Imam Talk Podcast #06 – The Value of Empowering New Muslims with Imam Wesley Lebron
Channel: Tom Facchine
Series: Tom Facchine - Imam Talk Podcast
File Size: 43.75MB
I just found out how the last thoughts on Saudi law. So we're here back with Imam Talk where we sit down Imams and community leaders, mainly for a couple of main goals. And one of them is to discuss your personal path to leadership within the Muslim community,
to inspire others and to give lessons to others who might consider or find themselves in a leadership position one day, and then also to talk shop about the institutional level. What are the sorts of different things that you've seen, work or not work? What are the projects you're working on? And what are the challenges and opportunities that you have at present? So let's start with you and your path to leadership in the Muslim community.
Mr. Neville Salatu was Salam ala Rasulillah. So you know, hamdulillah I've been Muslim now for about 25 years, humbly accepted Islam back in 1998.
From the onset before Islam, I come from a family who my father mashallah tomato, mozzarella, he was always helping everyone in our path, right, Michel, family, friends and the legs. And one of the things that he instilled in me what was never wait for anyone to do anything for you. But when someone asks you for help, go out and help them right and do the best that you can. So when I came into the fold of Islam, now, one of the first massage or one of the first missionaries, that Michela tomato, tada, I came to
one of the first realizations I had was, I wanted to play a bigger part in the community. And initially, it started out just I saw them selling hotdogs and soda. So I went home and asked my wife, I was like, Listen, man, you know, why don't we like on Fridays? Take that opportunity and get that baraka and let's bring the hotdogs and we bring the soda and, you know, we'll just donate it to mention and money goes to the masjid. So humbled. I showed up there Friday night with my hot dogs and you know, in a drink, and had a good experience and a bad experience. The bad experience was the brother who used to sell the hotdogs. It seemed like he was doing half half half was for him happens
for the Masjid. So he was like Brother Who told you to bring hotdogs? I was like, Allah
Okay, as for the baraka donate, you're gonna reject the donation like I gave this roll of my heart and I don't want anything back from it, you know? So I went into the, to the Imams office, because I'm a non Muslim, you know, I mean, and I was kind of brokenhearted by that you know? And I'm like, Yo, man like yo was good like, the money for him or the money for the Masjid. You know, I believe this whatever have you. And right away it seems like the Imam mashallah he has some foresight, and he seemed that I was someone who was concerned about what was happening in the masjid and I want it good for the masjid. And he immediately brought me in. And then he gave me the next best job in the
world was to run the bookstore. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, right and Masha, we had an active bookstore. So he was saying, one of the things he told me was, whenever you buy books for the masjid, you can always pick up some copies for yourself Mashallah. So they gave
the library or for that right Subhan Allah beloved Hamdulillah, so I started running to bookstore for the masjid. And then from there, he invited me onto the board. And then I just got involved with the board work and you know, the everyday ins and outs of the masjid, my first year of Islam, so panel and all within your first year, first year, and that if I could just interrupt like that, like, Imam May Allah reward him. Not everybody would do that. Like that's like the textbook leadership, like they save with volunteers, like recruit, retain, and recognize, you know, and empowerment. Like most people have a problem with the empowerment part. They're gonna micromanage
you and breathe down your neck and they're gonna have a hard time letting go and being like, well, you're not doing it the way that I wanted it to be done. Well, you know, the point being, it's like, well, why did you give it to somebody else to do in the first place? Right? Absolutely. But it seems like the opposite scenario where he actually really gave you the keys to the to the thing and to make it yours. And look at that, well look at what happened No, absolutely Mashallah. Like I said, he has some foresight, mashallah he was able to see I guess what we ourselves because he at that moment is shallow Tada, you allowed us to come in and humble and get involved in that was really
much a directory Hamdulillah you know, I was able to play a big role in that method and many of the things that happened in that masjid and that kind of just inspired me to want to really do Islamic work and how many Latin bmsc Was that? By the way this was it was called messenger the nor back then now they're known as messengers and solder sudden in Paris in New Jersey, okay.
So you know, so from there hamdulillah it just kind of took on that trajectory, how many LA and then kind of went on to doing other things and going away to study and inshallah Tada, you know, I couldn't stay studying in Medina. I came back. I started studying when I moved to New Jersey altogether. I went to Illinois, and then how many land in Illinois I was blessed to work alongside Shakespeare leaving the jackal. Okay. So we work together and again mashallah he had a lot of foresight as well. 100 I will still you know, young hungry, young and knowledge young and he
get he had good foresight minute he really pushed me to kind of look man you know, do
do what we need to do, you know, get involved active in the Dow and stuff like that. And then in Chicago, humbler after graduating from Chicago close to graduate from his care, I got heavily involved in the Latino Muslim community, which is, you know, the passion that I have of bringing the message of Islam to my people to Hamdulillah. And Hamdulillah. Just leadership has been a part of all of them. And, you know, that's a crazy commonality from what we've seen with these interviews and shaker Chanel was talking about it last night was that, you know, having mentors and people in authority, push people to step up, you know, put you on the spot. And we're talking about an
interesting sort of paradox, because there's some people that are chasing clout and chasing positions, and they're the people that almost need to be knocked back. Subhan Allah, and then there's people who are like, Nah, shouldn't be me, it's got to be somebody else. But then it takes someone like, you know, an imam or somebody with foresight to be like, Nope, it's got to be you. It's your time. Now you step up and you take the reigns, because they they recognize something in you. That's an amazing thing that we just keep on seeing we do these interviews.
Just to backtrack one second, because it's very rare that somebody was in their first year of being a Muslim is on a board. i What was that, like? What was that, like? Shocking was a frustrating boards have a reputation for being a hot mess, right? So it's like, what were some of the things that at that particular time in that particular place you saw that you liked or didn't like things that you thought maybe put it in your back pocket? Well, wherever I go next, I'll make sure not to do that, or wherever I go. Next. I'm not going to make sure we do the same thing. Was there anything that you remember from that period? So I've got I got two experiences in terms of being on the
board. I had that experience. And then I had the experience that came years later, Alhambra when I moved to Chicago, because I was on the board in Chicago as well.
That experience is similar to my conversations with Imam Suraj. That measured was like measure the telkwa Imam Suraj Mahajan is the man. He's the leader. He's the respected figure. He had his board he has his board and the board basically aids the Imam to accomplish the task at hand. MashAllah So measure them Salah Sona was like that, the Imam is the leader Hamdulillah we respect that. He's not employee Allah, he's the leader. We were there to mashallah help him, make sure that the salary was there in Charlottesville so he can go ahead and lead the people to where they need to be led to Inshallah, and we were there to mashallah help them accomplish the goals that he set forth for the
masjid hamdulillah one of the things it wasn't easy, right? That hamdulillah because you know, mashallah, the boardrooms are the, the rooms where it gets hot to warm
up. And that can remember is the panela we had 10 doors in the masjid. And the after, you know, Salah is usually we met after Juma and the ones will come knock on the door. And we opened door it was gone.
But we had a rule. The rule was We are brothers no matter what.
What happens in this room stays in this room. Right after the meeting is over, and we exit those doors. We're brothers, we love each other, and how can we learn we help one another. And that never affects our hearts. All right, Mashallah. So Hamdulillah I think that was the greatest takeaway for me, you know, and being in that type of board setting, and then as well, that, you know, the board never changed. Unless the Imam said, you know, okay, I see that hungry, that you haven't really been holding on to your tasks and your duties inshaAllah I'm gonna go ahead and give you a break what I'm bringing brother so so to go ahead and do that, you know, duty, Inshallah, tada, because meat needs
to continue to move it.
Outside of that, if it worked, it's not broken, don't fix it. Under the law, you know, unlike my other experience with other board, that every two years, the board changes, and two years is never sufficient to accomplish any task. By the time you get moving in, the car gets running and the engine gets going. Right, it's time for you to go up. So it becomes hard to really make a positive impact in a positive change within the community. Because the length term is so short and shallow, tall, you know, or the negative side of that is that, you know, if you have old presses,
then the length is too long. Exactly. I think Well, the key is what you said about if the Imam is the leader and not just an employee, then he has the ability to pack the bench so to speak. And so you're getting the right people, the it's almost like the two year term or the whatever term limit is like a safety mechanism for if there's no leadership in place, and it's just whoever stepping up whoever's a doctor, big donor or whatever, you know, then you at least have a mechanism in place to get them out. If he's overstepping his bounds, you know, so that's very, very interesting. Okay, so you eventually so you, you move through these different communities, and you eventually tell us a
little bit about obviously, the Dow you've done with the Latino community is amazing and incredible.
Where was it at when you started it? And how far is it come to now? Subala man, for us, man, we live in a dream actually. We're
coming into Islam 25 years ago. The first thing was I thought I was the only Puerto Rican in
The world that was Muslim, you know, a little bit I know, there was 15 or 2030 years that you know, before me, Mashallah.
And that in, you know, our dream was to one day be involved in this type of work.
But we was trying to be realistic was like, perhaps is not going to be in our generation, maybe my kids, maybe my great grandma grandkids, great grandkids, you know, I'm saying, because this is first generation work, you know, it's not easy, it's hard. And at the same time, we're very few, you know, we're not, we don't have a bunch of Latino Imams and machine graduating hamdulillah where we kind of share that responsibility. And we see that, you know, subhanAllah, 25 years ago from barely meeting Latino Muslims or knowing about Latina Muslims to now knowing that Latinos are actually the fastest population of people entering Islam. It's amazing, right. And it's been a journey that Subhanallah
you know, I can only think a lot about a quarter there's not enough words I can say to thank lots of articles that allow us to, you know, to continue to allow us to be a part of it. Most Subhanallah the change has been enormous man. Subhanallah you know, it was around maybe 2009 I got involved with them to Muslims in Chicago, when I was living in a little city called Rockford. And again, it was a small group, you know, you'd have a Doris, you know, maybe 510 people in the room, man, you know, we have the line. We were excited about Julio, you have five people by Shala you know, we're talking to Spanish Alhamdulillah. And even then, how many Spanish is my first language? Because, you know, we
grew up talking English all our lives in school with our friends, and never really practice. So I remember when it came to that time to pull up that, you know, they had reached out to Islam Spanish at the time, and then isa parada, mashallah Sheikh Isa, he was like, Well, you know, you got Wesley up there I will Samia you know, once you reach out to him, he's almost graduated, you know, haven't come down. Now much on my wife. I was like, Listen, man, I like I haven't spoken Spanish like this and to deliver a message, you know, I mean, it's going to be difficult for me so I will type everything out and I would give it to my wife Mashallah. My wife would translate everything and then
I would read it I'm like, You made it high level.
You ever been like, you know, fifth grade language, you know? Subhanallah and I remember my first talk was Ramadan. And Ramadan. Subhan. Allah Blooding, and hamdulillah gave that talk mashallah terracotta Allah, we ended up humbler, I ended up becoming the president of the Latino Muslims at Chicago. I'm Lila, you know, from their family that moved back to New Jersey, ended up getting with Islamic Spanish I was one of their main fundraisers, and educators helped them build a central Islamic NGO in Houston, the first one hamdulillah and then it's just kind of mashallah moved at such a fast pace, you know, that you kind of open your eyes one day, just realize, like, subhanAllah, you
know, we traveled to countries in Central South America, the Caribbean is doing work in these different places, humanitarian work, workshops, you know, going out and doing bow in the streets, you know, so, I'm gonna, it's been an amazing journey and amazing journey humbler that you know, again, I think a lot of water cortada for me, he keep us humble in the process, but there's a lot of work to do. And we need a lot of help. And one of the messages that you know, if I, if I can convey this message to the people, especially the Latino Muslims, is that we have to find a way to continue to come together. The work is bigger than us. Right? And we can't allow shaytaan to split us apart.
When Hamdulillah we have a great mission in front of us in sha Allah Tala and that's guiding our people not only here, but back home in our countries as well. Masha Allah. Yeah, I mean, it always reminds me the importance of and the Sunnah of Allah subhanaw taala to send a messenger from amongst their own people, you know, it's a very important thing.
You know, there's some people that you myself, it's like, I have conversational Spanish, you know, hamdulillah but it wouldn't necessarily make a whole lot of sense for me to put that out there and make that my thing and like, whatever, because that's not, you know, my reality, so to speak. So it really, really is important for people to have leaders that they feel that they can identify with from their own community and and I think that, you know, you and shake Lisa and you know, Sheikh Yusuf and and all the folks Imam Daniel, you know, Mujahid you know, all those those brothers, you know, have been carrying and and the proofs in the pudding at the end of the day. I mean, obviously,
Allah subhanaw taala is the cause of causes, and he brings about things the way he wills, but he uses tools, and he uses instruments and secondary causes and you all have been a part of that. Does that mean to see how quickly it's exploded? is really, really inspiring thing mashallah Tabata Cola, and you know, if I get out, you know, one of the things just recently I was at
an event called eyebrow read Malcolm. Yes, by the Jabra family. And, you know, being there was inspiring because he sham jabbered Michela not only did he read Malcolm Rahim Allah to Allah, but he was also one of the founders of establishing the first Puerto Rican group of Muslims in northern New Jersey. And he called them Benny soccer. Right Subhanallah and they
and being there allowed me to see that, you know, this is his family's three generations in now going into fall with the granite great grandchildren a shallow toddler, but the legacy that he established, mashallah, and not only the legacy, the sacrifice that he made, you know, one of the things that his son said was, we barely spent time with our Father.
We barely spend time with our father because our father was out doing the work, you know, me, so it was almost like they grew up without a dad. And he said, and even more so because he got death threats for burying Malcolm, he says, so he hit us away in North Carolina, to protect the family. So we saw him even less because of that, you know, and it just made me ponder, reflect that, you know, as a first generation Muslim in my family, you know, sometimes we say, Man, our children, what's going to happen, but in the in the same token, there has to be that sacrifice for that longevity and that legacy to be established, you know, mean within our families and the generations to come. And
really, this this is the only thing I ask a lot like, you know, take us on Eman Allah Allahu Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah, and that, that Eman remains within our children and the great grandchildren that come that hopefully somewhere down the line, they say, Oh, my great, great grandfather, I will Samia, Mashallah. He was the one that started it for us. Alhamdulillah he put him to work, you know, and if that can happen or humbler, then all of the sacrifice that we've done, you know, I mean, up to now would be worth it, man. She said, you said it, man. So finally, somebody asked me there was somebody in the organization I work with, they were going on camera, you know, and they're like, you
have any DUA request. And like there's an I don't think there's anybody but converts that get that I was like one thing that my descendants such poor Muslim. That's it, that my parents accept Islam, and that my descendants stay Muslim. That's really all I want. Everything else, I can probably deal with it somehow, someway. Insha Allah, but like the most important thing, sacrifice, Spence found less sacrifice is I mean, that's, that's a really interesting thing. And there's an argument that some people throw out there that whatever that term, we want to use indigenous Muslims, or, or converts or reverse or whatever, you know, that there's a specific need from that population to
become leaders in the North American Muslim scene. And I think that that's maybe the transferable skills that if you're a convert, you're making sacrifices. Absolutely. You're making sacrifices, Olson, like it's built into the thing. Right. And leadership is all about sacrifices. So maybe, I mean, to have a personal reflection, can you reflect on? What are some of the sacrifices that you've made?
Along the way, both when it comes to just being a Muslim? Right? And then in the leadership positions that you've had, what are some of the sacrifices that you've had to make? The two major sacrifices is always family time.
And for many years, it was money. Those were the two major sacrifices, right? And they both go hand in hand. Why? Because you're away from your family, for sometimes, you know, weeks or days on end, and especially, you know, there was a point in time where I was traveling every weekend, right away, Friday, Thursday to Sunday away from my family home Monday towards the end, the wife works, the kids are in school, they come home, they're tired, you're not spending much time together. But and then the same time I'm sacrificing and traveling and doing all of these things, but my salary was very little. So it wasn't like I was bringing in a huge income to say you Hamdulillah you know, the
sacrifice is worth it because mashallah, I'm away from home but mashallah, here goes, the result of all of it. Right? So I think those were the two huge sacrifices for for me in terms of trying to establish something, and really I didn't recognize, especially in the initial stages, like you mentioned, right in the very beginning, when I first became Muslim, you know, I got married right away, I met my wife before Islam, I became Muslim that she became Muslim and then we got married or Hamdulillah. We've been together 25 years Mashallah.
But in the initial stages, when I when I when I began to tell my story of how I accepted Islam,
my wife, I remember in one of those instances, she was sitting in the crowd, and she looked at me like strange. And I said, Okay, I must have messed up one of the dates, I'm always messing up dates, Mashallah. She'll, she'll correct me later. Right? So and then when we got in the car, I'm like, You know what happened? Why he looked at me like that. And she says, I realized why the first year the change of our marriage, I was so lonely.
So what are you talking about? She says, because in your story you mentioned, you would come home from work, you will shower, you would go to the masjid, and you wouldn't leave the masjid until the match closed. And then you would come home sleep work. And he did that seven days a week for over a year. She says I was home alone. Right? She said, But I understood that you needed that. So that you can make the transformation you needed to make and take the journey that you've had to take, you know, subhanAllah so I tell people all the time that you know, in the sacrifice, you need family who's ready to sacrifice which, you know, I mean, and we have that discussion in my house of the
prophets and the messengers and their families. You know, this is a sacrifice that
We're doing together. And at the end of the day, we're trying to build our paradise together. So you're giving some of me and Sharla taller, you know and some of you so that inshallah Tada we can enjoy the company together in the rural place where we all want to be in the, you know, in the happiness of Paradise, and then money is this the second man, you know, unfortunately, way too often. We're not valued enough, you know, people say, Oh, FISA Biller, you know to say we wish he turned free said Billy let write free said Billy, let's just go out and do it allows me to get an obligation on you and shallow taller imams are not supposed to, you know, be people who have
anything right I'm the law just coming to measure take this little room sleep there, brother, you are right. Subhanallah and humbly law, we said, I wanted mashallah to make this to be my path. And I've always understood that Allah was Alleghany. And will Allah He even with the little salary that we used to sacrifice, we've always had more than we needed Subhanallah and that's all only from Allah, tomato, whatever, right. And I say that to say, you know, for those people who are trying to take on this path, sincerity first in sha Allah Tala, and then to have firm faith, and a lot of other courts, I know he is the provider, and that inshallah Tada, he'll give you what you need. And
then at one point, maybe he'll get you to where you want to be shot, I'll tell you even in the work is shallow. There's so much to benefit from that. And that reflects my experience as well. I mean, I also had a similar sort of trajectory, when it came to my wife and I were already together and married when I accepted a slot.
And, you know, she was an immense support for me, even though it took her longer, you know, to come around to accepting a snap, and, you know, a lot of students and knowledge abroad and things like that, they always want to know, Well, should I get married first, or should I not or whatever. But, boy, man, you can't put a price on no one that somebody's down the road, and no one that somebody loves you for you, and wants to sacrifice with you, you know, I used to, I used to fall prey to the mentality that, like, she was holding me back in some sort of way. Because I was making a lot of changes, and she just wasn't ready for it that just wasn't like, what it just wasn't her time. You
know, and I remember talking to a non Muslim, coworker, one place to work in restaurants and stuff like that. And I kind of just mentioned about how, you know, I made all these changes, I stopped drinking, I stopped doing this stuff, you know, all the changes I made after I became Muslim, you know, and she said something to me, she's like, wow, it's like, your wife really loves you. And, um, it just hit me. I was like, wow, you're right. You know, it's like, how many other people would have like, run, run away screaming, you know, it's like, you know, and if somebody wanted to, in that scenario, you know, they could have made up lies, you know, there's some sort of extremist or
whatever, got a book tour or whatever they could have, they could have milked it for all it's worth, right. But the fact that they know you from zero, and they sacrificed with you, and they saw what you had to go through, you know, versus somebody these days, you know, they graduate, and then they get like a social media following, then you get like sisters reaching out to you.
It's not the same thing at all. It's not the same thing. And the brothers gotta be really careful. Because, you know, like, like, fame is a destructive force when it comes to that, and not everybody wants good for you. And you don't, you're not even always going to have the ability to determine, you know, who's ready to sacrifice with you? That's right. If you don't get that sort of thing upfront. And the other thing I thought about, you know, and this is this is kind of the paradoxical nature of this whole thing is that it has to be hard, especially in the beginning. It's weird, because, you know, you and I, in a private conversation, we talk all the time criticizing the
institutions and the massage and they don't value Imams, they don't value like our work and stuff like that. And it's true. But at the same time, the fact that it's difficult in the beginning, you know, is like it weeds out a lot of people. Yes, it weeds out a lot of phonies. Yeah. Like if it were if being an imam or being a religious leader, were as simple as getting these cameras and lights and attend an Instagram channel. Then think about all the charlatans that we would get. We get people that like it would be a train wreck, it would be a disaster.
On the other hand, yeah, you can't you once you get married and you got kids and you got duties and responsibilities like that, there comes a point where the community's gotta, gotta actually put their money where their mouth is. And like, if you want your kids to stay Muslim, and you want your grandkids to stay Muslim, then let's get serious about this thing. You know, and let's actually invest and you know, free up a person's time, you know, so, you know, like you said, you should be given feasibly the law you should be doing this for the dean said, you should be paying me for us to be
absolutely, absolutely, you know, men and family law and when that happens, and there's that synergy that takes place, amazing things can happen. Right? For instance, yesterday was at the pre Ramadan conference for Humla We packed the house 250 300 People mashallah amazing volunteers, amazing work, but it's been it
was because Al Hamdulillah the organization came in, they said to me, whatever you need, make it happen. They said Imam Mali is not an issue of Akbar or hamdulillah nor make it an issue, what we want is we want to make sure that youth are in house, we want to make sure that reverts are being served in sha Allah Tala, you can do that is worth all the money in the world, right, the money account will figure it out. So humbly that when you see that dynamic, be put forth, you know, mean, or, you know, given to the Imam and the Imam is empowered in that way, you know, subhanAllah amazing things can happen in the community, you know, and and it's the vision, like, you're just saying,
like, that takes vision, yes. Everybody has to understand what the goal is, and not get lost in the weeds about well, what is this for? What's the message for if somebody thinks the Imam is just there to lead five prayers a day, right, somebody thinks the Imam was mostly supposed to be doing marriage counseling or whatever somebody thinks the man is supposed to be doing something else. But if you actually have a specific mission, then everything gets easy, because now you're like, This is what we want visual though. For them. It was like martial law, actually, at the visual level where they're like, we want the youth, we want the reverts best, do it, whatever you need, and then
everything sort of falls into place. So that that kind of segues us into the more institutional aspects. We've already talked a little bit about, I mean, you've been part of a lot of institutions over the years. What are some of the mistakes that you've seen made that other organizations need to know about? What are some of the things that have been triumphs that you've, we've already talked about? A few, but some of the things that organizations are doing right, you know, we had a private conversation the other day about, is the machine broken? Are we still is it worth fighting for? Is it time to turn the third spaces? Like all this sort of stuff, like where are we at? Where are we
headed? what's working, what's not working? So you know, what's working, what's not working? For? Definitely for sure is the old mentality. Right of Hamdulillah this is just a place where we're going to come and pray we got to elderly here. You know, some people sit in the corner, recite Quran. Don't come in, don't make no noise. You know, I mean, keep your children at home, right? That mentality just doesn't function. I see those masajid I pray it doesn't happen. But I see those massages becoming irrelevant, just like the churches are disappearing. Right, because there is no youth presence. Right? There is no mashallah energy and vigor. Alhamdulillah you know, I just the
other day, like my, my son, he was like,
I don't wanna go to the machine is boring. Right? So he like, like, through, like, you think the machine is boring is in the guard. So we go into the machine anyway. Right? hamdulillah went to the masjid. And all of a sudden, he met up with one of his friends that he met in Chicago, mass echonet, Chicago, he's like, oh, so and so's here. And he's in the machine. He's running around the machine and doing this and doing that humbler? This is what our mission is in New Jersey. And nobody's saying nothing to the kids. They got the space that kids are running around. They're playing, you know, when he finishes like the machine is the best place in the world.
Why don't you say you don't want the best you don't like the ones you like, no, no, no, the best is mashallah, right? Hamdulillah. But we have to create those types of spaces, right? So I think this for us is huge, especially if we're going to look at what's going to happen with the generations to come. And I'll give you another example. In Paterson, New Jersey. We had a masjid. You know, Paterson in this area. This method was, there was a lot of abuse, dealing drugs, taking drugs. They were the biggest drug dealers in the town.
One of their brothers, his name is Omar, he was actually the head. He came to our Masjid back then, we basically gave him Tao all over again was I listened when you gotta get off the streets, brother. You can't be doing this. You know, I'm saying he submitted. He basically I was like, we took shahada.
I'm leaving the streets. So he went to the block. Because he had this much respect. He went to the block. He said, Yo, we're coming off the block.
We wanted to message it. The cats came off the block to the masjid. That's the power yet right? So Allah, but they were in the measure 212 In the morning, three in the morning. The measure was like
math. Now what are you doing? You brothers can be in the masjid or night like this hanging out? You know, I mean, this is this is not what the House of Allah is for.
Put them out
back on the street. And this was like around 911 time, right? So 911 here, you know, I mean, they tried to open something up, it got shut down. The function for the Omar was like yo, Mao took off the PA somewhere opened up a construction company, and the cats naturally what they do back out to the street, man. Right. And this was an example of a hard lesson that we had to learn that, you know, you got somebody he got the passion, and he had my shot love the respect to bring all of our youth up off the street, and you throw it away. Because you got that old mentality, right? Subhanallah so I think these massages really, we find that a lot of these measures are the ones that
are hurting, right and the ones that are
Probably going to become extremely irrelevant and why the third space has been created? You know, personally, I'm not fond of the third space, you know, because the mission is what the book is, right? There's too many Hadith and too many I look around that the mission is where the baraka, the house of Allah is where the water is, right? That there is basically not considering it domestic, right? It's just kind of like the hangout space, kind of like, you know, is it necessary is necessary, right? If because if you don't have the space, do we have to create something, and something has to give in shot? No. Tada. So I see why that was created in the necessity for to
shuttle taller. But on the other hand, you know,
and I gotta give props to mass, right? Well, especially here in New York City is very youth driven. So we have seven centers. Most of our centers are EDS, our youth, youth ran youth led mashallah
you know, so hamdulillah they realized that if we want to go ahead and move forward, we got to pass the baton. That's right. And if we don't pass the baton, then we become irrelevant. So you see now because they're youth led, masha Allah and youth ran Masjid is packed with youth all the time, Friday night program Saturday programs during the week monthly Holika is revives. Right, they got all of these different things going on, you got 200 youth, they have the camp 350 400 youths show up at the camp, you know, this is what you want to see. Alhamdulillah so that's as a sign of don't get right and shout to Allah, and really trying to say, Listen, you know, I did what I did, we
appreciate ya, we appreciate you I will lie. You came in, you struggle with your wealth, right? Alhamdulillah and your time and your efforts by the time they built the building, you built it Hamdulillah you did you. But there has to reach that point where says maybe this was this was my contribution, and this is the furthest I can take it. And then you pass the baton on, and you let the next generation just take it where it needs to go. Inshallah, tada, I mean, how many knows who the property was right? Advisors, I'm used to look at his harbor, and see what was the worth of Isa harbor and use them for their worth, and allow them to get busy. You know, that's Panama. So it's
almost like, you know, I think, third space is almost pop up, because some massage it and some boards are stuck in that mentality. And then people need, you know, rather than going to the streets, you know, but that's not to necessarily say that it's a good idea to give up on the machine too soon. Absolutely. Because definitely, we've seen a lot of masajid that once they get new blood, they get new ideas in there, they can you can flip the script and you can turn it around, you know, so because we also have that problem in the Muslim community have this sort of splitting off and balkanization and stuff like that, where everybody wants to open up their own machine. And you got
maybe, you know, in a way Utica you because only got, you know, 70,000 people, you know, 13 messages, Allahu Akbar. That's a lot. That's a lot. You know, not all of them are necessary, in my opinion, you know, like, a little town. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, but there's a lot of Muslims. And there's a lot of misdeeds, right. And it would be one thing, it would be one thing, if the machines were all working together, everybody prays at eat together, Allah, Allentown, but that's not what's happening. Allen towns a unicorn, you know, that's the rarity. Normally, it's silos and so you got this group over here. They're this ethnicity in this group over here, they're that ethnicity, or
they're the same ethnicities, but different tribes, the same tribe with different families, as always a reason to split. So it comes back to okay, you maybe you need a third space, but you got to make sure that you have some sort of cooperation with the machines and the other organizations because you can't do it alone. That's why I usually two things, right, just what you mentioned the man, Tom, that it's important for us to still play a part I was I've always been that guy. I don't mind putting on the gloves. You know, I mean, I go into the boardroom, when I'm on the board or not. When I'm on the board and the lady Oh, you can't remove me. You know, I mean, so you're gonna have a
problem. You know, because I sit on the floor, you don't pay me, you know, I mean, how many loud we contribute a lot of voice, you know, I mean, and I'm gonna be heard, right? How many, I'm gonna be activists outside. And I'll be activists inside the machine as well. Right? And I've always had that attitude of humbling because I've had that attitude. Naturally, you kind of force change sometimes. And sometimes, you know, I tell people, sometimes you gotta be like, most of you guys just gotta ride it out now live, you know, I mean, those who just don't want to be down to change a tee. Right? You gotta go through there. Some people, you got to do it? Yeah, that's fine. You know, just to
explain to people who are not getting what we're referencing, so you know, a lot of data. When it came to the people who lived under slavery under fit around, they get through the gates of the Promised Land, and they just don't have it in him. No, they're not. They're cowards, basically. And there's a lot of interesting sociological research about like, what that type of Chatel, slavery does to people mentally and culturally and stuff like that. They're almost like incapable of self rule and of you know, uplifting themselves. So Allah says, Hey, y'all go wandering the desert. old generation passes away. New generation when they say tough times, create tough men. Right and tough
man create easy time.
isn't easy times create weak men, right? It's that cycle. And so in the desert 40 years, you got the youth coming up, and they're rugged, and they're rough and there'll be their obedient and their discipline, then they come back and take the Holy Land, no problem. So there might be a situation where that's the situation when it comes to a Muslim community. That's a beautiful, beautiful side. You know, the president salami says, you know, the best of you are those who mix with the people, even though you're harmed by them. Right. And you remain patient, right? Subhan Allah. So, you know, we have to stay in that right. And in the mean, in the meantime, in between time, right, there
always has to be some of us who are still staying in the masjid and fighting the good fight. But at the same time, we can go ahead and maybe have that third space, so that you're building what is missing? Right? And then trying to integrate them back into the Masjid. Right. So this is one of the things like right now, like even with us, our goal, because is the same thing with the reports, right? So when I came in said, it's imagine New York, and we talked about the rivers, you know, one of the first things and everywhere I go to talk about remote work, one of the first things I tell people, you know, we get so happy they take the shahada, Allahu Akbar, we, we kiss them, and I said,
even the kissing is weird, right? We don't kiss, you know, I mean, like that in the hood. Right? But I said, you know, we, we tell them something that is so important that I'm glad I was never told that accept was accepted. When I accepted Islam accepted Islam in the Bronx, on the street corner front of the projects. Humbly Lena, I take a lie every day for that. Why? And I tell people because I didn't have an expectation. I knew I had to put in the work. Right. But when I come to the mesh, and now the measure says, and it was Ireland, are your brothers? Were your brothers. And not even more than that. We're family. Yeah, stuff. We're a family. And what I expect from families love,
what to expect with families, understanding, you got to take care of me all of that, right. As soon as the next question asks, Who in here has done that for someone?
And usually, you see this,
right? So I said, you know, Hamdulillah, they don't feel comfortable coming here because of that. So we've integrated, created kind of like a third space online, right to zoom and the classes and everything we got going on in sha Allah with the goal, that we have to reintegrate them back into the Masjid. But part of that integration process is one letting the reverts in the conference know, even with the youth that some of these other brothers No, listen, we have to change the mindset. Forgive these brothers, they don't know better. And then we have to come into the masjid. And we have to remove the ignorance of that lies in the community. Right? And that's just ignorance,
sometimes is ignorance, at no fault of their own. Sometimes just I was born a certain way I was raised somewhere else. That's all I've seen, as all I know. You know, I mean, until someone comes and pointed out to me, right? And I've had instances where I've finished that hotbar. And I'll have someone come to my table, and they'll cry. And they'll say she, I've never thought about that. May Allah forgive me and the ball? He said, You know, you're right. We've been falling short of the mark. And we've been negatively affecting our brothers. Right? So what is a conversation you have to have, if you don't have it, that doesn't come about, you know, I mean, ya know, 100% I mean, you've
got a lot of people even suspicious, you know, people need to be ready. Like, y'all want the status, you got to be ready for the for the streets to come in to the vest seat, because that's what's going to happen. And the interesting thing about Utica and RMSE, at Youth Committee, is that we're still in one of the, whatever you wanna call it, the underserved or undeveloped districts, and I give them tremendous credit for this because they had the opportunity to move it out to the suburbs. And they didn't, they kept it in the original spot and corn Hill neighborhood, which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, in walking distance to a lot of refugees and a lot of African American
community, you know, but then you got to be ready. When that street element comes into the mess, you can't be suspicious, like, is this guy even somebody said, I kid you not? Is this person even Muslim? Said, Hey, what's he doing in the message if he's not Muslim? Like, who's gonna just like waltz in here? You know, it's like, he knows all the positions the right way, right? He's, he's waiting for the comma. That's like, what do you think, you know, he's got a Koran app on his phone? What's the matter with you? You know, so people need to be educated. 100% right. And people need to be ready.
We have the Hadith of the Prophet size, Saddam when the Sahaba came in and peed in the machine. That's a paradigm right there. You know, it's like, and we can give people recognition credit, because, you know, to their credit, look at how the Companions reacted and the prophesies of them had to hold them back. But if the IMA were the leaders or the inheritors of the prophets, then we gotta check the people. You know, the modern day companions be like, Yo, you guys got to chill out, you know, yeah, if we get those shadows you want, we're going to have addicts. We're going to have people that are in our arm relationships, we're going to have people where things are, are messy.
That's life. You know. So if you can't have one without the other, but at the same token, right? If not,
Charlottesville records Allah, they look at the Hadith. The best of you and Jay Alia will be the best view Islam. If you get that knowledge, right hamdulillah so you look at the brother that comes off the street, hustler
mover shaker, you know, I mean, that's what you want to know is that he wasn't ready to go, hustle, you want somebody's gonna move who's gonna show you we're gonna help my Sharla is gonna step up i Subhanallah and this is one of the things that this is why when we came into Islam, that's what Listen, what's the marching orders? Yes, right, give us the marching orders, we ready to move? We're ready to do we sit here all night, you know, I mean, but we got, we got to travel where we going? Let us know, right? hamdulillah and when you have that foresight, Alhamdulillah and you have that wisdom, and hamdullah you can build amazing things in your community with individuals like this is
true. I sure we have one brother convert and he was like on the streets. He used to be homeless, you know, stuff like that. Or they used to carry around a machete with them on the streets. That's what he that's what his vibe was. And like he came in the messy he actually bring his mess his machete into the machine. So we had to have a little conversation about, you know, like, door or the window and stuff like that. But yeah, I mean, it's sad to see, and it's nobody's fault, but it's an institutional culture where it's like, he had ideas. He was like, Yo, let's do a trash pickup. Let's go like get let's buy bags, and those things where you pick up trash and all these ideas that nobody
engaged them. Nobody empowered them. And so I don't know what the brother is even now. Is he still on? Eweka? Did he move on somewhere else? I don't know. So I mean, it's a huge responsibility. I read a line line of poetry in English the other the other week, and it was like, every man is guilty of the good he did not do. I was like, Oh, that hit me. Because like Subhan Allah a lot of times, we're just dropping opportunities left and right. Because Allah is sending us
the means of our own salvation left and right. Because somebody in ease might be like tattooed on his face in his neck and stuff but you might like have a reaction to him and he might be the means that your salvation he might be the person who is going to take that program in the machine and just like you know, absolutely smash it be a huge success bring in for the dollar signs, you know, some people they care about the bottom line, bringing the dollars bringing or whatever, he might be that guy, but I also want to Well, but you know, they found him turned away because they had a certain sort of cooked up idea about what it looks like to be a Muslim and who should be part of the
community and what's going to happen to my kids again, get affected or something like that. Then based on that quote, Subhan Allah she you know, one of the things I tell people all the time you know, they will say oh, you know che Hema mashallah you do so much this is not right. Right? Listen, you know, I'm a farmer man.
I said the farmer has the most important job in the world. He's planting crops so that generations can survive and eat. Right? So I say so I fill my pockets with seeds. And everywhere I go, I'm just trying to throw seeds and plant them. I may not take care of the seed. I mean, I water the seed, right? I mean, Allah provides the light for the seed is shallow, taller, I Hamdulillah I just planted with a good intent insha Allah Tala hoping that from that seed, something can come forth inshallah. Tada. Right. And reminds you of Romans when they're caught meant that you just take advantage of every moment you have every that's kind of been kind of my tone, right, that I tell my
family all the time. The one ability that I have, is that I don't have to say no. Because sometimes like what she is saying yes, it's easy. You know, I mean, honey, like Yeah, I can be there. Yeah, I can do it. Yeah, I can be involved. Right? Not because you want to be known not because you want to be famous, but because I want to go plant my seeds.
Right. So that is sha Allah Tala, Yama, pm Alhamdulillah we hope that all of those seeds, or at least a good portion of those seeds produce fruit Alhamdulillah that came to fruition, you know, and hamdulillah and provided food for humanity, and new martial law are now able to marshal up give the reward from that from a lot of articles that have been answered to His mercy and it's paradise and it's all of those things. Alhamdulillah so even the sacrifice I don't look at so much as a sacrifice I look at it as you know, this is investment. This is investment Time, money. Blood Sweat is all investment in sha Allah Tala for the ACA, you know, and if we ought to do that, come to
hydrometallurgy chattiness. You will be the best OMA extracted from mankind. Allah told us we are but we have to live up to it. You know, I mean, surprises reminded me that quotes and I've seen your straw hat so I have verification that you are indeed a farmer. And I planted seeds, so nobody has to
oh, just just for fun. We usually ask our guests what's the one thing that people don't know about you?
What's one thing that people don't know about me, man?
I suppose to know that she
one thing people don't know about me Subhan Allah
you know, maybe
And this could probably be some inspiration man. Because sometimes they, you know, we become Imams and things of this nature how many Latin people you study and you know, people look at you in a certain light. You know, I was the worst student in high school. I didn't open a book. I didn't read a book. I didn't work. You know what I was a junior, I was still a freshman. I, you know, I dropped out of high school.
Never thought I was gonna go back to school.
Went back took my GED, by myself just because I was a knucklehead and he wants to sit in the class and Hamdulillah I passed, right. Got my GED humbler and really, I didn't start learning or loving to read and knowledge until accepted Islam.
And when I became a Muslim, I remember that first year, I probably made a reading for all the years that never read in my life. I mean, and I wasn't the best student prior to high school just stuck in the world and Subhan Allah and just kind of didn't have no interest in any of this upon Allah. But it's amazing how once you put a little bit of effort, you know how things can change your life and you know, and what you can reach and achieve and I was the quietest dude. So you know, I want to do to be on Mike a layup you got you crazy, I'm not going to do that, you know, I mean, how did that was one always in the corner in the back and be quiet, you know, mean to myself? You know, I mean,
Mashallah. You know, many people that know me wouldn't ever have thought that this would be me now, you know, out speaking in front of the public and the legasus, you know, spa brings us full circle because, you know, we said in the beginning sometimes that's the person who has to be sometimes the person that puts themself in the front, that person should sit down and you what you really need is the person in the corner to step up because they've got a certain perspective and then something to share from us. Well, thank you so much for your time and obviously you know, we could be here all day we'll have you back on in sha Allah, may Allah bless you and keep you firm and keep all of us
firm and keep all of our families firm on this Deen Subhanak Aloha mobile home digger Shawanda either had to enter step over too quick so that when they come after a lot, a
lot of coffee