The only option

A conservative Islamic charity is opening three women-only homeless shelters in the UK.

There are no official figures on how many Muslim women have been forced to leave their homes, but the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) has seen a demand for temporary shelter that meets religious and cultural needs.

The first of three of the hostels will open in London at the end of October and will cater for 14 women.

The other two will open in Birmingham and in Manchester over the next few months.

Muslim females are expected to follow a strict code of conduct, which includes not mixing with males who are not family members and not entering an environment where alcohol is being consumed.

So Muslim women who aren’t fanatically conservative won’t want to go there.

The temporary accommodation offered by the charity will provide an environment which complies with the Islamic way of life.

Nusrat is now in her early 30s but at the age of 19 she was forced to leave home.

She was disowned by her family for wanting to go to university. She initially stayed in the university’s halls of residence but after getting into financial difficulty she ended up on the streets of London.

She said: “I was leading a double life. I’d stay at university for as long as I could during the day and then at night I’d be on the streets pretending to be a tourist. I saw things that I never wanted to see.

“There was prostitution, people tried to pimp girls. The younger and more innocent you looked, the more they were out to get you.”

She said pride stopped her from returning to her family because she wanted to show them that she could be independent.

The hostels which were available to her did not comply with her Muslim faith so living on the streets was the only option.

No, it wasn’t the only option. Another option would have been to live at a hostel that didn’t “comply with her Muslim faith.” That seems to mean there were men and alcohol around…but surely that applies at least as much to living on the streets, along with all sorts of other disadvantages.


  1. freemage says

    This is one of those situations that makes my head hurt trying to count all the “on the other hands” that come to mind.

    At the core, there really is a need here. I may find the brand of faith these women practice to be one of the worst on the planet in many respects–but at the same time, basic empathy requires me to think that the world is better off if they are given someplace where they can go and feel secure.

    My primary hope is that these places ultimately wind up serving as half-way houses for women who might otherwise have never taken the first step out of their patriarchal homes.

  2. exi5tentialist says

    Most women’s refuges are strict about men on the premises and the use of alcohol. It’s hard to discern from the report what rules exactly would be different. Nusrat talks of drugs being left lying around in hostels. Allowing that to happen in any hostel would most likely earn the hostel workers a very strict prison stay.

  3. Kevin Kehres says

    Yeah, I’m calling bullshit on this as well. This is apparently creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  4. RJW says

    For those people blinkered by religion there is, indeed, ‘no option’, so this development is possibly a sign of progress if the alternative is the streets, or physical and psychological abuse by family members.

    @2 exi5tentialist,

    Yes, on the information provided there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference in the rules and regulations between secular and ‘Islamic’ women’s refuges.

  5. Athywren says

    re: The difference between secular these Islamic hostels… if I had to guess, which I do because I have very little information about the subject, especially in London, Birmingham or Manchester, I’d say they’re just making assumptions about the evils of secular hostels. Or maybe it’s enough that they don’t advertise themselves as adhering to Muslim rules and therefore, no matter how well they may mirror them, aren’t even worthy of consideration.

    Whatever the reason, it’s housing for people who otherwise wouldn’t get it. More beds for people who need beds, which cater to people who can’t or won’t use other beds. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have doubts about this, but I’d also be lying if I said that I’m completely convinced that my doubts are reasonable. Even if it’s a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist, it’s more accommodation for people who need it. Even if it’s adhering to highly conservative Muslim ideals… well, it’s serving women who adhere to highly conservative Muslim ideals, so can I really say that I think that’s wrong?
    …I’ve got nothing…
    Well, I’ve got speculation and fears backed by zero evidence, which is enough to burn a witch, but I don’t think it’s enough to make a valid argument.

  6. Pen says

    not entering an environment where alcohol is being consumed.

    That rules out most of Britain, including the street.

  7. Blanche Quizno says

    “a hostel that didn’t “comply with her Muslim faith.” ”

    Surely she could have behaved herself according to her Muslim faith regardless of what was going on around her. What’s this whole “everybody else must first comply with MY beliefs before I can [fill in the blank]”???

    Since when did a person’s religious beliefs become contingent upon what others believe?

  8. John Morales says


    Surely she could have behaved herself according to her Muslim faith regardless of what was going on around her.

    Not really; for example, how can she recluse herself to the women’s section if there is no women’s section? 😉

  9. Athywren says

    @Blanche, 7
    On one hand, I see your point and agree with it… on the other, if the only options available to a person are to be homeless or to enter into what they probably consider to be a den of vipers, can we really stand here and tell them that they have to live on the streets until they can learn to be rational about these things?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *