Islamic Ladies Social and Cultural Association
Sisters Serving Humanity
In June 1970 some visionary women spanning the many Muslim organizations of Trinidad and Tobago came together to establish a united women's organization. Their major goal was to contribute to the sustainable development of our nation in the field of social welfare, Islamic and secular education and cultural activities. Out of this initiative the Islamic Ladies Social and Cultural Association (ILSCA) was formed with its objectives being inter alia :
Subsequently, ILSCA became a registered charitable non-profit organization. ILSCA carries out its activities through the voluntary efforts of its members and fundraising ventures. Some of the ILSCA’s achievements are highlighted hereunder:
The Social Welfare Programme initially provided the needy with their basic needs such as food, clothing, financial aid and counseling and has since expanded to include free medication, medical services, spectacles, wheelchairs and legal services. Dependency is discouraged and skills and job training and educational opportunities are made available.
ILSCA has established a system of administering the Programme whereby support to the impoverished is provided by subdividing the country into 10 areas from Glencoe in the north to Moruga in the south with each area having designated person(s) responsible (Caregiver(s)). The Caregivers meet with recipients on a bi-monthly basis and review their circumstances on a yearly basis. Those achieving self sufficiency are weaned off the Programme. At present there are approximately 70 recipient families, some 400 individuals, Muslims and non-Muslims in the Programme.
Emergency and one-time relief assistance is available in response to requests made to ILSCA and as ILSCA has the facility to assist.
Over the past 40 years ILSCA has on its own provided assistance for those in need of medical treatment, surgery and those affected by floods, fire and accidents. As early as 1974, during the strike for better wages, ILSCA supported the poverty-stricken labourers in the sugar-belt with food, clothing etc.
Previously, it joined with the Ministry of Social Welfare to provide support to those affected by floods in the east-west corridor,
central and Mayaro.
ILSCA introduced a different and more broad-based approach to Islamic Education than what pertained in 1970. In addition to the
basic religious teachings, it has taught Islamic history, Islamic literature , Arabic as a language, the influence Islam has had on the
different cultures around the world and on Arts, Science, Food and Architecture . It has used innovative methods in Islamic Education such as Essay writing competitions, quizzes, concerts and poetry reading.
ILSCA has a unique Islamic library in Trinidad and Tobago, of children and adult books, on the religion and Islamic literary works, historical and cultural works. This accessible to the general public.
Secular Education/Skills Training
ILSCA provided from its inception, technical/vocational skills training for members and from which a cadre of teachers has evolved. Caregivers have also been trained in lay counseling and parenting to equip them to counsel recipients of the Social Welfare Programme.
Together with health services being offered, ILSCA has held a range of Health Education Programmes covering topics on Breast Cancer, drug abuse, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, Heart Diseases and Aids and the Quranic Injunctions . Courses have also been offered on ‘Care of the Elderly’ which covered many topics such as “Common Medical Disorders Present in the Elderly”, “Cardio-Vascular Disease in the Elderly“, “Mental and Emotional changes in the Elderly”, “Coping with Aged Parents".
ILSCA has brought to the general public an appreciation of Islam as a religion and as a cultural experience through exhibitions, expositions and concert. For example:
National Community Involvement
ILSCA has partnered with NGO’s and governmental agencies for the benefit of the national community and thereby engendering community spirit. As early as 1970 it has been a member of the National Council of Voluntary Associations for Child Care (NCVACC) and the Child Welfare League to realize one of its objectives, to improve child welfare Its first president, Dr.Joan Homaida Kazim was also a president of NCVACC.
It has been involved with the Network of NGO’s. Since 2008, one of ILSCA’s executive members has been one of the directors of the Network.
In the late 1990’s, ILSCA participated in the ECHO and SHARE programmes as a joint venture with Ministry of Social Development . This was administered at the facilities of the Association to approximately 400 individuals.
Its members have been involved with a number of Muslim and non-Muslim organizations, NGO’s and Governmental agencies and participated in a wide range of discussions, lectures, workshops, seminars, training etc. on various topics such as : Domestic violence,Child Care, Care for the Elderly, Health Issues, HIV and AIDS, Mental Health, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Prevention, Poverty alleviation, Women’s Issues, Gender Issues, Politics and Women, National Consultations on various topics, Girl Guides, Summit of the Americas, CHOGM.
Through its outreach programme, ILSCA’s first president provided free medical service to the differently-abled children of the Princess Elizabeth and Lady Hochoy Homes.
Visiting students of the University of Connecticut, International Studies Department through their “Trinity in Trinidad-Global Learning Site” Programme, on a yearly basis, have participated in ILSCA’s Islamic Studies and Social Welfare Programme to gain credit towards their certification.
In 2012, ILSCA hosted a Seminar on the “Age of Marriage in Islam”. The objective of the seminar was to provide a response, from the Muslim community, to the proposed Standardization of the marriage age in T&T by the Government.
The five(5) major Muslim Organizations in T&T, namely ASJA, Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Institute, Darul Uloom, TIA and TML were invited to participate in this seminar, we also had representation from the UIO, IRS and IDM.
We examined what currently holds in our Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and looked at whether any changes should be recommended to the Act. The intention was to culminate with a Position Paper which would be signed off by all 6 Organizations and sent to the Government.
In order for the facts pertaining to this, to be properly studied and discussed in a rational and objective manner by the Muslim community we had presentations in the following 4 areas:
1. The Shariah Law regarding the Age of Marriage
2. Medical Implications of Early Marriage
3. Psycho-Social Implications of Early Marriage
4. Legal Issues regarding the Age of Marriage and the Age of Consent
After the Seminar a committee was formed to write the Position Paper this committee comprised of members from the various organizations. The Position Paper was sent to the Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development in 2013, it was signed by the following:
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong:
They are the ones to attain felicity." (Holy Quran 3:104)