As we prepped for Lubbock, TX, I had no idea what to expect. Weather-wise I was getting very nervous. The hard rain, the dark clouds, the lightning showers we drove into gave me instant Taqwaa. I just think of the Ad & Thamud people and how they mocked at the signs of Allah before they were punished. So whenever someone makes fun of me for being afraid of lightning, I take it as a compliment.
Lubbock has a nice Muslim community. First there was a smaller Masjid, more of a youth Islamic center. It sits on campus which makes it very accessible for students. Then there is a larger Masjid a few minutes down the road. I was very impressed at what they were able to accomplish. A nice Masjid that accommodated everyone and was ready to expand more. The fundraising was in full swing as this was the 27th night of Ramadan.
The board was in need of $125k. Determined to get the new prayer space, the new women’s facility and the new school he continued to ask for people’s donations. Knowing his crowd he stopped at nothing to get what he was after. Doctors, lawyers, dentists and more sat, listened and donated. I was amazed. It had me thinking of the things we could do for our Ummah if we had that same determination.
This is their community and even more so, their money. So they can do whatever it is they want with it. I just think of a place like Detroit, MI that was only able to scrounge up $19 after a Jumah prayer. This is supposed to pay the Masjids bills? Imagine if a piece of that $125k pie went to our brothers and sisters in need. I checked myself and even looked at how I gave Zakat & Sadaqah and thought, am I getting the most bang for my buck?
Giving $10 for a beautiful new chandelier and giving $10 towards a repaired ceiling are not equal. Giving $5 towards marble ﬂooring and $5 toward an accommodating Mussala are not equal. Giving $1 for gourmet meals and giving $1 to feed a starving stomach is not equal. I’m sure we all know this but sometimes, seeing is believing.
The community in Lubbock were very hospitable and in tune with the needs of the community. The next goal (for us all) is being in tune with the needs of the Ummah.
The worst drive of the tour was Lubbock, TX to Silver City, NM. There was nothing to look at. The only thing we had keeping us awake was the excitement of seeing our younger brothers Esa (21), Salih (19) and Mustafa (17). All attend Western New Mexico University. All members of the football team as well. They left home in July to establish a new home away from home. When we arrived they were still in meetings so we had free time on our hands. We pulled into Albertson’s to get food to break fast.
A man approached us seeking $1 for his broken down car. Hamza began talking to him as I attended to my wife through the phone. When I returned, I found that a discussion about God, Free Will and Jesus was in full swing. “Why would God allow a shooting in Colorado?” “Jesus would never hurt anyone.” “Why would God even put the tree there to tempt Adam and Eve?” “I do not want to be with God, I want to be with Jesus.” We sensed a need to defend our Lord. In doing so, we realized a debate would do no good. This man needed guidance.
We quickly explained the difference between the Angels, Jinn and Man. We broke down free will, using an example of him eating cracker jacks versus everything else in the store. Finally we touched on the Creator versus the creation. His facial expression and body language stood their ground but, his heart was growing softer and softer. Two hours into the discussion and his willingness to insist on back and forth, we found a perfectly logical solution. We gave him money with the full intention that he buys a Qur’an . Now he was faced with a choice. Buy a Qur’an and ﬁnd the answers to all he was in search of or use the money for something else and prove to himself that man has free will to do right or wrong and it is not God, but it’s the person him/herself. He was overcome with tears when he sensed his reality. May Allah guide him and give him peace in this life and the next. Ameen.
We had limited time to hang out with our brothers because they got out of meetings late and had practice early. We talked about college life, football and Islam. They are the only three known Muslims on campus. We talked about how much Barakah they could receive for establishing the ﬁrst Muslim Student Association (MSA) or even better, the ﬁrst Masjid in Silver City, NM. If there is anyone out there that would love to help out in this wonderful effort please contact us (Team@Abdullahbros.com).
As an older brother you become an instant advisor to your younger siblings. With three of his elder siblings in the room, Esa took the opportunity to ask our thoughts on ending his football career. We all were in agreement that if he no longer had the love, the passion, the enjoyment to play the sport, then he should turn his focus to something else. Seeing two of your older brothers successful in college, then professionally, can put unwanted pressure on the younger brothers. He was relieved that we were on his side and supportive of his decision. Now he can focus on beneﬁtting the world in a different ﬁeld. The time spent with our younger brothers was brief but, very rewarding.
Hamza has done a few giveaways while playing with the Arizona Cardinals. Today was no different as he invited Non-Muslims (or non fasting persons) to come to Munchie’s and get a free meal. Awaiting our arrival was also Bob Holtzman of ESPN. He decided he wanted to tag along for the last two days and do a story on Ramadan. As people poured into Munchies, we had great conversation, met new people, took pictures and raised awareness about Islam.
We headed to the Masjid on the campus of Arizona State University. We ran into a Native American brother who became Muslim in 2009. Alcoholism and drugs riddled his life. He found guidance and turned his life around. The camera crew from ESPN turned the Mussala into a studio. Bob interviewed Hamza and me shortly before Asr started. The crew stayed in the Masjid for our event as we held our usual discussion then Q&A. Simon, the director, had a blast in the Masjid. He enjoyed the hospitality of the Muslims and the brotherhood that people could have for one another.
My younger sister Aliyyah was able to swing by the Masjid for a quick second. She attends Grand Canyon University and plays volleyball. Just completing two practices in one day she was deﬁnitely looking forward to suhoor. Fasting and playing volleyball, wearing Hijab, and doing it smiling, is more then I could ever accomplish. I love my little sister and I thank her for inspiring me to be better at everything I do.
I thought about my position in the sporting world. Why is ESPN doing a story involving me? An average player with a minute following. My brother, the same. We’ve had decent careers. Nothing that makes you jump out of your seat. In fact, many people we meet say, “I have no idea who you are.” Yet we are being covered by a worldwide media outlet. It reafﬁrmed my belief that Islam will prevail. It doesn’t matter what color, shape or size the messenger is. The message will never change.
We later headed to ICEV in Chandler, Az and Hamza was very emotional in the Masjid he frequented most. In time a video may surface, maybe when ESPN ﬁnishes the story. But for now, read his blog entry if you haven’t done so already. The exhaustion of the tour was coming to an apex but the excitement of being with family in less than twenty-four hours trumped it. San Diego, CA was the last real stop on the list before our eventual return home.
Arriving in San Diego, CA we went to a Masjid frequented by my younger brother Shaybah. The Jumah Khutbah was everything I needed and it was great that ESPN was there to soak up the message as well. The Khateeb spoke of how the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was sent to all of Mankind. He wasn’t kind and respectful to Muslims but rude and disrespectful to non-Muslims. He was sent as a mercy to mankind. I later asked Simon what he thought and he said, “It was great. It was something that everyone needs to hear.” We’ve had ﬁve Jumahs this Ramadan. We were in Fontana, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, Toronto, ON, Atlanta, GA and San Diego, CA. Each Khutbah progressively got better and the best was saved for last.
Driving 10 hours to come listen to Hamza and I speak was Mufti Abdullah Nana. We were honored, to say the least. We were able to spend some quality time with the brothers and exchange in a more intimate Q&A session. I have millions of questions about Islamic ﬁnance and he deﬁnitely began to clear things up for me. We talked about ﬁnance, football and burgers. Alhamdulillah for the brotherhood in Islam.
Shaybah is heavily involved in the community in San Diego. He attends all the Masajids and lends a hand where he can. I’ve always looked up to my younger brother Shaybah when it came to Deen. He was always many steps ahead of me. He continues to set the bar high and give me a goal to accomplish. I wanted to be like my older brother Hamza in football and my younger brother Shaybah in Deen. Two great Role Models coming from within the house.
The area in which the Masjid was located wasn’t the best. A community supported by three people. I thought about the brother in Tempe, AZ who said they just raised $1 Million dollars for an expansion to the Masjid. It made me think again about sharing across the Ummah. What if $50K went to the Masjid in San Diego? Based on what they are surviving on now, that may be enough for a few years plus an expansion of the Masjid. I was thoroughly impressed with the Muslim Ummah in America. When the Masjid was burned down in Joplin, MO over $260K was raised in only a few days. Should it take this type of disaster for us to spend for the sake of our brothers and sisters? Do we know the difference between wants and needs? Are we true believers who truly want for our brother/sister what we want for ourselves?
I thought about One Ummah. Breaking down all walls: Race, Ethnicity, Social status, Economic status, Language Barriers and everything else we are plagued with. I am very optimistic that holding strong to the Qur’an and Sunnah will allow One Ummah to go from possibility, to reality.
The last night of Ramadan we attended an Iftar held by Dr. Sherman Jackson. He invited many people into his home and we had a good time. Later, he brought everyone in to say a short word before we all went on our way. A debate broke out. Emotion and passion spilled out like ink from a pen. One Ummah, bettering the state of the Muslims, progressive thinking, foreword thinking was on everyone’s mind. Great thoughts were ﬂung around the room before Dr. Jackson spoke and gave us a gem that sealed the deal for the entire trip.
He touched on the importance of laughter and having friends in Islam. Saying it was good to love and be loved by more than just those whom you are related to. He said, we must take notice how the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did not call those around him his followers. They were his companions. He ﷺ is the greatest human being to ever walk the face of the planet and he didn’t put anyone beneath him. We need to get over ourselves and stop erecting barriers between us and our fellow Muslim, our fellow sons of Adam (as). We need to become One Ummah. Who are we to feel more accomplished than our beloved Prophet of Allah ﷺ?
- Husain Abdullah