The Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC): An Islamic Perspective

(Protecting the Dignity of Life and Empowering Women and Children with Compassion and Human Values)

By: Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, BA (MA Candidate)

Nestled on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) shines as a beacon of hope and compassion. This center, situated at St. Josphat’s House located along Kabiria Road in Riruta, one of the satellite towns of Nairobi, serves as a sanctuary for women and children (unborn and born), facing different forms of violence from conception to natural death. At its core, the Mary and Joseph Life Center embraces fundamental human values that are universally cherished. These values include respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, the promotion of human rights, compassion, empathy, and the fostering of a culture of love and care. By providing serenity, support, and empowerment to women and children facing violence and crisis situations, the center embodies these human values and addresses the pressing needs of vulnerable individuals in the urban informal settlements (slums).

This is a deeper understanding of the essential and noble work of the Mary and Joseph Life Center from an Islamic perspective.

Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, BA (MA Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR in-Training Capacity Program engaging an inter-ethnic and inter-religious group of women on the challenges they face living in Kibera slums, one of the slum areas where MJLC works

Protecting the Dignity of Life

The Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) is committed to creating a society where the dignity of human life, women and children, including the unborn are free from violence and unjust social structures. This is actualized through its unique three main purposes and services that provide a nurturing environment that encourages individuals to embrace the inherent value of each life, fostering a culture of respect, dignity, and love.

The first purpose of the Mary and Joseph Life Center (MJLC) is to offer pregnant women and girls, along with their families, who are considering and/or are being coerced to have abortions, other options to have their baby(ies) born.

Islam also places a tremendous emphasis on the dignity of life, considering it a divine gift bestowed upon humanity. This is deeply entrenched and enshrined in the Islamic principles as well as the Islamic laws that encourage the preservation of life from the moment of conception, recognizing it as a sacred trust from Allah. According to the Declaration of Human Rights in Islamic Law, Article 2 (J), ‘‘Safeguarding the continuation of mankind’s life, as far as God has destined, is a legal duty.”. The center’s efforts resonate with the Quranic verse, “Whoever saves one [a life], it is as if he had saved all of mankind” (Quran 5:32). By addressing violence against women and children, the center promotes a culture of respect, care, and protection which is timeless teaching of Islam.

Mrs. Judith Akedi MA, Shalom-SCCRR, Lead Project Officer (SEC), Ms. Ilhan Ali BA (MA Candidate), and Sr. Catherine Mutua, Dipl. Community Development & Social Worker engaging women during an outreach activity in Mathere slum area where MJLC works.

Educational workshops/seminars for Empowerment and Support Guidance

The Mary and Joseph Life Center through its second purpose endeavors to offer educational workshops/seminars that are oriented to help prevent crisis pregnancies and help those already in need with supportive guidance for psychological, spiritual and economic livelihood resilience.

This guidance helps different categories of groups; young girls and women in crisis pregnancies, teenage girls and boys, young adults, single mothers and fathers, and young mothers and fathers, just to mention but a few, to learn about personal development, coping strategies, and parenting skills. The acquired knowledge and skills are imperative in empowering them to make informed decisions and avoid circumstances that could lead to crisis situations.

Mrs. Nancy Mirera MA, MJLC’s Counselling Psychologist and Mental Health Worker facilitating an educational workshop on self-awareness and responsible parenthood to young parents from Kabiria Urban Informal Settlements (Slums)

The Quran reminds believers to exercise responsible decision-making and parenthood, stating, “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you surely for killing them is a great sin.” (Quran 17:31). Islamic teachings also underpin the need for the dignity of life, self-awareness, and the importance of healthy relationships within the framework of Islamic values.

Islamic values underpin the need for support and guidance for the vulnerable and marginalized, for them to be able to navigate their challenges with confidence and resilience.

The values upheld by MJLC, grounded in broader human values align closely with Islamic principles. The center’s dedication to preserving the dignity of life, providing education, and offering counseling and support resonates with the universal principles of compassion, justice, and respect for human rights.

Holistic and Intensive Counseling

Recognizing the profound emotional and spiritual impact of abortion, the Mary and Joseph Life Center extend its compassionate support to women who are suffering from post-abortion syndrome. The third purpose seeks to offer counseling, medical aid, guidance, and empowerment to women who have had abortions and are seeking assistance for trauma, self-esteem, and healing in one form or another. Through the holistic and intensive counseling provided at the center, these women overcome trauma, rebuild self-esteem, and find healing in their lives, providing a safe space for individuals to reconcile with their past choices and embrace a hopeful future. 

Islamic teachings emphasize the importance of mercy, forgiveness, and healing. The Quran assures believers that Allah is with the broken-hearted and encourages seeking forgiveness and turning towards Allah for solace.” And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 4:110).

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “He who alleviates the suffering of a sister or brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allah would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Resurrection” (Sahih Muslim). By providing a safe and supportive environment, the center enables women to heal from trauma, rebuild their self-esteem, and find hope for the future.

The Islamic practice emphasizes the need for holistic counseling which helps the individual in need to explore and discover different options through their challenges and get clarification on better ways of living a more fulfilled life.

Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, BA (MA Candidate), engaging women from Kawangware Urban Informal Settlement on their role in analyzing and transforming the different form of violence they face

In Conclusion, Islamic teachings emphasize on the preservation of life, the importance of compassion, justice, and the protection of the vulnerable. The Mary and Joseph Life Center’s commitment to protecting the dignity of life, offering educational workshops and counseling, and empowering aligns with these Islamic values. Islam recognizes the divine gift of life and encourages believers to exercise responsible decision-making, seek forgiveness, and provide support and guidance to those in need.

MJLC’s work is deeply rooted in human values and it also transcends religious boundaries by promoting these shared human values. By nurturing the well-being, dignity, and empowerment of women and children, the center exemplifies the interconnectedness of human values across different faiths and beliefs. The names Mary (Maryam) and Joseph (Yusuf) are mentioned both in the Quran and Bible. The MJLC is dedicated to creating a society free from violence and upholding the inherent worth of every individual.

Ms. Ilhan Ali Salah, BA (MA Candidate), Shalom-SCCRR In-Training Capacity Program

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