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.

Advertisements

67 thoughts on “Finding a Community That is Good for Your Deen and Your Wallet

  1. TX has a large Muslim community, especially Houston and then Dallas area. I think wherever u go u r gonna find a set of problems. your friend would find problems even if he emigrated to Mecca or Madinah. I think we have to make the best of where you are and not much more you can do than that.

    you meant to write jibaro

  2. I might add to the list above, some of the cities below the Northern Virginia area that are still on the east coast. Some communities in North and South Carolina and Georgia are heavily populated with various groups of muslims some of whom one could easily find someone to bond with. Consider yourselves lucky you didn’t encounter the “salafis” dawah in your town.

  3. There are some big communities in Texas, but they are mostly immigrant dominated and a lot of Americans, including myself, are not to keen on moving to Texas because of cultural issues. ATL is the Black Mecca as they call it but I don’t find too many Muslims wanting to move their for deen now that Imam Jamil is gone, and as far as the Carolinas I think that is a part of a greater trend bigger than the Muslim community and that is the Northeast moving south all the way down highway 95 getting away from the high cost of living. I think it is important for Muslims to be in communtties where they can prosper, especially converts, but you have to eat first. Thanks for the Spanish spell-check BTW sister

  4. The issue is ‘paper’ (a degree or skill). If you have that ‘paper’, you can live just about anywhere you want and not have to worry about it. On the higher end of the pay scale, the pay is more on the East Coast because those jobs don’t exist in large numbers in rust belt and southern cities except Dallas, ATL and Houston.

    Philadelphia’s cost of living is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the region, there are lots of converts and a vibrant community. But you have to like an urban environment and a lot of Muslims in America don’t like Philly’s urban-ness

  5. As-salamu`alaikum Umar,

    Many thanks for the link to the AlMaghrib Institute. Does anyone know if their scholars speak/teach in the U.K?

  6. My dh and I were discussing this the other day. It would seem that to merely survive in the U.S now both mother and father would have to work.

    I am from Chicago and there are Muslims everyone, but the majority are upon misguidance. Also it is an urban area so many of the Muslims make their money from haram. I don’t know how it is now for the younger ones, but the deen was very weak when I was there. Had it not been for Islam I would have never left Chicago, I love it as a city. I miss many aspects of it, but as a Muslim I was strifled there and it is no place I would want to raise Muslim children or any children for that matter.

    I later moved to NOVA, Fairfax county at that and the cost of living was out of this world. I heard the prices o everthing increased since we left and I often wondered how we would be making it if we were still there.

  7. “abuahmad”,

    We consider ourselves lucky actually for having not encountered and joined these idiot Sufis:

    Salafis are (like we Arabs say) “taaj raasak” (the crown on top of your head), so respect the real Sunnis or shut up and join the “hadhrah” dance.

  8. hey Souf, actually this one is my favourite (with the dark, full-of-misguidance face of Kabbani, the zindeeq / heretic):

    I can’t help but wonder what Omar ibn al-Khattab would do to these dancers (notice the mixed gathering) with his ‘durrah’. I’m sure he’d smash their heads open with it.

    Like Ibn Khaldun, the famous historian said: “had it not been for Shi’ism, Sufism wouldn’t have existed – lawla at-tashayyu3, lamaa wujida at-tasaWOOF”:
    http://shia-show.blogspot.com/2007/04/lunatics.html
    (notice the striking similarity between the Sufis in the earlier videos and the Shia in the one on the last link).

  9. Umar,

    Sorry to go off topic and this is pretty gossipy stuff but did u hear about Dr. Laura’s son and his myspace page. That kid is a nutter apparently.

  10. Salaam Alaikum Brother Umar Lee:

    What a timely article. Ma’sha’Allah.

    My husband and I reside in the Northern Virginia area. If this area is considered a well developed Muslim community than that is really frightening to me.

    If you’re African American and you’re considering moving here, I’d stick with the Warith Deen Muhammad community for the sake of your personal sanity and your children’s self-esteem.

    Or find a Tariqat.

    Good luck!!

  11. Umar,
    Call me naive or idealistic, but I think it’s best to tough it out and try to revive your community. If you are young and single, or just someone without a family to take care of, why not stay? This is how communities are built right?

    Saggal,

    I believe Yasir Qadhi (who teaches the Aqeedah series at AlMaghrib) also teaches for “al Kauthar Institute” in the UK. Actually, he teaches Aqeedah with them as well. He also goes to the UK from time to time to do big events (GPU, etc). Search him on Youtube, you’ll find some stuff.

  12. As salaamu alaykum,

    Umar,

    Ma Sha Allah, I like your insight and willingness to discuss issues that some years ago were only discussed amongst groups at iftars. (Where is Jibreel?) Finding the right Muslim community for an individual is one of the hardest things one can do in America right now. After studying in Egypt and Mecca for some years, and witnessing the cultural aspects of my practice of Islam, I started to rethink my stance as a “Salafi”. I wanted to feel empowered as a Muslim, but at the same time as an American. I got tired of living the double life, Mohamed here or Maurice there, thobe in the Masjid, Khakis and tie at work. I am sure some of you can identify with this situation. I started to look long term regarding my life and the lives of my four daughters, and what was their future. Upon reading Dr. Jacksons, Islam and the Blackamerican, it became clear that there is no need to live the double life, rather lead the cultural life that I am accustom to, and weigh everything against the Book and the Sunnah. This lead me to want to find a Muslim community that would appeal to my cultural taste as well as feed me Islamically, however that community is not here yet. Being a Muslim Blackamerican that is also a professional, and would like to consider myself educated, I was not able to find a community that was a good balance of both. In America the immigrant community runs the majority of Masaajid in America, and those that are not run by them are either run by WD, some Salafi brothers who are to hard on the people, or some Sufis who are to easy on the people. There are others that run some Masjids but this is my perception.

    Your take on the NOVA is understandable, however for Blackamerican Muslims that want a place to feel at home, you can either frequent the WD Masaajid or traverse between communities never really feeling at home, which I think is very dangerous and causes Muslims to fall through the cracks so to speak.

    In NOVA there is the perception that there are a lot educational options, but this simply is not the case. There is only one High School in the area, and thats ISA. There are really only 5 Islamic schools maybe 7. However these schools are in large part immigrant/second generation run, for my Blackamerican daughters there are a number of culture issues that I faced at at least 3 of these schools, that included attacks on my daughters personalities, attacks on there grade of hair, attacks on skin color, and so on and so forth. So in a nutshell moving anywhere in America as a Muslim is a choice that require a lot of planning and foresight. I have been to at least 30 different communities in America from Durham, NC to Denver, Co. and to me its all the same, great place to visit wouldn’t want to live there.

    In an effort to fill this void myself along with a group of Muslims in the DC area have established a Masjid in PG County with the intention creating a place where Muslims of all walks can come and feel free, while learning the Quran and Sunnah at a pace that will lead to a strengthening of their relationship with Allah. While putting some of our cultural issues at the forefront, issues like, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, homelessness, under-education, wife-beating, child-abuse. These issues are relative to the my community and are relevant Islamic issues. MUSLIMS ARE GOING THROUGH THESE VERY SAME VICES. But how many of our Masaajid are dealing with these Cultural issues.

    Just my take,

    Mohamed

  13. I enjoyed your post Brother Mohamed.
    What is the name of the new Masjid you speak of?
    I’d like to hear more about it please and thank you.
    Salaam

    Guess nobody knows about NewHampshire!!

  14. Jazakallahu Khairan Sister Zaynab,

    Just found out Yasir Qadhi is teaching Aqeedah101 in London 9th-10th June and it’s sold out, lol, will just have to wait for his next course.

  15. I think its no coincidence that the center of American Muslim life as Umar described it is made up of: the US political capitol Washington DC and the US economic capitol New York City. Centers od power are normal attractors of immigrant populations. The economic power of DC is self-evident, but why would so many Muslims congregate in the political capitol? Because of the diplomatic community? Because of political ambitions to seek and accumulate power which is the obsession of the powerless?

    From what I remember of earlier times through history books and old timers, the North midwest like Clevelend, Pittsburgh, and other rust belt cities were hotbeds of Blackamerican Islam, typically in normal places where people just happened to live and not necessarily in the national centers of power.

  16. This is just my opinion and maybe I am completely out to lunch, but I think the size of the muslim community is really being overestimated here. The best muslim community I was part of was the smallest. And by small I mean there was probably only about 20 families who were active in the community, but I have never been part of such a close-knit community before or since. Sure, there were no scholars and there probably was no one who agreed with you on everything, but in todays world you can contact scholars without them living in your community and we got along because there was no other choice. A school might be nice too, but really other than a small group of muslims what do you need?

  17. WOW…someone said that a community “only” had 6-7 Islamic Schools??? What about those that only have one?

    Isa

    The problem with small communities really come into play when you have children that is why people leave them for larger communities. It is really frustrating and disenchanting to come to a small masjid for salaah and it is closed except on Friday and maybe Sunday. Rarely any activities other than a monthly picnic or cookout.

    It is good for esteem to see Muslims of all walks of life and in all sectors. Like Umar, I am looking for a large community for me and my family.

    Small communities may be good for people that are older and sort of looking to retire into quiet life and not looking for much Islamic activity and don’t care about his neighbors not knowing anything about Muslims or islam

  18. Jerrod,

    With a Muslim community of over 250,000 in the greater DC area, 5 to 7 speaks for itself and only one of those being a High School. We have a long way to go.

  19. Oh, and to answer your question Umar, I’d rather make good money first and then worry about a community. I learned the hard way growing up poor that no money equals no opportunity and no independence. With good money from a good education and solid integration into American economic life, I can then go where I choose and afford it! In my experience as a convert, Muslim communities have nothing valuable to offer in terms of jobs, so being integrated into my country’s economic life is the only sensible route to financial independence by which i can avoid the sticker shock of $2,000

    The paradox is that putting iman first really limits a person’s choices unless they are part of the immigrant Muslim job networkd (the wasta you talked about.) And even if the convert gets some wasta its not the Italian kind I’m used to where one person returns the equivalent to another. With some of the MidEastern wasta-ers, its not simply doing the same for them that they did for me, they expect total obedience, agreement with thier opinions, and support for thier causes; they expected me to act like a tribal client when that’s sure not the price I was willing to pay! And when its time for them to reciprocate, there’s all kinds of excuses and delays and “inshallahs”. Its too much trouble to depend on most Muslim communities for one’s financial well-being. Its much better to be as independent as possible so you can go where you please, say what you want, and learn and think what *you* think is appropriate, not what your new implicity tribal chief thinks you should.

  20. Umar,

    My wife and I have discussed this many times. You know we live in Northern Virginia. We are also a family where my wife, although university educated, does not work and stays at home to take care of the babies.

    It is really hard to make it in this area, especially on one income. The median incoming in Fairfax count, per household is $90,000 a year. If you make a lot less than that you most certainly would have to move to an inner city area in DC or out to Maryland where things are cheaper.

    For this reason we have thought about moving, but then we think “to where”? The Muslim community here is good, there are all of the shops and stores needed for us to get the good and food that we need. For my wife it is about deen, but it is also about being around friends that she has made here for years and having a big Arab community.

    I speak Arabic, but not enough to make her feel happy. It is natural to want to be able to be around people that speak your language. Not to mention my wife’s mother is here (although WAY out in the boonies) as are two of her three sisters.

    Someone talked about needing the “paper” or experience here in NOVA to make it, but even with that paper or experience on one income it is very hard.

    One can save money by not living in “the heart of things” like Falls Church or Alexandria, but then you have very long commutes depending on where you job is.

    We live far west, but I get stuck driving one hour each way for my job. When you think of parking costs of $125+ a month and gas costs of $160 just to get to and from work, then it starts to eat away at the financial savings of living so far away. Never mind the fact that I spend probably about 13-15 hours a week just commuting. This is time away from my family.

    It isnt getting any better here. I am going to go back to school to see if that wont help me some and my wife is probably going to start her Master’s Degree this fall or next spring, so when the boys get old enough to go to school she will have her masters and be able to work. Then things would be much easier for us.

    As to ISA (Islamic Saudi Academy) the only Islamic High School in the area, there goes the money again. The costs to non Saudi students, who go for free, is around $3,000 a year, and if you require transportation add another $1,500 a year.

    So it is about $5,000 a year to attend this school. Not many people who dont make a large amount of money can afford this. I work with a Sudanese brother who sends 5 children there. $25,000 a year just for his children’s high school.

    My step son went to ISA, free because he is a Saudi citizen, and it isnt all it is cracked up to be. If you are not a Saudi you can expect a different level of treatment by staff and the kids themselves.

    We have had several kids who graduated ISA and then university come through my place of employment, but even they say that the education is NOT what it used to be.

  21. As salaamu alaykum very good topic my wife an I thinking very hard on Texas inshallah ta’ala now in the TN area .Need a community on Quran an Sunnah.(According to the shcolars of old ahl Sunnah Wa Jammah)(not salafe) .And not a community that says we are in America so you can have only one wife.

  22. Mohamed,

    Salaam, how are you akh? Jibreel is in ATL.

    Zeinab,

    I hear you, but not everybody can do that, and for the converts it is especially hard to be in a weak community, and I think the culture of certain cities will mean that some will never have vibrant Muslim communtties and others will.

  23. Abu Sinan

    Move to Dallas/Plano area large muslim/arab community, including some Islamic Schools. Plano is one of the best schools in USA. 5 Bedroom House will cost about $250000.00. New Mosque and school being built called EPIC.

  24. Part of the problem arises from the communities themselves. Instead of real communities, we have more social clubs and cultural centers. Many immigrants create schools and community centers not with an interest in integrating, but instead to preserve their cultural values under the auspices of Islam. Many American Muslims moving to these centers in hopes that they can instill Islamic values and culture in their children. If we had truly functional communities, we’d invest in our future by purchasing property and creating opportunities for working class people who are the backbone of our country. This is why are communities are poorly integrated ethnically and social-economically. Many immigrant families balk at their children who want to go to business school or law school instead of chossing the engineering or doctor route. I don’t think half the South Asian engineers are that bright or innovative. They are often picking safe routes in pursuit of the American dream.

    Once upon a time in America, the dream was land ownership and entreprenuership. Now it is all about living in some bland strip mall, consuming things to make up for uninteresting and uninspired lives. I grew up in Silicon Valley (yes the land of the strip malls). It drew large amounts of immigrant Muslims during the Dot-com boom while the working class Black community in San Jose dwindled due to exorbitant housing prices (talking about a $1100 rent for a one bedroom in a crime ridden neighborhood). My first Eid was where there were 10 thousand Muslims attending the services at the Santa Clara Country Fairgrounds. The Muslim Community Association (MCA) is still large, jumuah has about 1,000 Muslims and there are two services. There are a few Islamic schools in the area. MCA is one of the most diverse communities (although there aren’t many Black families). It isn’t Sufi in orientation, they are strict, so strict that the fringy elements usually move up to more lax communities. MCA contrasts with some of the more ethnic communities in the Bay Area, like in Fremont where there was a split in the Afghan community over those who supported the Taliban in the late 90s and those who didn’t, and the Pakistani American communities, and the Yemeni mosque in San Francisco. The Bay Area has a lot of activities and vibrant communities, but is one of the most expensive places to live. Our communities do little to mitigate those costs.

    Some religious communities purchase land and provide low interest or no interest loans for members. Others buy property and rent it out. It just seems like No-Riba is for yuppy types, not working class Muslims. We could truly be transformative in this country, revitalizing urban areas and rural areas by drawing diverse people together to build real communities. That means bringing together people with all different types skills: architects, carpenters, electricians, painters, landscapers, plumbers, drivers, planners, directors, business men, civil engineers, decorators, designers, apprentices, etc.

    I think we have the resources (financially and manpower) to tackle a number of social problems. We could work on creating jobs and affordable housing, as opposed to the Muslim owned liquor stores that many of our Yemeni and Palestinian brothers operate in our hoods.

  25. Interesting subject… my family and I moved a year ago from a relatively large city with a big Muslim community, to a very small city mostly populated with seniors and hippies and a very small (practicing) Muslim community.

    My family has decided to take the activist approach: there’s only one masjid here, open for Jumu’ah and that’s it, absolutely no Islamic programs for adults or children. So, we started up a Madrasah – not a boring Sunday school, but a 5-days-a-week, 2-hours-after-school Madrasah – and we also now have weekly halaqas and monthly programs for the teen girls and women.

    So although the place isn’t quite “vibrant” yet, we’re working hard on it, and bi ithnillaah we at least all be able to survive deen-wise… I think the main thing is, we need people to be COMMITTED. A place may have a small group of Muslims, but if everyone gets together and is willing to make the EFFORT to be a strong community (however small), then al-Hamdulillaah we’ll be fine!

  26. Margari is right on the Desi/Arab engineers. I work in the engineering field, specifically the electrical/communications sector. I work with A LOT of people just like she described.

  27. A Palestinian brother at Dar al Hijrah who is an engineer for Boeing once told me to look at a group of Arab brothers at a meeting and asked me what they had in common. I asked and he told me ” they all have degrees in engineering but none of them works in the field”. It is as if they go to school just to say “masha’Allah, I am an engineer” and this is a normal attitude for someone who really didn’t want to go in that field but was pressured to do so by their families. How much passion can they have for a field they were pressured into pursuing by their parents?

    I was recently talking to a Desi brother from North Carolina about this who is in medical school and he told me that most of the kids he grew up with had been pressured into becoming doctors by their families and that so many of them had dropped out of med school because they just did not have the passion and others kept with it even though they wanted to be doing something else and I am wondering, what kind of doctors will they be? I can only guess these are not going to be the kinds of doctors who will go above and beyond the call of duty and excel in their field and try and help undeserved communities; but who will rather just try and get paid with a minimal effort towards helping others and the kind of doctor you hate going to see and they will not be the first, as there have been many American families who have pressured their kids into the field of medicine, of course the difference is that within the last two-generations parents have been told to let their kids choose what field they want to go into and some have taken that advice and others haven’t and besides, most American kids don’t listen to their parents anyway.

    Fortunately for this brother he really felt like medicine is his calling and I am sure he will make a fine doctor and he is the kind of brother who I think will see medicine as a higher calling.

  28. Is there a Muslim community in Boston? What is it like? According to the current issue of Islamica Magazine, the biggest mosque in the country is being built there and will be ready in time for Ramadhan, now that they’ve won the court case brought against them.

    My American employer (a large IT services company) has a large centre in Boston and my American colleagues often tell me that for the value of my small apartment in London, I could get a massive place over there. I have been tempted, not by the idea of a big house but the outdoors space and parks that I could have access to.

  29. Salaam’Alaikum

    So much of the fitnah in our communities comes from people stroking their ego and going crazy if you don’t do it too. It’s from people following shaytan and perverting the deent to fit their selfish desires. We forget that arrogance was the Test for Iblis. We forgt that arrogance is a test for us all. When people throw away ” it’s all about me” attitude and start caring about the future of all of our children it will get better. We share the universe with each other.

    For my family, this is a sense of urgency becuase we are parents. Based off, how things are going in the Northern Virginia area our child and subsquent children proubably won’t have any Muslim peers becuase we are the wrong skin color, wrong class, and wrong type of Muslim- we are wrong. That’s the message and it’s clear to me.

  30. Sister Azizah Hill

    I enjoyed reading your post sister.
    I have a question for you though.

    You mentioned the working class being intergrated or I guess rather reinstated in the Muslim community.

    You know what I don’t get sister? It’s like your danged if you do and your danged if you don’t.
    If your working class or even lower middle class you aren’t good enough. Yet these people will be backbiting you like a dog quick and in a hurry if you ask for zakkat? They don’t like what typ of work you do but they don’t want you asking for money?

    Now, I don’t believe in taking handouts, or free stuff, my parents raised me better but Sister I don’t feel these people are the least bit just.

    Another issue is for those who are actually educated and or middle class can’t fit into the middle class immigrant community unless we become self hating and assimilate?

    What’s a black Muslim to do?

  31. Don’t go to Dar Al Hijirah or Al Huda if you move to this area.

    I hate those masjids and I don’t wish those people anygood.

    No matter what you do, it’s never good enough. They are Allah’s elect, and everybody else is the scum.

    If your black, don’t ask for anything, -even dua its too much to ask for. Don’t expect to serve on any boards or administrations.

    Do expect to financially and politically support them though. You are unworthy as a person but not your vote or your pocket book.

    If your black just stay back!!

  32. Wassalam ‘alaykum MotherofAminata,

    I’m so saddened by what you write. Just remember that the actions of others can never impact our rizq which Allah taa’la alone grants. They may think that they do but they don’t, and never will.

  33. Mother of Aminata,

    aah, so I am not the only one who notices the behavior at Dar Us Salaam, though I love Safi Khan’s lectures on Purification of the Soul.

    Next time you’re in the area come hang with us at PG. We are extremely diverse – the executive board as well as the other committees are extremely diverse. Yes, there are still a small minority of sisters who think their skin color is the key to jennah, but they usually end up in the corner alone. Our sisters range from those who only cover while at teh masjid, those who dress modestly w/out the scarf, dress provatively with a scarf (with is the Ummah’s fault because we over emphasis the headscarf failing to mention Allah said draw the veils OVER your bossums because the women at the time wore scarves), adn thos who are full covered.

    Even within the context of our full time school, the principals were everything, we had a black brother (graduation was good back then, he had those kid’s steppin’), Pakistani, and now a Latino brother

  34. Insha Allah there is hope…Sisters and brothers from all over read these blogs, perhaps they will read about the discomfort and hate they have inflicted upon their fellow muslim sisters and brothers (as well as the rest of society).

    Rarely does one take time to stop and reflect upon his/her actions and words. If we are all we claim to be, we’d pay close attention to the hadith which says (and I’m paraphrasiing) a believer is one who’s neighbors are free from his tongue and hands. How many us of can honestly say this? That the muslims and nonMuslims are not offended/hurt by our speech and behavior? I doubt any of us can honestly say that. Especially if we are anything in the real world as we are on line.

  35. Spot on Umar. You know, Arabic is full of formalities. I “love” the fact that people are often introduced by their job titles, especially if you are a “Doktor” or a “mohandas”.

  36. If I had my choice, I would move to Abiquiu NM. It is very remote and peaceful…nice Sufi community with lots of beautiful countryside to trek and camp on, mineral springs and the freshest air you ever breathed. The masjid is beyond breathtaking. It is on a piece of land called Dar-al-Islam.

    Very expensive to live there unless you buy a trailer or an adobe shack, but definitely a place to see b4 you die.

  37. I went to Darul hijrah, ADAMS, and Darul Salaam. I never had a problem with the immigrant Muslims. My biggest problem was withn whiny AA Muslims who complained about any and everything. The worse was when they refused to pray there but would come with their rude behavior to all the iftars. NWA’s have always been an embarrasement to me.

  38. Umm Adam

    I never said I had a problem with Adams. We know Brother Magid personally, and were treated with nothing but respect but him and that community.

    Too, far. Just too far.

    And you know what, if you feel people are whinning, don’t listen.

    Allah says that he sees all, hears all, and knows all.

    Whats in the dark will be brought to the light.
    What you do to others will come back to you.
    Its just a matter of time.

  39. Saggal

    Make dua for me brother, I really need it.
    The hate that has been practiced on me and my family is causing me to become just as hateful.

    I didn’t realize how much my personality has changed since becomming Muslim!!

    No wonder my family thinks I’m in a cult!!

    Wa alaikum salam

  40. You know whats embarassing to me Umm Adam?

    When a Pakistani sister steps on your BABY and doesn’t have an ounce of humanity to freakin apologize but than accidentaly does it to a Pakistani toddler and apologizes.

    Give me a freakin break!!

    Thats embarassing

    Those people at Dar Al Hijirah have hit peoples children before.

    Don’t go there if you care about your soul..

  41. Naw, what’s embarrassing is when our people have no respect for each other. It just boils my blood when anotehr black person refer to another black as a nigger, NWA…SHEESH…when will that gutter hood mentality leave us?!

    These same self hating blacks are teh first to cry when the Richards and Imus’s of the world say the same… again, if we don’t respect ourselves who the hell will?!

    The more I am around my folks, even on line, the more I understand why my folks kept us away from the black community – so much ignorance and foolishness.

  42. I have seen some disgusting things at the masjids from folks of all colors. Recently at an islamic event, one Indian sister was immediately nasty (spoke in what I felt was a demeaning manner) to me, when she found out who I was her attitude changed, I guess because she was with the white girl she wanted further validation which always amuses me.

    Would I be a liar if I said all the arab sisters I know are sincere in their friendship, or it is because they know my husband? Can I not say some are not racist when I hear some things that come from the mouths of their children? Where are they learning it? As adults, we all know and understand the concept of decorum/tact/dipomacy, unfortunately for us bullshitters our children don’t and tell on us. I know I am not the only one who hears the sisters chastise each other for watching TV, yet you’ll hear their children say, “SIGH…we are having company, we have to HIDE THE TVs…”

    There was a time when I pretended racism amongst muslims doesn’t happen. No, it doesn’t stop me from going to the masjid because I’m not there for the people and I don’t care whether anyone likes me because I’m not seeking psuedo friends.

    Just because one doesn’t experience it directly doesn’t mean a thing… sit back and watch your “friends” from wherever, as they interact with a strange black sister… YES YOU’LL NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE IN BEHAVIOR unless you’re mentally challenged. that’s a fact, and NO all sisters are not that way…but sisterhood in Islam is nonexistance. We are disgusting creatures. I guess I tend to notice sublte things like moving away during salat, not returning the greeting, not shaking hands, difference in tone, over emphasis on how many black friends one has…

    Sorry but the phoniness is beyond belief…good thing we are online otherwise I’d have to pull out a shovel to get from underneath all this B.S.

  43. People at Dar al Hijrah have hit people’s children? Um…………mosque or no mosque, someone hit’s one of my children they are getting knocked out.

  44. Fairuza,

    NM huh? I have been there and I liked it. It cannot be more expensive than here in Metro DC. Something for me to think about. I love the Southwest.

  45. I volunteer at Dar Al Hijrah and yes there are problems like any place else, but also a lot of good as well. To say that we don’t deserve du’aa is over the top. I am not just saying that because I am there often, but everyone deserves du’aa (and just for the record, I have been treated very well at Dar us Salaam)
    I am sure that there are bad incidents at all masjids, but let’s not generalize everyone. We have to rise above these things and try to fix them

  46. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    I recently lived in New England and this is what I can tell you.

    NH: From what I remember, the Muslims in NH are mostly on the MA border, and attend the masajid near Lowell or Methuen (where the only area Islamic school is). There may very well be masajid in the other cities, but really, Boston feels like the world’s end up there most of the time. If you want to be near Boston, but you don’t want to pay Boston rents, you could live in NH. The further north you go, the cheaper it gets, but then you have to factor in your commute to the masjid or school or whatever. I think there is a masjid in Manchester, but I don’t know much about NH, b/c the people I knew there lived on the border.

    Boston’s community: Is very young and fragmented. It’s dominated by MSAs, so it’s transient. A lot of people come in and out, and it seems like a lot of Islamic activities are centered around the colleges and young people. The other constant is MAS, headquartered out of Cambridge, but seemingly in every single masjid and every Muslim gathering (even the iftar in your house). You start to feel suffocated by it, and they’re not even as forceful as they can be in other cities. That was my opinion and that of other Muslims I knew as well. One thing about MAS there is that, as I mentioned, they are not as pushy as they can be in other places (from my own personal experience) and they try to do a *lot* of activities for teens and youth.

    The city of Boston itself is very small, physically, so many masajid are based in suburbs. ICB in Wayland is mainly very affluent Desis. Islamic Center of New England in Quincy is middle class Arabs and Desis, while ICNE in Sharon (their sister) is rural and mainly Desi. (Very beautiful location, and there is an elementary school there). The Cambridge masjid is mainly Arab, and how welcoming the congregation (not the staff) are of non-Arabs depends on which way the wind is blowing that day and what color tie the mayor is wearing. I once stumbled in to the masjid from the nearby hospital, (I left thinking I was fine after my glucose test, and I wasn’t) and literally fell to the floor, and not a single one of those women lifted a finger to help me (heck, they didn’t even greet me). And I went there thinking I’d find some assistance from my sisters. Subhan’Allah.

    I’ve been to Masjid al Qur’an in Dorchester (the southern end of the city of Boston, very working class, mixed race area), and the people there were nice, the masjid clean. It’s affiliated with WD. Only problem is location (no off street parking, tiny one way side street…).

    There is a Salafi oriented masjid in Roxbury, there is a very new one made up of mainly African immigrants in Allston-Brighton, and a mostly Turkish one in Revere (lots of Muslims, mainly Turk and Arab, working class area on the North Shore). There are other small musallahs (including at the colleges) and the like in other areas, but south of Boston all you have is Quincy (which is next to Boston) and Sharon. I don’t think there is anything else in the southern suburbs until you get to Rhode Island.

    The new masjid in Roxbury has the same people behind it as the one in Cambridge, but they have, in the past at any rate, been very emphatic about this masjid being for all Boston Muslims, not just those who belong to MAS. They want everyone, including seeking non-Muslims, to feel comfortable walking in the door. Insha’Allah this project will be finished. Two years ago, they said we would pray ‘Eid there. Last year, they said we’d pray ‘Eid there. This year, I hope they pray ‘Eid there.

  47. Salaam Alaikum UmmZaid

    I’m glad you were okay sister… that could have been a dangerous situation. I’m actually diabetic so I know what you’re talking about. Astifrullah that nobody even cared enough to see if you were okay. But oh yeah.. that’s right… it was proubably too much to ask right? : (

    What goes around comes around.

    Judgement day.

    Anyways, thanks for your post. I’m thinking more and more each day that I’m going to relocate completely out of the Northeast region. I’m not orginally from here anyway.

    Take care of yourself sis. : )

    Salaam

  48. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    Thanks. I just laid there for a while with a bottle of water until I felt strong enough to go home. Stupid 5 hour glucose tests, LOL.

    I keep thinking that we should leave the North Ea$t, but … I think I am just too NY through and through. I’m not sure I can live far from NY or NJ, although the sunny climes of Cali might help (if it wasn’t so expensive there!)

  49. Tariq,

    you must remember everyone doesn’t fit generalizations/stereotypes… Your experience as a man will be certainly be different than mines as a woman. Even when we put our Islam aside and act as two black individuals our experiences will be different, and further as a black women who was raised in Suburbia, my experience will be different than a black woman raised in the ghetto.

    Sadly, when it comes to women fitnah is the name of the game. How many time can you honeslty say you have seen a bearded brother sneer at a shaved brother (who may shave or simply be unable to grow a beard because all men aren’t able to do so). How many times have you heard a brother say, my wife doesn’t like yours so I can’t be your friend…. I love my husband but have no desire to maintain friendships with the wives of his friends/relatives…Even when it comes to my blood, one cousin, who is one of my best male friends got divorced about 4 years ago. He was married to some woman I didn’t like. She had issues with me because to this day I am still close with his former girlfriend. My point is either I’m your friend or I’m not, there are no conditions (with the exception of don’t perpetrate a fraud – being married to a white, latino, arab, se asian, doensn’t make you a white, latino, arab, se asian or eastern woman!) to my friendship and sadly the majority of my friends are not Muslims (they are from all over the globe and we have been friends since youth or college).

    I used to spend every single day from fajr until 11 PM in the masjid working…mostly observing interactions and sadly muslim women are no better than nonMuslim women…sneaky, gossip mongers, haters, if it’s ugly that’s what women are. Why?! I have no idea, actually I do but out of respect for you and umar I will keep it to myself.

    Dar Us Salaam is a nice community and not free from problems. Safi Khan as far as I’m concerned is the best minister (he touches my heart and soul) I’ve ever encountered. When I go to other lectures and khutbahs I dont’ leave reflecting, teary eyed, and fired up like I do with Safi Khan, but some days I have no desire to deal with the drama of the sisters, including the ones sitting inside the musalla on their phones.

    Dar Al Hijrah has issues as well, I never go but two girlfriends (one white and one Native American) were treated poorly when they went. This is muslims in general, especially our sisters.

    This entire conversation reminds me of the time I first converted and started covering. MY friend, she lives in Saudi now, very sweet sister told me, “Don’t let them see you sweat, act like you aren’t hot in the summer.” Being the person I am said, “It’s summer, everyone is sweating regardless of what they are wearing, why would I pretend I’m not hot?”

    No matter what it’s never acceptable for a black to refer to another as a nigger (NWA). Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t raised in the projects where this is the norm, but as Muslims we should never refer to another as such. The best part about being online, sooner or later we reveal our true selves.

  50. @Abu:

    Actually Abiquiu is expensive because it’s Georgia Okeefe’s old stomping grounds (tourists love it)and it’s also “picture perfect”. There are lots of other smalls towns around that aren’t too expensive but just as beautiful. New Mexico is a just great State to get lost in. My favorite part is that there is so much open public land that you can drive to, set up camp, and kick back on. No permits, no fees, no cops…..NM is a lawless land.

  51. Listen Bint, I said NWA…YOU said Nigga! I could have meant Negro. If I wanted to say nigga I would have, but I said NWA. You are not the only black who has not lived in the projects. I find it ironic how you bitch and moan about everything on here and complain about trite and petty indifferences in the ummah but yet you didn’t bother to give my statement the best possible meaning.

  52. Assalamu alaikum, I think I’ve given up trying to find that “perfect” community, because I don’t think that it exists. I just try to do the best, wherever Allah places me.

    It really makes me sad to hear of all of the issues that some people on here has had to deal with. I’d say that in most cases, I prefer to just stay to myself, because the patronizing I get, because I am blind is just well, a bit frustrating. Or, you just kinda get ignored, onc ehte “Mashallahs” are done once they’ve heard your conversion story and all. And Alhamdulillah that I’m married now, because they don’t ask me that anymore! Not that they’d consider me “marriageable” anyway, but that is another sotry lol.

    I find that I feel most comfortable at home with my husband, and “everything is accessible” lol. I know where things are, things are adapted, I don’t have to have someone lead me around everywhere I want to go. I think that’s why I like the small masjid where we live now. The women’s section is like one room, but once my husband takes me to the women’s door, I can go in, leave my shoes, or go and make wudu, ’cause I know where the place is, and I can walk into the women’s area, and I even know how to turn on the spaker thing to hear the prayers. lol.

    Huge masjids and huge crowds make me feel small and just out of my element because I lose my independnence and I feel like a child! Mother of Aminata and BintWill, I wish I could put my arms around you guys, give you a big hug and make your pain and bad experiences go away. Because although bieng blind is *not* the same as being black, I can sorta kinda relate, I think. I hurts to be hated, treated differently, being treated like you’re not good enough because you’re somehow “defective”.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand this “color” thing, as someone who’s never seen color before. And being white, I’ve been told and taught that you’re not supposed to ask about these htings, and that no matter what you do or say, you’re just a white racist anyway, as if it’s in the genes or something. Anyway, I’ve already vented about htat in my blog and have been worried ever since about how it’s come across and I’m actually working on another post that I’ve not finished yet.

    *sigh* This Dunya is tough I guess, no matter who you are.

  53. Assalamu Alaykum
    Ginny….And we may not know why Allah decrees a thing for us…right? I envy you in the Islamic sense because to have never seen color allows you to see people in
    their truest essense..trust me ..you aint missing a “thang”.
    I moved from Illinois to NYC. I was paying $500 a month for a 3 bedroom house and moved to paying just under $1200 for a 2 bedroom apartment…hmmm…..it was worth it though….but you can actually live here and have a decent life if you work hard enough.
    PS. Its way more expensive in the U.K, I was paying the equivalent of $1000 when I was 19..that would be 2 years ago…lol..ok ok…more than 10 BUT point is……its doable if your intention is for good.
    Wsalaam

  54. Assalamu alaikum Myopic, thanks for the kind message. However, not everyone feels that way. What is sad is that like many white people can’t see past other’s color, etc., some non-whites can’t see past my color, and when I try to explain my experiences dealing with race, I’ve been treated sometimes like I’m not different than anyone else. When I attempt to say that sometimes I don’t understand this whole color thing, I’m treated as though I’m just really naive or stupid or something. I’ts not htat I don’t “understand” it, it’s just a really abstract concept for me. Perhaps if I were African-American, perhaps the ocncept would be just as “absract” for me, but then I’d not quite understand why some people hate me or dislike me so much.

    Just as the color of the sky, sun grass, flowers, etc., are abstract, so are people’s race and skin color to me. I know the sun is yellow, the grass is green, the sky is blue, but in actuality, what does that mena? When someone says osmeone is “white” what is “white” exactly? Because “white” can mean many different things, as can “black”, as there seems to be many ranges in color. Like people can be brown-skinned yet not be considered “black”, etc., I think.

    So color, in general, as well as other visual concepts, are just very abstract for me. When I think “visually” I think tactilely. I think I actually read a sutyd or heard something somewhere that when they meausred brain activity of blind people and gave them things to touch, the “visual” parts of the brain were stimulated. or something like that, but maybe I’m getting it wrong.

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling. I need to sleep.

  55. Salaam alaikum Mother of Aminata,
    I completely agree with you. If you are working class folks look down on you. I had that experience when I was in Boston before I went back to school when this sister kept telling people I was her cook. I talked to a recent Black American convert who graduated from an elite school. Muslims often make assumptions about him, then all of a sudden he becomes an acceptable Negro because of his education credentials.

    I think the answer is that Zakat committees should be more willing to address local issues, as opposed to only focusing on refugees and causes overseas. Our responsiblity is to support our family, our neighbors, and then reach out to those who are more distant. There is hardly any fundraising going on to give brothers and sisters a hand up (like job training, education, and small loans in order to help people create businesses) instead of continual hand outs that reflect more political agendas. It was one of the reasons why I was turned off by my community. As a student activist I felt like I was being pulled to be a mouthpiece for their causes (Bosnia, Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir, etc), but no one was really willing to issues that were important to me as an American.

    I’d rather see a vibrant community that is diverse-both ethnically and economically. Show me where that’s at and I’ll think about moving there when I get done with my program.

  56. Assalamu Alaykum Ginny
    I grew up in London which is a diverse city. I grew up with the Us against Them mentality. Us being every immigrant of ever color and Them being the White British Elite.As a result I have more hatred towards Colonialism and its ramifications than i do Slavery. Fast forward to life in the US and suddenly I have to see the world in a different angle. Its Us aainst Them still but a lot of times the Us is (your race) and the Then are any other race that you may have beef wtth.
    I see it ALL the time and I hate it,
    I get a “pass” from white americans a lot of timres because as soon as I open my mouth I am considered a non black american and a european one at that….so they will say things to me that they wouldnt normally say.
    Its wierd at times.
    I have a smal child who is multi racial. When I am around his ecua-rican family…they say stupid things at times like….if he eats a lot of chicken…oh that comes from his black side….and if he dances to anyything with a little drum beat than thats his african side. I dont get mad anymore. Ignorance seems to be the bedmate of many here.
    I see self hatred among all races here more than any other place and all I can say is Im glad Im a brit !
    Peace!

  57. Thanks for responding Sister Azizah Hill

    I’m still in college and it’s proubably going to take awhile becuase I have a toddler, so I guess I’m stuck in the dumbo poor category. I don’t ask anybody for anything not even a dua.

    I have another question for you sister it seems you’ve been Muslim longer than me.

    Can you or somebody eda*ma*cate* me as to why the immigrant Muslim community doesn’t target the middle class black community in general? Why are all the interfaith outreach programs to the whites? Not saying I have an issue with that, but do you know sister?

    Nobody has ever spoken to my mother who is a college guidance counselor, realestate angent, foster parent, and adoptive parent. Nobody has every spoken to my farther who is a Corporal, and law enforcement professo, and involved in many civic groups? Nor has anyone spoken to their associates or friend who are like status?

    Am I making sense Sister Azizah Hill??

    P.S.
    If you find that community take me and my family with you too!! lol : )

  58. Assalam`alaykum,

    UmmZaid,

    Many thanks for the info sister. It’s much more detailed than I’d hoped to get and I will save it for future ref. Can’t see myself moving to the U.S but am sure to visit for work and will insha’Allah try to visit some of the places you mention.

    Insha’Allah the masjid in Roxbury will be ready for Eid.

    Jazak Allah Khayran,

    Ma`salaama.

  59. Assalam`alaykum,

    Myopic Vison,

    You are just too funny sister, parts of your last post had me in stitches.

    I’m an ethnic woman and Britain has been a wonderful home for me for 10+ years. I love the Brits’ sense of humour and think that at least 50% of them must be eccentric, which for me, more than makes up for the overcrowded trains and shambolic health service.

    Re work: The first time I completed uni I was so anxious I would not get a good job b/c I wasn’t White but soon realised that employers are only interested in what you can do for them (i.e. skills), not what you look like or who you are. I will never forget the first time I realised that Quants teams in most investment banks in the city would give me a job. This was so reassuring in fact that I only stayed in such a job for 6 months before leaving for a less stressful one. Nowadays, whenever someone phones me with a new job offer, one of the first things I want to know is how much study leave I can get -I see my work as just a hobby. And I have not had the Us against Them mentality.

    My education was not all that good and up to the age of 5 I was a barefoot goat herder, a nomad. There’s nothing remarkable about this, anyone that puts in the effort and works hard in school will find there are plenty of hi-tech high-end positions they can walk in and out of.

  60. Assalam`alaykum,

    MotherOfAminata,

    I’m not a brother but yes of course, I’ll make du’aa for you.

    It’s good to hear you are still in college, just work hard sister and insha’Allah all will be fine in the end. Hard work always pays and there can never be a substitute for it. Even Marie Curie, a supergenius, sat up all night long studying, including during winter when she couldn’t afford heating and layers of ice would form on her face, she often fainted b/c of hunger. She was that poor.

  61. OmarG,

    “The paradox is that putting iman first really limits a person’s choices”

    How so? All the wealth in the world will not be enough/make us happy if we did not have Iman to begin with. May we never lose our Iman. Hasbunal lahu wa nimal wakilu ala lahi tawakkalna.

  62. Thank you Brother Lee

    I can’t even reply beyond this becuase Brothere Nelson blog on this has me crying a river of tears…

  63. Saggat…and thats my point.
    Trust me in the US..Ive heard the lightest, skinned, whitest puertoricans say that they cant get a job because they are hispanic. Meanwhile they are the same ones that look at me crazily because my baby looks like someone else gave birth to him.
    What do I say to all this foolishness.
    Whatever!
    Life is too short to spend trying to BE a stereotype.
    I always tell ppl here that London is different simply because color never played a role in my getting jobs either. I used to work for the Inner London Probation service which neccessitated me working in the courts in hijaab and i got more stress from the hijaab back then(’93) then my color!I never really felt racism until I started wearing hijaab.
    Wsalaam

  64. As salaamu alaikum,

    I’m from Buffalo, and I just moved to Lackawanna, and couldn’t be more happier, alhamdullilah. I’m Black and I have never been embraced with more love and openess than the Yemeni community here. It’s pretty much a working class neighborhood, which means that housing and rent is cheap (I was paying $375 for a three bedroom apartment last year), but it is full of white collar people buying homes for cheap and fixing them up. Man, you go into these houses, and they are just BEAUTIFUL!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s