The Ahlul-Bait (A.S.) Islamic Sister’s Network (ABISN)
The Ahlul-Bait (AS) Islamic Sister’s Network is in Nairobi, Kenya and was founded in May 2000 by a handful of indigenous Shi’a Muslim women, who in the real sense, felt the serious need to learn more about authentic Islam, while trying to become cognizant of the rich values of Islam and the Holy Qur’an that provides for the success and prosperity of human beings. And to enable us to see the truth of Islam rather than just conforming to the stereotyped Islam that has been followed in the past. Mind you, there are no women’s organizations among the black community to meet and deliberate issues pertaining to them and other developmental issues. So far, it has been quite a challenge of even registering ourselves as a Self-help Group due to political constraints.
The sufferings of the general indigenous Shi’a Muslims in Kenya, especially the women and the young girls has a very negative impact. Poverty and high levels of illiteracy of this community, have resulted in very little propagation (da’wah) of the sect (madhhab) of Ahlul-Bait (AS) in Kenya. One of the reasons for this is the poverty of the highest levels of their members. The dangers of HIV/AIDS especially in poverty stricken areas, lack of family life, and the hopelessness that some girls feel in relation to them being able to get married, which in turn has literally forced girls to practice prostitution or adultery in order to get enough money to buy food and clothes for the day. There are numerous problems and difficulties, stretching from gender sensitive issues, e.g., female circumcision that prevails in Muslim communities, identity crisis, deep-rooted African culture by character, weak family structure and illicit relationships, rampant STD diseases, children suffering from malnutrition and many other problems.
Noble Goals and Aspirations
Initially, it began with the spiritual classes and sermons of his eminence; Hujjatul-Islam Sayyid Mourtada Mourtada. Eventually the Shi’a Muslim Women’s Group grew rapidly, but it was a slow and gradual process to motivate the public at large. But those who became close to this sister’s network learnt and were also able to share their spiritual feelings and experiences with others. And henceforth, open the doors for other sisters from neighboring towns and cities to join in this sacred goal. Yearly membership forms were also set up for those who would like to become part of our propagational, social and charitable works.
Under this noble umbrella, sisters have learnt to appreciate the true teachings of the Sect of Ahlul-Bait (AS) meanwhile imbibing its valuable teachings in this `Western world’.
a) A group of sisters joined sessions in understanding and appreciating the true and valuable teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Ahlul-Bait (AS).
b) ABISN facilitated a short course of “Effective Parenting” after realizing the extreme need for educating mothers on how to raise children in an Islamic way and also in the most effective manner. This short course has proved to be very popular and beneficial to our young mothers. Not only did the short course help mothers in learning positive skills towards parenting, but also built their confidence and self-esteem too.
c) Sayyid Mourtada started to give our sisters lectures to help us to look into ourselves spiritually and guide us from an Islamic point of view. This has proved to be extremely beneficial to many ladies. There were selected topics once a week. This is open to all sisters for “Spiritual Upliftment’.
d) Talks on health are also organized to make us all more “Health Conscious”.
e) Publications: There has been a large gap in terms of books, stories and spiritual magazines, for the world bombards us with all sorts of corrupt and decadent literature. For us, as a Muslim community (Ummah) to create a new and spiritually healthy environment, we took up the challenge to enlighten the younger generation through publishing moral stories and the first being a series of books on “An Encounter at the Hospital” by Shahida Bintul Huda. Later, part of a sermon of the Holy Prophet’s daughter, Sayyida Fatima Zahra’s (SA) was translated from Arabic and distributed on her blessed Birthday. Also, we published “Hadith al-Quds”.
Indeed, it was a sign of great encouragement and motivation to see the younger generations getting inspired and reading these books and we are able to distribute our publications globally.
Through mutual understanding and cooperation with the Imam Ali (AS) Foundation in the Holy City of Qom (Iran), we launched MUJTABA magazine in English. This magazine already exists in Arabic and has been out in the market for the three years. It is a fun-loving Islamic magazine that has attracted the children and young at heart! And indeed! It has proved to be a very big challenge for we ABISN members to edit and translate, modify, re-write the text that would be able to cater to the Muslim children and youth globally.
Other methods used in promulgation of `Madhhab of Ahlul-Bait’ has been so far through the media, as this seems to be the most effective way of communication, but of course very costly!
During the last year, we produced radio programs during the holy month of Ramadan, the Eid festivals and the 12 days of Muharram in the local stations. Such radio programs were managed by ABISN under the direction of prominent religious scholars.
Last year, ABISN organized a Holy Qur’an Research Competition which catered for sisters only and which had indeed proved to be extremely popular and many people found it to be very beneficial. There were participants from as far as India and the United States.
Al-Mahdi Sponsorship Scheme is also one of our most important projects that had initially started in 1997 with the aim of educating the African Shi’a Muslim children who live in extremely poor economical conditions. It is our aim to revive this noble scheme by which we are trying to motivate and encourage people to sponsor Muslim students and keep a close watch on their educational progress and hopefully in the future we may find them job opportunities in decent work places as well - Insha’Allah. We are all duty-bound to help our deprived and long forgotten African Shi’a Muslim brothers and sisters excel scientifically and spiritually.
We have to try and serve and defend Islam through books, media, plays and cultural exhibitions, sports and recreational games. By and large, the public prefers visual performances, that is, plays and dramas and game shows to deliver the true message of Islam.
Although we have very little manpower and financial constraints, we managed to organize and host the First Muslim Women’s Function (on 16/9/2001) to celebrate the birthday of Sayyida Fatima-Zahra (SA) and similarly to introduce ABISN to the general public. It was the first of its kind, whereby the agenda included speeches by prominent personalities, book exhibitions, and fun and games among other items. This became an eye-opener for many. Because of a language barrier, Kiswahili, which is our national language we need to produce visual methods of reaching other basic information.
We intend to start up with vocational training courses for those deprived sisters and to begin with, we would have a group of 10, who would be trained under professional supervision and then later they could train others in their rural areas. This is how we create job opportunities for them and make them more independent and able to survive in this rat-race world!
P.O. Box 67486, New Rehena, 1st floor,
Westlanas, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel. No. 254-02-449085