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There are many doors to goodness. (Saying) ‘glory to God,’ ‘praise be to God,’ ‘there is no deity but God,’ enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf (until you understand them), leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the weak with the strength of one’s arms – all of these are (forms of) charity prescribed for you.”
——— Prophet Muhammad (s) in Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98.

Prophet Muhammad

Dear Readers,

According to verse 4:80 of the Quran:

“Whoso obeyeth the Messenger obeyeth Allah…

So in my deep state of depression, melancholy and ill health I decided to do something, a thing the Holy Quran requested of me.

What is that thing as you were about to start to think of?

You cannot attain to righteousness unless you spend (in charity) out of what you love.” 

(The Holy Quran 3:92)

لا يمكن الحصول على البر إلا إذا كنت تنفق (في صدقة) من أصل ما تحب.” (و3:92 القرآن الكريم)


Allah’s Apostle (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said,

“Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you.” 

[Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 7, Book 64, Number 264.

قال رسول الله (صلى وسلم الله صلى الله عليه وسلم)،قال الله تعالى: يا ابن آدم! قضاء، وأنا أنفق عليك“. [صحيح البخاري] المجلد 7، كتاب 64، عدد 264



I don’t think I can ever fully write about what I really experienced. It’s too much and there’s a limit to how much truth I can tell.


Where did this happen?

I was in Istanbul for a week. I’ve been trying to raise an awareness event in Istanbul on Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders and body image don’t discriminate. It affects people in Turkey too.


Prior to leaving for Turkey, I was going through a cycle of relapse and depression. I didn’t know how to pull out. In my disordered state of mind, I was also attending various local meetings on refugee crisis. Britain has been dealing with the influx of refugees. Like some other European countries, the government has decided to take in 20,000 refugees. These people are selected through UNHRC from the refugee camps and sent over to UK. The counties across the UK are preparing to welcome these refugees.

It was during those times, I came across someone on my blog who told me about Syrian refugees and children living in the slums of Istanbul in appalling conditions. As I searched online to collect the information, I decided to take some warm clothes with me to Istanbul. My worst fear is cold, everyone who battles eating disorder knows about drop in body temperature and its effect on someone. The aim was to discreetly hand out winter clothes packages to babies and people on the streets of Istanbul.

I can’t forget the day I went to A3 Car Boot Cycle to purchase some essentials for the trip. I met with this very kind lady who granted my requested for discount by giving me generous one on designer winter wear. I was strolling through the market, when her daughter came looking for me. The mother and daughter had decided to donate everything they had to the cause.

IMG_20151011_112036 IMG_20151011_112145

In Istanbul, I struggled to get to the remote slums area of Istanbul. The person I was supposed to liaise with was no longer in Istanbul and I was warned repeatedly not to go into these areas by myself. They were very unsafe.

It was after one noon prayer in a new mosque that I saw a child huddled in the corner of street, shivering from cold. People walked by, this was a common sight. He was just rocking back and forward.

According to the research I did on the plight of refugees, Giving children money on the streets was discouraged, as this encouraged begging and has marketed children as money making machine. This contributed to the child begging culture. Children belong in the schools and not on the streets, begging. This boy wasn’t begging. He was just very silent. I gave him milk and bread. I don’t know what made me turn around and take this picture. He was trying to open the carton of milk. I read from a source that these children were often given food that was junk and not very nourishing.



Next day, I went back to same place looking for the same kid, but never found him.

And it was then that a lady from Mississippi put me in contact with someone who was doing a ground work of supporting Syrian Orphans in Istanbul.


Allah said give. In the Quran -Prophet Muhammad said about orphans and the needy.

 “Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest” [6:141]

“كلوا من ثمارها، وإعطاء الصدقات الواجبة في يوم الحصاد”


Next few days, I visited the houses of these orphans. These children had either lost one or both parents. The depression and melancholy in Syrian community was unimaginable. I met the families who lived in abject poverty, far below poverty line and quiet comfortably. They all shared one thing and that was a horror and pain of war.

What was sad was to see how the grieving was done in the presence of children. The wailing and tears affected the mood in the house. The ground support worker told me that this has been her plight and emotional state of mind for years now.

As someone who has struggled with mental illness all her life, I know it’s not easy to tell someone to snap out of their depression and move on. It’s not possible.


One lady had four children and the depression was bad. She refused to allow her children go out and her children were stuck in a two bedroom house. This is her son, who always smiled.




This 9 yer should be out playing, not mothering a small child.

I only came across one man through this ordeal, one father who had made it across the border with his son who lost both his legs in bombing in Aleppo. All the other families had lost their men. The strength within that child was amazing. He smiled and kept on laughing. The father had used Quranic healing to pull themselves together.


I was visiting one family in the Fateh area of Istanbul, when police raided the building. I saw how women started to cry. One lady cried, showing me pictures of her sons who were killed in Syria, they are martyrs, she didn’t accept to this fate. She often says, “They Aren’t dead”. I sat there unable to mutter a word, language barrier became the order of my day, No Turkish no Arabic. I saw the children struggling to make sense of what was happening, but I guess they were just so happy with their gifts that they didn’t really care. We all just started praying and the police left.


This beautiful girl is a victim of war an orpham. How do you think she can live to forget her experiences? Look how happy this girl is with simple packet of crisp.


My second last visit was to a family where a 15 year old worked odd jobs, odd hours to support his mother, and two sisters. The mother’s pain was unbelievable; one of her son had been sold to Jihadis in Syria. The sister waited for her brother to come back.

waiting for brother to come back home

waiting for brother to come back home

The last family lived in worse conditions. Paying 400TL a month for a run-down flat. Cold was unbelievable, a paralyzed grandmother occupied one bed, an elderly grandfather occupied the other bed. Two little girls sat on the floor rocking back and forth studying. The mother sheds tears.

IMG_20151105_164151655 IMG_20151105_162750132 image-f1f162d96fc5547ada3547a7ff59a14695584e3f4744130366a413c2e3193585-V image-5857b381c658afb1b431c94b323fa4adec74b07248a00a415048b8b4be5c6e20-V

My translator said she’s been with these families for so long. She said visiting them every week was difficult, as she lived two hours away from Istanbul. She said the pain was too much. Every month she came and gave families money. This money came from various sources and families. Also, from Syrian families living abroad, they decided to support these Orphan children in Istanbul.

You saw the pain, how these families heavily relied on this aid. If the money didn’t come then how would they survive? How would they feed and pay the rent?


The future for them seems blank.


As I made my way through those days in Istanbul, I walked from one corner to the other muted and downtrodden. There’s no time to analyze yourself when so much pain is there.

Run down area Aksaray

It was heartbreaking and distressing to see people on the streets of Istanbul. As more refugees enter Istanbul, old refugees are forgotten and ignored.


The Turkish people and families have their own problem. A country bombarded with host of problems, feels that their own families need more support. The housing prices have gone skyrocketed. The cost of living in Istanbul is expensive. People are struggling to make ends meet, but, the despite all the horror the love for Prophet prevails over everything. I don’t remember coming across a single refugee whose face didn’t light up at the mention of Prophet.

I remembered what the Quran says about helping people who fall into this category the more and wish that our governments would pull their acts together and come to save dying lives, living in penury and with images that can might never heal from their souls, body, and future, if any.

Okay? See this.

Have you seen him who denies the religion? He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan and does not urge the feeding of the poor. So woe to those who do pray, and are forgetful of their prayer, those who show off and deny help to others.

(Surat al-Ma’un: 1-7)

As against such offensive treatment, Qur’anic morality demands tolerant and compassionate treatment of orphans as expressed in the verse, 

“(be good to) orphans and the very poor. And speak good words to people”.

(Surat al-Baqara: 83)


The Quran on healing your brothers in need:

 O you who believe, you shall give to charity from the provisions we have given to you, before a day comes where there is no trade, no nepotism, and no intercession. The disbelievers are the unjust.


“You shall give the due alms to the relatives; the needy, the poor, and the travelling alien, but do not be excessive…”


“أنت يجب إعطاء الصدقات الواجبة لأقارب. المحتاجين والفقراء، والسفر أجنبي، ولكن لا يكون مبالغا فيه …”


As I flew back to the UK, I was hit by the enormity of what I had experienced in Istanbul. Those, whose needs have been met, are now faced with the stark reality of what has happened to them. They can’t erase the horror; they can’t snap out of it and move forward, Can they even sleep at night? Some don’t feel that there is freedom anywhere, just a wish in the mind.


It was time for action. I’ve collaborated with Mazham in Turkey.  He’s working around the clock in his hometown Gaziantep to help the Syrian Refugees. His winter campaign is going to save lives.

As people who suffer from ED, we know about cold. The immediate need is cold and how to fight the cold and keeping people warm. Let’s do something this winter to help warm those feet. The need is now. I’m arranging for a cargo to be sent over to Turkey. If you want to donate a pair of socks, any size; or you feel you can do more; then, please contact me:

This is Mazham’s winter campaign:  Helping Syrians Survive Winter

Pick your own campaign  a charity of your own choice and help them to provide hot meals, warm clothing and security for people in need this winter.

Allah has provided an option for you in; [Quran 2:271]

If a person fears that he will be showing off, or tempted to show off, when giving charity or that he may cause some humiliation or embarrassment to the poor person, and then it is better for him to give it in secret.

The hand that gives is better than that receives

“If you disclose your Sadaqaat (alms giving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you.”


This blog post captures nothing. You can never put into words the heartache, horrific experiences, hollow images and sufferings of people into words. Yes, this can never be translated into words. Words are inconsistent and do not portray real description. Zero or no exactitude. Allah! They are meaningless.


About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.


  1. My dear Maha, bravo for this touchingly written post, it hard to imagine that it has captured but only a fraction of what happens in Turkey and other countries with the Refugee crisis. Actually it has even becoming impersonal here in Central Europe, it’s all about “the refugees crisis this” the “crisis that” but very few dare go as close as you have and meet the families, look into the orphans’ eyes and expand a helping hand! I love you so much for this , you truly have a golden heart, God bless you. However I’m sorry for your depression, but I’m sure you’ll pull through – strength always comes to the good-hearted gems like you! Xoxox


  2. Sirad (Muslim Children's Literature) on

    SubhanAllah, jazaakAllahu khair for sharing with us. Will def keep in my duaas. May Allah also heal you. You are brave for sharing your journey mashaaAllah. I’m sure so many are benefiting from your site.

  3. MashAllah i am proud of you my sister. You know me well, but i literally read it all!!)) next time i will visit some refugee camps with you!!

    • Późna już poļaksir™Å,yc lÅ›ni na niebie, Cisza panuje, wokół miasto Å›pi. Ja jeszcze nie Å›piÄ™, wiÄ™c piszÄ™ do Ciebie, Bo chcÄ™ Dobranoc powiedzieć Ci

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