Muslim community – e.g. American Muslim youth find themselves unable to turn to the masajid for support, fearing they will be judged or misunderstood. They’re dealing with huge issues such as depression, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, substance abuse, and physical/emotional abuse and it’s a shame that their needs aren’t being met.

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  3. Bismillah
    as salamu ‘alaykum

    Margari, Jazaki Allahu khairan for your encouraging comment.

    A support group that could simply lead us to more resources in each community would be nice as a start.

    Btw, there is a Muslim Youth Hotline called Naseeha: http://www.naseeha.net/. They can be found on facebook as well insha’allah. I only know what is known through the website.

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  4. thank you for this entry. Religious “poachers” are problem.

    you said:

    ” We need community leaders and spiritual guides who are equipped to deal with local issues. This is why I think it is important that we move away from the movement type mentality and the cult of personality. We have to think about functional communities. We need to think about providing real services that can uplift our community. This takes a different type of vision, and a different type of investment in our future. Otherwise, we will continue to limp along, highly disfunctional and prone to blaming everyone else for our problems”

    How do Muslims move away from personality cults? Is it education, religious or otherwise? How can these ideas be disseminated?

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  5. National resources:

    crisis intervention/suicide
    Boys Town Suicide and Crisis Line: 800-448-3000 or 800-448-1833 (TDD)
    Provides short-term crisis intervention and counseling and referrals to local community resources. Counsels on parent-child conflicts, marital and family issues, suicide, pregnancy, runaway youth, physical and sexual abuse, and other issues. Operates 24 hours, seven days a week.
    Covenant House Hotline: 800-999-9999
    Crisis line for youth, teens, and families. Gives callers locally based referrals throughout the United States. Provides help for youth and parents regarding drugs, abuse, homelessness, runaway children, and message relays. Operates 24 hours, seven days a week.

    domestic violence
    National Domestic Violence/Child Abuse/ Sexual Abuse: 800-799-SAFE /800-799-7233/800-787-3224 TDD
    800-942-6908 Spanish Speaking
    24-hour-a-day hotline, Provides crisis intervention and referrals to local services and shelters for victims of partner or spousal abuse. English and Spanish speaking advocates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staffed by trained volunteers who are ready to connect people with emergency help in their own communities, including emergency services and shelters. The staff can also provide information and referrals for a variety of non-emergency services, including counseling for adults and children, and assistance in reporting abuse. They have an extensive database of domestic violence treatment providers in all US states and territories. Many staff members speak languages besides English, and they have 24-hour access to translators for approximately 150 languages. For the hearing impaired, there is a TDD number. This is a great resource for anyone–man, woman or child–who is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence or abuse, or who suspects that someone they know is being abused.

    Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-829-1122

    rape
    Nationwide RAINN National Rape Crisis Hotline: 800-656-4673

    runaway/exploited children
    Missing Children Network: 800-235-3535
    Thursday’s Child’s National Youth Advocacy Hotline at
    1 (800) USA KIDS
    National Hotline for Missing and Exploited Children: 800-843-5678
    Operates a hotline for reporting missing children and sightings of missing children. Offers assistance to law enforcement agents. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
    National Runaway Switchboard: 800-621-4000
    Provides crisis intervention and travel assistance to runaways. Provides information and local referrals to adolescents and families. Gives referrals to shelters nationwide. Also relays messages to, or sets up conference calls with, parents at the request of the child. Operates 24 hours, seven days a week.
    Child Find of America Hotline: 800-I-AM-LOST (426.5678)
    Looks for missing and abducted children. Operators available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday-Friday. Voicemail on evenings and weekends with calls returned.

    Child abuse
    ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD (422.4453) or 800.2.A.CHILD (222.4453, TDD for hearing impaired)
    Provides multilingual crisis intervention and professional counseling on child abuse. Gives referrals to local social service groups offering counseling on child abuse. Operates 24 hours, seven days a week.
    Department of social services for public to access information:
    800-345-KIDS: Provides information concerning children available for adoption and other children’s programs
    800-342-3009: Access to general information regarding Department programs and HEAP Hotline
    800-732-5207: Day Care Complaint Line
    800-342-3720: Child Abuse Hotline
    National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-25-ABUSE

    Web Resources:
    http://www.coping.org

    Non-Profit Resources:
    http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

    Lutheran Social Services
    http://www.lssnca.org

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