I am Muti’ah Lennora Joyce Pierrot, as a native of St. Lucia with an ambitious mother coupled with an innovative father. I have always seen opportunity and have always been surrounded by service at an early age. I was, raised in a rural area of St. Lucia, in the town of Bexon. My grandparents were farmers and business owners, which instilled in me a hard work ethic.
Becoming Muslim at the age of nineteen was my introduction to the vastness of Africa as a continent. I studied Midwifery in the countries of Senegal and South Africa, specifically in the cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. During the completion of Hajj, the pilgrimage at the Kaaba in Madina, Saudia Arabia, was the catalyst to assist me in understanding my purpose.
My current role as Founder and CEO of BABI-BIBS AND BLANKETS INTERNATIONAL along with Manager of the Special Collections at The Ford Motor Company Library/LRC at Tuskegee University, helped catalyze me stepping in the political race for the position of The City Tuskegee District 1 Council member.
The life-long learning skills and knowledge that I have gained throughout my didactic progression continues to be the motivating factor for me to become proficient in the field of preserving the history and the legacy of the Global Village. As an educator and business owner who looks at life experience as the building block to empathy. Starting at the grass-root, local level within my district for councilperson was what came to my soul.
I stepped out on faith and ran alongside two respected elder candidates who both are rooted in the community, the message that there are younger candidates that needs mentorship as our Village is growing into a new future of constant uncertain changes. I offered myself for service to my community and asked for endorsements on behalf of being the youngest political candidates for my district and the need to support our youth in all areas. My platform was based on the fundamental needs of our community
“The Win is in The Ability to Run”, is the foundation of my life. “Youth Guided & Elder Led” is the message of my campaign along with the message for our community. “A Change You Can See” is what we work on daily as a message of collaborative framework within our community. As I am fortunate enough to have a family that is active in supporting me, our work is getting done daily. Thank you to everyone who is a part of the growth in my Village and in all other communities.
Mu'tiah Lennora Pierrot
A native of St. Lucia, Mu'tiah Lennora Pierrot also prides herself as being an educator and business women with a passion for History. She is the mother of nine children and a devoted wife who is currently running for office in Tuskegee Alabama.
Qadr. A simple four-letter word yet a difficult concept to grasp. One of the pillars of Imaan, to believe in fate—good or bad. I never truly understood the meaning of this as a child when I learned the pillars at Saturday and Sunday school. I have gained new insight of Qadr over time. I would like to give you a glimpse of my journey, including my struggles with grasping Qadr.
During my senior year of high school, my family and I were in a motor vehicle accident. Alhamdulilah, we all survived but not without injuries. My mother broke her chest and fractured her ankle, my younger sisters suffered concussions and a sprained ankle, and I severed my spinal cord, leaving me paralyzed from mid-chest down. I distinctly remember the moment of impact. I felt excruciating pain and could not breathe. I believed I was seconds away from death. I repeated “La ilaaha ilall laah” and attempted to feel and move my legs, but to no avail.
The months and years following were a challenging time for me and my family. I had several surgeries, was admitted to a rehabilitation center for extensive physical and occupational therapy, and had to learn how to navigate the world differently—being in a wheelchair. At the time, I did not understand the severity of the situation. The independence I once had was stripped from me. I thought I was being punished. I shifted away from Allah and friends and withdrew to myself. I was scared to venture out into the world differently abled. With the support of my friends and family, I was able to conquer my fears.
Despite my adversities, I continued to shine a bright light in my community through the continued support. I completed coursework at the hospital to ensure I could graduate high school on time. I then moved on to college, in which I participated in many clubs and continued to blossom while navigating my new lifestyle. In Fall 2018, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Biochemistry degree in hopes to start medical school, insha’Allah. I regained that independence I believed I lost.
Qadr comforts me. It is also a concept I still have difficulties with. I continue to remind myself what is written, is what will occur. Allah knows best. He knows best for me and for mankind. This grounds me and aids in my perseverance. Despite unfortunate circumstances, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If I have learned one thing, it is that your circumstances do not define who you are, but they can and do shape you. Alhamdulilah for what I have endured, will endure, and will continue to endure.
Edil Nour is a 24 year old first generation Somali American. She was born and raised in Georgia. She currently resides in Lawerenceville, GA with her family. Edil is pursuing a career in the medical field.
A food bank is a non-profit organization created for the purpose of collecting and distributing food for those who don’t have the means or it’s difficult for them to acquire it themselves. Some food banks run as “front line”, meaning they personally give food directly to the hungry. Other’s run as “warehouses”, collecting food then sending it out to smaller food banks, soup kitchens, and other front line organizations, mostly in other countries. The first food bank was St. Mary’s Food Bank, established in the USA in 1967. Over the past 50 years, thousands of food banks have been established across the country. Europe, which had little use for food banks due to they’re extensive welfare system, had food banks sprouting all over rapidly because of the global increase in the price of food in 2006, and even more especially after the financial crisis of 2007-08.
With thousands of food banks around the world, there are many different models and operating systems. Since the global pandemic we are currently in this year 2020, with social distancing and sheltering in place, many people are in desperate need of food and personal care items. Here’s a few insha’Allah these will help ease the burden:
*Masjids in the Greater Atlanta area:
461 West Crogan St
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
6200 Memorial Dr.
Stone Mountain, Ga
I Have Enough Food Pantry
Located inside the masjid at
560 Fayetteville Rd. S.E.
Atlanta, GA. 30316
1-3pm 2x a month drive thru pick up only.
Is supplying frozen cooked meals for Seniors 60+ Monday 8am-3pm
Email if interested
*Food banks and pantries in Gwinnett County:
Exodus Outreach, Inc.
Location of center - 251 Bona Rd.
Buford, Georgia 30518
Telephone number - (770) 945-9064
North Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry
70 Wiley Dr.
Buford, Georgia 30518
Dial (770) 271-9793 for information and hours.
Several social service and assistance programs are offered for the needy in the community. Counselors can direct people to programs to help pay bills, housing costs, and more. In addition, a food pantry and clothing closet is on site for free food, supplies such as diapers, and other aid.
Duluth Cooperative Ministries - Hands of Christ
Location - 3395 Fox St.
Duluth, GA 30096
Call - (770) 623-9563
A bag of groceries may be passed out, or staff can help very low income residents apply for SNAP food stamps or other benefits.
NEED HELP PAYING BILLS
Now Faith Apostolic International Ministries
Grayson, GA 30017
Dial - (770) 771-3512
Cafe Community Center at Cathedral De Fe Ministries, Inc.
675 Buford Dr. Ste. 21
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046
Main number - (770) 236-8604
Meals and food is offered to the low income, homeless, and others.
Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, Inc.
Address: 176 Church St.
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Dial - (770) 339-7887
Another Gwinnett County Georgia ministry, similar services offered as the other non-profit agency listed above.
New Life Fellowship, Inc. - Bread of Life Food Ministries
990 Martins Chapel Rd.
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
Meals, fresh perishable items, bread, and other free food and groceries offered.
Gwinnett County Service Unit branch of Salvation Army
Main office - 3455 SugarLoaf Pkwy.
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30044
Telephone - (770) 724-1661
The local Salvation Army offers a wide range of assistance programs for the low income, unemployed, seniors, and needy. Some of the resources can help pay electric bills, rent, and medications. However most services provide items like access to a food pantry.
Signs & Wonders, Inc.
Location - 120 S. Perry St.
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Telephone - (770) 962-0470
Vision Academy Life Center
458 Chestnut St.
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
Call - (678) 206-0688
St. Vincent de Paul of Gwinnett
The church based group provides services in this county too. The low income, with a focus on families with children or senior citizens, can receive free food, perishable goods, and maybe even baby formula. Call (678) 892-6163 for hours.
Lilburn Cooperative Ministry
Address is 5329 Five Forks Trickum Rd.
Lilburn, Georgia 30047
A pantry has free food in a crisis. Other services will be formula, clothing and a low cost thrift shop for people in poverty.
City of Hope and Community Outreach Ministry, Inc.
Food bank location is 182 Hunter St.
Norcross, GA 30071
Dial (770) 441-2948 for hours.
Cafe Community Center
Food pantry address is on Buford Drive in Lawrenceville
Call the non-profit at (770) 236-8604
Resources administered include a free food pantry with non-perishable and perishable items such as fruits or vegetables.
Norcross Cooperative Ministry
Center address is - 2275 Mitchell Rd.
Norcross, Georgia 30071
Dial - (770) 263-8268
A number of services are available. A food pantry will have bags of groceries in a crisis. Or contact the center for information on government aid such as SNAP food stamps.
Place of Enlightenment, Inc.
2720 Centerville Hwy.
Snellville, Georgia 30078
Phone number - (770) 982-8221. Dial the Main Client Number for hours and when food is distributed.
Berean Christian Church Gwinnett
1465 Highpoint Rd.
Snellville, GA 30078
Free food boxes once a week drive thru on Friday starting at 1pm.
Purpose World Church
1905 Highpoint Rd, Snellville, GA 30078
Food boxes every Wednesday 4:30-6:30
They also offer vegan food boxes and name brand natural personal hygiene products too.
Your Local Farmers Market
just Google your cities market to get great deals and double your purchases if using EBT/SNAP BENEFITS
*ALL ORDERS ARE BEING MADE ONLINE*
You can also purchase items on Amazon using EBT/SNAP.
***also check out this YouTube channel that helps you figure out more ways to use your EBT/SNAP benefits
*Several other resources and food assistance programs operate in the Gwinnett County region. Examples of them include school meals and summer snacks for children, Meals on Wheels, and more. To get more information on local pantries or resources, dial (404) 892-9822.
Kiesha and Ta-Seti Jabri
Kiesha is a wife and mother of 7. She has been apart of the Atlanta Muslim Community for over 20yrs. And helped co- chair the Deen Media Center. Ta-Seti is a rising 10th grader, who is aspiring in the field of journalism. She has consecutively won the Gwinnett County libraries Reading program since 2016. Seti has also been a Girl Scout for 5 yrs at Al-Falah Academy.
The journey of Tariq, the Muslim beekeeper began approximately three years ago. Tariq has always been a “nature boy” for as long as he could remember. As a young boy, he was the kid that stayed outdoors. His preference would be to ride bikes or play basketball than to play video games. But when friends were not around, he passed time collecting and building vivariums (enclosures, containers, or structures adapted or prepared for keeping animals under seminatural conditions for observation). Tariq first started off building terrariums for collecting and raising toads, lizards, and snakes that he would catch around the house. He then moved to aquariums where he raised various fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and turtles.
It should come to no surprise that by his senior year of high school he was well positioned to go to college and major in zoology. However, due to his father cautioning him that a zoologist would not have a financially rewarding life and the school of his choice (Morehouse) didn’t have a zoology major, he chose to major in biology instead. Although he was on a pre-med track, he opted not to pursue medical school after college. Rather his secondary passion for social activism lead him to education.
Tariq never strayed far from his nature loving side; in his classrooms he raised praying mantises. Shortly after starting a career as a high school teacher, he was back in the seat of the student obtaining a master’s degree in Science Education. After about 10 years as a teacher, he transitioned into Educational Leadership. Tariq currently acts as director, educator, and wellness therapist at Makkah International Institute.
After founding Makkah International Institute and beginning to homestead he has now been afforded the opportunity to rekindle his childhood passion of exploring the natural world. Among other endeavors, Makkah International Institute takes regular expeditions to provide youth with real world, culturally relevant learning experiences. Among these expeditions, we have gone snorkeling, taken college tours, visited nature centers, and various farms including that of a Muslim beekeeper.
It was at this trip to visit a Muslim beekeeper in 2014 that he was first introduced to beekeeping. The beekeeper saw the enthusiasm in the faces of the summer camp youth that he decided to invest in the organization by giving the organization a beginner’s beekeeping book. Tariq flipped through it, and three years later, as his homestead was steadily growing, he was ready to buy my first batch of honeybees which he purchased from another Muslim Beekeeper. The honeybees were one of the last animals to join his homestead: after the chickens, quail, and goats.
After his first year of beekeeping he attended the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute and became a certified beekeeper. He is currently working on his third beehive, and plans to continue to advance in the art of beekeeping until he becomes a master beekeeper. Tariq aspires to add to the scientific research of bee related matters as well as experience being a honey judge.
In addition to the personal fulfillment that beekeeping has given Tariq, children within the community have also benefitted tremendously from him being a beekeeper. Since honeybees are major pollinators, the children have gained a better interest in and understanding of agriculture and food production. Beyond honey, the children have also learned that humans collect many other useful products from bees such as wax, royal jelly, and pollen. We anticipate that we will soon have children expressing interest in going into the natural health field due to learning of the many health benefits of pollen and royal jelly. We already have children that want to make candles and cosmetic products from the wax! The youth have already gained experience in harvesting honey, this year Makkah International Institute is looking forward to producing candles and cosmetics as well!
Unlike the keeping of other animals and critters, Tariq finds that beekeeping is highly connected to his religious fulfillment. The bee is mentioned in the Quran and the Prophet said that honey, black seed, and hijama are cures for all diseases and the best of all medicines. As an Islamic wellness therapist not only does Tariq perform hijama, but he also gives wellness advice on a regular basis. So quite naturally, he relays the many narrations of Prophet Muhammad that relate to wellness. If someone is sick, all too often Tariq will recommend that they take some honey. In fact, he even provides it after his hijama appointments. Which is local, fresh from the farm, and above the organic standard!
After it is all said and done the number one question people ask is “how many times have you been stung”? Contrary to what most people believe, honeybees are relatively easy to manage. In his three years of beekeeping, he has only been stung about five times. Beekeeping maintenance mainly consists of opening the hive about twice a month to check the health and development of the colony. In my three years I have spent about $700 in beekeeping supplies and training. Which is about the same as a good pedigree German Shephard (without the training!). But unlike a pet dog, the honeybees find their own food. They will travel about a mile away to find the flowers they love.
Makkah International Institute combines three essentials to community prosperity: service, education, and wellness. Central to our mission is the honeybee. With aw inspiring social structure and unmatched work ethic the honeybee is so central to our organization that it was chosen as our mascot. The Makkah Institute Killer Bees are steadily growing in popularity at many local basketball tournaments donning their Stealers (and honeybee) black and gold colors. Beyond summer camps and school curricula, Makkah International Institute uses beekeeping in a holistic manner to uplift our community.
If anyone has any questions or need advice Tariq is always willing to lend a helping hand to the community. Till the next time, Happy Beekeeping!
Tariq Abdul-Malik B.S, MAT, Ed.S, CHP
Tariq Abdul-Malik is the founder and director of Makkah International Institute LLC, Makkah Institute Inc., and Makkah Farms. He is a passionate father of 9, husband, son, brother, educator, hijama practicitioner, and beekeeper. He is a staunch advocate for holistic wellness and education that balances mind, body, and spirit.
Contrary to popular belief, this protest isn’t about one singular event or justice for one person or even a small group of people. This protest is the representation of the pot boiling over. African American’s and honestly, young people in general have seemed to finally have enough of the injustices in this country and more specifically, the racial injustices committed against black peoples with seemingly no repercussions. That is the spirit of this protest and Insha Allah it will be successful however, in order for it to be successful, we must relearn resistance. We do not have to be violent and chaotic to get to the goals we seek but we do have to be organized and defiant. We must make things uncomfortable for those who are comfortable. Effective Protesting is easy there will be tough times but anything worth having is worth fighting for and this is indeed worth having.
Be safe when you're fighting for freedom
For folks who are new to social justice actions:
1. Water makes pepper spray worse. Use milk or liquid antacid and water. Don't wear contacts.
2. If you get tear gassed, when you get home, put the contaminated clothes in a plastic bag for later decontamination and shower with cold water to avoid opening your pores.
3. Come with friends and don't get separated.
Avoid leaving the crowd and watch out for police snatch squads.
4. Beware undercovers, but beware snitch jacketing and collaborator 'peace police' even more.
5. The far right is very good at combing through pictures and doxxing people. Mask up.
6. Write any necessary phone numbers you may need directly on your skin in sharpie.
7. Have an offsite plan for emergencies if you have not been heard from by X time coordinate with someone offsite.
8. Make sure all mobile devices are charged!!
9. If you plan on going to jail, plan it: bail, lawyer, time off from work, witnesses i.e.: a cadre. Don't just go to jail without training.
10. Beware folks inciting violence. Most of them are police feds. Watch out for hook ups for the same reason. Get to know the crowd. They will set you up. (courtesy of Facebook)
Kairi Al-Amin Esq.
Attorney Kairi Al-Amin is a Muslim rapper, activist, lawyer and business developer from Atlanta, Ga.
As a Muslim and from the very beginning of my life l was taught that when we feed other people, it is considered an act of worship to the Most High. As Muslims, we are taught that we are God's servants in service to Him. My family had land in Haralson, Georgia where my father, Jameel Muhammad lbraheem, and grandfather, Abu Jameel Muhammad lbraheem started the first masjid or Muslim house of worship on their land in the late 1960s. Muslims came from all over to learn to grow fruits and vegetables and live off of the land as a means for survival. We grew our own fruits and vegetables to be consumed and shared with others as a sadaqa. We raised our own livestock and supplied the inner cities with halal meats. As a child, all l can remember is that my father would cook up all this food, and feed people.
All praises due to God, my father was my first example of giving to others as an act of worship and service that is pleasing to the Most High. In 2004, l began feeding the homeless with a great friend of my brother named Abdul Jami Allen. His Nonprofit was called Giving Back to Humanity. I fed with him on Sundays at Broad Street Masjid in downtown Atlanta for 5 years. He literally fed 500 homeless people every single weekend. After each time we volunteered with Giving Back to Humanity, me and my mother would drive around our own neighbor, Westend Oakland City community, and look for two people to give our 2 volunteer plates to.
We would drive around looking for homeless people and find them under bridges and near vidocks all over the Westend Oakland city community. People would see us with plates and come running.... My mother and I felt sad because we would always only have those two plates of food to give out. The people would literally come running thinking that we had enough to feed everyone. While walking away, they always seemed very disappointed. I prayed to God, and l set a goal to try to feed 150 people on Sundays in my own Westend Oakland city community for His pleasure.
My Sister Yaqutullah lbraheem Muhammad had a mentor that soon became my mentor, Khariyyah Faiz. My sister fed the homeless with Sister Khariyyah’s nonprofit here in the city of Atlanta called Sis United lnc. Brother Abdul Jami Allen was also very supportive of my dream when l told him that l was preparing to start a feeding program in my own community because l saw a need there. In March of 2010, I made flyers and drove all around the Westend Oakland city community telling anyone that l saw who looked homeless or hungry about the establishment of a new feeding program. I began letting them know that they could receive a hot and delicious meal if they came to Oakland city park at 10am on a Sunday. The second Sunday of March 2010 l had my very first feeding.
l have been a teacher for 20 years, so many of my volunteers are past co-workers, parents, and students who have grown into adulthood. Humanitarian Relief Power to Feed The Hungry was started to feed and serve the community in which l was raised and lived in. All Praises Due to God, in March of 2020 we celebrated 10 years of Successful feedings. Over the years we have had summer read-a-thons focused on giving the children in our neighborhood access to 50k free books during the summer months. When l began feeding with brother Brother Abdul Jami of Giving Back to Humanities in 2004 l realized how many children in our city limits are affected by homelessness and hungry. After starting my own feeding program l was able to partner with Better World Books so that I could not only give each child a meal, but access to 10 books. When l first started, l could not have envisioned such a successful program that would also focus on children in the community. ln March of 2010 l just prayed and prayed for God to allow us to be able to continue to feed the community. All praises due to God, Alhumduillah, today Humanitarian Relief Power to feed the hungry has had over 553 successful feedings over 10 years and 8 weeks of feedings in God's Name. l have been able to keep the feeding the people entirely for the pleasure of God as an act of worship .
Jinnah Ibraheem is The Founder of Humanitarian Relief "Power to Feed The Hungry." She is a wife, daughter, and an educator with over 20 years experience. She has her bachelors and masters degrees in education, and is currently pursuing her PhD.
An enormous catapult propelled a young Ibrahim (AS) toward a searing fire; a towering representation of the outside world’s distaste for his devotion to the one true deity. The catapult was needed because this fire was too intense for his idol worshipping enemies to approach, though they were the ones that built it. As he hurled toward the inferno, death seemed imminent to the thrilled onlookers, and likely to Ibrahim himself.
But similar to many who have faced death since him, time slowed down for the Friend of Allah (SWT). While repeating affirmations of Allah's Supremacy and Oneness, the seconds became minutes, perhaps even hours. Because Ibrahim found enough solitude and peace within himself in these fleeting moments to receive affirmation from his Creator. It came in the form of the angel Jibril, asking Ibrahim what he needed. Ibrahim replied to Jibril that he needed nothing from him. But Allah’s interjection can be found in Surah Anbiyaa, verse 69 where He conveys: “We said, ‘O fire, be cool and safe for Ibrahim!”
So the peaceful solitude that Ibrahim enjoyed while being flung toward raging flames increased when he landed inside of said flames. His response was not at all like mine would have been. I would not have been able to run out of that fire and gloat to my would be murderers fast enough. Not Ibrahim. He simply said, “For me Allah suffices and He is the best disposer of affairs” and enjoyed a few more moments in the soothing flames.
This literal grace under fire is what the Father of Prophets displayed time and time again, often in times of extreme isolation. This quality became a trend within his progeny, the greatest examples in the Qur'an.
Prophet Yusuf (AS) experienced extreme isolation twice in his lifetime. In the well after incurring the jealousy of his brothers and in prison after invoking the lust and subsequent shame of a powerful woman. Prophet Yunus (AS) experienced it in the belly of the beast after giving up on the mission that was prescribed to him by The One Who Heals. Maryam’s entire life, a testament to chaste abstinence and worship, shows us that our Sisters can reach the heights of piety and produce greatness without the aid of anyone other than Allah. Much of her life was lived in isolation. And of course our beloved Muhammad SAW often took long walks to be alone with nature before and after he received revelation. It was during one of these excursions, inside the cave of Hira that the angel Jibril first gave him Allah’s command to “Read!” Later, during a pivotal battle in which he was wounded, Muhammad took some time to heal in the cave of Uhud.
Socialization as a Crutch
We live in a time where it is very easy to be a face in the crowd of Muslims, whether in person, or online. There is no shortage of scholars and Imams with the gifts of knowledge and speech. If we were to relate our experience to a prophetic one, it would that of Sulaiman, the prophet who ruled the entire world and owned a majority of its riches. He spoke many languages, including those of the birds, the jinn and even the ant.
For many of us though, we are the ant in this scenario. We use the ease of socialization as a crutch, comfortably living in the shadows of great leaders, picking and choosing which beautiful coattail to ride on, accepting whatever wisdom they deem necessary for us to learn, never feeling the need to seek knowledge on our own. Never searching within.
The Most Important Ramadan of Our Lives
Allah has catapulted each of us toward facing our own personal jihad. For some of us, that may be the fire of rage or drug abuse. For others it may be the worship of false idols. Or prison. Or the cave of our repressed urges or memories. We may realize that we have neglected our true calling and been swallowed whole by the beast that is this world, neglecting our piety and relying on man to do for us what only we can do for ourselves with the mercy of Allah.
For the first Ramadan of our lives, we cannot count on our brother to Read for us during tarawih. For the first time we cannot bury ourselves in work in order to lose track of time until after Asr prayer. For the first time, it is undeniable that Allah is giving us the time to heal from this pivotal battle that we have been fighting as Friends of Allah in hostile territory. That is why this is the most important Ramadan of our lives. May we all accept the challenge with the grace of Ibrahim and say with our hearts and actions, “For me Allah suffices and He is the best disposer of affairs.”
Masood Abdul-Haqq is business strategist, speaker and writer. A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Business Law, Masood also teaches Qur’an and serves as Chairman at his local masjid. Masood resides in Oklahoma City with his wife and three children.
By Atiba Jones
Only 59% of black males graduate public high school in this nation
And only 17% go on to earn Bachelor’s Degrees, is the reality of the situation
And even blacks with degrees, statistically earn far less than their uneducated white counterparts throughout their career’s duration
So it’s no wonder why African-Americans are far more likely to end up on probation
And consistently have the highest percentages in prison AKA the new plantation
Yes, we’ve come a long way, but I believe there’s still need for a lot more salvation
What happens to the other 41% of black males who didn’t complete high school?
What happens to the other 83% without a Bachelors to use as a tool?
Are they to just be forgotten about as if the problem is merely minuscule?
Our educational system has failed them, and no, it’s not cool
It’s time for an alternative system that goes beyond the surface
It’s time to interrupt their cycles of poverty, crime, incarceration and lack of purpose
It’s time for our youth to be exposed to agriculture, vocational trades, entrepreneurship and humanitarian service
The art of service has been used for centuries as a tool for character development and spiritual training
It instills humility, gratitude and decreases complaining
It rids one of arrogance & hypocrisy and leaves nothing but purity remaining
It focuses one on benefiting others rather than seeking that which is merely entertaining
And the beauty of agriculture is that it reconnects us with nature and our natural state
It helps us to understand where the food comes from that ends up on our plate
It helps us to experience, through our hands, what God can Create
And it allows us to feed our communities healthy foods from what we collectively cultivate
Over the past few decades, from high schools we’ve seen vocational education gradually disappear
“You have to go to college” is all that we’ve begun to hear
And perceptions of inferiority from not having a degree has become a real fear
While many tradesman earn far more than the average college graduate per year
So why is it made to seem as if the only options are either college or the street?
With the only exception being the possibility of becoming a professional athlete
Or maybe you can make it by learning how to rap some destructive lyrics to a beat
Presenting these as the only options is blatant deceit
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to college, however, it’s not the only way to economically compete
And if you don’t have a degree, there’s no need to feel as if you’re somehow incomplete
And besides this, entrepreneurs are consistently the wealthiest people on Earth
And they create situations for children to inherit enterprises at birth
Beyond money, entrepreneurship helps one to discover their true worth
It shows you that you can build and lead
You can create jobs for those in need
But the key is to not fall into the trap of arrogance or greed
Because the objective is to save ourselves so that we can save our families and others
So that we can uplift our sisters and inspire our brothers
Provide hope and support for all the single mothers
So this is not just about some economic or material pursuit
It’s about radically changing the trajectory of the poor and destitute
Providing a new career path for the dope boy and the prostitute
Snatching up misguided youth from out of the streets and showing them that there’s a different route
And this, my brothers and sisters, has sparked the coming of SAVE Institute
Atiba Jones is the director of the SAVE Institute and former founding director of the Risala Institute. He has been a community activist in the Atlanta area for over 15 years.
The issues our children are facing in this new century undoubtedly need to be addressed. There is so much happening in this quickly changing world and it’s hitting our children hard.
Our children are dealing with issues that we didn’t deal with as we were growing up. They are exposed to violent video games like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto. They must learn to protect themselves in schools from intruders. Who ever thought this would be an issue in a place of knowledge? There are so many sexual agendas presented to them such as transgenderism, homosexuality, and what pronoun does one identify with. This world is swiftly becoming tricky. What we once thought was common sense is no longer valid.
So, my questions are, how do we guide them through this fast-paced changing world? How can we guide them to be the best Muslims they can be with all the dilemmas of society? I really think that we need to provide more halal outlets for our youth to help them navigate through the issues. We should be able to provide counseling sessions for youth who are struggling. It is up to our generation to be a source of guidance and support. We must be very careful of criticizing their decisions and help them find solutions through Islamic resources.
I see an urgent need to bring back Islamic studies classes to listen and clarify some of the misguidance that our children face. It seems to be a major agenda against religion or people of faith. Our children are becoming confused of what to believe. As parents, all we can do is pray for them and ourselves regularly. There is a constant struggle for us all. In closing, I pray that Allah guide our children and keep their hearts full of faith, protect them from going astray, being led astray, and slipping.
I am Fatimah Wadood, Field coordinator and Case Manager with ICNA Relief. I have been working and volunteering with this organization for a little over two years. In this short time of doing service, I have been able to see how practicing small acts of kindness truly has an impact on our communities. Over the past 5+ years, we've offered:
Emergency rental assistance to avoid eviction.
Feed the Hungry program every Sunday, where we offer hot plates to the homeless downtown totalling in 450+ bellys fed per month.
Our annual Back to School giveway donates close to 2,000 free backpacks with school supplies to our communitys.
A food pantry that offers a free supply of monthly groceries and toiletries. Our food pantry clients total to about 400 households per month.
This alone has opened my eyes to see how many families are in true need of necessities as simple as bread, meat, and toilet paper. A lot of these families have homes, cars, full time employment, and even TANF benefits. But unfortunately with how iniquitous the economy has been,
a full-time job it is not efficient enough to support a full family. This is why it's so important for our communities to help with emergency resources. It takes one small unfortunate event to demolish a household and result in homelessness.
I recall during our coldest winter days, a refugee apartment complex had issues with their heating and air conditioning system. The units were occupied by large families with extreme hazardous living conditions. We partnered with Masjid Jafar and gave 80+ heaters to them. Knowing that the children could sleep better with a warmer home, made me appreciate even being able to afford a high power bill. We often take advantage of opportunities because we aren't aware of what a luxury it is, until it isn't anymore.
Working with ICNA Relief continues to humble me in the saddest of ways. But it builds me up into being a more conscious force and voice for our communities. I encourage everyone to practice small acts of kindness. I prefer to say acts of kindness instead of "programs we offer," because at the end of the day our services don't create permanent change overnight. Continuous love and support to our communitues is what creates change in them.
Makkah International Institute