Without Us: Ramadan and Eid 2011

I reside in Charlotte NC with my husband and son. We are pious Muslims. Perhaps this is the problem; we are out of date with the “new Islam.” Yet we find that a large portion of the Muslim community in Charlotte is very disorganize and lacking the compassion and humanity that inspired us to be Muslims. We actually feel a sense of disconnect and abandonment among the Muslim community in Charlotte, which seems to divide along culture, race, and socialization rather than Quran: if you are not family or a member of the club, you are invisible, you are discarded. There are more than five Mosques in Charlotte. Several are actually private clubs and very racially aligned; some, you have to hire a private investigator to locate. Visiting several Mosques for worship is easier or become disenchanted with the politics of seeing Muslims do things their way and not the Quran way. My husband and I aspire to, more, inspiration and clarity among a Muslim community than what is presently witness, here. Our current contact with the Muslim community has taken disenchantment to a different level. Recently, (Ramadan: Thursday, the 25th) my husband was injured at his job; his foot was crush. When he reached out to the local Muslim community, just to find transportation to get him back and forth to the doctor and small runs for errands—out of five Mosques, only two responded: All refused to help. Twice, he called, the Imam at the African Mosque, on Eastway Drive. The first time the Imam answered the phone, and said he would see if he could find some help but he never returned the call. My husband called him again, and this time he said “text me.” However, he never responded to the text. I guess he was busy texting his responsibilities as an Imam to himself. The Imam at MAS, without inquiring, to other Muslims, immediately said, “There is no one else that can help you and I am in my office.” I guess he wanted us to know he had an office. I am not sure. Calls to ICC, and Ash Shaheed were also unanswered. In addition, we offer to assist any Muslim who may have been in need of extra cash for some help. We did not asked for money, food, clothes, shelter; just networking: We knew better, than to ask for much, else, at least we thought we did. When have already seen what happens when you are new in town and ask a Mosque for anything. I was hurt, possible irreparable damage. This was the holiday spirit offered by the five Mosques in the community. I cried. I did. And we were not going to beg or harass. I am a strong woman but my heart is broken. After a week we have not receive one response from anyone else at a Mosque. Ramadan and Eid are over and so the excuse that “we are celebrating”– you can put it aside, now. It only takes a second to make a heart feel better, a kind word, and a polite gesture. There is no excuse for this behavior but blatant negligence. I pray that the next call is not one of a wife beaten, a family facing death, a child hit by a car, a storm that wipes out family treasures and homes. But most of them only answer when the media host them like politicians. The real test of faith in the Islamic community may be how to love our own reflection in the mirror. I feel that my faith in other Muslims has waned so much, that I am struggling everyday to hold on. I am an educated and resilient woman, and afraid that I have not been intelligent enough . . . after nearly six years of practicing Islam: Have I missed something about pathos. As a Muslim, Pathos is for every hand in need, not just social club members, Imams’ families, and good friends—it extends to all of Allah’s creation/people without compulsion or harassment. If you need, a Muslim gives what they can. But when a Muslim Imam says he has nothing to give, the Muslim community does not have effective leadership. We have buildings. Perhaps this is why, we see the homeless stretched across Charlotte but Charlotte is rolling with many Mosques. Where there are Muslims, those in need are restored to pride. I guess I am out of date with this “new Islam.” I feel really awful some days: Being among Muslims, feels lonely and fraught with great disappointments. My husband keeps telling me that we are true Muslims and that Allah will not forsake us, yet, I am struggling. If we are true Muslims then who the people are, he called at the Mosque. This Ramadan I have finally reached the place where great burdens hang from tatter strings. Years ago, I gave up, teaching in a college and income, to take care of my family, and home school my son, who was struggling in a traditional education setting—so that he may avoid the troubles of public schools, have a future and get to the college of his choice. I have gone without a lot, during the sacrifices, but I have never gone there without the Quran. Yet, I have known, the greatest, Muslim, my husband. Who despite his injuries glows with the love of Allah, like a beacon of light, even when injured and hurt. My leaving the workforce left every financial struggle in my husband’s hands — of which he has never complained once? My son is my husband’s stepson and has not become a Muslim; he is so disappointed in what he sees, among the Muslim community. He often does not understand why I have not walked away from some hurtful moments. I keep telling him that not all Muslim’s are “this way.” Are they? “You know two who are not, that way, right?” I hijab and yet a local Muslim told my husband that I have to leave my modesty “during these times.” My husband . . . although injured stills goes out and do for our home, on crutches and taking medication. My fifteen-year-old son who is not a Muslim is next to him, making sure he does not fall. As of yet, we are not certain if my husband will be able to return to his regular job, or if he is permanently injured. We are still seeking medical advice and care. Moreover, it breaks my heart because he is the Ideal Muslim, the Ideal husband. He is a young beautiful man that does everything for my son and me; he is a good man. He would help anyone in need. He has given food and clothes to the homeless. He came to my rescue in New York, years ago when I was involved in a car accident. Yet not one Imam or Muslim brother, in Charlotte who was called, can make sure he is doing fine; that he gets over this and that we are not swallowed up until we are drained of our means and left victims to everything the Quran warns. However, the lack of unity . . . is truly life shattering when you are told Muslims look after each other. A Muslim brother left a message on his phone the day before Eid and said, “I will see you at the Mosque,” and never offered to pick him up or share his Eid festive with him or inquire if he needed help. When my husband called him to take him to pick-up his paycheck, the Muslim brother agreed to come the next day. However, he never showed up and did not answer the phone; he never returned a call although he knew he was injured but he did not care if we needed to buy food and water. For Eid we ate noodles and rationed our spring water. Then we told stories about how we met to keep our hearts from anger. We did smile for we have two Muslims in the house! We have never complained to anyone the days of meager existence through the end of Ramadan. The brother that would not take my husband to retrieve his paycheck, he gave-up a great brother, my husband. As stated, this is not the first time we have heard and been subjected to and seen such shocking behaviors from local Mosques and Imams. There is one Mosque, an Imam, publicly known, in Charlotte that is well known for guiding local and new residents to the local shelter, to the streets and kicking them out of the mosque if they ask for help. But there are five Mosques my husband called, not one. I read a sign once that said, “Take a stand even if you stand-alone”: I am standing. My neighbors are looking too. They know we are Muslims and look on in awe and gossip that my husband gets up every day and, hopping inside of a taxi, doing his business, trying to keep going—to see not one Imam, not one Muslim brother to lift a hand to help him; to cheer him; to praise him. He has not had a day of peaceful rest since his accident. When he did speak to an Imam, not one inquired if he needed, one thing this Ramadan. One brother warned, if you miss Jummah four times you get no help. My husband has worked two jobs, does all of the errands outside of the house, and he is a “sinner” because he supports his family and does not send women and children to “Welfare ” and has no time to hang out at the Mosque. When his van breaks down, he walks, miles to work in the hot sun until his shoes fall apart. In six years, I have never heard this man complain about one thing. If his feet hurt, he would not tell me, if he were sick, he would be near death before he utters one word of complaint, if. When he wants to cry, he does not, but I know . . . Then he would say, thank you, thank you. While injured, he has said thank you to me, so many times, for every little thing, I have to hold my head down, because I am not as humble as he is and his heart is still beating with something powerfully special. I am so inflicted with pain as to how anyone can take him for granted. And I thought I was . . . humble, gracious. This is the man several Mosques refuse to respond to when all he asked for was a help with transportation because he cannot walk, without crutches, for Allah’s sake! Today I should passionately love Muslims for taking a moment to give alms; during the holidays, instead I am shaken. How do you turn away from the sick and ill when it is the sick and wayward calling you on the phone? Did he have to have a number and draw a ticket out of a pot—to get to the Eid festive? During Ramadan, he put his old beat-up van in the shop. That took away money we saved for Ramadan. We decided no celebrations, no gifts, fix the van. After his accident, when we notified the Muslim shop owner (Andy’s Transmissions and 5 Star Cars) that he was injured and that they would have to wait for the rest of the repair money (we had the transmission rebuilt per their advice) they cursed him like a mad savage dog! Allah knows. We are not sure, if they will try to sell the van, take out the repaired engine or what. Will this too, turn into another one of those, disheartening events about Muslims! My husband called the Imam (left a message) at the Mosque Al Mustafa on the Plaza, (this Mosque he also called for help about his accident; they never responded) where the mechanic attends to discuss the mechanics behavior; no return call. I am suspecting that we have to leave Islam and go to the Christian community to sustain our lives or face a total wipe out during these trying times. I try to fight the visions of being in a welfare line, my son giving up his college dreams if things escalate for the worse. The only charity we have received is wrong number you are not a member. Yet I know that this is not the Islam of the Prophet PBUH but this is five Mosques in Charlotte. Unfortunately, it is the Islam of so many Muslims. I feel like I have been asleep and awaken to a bad dream about “so-called” very good people. I guess I need help for my crumbling faith. My faith has crumbled. This is the Ramadan and Eid we received in Charlotte North Carolina. This is the cup of water to quench a dry thirst; it is an empty cup. Seven Thousand Muslims attended Eid in Charlotte, minus two—me and my husband and a young teen boy who is watching to see what the “Ummah” is and if wants in. We were forgotten and turned away although we needed help and knocked, and waited, but no one answered.


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