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.
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