Monday, November 17, 2008
A light shines from within Congressman Keith Ellison
A light shines from within Congressman Keith Ellison
Tampa Bay had the honor of meeting a man who has more than once made history in America. A man who's swearing in at his investiture sparked hatred and respect nationally. He refused a bible which is traditional but rather chose his beloved Quran. A mere man who is approachable to all yet a living legacy among American Muslims and in the Middle East. I listened to his words carefully as if he was talking to me directly.
This weekend was amazing as it was a culmination of months of work within my Community to engage in the Political system, Interfaith, and our Youth Conference. I learned some valuable lessons for my blog and I wish to express them here with all their faults.
As a community 'Engagement” is vital to the core of our existence. This means that we need to impact our society on all levels. We live in the USA and it is our home whether we are immigrants or nationals we should love it as the Prophet learned to love new lands when faced with all odds.
First and foremost as Muslims our priority is the mosque , it is the center of community life. Our Haqiqahs and Janazas are celebrated here among our peers. We bring our babies into this jumaah and wash them to leave. In order for our Imams to do a dynamic job of servicing our community we must provide the means for them to be successful. This means volunteering to service it as well as financial support. If the electric bill is not paid we will be in the dark not just physically but spiritually. Our mosques have boards that sometimes do not reflect the interest nor cultural diversity of the people it serves. Irregardless we should attempt to work with them rather than without them. The annual Open house is one example of working from within.
From that is our political engagement in order to participate in the American process. Ideally this allows us leverage in this land where we live. Organizations like United Voices and CAIR offer parallal ways to engage in the political system . They are the brain of our community. Without their pulse we are merely numbers and useless at that . Whether we are American citizens or immigrants we should demand an equal voice in this government. Voting is a right that we should not only participate but promote.
With our new President Elect we have four years to get our points across. But silence will not work, in order to have our voices heard Congressman Keith Ellison expressed his wish that we move on this great opportunity to have our wishes and needs heard by seeking active participation in government on all levels. This is the strategic plan for us as Muslims in America. Not to fight but join hands and work in unity. Together we can make this work.
Women are our mothers, wives and daughters. Behind every successful man is a woman or two. There are so many great hadiths referring to the place of women and mothers in the Quran that they do not need discussion here only recognition.
Stop talking about womens place in Islam. Stop telling me she is not oppressed or abused. Give her honor and respect by putting her on the boards of the mosque or community program. Challenge her and give her the means to unify the community and families. Stay home and watch the children when she needs to address the school etc. Don't let her raise the children alone while you leave to earn money. Make her your partner and the center of your home life.
Interaction among Interfaith communities
Being proactive vs reactive is the ONLY answer. In order to stop asking others to assist us or attempt to poorly understand us.
Additionally interaction among faith based churches may be an avenue to build bridges. We must join hands on programs to help the needy. This may be an avenue with which Muslim charity can shine. Priority is that it should not be limited to the Muslim but to all who need us.
For the past 9 years Al Qassem mosque has been an active participant in an interfaith organization which works to relieve the pain of the poor and middle class in Hillsborough County. HOPE has been a vital community activist organization to engage local politicians in making changes to benefit citizens. I ask you WHY aren't we all engaged here?
The next generation
Tampa youth are taking on roles that in some cases their parents lack. How many youth did you see holding posters for voters or walking at the Life Strides for Cancer walk? In many cases their parents were not the community activist but they were! How can we serve the needs of our community without directing our youth? What legacy do we leave other than a horrendous national debt or more wars with death and poverty?
Mas Tampa ,Care Youth and Muslim Girl Scouting are vital parts of the puzzle , one that must be carefully built to last this generation and the next.
Our schools whether Muslim or not should reflect these Islamic principles or fail us entirely. Build more Islamic schools and support the ones we have.
Some would say that we are faced with too many challenges in Americaand that we are the NEW MINORITY , to them I say that our numbers do not reflect this. It is our lack of Passion to work together as a unit and listen to the VISION of a few lone trailblazers.
Again I say use these five challenges as if they were your fingers and unify them as a fist. Then send them off as a sign of MUSLIM POWER. Congressman Ellison says we have it in our hands to grasp.
He shone a light and I say ... Follow it!
By Khadijah Rivera