President’s Eid-al-Adha Message(9/12/2016): Connections

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12 Sep President’s Eid-al-Adha Message(9/12/2016): Connections

Qur’an, Surah Al-Haj, Verses 26 and 27:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate.
And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass -“
AssalamuAlaykum / Peace be upon you,
Eid Mubarak to all of you. Kullu Am Wa An-tum Bi-Khair.
My dear brothers and sisters, Allah is Al-Wadud, The Loving One.  Through His love, He has bestowed upon us infinite blessings.  And one of His blessings is the Hajj.  Hajj means so many things to so many people.  To me, one of the meanings of Hajj is Connections.
Allow me a few minutes to explain what I mean and explain how MAPS is establishing these Connections.
First, Hajj is a Connection of mankind to Allah, As-Samad, The Eternally Besought.  Close to 3 million pilgrims have traveled from every corner of the world and are in Makkah today to seek a connection to Allah, The Almighty.  Imam Joban, Br Alaa Badr, and many in our community have made the journey too.  In Makkah, they have called out to Allah: “Labbaika La Sharika Laka Labbaik!”.  “Here I am at Your service, You have no partner, here I am at Your service”.  The Hajj is first and foremost a connection of the creation to its Creator.  It is a connection of the multitude of men and women to The One, Al-Wahid.
Second, Hajj is a Connection to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and to his mission.  In the year 632, nearly 1400 years ago, the holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) culminated his message in the only Hajj that he would perform.  There in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat, the Prophet gave his last sermon and he said:
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.
We testify that indeed Muhammad (pbuh) has conveyed Allah’s message.  He asked those present to connect to others and those to others again.  Through Hajj, we all connect with the Prophet (pbuh) and his message.
 Third, Hajj is a Connection with all of humanity in all its diversity.  In the same sermon, the Prophet (pbuh) most famously proclaimed:
 “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
By donning simple garments, by shedding all worldly displays of class, position and citizenship, by performing the same rituals together, we are re-asserting this message of equality.  We are connecting with all of humanity at a truly human level.  The pilgrims come from all over the world, as the Quranic verse above predicted and today, 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide are celebrating Eid together.  Hajj is really a connection across the human landscape and across the Earthly space.
Fourth, Hajj connects us across time.  Hajj is a celebration of the life of our father Ibrahim (pbuh).  The rituals in Hajj honor his story and the story of his family.  Hence, Hajj is a connection from us to all the Muslims who performed Hajj through time going back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and going all the way back to the Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh), and in some readings, going back to the Prophet Adam (pbuh).
Fifth, Hajj is a Connection to the heavens.  In Surah 52 At-Tur, Allah, Al-Azim The Incomparably Great, swears by al-Bayt-al-Mamur or the Flourishing House, which many commentators agree is a place in the heaven where angels perform the tawaf.  Hajj is a connection to the angels praying in heaven to Allah, Al-Jalil, The Revered.
Some would say that Hajj is a Connection to everything around us, from atoms to planets, since everything is in a constant state of motion.
In some way, the Hajj takes each one of us and establishes these deep connections in all directions and all dimensions.  And if the Hajj aims to establish these connections in Makkah, it is our duty to keep these connections when we return back home.
Let me now explain how at MAPS we aim to maintain these connections.
First, the Connection to Allah, Almighty.  MAPS endeavors to deepen our spiritual connection.  We fulfill the Islamic needs of 5000 local families.  In a given year, we have a foot traffic of 100,000 through our doors.  In addition to the many Islamic classes that we hold and the qualified teachers who we have on staff, we bring in nationally recognized speakers and scholars on a monthly basis to help us strengthen this connection of Iman (faith).  Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan was here last week.  Today, we are hosting Ustadh Ali Ataie and this Friday we will be hosting Hussam Ayloush.  In the coming weeks, we have already booked Jasser Auda and Imam Magid to come and teach us.  We, of course, place great emphasis on kids’ Islamic education and have some 800 kids enrolled in various classes throughout the year.  And beyond education, we offer Islamic services for all stages of life – from births to weddings to funerals. Do you know that MAPS is one of only two places in Seattle that offer ghusl for Janazah (last rites)?  We cover all the funeral expenses for those who cannot afford them.
Second, Connection to the Muslim community.  Many of our programs and events are aimed at strengthening the bonds in the community – from 300 people camping on Whidbey Island last month to our weekly Friday night events.  However, we have especial consideration to connect to those in our community who are less fortunate.  Before Eid-ul-Fitr, we distributed sadaqah and zakat to 725 families.  We have a big program ongoing to help the refugees from Syria.  On any given week we write several checks to pay for rent, school fees, utility bills, emergency aids, etc.  This is only possible through your generous donations.  We also maintain a connection to the ummah worldwide.  Please attend a Reflections on Bosnia event later this month and a movie screening on Palestine next month.
Third, Connection to the broad local community.  As I have explained in my past addresses, we have expanded our Outbound Good services through MAPS-MCRC to benefit everybody, to better connect with our neighbors, to address the issues in our city and to demonstrate Islam and Muslims in their true light.  We now have a free and subsidized health clinic, we host blood banks and dental vans, we feed the homeless and distribute bus cards to the needy and we have programs that engage the elderly.  These are programs that are open to all.  MAPS-NOW repairs trails and beautify our parks.  MAPS-TAG hosts public technical meet-ups.  MAPS-IOC maintains a very strong connection with the various interfaith groups. MAPS-Youth has multiple programs every month interacting directly with the community: from making sandwiches for the homeless to addressing racism and hate

In a way, just like Hajj is Connections, MAPS is Connections too.  We have a large number of programs going on in our center.  And, I want to ask of all you to maintain your connection to this masjid and help establish more connections in more directions and more dimensions.
 
I want to close by thanking our own Imam Joban for sharing his knowledge through his classes and halaqas and helping us build the community; Br Abdulselam for his unwavering effort in managing the masjid operations; our cleaning staff, our volunteers, our teachers, our city, police and officials who help us think about safety of our community and all of you for putting your trust in us and for praying for us. 
 
Let me leave with you with 3 things: 
 
ONE – Let us all try to commit to doing at least one project through our Outbound Good initiatives to give back to the society following the sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh).  If you have an idea please reach out to us and we will help implement it in our local area.
 
TWO – Prioritize helping, supporting and establishing our centers here in United States.  Participate in other wider community initiatives that will help create an unshakeable foundation for our next generation right here. 
 
THREE – Provide your constructive feedback to us. Let us know what we are doing right and where we need to improve. And do continue to support MAPS with your ideas, with your time by volunteering and with your financial support so we can always improve and grow. And finally, I would  like to welcome all the new people who have come to MAPS for the first time.  We welcome you with open arms and heart.   Irrespective of who you are and where you came from, you are one of us.  Please take time after the prayers to explore your masjid and programs. Grab a copy of the annual report where we have listed our activities.  Subscribe to our newsletter.  Become a part of our community and help us in creating the programs and experiences which will shape our community for generations to come.
 
Our belief in Allah, living our lives according to His will, helping the needy, and learning from the examples of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) will serve as a common ground for us to Lead the Way in this journey. 
 
Jazakum-Ullah-Khairan / Thank you
Mahmood Khadeer
MAPS President