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

11 thoughts on “Addressing a Real Social Need: Milati Islami

  1. Masha Allah-it is very exciting to see folks addressing this need. It is a HUGE problem. I come from a home filled with substance abuse and went to ALANON meetings as a Muslim adult. Crazily, some Muslim acquaintances know this and want me to impart 12 step wisdom on their family members, but do not want their family members to use the (kaffir!) services.
    I have seen many ways how substance abuse effects the Ummah. To name a couple (please excuse the binary), we see that immigrant Muslim bodies are completely unfamiliar with what substance (and other addictive) abuses look like and are unable to even begin to deal with the problem. Like you mentioned, I have seen families been devastated while trusting an addict and actually enabling them. For converts, I have seen several instances where substance abuse has hindered the shahada from coming into the deen. They can’t quit, are encouraged to leave off all things “kaffir,” such as 12 steps, and left with no support and still an addiction.
    I would love to see some online services (such as even a yahoo group) start to help folks since this is such a large problem and services will be slow to start up.


  2. For a realistic portrayal of a Muslim fighting alcoholism, check out Turbulence by Jamilah Kolocotronis. This is a very real problem in the ummah and must be addressed.


  3. As Salaamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak!

    I am a certified addictions counselor and have incorporated Milatti Islami into my treatment plans. The program originates from Baltimore, but it appears that the program had some problems there. Philly has done a great job in establishing it there, Alhamdulillah.

    As to the 12 step programs, I do not see them as a kaafir program. Allah (swt) said that for every disease there is a cure. 12 step programs are but one choice and they work for many. Also, the steps incorporate “God as you understand Him” so it can work for some Muslims.

    Many Muslims suffer and even die because of reluctance to access a non Muslim program.


  4. Safiyyah-
    Just to be sure, because I think you prolly know, but I don’t see them as “kaffir” anymore than all the childrearing books I read–or would like to have the time to read. But this is an often heard comment from the Mozzies about “taking knowledge from the kaffirs” and 12 steppin has been included in that. Of course I don’t agree with that. I believe you take what you like and leave the rest behind 😉


  5. I’m sure I read that in a hadith once, that we should take what’s good. It only makes sense. The 12-step program has worked for millions. Why not go with success? Or maybe we should build our own cars too because the car manufacturers are “kaffirs.”


  6. As a new grad student studying mental health, addictions comes up quite a bit. In some of the research I have done on behalf of a large mental health facility in Canada I met several Muslim people who have struggled with drug addiction, and it’s something that our community isn’t immune to. I think that creating real cures, and not just rhetoric will help many men and women admit that they have a problem and then seek help. Great post and blog, I just found it today!


  7. A salaam aleikym,
    I am a sister who desires to share the miraculous gift of sobriety with others. I am sixty years old, disabled, a widow and highly educated, and do not fit into “street” environments in AA.

    If you have any ideas on how I can be of help and still be physically safe and also respected, please let me know.

    In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful,
    Dr. Kari Ann Owen, Ph.D.

    Please read about Kari Ann teaching horseback riding to the abled and handicapped!


  8. Walaikum salaam Kari Ann,
    I’ve never been to AA meetings, but I’m sure there are people from all walks of life since executives and professionals also struggle with sobriety. But you may contact the mosques in the local area and see if any are interested in setting up meetings like Milati Islami. Also I would suggest contacting the organizers from these communities to see about ideas about establishing a group.


  9. I can dig this. All throughout my life no matter how lacking in control of everything with myself I wanted to believe I really was, it seems the more I wanted to believe it ain’t my fault did I do that the more it really was. As a kid I wasn’t as obviously messed up with use of illegal drugs and promiscuity the way many of my cohorts in DC were, but I felt like I shouldn’t have to be as good as I really did to get anything I did and I pretended I had less control than I did beyond belief and took all kinds of prescription meds not to have to deal with how deep and base the motivation really was. Compared to everybody else I saw; especially when I got into a wealthy so-called really white really Jewish family (obviously, those two descriptions are more oxymorons both physically and every other way in more ways than you ever can imagine-back in the day, Jews were the physically darkest, most physically oppressed people anywhere they went and now that they may look less so physically they are more so internally and they are going back beyond belief in how deep and quick to physical poverty as well-if you met Sarah downstairs at 668 N. 15th street she was back into honest prostitution and poverty in every way when I met her and being abused physically by her Irish Gorilla pimp boyfriend and every other way by everybody else who she cared too much about the way she wanted to but shouldn’t have). Well, I have long since been the trick by choice, but I have allowed people to pimp me by choice more than i ever should have even though much of it was facilitated by lies that were hard to know for sure over the internet. The first time I looked for a so-called Muslim brother directly on the internet to take shahadah and never did that again. The second time his half brother through their mother who was literally both of their sons’ mothers looked directly for me and as lonely as I was feeling at the time it looked really good. Ironically, the worse it was looking and feeling (he was lying to me to support a drug addiction to deal with guilt beyond belief at the fact that his half brother and mother set him up to set me up to take both of us out on the spot at the same time for betraying their honor and legacy for what it really was-incest, racism that they believed was so beyond justified, criminal activities to gain monetary empowerment at the cost of everybody money poorer than they were (meaning me and almost every other last American born Muslim in Philadelphia) which at the end of the day was the main reason for all of that more than they every will imagine-money, power, and respect coming in that order in from the outside-which is the opposite order it should ever be. Everybody knows that song by Lil Kim. I do believe in that, but that order is beyond opposite of how it should be. Though I was not anywhere near as deep as that, I was a bit more there than I want to know. I wanted to earn my own money as righteously as I could possibly do so, I wanted to then have signs of monetary power to others and I wanted wanted to be able to have respect first and foremost beyond belief from the outside. Today i called my adopted mother and told her no matter what she wanted to believe about how good I and everybody else really was just because, I was horrible beyond belief back in the day more likely than she ever wanted to know to get ahead and not have to put up with all kinds of perceived bull. As well meaning ash she wanted to pretend I and everybody else was, it never was what it was like that. I am aware more than most of those I have met in this town that I shouldn’t feel I am entitled to material things outside my own family to the degree they look like they feel they are and though it is obvious to me I am not getting anything that great materially or otherwise from inside the family I actually would like it beyond belief to be real. So, I told my mother just respect me enough to let me be as truthful about what it was with me for many years as it was. She was sad beyond belief because it was true about me and everybody else she wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to just because that she ever met. I said to her, “why are you crying? You were right” and she said “I didn’t want to be right like that” I asked her why. She didn’t answer. The reason is probably that the way she would know is that she wasn’t as clean as that herself for whatever perceived reason. In my childhood and especially my adolescence I wanted material comfort and my own things beyond belief just because with no effort no matter what it really was. In my early adulthood I realized I better be making my own material comfort as righteously as I could possibly do so and became autonomous and was willing to pay for what I wanted to think was love from the outside that never really was as independent or nice as it felt-I lived alone and tried as hard as I could to take care of finance alone by any means necessary and immoral activities and public assistance equally was the last and shortest resort and it seemed no matter what every legal looking activity available was incredibly immoral and lacking stability, the more moral the less stable it ended up being for the time I tried it and right now even my online affiliate store of halal clothing was cut out by an email virus going all over the place and having a mac. Right now the only way I can reach too many is thru text like most of Philly and it is one of the most distasteful ways to me of going about anything in how cowardly it really can be. These days the more potentially cowardly a way it is to reach people the more likely you’ll get through. I do not like LOL, LMAO, and that kind of thing at all and I really don’t like things like (* in anything. Nor do I like blocked phone numbers, incredibly false profiles on the internet with blatantly false pics that not only weren’t where you are but were never you physically at all (using another human being 100% to represent you completely; your own kid is one of the worst things you can use for any real reason as your avatar) to convince people of it, and my legal name is Sasha Elisa Lazarios. I live in Plainsboro, NJ right now and if I wasn’t potentially going to hurt myself and others telling how exact the details were I would. The so-called brother who claimed to be Caliph had the first name Aaron, the one who really seemed to want to be there more but might not be there enough yet for me and everybody else must be there for right now (children he was molested by him mother underage into conceiving with incredibly visible Autism so much they can’t even talk even if they wanted to-for a while I was able to talk and didn’t choose to because I was scared of the consequence if I did reveal what I might know very well about a certain political figure in DC who is most famous for almost life long practicing drug addiction before and after the fact all the way up until now and later insha’Allah. To openly joke this guy finally might end only by OD’ing on a substance though it is very true and probably more likely to be the case than anyone wants to know is in and of itself proof in that town or racism. Everybody knows his reason he got caught first and foremost is that sis Rashida Moore set him up. OK, she did in a way, but the same b**** sets the same guy up there over and over in his case first and foremost and knew a lot better but thought it was OK just because-it’s himself. Isn’t that how it is with everybody more than we want to admit? OF COURSE. I am right now visibly physically more comfortable and independent than I ever have been and mentally more alone and frightened than I would ever want to be. I am scared that my livelihood is not going to come back as soon and well as I need it even though it never was that good or right nor stable. I am aware that I live alone, I would like a lot of relationships with a lot of people to work in the right way and time but I am painfully aware of how unlikely any of that is ever going to be and I won’t keep them going if it doesn’t that way but it stinks to high heavens all over the place. I have two honor roll college degrees but to go any further in education I need a GED that I need to take tomorrow. I woke up at 5 pm today after coming home at 3pm scared that I slept through the exam. I am scared to sleep too long and never sleep longer than 4 hours at at time because I am physically so exhausted these days that I am scared if I do sleep too long I will die before I really am ready to do so. All I wanted was my mother to accept me exactly as I always was and not try to gussy it up in her mind by pretending I didn’t know better like I did or that it was any better than it was. We all know I am one of the biggest funk jazziods and classically trained musicians my own age in the the area I actually lived for a long time. We all know I have been a socially conscious hip hop artist and I flow, but I’m scared to freestyle and struggle to do it like anything else because I know it could be so mean and hateful to all of the above if I allowed it like that that I would sound as rude and ignorant as any gangsta hip hop artist out there if I didn’t think as carefully about how to word it as I do. We all know I talk very slow like most broke black people back in the day in Jim Crow Mississippi. Often people wonder if i lived directly in that state not because I sound as conceptually ignorant or even as deep southern semantically as the negative stereotypes of that state are-I do have family from NC and the Mississippi Delta back in the day, the NC was black and Native American and from poverty, the Redneck and Choctaw were from poverty the first more than anyone would want to admit and the second it was obvious money wise what it was and less so other ways less obvious. The Other part from the MS delta was wealthy, supposedly white, and supposedly good people. I heard a rumor about my material grandma’s great-great-great-great grandma of her having the next in line with a slave in Haiti in the 1700’s when her husband went away to the revolutionary war and never came back. In the revolution of 1810, her daughter, father, her and their child left for New Orleans. Her daughter’s child forged some documents to get out of physical oppression and made slaves of her mother and grandfather. It disgusts me beyond belief to think about. I think it actually is most likely to be true. I also know my mother chose to be honestly pimped by my Black-Cherokee father and to bear me than to be raped by her own father and bear his child. That is a hell of a decision to have to make and neither will be likely to produce good results. I guess I was blessed beyond belief that I am naturally very intelligent (an on paper numerical score similar to Iceberg Slim’s taken in the 1980’s?) and believe it or not, might make good choices more than others have but still am not as happy or OK with having to as I have. I am almost middle aged legally now (34) never have conceived kids, never had a real Islamic and even less so legal marriage in this country, (when Kareem married Halima he was in the NOI briefly and got out quickly and he legalized it but though I’m sure Cheryl Pistano was a lot more legitimate than what many think as was Halima but he couldn’t be as legally legitimate to her or Islamically legitimate to either form that. It was a difficult scene; either way somebody wouldn’t think it was right. There wasn’t any known cat fight to anybody. AA says it is physical satisfaction first then becomes mental. I disagree 100%. It is first completely mentally nice in how it feels, then the guilt slowly makes it physically nicer and then neither is that nice nor was it ever. So, please if any sis in Philly or nearby sees this letter, call me up if you can insha’Allah. I am at 609-897-7828 I hope I get my cell phone back soon insha’Allah-I am at 732-640-3894 and if you get through I will do my best to answer as quickly as I can. Believe it or not, this email virus is making even texting a lot harder than ever before with it all in the same machine and mac based platform that in the past meant it was easier to prevent, detect, and take care of and now it is less so with that than we want to know compared to Windows. It’s amazing how every new so-called upgrade ends up being worse in a shorter time frame and harder to stop how awful it is than the original these days. As Salaam Alaikum Rahmatulla Wa Baraktu


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