The shingled Victorian house on Intervale Street has a purple door, a symbol of hope. The Basmala — a phrase recited when reading the Koran, "In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful" — decorates a wall in the foyer. In the children's playroom, "My First Prophet Muhammad Storybook" shares space with "Guess Who, Elmo!"

The Amal (Arabic for "hope") Women's Center is Boston's first Muslim-run homeless shelter for women and children, a place where Muslim women who have fallen on hard times may feel especially at home.

"We really wanted to provide a space that gives women the opportunity to heal, to feel respected, to preserve their dignity, and to give them the opportunity to develop themselves," said Malika MacDonald, the national director of the nonprofit organization overseeing the shelter.

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