Their Life. Your Charity. Save A Life.

In the summer of 2008, a working-class family of four fell into homelessness for a period of months with only clothes, hope and each other. This family was like any other family. Simply trying to keep their head above water. However, they were experiencing a problem that many would usually turn a blind-eye to in their daily-lives. This family didn’t stand on your local corner, under a bridge, or on a street. Unfortunately, an economic-depression slipped up into their place of comfort-their home. Leaving them income-less and homeless with two teenagers that would learn the meaning of surviving and living on the outskirts of society.

In being stripped of everything that would make a family feel secure, they packed up their lives in their old car and left a life that they had once lived for a new life of instability. In finding themselves isolated from friends and family-members, they held onto their pride and dignity even in the face of despair and pain. In an act of self-preservation, the family of four never spoke of their struggle to survive with others, even between each other. In being left with nothing but each other, they soon turned to begging in hopes of having a place to lay their heads at night. In receiving money, the father, head of his household, soon turned to gambling in hopes of winning money to escape homelessness. Sadly, this act soon became another catalyst to increasing discord between the family-members. In between living and death, the family would live with others and stay in motels- sometimes a different one on a daily-basis. In having to deal with the struggles of surviving and trying to cling onto hope, the world became synonymous to living in a nightmare.

The family soon found themselves traveling down empty roads, lonely highways, and looking out windows to a world that excluded them. They had nothing. No money. No home. And soon, little hope for a future. The two parents would soon become argumentative with each other and doubtful about their tomorrows. Their two teenaged-children would later become clueless about their own survival. Every single day for the family became harder and harder because resources were running out. The charitable acts of others wouldn’t last forever. The hotel and motel-rooms would come to an end and need the next day’s payment. Sadly, this reality would force the family to pack up the little they had and to continue to some unknown place with unfamiliar faces. The world never seemed so cold and empty until then.

The smell of a homemade meal never lingered through their noses over those months. The warm feeling of being able to lie upon their own beds was never a reality for them over those months. The happy feeling of inviting over family and friends was never a reality for them over those months. The sound of children running up and down the street was never a reality for them for those months. The familiar smile from the postman was never a reality for them for those months. Over those months, the family of four found themselves living a life that was anything but the reality they once knew. Those months became their new reality. The family had a new reality that forced them to live in their old car at times, to change motel-rooms on a daily basis, to walk to local stores if the car ever had problems, to smile and to look presentable to those around them.

Unfortunately, the upcoming year for school would be starting for the two teenaged-children. They would be faced to lie about their summer and the wonderful vacation they didn’t really have. They would be forced to say no to friends about invitations and gatherings. The school would soon question their actual home-address once the mail was returned back to its sender. Every new day would seem like a lie and the smiles they would situate on their faces would only make the pain of homelessness and worthlessness penetrate even deeper in their hearts. The one thing that their friends and teachers didn’t know was the harsh reality that they would never know where they would sleep or do their homework after coming from school once the bell sounded for the end of the school day. An unspoken pain and hurt suddenly had set in for the two teenagers because they knew that their world was not the same as their classmates. They were homeless and without an address. And they were invisible.

As days, weeks, and months passed, the family of four soon got assistance in moving into their own home. They would soon find themselves situated in their own place across from the school. The mother found herself with a full-time job and decent income to provide and maintain. The father would soon find himself working odd-jobs to supplement his wife’s income. However, the pain they were feeling didn’t leave overnight. It didn’t even leave months later for they all could remember the different motel-rooms and roads they had once traveled to just find a place to lay their heads at night. As time went by, they found themselves reverting back to the lifestyle they had knew once before. They were reclining upon their couches, laying upon their own beds, and resting in their own home at night. The return of family-members coming over for visits would become a regular habit with occasional visits from their children’s friends. The world became better, but not perfect for they knew there were others like themselves that were experiencing homelessness on a daily-basis in conditions less-viable for survival. In undergoing their journey of survival, they were happy to know there were people willing to give them charity for a hotel or motel-room. There were people willing to give groceries when there wasn’t any for them to eat. They were most grateful for the charity that people gave to them for they were struggling without it.

In reading this story, I hope everyone will take time to think about charity and how it can save a person or even a family. As a Muslim, I believe the world is the responsibility of each and every one of us. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves if there are people who are without their bare necessities in life. This family isn’t any different from the next family. They just fell upon some hard times and that’s understandable, especially in the world that we live in. So, remember the next person you may see on the corner, under the bridge, or walking next to you in a store. That person could be one of the individuals in the story I told. We can’t pinpoint the poor and needy just by looks. We can’t pinpoint the poor and needy just by their lack of material-items. The poor and the needy comes in all forms and sometimes it will surprise you the most to know that those who are struggling are those just trying to save face by simply wearing a smile. And this story isn’t meant to make you feel guilty for this family’s homelessness, but it is a story of awareness and realism. Our world isn’t always black and white. It isn’t always as transparent as we may think. The world that we live in is quite confusing at times and even chaotic. So, just remember that the world is a place of smiles when many are hiding their frowns. Furthermore, remember that sadaqa or charity is due upon every one of us, so don’t withhold whatever you may have for it was Allah that gave you such blessings. May Allah give us strength and a helping hand for those that need it the most. Ameen.

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She Will No Longer Be Voiceless

The books line the wall in her room
A woman that never stopped collecting
That never stopped reading

She’s been told that as a female she should leave
things such as religious knowledge to those that are male
A woman’s place is within the confines of her home
tending to her children and staying quiet
not to speak until spoken to
not to question why she’s being confined to cultural -subjugation

She watches the television and she listens
Her curiosity is sparked
She is intrigued
She’s internally fighting against this subjugation
not understanding why these women that looks just like her are speaking of this religious liberation

The sound of children quickly fades away as she listens to the television screen
Her heart is racing
Tears are falling
She covers her face with the same hands that has nurtured the womb of her home
The baby that lies within her kicks and kicks
against her body
She feels her son pounding against her
Her body is sore
Her heart is broken

She doesn’t understand why these women on television are speaking about this freedom that she has yet to see
She doesn’t understand why these men that they call their husbands are teaching them about the religion
She is confused and angry

What is it within the confines of these books freeing these women? What is keeping these women from experiencing this same pain that penetrates the inside of my body? The inside of my mind? Why are these women smiling and strong? How can they speak with such words? Why are they not like me when they are me? Their clothing is similar to mines, but their life is so different.

She is angry and frustrated
She can no longer take this state of utter confusion
The nurturer of her home will no longer be sentenced to life in prison
Her voice will no longer be silenced by men that are ignorant of their own religion
Her body will not carry a son that will treat women as if they were not the protector that protected them in the confines of their bodies
She is done
Her ears have heard enough
Her heart has been inclined to something more
than just the title of “good mother”
She will now live up to the name in which her mother had given her
Amatullah

It has been three years
Divorced and with three children
Her home is a library of knowledge
A place of liberation
Her tears are no longer tears of pain
but tears of freedom
She is no longer the slave to cultural-subjugation
she is the servant of her Lord
She sits down with her children every night
Reading pages and pages of books
Written by Islamic scholars
Perusing the local newspaper to see the world around her
Realizing that one must change their own condition
Realizing that one’s purpose is to worship the Creator
and not the man that they are married to
and not the the children that they bore
and not the cultural-norms that are expected of them

She watches her children read and read
Their smiles bring her satisfaction
She has named her daughters “Amatullah”
and her son “Abdullah”

For they will forever be the servants of God
They will always know that worship is only for their Lord
and nobody else

She will no longer be speechless
Her books will forever line the walls of her home
They will forever be the freedom that she has long sought

A Man Stuck Between Two Worlds

Rahim Fazel of Rapouts

Rahim Fazel of Rapouts (Photo credit: @superamit)

I look into his face to see fear, passion, hurt, and mystery
A story that will always be untold
A chapter of his life that will never be written on paper
That will never be hidden on a study-guide or an exam
For fear of what may become exposed.
His destination is unknown
His path is shaky
A journey to somewhere, but yet still stuck guessing and questioning
Stuck between his native land and his new home which will never bear his roots
Which will never taste like the spices he once knew to warm his soul?
Which will never feel like the desert wind that would wipe across his face?
Which will never feel like home?
He’s been uprooted and torn from his foundation
Feelings of isolation and a lack of connection between him and these new people
This new world unknown, but yet so promising.
Does he lie down at night crying or meditating on his next step?
Does he wrap his arms around his body to comfort the pain that lies deep inside?
Or does he look in the mirror to see a man that feels like a little boy needing a little self-assurance?
Or does he write on the pages of his notebook about the progress he has made thus far?
Or will the angels find him gliding his fingers against the Arabic script of the Qur’an reciting the words of His Lord?
Or will the angels find his tears comforting him as he cries out for the guidance of Ar-Rahman Ar -Rahim?
Or will he be sitting down…alone…stuck and without words?

A Temporary World

The Home and the World

Image via Wikipedia

Dunya, dunya, dunya

I know your tricks and deceptions

Your appetizing delights

Your unpromising promises

Your crazy misguidance

This deen tells me about you

It tells me of your deceiving ways

Your temporary luxuries

Your fascinating amusements

As thought some may compromise their deen for your sake

I am one who seek to strive for ALLAH’s sake

To lend my tears to this journey I have surrendered to

To continue forward in a world that means nothing to the believer

I walk passed the miniskirts, the bars, the clubs, the boyfriends, and gossip

Step towards the way of beautiful delights and wonders that lies with my Lord

One step at a time

One test at a time

One tear at a time

Moving forward

Moving forward