Aman Ali of 30 Mosques in 30 days visited the MPSN house for an informative, energetic, and fun afternoon class on Sunday July 1st. Although it was a Sunday and the Euro Final Cup game was keeping my mind busy, I was able to enjoy our class a lot and the company of our very personable guest.
Apart from the fact that we really enjoyed the company of our guest, we were also able to learn interesting and important aspects about the American Muslim community.
One thing that Aman Ali said and struck me the most was the motto of an islamic center in California called the Ta’leef Collective, their motto is “Come As You Are to Islam As It Is”. To understand the motto fully, we need to think about it from two aspects: diversity and genuineness.
Unfortunately, along the 1400 years since the message of Islam was sent to prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), we have complicated our understanding of Islam and have added our own cultural needs to it. To be a “pious muslim”, you need to look a certain way and behave a certain way, and if you don’t then you are not pious. We have made it harder for people to accept Islam as it is because we require them to be someone other than who they are. For example, we would judge someone who has tattoos and deter them from the muslim community and Islam, but we have judged them before we know what is inside their hearts and how much Iman they have. We have used the way they look as a measurement of their Iman, which is something very common regarding sisters and hijab. Allah has created us different, not just in color and looks but also in our thoughts, approaches and beliefs in Islam and other issues as well. Therefore, we need to embrace our diversity not eradicate it.
Secondly, Islam is a simple, straightforward religion. However, we have added so much cultural package to it. For example, one of the stories that Aman Ali told us from his travels around the country and while visiting Ta’leef Collective in LA was about this young man that he met during his visit and was able to talk to him for few hours into the night, after a while the young man came back to Aman Ali and asked him to be his best man in his wedding that they had in the parking garage and later had the reception at Taco Bell. I loved that story a lot because it shows how genuine that was to Islam. It is very hard for young people nowadays to finish half of their deen because parents and couples themselves make marriage a very long, complicated, and expensive task. We need to sit down one day and think about how far and extreme we have taken the matters of our religion and try to find our balance again inshAllah.
That was my reflection from Aman Ali’s visit to the MPSN house. I hope you enjoyed it, thought about the issues discussed, and most importantly I hope that we all start coming as we are to Islam as it is.