Sillah

Connection in Prayer

Tag: Community

Racial Freedom in Islam: Notes for America

Forced silent in a body the world told him was cursed
When George Floyd was pinned to the ground,
Did he hold on to hope?
That this life of his would be more?
Perhaps Allah accepted this prayer
and exposed America’s hypocrisy,
Once again,
by choosing a Black person
as a catalyst for justice

To be Black in America requires a level of resiliency and hope that cannot be taught in textbooks. It is a lived experience, to endure Muhammad Ali-style jabs and smile without showing blood on your teeth. The Black experience forces one to confront what is at the core of all spiritual transcendence teachings: reform and respect are lifelong struggles and, even when they cannot be found outside oneself, they can and must be discovered by venturing inward.  

It’s no coincidence Black Americans are more likely to say they believe in God with absolute certainty (83%) than Whites (61%) and Hispanics (59%). When we look at Islam in the Black community in America, 75% of Black Muslims say religion is very important to them. That is a higher level of commitment than for non-Black Muslims (62%). Black Muslims are also more likely than other Muslims in the US to perform the five daily prayers (55% vs. 39%)  proving that Blackness is inextricably linked to faith, and more specifically to Islam. (Pew)

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Allah, Open the Doors of Your Mercy for me

During the current Coronavirus outbreak, and temporary shuttering of mosque doors, many of us are reflecting on our experiences with our mosques. For this contributor, a complicated relationship surrounds his experience with his local mosque. Though it may be particularly painful to read during this time, his story is an important reminder so we thought to share it anyway. May Allah ﷻ grant us His grace and return us to His houses of worship soon. Ameen  -Admin

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
اللهم صلي وسلم على سيدنا محمد

Allah, open the doors of Your mercy for me – اللهم إفتح لي أبواب رحمتك

I sprinted across the expansive carpet,
reaching top speed
weaving through legs,
dodging glasses,
(alright, maybe I stepped on a few)
racing a new friend,
before everyone went into sujood.

Twenty years later, I still get grief about those flattened and broken glasses and I make it a point to keep mine in my pocket whenever I pray in the mosque. Still, I would never turn rowdy kids away from the mosque. I have always been a proponent of the idea that children should be allowed to experience the house of Allah ﷻ with joy. I would argue, to anyone who would listen, that every person who worshipped Allah ﷻ in any of His houses should seek to also uplift the children who are in His house. 

The joy I experienced as a child, and my idealism about it as I grew, guided me to join a group of people who sought to serve at my local mosque. I tried to help as they came together to transform a house of Allah ﷻ from a space for ritual prayer alone, to a space that brought people together intentionally; a space that would meet our “community needs”. We wanted our mosque to be a space that would live out all the stories we heard about the mosque in the time of the Prophet ﷺ – a dream of a mosque brought to reality.

Allah, open the doors of Your mercy for me – اللهم إفتح لي أبواب رحمتك

The extraordinary is witnessed – in His house.
Stoic, strong, becomes bent, weak – in His house.
Hungry, homeless, becomes full, housed – in His house.
Harsh, sharp, becomes soft, conscientious – in His house.
Poor, needing, becomes rich, giving  – in His house.
Lost, exhausted, becomes guided, invigorated – in His house.
Looked-over, dejected, becomes sought-after, respected – in His house.

We were living the dream. I witnessed a complete stranger arrive from out of town, go to the closest mosque to rest, ask Allah ﷻ for help, and he had housing before the night was out. I witnessed a man larger than most doorways become reduced to the size of his out-stretched, tear-riddled hands, as he begged Allah ﷻ for strength. I witnessed a friend transform from constantly judging others with a sharp-tongue to someone who guarded his words and spent more time asking for forgiveness from people than judging their actions.

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