Voices behind the veil: a tribute to the women of Habibia

Amidst the aromatic fragrances tantalizing the olfactory senses, the eyes tearing from the stinging vapors emanating from the onions, we hear the chatter and excitement brewing in the kitchen. MMMM... all in preparation for the hundred years celebration of an institution that has served the needs of a community in more ways than one. A service that has excellently been maintained by every sector of the Muslim community, especially the WOMEN of Habibia.

This is a special tribute, recognizing and acknowledging the unselfish sacrifice of time and physical effort and the dedication and perserverance of many women who sincerely and lovingly serve humanity.

A plethora of events map out the Habibia Soofie Centre's yearly calendar, clearly demonstrating a full schedule. At least ten months of the lslamic year are marked with an array of special occasions e.g. ten days of Muharram, Moulood celebrations, Giyarawee and Khatam Shareefs, 'Urs programs, Ramadaan Iftari and Eid, qurbaani and so forth. On a daily bases the needs of the poor and destitute are catered for and special dhikr programs are conducted on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. It is customary at such events for niyaaz (specially prepared food and delicacies) to be served. Much of the credit should go to the women at the Habibia darbaar who painstakingly, without hesitation and without complaint prepare and serve delicious foods for the benefit of all who step foot on to the premises, irrespective of age, color, creed or religion. These women together with family and friends engage enthusiasticly in preparing for any activity taking place at the centre. Despite the fact that many of the women-folk have their own families to provide and care for, they have, for many years, been serving the community. A helping hand is always invited by a warm and welcoming atmosphere, filled with loving tenderness and kindness, gentle smiles and laughing eyes. Everyone is always made to feel "part of the family". Every task, from cleaning the meat to setting the tables, is done with fervor and passion.

Day to day activities also include the distribution of bread to the poor. Travellers who require over-night accomodation are also provided with meals. No individual, in need of asisstance, is turned away from the door, day or night. In celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) birth, the Habibia ladies jamaat, engage in duas and dhikrs and "rampies sny". In the true spirit of Islam, during the blessed month of Ramadaan, the fasting person is also provided with food to break his fast. Women of the community send an abundance of sweets and savories for the fasting persons. The women also participate in making hamper parcels for distribution to the poor. The profound love that these women have for humanity is heart-warmingly demonstrated in their readiness to care for the orphans and homeless. Never is a harsh word uttered to them and utmost care is taken in ensuring that the orphans are clothed and basic necessities are provided.

The Habibia Soofie Darbar is a centre that serves the community in the true sense. The women have, undoubtedly, contributed significantly in upholding this vision.

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