With the words “Ash hadu La Illah la ilallah” my life changed. I gave up having a community. I now have more friends on-line than in the real world. I am no longer American, but I wouldn’t say that I fit in with the Muslim community in my area either. My husband may have to cross the ocean to feel at home, but I will never be at home anywhere.
All that would be fine, if I felt like the religion united me in some way with other people solely on the basis of being Muslim. But the reality of Muslim communities that I have encountered in the US is that they are fragmented by arguments, nationality, and interpretation of the religion… Divided by EVERYTHING.
I am not saying this simply to shame the members of the Muslim community of divide them further. I am saying this to point out something I think we are lacking. Something that is it doesn’t change will impact the number of people practicing the religion in the US: a sense of community.
In Christianity there is a strong sense of community. People attend the religious functions with great anticipation. They know they will be welcomed, they will be helped, and they will gain a second family by participating in the church activities. I simply can’t say the same for the Masjids in the US.
I cringe at the thought of attending or participating in the functions at the mosque. I know I will be subjected to things I would rather not deal with. I know people will irritate me and I will fall into the familiar trap of coming home annoyed and backbiting the members of the community out of pure frustration. This is not what I want for my children. I want them to love the mosque. But before that can happen I think there are some serious issues that we as an Ummah need to address.
I can’t convince you of the reality of what I am saying if you don’t see it. Maybe you are part of one of the cliques at the mosque and you never notice what I am saying.
I propose that we look at other religious communities and seeing what they are doing to help build community. There will be things that we don’t like, things that we would never do. But there will also be things that we can utilize in our own.
I want to feel like I am coming home when I enter the masjid. Quite frankly, I want to feel like I did when I was a Christian… Like the community is there for me.