Like most American Muslim youth, raised inundated with distractions and attractions that lead far away from the Path Most Desirable, I too was raised, but then I grew up. Although breaking up may be hard to do, growing up, many times, just may be harder. And the many “break-ups” that make up our choices that will sculpt the rest of our lives, tend to find themselves nestled amongst the many pimple-faced, unsure-of-oneself, emotional roller-coaster filled halls, that is high school. Unfortunately, trying to “find oneself” there, is a terrible task, and usually people get lost. I truly believe that “oneself” needs to be found much earlier than at a time when everyone wants to just assimilate, at a place different from a melting pot that shaves off your unique being, to make the Jello, form fitting mold of our youth today (or has it always been like this?….Allahu Alim).
In this crock pot of flavors, textures, smells, and denied-realities, I was one of the lucky few, and I do consider myself lucky, however we all know that it is only Allah that guides–to be smitten by the “Brother Imam” bug.
Why luck? Why not? Its not like our environments push us towards any form of individuality, and certainly not at an age of clics, groups, and posses! To think one could find a needle in a haystack would be much more a true and qualified statement, than to assume one could find themselves in an environment that is ruled by the flavor of the month on MTV. So, in all that, Alhamdulillahi Rabil Alameen, All praise is due to the One who is Lord over us all, Who knows our inner-most workings, and is the source for all good and all guidance!
Looking back, I’m glad there was someone who knew how to reach out to the youth of today, someone to be OUR role model, without losing touch with reality. Imam Siraj. A man, whose sole mission after embracing this religion was to bring the truth to the youth. And it came. Youth who would smoke, threw away their matches, those who cursed, rinsed themselves of that disease more harmful than gingivitis, and those who never prayed, prayed. Although results were atypical, when Brother Imam spoke, people–especially the youth–listened.
I would say he contributed much to my finding my path back to reality, back to faith, and back to myself.
For that, I ask Allah to bless Imam Siraj in all his efforts, give him good from every source, keep him on the straight path, and grant him the highest of success in the hereafter. Ameen.
Early in my zeal for Islam, in the nascency of developing the “me” that you would see today, I was listening to “Brother Imam”–as he refers to himself in his various lectures–when he said something that truly stuck with me ever since that morning I was pulling into high school (probably late) in my trusty ’88 Ack. He said–and I’m paraphrasing here, because its been a while since then:
“Not every man with a beard is holy. Not every bearded man should be followed [meaning, to discern the truth no matter its source]. Otherwise, why are we here in the masjid? Why don’t we just go to the city park, and find a homeless man with a big beard [no matter his level of knowledge, no matter his level of emaan, no matter his understanding this Deen], and proclaim, ‘Behold the Righteous Bum!!'”
A message that truly, did spark a flame in my heart. Bringing clarity to an otherwise, confusing era.
…Behold the Writeous Bum!!