A Simple Conversation

I recently stumbled across an article about American Muslim couples who are going through divorce. As statistics also indicate that divorce rates in Muslim communities are growing (but are still not as high as national averages), this article is quite timely. Not only in the fact that it breaks down the most common concerns for divorcees, but it should also get us thinking about what we can do (as much as we can obviously) to prevent divorces from happening in the first place.

Within this article was a startling statistic that one third of women interviewed admitted to being domestically abused in some manner, whether it was physical, emotional, or sexual. While domestic abuse is rampant in society as a whole, it is even more of a taboo to talk about this issue within our community. Yet advocacy and awareness are key in preventing these numbers from rising.

And it's not solely the divorce rate that is of concern in the Muslim community. Domestic abuse. Cross-cultural parenting. Reverts to Islam. And the list goes on and on. But to clarify, these concerns are not really new to Muslims. I think that slowly but surely (a) more people are talking about these areas; and (b) more people are trying to address these areas by creating support services.

There are a few other things I don't quite understand though. Why I rarely see children with disabilities and their families at mosques. Why I get numerous emails about halaqas around the city, but rarely about discussions around how to serve others. I see an uprising of youth leading these discussions, and I think this could be a good influence for the leaders in this city.

Knowledge is powerful and Islam supports the lifelong acquisition of knowledge. But there's a part two to that, and it's implementing what you learn.

But yes, there is a dire shortage of professionals in the field of mental health who would be able to address some of these concerns. And there's also a fear of outsourcing beyond the community for support. But these are the only two options.

Perhaps the solution is a mixture of both. We inform youth about social services fields and the benefit they could pay to the community. At the same time, we bridge our community and the programs that are available for all Calgarians.

So what's the first step? We need to talk about things, and we need to talk about things a lot. Whether it's over coffee or when you see a friend at Juma'a prayer. We need to stop hiding in our homes or pushing problems away, because while prayer and faith are powerful, there are also other steps we can take. Domestic abuse is real. High school dropout is real. Reverts to Islam failing due to lack of social support is real.

We really need to start talking. Only then can we start generating solutions.

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