The Grassroots Effort to Spread the Light of Islaam

(Eid-ul-Fitr speech prepared by Mohamed Baianonie, Imam at the Islamic Center of Raleigh NC on September 10, 2010)

Today we gather, by the blessings of Allaah, to celebrate the ending of the beautiful month of Ramadaan . On this day of Eid Ul-Fitr , we ask Allaah to accept all our fasting, prayer, supplications, charity and good deeds. We ask that He rewards us with His forgiveness and entry into Paradise.

By the grace of Allaah, we bid this month farewell, taking with us lasting memories of breaking fasts with friends and family, praying the nightly prayers in unison, restraining our desires of hunger and thirst during this year's long, hot days, and maintaining our patience despite our daily struggles; all this for the sake of Allaah, the One and the Only. InshAllaah this month came to us as a reminder to live our lives in worship of Allaah at all times, releasing our firm grasp of the comforts of this worldly life.

On behalf of the Islamic Association of Raleigh, I would like to congratulate all of you on successfully completing this blessed month.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the change of seasons. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank Allaah for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadaan . Some have wondered and even asked why is it that we have chosen this day of all days to celebrate our Eid? And to them we say, yesterday marked the last day of the lunar month of Ramadaan and Eid today is the first day of the lunar month of Shawwal; next year, as we do every year, we will celebrate Eid about 10 days earlier, as we follow the Lunar calendar, which is shorter than Gregorian solar calendar.

This month has passed with a blink of an eye and the coming days will pass in an instant. When done with pure intentions, celebrating these days is an act of worship, for these are the days that Allaah has decreed upon us as a time of festivity. Take this occasion to gather with family, to connect with your community, and to fill the pockets of children with goodies and toys to bring smiles and lasting memories.

Although we will celebrate in the coming days, we remain bittersweet as we are reminded of the tragedy that took place nine years ago tomorrow. We sympathize with the families and friends of those victims who lost their lives on that day. We extend our prayers to about 150 Muslims1 who died in this tragedy without much acknowledgment from the media. Islaam, as always rejects and condemns any violence committed against innocent people, regardless of their religion anywhere, anytime.

My dear brothers and sisters, it is not enough for us to offer sympathy to those whose lives have been affected by senseless killing without also offering valuable knowledge and the divine message from Allaah and His messenger Muhammad ﷺ. We should respond to those who look to us for answers with the words that were given to us in the Qur'aan, by the almighty Allaah; for we are the beacon of light for humanity. Allaah ﷻ has told us that we are the "Best Ummah brought by Allaah to Mankind."

Being the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ means we bear the responsibility of living Islaam as our way of life and conveying that message to all of humanity, especially in today's great time of need. We must convey this message sincerely, kindly and with the wisest of manners, just as the messengers of Allaah before us. Those messengers before us recognized the good and embodied goodness in their own lives. They forbade evil and warned others against it. We too, must follow in their footsteps, conveying Allaah's message, with the same level of responsibility as a doctor who must notify his patient of his diagnosis, even if the prognosis is grave.

Dear brothers and sisters, these are turbulent times for us as Muslims in this country. We are living in an atmosphere of anti-Islamic hysteria, where many look at us with mistrust and fear because all they have ever heard about us are what biased media groups, some politicians and pundits have been teaching them; they have drowned out our voices in this storm they have brewed up against us. And ultimately, we have no one else to blame for this situation but ourselves.

The facts are clear, a recent poll by Time magazine found that 6 in 10 Americans do not personally know a Muslim American2. Those who did personally know a Muslim, held favorable views of Islaam, while those who did not, were more likely to hold negative views. Why is it that today, in this age of technology, with our great access to communication, readily available transportation, and such an open and free society do we still have people out there who do not know who we are?

What this poll tells us is that we are not doing our job of reaching out to those who have not received the message clearly and purely. Allaah has obligated us to reach out and deliver the message of Islaam, so that the entire humanity may benefit from its teachings. More importantly, d'awah isn't simply preaching, but actually practicing what we preach, and providing a real life model of what it means to be a Muslim.

The only ones who will be able to drown out these voices of anti-Muslim rhetoric and propaganda are us. We must believe in change at the grassroots level; we must willing to knock on doors or even open our homes to others, and reclaim, relation by relation, the hearts and confidence of our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. We must forge relationships, open up dialogue, and send out a clear message about who we are as Allaah wanted us to be. This grassroots effort of winning the hearts and minds of each individual was the way of all the prophets, in particularly, our dear prophet Muhammad ﷺ and it must be our way too.

And just as the prophets before us struggled, many of whom spent and invested, their lives in preaching the message of the Almighty Allaah, we too shall also encounter struggle and thorns on the way. Let us not be discouraged or disheartened by those who seek to dim the light of Islaam, but instead, remain steadfast my dear brothers and sisters, for Allaah has promised us, in what may be interpreted as, "Their intention is to extinguish Allaah's Light (by blowing) with their mouths. But Allaah will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it)." [Surat As-Saf Verse 8] . Never fear or lose hope, for Allaah's light can never be put out; and for those foolish enough to conspire against Allaah with their rhetoric and babble, they will never succeed as Allaah's light will only shine clearer and brighter.

Brothers and sisters, during these times we may ask ourselves, "Why should I be proud to be Muslim?" Islaam is a complete way of life that built a civilization that spanned more than 1000 years. The Noble Qur'aan and Ahadeeth teach us how to live a civilized life. It was Islaam that brought to humanity the concept of tolerance; it was Islaam that gave refuge to those of all faiths, and took care of them and their places of worship. And let's not forget that it was under the rule of Islaam that protected and preserved numerous churches and synagogues, including the Church of Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine. Not to mention the millions of Christians and Jews who lived with Muslims in justice and peace under that same rule of Islaam for more than 1000 years. It was Islaam that brought us from darkness into light. For Islaam teaches us purity and encourages cleanliness. It teaches us to respect our parents, elders, neighbors, and all the creatures of Allaah ﷻ. It teaches us to help the less fortunate, by giving charity to them. There is equality in Islaam. Islaam teaches that all people are equal in the eyes of Allaah, regardless of their gender, color, ethnicity or age. What matters is the purity of the heart and how close the person is to the Almighty Allaah. There is unity among Muslims. Each Muslim helps his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. These beautiful attributes of Islaam should make us proud to be Muslims. We should display our faith and be proud to be a part of this beautiful religion called Islaam. Islaam taught us to be role models for our family members, for our coworkers, and for the whole society. Let us rejoice and give thanks to Allaah for the Qur'aan and Islaam, as He tells us in what may be interpreted as, "That is better than what (wealth) they amass." [Surah Yunus Verse 58]

Last but not least, we commemorate this day by sparing a thought for, and visiting the orphans and the widows, our less fortunate brothers and sisters in institutions for the disabled and homes for the aged. Let us not forget those who are languishing in prisons, keep them in your prayers to ease their hardship.

This is a day on which we recall our family and friends who are no longer with us. Perhaps it is your mother or your father whom you loved dearly; a brother or a sister or even a little child who had given you so much joy and pleasure and whom Allaah ﷻ had called away.

Dear brothers and sisters, today is a day when our happiness and entertainment becomes a form of worship to Allaah. Enjoy this time, and make the most of it with family, friends, and your community.

We ask Allaah ﷻ to bless you all on this blessed day of Eid , and accept from us our good deeds. We ask that He make our society more compassionate and more merciful to one another. Aameen.



Supplications for Pakistan Flood Victims

O' Allaah! Support our brothers and sisters who are trodden by the floods in Pakistan.

Our Merciful Lord! Remove their suffering and hardship, for You are the Most Compassionate. Shower them with Your mercy; and accept those who passed away in this disaster as martyrs.

O' Allaah! Help them through this test and grant them from Your favors.

O' Allaah, reconcile the hearts of Muslims and fill their hearts with mercy and sympathy towards their fellow Muslims brothers and sisters trodden by the floods in Pakistan.

And we ask You, our Patient Lord, to grant patience to those who suffer from the destruction of this flooding. We ask You, the Compassionate Lord, to bestow Your healing upon those who are suffering from diseases brought on by the aftermath of this disaster.

We ask You, Allaah our Protector, to protect those affected by this disaster and help them rebuild their lives, and replace their losses with something better. "Aameen"



Footnotes

1 In an interview by Al-'ArrabiyaNet in Arabic, with a Washington D.C. area Imam, whose sister and brother-in-law were killed in this incident, along with his estimate of 150 other Muslims.

2Sussman, Dalia. "Time Poll: Many Americans Have Suspicious Views of Islam." August 19, 2010.