Sunday, December 26, 2004

HIV and AIDS: Positive Muslims

The posts on Muslims in London (My trip to the UK and London is a dump for Muslims) raised important questions about the kind of activism we need, given the conditions Muslims live under these days in the US , Canada, UK, and Europe... An important point was made about living and breathing the lives of our communities - and not making loud noises from an ivory tower somewhere.

Ninhajaba commented:

Its time for our community spokespersons (self-appointed or other) to step out of the ivory towers and come take a look at how folks are really living. And then begin the dialogue on Activism that focuses on uplifting Muslims in need, as opposed to all the "we is just like yall" shuckin' and jivin' that seems to have invaded so many Muslim circles, regardless of their interpretations of Islam.

One of my first involvement in "social work" was working with People With AIDS in San Francisco. At the time most people, including activists, still considered AIDS a gay white man's disease, and the training I received reflected some of this misperception. I was trained as an "Emotional Support Volunteer" for the Shanti Project - that gave me an understanding of HIV and AIDS, the stigma, the medications, and most importantly, helped me work through my own prejuduices.

I worked with two men - both of whom were in advanced stages - and passed away within a year. Being an emotional support volunteer within the context of the Shanti Project was different than being a therapist - my role was to "be there" - to listen - and be available for all the range of emotions that come up when one knows that life is terminal. This role gave me a glimpse of the "inside" that is just not available to many Social Workers or therapists (or even close friends and family) unless one has had a very long term relationship. Imagine all of life, and relationships, and the emotions involved becoming compressed to just a year - or sometimes less. And then add the stigma, and then add to this the politics of AIDS - the denial, and the sometimes shunning from family and friends. You get the idea? Maybe...

I'd like to introduce the readers of this blog to Positive Muslims - a South African organization that works and advocates for Muslims with AIDS.

(Abu Dharr - a contributor to this blog - interned with this organization, and has promised a blog entry on his experience, and on the politics of AIDS in South Africa within the next two days (he has a deadline for Tuesday midnight :-)).

But here are a few excerpts from their web site:

From HIV/AIDS and Islam

Is HIV a threat to Muslim communities?

Every single country in the world has been affected by HIV, including Muslim countries.
The United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that since the start of the global HIV pandemic around 29.4 million people have been infected with HIV. Although many Muslim countries claim that they have not been affected by HIV, this is not true. HIV infections have been reported in every single Muslim country. According to UNAIDS there are an estimated 300 000 people living with HIV in North Africa and the Middle East. Anyone can become infected by HIV, including Muslims.

From Responses

The Muslim community, although not openly hostile to the issue of HIV/AIDS, has been very complacent and slow to respond to the needs of Muslims living with HIV/AIDS. According to Fahmeeda Miller, an AIDS activist who is also HIV positive, Muslim organisations that she contacted appeared to have been more concerned about how one became HIV positive as opposed to asking how they were able to assist those who are living with HIV/AIDS. This has led many Muslims, including Fahmeeda Miller at certain stages, to become very despondent.

The alienation of people living with HIV/AIDS is not only limited to the Muslim community. It extends to black communities such as in KwaZulu Natal where Gugu Dlamini an AIDS activists, was murdered for talking about her experiences as an HIV positive person.

And from Theology of Compassion

As Muslims we must ask how can we can contain the beast and how can we limit the damage that it wreaks upon is. When we come across those who have been touched by it; we need to embody the compassion that we expect from Allah. “And humankind have been created frail” says the Qur’an. This is why everyone of us is utterly, utterly dependent on the grace and mercy of Allah. It is not our deeds that will save us – that may help – it is ultimately the boundless grace of Allah.

When each one of us is so equally dependent on that grace – we need to go slowly in our handing out of labels of “innocent” and “guilty”, “worthy of compassion” and “unworthy of compassion.” My bother, son or father who is on umrah can be infected with HIV by the blade that is used to shave his hair. Will we ask him to wear a label – “touched but innocent” around his neck when it comes to light that he is HIV+, will we leave his food at his bedroom door so that we can not be touched; will we say that the word condom must never be used...?

10 comment(s):

  • My other blog www.wholemothermuslima.blogspot.com also has some information on AIDS and links to AIDS issues in the Muslim community.

    I know a brother who is HIV positive and his wife is pregnant with their first child. As you can imagine they are dealing with the elation of preparing to be parents and the fear of their child being positive as well. He has requested that I find other Muslims that are in or have been in this situation. I think he really needs some support from Muslims. If anyone who sees this thinks that they can help please email me. Ninhajaba@care2.com

    By Blogger blagdiblah, at 12/26/2004 11:47:00 AM  

  • ...oh and next time you quote me feel free to clean up my rushed and sometimes atrocious grammar ;0).

    By Blogger blagdiblah, at 12/26/2004 11:48:00 AM  

  • I was thinking - are there any groups in the US at all that work with Muslims who are HIV+ve? I can't recall any, or, are there even any outreach efforts directed towards Muslims from an Islam perspective (as the Positive Muslims org. is doing in South Africa).

    How about in Canada, UK, Europe - or in Muslim majority countries?

    I know there are some materials out there directed at specific ethnicities that are culturally sensitive... but not faith sensitive.

    Perhaps, the family you know would like to write something for this blog - about themselves (can be anonymous - of-course). May help others to come forward, and seek, and inshallah find support?

    (maybe we should find a proof reader for the blog? :-))

    By Blogger redwood, at 12/27/2004 12:10:00 AM  

  • This coming semester I will be teaching a seminar titled "Islam, Muslims and AIDS: Between Pity, Compassion and Justice" I have also just completed a 54 page reader friendly book on "Islam, HIV and AIDS - Reflections based on Compassion, Responsibility and Justice" it should be available from early next month and is being published by Positive Muslims. I am also editing a Manual on conducting workshops around the issue and am working on a more scholarly book as well.

    farid esack (in Cape Town)

    By Blogger farid esack, at 12/27/2004 02:24:00 PM  

  • salaam brothers and sisters!

    No has written this site in 6 years! how come? Are mulims scare of this disease or what!
    Islam is a democracy and the only judge is Allah.
    Islam is Stigma free coz kulu she'y is Qadaru Allah. Isn't that enough for us to suport pple with illness. This disease isn't different from Diabeties or highblood pressure or Astma or a Hearth attack etc
    What you ca do is: at least show your support and try to comment and give these people peice of mind. I work and come very close to a lot of people who're positively. Most of them they die or get serously ill for the schock. Becouse the Stigma that their brothers and sisters but in that drives them to go and seek help from other beleavers who're more open than us and today this site is my prove in 6years no one bothered to in here.
    Islam is knowlege isn't that what we beleave what happen to our world we getting ignorent by the hour! why is that!!!
    Can we change that start the person in the mirror than.

    Brothers and sisters know this world we come for Imtihaan (test). Know that i not your foult what ever disease you got it's all about the test and how you handle! Don't let ignorent people make your day a day you feel sorry for your self and miss the glory and the wisdom that you supose to learn during the day. Please don't alow that happen to you.

    May Allah Protect us from shaythan and all his evilness inculuding ignorence insha Allaah Aamiin.
    Be strong And may Allah be with you and all of us insha Allaah Amiin. Wabillaahi Towfiiq

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/20/2010 03:46:00 AM  

  • As salaam alaikum...Mashallah!! I am the founder of a program here in the u.s. named I.H.S.A.N and we do counseling and testing for the muslim. We are in the streets where it (HIV) and we are..Not in a tower or hiding makin a bunch of noise,We do work. Please my site islamichealth.wordpress.com or islamichealth1 atyoutube. May Allah reward your efforts... Keep up the work your doing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/03/2011 02:25:00 PM  

  • Asalamu aleykum brothers and sisters:
    I came acroos this blog and am glad of the positive feedback some bro?sisters gave on this blog.What is disheartening though is the lack of
    support the muslim ummah gives to people who are affected by hiv. This disease like any other disease is a test form Allah swt and if you are a muslim sis/bro affected by this ilness or any other ilness for that matter remember as anonymous put it is qadarrullah! a test from Allah swt so have patience and you'll find your reward with your creator!

    “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief.” (Quran 94:5)

    Prophet Muhammad said, “No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but God will expiate for some of his sins because of that.”(saheeh al bukhari).

    “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Quran 2:155)

    To my muslim bro/sisters who have been aflicted with any disease may allah heal you have mercy on you forgive your sins comfort you and admit you to his paradise al firdaws where there is no sickness no prejudice no loneliness no fear,ameeen!

    And to all the muslims who are ignorant enough to avoid or judge a fellow muslim over a disease from Allah which we all know one day we are going to face wether an afliction on a loved one or ourselves.whether a
    disease thats not contagious or contagious there is a diffrence between being careful and just plain hurtfull. its outrageous how muslims treat fellow muslims nowadays! they show no mercy towards their fellow muslims and yet still expect mercy from Allah swt!

    Speak up ya muslimeen in order to receive Your lords mercy be kind and loving towards your fellow muslims.

    if I have offended anyone I do apologize any mistakes May Allah forgive me! subhanallah wabihamdihi


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/22/2011 12:36:00 PM  

  • as-salamu alaykum,
    I am a Muslim sister living with HIV. I was happy to see this blog. I am looking for Muslims who are willing to say they HIV positive because its difficult to find them. May Allah Protect us from the Shaytan and Grant us Paradise without torture. Amin.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/25/2011 01:59:00 PM  

  • I see a lot of Muslims are seeking a place where they can meet others for marriage unions and we just recently began to learn of this need. We do have members who are HIV, so please DO join us. Just Google my username and inshallah join us, as we are completely free.

    By Blogger Habibi Matrimonials, at 12/19/2012 12:57:00 PM  

  • Asalam a leikum
    I am a muslim bother living with HIV.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/23/2013 09:25:00 AM  

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