By Amina Darwish
“Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.” The beautiful sound of the athan filled the room. The muathin’s voice is calm, soothing, and full of conviction. The carpet was covered in tiny erasers, pieces of a pen, and other random objects that served as proof of the 50 children that had just left the room. We sat silently and listened til the end of the athan. We then learned that the imam that was calling people to prayer was actually a single father of three children. He lost one of his legs fleeing a war zone. And after spending countless days in the hospital, he spend countless other days fighting with Child Protective Services to be able to father his own children. Then one blessed day, he found a community and a community found him.
We all have thoughts and dreams of what a community should look like. People should know each other, love each other, and support each other. There was a point when I had honestly lost hope and wondered if such a community was even possible. Last Sunday, Allah blessed our class by introducing us to the community of this imam. Maruf is a masjid in North Dallas that serves the refugee community. It has won awards for their system of settling refugees within 4 months and helping them regain their independence, their sense of self, and the dignity that was lost fleeing from a war zone.
It was born out of a vision of keeping the Ummah of Mohammed (pbuh) together. The idea is so simple, yet so profound. Anyone from around the world is my brother or sister in faith, or my equal in humanity. The leaders of the community are humble, compassionate, and efficient. There were no quibbles about the gender of the board members; there was just a team that loved the Prophet (pbuh) and sought to honor him by living out his legacy of compassion.
Then we met a 13 year old boy. He was a hafidh with dreams of becoming an imam. His love of learning was obvious. His eyes twinkled when he talked about completing his memorization at age 10. He smiled with pride as any boy his age would. If we hadn’t been told, we would have never known that this boy was an orphan. That the only family he knew was the other sole survivor from his village that had embraced him and asked him to call him dad. Despite his loss, he was proud. He was excited about life. He too had found a community and a new home.
Such is the community that returned my faith one day by witnessing a people that loved each other like the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). With all the atrocities in Burma, Syria, Somalia, and countless other countries, a feeling of helplessness is very overwhelming except that now, we can actually help. The actions could be as simple as packing supplies, but the feelings of love and compassion behind every action were as bright as day. The light of compassion and service to others would be enough to soften even the hardest heart. Allah says in Surah Hadeed,
“Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.”
Whenever we leave this world, our deeds will be the legacy that defined our lives. Hopefully our legacy will be one of compassion in the footsteps of the one who was sent as a mercy to the worlds. May Allah bless all those that do good for His sake. Ameen.