“And, they give food, in spite of love for it, to the needy…” ~Al-Insan, The Noble Qur’an, 76:8
At the Islamic Center’s MYG Sunday Session, this past week, it was all about Community. And, not the show “Community,” that stars Danny Pudi, of Lena Khan’s new film The Tiger Hunter. *wink, wink*
MYG is brand new for the 2017-2018 season, and we opened our latest Sunday Session with the above verse from Quran: “And, they give food, in spite of love for it, to the needy…” ~Al-Insan. Our plan was to feed the homeless, and together, contribute to our surrounding community. After signing the attendance sheet, each MYG member filled out a slip of paper that told what “community means to me.” (Little did they know, we’d be using each as a “lunch note” for our meals for the homeless.)
Some people wrote, “neighbors,” and “support and caring for each other,” and others wrote, “coming together with a positive goal,” and many other descriptions that made it clear that we all believe in our sense of community here at the Islamic Center. We read aloud everyone’s notes, each of us reading the words of another. Sharing our thoughts aloud, definitely brought us closer together, with everyone giving their heartfelt input.
After reading the opening poem, “Poverty Is Violence,” written by my friend and colleague, Tariq Toure, from the book A Beautiful Ghetto, by acclaimed Baltimore photographer, Devin Allen, we looked at the amazing photos. The first photo set the tone, a beautiful, black and white photo of children playing on swings. We discussed the meaning of ghetto, it’s context and it’s history, and we drew parallels to our present. We talked about community through an Islamic lens, and the importance of it to our own Muslim American identity.
Led by our MYG Youth Board member, Aulbade Kedir, (Community Service Director) we packed paper sack lunches, including one note from everyone, that on one side read, “We are here for each other,” and on the other side depicted the handwritten meaning for the word community. We then went out in the neighborhood surrounding our Islamic Center to Feed The Homeless, walking from Sixth & Vermont Ave. to Ardmore & Vermont Ave. Everyone we met greeted us with smiles, welcomed the introductions the youth gave, some recognized the name “Islamic Center,” and pointed toward it, and some expressed that they were impressed by the youth coming out to give. Each homeless person we encountered and gave a lunch to, expressed their gratitude.
I was very impressed by each of the youth, their commitment to giving, and their sincerity in greeting each person with respect and dignity. I asked them to give their thoughts on the experience, and was pleased to hear their enthusiasm and eagerness to do more. Many youth expressed freely, “Thank you for doing this. I truly appreciate this, because I used to be homeless,” and, “We should have stuff like this more,” and “Community, that’s what MYG is all about.” Okay, that last one was from me, but it was the feeling our group generated! And, of course, my favorite remark came from one of our members who hardly ever speaks up, “This was great. I’m glad we got a chance to get out of the masjid.” That warmed my heart, and made me feel like we’re doing good things!