Baitul Salaam Network, Inc. began as an answer to a question posed at an Iftar January 17, 1997. Four of us (women) sat on the floor of my humble apartment in one of the worst housing complexes in the city and just questioned what was going on in our lives at that moment. We looked at what had happened in our respective recent pasts, and we challenged ourselves to be and do better. The answer came when we hosted our first event at one of the local Islamic centers about a year later. We invited a local ordained female minister to speak on the subject of “Internalized Oppression.” Most of us had heard the lecture and were so touched and healed by it that we knew everyone in the world would want to hear it. We asked her to join us for Iftar before she would speak. We knew we would have a nice size audience. Well, wrong. Although there were about a hundred people only fifty or so steps away, only two (men) joined us for the presentation. We knew then we would have an interesting journey ahead.
It is now almost 18 years later and the road for us as a domestic violence awareness organization has been peppered with temporary setbacks (closing of the shelter project twice), minimal to almost no support from those we thought we be on the front lines with us (many of our sisters especially our professional sisters), and subtle to overt backlash. We have learned from it all to stand firm in our belief in Allah and to trust Allah for all of our personal and organizational needs. We also have gained the respect and true loyalty of a committed and very diverse local and national support base. With the help of Allah we have made it to a benchmark in our history as an organization. We are at the place we off times thought we would not make. With humility and pride we can look back at assisting just over 1,500 women and children through the shelter program (closed in 2008).. We can look back at answering over 10,000 (conservative estimate) telephone calls yearly.
We can take pride in our part as a catalyst in blazing a trail in stirring up the consciousness of our community and take pride in now having just over a dozen domestic violence awareness organizations and support groups that have started since our inception in 1997. We can take pride as Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence-Atlanta has organized and standing on its own. We can give praise to Allah and marvel at the miracle of our local citywide Majlis Ash Shura here in Atlanta beginning to develop a task force to work with us (and others) to study and take action against the apathy of our community in not dealing with domestic abuse as they would any other crime in our community.
We have seen some of our friends, supporters and fellow domestic violence awareness activists return to Allah (Sr. Tayyibah Taylor of Azizah Magazine, Sr. Sharifa Al Khatib of the Peaceful Family Project) a few of our devoted and loving supporters (Brother Malcolm Shabazz, Brother McDonald Rasheed and Sr. Samadah Nur) and loved ones as well (former Advisory Committee Chair Evelyn L. Ganther-Spencer–my mom). We have much to be grateful for and many reasons to celebrate in praise to Allah. As we move forward and continue to grow as an organization, let us always be mindful to give all the praise to Allah and continue to be grateful. With the help of Allah we have made it to a benchmark in our history as an organization. Hadayai Majeed, Project Administrator 18 September 2014 Atlanta, Georgia