Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the third year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
A personal note I wrote late last night (around 3 a.m.) to my community at the Islamic Center at NYU:
This time of night is pretty special, especially considering the month that we're in and the unique blessings that its last nights provide us.
Earlier this evening a young woman took her shahada at the Islamic Center following the maghrib prayer. Like most nights during Ramadan, the IC was filled with beautiful faces, but tonight felt different for me. As I sat with this young woman and many of you sat around us, the words started to flow. I told her that she was surrounded by amazing men and women, and as I spoke it dawned on me how true those words were. She cried a bit and so did I, but probably not for the same reason. I teared because I really, honestly believed that she would be taken care of by those who were present. And that idea is so beautiful to me.
A young woman had shown up to the IC some time ago who found herself in a hostile situation - there's really no other way to describe it. Her father was an abusive man, not very conscious of how he treated the women in his family. This young woman came to Jummah and was in need of support for herself and her mother. When I asked for sadaqah from those in attendance, we were able to raise more than enough to help them leave from a house that wasn't really a home. This past week her mother wrote to me and said, "Thank you for helping me and my daughter and thank you to every person there at your masjid who gave to us. When she came to me with that envelope full of single dollar bills and five-dollar bills it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I could just tell that it was more than one person who gave and I felt so loved that so many would be willing to help. We won't ever forget any of you in our prayers." Can you think of anything that would be more valuable than the prayers that mother is uttering for us?
During our first years hosting Ramadan programs at the IC, our efforts to help those in need mostly came in the form of us delivering our leftover food to shelters in the area. These days we still do that, but we also have been able to provide food, clothing and support to many in our community, both on an individual as well as organizational level. The past two Ramadans we have raised $250,000 for different humanitarian efforts. That to me is as remarkable as the number of people who are willing to help serve food at our iftars, knowing that they will eat last and only of what remains, but still doing so with a smile on their face. Or as remarkable as the flood of emails I receive when a call goes out to help provide funding for a funeral prayer of a family in need that can't afford to bury their loved one. Or the fact that people of all ages can come into our space, not knowing where they fit in, and you all as our students, our alumni, and our community members help them feel accepted and understood.
We are defined as a community of young people - students, professionals and otherwise. I would say we are not young, but rather we are vibrant. The energy that is brought to the table when each of you is present is what makes us what we are. There is no doubting the immense impact that our community can have when we come together.
We have something unique alhamdulillah and it's important for us to grow it. The credentials, resources, and personalities that we find within our community uniquely position us to do a lot. We are poised to build many of the institutions and organizations that our community is in need of. Free health clinics, domestic violence shelters, advocacy and support groups, educational initiatives, and much more can come out of our community and inshallah they will. We won't be able to do it without each of you helping out and I am fully confident when the time comes, you will be there to help.
At the current time, I would appreciate your assistance with two things.
Today, Friday, August 2, we will be hosting a special iftar to raise funds for the people of Syria. I am requesting that you give whatever you can towards this cause. We are working with Islamic Relief, consistently recognized as a 4 Star organization by Charity Navigator. All donations are tax-deductible and zakat-eligible.
As I mentioned already, we raised close to a quarter of a million dollars at this dinner the past two years and inshallah we are hoping to raise a good amount this year as well. You can bring a check made out to "Islamic Relief" to Jummah. You can also make your contribution through a "Team Fundraising" page we set up at bit.ly/ICNYU4Syria. Through that page and other efforts we have already raised more than $30,000 alhamdulillah. Please share the link and info with your friends and family. Every second counts and it's important that we do what we can to help the people there.
Secondly, I would ask for you to continue to support the Islamic Center. We run completely on donations (our student groups receive funding from NYU but the IC on a whole does not) and are still collecting for our Ramadan Fund. If you or your families have not made a contribution to it yet, please do so at www.nycramadan.com. All donations are tax-deductible and more info is on the site itself.
Seeing so many of you these past few weeks has been an amazing experience. Whether it was at iftar, taraweeh, jummah, or elsewhere, my Ramadan was enhanced through being in your company. I hope to continue to see each of you after the month is over. For those of you who haven't been able to make it out yet and can, definitely come by. The impact of your presence is deeply felt, but not as much as your absence. For those who are away or live at a distance, you are remembered every night and are missed more than you realize.
May Allah accept from all of us, especially in these last nights of this blessed month. Keep me and my family in your prayers. You all, as always, are in mine.