Muslim Community of Folsom Holds Second Annual Seerah Event
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Muslim community in Folsom, California was proud to host its second Annual Seerah event on Saturday, January 16, 2016 with over 600 people in attendance. This Folsom Mosque is over a decade old (website http://www.mcfolsom.com/ ) and can commend itself on now having its own Mosque, a fulltime Islamic School and other services like Sunday School for a fast growing community on the eastern outskirts of Sacramento County. Many of the people that make up this congregation are employed by Intel Corporation (the largest employer in Folsom) and other technology and services companies plus Government in the area. South Asians (Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis) form a large part of the attendees here along with the Middle Easterners and locals.
MCF Imam Aamir Nazir is a community unity builder and it was at his invitation that Imams of many Mosques in the region were present at this event including Mufti Mudassir Owais (ICF Irvington) and Imam Kashif Ahmed (SALAM ), Imam Tahir Anwar (formerly of SBIA in San Jose), Imam Azeez (Tarbiya Institute), Imam Yousef Hussin of Masjid Annur, Imam Ammar Shahin of Davis, Imam Qasmi of the Downtown V Street Mosque, and Imam Mohammed Kamil and Qari Shehrzad of Masjid Rahman. Also present were Qari Zakariya Al Makkaoui who recited from the Qur’an and Hafiz Tulaib Zafir who performed an Urdu Naat.
Seerah or Biography when it pertains to the Prophet Muḥammad (Peace Be Upon Him) becomes an invaluable resource in the understanding of the Last Messenger of God and the religion of Muslims. Needless to say, he was central to the growth of Islam from its inception and his “Prophetic Biography” provides a role model for us to follow. Muslims generally (but not always) revisit the Prophet’s life on or somewhat close to his birthday (Mawlid - which falls around 12-17 of the Islamic Calendar Rabi' al-awwal month). During Seerah events, we go over the Prophet’s life, his simplicity and honesty. The exemplary life of moderation led by our Prophet and what we can learn from his example was the focus of the talks at this event as we focus here on the three main speakers, Mufti Mudassir Owais, Imam Tahir Anwar and Imam Azeez.
Mufti Mudassir spoke eloquently in Urdu (with Imam Kashif translating). He said that we should thank Allah (SWT) for giving us this opportunity to gather here to honor and discuss the life of our blessed Prophet. He said that Allah (SWT) has created a shining example and preserved a role model for us to emulate through the life of the Prophet, a life of balance, tolerance and not extremism. He gave examples of how the Prophet lived his life, like any ordinary human being, with simplicity, helping in housework, cleaning his own clothes and milking goats etc. He was a role model for kindness and humanitarian values. Mufti Mudassir also said that this is the way our religion should be practiced and frowned on people who lose their flexibility and concern for others while practicing their beliefs, because that is not the example that our prophet has left for us. That is not what our religion is about, because the basic teaching of Islam is that along with saying our prayers we should become good human beings, good parents and children, and good friends (and neighbors).
Imam Tahir Anwar was especially reflective during his delivery. He thanked everyone for inviting him to be a part of this blessed afternoon. He commended Mufti Mudassir for his wisdom and accuracy. He said that he just wanted to add to what Mufti Mudassir had said that the life of our Prophet (PBUH) was that of moderation. He also said that our Nabi (SWW) was an individual who was continuously smiling. The dictatorial lifestyle that some cultures practice and some bring with them here to America in reality ends up making us lose our links to our own children to the media and society here that we generally do not want to lose them to. He also shared that it is very difficult to get our young men and women (15-25 years old) to attend something like this (Seerah event). The answer to that can be very complicated. Our Prophet through the example of his life was able to communicate with all (including young people) including non-Muslims. The Prophet was known to be fair, he stood up for justice. Whenever confronted with a tough situation he always responded with good, which was the command of Allah (SWT). Imam Tahir added that in America there are a lot of good people (non-Muslims) and all we need to do is find them and join our hands with them. We have a lot of universal values, qualities and ideas in common, he said. Imam Tahir also encouraged all parents to keep an eye on their kids and their interaction on the social media.
Imam Azeez of the Tarbiya Institute in his speech said that this Seerah Conference was a beautiful tradition and he was happy to be a part of it and he felt blessed to be in the company of many Imams from the local Mosques in one place. He commended Imam Aamir for his effort at making this happen. He said that people were encouraged to learn about Islam from our Prophet’s Akhlaq (Manners/Disposition) even before sharing his knowledge. Akhlaq is that humility, character and the beauty which opens the door to the heart. Imam Azeez also shared some South-Asian wisdom to the delight of all in attendance, as it is interesting when an Egyptian speaks in Urdu! But humor aside, the point was made that we are always looking at what others have, instead of counting our own blessings. Azeez said that he wanted to talk to us about the balance and the moderation in the life of our Prophet (SWW), especially everything that the Prophet was not. He shared a personal story about encountering someone who had converted to Islam in America who quit going to the Mosque because of being treated harshly for forgetting to take off his shoes. Imam Azeez said that he will let us make the connection on our own. We live in difficult times, he added. With terrorist attacks all over the world with increasing frequency, or extremism which is the exact opposite of the moderation of the Prophet. And since no more prophets are to come, the responsibility of continuing to spread his message of moderation falls on us. How is it that some of the people who pretend to carry out this task today commit murder, he asked. How is that even logical? We are supposed to deliver the message of Muhammad (SWW) to other people so how is it that some (a very small minority) plant bombs that end up hurting not only the victims and their families but the rest of us? And it is happening right here, at our doorsteps, and if we don’t do something about it the Federal Government will do something about it, said Imam Azeez. We need to take the responsibility, tackle extremism, and grab the bull by the horns. The most popular recruitment media for Daesh (don’t call them ISIS) is the social media and the internet. Do not give your children smart phones before they reach the age of sixteen, he said. Extremism is not just about violent behavior. Extremism has become mainstream, it is about how we treat each other. Extremism is when we shove our beliefs down the throats of other people and get upset when they don’t follow us! That is not the example set by our beloved Prophet.