Addressing a Real Social Need: Milati Islami

Addiction is a real problem, and believe me it is not limited to just converts and indigenous Muslims ( those whose families did not immigrate from Muslim majority societies).   Addiction is not limited to substance abuse, we have people with gambling addictions, sex addictions, shopping addictions, etc… Many Muslim communities have failed to develop programs to specifically address substance abuse, which is a real big problem that we often sweep under the rug.

I brought this up after reading about the Guantanomo guard,Terry Holdbrooks, who converted to Islam. He fell into a spiral of alcoholism that led to hospitalization after his experiences at Guantanomo, which included his conversion. At the time of the article, he had recently quit drinking and began attending classes at the mosque. I didn’t read anything about any treatment programs, no 12 steps, nothing, nor counseling sessions to deal with the emotional or psychological problems that plagued him. To me, it highlighted the assumptions that people make when you take shahadah or clean up your life after years of hard partying in your youth (I’ve known plenty of Muslim binge drinkers on college campuses).  Often Muslims are wracked with pyschological trauma from their past, and the emotional guilt from a fall from grace. When you take shahada, your sins are wiped clean. But your mind is not a clean slate, nor are your proclivities reset.   While there are many programs to provide services to inmates, and MANA is working on reentry programs, I still wonder if the assumption is that ex-convicts who had substance abuse problems and drug related offenses will be able to resist temptation once they are out in the the world of temptation. Reentry is not just about finding the brothers jobs and wives (in fact one brother did chastise the sisters at one MANA meeting for not stepping up and marrying the ex-cons).

Addiction is devastating on the individual, their family, and the entire community. It also creates an atmosphere of distrust. I remember years ago, a  Syrian family I knew  in the South Bay had spent a considerable amount of resources trying to help a new Muslim get his life together. They lent him money and tried to help him start a painting business. After some months, he began smoking crack and his life spun out of control. After being burned by that experience, they were less inclined to help converts. Another sister told me her previous husband was a crack head, it just took her a couple months after their marriage to learn of his addiction. And by that time it was too late, she was already pregnant. Well, crack addicted men aren’t the best father figures. On the other hand, I know of a success case, a former addict committed to a life of sobriety, found Islam, and is achieving great things including the highest level of education that one can attain. I appreciated the candor of this individual who openly talks about recovery. That candor is not something you see a lot of in the Muslim community. Instead, we try to hide it behind a veil of piety. And beneath that veil of piety is the heavy weight of self-loathing and fear of being discovered. My hope is that we  invest in our human capital, that we address our realities in America. Addiction, mental illness, and overall spiritual nihilism are things that our community should be equipped to address with trained counselors and skilled imams.  I am pleased to see that the Muslim community in Philadelphia  addressing this.

In the Name Of Allah, The Beneficent, the Merciful …
Millati Islami Groups of Phila.
{12 Step Recovery}

Millati Islami is a Twelve Step recovery program for
persons that experience problems associated with
addiction. The steps and traditions of Millati Islami
are based upon Islamic principles. With the traditional
Twelve Step program some principles have proven to be
in accord with our Islamic way of life. When Islamic
principles are included, they have proven to further
enhance the recovery process.

Come Join Us!

Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
@ The New Africa Center
4243 Lancaster Avenue
Philadelphia. PA


Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
@ The Quba Institute
4637 Lancaster Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
@ Masjidullah, Inc.
7700 Ogontz Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

For More Information Contact:

Bro. Ameen Abdur-Rasheed: 215-514-6692
Bro. Abdur-Rahim Burton:347-578-0250
Bro. Naim Uqdah: 215-651-8501
Sis. Noor Doumbia: 267-261-3763
Sis. Hadiyah Najee-Ullah: 215-868-5286
Sis Miriam Sheppard: 215-873-3232