We are visiting our friends in Charlottesville. An interesting thing happened. Right, when FJ and Brother E. were to step outside for the mosque fundraiser, a dog stood in our porch. This was a dog that could not hear and limped. Our friends’ son tried to make it go off the porch by throwing a ball, but the dog stayed. Later I and Sister A. realized that it must be the fried chicken breast smell that attracted the dog to our porch. So we mixed some of those with chicken soup, rice and pasta and fed that with water to the dog. Sister A. had called 911 and animal control, so later on along with the new neighbor in the neighborhood that had lost the dog, we got the police officer too. Until then, the dog had three rounds of the food and water. All is well that ends well Alhumdulillah but it was an interesting happening during Ramadan of the new neighbors meeting the fasting Muslim family that fed their dog.
FJ currently works at a hospital in U.S. Before starting a surgery on a 60-something patient, he was introduced to her. Upon hearing his name, she asked if he was a Muslim. He replied in the affirmative. FJ keeps a beard that is about 4-5 inches. Her next question was if he was ‘out to get her’. His reply was in the negative.
A few moments later, the surgeon let the patient know that a cadaver bone would be placed in her neck during the course of the surgery. FJ chipped in letting the patient know that the bone was not of a Muslim, at which point everyone in the OR including the patient, the doctors and the family of the patient burst out laughing. The patient said, ‘You guys joke too’ to which FJ replied that ‘We guys joked too’. In fact, FJ’s bit about the bone not being from a Muslim became a running joke throughout the day in the OR and the hospital with many people including the surgeon chuckling about it.
Later on, the son-in-law of the patient, an anesthesiologist at the hospital, sort of apologized for his mom-in-law’s eccentric behavior. FJ replied with a no worries response.
I didn’t dislike the patient’s attitude. She was perhaps fearful of Muslims but with jokes on both sides, there was friendship after all.
Today, a very strange and unexpected thing happened. I knew that some people hate Muslims but didnt realize that the hate would transcend such levels that when an invitation is extended to them to eat food at your house, they would rudely refuse that.
I am currently visiting the U.S. for summer and as if God answered my prayers, am staying in a house next to a Church, a Baptist one at that. This summer, I have insha’Allah great plans for myself. I will be doing outreach efforts with churches, synagogues and other places of worship. The intention is to tell people, over food or otherwise, what Islam is and how it is distorted by miscellaneous people all over the world. Today, I faced a huge hurdle, a step that made me nearly cry but insha’Allah, I will move on to another people.
I tried to visit the church during weekdays but there is no soul to be seen around. Perhaps, that is the biggest reminder why Christianity is decreasing in numbers. The people pray only on Sundays and all week long, the church (at least the Baptist one next to us) stays closed. It is a huge one with manicured grounds and many levels and rooms but all empty. So this Sunday, when I was expecting members to be there and the Pastor, I went at nearly 11:50 when the service was about to finish. I sat in the back seat waiting for the last ritual to end. I surveyed the members. Majority of the members were in their 70s or over. The pastor himself was about 78.
As the church members started to walk out, hiding their puzzlement over why a hijabi lady sat in their midst, the lady sitting next to me asked me why I was there. I explained that I wanted to invite church members for breaking a fast with our family staying next doors. She told me that I needed to speak to the pastor. I stood in line behind other members walking out of the church. What I heard in return after the invitation nearly made me cry. The pastor told me ‘No’. I repeated myself. I asked the pastor if he really didn’t want church members to come to my home for breaking a Ramadan fast with me. He replied again very sternly with a big NO.
As I walked out in the parking lot, a friendly person told me to join them again. I told him exactly what had happened with the pastor. I also told him to tell all other church members that didn’t get a chance to know why I was there, to know that I had invited them for food and how the pastor had refused.
Next, I drove out of the church not from the exit closest to my home since I didn’t want them to see the indignancy on my face. It is a rude and insulting reminder of people that hate others. I never expected this in a church. But insha’Allah, it doesn’t deter me. I do hope the incident starts a debate in this church about hate and peace. Ameen.
Alhumdulillah and Masha’Allah, somewhere in North America :
Yesterday, we went to see the performance by the Israeli-Palestinian YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus at the Kennedy Center in DC. Our dearest M1 has been guiding us around in DC to see some of the attractions and so far masha’Allah, we have been having a wonderful time. This performance was one of those times. Micah Hendler, founder and director of the chorus, is right. Seeing Israelis and Palestinians sing side by side does give one the warm fuzzies – peace is possible. These are high school students performing in this chorus. The group sang it all – Arabic songs, Hebrew songs and the Prayer of St. Francis. They also did their take on some pop songs such as Home by Phillip Phillips and an Adele number. I liked their version of Home and the St. Francis prayer. In the end, Mr. Hendler made all the audience sing by giving them alto, base and soprano versions of similar phrases. All the room sang at once. It was fun. Alhumdulillah! In the end, as the Arab chorus members were leading the audience in singing, they thought we were the only Arabs with our hijabs and such. FJ said, ‘Maafi arabi’ – ‘Sorry, no Arabic.’ :) which makes you wonder if there were other Muslims (perhaps Arabs) in the room, the visiting chorus members never identified them. Muslim getup is a good thing when you are a Muslim. We get a lot of ‘Assalamoalekums’ in DC mostly from non-Muslims. Alhumdulillah!