By Mike Ghouse
August 4, 2012 | Ramadan16, 1433
Mosque - Masjid Bait-ul-Ikram, Ahmadiyya Masjid
Address - 1850 Hedgecox Road, Allen, TX 75013
As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards "knowing each other as guided by Quran to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. Insha Allah, next year, we will work on doing Iftaar at a Synagogue, Baptist Church and Catholic Church and possibly places of worship of different faiths. Hindu teachings call it Vasudeva Kutumbukum, we are all one large family under the blue dome.
Throughout the month of Ramadan, I am on a journey to grasp, understand and share the meaning of Taqwa from different perspectives. One of the elements of Taqwa is to feel like, as Carl Sagan said, “a pale blue dot” against the vastness of universe. In 1990 the Voyager-I took the picture of Planet Earth from a distance of 3.7 billion miles from Earth in 1990. It was humility of first order, the Planet Earth was merely a speck, a Pale Blue Dot (.12 pixel in size) against the endless vastness of space. This ought to make us appreciate the greatness of the creator, and truly say, Allahu Akbar!
Remember the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? He had said, when I die, bury me in an unmarked grave! This is an example of humility! Also known as Taqwa! He was the Prophet and did not have an ounce of arrogance; his life was an example for us to consider living as a good citizen. Indeed, every prophet exemplifies the simplicity of life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted us to recognize we are merely a speck in the expanse of this great Aalameen.
At the Ahmadiyya Mosque, after the Maghrib Prayers, I was given a moment to share my thoughts, and I focused on Taqwa; it is to get closer to God, he is closer to us than our Jugular vein, meaning he is fully aware of everything we do, he is part of our consciousness, yet we have complete free will.
When we are in tune with him, we would be acquiring his sifaats (qualities as we humans understand) like kindness, mercifulness, generosity and just and unbiased. Getting closer to God simply means having those qualities in us. For our Vedantic friends reading this item, the act is known as God conscious, and for most others it is spirituality or Kabalistic experience for our Jewish friends and mysticism for Sufis. These are different expressions of the same experience; being in tune with God; Taqwa.
In one of the stories, King Solomon asks God to give him all the powers God has, and in particular, he wanted to be Ar-Razzāq, the provider. God says No, and Solomon begs.
God says, you really have to be above pettiness to be Ar-Razzaq; Solomon comes back with try me! Then God says, ok I will give you a day. The next day, God calls Solomon onto the carpet and laughs at him. I told you, you cannot be Ar-Razzaq.
Solomon argues, what do you mean God, I was a great Ar-Razzaq, to which God says, Solomon, nothing doing, you goofed up, there is a man dying of hunger, why the hell did you withheld the food from him? Solomon, the smart Alec shoots back, “ha ha ha, you did not know that, did you? He was a disobedient Man! God says, I told you so Solomon, you have to rise above pettiness to be the provider, I am taking back my role, and your Taqwa meter is at zero.
Can we be in tune with God? It’s tough, but we can try and that is what Taqwa is all about. In our times, women like Mother Teresa has achieved the highest degree of Taqwa, men like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have achieved that. Of course, we know many a Muslims have achieved that. Have you? Of course, I have not either, and I am trying. If we are unjust towards a person we don’t like, our Taqwa gets smashed to smithereens! Where do we stand on this one?
Now to answer your question what is the point in referencing Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Sagan and others. It is because Taqwa is a universal aspiration, and it is open to every human being regardless of the religion one follows.
Islam is a universal faith, and if others cannot relate with its concepts, then it cannot be universal. This blog is being read all over the world, hence the narration, so people of other faiths can relate with the Taqwa values.
A few Mosques do the education (dars) prior to fasting, Ahmadiyya Mosque is one such place and other one in Dallas is the WD Muhammad Mosques. Insha Allah, I will let you know about the Bohra Masjid next week.
The teacher was giving a dars at the Mosque, typical of most places of worship; his focus was on Shirk (dilution of God’s dominion) by followers of other religions where they focus on the messenger rather than the message.
At 8:24 the announcement was made that it was time for the Iftaar, and everyone was served the Khajoors (dates). Each mosque has its own unique methodology in breaking the fast. The Medina Masjid seems to have one of the most well directed process, the Imam leads all the supplications and no one can be lost in this mosque.
The Maghrib Prayers were observed in the same manner as the Sunni Irving, Richardson or Plano Mosques. The Imam kept the recitation short to be easy on the ones observing fast! There is no Imam per say at this Ahmadiyya Mosque, the president of the Association led the prayers, and in most smaller Mosques of all denominations, anyone can lead the prayers, not necessarily, but usually the seniors are asked to do that. However, the bigger Mosques have full time professional Imams. When I was teenager, I led the kids’ prayers.
The traditions from breaking the fast to the Maghrib prayers and dinner are identical with the Sunni tradition that is followed in most of the Mosques in Dallas / Fort Worth area, and I grew up with the same rituals in Bangalore. Another part of the Taqwa in the realm of humility is NOT to have the arrogance to believe other traditions to be of lesser value. Each time you consider others tradition is of lesser value than yours; your Taqwa meter resets itself to Zero.
The Ahmadiyya Muslims have taken one of the largest service to the nation initiatives; blood donations. Last year they collected about 12000 units to save lives, this year they are targeting 12,000 units and hope to collect more. On September 11, they are doing the blood drive at Dallas City Hall. They are looking for additional locations. If you wish to join them, please do so.
Their Chicken Curry for Iftaar dinner was delicious, my Uncle use to cook the best Chicken Curry in the world and this curry was a close match, and I enjoyed it on a conversation with two seniors visiting from Lahore, Pakistan, and two seniors from Dallas. Good people doing good things.
This Mosque has also adopted the “Alma Road” stretching from Plano City into Allen, meaning the volunteers will put in their time and effort to keep the road clean. The City has placed a few signs along the road recognizing their service.
We appreciate their contributions in making our communities better.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America with participation from every community. Please visit www.AmericaTogetherfoundation.com
Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, a positive event that brings all Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it. If you liked some of the article, you will like the description of Unity Day USA at www.UnityDayUSA.com
What does God really want?
Are Muslims a part of the American society? http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-muslims-part-of-american-story.html
A call from God to know each other http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/mission-of-world-muslim-congress.html
Please visit www.RamadanDaily.com for a record since 2010.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.