Magazine article Islamic Horizons

The Jewels of Islam

Magazine article Islamic Horizons

The Jewels of Islam

Article excerpt

A pioneer program offers comfort and companionship for senior Muslim women. BY ZAHEER UDDIN

"Fifty-five percent of our members have performed hajj," informs Hajja Rafiqa Abdul Rasheed, founder and coordinator of Jewels of Islam, the only Muslim, all-volunteer, senior program for women in Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania-possibly the only such senior program in the country.

The idea for the organization emerged some 16 years ago at the home of Hajja Rafiqa (formerly Emilie Harris), then a graduate student at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia. Today, the city's senior Muslim women seek comfort and companionship in the "Jewels of Islam" (JoI), a pioneering program with a focus on Muslim women 50 years and older.

JoI's Coordinator Hajja Rafiqa has worked as a social gerontologist for 29 years and now works as a social services coordinator at a HUD-run senior citizen program. The planning meeting, she says, that included several older women and two younger women, was held on June 25, 1989 at the John Anderson Cultural Center in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Some 23 women attended.

After searching for a permanent location for meetings and inquiring at various masaajid in the city, Masjidullah invited the women to base their program there. JoI continues to meet at Masjidullah on the second Sunday of each month. …

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