Recent fruits of our labor at Elementz: The Hip Hop Youth Arts Center….Studio Kre8v performing live with the CSO, Tafari being filmed during his GED class for his upcoming documentary, and a pic of the diverse crowd that gathered for our recent community conversation on urban youth. We’ve been working hard. Glad to have a few days off to visit family and recharge our batteries!
On behalf of Salaam Community I recently traveled back to the west coast of Fremont, California to complete a final week of training in pastoral care with Ta’leef Collective. The training is entitled the Mua’lif Mentorship Program (MMP) and after finishing the program I view MMP as an experience focused on mentoring emerging Muslim leaders from across the country and abroad in practical ways of providing care for our families, friends, and the greater community. The program also emphasizes maintaining a healthy practice of self care in relation to our being able to provide care for others.
A Mua’lif is one who performs “heart work” or in other words one who does the work of cultivating a relationship of care and support for someone else. Our daily session came back to this theme of heart work and being authentic when providing care for others. During our final sessions each mentee had to use their training in a real life situational. This required for us to use our own personality and the values of Ta’leef in confronting challenging real life situations that can happen when being in the field of community service. One of the hardest realities of dealing with many of these situations is that fact that we can’t “fix” them, sometimes all we can do is be present and actively listen to the person(s). In all of these situations we we’re reminded to be relevant and authentic in being ourselves.
Now having graduating from Ta’leef our entire group as well as the plethora of other Alumni have now been unleashed into the world to do heart work with our own respective communities. We also now have open access to calling upon our “big brothers” at Ta’leef for advise and support along our own individual paths. As alumni we have the blessing of having each other to call upon to share best practices & simply check in with one another from time to time. It’s also wonderful having new friends in various places across the world that welcome visitation from a fellow Mua’lif.
Even though we’ve finished our training other mentee’s and I realize that we have a lot of growing to do on our journey’s as care givers. I felt sadness in driving away from Ta’leef in thinking about leaving all the wonderful personalities from Ta’leef and within our MMP group. My continued prayers go out to them, all the alumni, our teacher Usama Canon & everyone from Ta’leef. Continued prayers and gratitude to our board members, volunteers, beneficiaries and supporters of Salaam Community for investing in me to grow in my practice as a care giver.
In the name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful, my wife and I are so proud to present our newborn son, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Powell. He is named after the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) whose name means “praise worthy.” He is welcomed to the world by a loving family and community.
I had the pleasure of having a front row seat at a community gathering on the “Life & Legacy of Malcolm X” this past May at Ta’leef Collective during my MMP pastoral care training. I was moved by hearing Dr. Umar Faruq and especially Imam Zaid Shakir speak about Malcolm’s making the ultimate sacrifice of his life in the pursuit of seeking truth. Imam Zaid was brought to tears in reminding us that Malcolm has passed the baton to us. So what are we going to do with it yall?
May God put light in the grave of Malcolm X and immensely bless the community of Ta’leef Collective for putting this wonderful video together.
Salaam Community Presents: A Conversation on Culture & Islam in America
On Friday September 20th our team from Salaam Communityis set to host a community conversation at the Clifton Mosque of Cincinnati, Oh focused on the topic of Culture and Islam in America with guest speakerUbaydullah Evans. This will be our 3rd thought leadership event of this year from our quarterly conversation series where we strive to introduce important topics to our community which are relevant to Muslims living in America. Navigating what is culture and what is religion can be difficult for many of us especially because the Islamic faith includes people from cultures all over the world. I invite you to join us in discussing this relevant topic that concerns us all.
BIO USTADH UBAYDULLAH EVANS: Ustadh Ubaydullah Evans converted to Islam while in high school. Upon conversion, he began studying some of the foundational books of Islam under the private tutelage of local scholars while simultaneously pursuing a degree in journalism from Columbia. Since then he has studied at Chicagoland’s Institute of Islamic Education (IIE) under the rectorship of Maulana Abdullah Saleem, in Tarim, Yemen, and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he is the first African-American to graduate from its Shari’a program. He is also an instructor with Ta’leef Collective and serves as Scholar-in-Residence at Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).
During the summer my co-worker R.Streetz and I embarked on a journey with jewish adults from Temple Sholom to create a documentary on the life of an Elementz artist whose story is shared by others. We chose a young man named Tafari who is one of the most insightful song writers that I personally have met over the years of my working with talented inner city artists. We knew Tafari had a story because of the unique way that he’d use his lyrics as a means of providing social commentary to describe life in the urban core and to also describe his own story of redemption from making bad decisions as a youth. In short you don’t find too many young people speaking truth through their lyrics like Tafari does.
In the midst of shooting the documentary we decided that we couldn’t do the project justice by shooting a few interviews and putting together a haphazard 3 minute video. We found that Tafari’s story represented the story of many youth who come from the inner city experience and many other people who have a past that they are trying to heal from.
Our documentary is set to be narrated by Auschwitz survivor, Werner Coppel, who was apart of the group that came to Elementz from Temple Sholom to learn about inner city life and the art of documentary film-making. We choose Werner as our narrator not because of it being “newsworthy” but because during our filming we witnessed Werner develop a special relationship with Tafari where he found similarities to his own story of having to heal from a difficult past and find a supportive community to help him through life.
So now I am leading a Kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds to support the production of an extended documentary entitled “The Spirit of Tafari.” I am pleased to be going on this campaign with my teammates from Elementz and our colleagues from Temple Sholom. You can now donate to our campaign until October 10th at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/393062357/the-spirit-of-tafari/
Muslims around the world recently completed our holy month of fasting known as Ramadan and a day of celebration known as the Eid al-Fitr which marks the completion of our fasting. I was blessed to have had the opportunity participate in my 9th year of fasting as a Muslim and to reach the end of Ramadan with my community.
Each year I set personal goals for Ramadan such as reading the entire Qur’an, giving more charity, and performing additional acts of worship to come closer to God. Outside of my personal goals I was pleased that I was able to take part in helping our Muslim community become more connected this Ramadan. Our organization Salaam Community hosted several programs and intimate dinners in local families homes during the month allowing for people to connect with each other, and break the fast together. My wife and I attended several of these dinners as well as others at our local Mosques and with our family.
The highlight of my daily work with inner city youth at Elementz during Ramadan was beginning to film a documentary on the life of one of our members named Tafari. We choose Tafari as the subject of our documentary because of the creative and insightful way that he describes urban life in his music and because of his dedication to our program. During Ramadan our crew spent a several days interviewingTafari along with his close friends and family as well as following him with a camera to get a glimpse at what day to day life is like for him. Our hope is to finish the project this fall, Lord willing.
On the day of the Eid our community made prayer and from there our family spent most of the weekend together. We attended a brunch with other members of Salaam Community, and spent time enjoying good food and attending Kings Island with a number of other Muslims families from the region.
During this years Ramadan I appreciated being able to work on my own spirituality while being able to stay better connected to others working on their faith. I’m grateful to have such a wonderful family and supportive community to travel with on this journey of serving The Most High. We pray that our fasting
In these last 10 days of Ramadan in your supplications to The Most High please remember me, my family, our work with Salaam Community, Elementz, and other services to our community. Please mention us in your prayers directly by name! I am striving to keep you all in my supplications.
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way." Qur’an 2:186
The fam and I made a short video about some of the goals that each us have for the Holy month of Ramadan. We’re almost halfway through the month so this is a good reminder for us to see where we are at with the goals we set. I hope my in-laws are upholding their goals of listening to our mother, keeping the house clean, and not playing the nintendo Wii like they said they would! May God accept our fasting and deeds. Ameen
Ramadan Mubarak everyone. I intend to spend my time during this month in remembrance of The Most High by day & night. I intend to pray for you. Please do keep me and my family in your prayers. May God accept our fasting and efforts in this month. Remember to strive hard, were on camera 24-7, God takes note of everything that we do!
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (GPBUH) has said, “Almighty Allah says, I treat my servant according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better and nobler gathering (i.e. of angels). If he comes closer to Me by one span, I go towards him a cubit’s length, if he comes towards Me by a cubit’s length, I go towards him an arm’s length, and if he walks towards Me, I run unto him.”