Monday, September 01, 2008


Sorry for the extra long hiatus, but I'm back and the best restart start in Ramadan! Enjoy.

Way of Doing Business

Business organization is necessary for any project larger than one person to function. Within some Muslim American communities this poses a challenge. The challenge comes in the manner in which business is conducted. I have two predominant scenarios. The first is where you have a situation where masjids are formed from people from a specific location (ex. Somalia, Bosnia, Pakistan,....etc). In these situations the masjids and most of their functions are conducted like they would in the country where they come from.

The second scenario is where you have a multicultural setting like an Islamic Center. Here the community is more culturally diverse, but there is normally a power struggle within the community to run it the right way, which usually equates to doing things the way that it was done in their homeland.

The problem with both of these scenarios is that they aren't the Islamic way of doing things. Unfortunately, in many cases nepotism rules the day. As I understand it, by Islam the best qualified person is the person that is chosen. Not the best man or woman from the Libyan or Bangladesh community.

Also, often reverts are treated as being spiritually or Islamicly infantile by those from who where born Muslims or from predominantly Muslim nations. In reality, new Muslims especially new Muslims in the west have the blessing of understanding Islam without all of the unislamic cultural additives that can be found in most predominant Muslim countries and their communities abroad.

In essence I am saying leave the cultural pollution out of the masjid. See beyond the blatant tribalism and create the Ummah that the Prophet (PBUH) established!

The Money Shot

Almost like clockwork, every Ramadan the local & national press descend on the closest Masjid, Mosque, or Islamic Center to do a puff piece to show that they are Fair and Balanced with all of the communities that make up the society. Without fail, you can count on seeing the "Money Shot". The Money Shot is the picture or video of Muslims praying. There is obviously nothing wrong with Muslims praying, but when the larger non-Muslim community only sees us in this light it places Muslims in box. The same salaat photo that is shown during Ramadan is the same one that is shown when bad things happen throughout the world and Muslims are implicated. This true for the azhan as well, but that is a conversation for another day. Where are the pictures of Muslims providing food to needy Muslims and Non-Muslims from the food bank that the Masjid operates. Where are the photos of the Muslim doctors that run are abundance in every Mosque helping everyone in the community in the Muslim operated Community Clinic? Oh wait a minute, I guess that we should actually be doing those things before the press can photograph them.......looks like it's back to the money shot.

Ramadan Mubarak!!!

This is the blessed time of year when baraka are multiplied and sins are forgiven. It is easy for Ramadan to be reduced to simply going without food and water during the daylight hours, but it is much more. The pains of hunger and the bite of thirst are physical reminders of our fragility and tools to evoke humility in times when our thirsts are quenched and hunger subdued. On a physical level it allows our digestive system to take a break. The spiritual benefits exceed my knowledge to explain, but I know that the rewards are vast. From a personal development perspective, Ramadan affords us the opportunity slow down and focus on becoming a better Muslim. It can take about four weeks for a new habit to be instituted into a person's personality. This month we can return to habits that are good if we have strayed and develop more good habits (there are always more good habits to adopt). From increasing our knowledge about the deen to exerting control over ourselves and modifying our conduct, we should finish Ramadan as a better person than when we began it. Inshallah, we will take advantage of this benefit from it in this life and the next. We are not guarentteed to see the end of this Ramadan or the next.

All of the statments here I remind myself of first.