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The event I attended was a Ramadan event at the Islamic mosque in San Bernardino. A mosque is simply a religious place of worship for Muslims, and is the Islamic version of a church. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by fasting between sunrise and sunset. During the time between sunrise and sunset, we are taught to refrain from eating food, drinking liquids, engaging in sexual relations, and refrain from foul language. The origin behind Ramadan’s inception comes from Muhammad, a prophet in Islamic history, who received a revelation from God during this month. It is also taught that fasting during a holy month is obligatory in a monotheistic religion to promote devotion to having one God.
I chose this particular event because I’m a Muslim. I am born and raised a devout Muslim. Due to the divorce of my parents after twenty years, truths being revealed about my father as well as my mother and possible siblings I don’t know about, I thought that I should attempt to restore a spiritual connection within myself. I’ve had a strained relationship with religion due to feeling mislead by family members as well as being upset over the problems that have arisen in my life due to my parent’s mistakes, and I felt that a visit to a mosque would help restore some of the problems I have internally.
The history is relevant to the course due to the fact that America in itself is a melting pot of every culture in the world. Islamic principles and the culture were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in the ideology of the individuals involved. MLK Jr., Malcolm X, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and the Black Panthers are all representatives who were at some point affiliated with Islam, and were all part of the Civil Rights Movement at one point or another. Without the strict, militant beliefs stressed in Islam, these prominent members of the Civil Rights Movement would never have been as impactful as they were.
The meeting I went to specifically was a small gathering of about fifteen or so black men and women. My aunts regularly attend the meetings, and have been pressuring me to attend a meeting. The group was lead by a male that whose name I didn’t get, and the meeting’s focal point was to show strength through numbers during Ramadan. The need and temptation to break the fast or engage in things that are against Ramadan is believed to waver when your numbers are bigger. The presentation was extremely sloppy because some of the questions being asked that were common knowledge weren’t answered by the leader of the group. There were those who wanted to know why Islamic believers fast and these questions weren’t adequately answered.
This is technically a temporary subjugation for the actual meeting that Muslims generally engage in. The meeting I attended is scaled down extremely due to the lack of attendants. Generally it would be organized and look similar to a party with tables, table cloths, paintings, food, and a primary speaker in front of a group of people. Since the group of people is so small, the meeting was conducted in a circle of chairs with a primary speaker at the head of the circle. My problem with events like these has always lied in the fact that they are sloppily done. When you’re representing something as important as someone’s belief or religion you must do it the right way. If you cannot do something the right way, you shouldn’t attempt it at all is my belief. The meeting should only be appointed or conducted by someone who has earned the right through studying or accreditation to lead the group of people. A meeting lead by someone who isn’t a minister discredits the group of people attending and the purpose of the meeting itself.
The event or meeting itself was organized by several families that my family has been friends with since the seventies. We are all predominantly raised Muslim and have attended events together. The organizer under normal circumstances would be the NOI, Nation of Islam. I cannot consider it under those terms due to the fact that the mosque isn’t accredited by the NOI as an official mosque under their jurisdictions. The meeting attended isn’t able to live up to the history that comes with the NOI historically. The Nation of Islam is the group of Muslims that follow the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The reason it is called the Nation of Islam is due to the subtle differences compared to the Islam that is practiced in the Middle East. The simplest comparison would be likening the NOI to Orthodox Judaism. They both have very subtle differences, but nothing major enough to detract from the original message.
The event meant much to me in multiple ways. I have a sentimental value when it comes to anything religious in my family because I grew up around it, and dealt with it for all of my life. Any Islamic event is a reminder of a better time in my life when all I did was laugh and enjoy life. Even with all the complaints I’ve made towards the lack of authenticity; it is a beautiful experience to see so many people united to celebrate one event that is designed to promote good within oneself. The main thing I learned from this event was that my distance from religion hasn’t weakened my resolve when it comes to unity within Islam. Just because I’m unable to display and honor the history and tradition of Islam, doesn’t mean I’m neglecting my knowledge of my culture.
The textbook doesn’t really touch base with the subject of Islam because it isn’t a primary topic in American society, but it does speak lightly on the subject. The textbook references the Black Panthers as well as MLK Jr., who were both proprietors of the Islamic culture and followers of Islam. The textbook stops at that because Islam didn’t become popular until the emergence of the NOI between the 1930s until the 1970s. The NOI then broke into sects and different elements manifested themselves in the Black Panthers and other black militant groups at the time. Islam isn’t a talked about religion in current times due to American distaste for anything related to Muslims after the events of 9/11.
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