Health of Rohingya Muslims
Beginning in August 2017 and continuing to the present day, an estimated 24,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnoreligious group have been murdered by Myanmar militia forces for cleansing purposes. Members of Myanmar’s army and police forces have raped around 18,000 girls and women. A total of approximately 225,000 homes have burned down or undergone vandalism since the beginning of this crackdown on the Muslim minority group of Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Since then, an influx of Rohingya Muslims has entered the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh in attempts to escape the inhumane living circumstances of the Rakhine State. By February 2018, around 688,000 Rohingyas had entered Bangladesh. They joined close to 212,000 Rohingyas that settled in Bangladesh before the exodus that began six months prior. One area of concern is the health of Rohingya Muslims.

Even after leaving the region where they experienced persecution, the quality of health of Rohingya Muslims has not been ideal. This is due to the frequency in which they travel into Bangladesh, as well as the large groups they move within.

Health Concerns for Refugees

One major, ongoing concern for the health of Rohingya Muslims is the fact that they have limited access to preventative health care services. These services become necessary when a mass group of individuals resides in a singular location, like a refugee camp, for an extended period. According to an Intersector Coordination group situation report, rape survivors among Rohingya Muslims have not received adequate clinical treatment for harms and diseases they may now carry.

There is also a lack of preventative and diagnostic services for blood-borne diseases like HIV and tuberculosis. The World Health Organization found in 2017 that, though both Bangladesh and Myanmar had comparatively low rates of HIV cases, Rakhine state in 2015 had an exceptionally large number in comparison to the rest of Myanmar. This, paired with the fact that Myanmar armed forces raped a large number of women and girls, illustrates a need for more thorough diagnostic procedures for blood-borne and sexually transmitted diseases.

Around 42,000 pregnant women and 72,000 lactating mothers require quality care assistance, as of October 22, 2018. Around 3,000 of those women had entered health facilities to receive treatment for their symptoms of malnourishment.

Medical Advancements and Humanitarian Aid

While refugees have limited access to health care, medical advancements have occurred to address as many of these refugees’ needs as possible. The World Health Organization reported on March 18, 2019, that a new software known as Go.Data will now allow for more efficient investigations into disease outbreaks, “including field data collection, contact tracing and visualization of disease chains of transmission.” On February 28, 2018, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre donated $2 million to the Sadar District Hospital in Cox’s Bazar. This will help strengthen the medical facility in the region of Bangladesh that includes a dense population of Rohingya refugees.

One more great stride in improving the health of the Rohingya Muslims: In the year following the August 2017 mass migration,  155 new health posts emerged, supplying for around 7,700 individuals per location. This could not have been possible without the partnership of the Bangladesh government, the World Health Organization and other groups supporting the rights of the Rohingya.

Continued support for and increased awareness of the persisting struggles of the Rohingya Muslims will do incredible things in ensuring improvement to their quality of life.

– Fatemeh-Zahra Yarali
Photo: Flickr

Malaysian Women
In the country of Malaysia where 30 million people are affected by widespread poverty, human trafficking, crime, a growing Islamic movement, as well as numerous other misfortunes, women are the most affected by these problems. In some Islamic cultures, there is an outlook that Muslim women should be subservient, submissive and should not have equal rights. However, compared to other Islamic countries, women’s aid in Malaysia has been a much greater success.

In this Southeast Asian country, there have been significant developments in the fight to protects women’s rights. One such organization that has joined this fight is the Women’s Aid Organization. This organization is challenging the antiquated views of women as well as helping to end violence against women and work towards equality between men and women.

The Women’s Aid Organization

The Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) was started, courtesy of Tan Siew Sin, the first Minister of Commerce and Industry in Malaysia, who donated a cash reward of RM 30 thousand to establish a shelter for battered women and their children in 1979. This shelter was eventually made into what is today the Women’s Aid Organization.

The vision of this organization is for violence against women to be eliminated. Its mission statement is “to promote and create respect, protection and fulfillment of equal rights for women. To work towards the elimination of discrimination against women, and to bring about equality between women and men.” Women’s aid in Malaysia has been largely influenced by this organization.

The objective of the Women’s Aid Organization is to provide protection, shelter and counseling to women and their children in the case of mental, physical or sexual abuse at any given time. The WAO also takes on research into the factors that play a part in the inequality of women.

Additionally, the organization advocates with government organizations and NGO’s to abolish factors contributing to the subordination of women through law, policy and organized reforms. It strives to provide a better understanding of the issues of violence against women and the underlying inequalities that they face on a daily basis.

Programs in the Women’s Aid Organization

The Women’s Aid Organization has three main services available to help women and their children in times of need.

  1. The first service is the Refuge, which operates as a shelter for abused women and their children. The Refuge is the center for WAO activities to educate women about domestic violence and women and family concerns, which are inevitably associated with this issue.
  2. The second service is the Child Care Centre, which is a place for children of former WAO’s residents who are going back to work and starting their lives over. The children of these women are cared for, either full-time or during the mother’s work hours, and provided an education at local schools along with recreational activities.
  3. The third service is social work, which is the center for advocacy on behalf of the women and children needing help. This section provides services to help women through legal, medical and welfare departments and ensure they are being treated fairly.

These services give women and their children the support and protection they need. Through the combination of these programs and several other services offered through the WAO, an extremely supportive system is created for maltreated women to use whenever it is needed.

Women’s aid in Malaysia has come a long way because of the WAO. Compared to other Islamic countries, this country is more progressive in its approach to the issue of women’s inequalities. Through more organizations like this one, women’s rights will become more of a priority for the authority figures of Malaysia. Aid is very much so needed in this Southeast Asian country, but much more so for women, whose odds are stacked up against them because of the way they have been seen in society for so long.

– Megan Maxwell
Photo: Flickr


Kashmir Family Aid is an organization based out of Portland, Oregon that recognized the influence that secular education in Pakistan could have in combating extremism. The benefit of increased U.S. national security is an added positive outcome. Founder Sam Carpenter assured that the organization’s ultimate goal is fighting poverty through education.

Education in Pakistan is very much bound up in religion. There are over 20,000 madrassas, or religious schools, in Pakistan. This means that 3.5 million children and young adults are given Koranic teachings as their primary source of education, and, while this is a respected and understood aspect of Pakistani culture, it has increased the threat of extremism to the point of government intervention. As reported by the Washington Post, part of the Pakistani government’s 2015 plan for combating terrorism included “registrations and regulation of madrassas,” but it is still approximated that at least 9,000 are unregistered and that two to three percent have ties to student radicalization.

In the politically divided areas of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, a 2005 earthquake left over 70,000 people dead and three million homeless. The earthquake destroyed 8,000 of the region’s 11,000 primary schools. Kashmir Family Aid was founded to help the area recover from such devastation.

The organization provides school supplies to the small village of Sarli Sacha in the foothills of a rural area that is nearly inaccessible in winter. They continually strive to provide money directly to schools, such as one in the Langla Village that cannot provide the $30 to $40 USD monthly salaries to its teachers. Fearing that the corruption of local officials has contributed to the misappropriation of government funds and undermining of education in Pakistan, Carpenter insists on paying school administrators and teachers in cash.

After bringing secular education to about 1,200 children, Kashmir Family Aid retreated their physical presence, fearing potential kidnap or arrest. In a country where 89 percent of people see Americans as an enemy, help was not always interpreted as such by local leaders. They now work primarily out of their Oregon office to raise money to be contributed to funds such as the Helping Hands Welfare Association.

Providing secular education in Pakistan is potentially one of the most streamlined ways of monitoring and preventing extremism. One of Kashmir Family Aid’s biggest supporters in Azad Kashmir was the prime minister himself, showing that the hope for schools that could produce doctors, educators and community leaders instead of Jihadists is not an American interest alone.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

Women in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative societies in the world. Women in Saudi Arabia rely on men to allow them the rights to travel, become educated, see doctors and marry. The country was ranked 141 of 144 in the 2016 Global Gender Gap World Economic Forum study, which focused on how women fare in economies, political participation, health and education worldwide.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia recently issued an order granting women in Saudi Arabia access to government services like education and healthcare without requiring male consent. This is a significant step in the direction of women’s emancipation. Maha Akeel, director of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stated: “Now at least it opens the door for discussion on the Guardian system.” The election of Saudi Arabia to the U.N.’s women’s rights commission a month earlier drew large-scale outrage because of this system, which is not ended by the new law.

The Guardian system is based on the premise that women are inferior to men and cannot make important decisions without them. Any woman’s father is her first guardian, and when she marries, guardianship is shifted to her husband. Many women in Saudi Arabia are abused and have their rights restricted by their guardians. This is possible because the legal system is biased toward men, and there are no female judges in the country. Women in Saudi Arabia are, in this way, deprived of independence for the entirety of their lives.

Feminist-led protests have called attention to these inequalities in the past. For example, in September 2016, 2,500 women approached the king’s office demanding the end of guardianship. A supporting petition was signed by an additional 14,000 women, and an online movement grew under the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian.

Other initiatives have also moved to empower women. The Saudi government has recently encouraged women’s participation in many sectors of the workforce. Saudi Vision 2030, for example, hopes to increase the percentage of working women from 22 to 30.

Although the new law does not end guardianship in Saudi Arabia, it is a historic milestone for women in Saudi Arabia and is a step toward independence for women in the country.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr


Bahrain is a small Muslim country located in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Bahrain has only been independent of imperial governance for 42 years. It has been governed by a Sunni-led constitutional monarchy since its release from British rule and Iranian influence in 1971. Although many of the violent conflicts in the Middle East dwarf the issues in Bahrain, the country’s refugee problem has grown since 2011. Shia refugees in Bahrain today face displacement, religious segregation and suppression of free speech.

Until recently, Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived in relative peace since Bahrain’s formal independence. In comparison to many other Islamic countries in the Middle East, Bahrain experienced little violence along religious lines. Whether this was because the nation is in its infancy, or because of the absolute rule of the government, remains to be seen. However, it is clear that a stark divide between the two sects of Islam was revived in light of recent political turmoil.

The dominant sect of Shia Muslims began a series of protests in 2011 which have occurred through to the present day. Dissatisfied with their representation in the government since independence, protesters hope to galvanize political reform. The royal family’s militant suppression of free speech caused most protests to subside and created a mass of Shia refugees.

Government analysts noted the possibility that the religious divide between Sunni and Shia has been rehashed as a political tactic to suppress dissenters. Bahraini dissenters are displeased with the lack of democratic representation in the government. As local Bahraini historians and politicians suggested, pitting the two sects of Islam against each other appears to be an attempt to consolidate power within the royal family.

Civil unrest in Bahrain and the royal family’s purported desire to consolidate power within the country led to the marginalization of Shia Muslims. Below are ten facts about Shia refugees in Bahrain which indicate the disenfranchisement, poverty and exploitation they suffer.

10 Facts About Shia Refugees in Bahrain

  1. Most Bahraini refugees are Shia Muslims. Unlike most instances of political scapegoating, the situation in Bahrain is peculiar in that the Shia sect of Islam is the religious majority.
  2. The official reason for the exile of many Shia Muslims is the sect’s purported allegiance to Iran’s political agenda. However, there is no hard evidence that Bahraini Shia Muslims are advancing an Iranian political agenda. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Bahraini exiles are noted political dissenters who are critical of Bahrain’s royal family.
  3. Shia refugees live in ghettos which are becoming increasingly common in Bahrain. The slums are often purposely masked by new infrastructure. This infrastructure is funded by donations from Arab nations seeking to quell the civil unrest boiling beneath the surface.
  4. Political dissidents in Bahrain can receive sentences of up to five years in prison, which may include torture depending on the dissident’s level of cooperation. The Security Law of Bahrain, which passed in 1975, states that any political prisoner may be imprisoned for up to three years if the ruling party deems the dissident a threat to the ultimate goals of the nation.
  5. Routine and institutionalized discrimination against Shia Muslims bars the religious group from easily obtaining the most basic human necessities, such as food, shelter and water.
  6. Since 2012, the Sunni ruling family has been tinkering with the citizen naturalization process to disrupt the demographics of Bahrain and weaken the voice of the Shia in the nation’s political institutions.
  7. The right to fair trial is regularly kept from Shia Muslims, which serves to exacerbate the injustices which cause extreme poverty in ghettos.
  8. Health care for Shia refugees is minimal, but there is an even more chronic lack of medical care for persons living with HIV/AIDS, posing a serious threat to public health.
  9. While the egregious human rights violations carried out against the Shia in Bahrain have subsided somewhat recently, the institutions which facilitated these abuses of power remain intact. Work must still be done in order to alleviate the poverty and oppression of Shia Muslims in Bahrain.
  10. Bahrain has not agreed to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This means that the treatment of refugees in Bahrain is not monitored, and information concerning refugees in Bahrain is disorganized and largely missing.

Linford Spencer

Photo: Flickr

Iran Describes Education 2030
Iran’s government criticized the “western-influenced” U.N. global education plan known as Education 2030, claiming that it contradicts all of Islam’s principles.

“In this country, the basis is Islam and the Koran. This is not a place where the faulty, corrupt and destructive Western lifestyle will be allowed to spread its influence,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on his website.

The Education 2030 plan emphasizes five principles that the U.N. perceives as most important, also known as the Five Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.

Education 2030 is one of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), exemplifying the importance of education for all.

The U.N.’s plan outlines how to take promises made by a nation and turn their words into actions at a regional, national, and global level while providing guidelines on how to do so properly.

This plan has support from the U.N. Development Programme, the U.N. Populations Fund, the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNICEF, U.N. Women and the World Bank.

The heart of the Education 2030 plan lies within the support of the country and governments, promoting the change the plan is hoping to see over the next 15 years.

Khamenei has openly opposed the Education 2030 plan and blames the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution for being careless. He claims that “signing that document (Education 2030) and its silent implementation is certainly not allowed, and this have been announced to the organizations in charge.”

He then stressed that Iran is not a place for the infiltration of the flawed, devastating and corrupt Western lifestyle and that an international organization under the influence of large powers has no right to make decisions of other nations of differing histories, cultures and civilizations.

He did not give specific details on the opposition of the plan, however, commentators in Iran believe the promotion of gender equality in education contravened Islam.

At other times, Khamenei has promoted education in Iran and applauded educators for the significance and importance of education, explaining things such as the power of vocational programs for hiring skilled workers who are “national assets.”

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr

Poverty In Malaysia
Poverty in Malaysia is a controversial economic and political issue. The definition of poverty and the poverty line in Malaysia has been disputed for years and causes much political uproar, including political protests and debates.

Malaysia has grown rapidly in economic development, with 65.6 percent of the population aged 15 years and above employed and working in 2014. With that many people working, each household is expected to make a sufficient income.

It has been recorded that there was a 55.3 percent reduction in the percentage of population below the poverty line in Malaysia, meaning that the country’s poverty is a large focus for the government and the community, and they are working together to solve the problem.

A survey conducted in 2014 by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), on a sample size of 81,634 households, shares the preliminary data that only one percent of these households were living below the poverty line index. That’s right – Malaysia has a poverty population of one percent, meaning that only 300,000 people of 33.3 million are living in poverty in Malaysia.

The government is currently working to solve Malaysian poverty by using the four-pronged method of thinking discussed below.

4 Approaches to Addressing Poverty In Malaysia

  1. Educate and lift the level of education among the poor children in school, and teach them business practices that can help them gain a higher income job and possibly run a company.
  2. Strengthen social safety nets, and provide government-funded empowerment
  3. Ensure income is redistributed to uplift those in poverty.
  4. Create policies that promote economic development.

Malaysia has one of the largest middle classes in any Muslim country. It’s made up of Malays, Chinese and Indians. Many of these middle-class people own their own modern houses and condos, own two cars and employ Indonesian maids.

Malaysia is on the right track to completely eliminate its impoverishment and strengthen its economy. Aid from the U.S. can only guarantee these goals.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr


The Lives and Livelihoods Fund board of the Islamic Development Bank has approved $242.6 million to finance several development projects. These projects were created to improve areas of health, agriculture and rural infrastructure in countries including Tajikistan, Sudan, Djibouti, Niger, Mauritania, Cameroon, Uganda and Guinea.

These projects strive to create healthier living standards for struggling communities, hoping to generate a lasting impact in the fight against disease and poverty in Muslim countries.

The Islamic Development Bank provides economic and social development to member countries through financial assistance and participating in equity capital and grant loans for development projects and enterprises.

Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank, states that the fund’s goal is to assist in developing sustainable living conditions and more productive lives in the poorest communities throughout the Muslim world.

Over the next five years, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund will strive to help millions of people in 30 of the poorest Muslim countries lead healthy and productive lives. To do so, the Islamic Development Bank will provide $2.5 billion to develop several expansion projects. This fund is currently the largest multilateral development initiative in the Middle East and North Africa for poverty alleviation in the partnering nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Hassan Al-Damluji, head of Middle East Relations at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, states that out of the one billion people in the world that are facing extreme poverty, 400 million of them are living in the Islamic Development Bank’s member countries.

Although established in late 2016, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund has seen promising results, with $363 million already being allocated for the fund’s first operational year. In partnering with other donor organizations and regional governments, the fund strives to make a lasting impact and save millions of lives by addressing the issues of disease and poverty in Muslim countries.

Brandon Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Sadiq_KhanOn May 9, 2016, Sadiq Khan entered the London City Hall to commence his new role as London’s duly elected mayor. His ascension to this role over Europe’s financial capital was a historic moment for economic equality and progression within London.

In his acceptance speech, Khan said, “I am determined to lead the most transparent, engaged, and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community and every single part of our city as mayor for all Londoners.”

Over the last year, Khan has risen from a relatively obscure character in the British parliament to a world-renowned figurehead. His campaign was fraught with controversy over his reputation, and many did not trust his intentions as a politician. Why? Who is Sadiq Khan, and what is it that makes him such a controversial figure in British politics?

Sadiq Khan is the first Muslim to become mayor of a major Western city. And though some radicals believe the world is coming to an end with such a change, this historic event is generally viewed as a positive political breakthrough. London specifically sees this significance, but various countries throughout Europe and the West agree.

Originally planning to become a dentist, Khan instead pursued law after a teacher commented on his talent for arguing. A few years later, he graduated from the University of London and began his career as a human rights lawyer.

He quickly received attention from various high profile cases, but after a number of years as an attorney he left his practice in order to become more involved in politics. The rest is history.

In his new job as mayor, Khan plans to focus on two central points: significant reductions in poverty and inequality. CNN has observed that the divide between rich and poor in the financial powerhouse of Europe has been steadily increasing.

Statistics show that 27 percent of the nearly 9 million inhabitants are living below the poverty line. Additionally, prices for travel and housing are rising and jobs cannot compensate for the cost of living in London.

Khan has listed a number of strategies that he will implement to improve the current financial situation. First, he intends to attack the housing crisis currently facing London.

On his campaign webpage he writes, “For young families and individuals on average incomes, housing is increasingly unaffordable – with home ownership a distant dream.” Khan also intends to make affordable homes a focus of his tenure through construction reform. He plans on stopping the outsourcing of property to foreign investors.

Another problem that currently besets London is in-work poverty. Employers cannot give their workers sufficient pay raises to compensate for rising price inflation. Consequently, Khan intends to provide tax breaks to companies who pay their employees enough money to cope with London’s high living costs.

The new mayor also plans to address ethnic and gender inequality. Khan is committed to tackling each of these issues in order to help London stem the tide of its inflation while bringing poverty and inequality rates down.

Preston Rust

Photo: Flickr

Fasting_During_Ramadan
Most Muslims who fast during the month-long Islamic festival of Ramadan do so under direction from the Quran, but those who abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours may also experience health benefits as a result.

If done right, those who participate in fasting during Ramadan can not only see a rise in spirituality and giving, but also health benefits such as weight loss and overcoming addictions.

It’s possible to see benefits from fasting during Ramadan because food consumption is often different from usual diets, as malnutrition and insufficient calorie intake are avoided during the religious holiday.

Fasting during Ramadan can help lead to weight loss because the body’s energy is replaced during the eating periods. Instead of using glucose as the principal source of energy, the body instead turns to fat, which prevents muscle from breaking down for protein.

Using fat as energy instead of glucose preserves the muscles, in turn reducing cholesterol levels, helping with weight loss. In doing so, blood pressure can improve and be controlled better.

A study by the Annals of Nutrition Metabolism in 1997 showed just this. Results of the study revealed that, by fasting, LDL cholesterol levels, the bad lipoproteins, dropped by 8%, whereas HDL cholesterol levels, the good lipoproteins, rose by 14.3%.

Such a phenomenon can be explained by the eating and exercise behaviors of those who fast during Ramadan. Studies have shown that people often turn to healthier options during the holiday, which reduces saturated fat consumption.

Such studies have also seen an increase in physical activity during Ramadan, as exercise from the night prayers, known as “tawarih,” may be equivalent to moderate physical activity for some.

Fasting can also help those with addictions. Though self-restraint, another teaching of Ramadan, the body goes through a detoxification process, which in turn can help those who fast overcome additions such as smoking.

By understanding the teachings of self-restraint and learning from them, those who fast may find it easier to forget addictions during the day when fasting occurs.

Matt Wotus

Sources: Al Arabiya News, Mosque of Tucson, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, National Health Service of England
Photo: Flickr