The Blessings of Allah
By Rebecca Abuqaoud
All praise be to Allah SWT.
This year of 2009 has been a very blessed one. This year was very active and dynamic because of the participation of a group of revert Latina Muslim sisters in Chicago. A committee of sisters put together a conference to get more sisters involved and to get their ideas on how to continue Islamic classes for sisters. It was an honor to have the support of LADO, the Latino American Dawah Organization, for the conference. The committee of sisters needed a host name in order to extend invitations to the attendees. Alhamdulillah, LADO accepted use of its name as a host for the conference.
This committee of sisters included mothers interested in Islamic education for their children. This conference took place April 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm at the Muslim Community Center. The objective of this conference was to present an agenda that promotes Islamic education for Latina sisters and their revert Latino children. The committee of sisters for the conference also wanted to hear and exchange ideas with other sisters and mothers interested in Islamic education for their children. A journalist from the Chicago Tribune was present at this conference to listen to our discussion. Some of the mothers expressed that they would like their teenage children to learn how to avoid dating because it is a peer pressure in the public schools. They also wanted an environment where their children feel that they belong and fit in the group, because in the past some of them had negative experiences of not feeling welcome in certain Islamic places.
At this conference, we also discussed the importance of learning Arabic in addition to topics based on Quran and Sunnah. We decided to divide children into two groups according to age. One group of children would consist of 5 to 11 years old and the other group from 12 to 16 years old. Each group would have its own classroom. We also agreed upon a plan for the children’s education. Afterward, we discussed how we would implement educational classes for the sisters.
In meetings before the conference, the committee of sisters had decided to call the educational program “Islam en Espanol para Damas”, which means ‘Islam in Spanish for Ladies.’ During the conference, sister Idalia Nieves showed us a collection of Islamic books in Spanish, which she suggested might be a great source of information on various topics for the class. The program will begin by covering one of these Spanish books. Finally, before the meeting ended, we selected a schedule of programs for the ladies and children.
Unanimously, we decided to have classes from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm every Saturday of the month with breaks in the middle of summer, during the winter, and during the month of Ramadan. As a result of this conference, classes for children and sisters began on Saturday, May 9 at 4:00pm at the Muslim Community Center (MCC) located at Elston Avenue. It is important to mention that classes for sisters were held at the MCC from 2003 until 2007, and a program for children began more recently but was discontinued due to lack of volunteers and teachers. However, there were programs during special occasions such as Ramadan and Eid.
SubhanaAllah. Allah SWT is the Greatest. He brought a group of sisters together with the purpose of educating themselves and their children about Islam within an Islamic environment.
It was very important before the arrival of Ramadan to have a special program for the sisters and children.
On Saturday, August 8, the sisters had a special guest, sister Celia Snowber. She spoke about the importance and blessings of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
FASTING IN RAMADAN FOR CHILDREN
The youngest and oldest children also had a special program in separate rooms on Saturday, August 15.
It was an honor to have sister Enriqueta Palacio present a topic to the youngest children explaining the importance of fasting in Ramadan. Sister Enriqueta prepared craft projects for the children. The children enjoyed making lamps and greeting cards. These small children also saw a video presentation pertaining to Ramadan.
Meanwhile, the older children were having their program in the MCC Youth Hall. Brother Hussain and sister Camille Irvine gave wonderful presentations.
Brother Aviva spoke about the importance of fasting during Ramadan by engaging the audience with questions. He also gave a brief historical presentation on Islam in Spain.
MashaAllah. Sister Camille beautifully explained how the Quran was revealed. She included many wonderful details about this important event in Islamic history.
Before the program’s conclusion, their teacher, sister Damaliya Salim, asked the older children questions. She put together small wrapped papers, which students selected, that contained her questions. Questions were related to previous classroom presentations with sister Damaliya. This part of the program was interesting to see, because many of the students were able to answer the questions, and some needed assistance.
These children received gifts from their teacher, sister Damaliya Salim, and small boxes of goodies. May Allah bless them for their effort to learn about their religion.
The program concluded with everyone enjoying a delicious potluck dinner. In addition to all the children, all the sisters, mothers, teachers, and special guests came together to eat.
Alhamdulillah! All the glory and praise be to Allah SWT. This has been a very blessed year because the sisters and children came together to learn and live in an Islamic environment.
We also had a picnic during the summer. We came together for Iftars at different houses during the month of Ramadan. And, recently, we had an Eid ul Fitr celebration on Sunday, October 4.
May Allah SWT greatly bless the committee of sisters who organized the various programs. It has been beautiful to see the cooperation, communication, participation, and commitment that were needed to achieve the programs. Although the programs were prepared to bring sisters together, the greatest purpose of all that we do will continue to be to serve and please Allah SWT.