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24 Safety Tips for Muslim Women

By Samana Siddiqui

Muslims and their institutions are expected to become targets of harassment in the days following an impending war on Iraq. Muslim women, especially those who dress Islamically, particularly need to be much more street smart and aware of their surroundings to ensure their safety in the wake of possible attacks against Muslims and Muslim-looking individuals.

While it is necessary for the whole community to defend Muslim women, sisters must also take personal precautions when they go outside. Here are some safety tips that can help Insha Allah:

1. Always be aware of your surroundings

This applies whether you are traveling alone or in groups. Don’t just focus inwardly on your thoughts if you are alone, or your friends if you are together. Keep one eye out for your environment, looking out for suspicious characters, possible danger, etc.

Also, don’t assume that because your area has been "safe" thus far, that it will continue to be so.

2. Travel in groups

"There is safety in numbers" is not just a cliche. It’s true. Make a point of traveling together with other sisters, whether it’s on public transportation, on campus, in cars, etc.

3. Change the route you normally travel by

If you’ve taken the same bus, train or highway to get to work or school, change your route. Even if it takes you a little longer, your safety is more important. By changing your route, you can avert possible attacks or harassment from those who know your schedule, method and route of travel well. Please note though that you should avoid short cuts that take you through unfamiliar or unsafe areas.

4. Look confident

Walk with a straight posture and your arms swinging by your sides. Avoid slouching or walking like a victim. This makes you an easy target for attackers.

5. When riding by public transportation choose the right seat

If you are riding by bus or train, do not sit on the window seat as you may be "blocked in" by a potential assailant. Always select the seat next to the aisle so that you can quickly leave if necessary.

If you are taking public transportation alone after peak hours, sit as close to the driver as possible and/or choose the section of the bus/train that is most crowded. Try to get a seat near the exit as well.

6. If you are driving alone

Don’t think that if you are in a car, you’re safe. Windows should be up and doors locked even when driving to avoid unwanted passengers at intersections. When you are walking to your car, always have your keys ready, so that you can quickly get into your car.

But don’t just get in right away. Always check your car before entering, especially the back, for any intruders.

7. Never leave your car door unlocked

Even if it means for one minute to drop something off in the mailbox that’s a few feet away, keep all doors locked. Attackers have been known to lie in wait for such an opportunity.

8. Be careful in parking lots

Always be alert in parking lots, especially when it's dark. Ask someone to escort you to your car. Between cars and inside cars, it's easy for someone to hide and wait until an unsuspecting person comes along.

9. If you are traveling by taxi

Always check the identification of the driver (usually located near the visor) and ensure that it matches the driver. Once inside, don't sit behind the driver as it may be easy for the driver to lock the rear passenger door. Always choose the adjacent seat .

In addition, avoid flagging taxis. Always order taxis so the driver can be traced if something happens.

10. Don’t use the walkman

If you’re used to listening to your walkman while outside, drop this habit, especially in isolated areas. With your walkman on, you cannot hear the approach of a possible attacker.

11. Note "safe houses" along your route

Mentally note houses at intervals on each route you take that can be used as "safe houses" if you are attacked, such as shops or houses that you know to be occupied by a friend or acquaintance.

12. When you make a call from a phone booth

After dialing the number you wish to call always turn around so that you have your back to the phone and may see who or what is coming your way. You will then be able to tell the person to whom you are speaking that you may be in trouble and you may be able to use the weight of the phone as a weapon. The door of a telephone box could be used to wedge in the limbs of the attacker.

13. Do not open the door of your home without checking

DO NOT open the door to your home without first checking from a window, peephole or by asking and verifying who it is. Instruct children to do the same.

14. Report any suspicious activity around your home

If you see people loitering on the streets near your house, call the police on a non-emergency number and report it.

15. Invest in a cell phone

This is an invaluable safety device. Keep it charged, with you at all times, and keep emergency numbers on it. Also, keep it next to your bed before you go to bed at night. Cell phones were first popularized by women as a security device, business people came later.

16. Parking tips

Avoid parking in areas that are not well lit. Where possible, park close to a school, a work entrance or in a parking garage that has an attendant.

If you see a suspicious person approaching or hanging around near your parked car, turn around and go back to an area where there are other people. Try to get an escort to your car through the campus or job security or local police.

17. Tell others about your whereabouts

Parents, spouses, and friends should know where you are going and when you will be back, so that your absence will be noticed. Arrange a call-in system with a friend if you live alone, whereby you call when you arrive home.

18. Trust your instincts

If you are walking or driving somewhere and feel strange or scared, don’t ignore this feeling. Take extra precautions by walking a little faster to get to a more populated or well-lit area or change the route you’ve been driving on.

19. If you think you are being followed, change your route and activity.

You can cross the street, change directions, or enter a populated building or store. Do whatever is necessary to avoid being alone with the person who is following you. Inform a police officer or security official about the follower.

20. Attract attention if you are in a dangerous situation.

Get others to pay attention to what's happening to you if you are under attack or being harassed. You can alert others by honking a car horn or loudly describing what is happening.

21. NEVER admit that you are alone

If someone calls your home and asks if you are alone, NEVER admit it. Ask who the caller is. If they refuse to identify themselves, calmly hangup. Instruct children to do the same when they pick up the phone.Keep the radio on in the house so that callers will get the impression that others are in the home too.

22. Obscene phone calls

If you receive an obscene or crank call, do not talk to the caller. Hang up if the caller doesn’t say anything, or as soon as s/he shouts obscenities. Hang up the phone up calmly and do not slam it down. Note down the date and time of the calls. If they are persistent, inform local police.

23. If you are a student

Avoid studying in isolated classrooms in parts of the college campus that are not regularly patrolled by the school’s security officers.

24. In large buildings take the elevator, not the stairwell

Stairwells are usually quiet and dark. Most people take the elevator. But if someone creepy gets on, don’t hesitate to get off at the same time. Or, if someone is already on the elevator who you feel strange about, do not get on and wait for the next elevator.

Your Comments

ummusalamah, my - wrote on 4/8/2003 4:15:53 AM
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Comment: Alhamdulillah.Jazakumullahuhair.Let us together pray for Allah's protection, for our iman and safty..insyaAllah

jaffar, india - wrote on 3/23/2003 6:07:57 AM
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Comment: This article will be really useful to muslim sisters. Plese continue.

Atef, UK - wrote on 3/20/2003 7:52:31 AM
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Comment: There is a proverb saying: "The does not kill .. but it can make your life miserable". One should take precautions.. May Allah keep us all safe .

Zaheda Coovadia, South Africa - wrote on 9/16/2002 3:04:42 AM
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Comment: In S Africa in the cities these are precautions we take regardless of 9 - 11. We are streetwise and aware due to CRIME, and being women are easy targets. All women, all over the world should be aware all the time.

A muslim sister , Montréal, Canada - wrote on 9/10/2002 1:16:07 PM
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Comment: I am sending this message to pray for all the Muslim community and the rest of humanity. May Allah protect us and guide us wherever we are. May we be all safe from harm and hurt. May we be stronger in our faith. May we be stronger as a community. Amine

samina yousufuddin, columbia, sc - wrote on 9/9/2002 1:11:37 PM
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Comment: I think that all muslim women should ignore those people who calls you a terrorist because of the way you are covered and that you should not listen to what they say about Islam being considered as violence and that all muslim sisters should stay calm and not react what they say about you .

Maysa, New York - wrote on 9/8/2002 5:11:50 PM
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Comment: Assalaamu Allaykum wa Rahamatu Allah wa Barakaatuhu, This is great advise for everyone - everyday. Our security is with Allah, subpana wa tallah, but He wants us to help ourselves, too. If we are alert and aware all the time we are less likely to be victims. If we act like victims all the time we will always be victims - if only of our own fear. To paraphrase a long past President, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself", except Allah, subhanna wa tallah. Assalaamu Allaykum wa Rahamatu Allah wa Barakaatuhu.

Zarinah Shakir, Washington,D.C. - wrote on 9/8/2002 4:13:50 PM
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Comment: Bismillah, ASA All of this is valuable for sisters and brothers. However, I feel our sheiks, imams, Muslim brothers, husbands, fathers, etc. need to be more mindful of their duties than ever in the directives from Allah in An Nisaa (4:34), specifically the first part of this ayah. Alhamdulillah!

hannan, Seattle,WA - wrote on 9/8/2002 1:17:51 AM
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Comment: Good tips for sisters. More sisters should take self-defense classes which might be offered by their local rape crisis and prevention center.

Nomaan Qureshi, tx - wrote on 9/7/2002 10:05:00 PM
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Comment: I beleave its a good thing that your letting the sisters be aware of these situations. but do you really think this will help?

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