Hold up, wait a minute, put a little LOVE in it

We started off our day with a three-hour drive from Brevard to Charlotte.  Once parked, we exited our car and approached Masjid Ash-Shaheed. Immediately, someone at the door welcomed us; with a smile on his face, he introduced himself as Nasif Majid and ecstatically told us to come join the community members for Dhuhr prayer. I just want to point out how loosely people use the term community today. The word has much significance, but this Masjid is truly a community. The vibrant community emitted this sense of happiness, cooperation, and activism incomparable to many of the Muslim communities I have been to before. I could tell that the fabric holding Masjid Ash-Shaheed together is woven tightly. After prayer, the Masjid had an event that Imam Khalil labeled “Ta’lim”, which was a learning session. Subhanallah, what made Ta’lim special was the fact that it was a discussion that engaged the community members of all ages, including young children. They did not brush away comments or questions from the children, but rather embraced them joyfully. This encourages the children to learn about and discover the rich religion that is Islam for themselves.

Towards the late afternoon, the Nomads of North Carolina made a stop at the house of a couple, Inayat and Munirah, who met through mail during college and got married 6 months after. They now live in Charlotte and have 5 beautiful children. The father of the family, also known as D.I., opened the door and invited us in.  We met the five children who respectfully offered their salams  to us. We sat down in a circle on the floor in a circle and Munira brought tea cookies (not just any cookies… homemade, fresh chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven– they just melted in my mouth). Alhamudllilah my day was great, but if I just had some milk with those cookies, my day would have been perfect. Anyways, Inayet and Munira were so relaxed and lively; the fact that they opened up to us so quickly made our group feel so comfortable and at home.  This family exhibited something I value so much: good hospitality, which I think is the appropriate way to treat your guests, Muslim or Non-Muslim.  While we were eating, Inayet received a couple calls from friends. Soon after, we had even more guests come join us for delicious cookies. It seemed like their doors are always opened, even literally. In fact, Inayet said the door always remains physically open for guests.  It was time for Maghrib, so we all performed wudu to cleanse ourselves before prayer. At the conclusion of the prayer, Inayet, his wife, and his five children, who were all praying with us, began reciting Ayat al-Kursi in sync. What I admire most about the von Breisens is the strong familial bond they share. This bond is collectively manifested in the amazing hospitality they provide their guests with, the openness of the house and their hearts, and the respect the children have for their parents. All these things help to define the strong family bond, which is arguably one of the most important things in Islam. Inayet realizes even something as simple as family dinners at home are important in achieving this family unity , which is why he says he tries to avoid eating out.

What these stories have in common is the welcoming, warm atmosphere molded by the hosts that made me feel so comfortable. In my opinion, this is the way to treat guest. May Allah reward both the Ash-Shaheed Masjid and the von Breisens for hosting us.