الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:
أَفَحَسِبۡتُمۡ أَنَّمَا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُمۡ عَبَثً۬ا وَأَنَّكُمۡ إِلَيۡنَا لَا تُرۡجَعُونَ (١١٥) فَتَعَـٰلَى ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمَلِكُ ٱلۡحَقُّ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ رَبُّ ٱلۡعَرۡشِ ٱلۡڪَرِيمِ (١١٦)
Do you think that We had created you without any purpose, and that you would not be brought back to Us? (115) Indeed Exalted is Allah, the True King; there is no god worthy of worship except Him, the Lord of the Honorable Throne! (116)
[Quran: The Believers, Chapter 23]
عن عائشة أم المؤمنين -رضي الله عنها-: أن النبي -عليه أفضل الصلاة وأتم التسليم- قال :" إن الله يحب إذا عمل أحدكم عملا أن يتقنه. " [حديث صحيح أخرجه أبو يعلى والطبراني]
A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) said: “Indeed Allah loves it when one of you does something, they do it proficiently.” [Abu Ya’laa and al-Tabarani]
One of the most profound and significant lessons we learn from the numerous and timeless ones in Surat Yusuf (Chapter 12 of the Quran) is the selfless plans Prophet Yusuf (‘alayhi as-salaam/peace be upon him) made and put into effect - both short term and long term - and in one case a 15 year plan to save Egypt (and its neighbors and Greater Syria) from starvation and destruction.
Likewise, when we look into the seerah or biography of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), we see a clear vision from the very beginning until the end of his mission that was always accompanied by careful and structured strategizing. This, after the divine help (tawfeeq) of Allah (SWT), accounted for the success of his prophethood and the enduring legacy of Islam; all praises are due to Allah Almighty.
Our deen is one of order and organization, of setting goals and executing a plan; it is a path to high aspirations and a regiment of discipline. That is why, among other reasons, that Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW) have instituted for us, among other things, a fixed routine of obligatory and optional rituals at fixed times during the day, week, and year (like Salah, Jumu’ah, fasting, charity in all its forms, Hajj, etc.), as a way of systematically organizing ourselves and planning our time. These have a limited window of time and require from us preparation and diligence to be able to, in the most proficient manner, fulfill our duties and find success in this world and the next - the greatest and most noble of all goals! Allah, most Exalted, says (Quran 6:162):
قُلۡ إِنَّ صَلَاتِى وَنُسُكِى وَمَحۡيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِى لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ
Say: "Surely, my prayer, my worship/sacrifice, my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Creation.”
It is said that the most resolute person is the one who, after setting their goals and drawing up a plan, they apply themselves with determination and accountability, and with reliance upon the Almighty. Allah (SWT) says (Quran 3:159):
فَإِذَا عَزَمۡتَ فَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
Then when you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.
“He/she who fails to plan, plans to fail!” - so goes the old adage.
In addition to restarting our normal activities post Covid-19 and initiating some new ones last year, we at Masjid Bilal have embarked upon, and have started planning, many new and diverse programs and activities for the community going forward. Some of these are for spiritual upliftment, others for intellectual/educational or social needs, and some even for recreational purposes; in fact we are hoping that one or two of them may bring mutual economic benefit too, in sha Allah.
We recently started the immensely popular youth and family program on Saturdays at 5pm and thus far we have had many productive sessions, with discussions with the older youth on our Muslim-American identity for example, while the younger ones are engaged with arts and crafts on Islamic themes and learning about Allah and His creation. We plan to continue in this vein, even during Ramadan (but at 2pm). Before that, we have a Salah Workshop for the whole family, with a particular emphasis on the youth, on Saturday March 4th at 5 pm in sha Allah. Also planned is a Family Night at the Masjid with an outside speaker from Yaqeen Institute in Texas on the evening of Friday March 10th.
Ramadan is a very special time of the year and we will continue offering the usual expected activities (similar to last year) to meet the spiritual and social needs of our community, with an eye on how to improve on the quality and content of our offerings, in sha Allah. (More details will follow soon.) We are, however, hoping that in this blessed upcoming month we can start on the “Families of Ihsan '' Project, in which local families will contribute at least a thousand dollars annually to the masjid to help us budget efficiently and expand our scope. (That is less than $100 monthly or less than $25 weekly per family!) We would like each family interested to step up and at the same time nominate another potential family to do the same. Don’t miss the opportunity to reap the rewards for all in your family, including your deceased loved ones. Furthermore, we would like to populate a database of all Muslims in the locality, including details of their work and services they can offer or volunteer to the masjid community.
We are planning several weekend and summer retreats and camps for families and (separately) for older youth, somewhere away from Lexington (like in eastern Kentucky, and as early as perhaps the third week in May), as well as some picnics and hikes/outings in central Kentucky. The aim is for the Muslim community from different backgrounds and various parts of the city to bond and spend quality time “learning while playing”. Also in the pipeline is a plan to start a Sunday School the next academic year on the Southside for the families that live in that part of the city. We already have people who will assist in the administration and teaching and those who are ready to register their students and derive the blessings of exchanging knowledge on the basics of Islam, in sha Allah.
The masjid has an administration that works diligently and many dedicated volunteers that assist, some in structured committees (fundraising, youth, da’wah, etc.). You are also invited to join and contribute your time and skills; at the very least please cooperate and interact positively with these dear brothers and sisters to help us accomplish our goals. A few of them are already working towards achieving our specific targets and we appreciate all that they do for us, and may Allah reward them abundantly. One of the immediate projects is the Masjid Open House on Saturday May 13th (12-2 pm) for our non-Muslim friends, neighbors, colleagues and invited guests. You may also participate and extend invitations to whomever you wish.
A few of us are, moreover, particularly keen on going as a group of local families and individuals for Umrah, at least once or twice a year and perhaps also for Hajj, if not this year, then we are hoping that it will materialize next year, in sha Allah. Hajj and Umrah sponsorships as a charity to the less fortunate, in a confidential manner, can also be initiated (or restarted) through me. Naturally your duas/prayers and support as well as your input and feedback are critical for all these endeavors.
We turn always to Allah to bless us and our efforts, and to give us strength and success. It is He alone we are trying to please and His Cause and His Creation we are trying to serve. Praise be to Allah Almighty. Peace and salutations be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his family and companions. And upon all of you.