The following video is from Day 1 of the Ramadan Masjid Tour, when Hamza and Husain Abdullah spoke at IIOC.
Pullman, WA: a special place in the hearts of everyone who’s ever been there. My experience started in 2003 when I went on a recruiting visit. I saw the love everyone had for the school, the town, and each other. I committed and couldn’t wait to be a member of the Washington State University Football team.
I don’t get many opportunities to get back but, when I do, it’s emotional. I found my wife and we got married as sophomores. Jalaal was born at the campus hospital. I made countless lifetime friends here. I have some of the best and worst memories from my ﬁve years of schooling.
The drive from Seattle is boring, yet exciting; boring because it’s ﬁlled with rolling wheat ﬁelds, exciting because you’re going home. We pulled up with an hour to spare before sunset. We immediately noticed the new improvements on the Football stadium. After snapping a few pictures and reminiscing, we headed for the Masjid.
One of the ﬁrst eighty Masjids in the country, Al-Farouq is one of those Masjids that get better with age. The Masjid was empty, yet full. Empty because school is not in session so there are not many people in town. Yet full because the few who were there were full of life.
A scrappy bunch of youngsters—Anzar, Mustafa and twins Wasee and Sayum—were bouncing around the place. The twins explained to me the game of Cricket and how much they loved to play it. Mustafa said he plays football without a ball, so he calls it “Foot.” They were excited to be breaking fast, even though they didn’t fast. The eldest was ten. It always amazes me how a child feels like those last ten minutes they had to wait, to eat a date, was harder than your whole day of fasting. It’s funny actually.
The next day we were working on our blogs at the coffee shop when Hamza overheard a girl say she was fasting. He told me as we walked out. We went to the car, grabbed a T-shirt and went back in to ask her if this was true. Brittany was sitting in a setting with about seven other people including her teacher. We politely interrupted them and asked her if she was fasting. She said she has a Muslim friend and she fasted for two days with her. Hamza and I were ﬁlled with excitement as we introduced ourselves to the gathering, told them who we are, and what we are currently doing. The group was amazed. We gifted Miss Brittany the T-shirt and headed out. Inshallah she gets a reward when she meets Allah for fasting and prior to that, He guides her to Islam. But, for now, an Abdullah Brothers 30for30 tour shirt will have to do.
It’s never fun leaving Pullman. That’s why I’m trying to get back already. Homecoming is September 22nd against the Colorado Buffaloes. I want to see the stadium upgrades completed and a good ol’ fashion Cougar butt-whipping of the Buffs. #GOCOUGS
If you haven’t done it yet, I strongly advise you to drive from Pullman, WA to Boise, ID. The scenery is beyond belief: lush trees, beautiful lakes, inviting rivers, you name it. We couldn’t take enough pictures of the beautiful sights. The one thing we saw that blew us away most is how Allah creates what He wills.
As we are driving downhill on a winding road we noticed there are rivers ﬂowing uphill. Doesn’t make sense. How can water go against the grain? Not only was it ﬂowing uphill, some parts were rapidly crashing on the rocks and shores around it. Sometimes we read about the world from books, imagine it, close the book, and the imagination fades. When you see the structure of the Earth with your own two eyes, it moves something within you and you become very appreciative.
We have to ﬁre the person in charge of logistics (that’d be me). Whoever he is didn’t take into account that Idaho is on Mountain time and not Paciﬁc time. We lost an hour going through the mountains and now, it’s a race to get out before the sun drops. It’s not fun to be in unfamiliar territory, especially after dark.
We made it just in time to the Islamic Center of Boise to break fast. As of now, this is the most diverse Masjid in the U.S. No person stood next to someone of the same ethnicity. Mexican, Somali, African-American, Russian, Korean, Caucasian, Senegalese, Arab etc. That’s how rows were formed. Reminded me of Masjid Al Haram in Makkah, KSA. This one is a small Masjid, so everyone knew the next man as if he were his brother. This is Islam. From my limited knowledge, I believe there shouldn’t be a such thing as ‘My Masjid,’ ‘Your Masjid,’ or ‘African-American Masjid,’ ‘Arab Masjid,’ ‘Somali Masjid,’ ‘Desi Masjid,’ etc. This is the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ, and he squashed that beef over 1400 years ago.
Everyone cut after Maghrib, save a few. Yusuf (Somali), Dax (Caucasian), and Dax’s two sons Amir and Malik stayed and talked with Abbas, Hamza, and myself. Interesting to know Dax found Islam after having a crush on a Muslim sister, read the Qur’an for himself to see why she carried herself with such dignity, and Allah placed Islam within his heart. They are now married. Alhamdulillah. Yusuf was the chef: sambusak, mohogo, mandazi, dates, coffee and juice; the man knew what he was doing. He told us about his restaurant and the Halal food he serves. I need to get him on Sameer’s watchlist. After joking around for a while, Taraweeh prayer was upon us. At its commencement we were spotted and introduced to the Boise community.
Ibrahim is a Mexican from Mexico. The only Muslim in his family, he took his shahada three years ago. He said after pursuing the Dunyah, the Qur’an fell into his lap. He soaked it up and submitted his will to Allah. Now he keeps his family in his Du`a’s that Allah guides them along As-Sirat Al Mustaqeem. Please keep them in your Du`a’s as well. Off to Salt Lake City, UT.
Salt Lake City, UT: a place that I have a strong distaste for. Let me explain. Everytime (no exaggeration) I have a connecting ﬂight in Salt Lake, something goes wrong. I get delayed 95% of the time, 4% of the time the ﬂight gets cancelled, and the last 1% I miss my ﬂight. When you have those experiences coloring your impression, of course you wouldn’t be fond of this place. Oh, and the Utah Jazz play there. They always try and give the Lakers problems. Kind of like the ﬂy that just won’t leave you alone.
The drive was long and tiring; it was the ﬁrst time we had a driving rotation. We made it about an hour before Jumah, grabbed a hotel room, showered up, and headed for prayer. The khateeb spoke of Ramadan and self-reﬂection. He expressed that if one wanted to change him/herself that this was the month to do it. One of the Gems I took from this Jumah was when he said: Before you ask someone what can you improve on, Allah will already make known your ﬂaw that you need to work on. We have to accept our ﬂaws the moment they are made known to us and work on them from there.
After Jumah we were able to catch up on some much needed rest before we headed back to Masjid Khadeeja to break fast. A warm reception from the brothers at the Masjid and an invite we couldn’t refuse from the Mohammad family. As we walked into their home, there was a nice Desi style gathering. We sat amongst our elders and they had countless enlightening stories and jokes they shared with us.
Brother Mohammad explained to us how he comes from a people who have been Muslim since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (`alayhi as-salaam). I was in awe of the history lesson we attended. Shaykh Ali knew more about the History of African Americans than we did. He gave an inspiring talk of our Ancestry. At the end, with a big smile on his face he said, “I told this to an African-American once and he got so ﬁred up he said ‘Hallelujha!’ ” We laughed so hard, Hamza almost spat his drink out.
After Fajr prayer we spoke to the youth who were there reciting and learning Qur’an. Shaykh asked us to give a few pointers on working out. So, we gave them some tips to stay ﬁt. Then we talked about other issues, snapped a few photos and headed out for Denver, Co.
I didn’t know what to expect from this trip. I still don’t, but I will say, this is all from Allah, and I am enjoying every moment of it.
Salt Lake City to Denver, CO is a familiar drive. My wife and I once took the trip after our ﬂight was cancelled due to one of the worst snowstorms to hit Denver, CO. We took the overnight journey to watch Hamza play back in 2006. Although it’s familiar it was still long.
We arrived later than scheduled and met an old friend, Karl Paymah, from Washington State University. He played with Hamza in Denver for three years. After catching up a little we left for the Denver Rescue Mission. I remember growing up and my father taking us to downtown Pomona, CA. He cooked a huge thanksgiving feast for the homeless. It was one of the most rewarding things I did in my early years.
Hamza would always frequent the Denver Rescue Mission (DRM) during the month of Ramadan while he played for the Broncos. It was his favorite form of community service. So returning to a place he once called home, he set up a visit to the DRM. We helped bus trays, clean tables, serve water, clean ﬂoors, and have fun with the attendees.
I enjoyed my time there. A lot of times we get so caught up in what we’re doing and how our life is going that we don’t take the time to truly appreciate how blessed we are. We see pictures and videos on the internet and we tear up, but do we make that extra effort to go and see ﬁrst hand? I am the farthest thing from perfect, so please don’t paint that mental picture. I’m just ﬁred up to serve those who have been cast out by society. Excited to have a meal, excited to have a place to stay, these people didn’t ask for much. They were great conversationalists, happy to have someone treat them with respect and dignity, to call them “Sir” or “Ma’am.” A good time it was indeed.
We’ve been at it for nine days now and we’ve visited twelve Masjids. All have been great experiences. I wanted to see the state of the Muslims in America ﬁrst hand. If I may, we have a lot to be excited about. What is reported in the media versus what’s inside the Masjids are completely different. Don’t allow the media to tell you what you believe.
As I write this blog there is no limit to what I will put in or take out. The best way for me to know what the reader wants is feedback. The more responses I get, the better. Peace.