Well we are finally back from a long road trip to Philly – otherwise known as the ‘city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection)’. We stoped off in Albany first which caused us to miss the first night of the conference and one of my favourite speakers. I was really disappointed to miss Dr. Jackson – he is the first person who lit my imagination on fire with regard to the indigenous muslim populations – taking what I intuitively had always known and putting it into words.
We had an awesome. time – the conference was a real testimony to the desire of the AA muslims in the US to become part of the solution. Just having come back from the conference in Chicago, it was nice to see the one in Philly was a ‘working’ conference. The audience played a major role in defining issues, and proposing solutions, all of which were drafted as resolutions to be taken back to the board and people’s respective cities. It’ll be interesting to see how things move from here.
I reconnected with some people I conferenced with in Arizona a couple of years ago. Hopefully we’ll be able to actually keep in touch now. There were a couple of things about the conference that were a particular focus for me. One was the overwhelming feeling of being normal for once. I can’t describe how nice it was, and how emotional it was for me at times to recognize the faces of my father and my grandfather all weekend. It was like being surrounded by love and warmth for me. For me the muslim community has never been about seeing myself in others and knowing I belonged – it was always the opposite. So whenever I go to the States and come across AA muslims my soul reconnects with a part of me I feel I lost out on. I don’t know if people will understand what I mean, my friends were teasing me a few times this weekend because I was so happy. I was content to just wander around and watch and absorb everything.
My other focus was trying to translate some of the initiatives to bring back home. It was so difficult because the population of indigenous muslims, especially indigenous black muslims is so small in comparison. We have pockets here and there, but for the most part we are the minority in communities of immigrant muslims. To do anything would require some serious strategizing, but I’m really interested in seeing what could be done. Another thing I felt this weekend was an incredible sense of loss – knowing how so many of us have given up on the deen and turned our backs to the community. The racism and isolation and disconnectedness that people felt translated itself into a rejection of their muslim identity. I wish they could have been in Philly this weekend to recognize that there is a place for them and that the fight is worth it.
On a side note our van got broken into Saturday night. The passenger window was smashed and a printer that was in the back was stolen. I thought it was funny considering the last time I was down there the same thing happened. So we had to drive home with cardboard and plastic duct-taped to the side of the van. Very ghetto.
AND…drumroll please….. we took a cab and it was a nice normal experience with no cheating, no arguing, no getting lost, no car service mix-ups. That for me clinched it. Officially one of my favourite places to visit.