By John Bilal
On the clear and cold sunny morning of January 14, 2011; a place and time tucked precariously between ominous snow and ice storms on the eastern seaboard above and below the Washington DC area, Believing Muslims and their friends came together to support the building of Masjid Ali Khan in Prince Georges County Maryland. Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Masjid Waritheen in Oakland, CA delivered an astute and memorable Jumu’ah Prayer to a well attended room of local believers to establish an initial launch velocity for the beginning of what was to be a stunningly successful weekend.
In a city with millions of souls dwelling in wooden homes with open furnaces, one would think building a simple fire-house would be a no-brainer. This simile illustrates the case for building a Masjid anywhere in the USA. Within this predominately Christian nation, Muslim communities dress, worship, and behave more in likeness to the early followers of Jesus (SAW) than our Christian neighbors. Returning our communities to the Holy Spirit is a key factor in putting out the metaphoric fires which have beset our family and community life leaving much destruction in its wake as evidenced by witnessing the evening news. Think of this.In 1860 Prince Georges County’s citizenry mustered only one solitary vote for then presidential candidate Illinois Senator Abraham Lincoln who would eventually become known as “the man who freed the slaves” Today her population is the largest and most affluent African American majority in the world. Furthermore, we have another Illinois Senator become president, an African American with a Muslim name. The time is ripe for building a Masjid here, raised for the worship of Allah (SWT) and devoted to establishing wholesome and excellent community life.
The Ali Khan Masjid Benefit Banquet on Saturday night was a wonderful display of dignified elegance featuring an array of the finest Muslim families and their friends in the Washington, DC area. This evening began with a cordial reception with hors d’œuvres, sushi, and sparkling cider. Door opened promptly at 7:00PM and with the Wes Biles Trio playing classical Jazz in the background. The diners sat down to enjoy the tasty meal and all the while displaying the classic Muslim American dress we have become known for; courteous, smiling, sharp, clean, dignified, honorable, clear-eyed and sober. Brother Robert Moore, though mostly bound to his walker, executed his duties as Master of Ceremonies flawlessly. Reverend Dr. Clark Lobenstine Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington spoke eloquently of the importance of building Masjid Ali Khan. Irma Hafeez , former President of the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation recounted her experiences with Imam Ali Khan. Imam Faheem Shuaibe delivered the keynote address exhorting the supporters of Ali Khan Islamic Center to not forget to “give Allah (SWT) something to bless” by performing selfless acts as a precursor to gaining Allah’s favor. A memorial video tape presentation called “Our History” featuring 20 years of photographic works of Sister Ruth Bilal, photo archivist and matriarch of one of DC’s famous Muslim families, was debuted. Later, Ebony Khan brought down the house with a moving rendition of “Impossible Dream”, and the family of Imam Ali Khan spoke tenderly in memoriam, and showed in their quiet yet gracious manner why the legacy of Imam Ali Khan is advancing forward with vision, strength, and power with Allah’s help.
Sunday morning brought with it an early morning “halaqa”; an intimate setting where attendees shared gems of Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s tafsir explaining Qur’anic concepts and best practices (Sunnah). The brother’s workshop began at 8:00AM featuring Imams Mubaashir Uqdah and Faheem Shuaibe. The workshops were very well attended and the topics were very timely dealing with masculinity, family, relationship, and methods to build and then defend strong communities. An informal survey of attendees showed great satisfaction in the level of professionalism, presentation, and content of these sessions. After a box lunch, the workshops continued with a 2-1/2 hour panel discussion moderated by Imam Rahman Khan. Imam Khan, with his native poise and commanding presence brought forth a poignant discussion on “The Future of Islam In America” from a large, polished, and well informed panel of well regarded Muslims from out of our own association. The panel consisting of Imam Talib Shareef of Masjid Muhammad, Imam Sultan M. Abdullah of New Africa Community Center, Sister Swiyyah Fareed Regional Chairwoman of Intl League of Muslim Women of Norfolk VA, Sister Ruth E. Jackson Regional Chairwoman of Intl League of Muslim Women of Washington DC, Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Imam Mubaashir Uqdah and Imam Raouf M. Abdullah of the Ali Khan Islamic Center, Glenarden, Maryland. The panel discussion forum was a model of what we hope to see more of; it shows us coming of age – allowing us to deal directly with the critical issues facing our community on our own terms, without some national benevolent figure directing it and in a manner befitting our commitment to growth and excellence.
Oh, how our forefathers would love to see our beautiful fellowship now! We can see the heart and souls of these Muslim Believers shaped out of the experience of toil and struggle, and now manifesting the early dawn of a relit lamp of Al Islam, in a time and place unexpected, in a soil made fertile by the blood, sweat, and tears of our fantastic odyssey. With all our toil and struggle, it’s clear Allah has made us strong. We, the Muslim Believers of the Ali Khan Islamic Center are committed with our regional association of Masajid communities to greater establishment, expansion, maintenance and refinement of our practice of Al Islam until Religion is made correct for Allah in all areas of Human endeavor and as Muslim Americans. We thank Allah (SWT) for the success we enjoyed at this event and for bestowing beautiful raiment on our association. May Allah reward all those hands who helped make the benefit successful.Let us remake this world one soul at a time – starting with our own.
Al Qur’an 37:40-44 But the sincere (and devoted) Servants of Allah, for them is a Sustenance determined, fruits (delights); and they (shall enjoy) honor and dignity, in gardens of felicity, facing each other on thrones (of Dignity).