Feelin’ the Connection
By Siri Carrion
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
When you meet people from your home country or the city where you were born it feels so great! There is an instant connection, but when you meet another Muslim from your country or city, an instant bonding takes place that you cannot describe.
Alhamdulillah. The Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA) had its first meeting/lecture on February 16, 2008. My intention was to bring the Latino Muslim community together to put a face to a name and have dinner and just get to know one other. But you know Allah SWT is the best of planners.
My plan was to invite Hajji Yusef Maisonet from Mobil, Alabama to come and speak to our small Latino community and describe his experience in Dubai at the Imam training program. Inshallah, I wanted to hold the first gathering at the Masjid. As it turned out, one Masjid was scheduled to have its old roof taken off and a new one put on. I called in another favor from the Amir at another masjid. As it turned out, they too had an event already scheduled. Alhamdulillah, Bro. Franco and his wife suggested I have the meeting at his home. Well Allah knows best, and He is Akbar.
There were more than twenty people in Brother Franco’s home. I had cooked a pot of pollo guisado and arroz con gandules. The brother had some food catered as well so no one would go home hungry. As we were eating, the sisters were able to share their stories about their children. And, the men discussed issues within Islam and were giving dawah. Around 4pm we got the presentation going. I introduced myself and my organization to the group while Hajji Yusef set up.
Hajji Yusef is a well-accomplished photographer and journalist. His DVD presentation was just beautiful. The pictures he chose where just magnificent. During the presentation, he narrated and described in more detail the pictures he had emailed to me. Well in my mind, I thought this would be the end of the show and that everyone would go home.
Well, Allah had another plan. Subhan Allah, several brothers from area Masajid attended. One brother in particular is the Vice President of ICNA for the southeast region. Subhan Allah. This brother was so moved with what I had put together. By the grace of Allah, he almost jumped out of his seat to dance. The short of it is this. He offered us the use of an extra room at their clinic located in a highly populated Latino community to do dawah, hold classes, or whatever else we want to do for the community.
Believe me, I did not know this small gathering would turn out to be so grand and beautiful. I was not asking for anything. I just wanted to bring people together to say we are Latino and Muslim. I just wanted to connect with my Latino Muslim brothers and sisters. In no way did I expect for these wonderful brothers to offer my small organization so much! ALLAHU AKBAR! That is truly a blessing.
As a result, the Latino Muslim community now has a place to meet and give dawah to other Latinos, and a place to simply reconnect with their culture. Inshallah. Allah will continue to bless those who are giving dawah for the sake of Allah. Ameen.
Inshallah. We will continue to be successful and see the Latino Muslim community grow by leaps and bounds. And, Allah knows best!
Shareefa Siri M. Carrion is the founder of the Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA).