Return to the nation’s mosque – Cont’…
Reflections on a community, its leadership, and spirit of collaboration…
Masjid Muhammad as it stood, circa 1969 when a young Mukhtar Muhammad far left male facing the mosque visited the community with members of his immediate and extended family.
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Continued from previous page…
I had come to visit the Mosque with my family some fifty years earlier. And now here I was again standing in front of what I had known growing up in the Nation of Islam as No.4, a mosque with a long history built under the leadership of then National leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, may Allah forgive his sins and grant him Paradise; and later evolved to a Qur’anic-based Islamic institution under the leadership of Imam Dr. W. Deen Mohammed (R). Suddenly names like Muhammad Ali, Captain Yusuf Shah, Minister James Shabazz (may Allah forgive them and grant them all the Paradise), Minister Louis Farrakhan, and even to the present West Coast’s Imam now Abdul Karim Hasan, flashed into my thoughts, and I was taken back to my childhood with one glimpse of a building, to a time of almost mythic heroes of my youth; heroes not in the comic book pages mind you, although Ali was even in comic books. No, the heroes of my youth were on the pages of the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper.
Back then I was a student at Philadelphia’s Temple No. 12 now Masjidullah and had visited many times No. 7 now Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, New York; and No. 25 in Newark, New Jersey now known as Masjid Imam Ali K. Muslim. You see I lived in Trenton, New Jersey and these iconic institutions in the history of our community were in my geographical backyard. But the Washington Mosque was also a special place then and now with an 80-year community history.
In the moment before entering the building, I thought about how fifty years earlier, neither I nor my family could have known that I would be welcomed back to the city and to that masjid by its leadership with a dignitary’s welcome—not because of me personally, but because of the office of leadership I was fulfilling and it was a humbling experience. As I entered Masjid Muhammad’s hallowed halls to pray the two rakat in respect to her and thought of what she through all the years had witnessed and accomplished through the many believers passing through her doorways, I felt humbled and thanked Allah (SWT) for bringing me back and for allowing me to serve and become even in those brief days a continued part of her history and Insha Allah, her future.
Who knows which of our children may bring the cure for cancer or otherwise help society with other solutions to any number of pressing problems?
CWSC as lead institution for the Never Again interfaith Campaign, was responsible for delivering An Open Letter To The United States Congressional Leadership and the entire Congress on behalf of its sixty institutional signers that included a diverse array of interfaith organizations large to small, local and neighborhood organizations to national groups like NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Latino Muslims of America, the North American arm of the international Focolare Movement, and from Christian to Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and many other faith brethren including The World Council of Religious Leaders.
The Delegation itself was ethnically, religiously and demographically diverse with the youngest participant being 10-year old Duval County Florida national honor society student Maya Muhammad who participated in the National School Walkout earlier in March following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Maya joined her mom and dad at the offices of U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Senator Van Hollen is an outspoken advocate and staunch supporter for comprehensive gun reform.
Maya’s mom, Darlene Muhammad stated, “…it was special for me as a parent and a CWSC volunteer to be present with my family and especially my daughter who even at age 10 is keenly aware of the violence visited on the Parkland community and on other schools, along with the increasing ubiquitous nature of the threat across communities; and like a great number of her counterparts around the country, she’s wondering why the adults can’t fix this. So to have her present and aware and witnessing the importance of speaking truth to power and the duty of personal civic engagement were a powerful life lesson. We all learned a lot.” Maya was simultaneously participating in Camp Congress for Girls, a Washington, D.C. leadership summer camp hosted by the Girls in Politics Initiative in collaboration with the National Girl Scouts.
Debbie Shankman, a resident of Maryland and one of CWSC’s most energetic volunteers and a constituent of Senator Van Hollen was instrumental in putting CWSC in touch with the Senator as early as 2015 when he was serving in the House of Representatives. Sister Debbie, as she is affectionately called by her fellow volunteers and AM360 Radio family, made a heartening appeal to lawmakers that the failure to enact common sense reform that provides basic protection is not only literally taking away lives, but also taking away our future as she declared emphatically and rhetorically: “Who knows which of our children may bring the cure for cancer or otherwise help society with other solutions to any number of pressing problems?…” Debbie declared that she would not have missed this opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers on an issue she is most passionate about. (To be continued)
Stay tuned to American Muslim 360 at AM360.org or (701) 719-4197 for special interview coming soon on the Washington, D.C. Journey. Click here to add your institution’s name to the Never Again Interfaith Campaign for subsequent iterations of the Letter.
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“Education is the greatest tool for advancing the society.” We do want to advance our society, don’t we? Are you a part of a society or are you just a part of a Masjid?”―Imam W. Deen Mohammed (RA)