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May 19, 2004

Road Trip to Springfield

Gasp, what is this, I took a road trip to somewhere else besides Champaign? Yep.

So last Friday, I went down to Springfield with dear mama as I had been invited by the local MSA to give khutbah and speak at their community dinner that weekend. We left early Friday morning at 9 am and drove through some hellish rain (yes, I realize “hellish rain” is quite oxymoronic…) and got there by 12 pm. It’s a really small community, but the masjid is amazingly beautiful. It’s cozy, neat, and extremely well-kept. Now, while this might offend some readers, I found what was “subhanallah” about the masjid was the fact that two blocks away from the masjid is Central Illinois’ largest, ahem, “gentleman’s club”. In other words, even in a place that has such filth and vileness, the blessing of Allah is still present in the nearby masjid in the area. It reminded me of the ayah, “…and God will not punish them while yet they ask for forgiveness.”

Anyway, what was the coolest thing by far about the masjid was the fact that it had a keycode entry system for every member of the masjid. This provision allows for any member of the masjid to have access to the masjid at any time of the day or night that he/she wants to come in, pray, read Qur’an, chill, etc. They just have to come in, put in their keycode and it disarms the security system. When they leave, the place will automatically shut down. And each member has his/her unique key code, so they know who is entering the masjid (for security purposes). I think this won’t work at the larger centers (IFS, MCC, etc.), but this definitely needs to be considered for the smaller masjids so that people can come in and pray/chill whenever they want.

After the khutbah, the people immediately got up and crowded around a middle-aged Arab man, eager to meet him. I asked Fareed (former UIC guy and the person who invited me down) what was the deal, and Fareed told me that this man had been in prison for the past 3 months. About 6 months ago, he had moved and when the government sent him a notice about his visa/immigrant status, his attorney didn’t forward him the message. Needless to say, the government came and took him off to jail in St. Louis and kept him there, under relatively good conditions I must add, for 3 months. So I was just imagining (God forbid) if most of us–well, at least myself–where in prison, we’d react by getting upset at what happened, losing faith/hope, etc. That’s probably most people. But this beautiful man, just like the beautiful Prophet Yusuf, took advantage of his time in prison to give da’wah to people. In the 3 months that he stayed there, no less than 10 people became Muslim with him. Within two weeks of his arrival, he petitioned the warden to allow Muslim inmates to pray jumu’ah together; not only did the warden comply, but the prison was put on full notice to maintain silence and respect the jumu’ah prayer on Fridays. He was allowed visitors on Thursdays and Sundays, and his wife would travel weekly to see him; yet, while most men would ask for food and other comfort items, this man would tell his wife to bring books on Islam to give to the new converts who eagerly wanted to learn more. Two of the converts were French and German, and his wife had to search many bookstores to bring Islamic books in those languages. Subhanallah, just hearing this man’s tale was awe-inspiring… no wonder the entire masjid thronged around him to meet him. Afterwards, he and I had a conversation after everyone left, and just hearing how positive he was about his experience, how he believe he was put in prison by God to carry out His work… just amazing, simply amazing.

The rest of the weekend pretty much paled in comparison to my meeting that awesome man. I had to speak two other times (Friday night and Saturday night), but other than that, I had time to meet people and go around springfield. While I’ve painted Springfield to be some sort of utopia, let me also give a dose of reality: on Saturday night, there was a community meeting to discuss the possible expansion of the masjid, instituting a full-time Imam, etc…  unfortunately, the same scene (ie, that of people not seeing the other person’s point) played out and nothing much was settled on.

Anyway, we left back to Chicago on Sunday morning after Fajr. I was extremely tired, but you know what pissed me off the most….

…was how the Spurs self-destructed 4 games in a row to the wretched Lakers. The Spurs had the best shot of beating them; now that they’re gone, I don’t think either the Kings or the Timberwolves (and we all know Mike Bibby’s my boy) have the talent and ability to beat the Lakers in a 7 game series. Chalk up another ring for those vile Lakers and let’s start talkin about pennant race.


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One Comment
  1. hey that’s pretty cool, a masjid closer to a club… so we can goto the club and then get back to the masjid for tauba and astaghfaar… awesome…

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