Finding a Community That is Good for Your Deen and Your Wallet

If you have been around long enough in the American-Muslim community and around those who are active one of the things you will find is people tend to move around a lot and most of this moving is done in search for the best community possible for them to live in as a Muslim.

 

Just the other day a brother in Oklahoma called me and told me he had to get out of that state because the Muslim community is too small and he needs to come to the East Coast where the community is more vibrant and he asked me what city was the best for his family.

 

Generally I believe that the heartland of American-Islam is from Northern Virginia to New York City and within that strip you will find the most active Muslim communities. California, Michigan and Chicago also have large numbers of Muslims but they are nowhere near as developed as the communities on the East Coast, although each of those places has certain good things about them.

 

For me I believe that Northern VA represents the most developed Muslim community in America (and I can extend that to the Maryland suburbs) and they has the most to offer as for as schools, family activities, Islamic knowledge, activities, restaurants, stores, political organizations, gatherings, etc. So, initially I recommended that this brother move to Northern Virginia.

 

He is an African-American and from St. Louis and I know that Oklahoma, as nice as the people are there and as good as the Muslim community may be to some people, is too slow for that brother. His family would be a perfect fit in NoVA and he would love the fact that he can go to fajr at Dar al Hijrah and there is a large crowd, masha Allah. It was when I told him the economics of the situation that he shuttered. I told him for an apartment like he had in Oklahoma, which was 3 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms, which I am guessing he paid between $600 and $800 for, he would have to pay around $2,000 for in NoVA at least and more than likely would never be able to afford to by a house Islamically. We also quickly dispelled the myth “oh, but you make so much more on the coasts” which used to be true but that is no longer the case due to illegal immigration and is just a simple matter of supply and demand.

 

That is where our conversation ended but I have had many such conversations over the years with brothers from the Midwest and the South who live in small and very isolated Muslim communities and see the need to move to a bigger and better Muslim community and I have seen brothers go back and forth over the years, including myself, from community to community.

 

The problem lies in the fact that most of the American brothers, like myself, are used to paying between $300 and 700 for a place to live and we come to the East Coast and the rent is through the roof and that is just one of the many costs that rise. Combine that with the fact that while the immigrant Muslim communities on the EC are vibrant, the indigenous communities are numerous but just as strapped for cash as brothers everywhere else (they just have a little more knowledge and experience).

 

A part of growing up the way a lot if us do is that a lot of the money we make is informal and even if you get a good job it is normally through what the Arabs call wasta and when you leave your hometown you have left your wasta behind and unless you got something special to offer you are just another jibaro coming to the EC in search of the Muslims and most brothers have seen too many to pay you any mind as far as helping you. Nonetheless, brothers make these sacrifices all the time and when I talk to brothers in Wichita, KS or Birmingham, AL I can almost bet I am going to hear “yea akh, I’m thinking of moving to Philly” or something like that.

 

It is natural, of course, because a Muslim in a place like St. Louis can feel lonely. The community is built for older Desis, older followers of WD, and a mixture of refugees and there is no vibrancy and no youth. The two organizations that dominate the young adult Muslims and have brought excitement to them in America, az-Zaytuna which is more geared towards Sufis, and al-Maghrib which is more geared towards a non-madhabist crowd, have basically no presence in St. Louis ( if I am wrong someone please correct me but I know for a fact there is no al-Maghrib). Even at the height of the Salafi Dawah there were only a handful of Salafis in St. Louis, there is no active chapter of MAS ( which is needed), and I cant think of any Sufi tariqa that is active locally. Today you still have what you have always had in St. Louis; a few Salafis, a few Tabliquees, a handful of guys involved with ICNA, and that is about it. You have a good CAIR chapter and Sheikh Nur, but that is not enough to sustain a community and keep the youth. If the young stay, their deen will suffer unless they have tremendous iman, and if the convert stays they will more than likely not feel fulfilled.

 

Many of the best leave and others stay and say they will be the ones who can revive a place like St. Louis and some of those brothers leave a few years down the line due to a sense of frustration.. Others do what they can and may Allah reward them. A lot of these brothers come running back home flat-broke too after getting hit hard by the high cost of living on the EC. These brothers, and I include myself in this and may Allah be the judge, are not that concerned about making money and are more interested in putting themselves in a vibrant community and contributing to the spreading of Islam in America, and many pay for that later on when they are older and broker.

 

The battle is between two realties; the one of deen and the one of money, and in an ideal situation the two would come together and they sometimes do and there are a lot of brothers who have successfully transplanted themselves. The key is finding that community that is good for your deen and your wallet. I love the Muslim community of NoVa (although I am not a fan of the endless strip malls, McMansions, and yuppie nature of the community-at-large), but economically it doesn’t work for me and for most of the brothers I have known going there over the years.

New York has a huge Muslim community, the biggest in America, but the community is too ethnic and while I love NYC and its history and vibe as a whole, I am not crazy about the Muslim community, and I am definitely not crazy about the outrageously high cost of living in an increasingly unequal city of the haves and have nots.

 

What is more important? Economics or deen or do you have to make that choice? I think that at different stages in your life it is natural to worry about things more than at other stages. If a brother has a big family it is a hard decision because if you raise your kids in one of these small communities it is hard to keep them on the deen at the same time you can’t take them someplace where they will be starving.

Monday Mailbag

I read in one of your posts that you understand/speak some Arabic. How did you accomplish that? Through books or socializing with Arabs/Arabic speakers?

 

I took some formal Arabic classes with a couple of teachers and briefly studied at the Mahad in Virginia. However, having said that, my Arabic is not great and I have learned much more just from talking to people than I did in classes as I am not a fan of the classroom setting.

 
You are critical of immigrant Muslims especially of Desis and Arabs so what’s more better or less difficult? Socializing with Desis or Arabs.  I don’t have much experience and want to be in an environment that is helpful. My very limited experience is with Desis but I haven’t found as much issues with them as you have written but I’ll in the future(??). Who’s more religious in your view and who’s more moderate or are they all the same?

 

Well who is more religious Desis or Arabs is a question that is subjective. Amongst both groups you will find the good and the bad. Over the years I have attended Masjids where both groups dominate. As far as who I get along with better I would say I get along much better with Arabs, but that is just me, and other people may get along better with Desis. Arab Masjids tend to be a little more traditional and conservative like I like and the Arab brothers like to sit around and laugh and tell stories and as a big BS’er I guess that is right up my alley. I have trouble connecting to a lot of Desi immigrants as I find most either have no sense of humor or one that is much different from mine and the second-generation Desis tend to be yuppies. Religiously they also tend to be either strict Hanafi or Tablique Masjids in the cities or very liberal  upscale social club oriented places in suburbia. The concept of a “moderate Muslim” is also one I reject and when I think of the word moderate I think of it being used in phrases such as “moderate drinker” or “moderate smoker” and it is always used to describe something bad. It is saying; Islam is something negative, but don’t worry I am only moderately Muslim.

 

I know you want Americans to marry Americans but let’s say I don’t want to marry a “white”. What would be your recommendation about which immigrant community to choose a wife from?

 

I am not saying that Americans should always marry Americans; but I am saying that if we want a healthy and vibrant American-Muslim community we have to stop thinking of Muslim sisters born and raised here, or who have lived here for a number of years, as less valuable than Muslim women from back home. If you don’t want to marry a white Muslim sister that is fine, although I will say that there are a lot of very sincere white Muslim sisters out there, but maybe your dislike for marrying a white woman is physical or cultural which is understandable and comes down to taste (myself I cant really envision a scenario of ever being married to a white woman). The American-Muslim community is very diverse and you have African-American, Arab, Desi, Latina, Asian and all sorts of Muslimas to choose from right here without raiding a village in Morocco or an island in Indonesia.

 

To further clarify my position I think it is healthy for Muslims studying overseas to marry a woman they met there or for American-Muslims who have some genuine connection, whether it be religious or shared interests, with a brother or sister from overseas; but almost all the brothers I know married to sisters from overseas, who did not live in the West prior to the marriage, are not happy, and believe me this is an issue I have thought long and hard about as I have had the opportunity to raid a Moroccan village myself. Finding a Muslim wife, or husband, in America is not easy (trust me, I know, and this is something I am thinking about daily).  

 

What is the most rewarding/challenging thing about being Muslim?

 

The most rewarding thing about being Muslim is that Allah has promised the believer paradise and I am comforted by the blessing of the knowledge of the Oneness of Allah (Islamic Monotheism) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). A further blessing is that I live on the frontiers of Islam and here in America we are opening a new chapter in the history of the Ummah and there is an excitement in the air. The challenge is I live in America and in this nation there is a tremendous hostility and hatred towards Islam and Muslims from a lot of people and I feel at this point in time a Muslim is basically a second-class citizen under the law in this country. The challenge is to try and clear the image my fellow Americans have towards Muslims.

 

How do you (personally) “keep it real” why simultaneously maintaining a sense of taqwa?

 

I can only be me, so I am not sure I even consciously think about something like that.

 

Do you think that African-American women are generally emasculating? If so why?

 

Yes, in general, and I feel this is because the majority of black women have had to be the mother and father and have had to take on a lot of that manly toughness and have had to change out of necessity for survival.

Brothers, Family, and The Struggles of Our Lives

There have been times in my life as a Muslim when I have had low iman and when I have had high iman.

 

My iman has been high when I have been around the brothers and been close to the Masjid. There may be Muslims out there who do not need the comfort of the community but I am not one of them. I need the brothers and they help my iman increase.

 

It is not just that it is good to go to the Masjid because there are more blessings in praying with the group, or that it is good to be around people that mention the name of Allah and try and practice the Sunnah even if they are not perfect; but it is about being with people who have the same struggle that you do and generally the same world view.

 

When you go to a large Masjid you give everyone the greetings and you are all brothers. Some may not like you because of your background or you views of issues but in general we are all brothers. However, within this Masjid, brothers who have similar interests learn to click. In my younger days I clicked with brothers who shared similar religious views and an attraction to the Salafi Dawah in some stages or political Islam in other stages; but today I would rather hang out with a brother who wants to come over and watch the fight or the game or go to the gym together and really don’t care if they share my views as long as we are on the same team.

 

In past years I was with brothers who were interested in impressing me with how much Arabic they knew, how many hadith they had memorized, how many suras they knew, and those were all good things; but outside of that we never really got to know one another. Like Tariq Nelson has stated before these were brothers I saw everyday and I didn’t know anything about heir parents, siblings, children or wives. When they wanted to be real, and not put on some act, they hung around either non-Muslim friends or family.

 

That is no longer the case with me. Today I hang out with brothers who are real. We are honest with each other about our virtues and our faults. They know not to invite me to a class on the Fiqh of Janazah on fight night and I know not to invite them to a lecture on Muslims in Rwanda during the NBA Finals. It is not that we are not interested, we are, but we are no longer robots.

 

In the past I think we lost our humanity. We walked around in a constant state of agitation mad at one thing or another thinking all Muslims were in a lesser state than us and all non-Muslims wanted to kill us. We had big chips on our soldiers, especially the American brothers and did more frowning than laughing.

 

These days I know that some Muslims are bonkers and many non-Muslims hate all Muslims (especially on the political-right); but that is not what I walk around thinking about all day. I am more concerned with family, making money, life after a failed nikah, pursuing my life goals, etc. Through all of this I can implement Islam in my life. Back in the day when we talked Islam we didn’t walk Islam, because the deen is more than about quotes and memorization. Our lives were going nowhere fast and falling apart and we didn’t care because we could hang out with the brothers and the Muslim community was all that mattered, and then the Muslim community fell apart because we fell apart. Sometimes we looked for salvation from our failed lives in one glorious act; but the life of a believer is about your heart and soul and not just a commitment to some cause.

 

What am I saying? I guess it comes back to the fact that I need the brothers, especially when the family situation goes sour, and I am weak. My imam is fragile. That is why it is important to be married to a sister who is serious about the deen; because with no Muslim family, scattered Muslim friends, and living in a society often hostile to Muslims, the believer can be weak.

 

When we are weak we can run to what we know and what you run to depends on your background. When you come from where I do what you run to is not good and that is why I can’t afford to be alone. I need the reminders; I need the Muslims, at all times.

 

Sometimes thoughts like this make me think about hijrah, and in the right circumstance economically it would not be bad, but I also have visions of beating down a group of mutawwa in Saudi Arabia, waking up in the middle of the night broke and overheated in Pakistan, asking Turks if they could stop telling me tales of their greatness, and asking Indonesians if they could please speak louder. In all honesty I also think about rotting in some jail in a Muslim country on trumped-up charges per the request of Uncle Sam because of past associations.

 

At the end of the day, in my financial situation, America is where I am going to be and America is where I love even if I have a troubled relationship with her and am looked at as less than American by a sizable percentage of Americans. So, I am just going to have to deal with it; but what is important to me, more than anything else, is maintaining my deen and as a socio-political minded Muslim engaging in the debates of our time helps me maintain my deen and it draws me closer to my brothers and sisters.

Questions From a “Shahid” Wanna-be and My Response to Death Threats

Over the weekend I was emailed by an aspiring “shahid” and the author of a blog that glorifies every act of any self-proclaimed jihadist no matter how sadistic and un-Islamic. I am not sure if this person lives in America or not, if they do then they are a pure hypocrite because how can they live and benefit from a land that they profess to hate? If they came here to America and were not born here did they not stand in line to get a visa because of some shortcomings in the land they came from?

 

The person who emailed me these questions is a Muslim brother by the name of Samir Khan. By his name I can say his origins are either from India, Pakistan, or Afghanistan. If he is such a jihadist he should find more joy in living there than in the West.

The Questions and His Intro Follow:

How are you?

I have been getting some feedback from a few brothers that you hold and spread some views which can be considered dangerous to your Akhira.

Therefore, for the sake of Allah, from brother to brother, I would like to ask a few simple questions just to get your views (and perhaps, remove the brothers’ misconceptions).

I ask these questions just to fully understand your views before having an understanding that could be totally against what you believe.

Here are the questions from Samir Khan:

1. Generally speaking (no specifics), do you support the American Army in its war against those who call themselves the Mujaahideen?

 

I do not support the efforts of the United States to conquer any Muslim lands or to take non-defensive measures in the Muslim World against perceived threats. I do think that America, like any other nation, has the right to defend itself against legitimate targets, and Iraq is not such a target. As far as the issue regarding the mujahudeen, who are the mujahudeen? Any group of Muslims who get together and give themselves that title and proceeds to commit heinous acts?


2. Regarding the specifics of the above question, do you wish to see the destruction of certain Jihad groups (i.e., Islamic State of ‘Iraq, Taliban etc.)?

The Taliban brought nothing but misery to the Afghan people after a hopeful beginning that brought people together of different tribes. Where they able to feed the people? Or did the Taliban talk tough and then depend on UN handouts and NGO’s to feed the people in their glorious Islamic State?

Did they create a generation of more educated Muslim women who could teach their children or did they spread illiteracy amongst women of the Islamic and secular? As far as the “Islamic State of Iraq” is concerned I do not know the difference between them and the thousand other groups on Iraq. In general, I think that the Iraqi people have a right to defend themselves, however no matter what your grievance is you do not have the right to kill people indiscriminately and cut peoples heads off just because of the country they are from.

What if I was to cut the head off of the first Desi I saw because I was tired of riding on subway cars that smelled like curry and funk combined? Would I then be a mujahid? I can see little difference between that and the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Margaret Hassan.

3. Do you wish to see the establishment of the Islamic State or do you wish that it never comes (or that it is destroyed)?

 

There would have to be an Islamic State before it is destroyed; but, in general, I support Islamic parties who use moral and ethical means to seek power in Muslim countries as long as they are not of the Taliban ilk or are murderous in their efforts and have a clue as to what it means to live in the modern world and are willing to respect minorities and work with those who disagree with them .

4. According to Shari’ah, generally speaking, who is not an “innocent civilian”?

 

The answer to this is obvious; combatants and their commanders

5. To slightly expand on the above question, if the American Army was to be considered Muhaaribeen (those who are at war with us) in the Shari’ah, would you still consider them your “fellow citizens”?

 

The shariah opinion would have nothing to do with their citizenship status or mine. If you are an American and you wish for the deaths of American soldiers you need to leave the country because your existence here constitutes hypocrisy and ignorance; but maybe there is a reason people would rather sit in the AC and comfort of America then go back to the failed-states their families came from.

6. Finally, when does Jihad on the battlefield become fard ‘ayn?

 

That is a theoretical question that I do not have the answer. I do know this, we can have 100 million more so-called “mujahudeen” and the majority of the Muslim World would still be uneducated and live in poverty. I suggest that instead of running away to play Rambo that young men try and change the cultures of their societies so that the majority of the Muslims no longer live in poverty and the Muslim countries are not full of classism, corruption, racism, tribalism, and failed economic and educational systems.

 

Death Threats to Tariq Nelson and Myself

It has come to my attention that some Muslim fanatic has made a threat against the life of my good friend Tariq Nelson. This comes a day after receiving word that there has been a threat against my life from a camp of deranged Muslims. Regarding Brother Tariq I make duah for him and his family and completely agree with him that he is within his right to take such a threat to law-enforcement as we are not gangsters but law-abiding Muslims.

As for me, if the source of the threat is identified I will also report it to law-enforcement, if it is not, and Allah forbid, some idiot comes for me, I will just say this; if you come for me come correct or it will not be me who is having a jannazah and it will be your mother who cries and not mine.

Desi Nationalism, Hanafi Purists and the Ouster of an American-Muslim Pioneer

I want to tell you about a man that I have known since I was a teenager. His name is Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, or just Sheikh Nur as most people call him, and he is the former Imam or the Islamic Center in St. Louis and later the imam of the Dar al Islam Masjid.

Sheikh Nur is originally from Sudan, and is a black man who is a poster child for the reason the conflict in Sudan is not racial in nature. He came from a traditional Maliki family in Sudan and later studied Islam in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with some of the leading scholars of our age including the late Sheikh Ibn Baz.

As a young man, in the mid 1970’s Sheikh Nur was offered the opportunity to come to Chicago and work with Imam Warith-deen Muhammad in order to help the community with the transition from the teachings of his father to that of mainstream Sunni Islam.

The sheikh will tell you this was not easy work as there was a cultural barrier between him and the African-American brothers and sisters he was working with and it was hard work easing them away from the teachings they had been so loyally dedicated to for years. However, he went as far as it was meant for him to go at this historic time on the Islamic frontier and then he moved on to a more traditional role of an immigrant imam and eventually ended up in St. Louis in the late 1980’s.

In St. Louis Sheikh Nur through his soft-spoken style of bringing people together was able to lead a congregation of virtually no Sudanese and to get along with a Shura full of Desi Doctors and businessman. He conformed to their way of doing things and always accommodated Hanafis when he could. At the same time he always had time for the American brothers and made a special effort to be available to all of those embracing Islam and couples in need of marriage counseling.

Much to the chagrin of the Salafi brothers, including myself at the time, Sheikh Nur put his full effort into participating in interfaith dialogue with Christmas, Jews and others during the 1990’s and had established ties with many of the leading clergy in the St. Louis-area. It was not until after 9-11 when I saw the wisdom of all this, as opposed to the isolationist mentalities of other Muslims, when Christian ministers and rabbis came to the Masjid, without being asked, in order to make a statement of solidarity with their fellow believers.

During this period of time Sheikh Nur also reached out to the local political establishment and media along with others at the Islamic Foundation and as a result St. Louis Muslims have not been vilified in the way that Muslims in some other American communities have. On a national level he was able to become the President of ISNA and the Director of the Fiqh Council of North America.

By any measure this man had done a good job in the position that he held over the years and was performing his job in much the same way in 2006 as he had been doing all along. As had been the case in previous years Sheikh Nur was on the attack from two fronts: the ultra-liberal progressive Muslims who wanted him to dispense with any notion of adhering to the Sunnah and those Muslims who felt he was too liberal and needed to be more hardline and cease with all the accommodations and interfaith stuff. From where I sit if you have both sides mad at you that means you are doing some things right.

There was another element in the air that led to the end for Sheikh Nur in his position. Over all those years Sheikh Nur was the imam of this mostly Desi and Arab Masjid I always saw his presence as a great statement to the diversity of Islam and the fact that in Islam we are all brothers. The Desis always had the power, but they always looked up to Sheikh Nur and gave him the utmost respect, unfortunately though there were some who were always lukewarm to the idea of having a Sudanese non-Hanafi imam.

Last year somehow the forces that opposed Sheikh Nur, almost all of them Desi and specifically Pakistani, were able to finally push him out. Who did they replace him with? A young Desi imam with virtually no experience who is a strict Hanafi and Tabliquee who has stated that he will not be continuing the work that Sheikh Nur has done in the community and has left that for other people (and there are many in St. Louis such as Kamal Yasin and Sheila Musaji who are more than happy to do the work needed).

He also left the practice of Sheikh Nur of not imposing his views on other people and this new imam, although much less educated than Sheikh Nur, sees the need to try and impose his views on other Muslims when that is not practical in such a diverse masjid.

When a brother asked me the other day what I thought of the decision last year to oust Sheikh Nur for the young kid who is now the imam I told him “ they got rid of a Grade-A Steak and replaced it with a day old White Castle cheeseburger” and I meant it.

This is how we treat our pioneers in the American-Muslim community.

( Note: I did not speak to Sheikh Nur before writing this and prior to this weekend of 5-12 I had not seen him for a year and I just happened to run into him after attending a lecture by Amr Khaled . These are my views and do not reflect the views of Sheikh Nur. )

Why Do Converts Get Married at a Younger Age than Born Muslims

I was searching the internet yesterday and was researching the topic of marriage and the Muslim family and was brought to a forum where the question was asked “why do reverts get married at younger ages than born Muslims?”

 

The people in the discussion form had different theories, some of them on point and some of them off, one of those that I agreed with is that in the case of the sisters, especially if they are good looking, the brothers swarm on them like bees on honey as soon as they step foot in the Masjid.

 

What was not mentioned is something that is fairly obvious to me; most of us converts were sexually active from a young age and do not look forward to going any length of time without sex.

 

When a young American man takes shahadah, who like me had been sexually active since the age of 12, the biggest Fitnah we have is remaining celebrant because this is something we have not done since puberty, and most of the convert brothers I know never touched pork or alcohol but they got some on the down low after they were Muslim and before they were married, the Fitnah is that big for the brothers. I cannot speak for the sisters in this matter, but I do know this; it is unrealistic to expect women who have been promiscuous and flirtatious in the jahiliya to all of the sudden start acting like they are uncomfortable with sex and being around men ( unless they are just putting an act on) and I am sure that desire for a man, which has been met before, does not leave them after becoming Muslim.

 

What kind of an environment does this create at Masjids full of converts? Masjids where all the brothers are sitting around talking about how they got to get married or they are going to explode and asking everybody they know if they know of any sisters looking to get married, and sisters sitting around saying “girl, you better not marry him”. I know, because I have been there myself. With all of the rush to get married these Muslims often end-up in stranger marriages or just the first warm body to come along no matter how incompatible the other person may be out of a sense of desperation (been there too).

 

Now, while I encourage Muslims getting married young who were born Muslims, I have seen too many problems to encourage people getting married who are brand new Muslims. The new Muslim needs a time to Islamize their selves and their lifestyle before making that leap and the Muslim community should help them in this effort.

 

Most large Masjids have classes for new Muslims, or classes dealing with basic Islamic education that cater to converts, and it is not uncommon for me to hear brothers telling me they attend such classes looking for women, and they say this in a whispering tone. I do not see the need for a whisper.

 

Getting Muslims together for marriage should be one of the main purposes of such classes. Brothers and sisters should not be embarrassed if that is one of the reasons they have for attending such functions where they know they will meet fellow Muslims of a similar interest. Such a class can be the foundation, and the next step can be if the teachers see two that may be interested in one another, or two they feel are suited for one another, to transfer them to a separate class that should be created on Islamic marriage for couple interested in getting married.

 

If we are going to have such classes in the Masjid shouldn’t this be one of them? If marriage is half the deen doesn’t the believer need some instruction in this matter? These classes could be taught in a two-fold way, the first half being the fiqh and the Sunnah of marriage, and the second half being married Muslim couples who are happy in their marriages coming in and giving practical advice- and after 15 years of being a Muslim I am still in need of such a class!

 

Or do we just wait until the couple is getting ready to have a divorce to have a counseling session or when these brothers and sisters are going crazy because they can’t find a spouse to chastise them when we have done nothing to help them?

“Open Up Your Abaya and Let Me See What You Got Girl”

When I was in my pre-teen and young teenager I attended an Evangelical Baptist Church that had a very large youth group of maybe something like 300 kids. Amongst those kids some were very devout and into Christianity and studied the Bible in their free time or other religious books and a few even planned to enter the ministry. Many more, however, were like me in that they didn’t really want to be at the church and were basically there to pacify our families.

 

Of the kids who didn’t like to be at church on a weekday night when they could be hanging out with friends they often found other activities at church to entertain themselves other than reading the Bible or sitting through classes and more often than not this dealt with boys and girls. The youth minister would give staunch warnings against listening to secular music and pre-marital sex and we had a lot of kids who would be outside listening to their walkmans or finding places in the large church or in the parking lot to fool around.

 

There was one time when I saw a teenage girl performing oral sex on a boy in the parking lot, another time a couple were caught having sex at a church outing, and a few cases of youth group members ending up pregnant by other members. Others who were more devout but mischievous at the same time vowed to not have sex before they were married but would perform lesser sexual acts upon another. Both of these things are far from the ideas that the parents had when they sent them to church.

 

When I became Muslim I naively thought that was something that did not occur in the Muslim community and especially not amongst our youth and of course I was wrong. Even in the Muslim World, in places such as Egypt, there is a phenomenon of young people having anal and oral sex while they are single so that they remain virgins until they get married.

 

Today in the American-Muslim community we have youth groups at most of the large Masjids, weekend activities for the kids, Muslim schools, and the like. Just as the case with the church I was in a lot of the kids want to be there, and our devout in their religion, and there are a lot of other kids who do not want to be there and are dragged there by their parents and there is no place on earth they would rather be less than the Masjid.

 

So what do these kids do when they get to the Masjid? Do these kids who don’t even want to be there say, “heck, since I am already here I might as well memorize a few hadith and an ayah or two while I’m at it”? No, many behave as the kids in the church group did.

 

There is a prominent Masjid out there, which has one of the most active youth groups in the country, which currently has a scandal involving a young African-American boy and several Arab girls. For whatever reason, maybe they watch 106th and Park all day at home before coming to the Masjid and are dying to have a back guy and cant find one anywhere else, all of the girls at the Masjid have went crazy over this one guy.

So he has been fooling around with them in secluded parts of the Masjid on a regular basis and it has just now come to light. For him it is simple, he is a young boy with hormones raging and he will do as much as he will be allowed to but for the girls it is a little more complicated. Why would all of these girls want to share the same boy, why are they so unsophisticated as to just let him haul them off to different parts of the building and do what he has to do?

 

The case that apparently got this kid busted was when he let his little Arab friend, who had about as much chance of getting some or seeing some as he did going to Mars, hide in the closet and watch him tell an Arab girl “Open Up Your Abaya and Let Me See What You Got Girl” and she dutifully complied. Incidentally, this is the same Masjid where one of the girls was videoed having sex in the public school bathroom which caused a minor scandal in the community.

 

 

In this I am reminded of girls who are protected and sheltered by their parents, and there is a benefit to what the parents do in this regard, but there is also a drawback. The drawback is that when the girls do fool around they do not know the rules to the game and so they are often taken advantage of. I saw this when I was a teenager when you would have girls from good families come around the way and get passed around like generic cigarettes and let guys do all kinds of crazy stuff and they didn’t know any better and thought this was how it was done. The girl who was street-wise, and who knew the game, messed around but she had a level of sophistication to the game and the power of manipulation.

 

What is my point? There are a few I guess; but one is this, we are not immune from any of the other problems and behaviors in society, that is a fact