Meet The Youngest Resident of Our Women's Shelter -- Saheela; She's Only 10 Days Old
On June 20th, we welcomed Saheera Lee Mills into the world at She weighed 6.6 pounds. She is the youngest resident at the ICNA Relief Women’s Shelter in the Chicago area. While most newborns go home to a real home, Saheera came home from the hospital to a Women’s Shelter with her parents.
It costs ICNA Relief $3000 per month to covers rent, utilities, job training, case management and counseling, to support a family. ICNA Relief has 13 Women’s shelters across the US and without Allah’s blessing and your donations they would not have the shelter they do. Donate to www.icnarelief.org. Choose Transitional Housing. Please make dua that Saheera and her family are soon able to stand on their own feet.
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This Ramadan, Will You Emerge as a Swan?
By Naazish Yarkhan
There are no such things as chance encounters. Everyone crosses our path for a reason and, if we are wise, we will distill that interaction to discover how we were meant to grow from it. So also the month of Ramadan. It isn't just a time of year that rolls onto our horizon, once each year. It isn't just an exercise we undertake for a month. Rather, Ramadan is the pond from which ducklings are meant to emerge as swans.
Speaking of transformations, hearing of journeys in Islam can be one of the most inspiring ways to crystallize your own goals for spiritual growth. Meet Sr. Jane Aslam, Director of Disaster Relief Services, for ICNA Relief USA, a former pastoral worker. Twenty years ago, her role at a university in the South involved interfaith work. Meeting international students led her to learn about Islam. Her studies led her to embracing the faith two years later. Sister Jane's decision came with a price. A price that the faint of faith may have recoiled from. It cost her her marriage. It cost her her children, then about 4 and 6 years old. She lost her job, and her family of origin. She was asked to withdraw from the university. She underwent court ordered psychiatric evaluations (only to be found to be among the most grounded of people). She said, twenty years ago, not only was it in the South, but Islam was seen as a cult.
As a mother, to have your children taken from you, to lose your place in society, to be robbed of all you've ever known. Talk about sticker shock. Has being Muslim been worth the cost to her?
"Alhamdollilah", Sr. Jane responds in a heartbeat. Judaism and Christianity gave her the ten commandments, she said, and Islam gave her the details as to how to fulfill those commandments. It's a process towards growth, she said. "For instance, the ten commandments forbids adultery and Islam shows you all the little things that keep you from inadvertently falling into it. Because we don't intentionally set out to sin. Islam is about keeping life simple by providing guidance," she said.
One can't help but wonder how, when we are born into a faith, we often take it so lightly. We are even negligent with it. Yet to abide by that same faith, other people have made such huge sacrifices. The decades since then, for Sr.Jane, included a second marriage to a Muslim man, revisiting motherhood again, serving as a principal at an Islamic school, and working with FEMA. It involves embracing her now adult children from her first marriage, unconditionally. It also means being a beacon of hope to those who've lost everything in natural,man-made, and personal disasters.
Hurricane Katrina struck in Ramadan, a hard-felt blow upon the community Sr. Jane lived in, the community she was raised in, the community where her family lives. It was while responding to the needs of her overflowing masjid, that she was hired by ICNA Relief USA, to help provide assistance to hungry, tired, and stressed evacuees. It was a time never to be forgotten, she says. ICNA Relief supported the needs of families who had lost everything, except their lives and what they carried in their car. ICNA Relief provided apartments and utilities, for families coming out of a shelter environment. It provided transportation for those who could not return, nor afford to go forward, to meet their supporting family and/or friends. ICNA Relief helped a family who desperately needed to fly an ailing child for emergency surgery. Ten years later, Sr. Jane still remembers the pain and gratitude in their eyes, for the blessings Allah bestowed upon them, through the generous donation and case work done by ICNA Relief USA.
Yes, Katrina struck in Ramadan. ICNA Relief USA provided halal food for up to 300 masjid-shelter occupants, for suhr and iftars that year, and for nearly 3-months. Donor dollars were used to buy food. Local community volunteers provided the additional labor of shopping, cooking, and serving. ICNA Relief USA coordinated the volunteers and maintained the shelter operations, including a point-of-distribution for pantry food & cleaning supplies, and clothing; and also a medical assistance section, supported by Muslim doctors deployed to the state's university medical facility, providing for evacuated hospitals.
Together, ICNA Relief USA, Sr. Jane, and the local Muslim community were the face of North America's Muslims. Their efforts then, and now, were fueled by Allah, donors and volunteers like you.
Today, as Director of Disaster Relief Services at ICNA Relief USA, Sr. Jane knows that her true calling is being able to bring help to survivors of disasters. This Ramadan, may her story inspire your own transformation.
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"He Took Away My Confidence"
A Young Woman's Story of Adversity and Abandonment
Meanwhile, her husband's aloofness very quickly revealed he had been forced into the marriage. Sara also discovered that he had been interested in marrying another woman, all along. She was stuck. Read more
ICNA Relief and the Muslim Women's Organization of Central Florida Pack Over 400 Food Boxes for Those in Need