Our Community

By Muhammad Kermalli

Spending time growing up in the East and the West, it has been a blessing to see communities across North America, while also experiencing how things are done ‘back home’.  I have even lived in the heart of Saudi Arabia where we had no ‘jamaat’, save for some family friends and relatives.  I find myself more grateful each day for having ALL of these experiences.  The more I reflect, the more I find I am not grateful enough.

Now, more than ever, hanging on to the youth in me, desperate to develop myself as time runs out, I find our community life has become integral to our collective survival.

Having read a recent discussion about ‘disenchantment’ (sounds so sophisticated, yeah?) amongst youths, I wonder:  Are we really disenchanted youth, or has someone told us that we are?  Have WE decided what we are looking for, or have we let someone else make that decision for us?  Look at a commercial ad, and you can see what I mean.  Read Chapter 114 of the Holy Quran, and think about it.  It opens MY eyes and mind!

Consider this:

If my attention span is only 30 minutes long, then why am I able to sit glued to the television during a football, or tennis match for hours?  I take an interest.  Interest doesn’t come looking for me, it comes from within.  Oh, and since when does anyone dictate to me how long my attention span is?  Isn’t that something I decide for myself?

“Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” 55:13

Is it that I find supplications to be long and boring, or is it that I have yet to see the benefit in them?  Have we ever observed a child open an expensive gift, and be more interested in the wrapping paper, or box?  Is it because the gift has no value, or because the child has yet to realize the value of the gift?  Most body exercise classes (including Yoga) are at least an hour long, and require additional time before, and after, to warm up, and cool down.  At first it’s hard for the body, but with focus and dedication, the healthier body responds; and we look forward to the exercises.  The same goes for mind and soul exercises, which is what our supplications are for.  Maybe a little more appreciation is in order here, lest our thanklessness towards our scholars should lead to our preference for entertainers, who can keep our minds occupied with laughter, but shallow in knowledge and wisdom; and keep us subservient to their entertainment.

“Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” 55:13

Is it that my community has faults, or that I have faults in the way I see my community?  They rejoice with me during my family’s happy moments at weddings, and console me at family funerals.  They come to my aid, and my children’s aid.  The volunteers stand in the cold to help my family park efficiently, and feed me first during occasions while they remain hungry.  Executives and management spend countless hours planning events, with my comfort in mind.  Dare I be so self righteous so as to complain about them?  Indeed, I am fortunate to have my community.  Like I say to anyone on my team who complains when we’re down, “Pickup an oar my friend, and row.”

“Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” 55:13

As for those who suggest giving up on the community, and walking away.  Consider where we would be if our Holy Prophet (PBUH) or Imams (AS) had given up the people of their time.  Their example is demonstrated more in what they did, then even what they spoke.  They are a blessing to us, because they have shown us how to act in such instances.  Mecca, Kufa, Kerbala, Shaam, here and now.  How we react to our community is an indicator of how we react to all challenges, or what I’ve come to realize them as:  Opportunities. Quitting is a habit, and so is succeeding. The choice is obvious.

“Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” 55:13

“If I say wealth distracted me, they will bring Solomon as proof.   If I say my youth deluded me, they will bring Joseph as proof.  If I say fear prevented me, they will bring Hussain as proof.  If I say I was impatient, they will bring al-Mahdi as proof”

“Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” 55:13