Assalaamu Alaykum

Bismillah (In the name of Allah)…

I was not born into a Muslim family; my family members are either Rasta or Christian minded. I am the only Muslim in my Family.

I remember in Sunday school being told stories and they just didn’t make sense to me. For example, when Cain killed Able and ran off to the land of Nad and found a wife.

“If a two man pickney alone and two a dem live, where him find wife? and the land of Nad mean wanderers so how that come een?”

“Stop question the ting, stop question God!!!”

A no him mi a ask a you.  A you a tell me suppn’ so u mus know the details.

From there I realized that we as a people tend to think on a straight line and once you take them off the line, you’re bad or you’re the devil. An’ me love ask questions and if you cyah ansa the questions then it means you’re only regurgitating what someone else told you- you’re not thinking for yourself.

So when I started doing my own research and found Islam, I was puzzled and wondered why America always painted a bad picture about Muslims. I went further into my research and realized that the things they said, were not true- that they were made up.

I remembered in the Bible it told us that Abraham ( Ibrahim as said in Arabic), had two sons and one was sent away into the desert. That’s where I thought Islam came from- the desert. So maybe that’s the son that started the religion. Then when I went to the mosque and they showed me the same thing and where they originated from. I realized that it is the same people like Christianity, it’s just that when it comes to Jesus and Mohammad it’s separate.

So when I started going to the mosque I asked if they believed in Jesus and they said:

“Yes, but he’s just not the son of God”

“OK, what do you basically believe?”

“We believe in one God, a messenger and angels”

“OK then, it’s similar to Christianity  where you have the Father, Son and Holy Ghost but you use different terms”

“We are waiting on Jesus to return”

  Muslim a wait pon Jesas to return??? Fus mi a hear dis!! Mi no tink a Mohammad(Assalaamu Alaykum (peace be upon youI have to say that after I say Mohammad) alone unno say???

 “Oh, basically a the same thing”.

Muslims show brotherly love and as much as people discriminate against them they still love each other. So the family bond that I never had with my family drew me to them. Once you’re a Muslim, colour does not exist; your race and socioeconomic status are of no importance the Muslim brothers and sisters. For example, if I want to go to Africa tomorrow I don’t have to worry, I just let them know at a mosque there that I am a Muslim and I am accepted. Thinking of the Christian religion where in some churches, you have to be  re-baptized to join the church. I looked around the mosque and saw how open it was; nothing like how Christian churches were set up. I was skeptical and said:

“How is this possible?”

“Everyone is a watchman for themselves, no one is better than another Muslim other than the good deeds that they have done”

This cyah real, anything without rules and regulations is bound to fail.

So the brotherly love and equality shown to everyone, even if you are not seen as a brother in your own family are some of the factors that encouraged me to be apart of the faith.

I’ve faced discrimination as a Muslim in more ways than one. Through my experiences  I’ve concluded that I prefer to be Respected than Loved. I remember at my workplace when people first heard that I was a Muslim, they treated me differently. I was told to clear my throat when walking into a room. Someone called me once, because they heard that I was a Muslim and asked if they should come to work the next day.   I remembered another instance where there was the bombing in France by a Muslim group and when I got to work, I was confronted about it saying what my brothers did was wrong. Because I am one of them immediately I was seen as the enemy.

Many persons show respect for people out of fear. That is the same for me; whenever they do something wrong they stop themselves  and say “see Muslim deh” – I’m not even called by my right name. This is considered a sign of Respect letting that “bad” person know that I’m in the room so they should behave themselves. I have to be reminding them that they are adults and free to do as they please, once it is not directed at me.

There are only few people that try to understand me; most persons claim to but in their actions I notice that they don’t mean it. For those who try to understand me, they try by learning about the religion and my lifestyle. I share books and they read and we discuss what was read, anything that they hear, they come me to and we talk about it.

“Never worry about when things slow down, only when it stops”.

That is a Japanese quote that I live by. My interpretation is as long as you’re making a headway just keep moving.

“You are not what people say about you but you are what you say about yourself”.

The most important things to me are my religion, praying, reading the Qur’an and observing the life and adjusting where necessary. Those are the things that motivate me- those are the things that I live by.

 

****Name withheld to protect Identity

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Ras Noah and the Hawk

Many communities are in a position where there is a lack of resources provided for individuals in terms of education, employment and basic needs.

The play Ras Noah and the Hawk is set within a ghetto community in Jamaica .The story starts where we see a group of community members lounging at a particular shop after the hurricane Ivan. Regardless of the high prices, they still hang out as there as a means of communication with the shop owner “Butcha”.  It could be that because of the success of his son Noah being able to leave the community; one which does not have any real progress for the average man. It causes them to stick around him.

The regular interactions, have helped to create an interesting relationship between the group. The street smart that drives Butcha throughout his life, shows in the way he deals with his customers. Though confident in his choices which may not be the wisest, people still flock to him for his products. It could be that the hostility that he meted out to those members, is a representation of what they get on a daily basis in interactions with other persons in the community.

A Butcher is someone who sells meat in a shop, however in the beginning we see where Butcha has become multi faceted where he sells everything to make some money after the hurricane. Though the significance of his name may have lost its meaning with his current position, he doesn’t cease to slaughter his customers with his “witty” remarks and bouts of ignorance. Like any parent he speaks with pride on what  he will do and who he can be, even though we the audience knows that some of these goals are unrealistic and not possible in his capacity. Though he may be considered ridiculous in many ways, it’s this drive he has that caused for his son to be in medical school.

The first song Noah tun Rasta; speaks of the expectations of the community as it relates to Noah’s successful return. The views of the community are shared views as it relates to the success that can help to remove the stigma and solve the problems that are particular to the community. He’s considered to a “gem to society”, worth praising.

Interestingly, this changed when Noah, the “lucky” one returned as a messenger in khaki, locs, slippers and flag instead of a stethoscope and white coat that is associated with doctors. The embarrassment Butcha faced was evident when his disbelief set in, resorting to even blaming Noah’s mother for his poor decision. From the song Noah tun Rasta, the community held the perception that rastas have  brought nothing but shame and disgrace to the Jamaican society. Him being a rasta will not get them the help that they desired as these dreams went down the drain and NO ONE can help them, so the blame rests on him.

With this change, it now highlights the calling from God- when he wants you he WANTS you.

We later see the perils he faces as the people have no faith in God. He being a man who has observed and experienced the wrath of God’s people even questioned God’s decisions. Like when the angel told him to “go lay down inna Hope Road and let the speeding Tata run ova him”. The reactions of him being a messenger is also significant, as it highlights how we are as a people. If there is something that is new that we don’t know much about, we become negative and ignore it.Most times our actions are driven by the fear of the unknown, and the repercussions of believing, until there is someone or an instance that reassures us that we have nothing to fear.

Patrick Brown brought provided some skepticism in the play which anyone would have with questions by Noah. One question was “where him a get board from fi make the Hawk?”. Yet regardless of what the message was, no matter how far-fetched it was as God’s humble servant and what God requested. His actions spoke to the choices we have the make and the obstacles we face if we want to be closer to God and do his will.

A very important factor to highlight is the decisions between God and his people. He was convinced that the people had forgotten about him and thought the flood was a good decision. However, when they had the opportunity to see him they were upset  as well as they thought that he had forgotten them. Some of the concerns had been expressed in the song Mr. Man; though some were not real issues, they still felt neglected.

With this scenario, we become familiar with the relationship between parents and their children. Where at times, the plans that they have for us and their decisions/ rules may be disregarded because we cannot see the logic behind it. Since we tend to stray, both parties tend to make rash decisions based on the repercussions. In the end they make up and live together in harmony. This was evident in the song “More Mighty than We”, where the people realized that God is indeed mightier than them and that they should worship them.

At the end of the day throughout our lives here on this Earth, for the believers of Christ, there is a God that we serve. Though we may not see what he has planned for us at times. He is always there for us and will never give us what we cannot bear.

 

 

 

Christ Has Risen….Now What?

As we wrap up from the long Easter weekend, I sat here wondering if we really appreciated what happened. We reflected on the days leading up to the crucifixion of Christ, his death and resurrection, which according  Christians is important as it was done to save us from sin. Do we really care? Over the years Easter has lost it true purpose and has become commercialized as other events not related to the religion are pushed for recreation.

I’m not trying to be negative, consider this is an energy boost as the Rev’d George Mulrain of the Providence Methodist Church rightly said in his sermon on Easter Sunday. Many times we go through the holidays in the Christian religion and I doubt that we really pay attention to the message of each event and its importance. I now that I’m guilty of this, as I did stuff my gut with all the bun and cheese I could get. However at church, while listening to the sermon it had me thinking; if we all want to go heaven, are we all doing what is pleasing  in his sight? 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. -Romans 5:1-11

Would you do the things that Jesus did? Doing what your Father instructed and not showing an ounce of doubt? While on Earth he advocated the work of his father for us to understand what God wanted for his people.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. – Ephesians 2: 8-10

Being a Christian does not occur overnight; it is a journey and even when you feel some level of understanding, temptation still presents itself. Even if it means dedicating an hour for him, meditate, sing, pray or listen to music that shows that you are honoring him.  It may not be in the morning, it may be whenever you’re on the road, you offer a prayer for getting to your destination safely, doing something for someone not expecting a reward or walking away from an argument as it is the better thing to do.

Let us manage our time  to incorporate the scriptures of the Bible and embrace our spirituality with God . So when there is another important event in Christianity we’ll be more appreciative of the event. Read the word for yourself and develop your own understanding, but be aware of the secular views as well. Do not limit yourself to one way of thinking. It can help to provide a better understanding of what is required as God’s child.