SALAM Puts on Splendid
By Zaki Syed
Glimpses of the Hajj Exhibit organised by the Sacramento
Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM)
Many years ago Prophet Ibrahim
had a dream, in which Allah (swt) ordered him to sacrifice
his son Ismael, in order to show his dedication to Allah.
Just when Prophet Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son,
Allah showered his mercy upon him and sent a lamb to be sacrificed
instead. To honor Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice and dedication
to Allah, every year Muslims embark on the wonderful journey
known as Hajj.
“If there is one act of worship that show equality in
Islam it is Hajj”, says Imam Aziz of SALAM (Sacramento
Area League of Associated Muslims). “There is no other
place in the world that hosts three million people, poor,
rich, man, woman, all wearing the same cloth in one valley
worshipping God.” Aziz isn’t the only person who
felt this way, the Muslims of SALAM, Folsom Cresent School,
and numerous volunteers in Sacramento area also felt strongly
about Hajj. Together they put an interactive Hajj exhibit
that was hosted at SALAM.
Volunteers started working on the Hajj exhibit after Ramadan,
the project took two-and-a-half months to complete. Volunteers
came from a diverse array of backgrounds, and consisted of
Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The purpose of the Hajj exhibit, according to Sarah Tisdel,
Youth Coordinator at SALAM, was to provide the Muslim youth
with a different way of looking at their culture. It was also
intended to provide non-Muslims an opportunity to learn about
the wonderful experience of Hajj.
“Basically this (the Hajj exhibit) is supposed to familiarize
people with the rights of Hajj,” said Tisdel. The Hajj
exhibit was designed in such a way that visitors felt they
were on Hajj themselves. When one entered the exhibit, he/she
were surrounded by makeshift mountains, prayer rugs, lamps,
sands used to replicate the desert, historical monuments,
and most breathtaking of all: a replicated Kabah. In the media
room, there was a video playing showing pilgrims making their
rounds on Hajj. It was surreal, and felt like a mini-museum.
To supplement this, the Folsom Crescent School consisting
of students up to second grade, sang numerous Islamic songs
in English, Arabic concerning Hajj.
Azeem Shams, a performer from Folsom Crescent school, said
that he had fun performing his songs and he was glad to share
the Hajj experience with others. Riaz Siddique, principal
of Folsom Crescent School, was happy his school got a chance
to perform at the Hajj exhibit.
“We need to teach our children from an early age how
Hajj is performed, and the significance of our creator,”
said Siddique. Siddique also feels that events like the Hajj
exhibit are important so that theycan show Americans what
Islam is truly about. “We need to change our perception
and show them (our non-Muslim American friends) the good things
Islam has accomplished”, stated Siddique. Many others
also shared Siddique’s view.
In his Friday Khutbah Imam Aziz urged Muslims to participate
in the Hajj exhibit and similar events, so that when people
think of Islam peace and unity come to their mind rather than
bloodshed. A volunteer and youth from SALAM Omar Sharif said
he volunteered to help out his community and show others that
Muslims are good law-abiding people.
Well it worked: numerous non-Muslims from nearby areas were
drawn to the exhibit and fascinated by what they saw. JoAnne
Hancock, a student at Sacramento State, had this to say, “Because
I took a Middle Eastern history class and came to this exhibit
I now have a better understanding of the Middle Eastern culture.”
Helping others understand Islam, and educating our children
at the same time, should be the goal of all Muslims. A huge
amount of effort went into this exhibit so that the stereotypes
that plaque Islam could be diminished. However, it is an ongoing
battle and we need each and every individual to participate
in this form of Dawah and worship. So go down to your local
mosque to be an asset in projects like these. Volunteer, because
together as an Ummah we can do it!