October 26, 2006

Vandalizing the Mosque

Posted in Iramville at 3:07 pm by Iram

I have been in Lubbock only nine weeks, yet over this short time I have developed a deep admiration for the Muslim community in this small city. After living in Houston for 19 years I always assumed that every Muslim community was split into factions with widely differing points of view. In Houston we have mosques that are predominantly Arab, mosques that are predominantly Pakistani, mosques that are predominantly for Africans, mosques that are predominantly for converts, and mosques that serve as a catchall for everyone else. At the Rice University MSA, on whose board I served as President, we had two polar factions that were determined to pull everyone in the middle towards either the liberal or the conservative side. It’s sad to think about the Muslim Ummah being divided into these superficial categories, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Even within the defined groups we consistently had bickering and fighting over when to start Ramadan, when to celebrate Eid (we always have two of each Eid), and whether going to the Eid Mela is haram or not.

Amidst all of this discontent I left Houston and found myself in the middle of the Muslim community of Lubbock, where I have yet to feel as if I am a new member. Everyone here is warm and welcoming. I go to prayers and have learned to not be surprised that I, a Pakistani, would be standing in the prayer line next to a Syrian and an Egyptian, behind a new convert from Mexico and catty-corner to an American lady. The mosque does it’s best to support all of the community members, as evidenced by the close ties between members of the community and the mosque as well as the connections between the mosque and the Muslim Students’ Association (one of the most important ties as the MSA represents the future of the Muslim Ummah). The Muslims of Lubbock, many of whom are doctors, do their best to give back to their surrounding community as well, as I recently witnessed in the form of a $750 check to the South Plains Food Bank during the MSA’s Fast-A-Thon two weeks ago. Being a part of this small, but close-knit, group has helped me find a place within my religion. Until this point I always felt that something was amiss: we were practicing a religion of peace and solidarity but could not maintain unity within our own community. In Lubbock I have found the type of Muslim community that I always wished we had in Houston.

Looking at this community from my perspective, it saddens me deeply that anybody could be so ignorant as to deface the new Mosque that has just recently been constructed. I was not around to see the first few vandalizations of the mosque, during which, as I understand, much more significant damage was done. But even though this time the only damage was a bit of spray paint that can easily be washed away or painted over, it will leave a deep scar. Despite everything that the Muslim community does for Lubbock, there are groups that are able to ignore all of those facts and act simply out of spite or misconceptions and deface our place of worship. It is disheartening in a way, because it shows that no matter what we as individuals or as a community do, we will never be able to erase all of the ignorance and hatred that prevail in this part of the country.

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