By Lamin Sabally, Minneapolis, Minnesota
”For Muslims to survive in the west where Islam phobia is noticeably widespread, they must build a community of people united by a common faith, which is Islam”. The pronouncement is the usage most commonly found in the Qur’an where it says: “Humanity was a single community (Ummah), and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings…” [Sūrah al-Baqarah]
The rousing disclosure was made by Imam Omar Abdou Rahim, Imam of Daru faruq mosque in Bloomington, a prominent member of the Muslim community in Minnesota and regular visitor to the Gambian Community mosque in Minneapolis especially during Ramadan events where he led the Taraweeh prayers and also delivered series of inspirational lectures. Imam Omar was speaking to worshippers at the Gambian community mosque on Saturday May 30th during an Islam conference on the topic “How Muslims should live in the west”. Foundations of a Muslim community he enumerated include, a purpose of unity on Islam, establishing mosque as a point of convergence for worshiping and socialization, leadership that is based on volunteering with vetted qualified people involved based on their knowledge, competence and kills and brotherhood, which according to the prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) gave it a similitude of a body. If one part hurts, the rest of the body equally feels the pain.
He said in building the community, Muslims must always look up to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as their unwavering role model. The Imam added that a community has many benefits, and among them, quoting Prophet Muhammad (SAW), is the provision of safety to Muslims when they work in unison by making Islam the faith of their unity. Still dilating on the importance of community, Imam Omar said most of the pillars of Islam are encouraging community building. For instance, Hajj or Pilgrimage is the stellar example of Muslim community, and night prayers during Ramadan and breaking fast together in the Masjid are distinct additional examples, he told the attentive congregation.
The Somali-born imam Omar clarified that the word community is mentioned in many Iyats or verses of the Qur’an in the form of Ummah. He referenced many verses that pointed towards community building including “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided”.(Surat ‘Ali ‘Imran). According to him, the holy Prophet gave a stray animal analogy to emphasize the importance community building in Islam. In a herd of animal, if one strays away, it will become a definite prey to the marauding wolf.
He advised Muslims to always portray the most exemplary behavior and character at all times in their homes, workplaces and in public gatherings as the only way of inviting people of other faiths to willingly embrace Islam, as there is absolutely no compulsion in the deen.
The closing remarks were given by Imam Kawsu Darboe of the Gambian Community Mosque, who thanked everyone for attending and pleasingly recognized the generous financial and food donations given by community members. He prayed for Allah’s continuous blessings, guidance and protection for the unstinting donors
The well-attended event was organized by the Islamic Education Center that runs the mosque and the weekly children Islamic school (Daara) and was chaired by Kawsu Touray, a teacher at the school. Mr. Touray is a former teacher of Nusrat High School and was a regular voice on Radio Gambia’s erstwhile Literary Column program hosted at different times by three of the most renowned Gambian broadcasters including Bora Mboge, Saul Njie and Malick Jeng.