Article Op-Ed

Atlanta Muslims: Thriving, Not Surviving

Atlanta Muslims: Thriving, Not Surviving

Author Abdulahad Ali by

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Ideas are powerful. Ideas become thoughts. Thoughts become words. Words become action.

Although this seems like a simple and straightforward process, it is not always how things go. Thoughts are sometimes suppressed, and therefore never become words. Moreover, voicing the wrong thought can mean division and even hatred in today’s world.

Indeed, openly practicing Islam today in some parts of America today may not be popular. But seeing American Muslims handle hardship with grace and kindness makes me proud.

Now more than ever, the American Muslim community requires positive change and forward thinking. When great young scholars speak at events in Atlanta, locals attend in droves because our community is attracted to the idea of improvement. These scholars become venues for our Muslim community to engage further, ask more questions, and gain more knowledge. Not just survive, but thrive.

One such scholar is Sheikh Omar Husain, who studied at Al-Azhar University in Egypt and is currently the Religious Director at MCECC in San Antonio. He was born in Los Angeles, California and spent most of his life there until graduating college.

During the first weekend of March, Sheikh Husain visited Atlanta and held a lecture series discussing numerous issues critical to today’s youth. His discussion of real answers to common problems Muslims deal with captivated his audiences. The captivating nature of his talks motivated me to make the lengthy drive to each one of his sessions.

Sheikh Husain spoke of many heavy topics, such as why do bad things happen to good people, dealing with disasters, and dealing with sinful habits like pornography. His advice regarding social media provided pragmatic solutions rather than simple prohibitions. We should watch less television not just to protect our eyes, but also to limit media influence on our thought.

Emphasized in his talks was hope - that fact that Allah grants all Muslims a return path towards forgiveness and righteousness as long as they are sincere in repentance. He utilized visuals and examples that we, as American Muslims, can relate to and learn from.

Sh. Husain’s talks seemed less like lectures and more like conversations. More Muslims around the country should be engaging in such conversations and addressing issues of faith.

Simple questions, such as why bad things happen to good people, cause many of us to lose faith. Instead of tackling substantial topics like this in the Jumu’ah khutbah, we are lectured regarding such mundanities as the proper amount of gold to give for Zakat.

While Zakat may be important, it is an inappropriate khutbah topic when youth are confronting such challenges as drugs, sex, and alcohol. Our faith must be restored weekly via exposure to real insight and knowledge.

Sheikh Husain’s recent Jummah khutbah at RCM was moving and light, accomplishing the task of replenishing our faith tremendously. He explained that all trials will eventually be viewed in a positive light, though we may not realize it in the moment. For example, even a bad spouse may become a blessing if they will cause you to turn to Allah (swt).

These tough times are a reminder for us to turn back to the One who can solve our problems. The Muslim community needs dynamic speakers such as Sheikh Husain in order to innovate fresh ideas.

Our thoughts must be voiced, reasoned with, discussed and answered. Only through action can we bring about real and powerful change, allowing future generations of Muslims to truly thrive in America.

Abdulahad Ali, 22, is a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, Majoring in Economics. He is also president of Economics Club and Student Ambassador.

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