Due to the stigma of divorce that exists in our community, as well as the lack of options, resources, and support available, to many Muslim women, divorce feels like a death sentence.

Too commonly heard are the stories of Muslim women remaining in abusive and unhappy marriages out of fear of being isolated, shamed, and gossiped about within the community.

In an article on the Sound Vision called, Divorce among American Muslims: Statistics, Challenges & Solutions by Samana Siddiqui, a Muslim woman named Humaira Basith of Chicago shares the experience she had after divorcing her verbally and emotionally abusive husband, where she dealt with the “rumor-mongering, finger-pointing and whispering behind the backs of she and her family in her local Muslim community.”

This article further describes the isolation these women face post-divorce due to the way the community commonly places the blame on them, looks down on them in pity, and even characterizes them as being “contagious” to other women. They are left feeling helpless and alone.

The lack of support and comfort our community has shown to these women in need has led to only more and more victims suffering in silence, and women struggling socially, financially, and emotionally post-divorce.

Luckily, thanks to amazing organizations like the Ikram Foundation and A Continuous Charity, this is beginning to change.

For the second year in a row, these organizations are partnering up for the #FundHerFuture Campaign, a program that offers interest-free educational loans for divorced or widowed Muslim women, some of whom are victims of domestic violence. This program helps these women reach their educational and career goals so that they can independently care for themselves and their families.

We had the pleasure of speaking with these organizations to learn more about their work and this impactful, life-changing initiative.

Read on to learn more about the #FundHerFuture Campaign and how you can support this amazing cause!

Saman Quraeshi (Left), Program Director of Ikram Foundation, Hakeemah Cummings (Center), Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator of A Continuous Charity, and Somayyah Ghariani (Right), Executive Director of Ikram Foundation,

What is A Continuous Charity?

A Continuous Charity (ACC) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the spiritual and intellectual development of Muslims throughout the United States by providing interest-free loans for higher education. By doing this, we hope to bring about a generation of graduates that will have a strong Muslim identity, and who will be well-versed in their fields, using both for the benefit of mankind.

What is the Ikram Foundation?

Ikram Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides educational grants for divorced and widowed Muslim women. Ikram Foundation seeks to enhance the dignity of divorced and widowed Muslim women by empowering them through education.

What is the #FundHerFuture Campaign?

The #FundHerFuture Campaign is a collaboration between two organizations Ikram Foundation and ACC to invest in the education of divorced and widowed Muslim women through interest-free loans, so that these women can break the cycle of poverty. When these women repay their loans, their repayment will be used to help other women, and thus the cycle will continue.

“Statistically we know that female-headed households are the poorest households, and are vulnerable to homelessness.”

What inspired this collaboration?

As an organization that values education and believes in education being a way out of poverty, we already shared a few clients with ACC. ACC was helping with loans with our single mothers, and we were taking care of the grant piece. We had been partners for some time, but then our advisory board member, Lisa Vogl, helped to facilitate the formal conversation, and we couldn’t be happier working on a cause that is so aligned with our mission!

Why are divorced and widowed Muslim women in need of so much support? What issue in our community is this program working to resolve?

Statistically we know that female-headed households are the poorest households and are vulnerable to homelessness. This is according to a 2018 HUD report. Then, you add the additional barriers that Muslim women have to face including language barriers, immigration status, trauma background, stigma and shame, and you have a whole population that is often caught up in a cycle of poverty with almost no support and no community to lean on.

How will these loans empower the women who receive them?

Loans will help women work towards a program and skill, and get a job without being penalized by crushing interest rates. We believe that this is an investment in their future, and that they will be given the opportunity to support themselves and their families, and then pay back so other women also have the same opportunities. These loans will not only empower women with an education, but also pave the path to independence, confidence, employment, and financial stability.

“The believing men and believing women are auliya (allies) of one another.”

How does the program work? Who is eligible for the program/what are the necessary qualifications?

Divorced and/or widowed women apply through the Ikram Foundation application on the website. There is an intake process, and then appropriate referrals are made to ACC.

How has this program changed the lives of its recipients?

One of our clients is a single mom and a survivor of DV. She had low income, recently immigrated in New Jersey, and was working paycheck to paycheck at Walmart. She has a graphic design degree in Egypt, but was unable to find employment with that in the U.S. Through the Fund Her Future campaign, this client is now able to secure a certification in graphic design, create a portfolio through her program, and secure employment to be able to provide a better life for her son and her elderly mother.

Watch this video to hear Fatoumata Niang’s story, the 2020 recipient of the #FundHerFuture program:

 

How are these loans and donations a form of Sadaqah Jariyah?

When these women repay their loans, we will then re-loan that money to another student, ultimately establishing a form of Sadaqah Jariyah (continuous charity). Everything is interest-free.

In light of this year’s theme, “We are all allies (auliya) of one other,” what does being “auliya” mean to us as a Muslim community?

In the Holy Quran the Almighty states in Surah At-Tawbah, “The believing men and believing women are allies (auliya) of one another” (9:71). Let us live by these words and be the best of allies to our divorced and widowed Muslim women. Together, we can #FundHerFuture and invest in educational loans to change lives forever.

Help us reach our fundraising goal in support of this amazing initiative to #FundTheFutures of as many divorced and widowed Muslim women as possible by donating below!

 

amwomenmag
amwomenmag

AM Women is a lifestyle and fashion magazine for American Muslim women that offers a variety of content from a diverse range of perspectives and voices to help them navigate through their everyday lives.

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