This post is the second in a series of updates from Hamza and Husain Abdullah in their Ramadan Masjid Tour. Check out the first post here.
Los Angeles, CA where I was born and somewhat raised: sunny skies, palm trees and trafﬁc. That’s the life we live out here on the West Coast. Best weather in America, worst trafﬁc in America. We had three Masjids in our sites: Masjid Bilal, Masjid Omar and Masjid Abu Bakhr. Masjid Bilal is where my mother took her shahada; Masjid Omar is where I started a business; and Masjid Abu Bakhr is where I was able to lend a helping hand in putting the place together.
It started for me at Sister Clara Muhammad School. Isn’t that crazy—an entire school built on Nation Of Islam principles completely shifted when they heard the beautiful words of the Qur’an. The second generation (my generation) was brought up according to the Qur’an and Sunnah . Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to visit Masjid Bilal, but I am thankful for the guidance of my elders.
Masjid Omar is where I started “H.A.S. Incorporations”. Husain, Aliyyah, and Shaybah. The video will explain. We turned ﬁve bucks into 300+ in one Ramadan! Of course I’d have good memories when I come up like that.
From the farmlands of China to South Central L.A., we met Bekhr, a Grad Student at USC. Although he’s only been in the states for two years, he seemed to be ﬁtting in with ease.
The “Street Shaykh” was in the building and I was happy to see him.
The Street Shaykh is known for his Da`wah efforts, mainly in the prisons. The thing I love about him is he gives it to you straight, no chasers. The man knows one level, and it’s full blast. Kind of similar to Adrian Peterson’s running style. We had a good time catching up while he schooled us on the history of Islam in Africa and America. Back at Masjid Abu Bakhr we were gifted mushafs, alhamdulillah.
We were ﬁlled with excitement as we headed home, since the real driving was set to begin the next day. A 350-mile journey to Santa Clara. All was good; especially after I snapped a pic of Allah’s beautiful creation, the shining Moon.
Bay Area, CA
My wife usually beats me out of bed for suhoor, but three people got me today. I went downstairs and there were two eager faces downstairs awaiting me: my son Jalaal (5 years old) and my daughter Kameela (3 years old). “I wanna fast,” they said. Alhamdulillah. My mother allowed us to fast when we were ﬁve years old, but only until Dhuhr prayer. When you were six, you could fast until Asr prayer. By seven, you were a seasoned vet, and ready for full days. This is Jalaal and Kameela’s 2nd day of fasting. Masha’ Allah, I was impressed.
I was ready to go see the world until I saw my children with tears in their eyes. Stopped me in my tracks. I tried to explain to them the length of the trip and assured them, we’ll have an Epic Eid party when I get back insha’ allah (God willing). Tears subsided for the time being. Heading for the door, I noticed someone ducking me. My wife was upstairs helping out in my parents’ room. As I approached her, she kept from looking me in the eye, to prevent tears from spilling. Ready and prepared to endure taking care of two children and helping out around the house for the rest of the month. The strongest woman I know is my mother (Ummie), and my wife is a close second. I gave her a big hug, forehead kiss, and asked Allah to make it easy on us. I love my wife. I love the fact that she sees past our selﬁsh nature (as humans) and goes with what she believes will please Allah.
It was smooth sailing to Santa Clara, CA. We arrived and immediately headed to the nearest Wal-Mart for an oil change. The mechanics were cool and decided to put the work in for free. Alhamdulillah. We arrived at MCA just in time for Maghrib. After, we headed to the youth lounge and it was decked out. Different color sofas, ping pong table, ﬂat screen TVs, PS3 and Xbox 360—they had it all. We ate pizza, biryani, drank Mango juice, and Hamza played AbdarRahman in a friendly game of Madden 2012.
Abdullah showed us around and made sure we were taken care of. Abdullah bounced numerous questions off me and was fun to hang out with. Different people, same name. I sat with Abdullah (the second one) after Ishaa and asked how many men ﬁt in the mussalla? “Over 1,000” he replied. The women and children probably outnumbered the men three to one. People were pressed up against walls until they opened up the ballroom and believers started spilling over. After eight rakahs of Taraweeh we headed back to the lounge.
Young brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties and children crowded the area in a frenzy. A room capacity of probably 100, tripled, easily. A rapid ﬁre Q&A—after a passionate, motivational speech from Hamza, and a heartfelt one from myself—ranged from “How does it feel to get an interception?” to “What was the toughest decision you’ve ever had to make?” Pictures, autographs, and compliments on the Kamani thobes, then we had to jet. It was only three days in and the best youth group in the country may have already been spotted. But, we’ll wait to see what everyone else has in store for us.
As we ﬂed the scene from Santa Clara, we immediately headed towards Sacramento, CA to the welcoming home of our Brother in Islam Basim. We arrived at 2AM and he was excited to see us. His wife was preparing a much needed platter of fruit. Their hospitality was second to none. May Allah reward them without measure. Ameen.
4:30AM is when we woke up and prepared to pray Fajr at the Salam Center. Light rain and a lightning shower ﬁlled the sky. But #TeamFajr would not be denied. Neither would a youthful bunch of Muslims and Muslimahs who beat us to the Masjid. After Salah we were handed the mic to say a few words. With our elders dominating the front row, we couldn’t help but thank them for welcoming us to pray in the Masjid and give our salams. Many times we feel that we need to look at a young, popular, successful person to ﬁnd a role model when really the brothers and sisters consistently holding down the ﬁrst row are our role models.
Three Viking fans emerged from the Jama’at. Muhammad Waheed Islam and his two sisters drove from Stockton, CA (1hr 30min drive) to see lil ‘ol me. He fell in love with the Vikes in 1998/1999, and so, they became fans. He followed my career fairly well and knew a lot about other players as well. He hasn’t watched a game in the Metro Dome, although he’d like to. I just make du`a’ this doesn’t happen again. I was very honored for them to come out and support.
Back at Basim’s we all slept in a little longer than expected and didn’t give our salams until around 10AM. Hopped in the mini-van and began the 10-hour drive to Portland, OR. Not to slight them, but we had personal business to complete in Seattle, WA. So we broke fast, made Salat, then we began to head out. We weren’t allowed to leave until we at least took a plate of food.
In our quick 30-minute stop, we met a brother named Idris and he knew we were from out of town. After so many questions the Street Shaykh was brought up and the man almost came to tears. The words he said echoed inside me, “You have no idea,” (in reference to the Street Shaykh). It was my turn to man the wheel for the night drive to Seattle, WA, and for four hours, the words of brother Idris were bouncing around in my head. I pondered, who is the Street Shaykh?
Random fact about Oregon, they pump your gas for you. I thought it was a myth, but now I have proof!
Portland to Seattle was by far the easiest drive. Taking the wheel at night while nobody else was on the road. Just us, a few diesels, and cruise control at 72 MPH. We arrived around 2AM and pulled up to Hamza’s Mother-in-Law’s house. Suhoor, Fajr, then rest.
The day was hectic. Seeing that we spent ﬁve years in the state of Washington, we know a few people out this way. Everyone calling and texting, “Come here,” “Go there,” “Do this,” or “Do that.” A good problem to have, if you will. Hamza cleaned out his home as he prepped to sell it. I went to visit my Brother-in-Law, Taualalo, and my wife’s side of the family. Between traffic and hanging out with my eight-year-old brother, the day was eaten up in seconds. Now it was game time. We headed to MAC ﬁrst and I had a few pleasant surprises when I arrived.
The ﬁrst thing that jumped out at me was my college friend Abdul Kareem, the “Paper, Rock, Scissors” Champion of Washington State University. Wait, they have that? Yes sir, Abdul Kareem would beat you like a step-child who stole something. I’ve seen the trophy, he’s ofﬁcial! We gave our salams and embraced in a big hug before I started introducing myself to others. Vikings Purple was on display as a brother was rocking his Husain Abdullah Minnesota Viking Jersey proudly. Subhan Allah.
The place was packed. We sat and spoke for a good 20-30min before we broke our fast. The most interesting thing was the youth; they were beyond respectful. Sitting quietly, eyes wide open and listening attentively as they soaked up everything. There is some great leadership at MAC without a doubt. Taualalo, who is a non-Muslim, enjoyed his ﬁrst trip to a Masjid. He said he enjoyed the atmosphere, making salah, and he even made a few friends.
We quietly exited the Masjid around 10PM and headed for MAPS. The year-old Masjid was beautiful! One of the best I’ve seen in America so far. We prayed Ishaa and Taraweeh, and we were given a chance to address the youth. The Q&A was ﬁlled with mature questions for such a young group. Shaykh Qasim Hatem is a former collegiate football player, who attended our hated rival Uinversity of Washington, may Allah forgive him for that. LOL. He was excited to meet us and bounce questions off of us. We were honored to see him and bounce questions off of him too.
Alhamdulillah for the responses we receive from city to city. We joke around that each one has that overzealous Uncle. He was deﬁnitely in attendance tonight. Firm handshakes and dominating conversations, his presence was unmistakable. As our visit in Seattle came to a close, I realized tomorrow was a trip to a place I called home for ﬁve years, got married, and was blessed with my ﬁrst born. Pullman, WA has a special place in my heart for helping me develop into the man I am today. Wazzu, here we come. “Go Cougs!”
– Husain Abdullah
For daily updates on our tour, check out our website and see what my brother Hamza has to say.