A Story of Winning

Let’s skip to the happy ending: A group of Muslim professionals saw a problem with a City of Houston employee spewing hate speech in an attempt to block a Muslim from becoming precinct chair of his community, took our voices to City Hall and had the employee fired from his position with the City.

Rewind to how this started – but wait, when was that? Was it when these young Muslims decided to take a stance? Was it when this man engaged in hate speech? Was it when Trump announced his candidacy for President? Was it when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers? Hate speech and fear-mongering has pervaded our society so far, so deeply that we can’t even put our finger on any one cause of what has led us to where we are today. But we’ve learned from what these young Houston Muslim professionals did, is that with united effort, we can incite change in a world deranged with anxiety against anyone who looks, acts, talks, walks, and believes differently.

In the Qur’an, Allah says in chapter 49, verse 13: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

Islam celebrates diversity. Islam welcomes differences. Islam cherishes all life, whether it be human, animal, or plant. There are numerous evidences of these faith teachings in the Qur’an, the words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and the examples of Muslims throughout history and in present day. Exploring these subjects are for separate articles entirely. But the Sparknotes version is that all living beings have God-given rights and all those rights are due to them and no one has the authority to take them away.

This means the right for Blacks to vote, the right for women to have equal pay, the right for couples of the same sex to marry without governmental interference… Wait… what? Yes, that right too. Please hold the story of the people of Prophet Lut (PBUH) at bay as it comes rushing up in your mind and I’m going to abbreviate my spiel to just what I learned from Wajahat Ali at a recent benefit dinner for the Texas chapter of Emerge USA: Our civic duty does not begin with voting and end with holding political office and making changes. That’s the feel-good, easy stuff. Our dedication to our civic duties is challenged when we are in a position that causes some discomfort and makes us stop, if even for a fleeting moment, and rethink the next step we’re about to take. That next step is

standing up

for the rights of all people

regardless of race,

creed,

gender,

ethnicity,

age,

sexual orientation,

and sexual affiliation.

Standing up for LGBTQIA rights is not a pause for reflection on our faith. Standing up for LGBTQIA rights is an act of practicing our faith.

A Muslim affiliated man murdered 50 innocent souls in a gay club and now, finally, (unfortunately after such a grave tragedy) we are caused to reflect on our role in the lives of other marginalized minorities. Our religion teaches us to look outwardly, to serve others in our service to Allah. Right now is our time to build long-lasting friendships with the LGBTQIA community, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, in order to counter the hatred that has crept into the rifts of our communities, embedded itself there, and multiplied as the disease it is in the hearts of people of all backgrounds. This is a contagion we have to eradicate from its source – it cannot breed if it does not have the rift within which to proliferate.

Even though the issue with the City of Houston employee was resolved, that did not keep us from attending the City Hall meeting once again. This time, it was to thank the Mayor and City Council for their support and understanding in that unfortunate situation, to invite them all (including the removed ex-employee) to our masajid to meet with Muslim Houstonians, and to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA community.

And insha’Allah, we will keep joining in on efforts to protect the rights of all. This situation was never about Muslims just like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was never about the LGBTQIA community. It’s about us all as a collective community. So there’s no such thing as Muslims winning, gays or transsexuals winning, or Blacks winning. It’s about knowing that we don’t know how this will end for all of us, but that at least we have a beginning. It’s about knowing that the only thing that matters, is that #lovewins.

Hilal Alquds

 

  • Khalid Dakak
  • Mohammad Ali Ata Obeid
  • Danial Soudah
  • Issa Hilweh
  • Hani Abdallah
  • Oday Dabbagh
  • Mousa Farawi
  • Ahmed Kashour
  • Charlie Abdallah
  • Muhye Aldeen Abuseneineh
  • Eizeldeen Abuseneineh
  • Fuad Abuseneineh
  • Farouk Taha
  • Mohammad Alhajeh

Remember these names. Learn them. Know them well. These are “our boys”. Reaching for a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete in the Disney Cup International representing Palestine.

Narmeen Dakak and her family are working tirelessly to ensure these boys make it here and acquire the necessary funds to compete in this tournament. Here’s what she had to say:

“On my family’s trip to Florida last summer, my dad noticed that the Disney Cup International was a international soccer competition that occurs during the summer. It was obvious how amazing of an opportunity this would be for our Palestinian youth team, Hilal Alquds. A group of people worked tirelessly for months to make sure that the group of young boys would have an opportunity to play in the Disney Cup International. After endless hours of planning and work, finally they are confirmed to be able to make the trip. This trip will be an opportunity of a lifetime for our boys. Not only will there be college scouts present at the games, but this will be the first time these boys visit America, let alone Disney, and the first time that a Palestinian youth soccer team participates in an international soccer event.

We are so close to reaching our goal, and words cannot describe how much this not only means to me, but to the boys as well.”

If you would like to play a role in brining these boys and helping them compete, click here.

To find our more about the Disney Cup International, click here.

Blanca’s Second Week

It is the second week of Ramadan, and I have been met face to face with three challenges of a new Muslim revert, the challenges that has come across too often for the majority of reverts. It is in my and, mine only, power to be absolutely immune and Islamically shielded to not wake up from my religious practices (deen), to remain a stranger to the luxuries and exceeded freedom of this world, to keep my spirituality in tact.

So far this Ramadan, I have come to learn the difference from the Islamic world and the Earthly world. In both, you have absolute freedom–the chance to enjoy astonishing opportunities that grip us from the heart, and take us around our conscious. In the Earthly world, there are ways to increase knowledge and in the Islamic world there are ways to increase knowledge. In the Earthly world there are ways to develop values and morals and there also, in the Islamic world, are opportunities to develop values and morals. Our options are absolutely endless. We tend to forget that our souls do not run on options. To our souls, there is no term that exists, or concept that no human knows enough to be described under. Either way, the prospect is there for us to take captive a design in the things we feel, a design that engineers us through a current of galvanic human actions.

Oh, in this Earthly world, there are ways to feel imaginative.

In the Islamic world, there are ways to feel infinite.

In Ramadan we pray; we sacrifice; we reflect. I have noticed this week of Ramadan, how different I am from my family, how sincere I am to my Lord, and the gift of Islam. The challenges are many, but recently the most trying one, was when my uncle, who practices Catholicism, invited me to converse with him and three more people of his faith, on religious topics. The talk was tedious, mainly opinion based, and not substantially supported with the facts from the Bible. What emotionally impacted me was that it touched on large misconceptions of Islam. One of them being that the believer’s practice is too strict and unfocused from the bigger theme in faith. Also, a comparison between Islam and Judaism was made, but the point in that comparison was to prove that both faiths are flawed and lack accuracy. They babbled on about how men are dominant to women in Islam, that Muslims want to kill Christians and wanted Jesus (Peace be Upon Him) dead, and that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) utilized the religion for his own advantage. I truly felt violated and I almost cried. However, their lectures to invite me “back” to their faith have not shaken my judgment and I remain in my noble praise towards the oneness of Allah, the clear message of the Quran, and the contradiction-less overall history of Islam. These challenges have come from my misguided immediate family. One supports the presidential candidate Donald Trump, who’s political platform is deviating against Muslims, and another that offers me to smoke weed in a jokingly matter as, “Are you sure you do not want to smoke? It is after 8:30, the Quran says it is permitted!”

I am okay, though. In the time the clock hits with the call for the second prayer, I am given another chance to fill my time with prayer, and so I confide in my creator. I am extremely blessed to have the five daily prayers of Islam, and I am extremely blessed to be able to follow the right path. I am looking forward for the third week of Ramadan.

 

Blanca’s First Ramadan

I have learned a lot. I have learned how to be creative with what I have. It is June 6th, first day of Ramadan, and the creativeness starts.

My name is Blanca, Blanca said with a sigh in the morning Fajir prayer at the masjid, Blanca said unsurely and instantly switched with Noora. Yes, That is how lost a person who is new to Islam in Ramadan can feel. Just how I had to start completely fresh for this year’s Ramadan and adjust my brain to a month-long worship that I have never done before, I had to renovate every part of my soul that has been damaged from my own revert shortcomings. My name, my identity, my exterior ensemble, all has felt distant, cloudy, and disorganized for me.

I’ve been Muslim for 8 months. This journey has definitely taken me to a very far quest to find myself. Since I have pre-cautiously looked ahead for this date as it approached, my reminders of me not being a good enough Muslim ready for Ramadan, would tremble down to my core. In my short time of being Muslim, I have not personally set a stable ground for myself. My family is Mexican and Catholic, and living Ramadan with them, is a solo ride for me. So far I’ve had several experiences of loneliness and feeling suffocated in a box that I want to escape from. Not having my family able to relate with me, makes me feel like my religious expressions are nothing but details to them, not mattering or effecting their daily life in any way, leaving me hopeless. Leaving me more anxious than before, it is painful to know that this is how I am spending my first week of Ramadan because this is a time when Muslims should hold this month to an enormous spiritual standard, not feel a spec of this loneliness.

From lack of emotional support, a cycle of reoccurring discouragements, feeling lost, and to leaving my daily routine behind including an upbeat personality, my lost hole has widened. Although, this is unfortunate, I believe in my soul that through this struggle to follow Allah, I can rebuild myself. I am lucky that the religion I am lost in is the religion of Islam, because all the answers are there to be found.

Ramadan is meant to replenish your soul, start over, and cleanse out unnecessary and unhealthy parts of your holistic self. I have to wonder, do people not know that converts have been struggling to do that ever since they said “I give testimony that there is no more God than Allah, and that Mohammed is his messenger’? How we get to our true selves in Islam is endless. The fact is that a new Muslim’s biggest occupation, that truly shapes them, is adjusting to the beliefs of a true Muslim.

Beliefs. Beliefs can be predominantly an abstract concept, but for a Muslim, it is a concept of the soul. Me, trying to let go of every habit, the deep subconscious customs my past non-Muslim life had held– it is not only an internal calling since we first considered becoming Muslim, but a foundation for who we are, constant imperfections and constant van diagrams. Personally, being a new Muslim in Ramadan feels like a cycle of self-doubt, because there is no one that is guiding you but yourself. I wish that there could be a larger network for converts. The least that I want is not to be left to over think my flaws on my own; it feels redundant, and I hope that I feel better next week. I have strong faith in my Lord.