Islami Milati, Overcome Addiction Among Muslims in the US

The Islamic Milati program is held by the Islamic Brotherhood Mosque in New York City, every Tuesday and Thursday night. In this green-walled mosque, six to 10 Muslims usually gather for the program. The 90-minute meeting usually begins with a recitation of the Koran, before finally discussing the participants’ addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Yunus Aburachman, a participant, said that he had been free from drugs and alcohol for two years since joining the program.

“Alhamdulillah, because Allah opened the door for me. If we really ask for help, help will definitely be there. Islami Milati understands my background, and this program has made me aware of my misguidance,” he said.

This man of Afghan descent admitted that he had participated in a similar program but failed. He felt that the addiction prevention programs he had participated in, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), were not suitable for him who had a strong Islamic educational background.

Through Islami Milati, he feels he has rediscovered his identity as a Muslim. He can return to worship and study his religion more deeply. Last but not least, he was able to return to his family who had abandoned him because of his addiction and bad behavior.

Muhammed Syafik, one of the consultants for the Islami Milati program, said, like other communities, cases of alcohol and drug addiction among Muslims are relatively high. Unfortunately, many Muslim communities tend to avoid or even raise their hands when dealing with cases of addiction.

“Addiction is a common thing. Unfortunately the Muslim community in general is not sensitive to this issue considering that Islam does prohibit alcoholic beverages and drugs. In Western countries, such as the United States, where the majority of the population is non-Muslim, many Muslims are easily misled. Muslim youths, for example, try to adapt in such a way to their social environment. If they happen to be in the wrong environment, they will easily get carried away or get lost,” he said.

A mosque in the US, November 1, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Ashlee Espinal)

A mosque in the US, November 1, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Ashlee Espinal)

According to Abdul Deputy Muhammad, head of the New York branch of the Milati Islamic Program, the program actually adopts the techniques previously developed for the Muslim community Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The difference is that the participants are trained to enrich their minds with religious knowledge and prayers.

This program taboos the use of the term addiction. The participants were asked to describe their “addiction” as a “fallen human condition”.

Muhammad himself was a drug and alcohol addict. He has embraced Islam since 1995, two years after joining the Milati Islami programme. Since then he has been active in addiction prevention programs, and has even become one of their chairmen.

Milati Islam itself is spread in many big cities in America, such as Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Tucson. This program has helped hundreds of Muslims and non-Muslims who are addicted to drugs and alcohol

At the Islamic Brotherhood Mosque, this program is always announced after Friday prayers. The aim is not only to invite those who are addicted to overcome their problems, but also to make the Muslim community aware that drug and alcohol addiction is really happening among them and should not be taboo to talk about.

The Islamic Brotherhood Mosque remains open during the pandemic by enforcing health protocols. The organizers of the Islamic Milati program continue to carry out their activities. They argue that the pandemic can lead to depression, and that depression can drive many people to seek escape through drugs and alcohol. [ab/uh]