Above: A Nour talk in action. Credit: Nour via Facebook
In 2011, Nour was set up by third year university students Mahfuja Ahmed and Morium Ali. The aim of the charity was simple: to campaign against domestic violence within their east London community and beyond.
At the time, they felt there were few resources of this nature in their area, especially groups that would be capable of offering faith-based advice. Since it was founded six years ago, Nour has helped hundreds of women, while raising awareness of domestic violence in the UK.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Ahmed said: ‘Me and my friend cofounded this together. We were discussing issues our community faces and the topic of domestic abuse came up and we thought, “Is there anything for Muslim women?”’
Ahmed and Ali realised that the reason this gap existed was largely due to stigma. They found that many in the Muslim community felt that domestic abuse was an issue dealt with in the home, not with the help of outsiders. As such, many victims were unwilling to seek advice from elsewhere.
Through Nour, Ahmed and Ali want to frame their work within the context of faith in the hope that this will encourage people to come to them. For a start, their website offers a FAQ that includes Quranic verse about the equal status of women and men. This shows that mistreatment has absolutely no basis in Islam itself. Earlier this month, Nour also launched the #ItsNotVisible social media campaign to get people talking about the issue:
By getting the word out on social media, Nour has been able to host many events that offer help and advice to women. These include coffee mornings, women-only pampering sessions and talks, all of which provide women with a safe space to discuss their concerns.
Nour now has a 15-strong team, made up of outreach workers, legal advisers, and Islamic advisers. They also plan to set up a long-term helpline, as the current one operates for only one hour a week.
In the meantime, the group has been making their presence felt in the community. Along with organising fundraisers and bucket collections in Whitechapel, Nour has circulated sermons on domestic violence to local mosques. And last Easter, the group released yellows balloons in Trafalgar Square, each of which had a message of support to a domestic abuse survivor written on it. While symbolic at a glance, the gesture had a lasting effect. Ruzina Begum, a teacher who does outreach work for Nour, told Buzzfeed: ‘The idea was people would receive a balloon from a stranger. And people were surprised it was Muslim women doing this initiative, but once they found out they got involved.’
Through their work, Nour shows how domestic violence has no basis in Islam, or any religion, faith or background. Most importantly, the group proves how crucial it is for all of us to extend a hand to those who may be suffering in silence.
For more information and advice, head to the Nour website.