Jumah is the best day of the week. The Khateeb, Imam Suleiman, sent a purifying message at the Atlanta Masjid. He talked about the diseases of the heart. The more he spoke, the more I began to feel dirty, and dirtier, until I felt ﬁlthy. He said spiritual disease leads to physical disease. I’ve been in search of a cure for far too long. Dhikr is the cure. The remembrance of Allah, having Taqwah, is the cure. I immediately got a copy post-Jumah to make sure I collect all the gems from the Khutbah.
Imam Suleiman said, “Don’t let Eid come and you are the same as you were on the ﬁrst day of Ramadan.” I let that sink in. I instantly thought to myself, what have I improved on since the beginning of Ramadan? We should constantly try and better ourselves. Never be satisﬁed with who you are as a person. Not pleased with my current output, I increased it. Realizing my limitations, I focused on what I could do. We are going around talking to the youth of America and giving them advice, but am I practicing what I preach?
Lowering myself and softening my position, I started to accept my own advice. It helped me tremendously. The worst thing is when someone conﬁdes in you and you tell them the right things to do, yet you are not practicing those guidelines. A hypocritical characteristic I’d like to rid myself of. The Jumah Khutba was perfect and a reminder I deﬁnitelly needed to hear.
We headed to Masjid Al Farooq for Iftar. After meeting some beautiful Muslims we headed out after Taraweeh. We continued to talk about life and how everyone was doing. We talked about everything from who has the best recitation (Qari) to Marriage. A young brother had stress pouring out of his eyes. He was excited he was getting married, at age 27, but, he was forced to take out loans. I asked why. It didn’t make sense to me that you have to jump into debt when you get married. He simply said, “That’s the way it is.” Tens of thousands of dollars in loans for a celebration? That’s good money that can be used towards supporting a healthy lifestyle. There is no reason to “front” (act like you have something when you don’t). Neither he nor his wife wanted the elaborate reception, but this was a requirement if he wanted to marry. May Allah make things easy for them.
We headed back to Hajirah’s house to rest up and give our Salams. Atlanta has plenty to offer and I’m looking forward to returning.
New Orleans, LA holds some pretty painful memories. The last two games I played down here we lost against the New Orleans Saints. One of the games was the NFC Championship. Although we felt we were the best team in the NFL (I still believe we were), the Saints were better that night as they beat us and eventually went on to win the Super Bowl. The biggest Saints fan I know is Shaykh Omar Suleiman.
We became good friends after I attended his Al-Maghrib class. Shaykh Omar has Saints memorabilia everywhere. So of course he took every chance to remind me we were in New Orleans. He brought a couple brothers with him as we headed for a signature Po Boy. I must say New Orleans did not disappoint. The food was everything I thought it would be and then some. We left for the Masjid to visit the Muslim Community of New Orleans.
As we drive around from city to city the same reoccurring theme continues to show up. There is an epidemic in our Ummah. Nobody is getting married. At every stop there are sisters looking for good men, in search of a husband. Brothers are pre-occupied with a checklist to graduate college, then get a masters, then get a PHD, start a business and THEN get married. And this check-list has been put in place by parents. The brothers who are in search of getting married are being shot down by parents because they don’t possess $100k yet. It’s sickening.
Everyone asks the question, how do we deal with the Fitna of the opposite sex? This is the number one question we are asked. Yet, when you give the solution of marriage they shoot it down. Unfortunately in some communities our youth have boyfriends and girlfriends. The Halal alternative is Marriage. The parents that are blocking this out of pursuit for a high dowry, tradition, culture or anything for that matter, need to read the Qur’an and Hadith. Parents are supposed to encourage the youth to marry young. Help them to succeed in nurturing their relationship. Be the training wheels for them. Teach them about life. Coach them to be successful in their marriage. Help them in guarding their gaze and modesty.
The more we ignore this topic the more people will begin to engage in pre-marital sex. The branding of lust in this country is insane. Beer commercials, Axe body commercials, Go Daddy commercials, to name a few. All branding sex and lust. Music is being pumped into people’s brains about love, boyfriends, girlfriends, sex, and affairs. When this is being sold to you from every angle, every platform, it’s only a matter of time before people start buying into it.
Growing up in America, everything I explained is being sold to us sometimes without us even noticing it. People are starting to buy into that this is “life.” We have to learn how to market and brand Islam.
The Imam of the Masjid, Abdur Rahman, and I held this passionate conversation, at Cafe du Monde, around 2 AM over famous beignets. We later ate Suhoor, rested up and headed out for Houston.
The community at Clear Lake Islamic Center (CLIC) in Houston, TX rolled out the red carpet. We walked into the hotel room and there were signs on our bed, signed by all the youth, welcoming us to Houston. This reminded me of my recruiting trip to Washington State University—they did the same thing to welcome me in as a Coug. I applaud the people at CLIC for their efforts. Because now that has me thinking about making frequent visits down there.
I was very excited to be in the city that Hakeem Olajuwon built. He was a dominant force in the NBA during the 90’s. Two championships and two ﬁnals’ MVP in 1994 and 1995—he is the man. He played while fasting, he educated people on Islam, and he was graceful playing the game and dealing with people. The true deﬁnition of a Role Model. He had a huge impact on us possibly without even knowing about it. We were bummed when we found out we missed him by an hour and a half.
I was excited at the opportunity to sit and talk with Shaykh Waleed Basyouni. I attended his Al-Maghrib class, Fiqh of Love, with my wife in 2009. He is one of the best teachers I’ve ever been around. His Islamic knowledge is off the charts but his manners blew me away even more. Sitting in this class I learned what’s expected of me as a Muslim man. My wife learned what’s expected of her as a Muslim woman. This class strengthened our Iman, our roles within our marriage, and the love connection itself. This is a class that I highly recommend for anyone contemplating marriage, preparing for their marriage, newlyweds, and anyone who wants to know what Islam says about all the little things we bicker back and forth over. So pretty much everyone.
My brothers and I have had timeless discussions on the issues of marriage and what Islam says. Solutions for the youth and for adults who abuse their rights because they misinterpret a hadith or an ayat of Qur’an. This class would beneﬁt the masses greatly. Imagine if this class was taught in the sixth grade, which is typically when the public schools have their class on puberty, crushes, sex, pregnancy etc. I believe this would chop our problems in half, at least. The lack of education in Islamic rulings is killing us. We read Qur’an but have no understanding. Getting married is half our deen. Why not place the same importance on it that Allah (swt) does?
After spending time with Shaykh Waleed, he gave us a Fatwah to follow him on twitter before we left. We headed to Amir Kidwai’s house for another All-nighter. He introduced us to what real BBQ taste like. The beef briskett was softer than yogurt. Umm Kidwai was giving us “Texas Sized” plates. We were stuffed by 2 AM. Although the sun’s anticipated arrival was at 5:30 AM, we were still full from the all good food she served, so that was Suhoor. The CLIC community was very hospitable, I thank them for that immensely.
Everything is bigger in Texas. Including Islam. A wealth of knowledge resides in theDallas area: Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Shaykh Yasir Birjas, and Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, just to name a few. A few of the brothers who run MuslimMatters (one of my favorite websites) are down here as well. So this is deﬁnitely a great place to visit.
We ﬂocked to the Islamic Center of Irving for our short talk. Upon entering the Masjid we saw a beautiful design welcoming the Abdullah Brothers; sister Hannah did a great job. We talked to the crowd and delivered the message.
During Q&A the same questions came through about dealing with women and getting married. The question came up again to assure my brothers and myself that a solution needs to be found. We know the solution, but we are hesitant because of the cons.
- Getting married young may lead to higher divorce rates.
- People would not take the marriage seriously and only join in matrimony out of physical desire.
- Having children at a young age and possibly ruining or halting personal goals.
- Parents losing control of their children.
- No solid means to support a family.
- Confusion on how to be a Husband/Wife
We should nurture and cultivate these young relationships, and do everything in our power to see them successful. A brother heavily involved with the youth spoke to Abbas at length about the youth and the troubles they are facing. They are growing up at blazing speeds. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Kik and a bunch of other social media sites I have no clue about. They can reach people around the globe in a click of a button. Direct access to the opposite sex. No hijab is present. They can talk about whatever they want, send text, pictures, video, etc. Sometimes they won’t even seek it. It will seek them. The list can go on further than this. But we can not look at Marriage how non-Muslims look at it. Not as Americans or anyone else for that matter. You hear “the old ball and chain.” People have bachelor/ bachelorette parties and commit every sin imaginable. This starts the marriage off on a negative footing and makes them second guess marriage as a whole. This is not how we do things.
Almost any “Free” app on a person’s phone quickly bombards them with advertisement when open. “Hot singles in your area,” and other ambush-style advertisements pop up on the screen. They are facing challenges that my generation didn’t even face and I’m 27 years old. So our elders must learn that they are hindering the young by taking away the only Halal alternative we have. Although parents have speciﬁc goals and ages they want their child to reach before they get married, a war is being fought and some of our youth feel they have no outlets but to conform with what society is telling them to do.
Rushing people into marriage is not the solution. Prepping our young at an early age to be Men/Women, providing support, listening when they speak, understanding their world, helping them succeed, learning what Islam says about marriage, and ﬁnally helping those marriages succeed is the solution. Allah sent a cure for everything. Now it’s our duty to accept the medicine.
- Husain Abdullah