What We Do

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pENAWAR

Participants sitting in a circle with children and a cat stretching out on the floor.

 
 

WHAT IS PENAWAR?

Penawar holds peer-led support group for women and non-men (people who don’t identify as men) who were raised in Muslim households. We’re based in Singapore.

In Malay, Penawar means antidote or elixir. Likewise, Penawar strives to be the place of healing and respite for those who are in need of it. Established in 2015, we’ve been reaching out to more people since April 2018.

 

It all started when…

Our founder had mental health struggles and her father tried to tell her to go back to God after her episodes ended, as if trying to suggest that her mental health struggles were a test for her to repent.

So, she confided in an older friend (our other founder!) and was told that this is an inter-generational problem experienced by many other young women in the Muslim community. Hence, it would be healthy to start a support group to address these issues and experiences.

 

THIS SUPPORT GROUP IS FOR YOU IF YOU FEEL LIKE…

  • It’s difficult to be your authentic self in mainstream spaces but you want an inclusive, safe space that affirms who you are.

  • You’re struggling to process difficult experiences but you want to be honest about it without being shamed for having gone through a hard time.

  • It’s hard for others to understand your specific Muslim experience based in Singapore but you’re ready to be a part of a community who is committed to expressing support, solidarity and heal with you together as a community.

 

What you should know…

Penawar isn’t professionally trained in crisis care or specific mental health areas. Please see a trained professional if you need further support. Do have a look at our compiled list of other support services to see if any of them cater to your specific needs.

Most importantly, Penawar doesn’t preach to practice Islam in a certain way, nor will we pressure you into leaving the faith. Our focus is grounded in sharing our lived experiences as a community of Muslim-raised people.

 
 

Note: Session structure may vary depending on the topic. Of course, we are committed to bettering the program. Improvements will take place over time. Our support group sessions typically last 3 hours. It will be held in a safe space. The sessions are peer-led; none of us are professionals. We use a facilitator and participants format – gathering in a circle during our support group.

 
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Facilitators

Encouraging you to share your personal experiences and coping strategies.

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DOCUMENTER

Transcribe the session for our internal documentation and digital content.

 
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CHILDMINDERS

For mummies and parents bringing children, so you can participate in our support group!

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CARE PERSON

Check in on how you’re doing after the session for one (1) week and refer you to relevant support services when necessary.

Inspired by the inclusive and pluralistic Etiquette Statement by the Inclusive Mosque in Toronto, Canada, we adapted it into our own. We read this out before starting our support group sessions. It goes as follows:

 

1. respect confidentiality

Penawar is a safe space. Not everyone is out about their religion (or lack thereof) or their sexuality. So, we ask that people’s confidentiality is respected and that what is said here stays within these four walls.

We have a documenter to transcribe what is said. However, if you don’t wish to have your words published on our social media, please feel free to inform us. We will respect your decision and choice to maintain your privacy.


2. SPEAK IN THE “I” AND “MY ISLAM”

Since Penawar is a space for women and non-men to share their experiences being Muslim, growing up Muslim or even leaving the religion, we would like to reiterate that: There is no one way of embracing or understanding Islam. There never has been. So, speak of your understanding without telling someone they are wrong or trying to educate them.

Our community alone is diverse – with people from diverse sects, sexualities, genders who hold diverse understandings and relationship with Islam.

Speak in the “I” and “My Islam” rather than of a singular, narrow Islam. And if you think someone isn’t following the ‘proper’ ways of your Islam or choosing not to believe in your Islam, we refer you to the Quranic injunction, “There is no compulsion in religion” (Surah Al-Baqarah)


3. LET EVERYONE SPEAK

Our sharing session isn’t meant to be a debate or space where one person dominates the conversation, but rather an opportunity for all participants to share their views, opinions, experiences, and struggles. What may be true or meaningful to you, may not be so for someone else. So, we encourage everyone to allow others the opportunity to speak, share and listen.


4. COMMUNE AND JUST BE

Penawar is a safe space to commune, and just be. We celebrate pluralism and diversity in our rituals (or lack of), beliefs, and community. We extend an intentional welcome to people of all races, classes, abilities, health (including HIV) statuses, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, family, relationship statuses, and religion. So, welcome!