I pause today to remember just how it came to be that I met Shahid. It was a spring afternoon in 2014. As I was planning a series of talks on “Practice your Religious Freedom” for the month of July. I realized I had no friends to call on from the Muslim community. There was no better time than that very moment to change this and to make friend with our Muslim brothers and sisters. As I researched local mosque (masjid) I discovered the Mesquite Islamic Center (MIC). Shahid was my contact and together we planned an educational experience for Unity on Greenville. It was truly a blessing to have Shahid, the Imam and others as our guests. It was especially special for Shahid as he witnessed his young son recite the Quran on that Sunday morning.
Our connection could have ended on that July morning, gratefully it didn’t. we shared several events together. Later that year we shared Iftar dinner during Ramadan at the Mesquite Islamic Center. As we met the women of the center, we quickly learned how much alike we all are. Even with the barriers of unfamiliar language, I learned that the mom’s shared the same concerns for their children as I had for mine. I learned of the bonds of woman’s friendships. I learned that the practice of covering their heads is a personal decision they make. I felt the overwhelming power of prayer when women pray together.
We share several events together as time went on. We gathered during Holy Week with our friends Arnie and Earl from Temple Beth Torah for the Seder experience. Jew, Muslim and Christian we gathered together as each honored and shared the story of Passover according to our faith. Again, a powerful reminder of the common ground upon which we all stand. It was an evening of a feast for the senses and a lifting of spirits for all who participated.
In 2016, I was honored to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the new center. Side by side we stood with men and women of MIC, government and civic leaders. Together we turned the earth that would, in time, become a great home of the Mesquite Islamic Center.
Saturday, again I was privileged to join MIC for their fourth fundraising banquet that would raise funds to complete construction of the new center.
Some women did not speak English yet at the dinner table and throughout the room the language of love required no translation. Warm greetings, embraces and smiles said it all. I noticed that aside from the beautiful head scarves and bejeweled dresses, the women were the same as me. They corralled the children into performance mode and onto the stage.
All of the parents – both mothers and fathers – were beaming with pride to see and hear their young ones performing songs in Arabic accompanied by dance movements. Shahid smiled broadly as his sons spoke. Ayoub (Arabic for prophet Job) passionately recited poetry and Yazid (Meaning to grow and increase in blessings) presented his speech and innocently invited each of us give to the cause of building their new Masjid. Yazid set the example by taking his gift of $100 from his pocket.
I was blessed to sit at a table with a young family of two boys who sang with their classmates and a nine month darling girl – “a daddy’s girl, proudly proclaimed her father.” The sweet baby girl chanted along as a young woman recited the Quran. To pacify her, Dad handed her his smart phone!
We are all the same. From the devotion to our faith, to the pride in our children, to entertaining our babes with technology. Truly the Namaste’ or Namaskar spirit.
Shahid Mohamad, I am grateful for the day we met, for all I have learned of your life, the challenges you face as a Muslim living in the United States, your plans for the future which are filled with enormous promise. It is my privilege and great honor to witness you practice your faith with devotion. Shahid, I share this blessing with you
Namaste ~ My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace in you because it is also within me.
In sharing these things, we are united we are the same, we are one. My soul honors your soul!