Dear Brothers and Sisters of ISWM
May peace and blessings of Allah SWT be upon youThe election year politics has brought a new dimension to the difficulties we Muslims were already going through. The situation could be even more stressful for those of us who could be visibly identified as Muslims from their names, clothing or the outlook; but in reality, every non-Caucasian person, Muslim or non-Muslim, could be affected. This is partly due to the political positions taken by Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, many people have started to use the same language or ideology in their personal interactions with Muslims or anybody who does not conform to their identity. Some of the statements and behavior of some people, which were considered a taboo or unacceptable until just a few years ago, are being tolerated, if not prevented. I do not see any sudden reversal of this phenomenon. In fact, as this year would progress, the situation could very well worsen. To prevent any wrongdoing, ISWM has always tried to keep a close working relationship with the local State and Federal law enforcement offices. In this regard, we are organizing a community meeting with the staff of the Attorney General Office on April 14 (6PM) in our Community Hall to address some of these issues. We encourage you to mark your calendar and come to this meeting. At this unpredictable time, we all should be careful and use common sense to avoid any harm to our families and ourselves. I have a few suggestions that might help: A: Avoid extra risk and confrontation: Keep a low profile and use common sense while going out and avoid places that make you uncomfortable. In case of any harassment, try to avoid any confrontation. B: Report & record any incident: In case of any incident of harassment or discrimination, make detailed written, video or audio note including where, when and what happened. Make a not of some identifying sign for the other party such as the license car number. Depending upon the type and nature of an incident, you may always consider calling 911, or reporting it to the local police or even FBI. We recommend that you document all incidents, small or large, and share them with the board of ISWM. This would help us with our strategy when we meet and communicate with law enforcement. C: Follow all laws: Be a law-abiding citizen. It does not matter whatever argument you use to prove that you are on the right path; it is unlikely that anybody would agree with you if you continue to break the law. For example, we see that many people coming for Jumah prayer at the masjid regularly break the law and park at places they should not be parking on. Many also park in a way or walk in a way that disturbs our neighbors or the people trying to leave. This is not the Muslim way. A Muslim has to be a truthful, trustworthy and law-abiding citizen. C: Be a good Muslim: Make sure that you relate to your neighbors and co-workers in a manner that a good Muslim should be. A true Muslim is really known by his character. This might be the key to prevent any wrongdoing or discrimination. D: Be proactive and volunteer: A lot of work done by the local political and town offices including schools is accomplished with the help of volunteers. Consider volunteering in a school especially if your child goes to that school. You may also volunteer in a committee of the town you reside in or in a politician’s office. ISWM, with the help of other local agencies, is also active in many local social projects. We strongly encourage you to explore and take part in any of these initiatives. E: Learn & communicate: Be knowledgeable about Islam and the issues of our time. In case of any difficulty or misunderstanding about any part of the Quran or Hadith or any statement made by any scholar, seek guidance. Our respected Imam is always available to help you understand or clarify the matter. For any non-religious question, consider talking to a senior member of the community. Communicate with your family especially children and discuss the matters affecting their lives. Also, communicate with your friends and neighbors about matters you and they might be interested in and could talk about. This communication should not just be a lecture about Islam. Most people consider religion as a private matter and avoid any discussion on it. F: Practice Ihsaan daily: When working in your own business or as an employee, try to do something extra every day that could be beneficial to somebody else. G: Practice and teach moderation: A good way to learn and teach moderation is to understand the fact that your point of view or line of action might not always be the best or acceptable to others. At the same time, the difference of opinion has its limits too. We live in a democratic society and even our own affairs at ISWM are run based upon democratic principles. Difference of opinion, in a democratic system, on one hand is healthy and acceptable, but should also never reach a point that it threatens our basic tenets or the organization. H: Pray to Allah SWT for help and blessing on a regular basis. Pray for yourself, your family and also for people you might not agree with you. We know that He is the only one who can make any real difference. Finally, I like to remind everybody that ISWM, including the masjid, is a volunteer based organization. It can provide any guidance or help only if enough people are willing and available to volunteer. Do your share and volunteer with your time, your effort and/or your resources. May Allah SWT keep us steadfast on a path beneficial to us and everybody around us, Amen. M. Zubair Kareem
Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatullahay wa barakatuhu
I hope Ramadan is going well for you and your family. It is a test for our physical, emotional and spiritual strength. Fasting, in the manner prescribed by Allah SWT, improves our physical body, balances our emotions and elevates us spiritually. I hope you are able to use this opportunity to your advantage.
As you know, many Muslim societies all around the globe are going through conflicts and wars. In some places, this has been the case for decades. Sometime the fighting parties are both or all Muslims and sometime not. We feel sad and upset because of the sufferings of innocent women, men and children. I could name many conflicts including the ones in Afghanistan, Burma, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, China and the chronic conflict in Palestine. Because of the multi-national and multi-ethnic nature of our local community, quite often the victims might be closely related to at least some of our members, which result in personal and direct psychological and emotional stress.
Remember the most appropriate way, the way of the Prophet Muhammad, May peace be upon him, to react to a stressful situation and shape the words and actions accordingly. Protesting an unjust or illegal situation should never include any unjust, illegal or inappropriate words or actions. Our primary responsibility is to safeguard our own interests, our families’ and the interests of the society around us. Being a local Muslim, we also represent the Islamic Society of Western Mass (ISWM.) While representing it, it is important to remember that the mission and purpose of ISWM is primarily for the community of ISWM.
ISWM is not a political organization but we do stand for the rights of the oppressed people of Palestine. We do protest and condemn in the strongest possible terms all the perpetrators of injustice, persecution and killings inflicted upon innocent men, women and children and their properties on both sides of the conflict. We expect our government to take all possible actions to help stop the war and promote peace and respect for one another. In this sacred month, we pray to Allah SWT to minimize trials and tribulations of all the Muslims and non-Muslims, especially those going through conflicts and wars. May Allah SWT guide their leaders to find a peaceful solution instead of a perpetual state of war, Ameen.
M. Zubair Kareem