Take a moment to imagine this. It’s the golden age of Islam where Muslim cities are bustling with inventions. The beautiful centers of knowledge in Baghdad where scholars are making groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy, medicine, and philosophy. In Morocco, the first degree issuing academic institution is established by a Muslim woman. The grand masjids of Istanbul are built, where tourists line up to this day to step foot in and stare up in awe at the majestic artwork of the domes’ interior.
How many Muslims today know about this rich history and the legacy of their faith?
That was one of the central themes at “Unmasked: What’s Your Narrative,” an event organized by Zakat Foundation of America (ZF). A solid turnout of over a hundred people consisting of mainly young adults packed the room. All proceeds went towards relief programs for Syrian refugees. Along with lectures from prominent community leaders, the night also included spoken word, poetry, featured art pieces, and a hip-hop performance.
Yara Daoud is an intern at ZF and the main organizer of the event. Daoud grew up loving to read and write poetry, but noticed there was an absent space for creativity in the community.
“There are many young Muslims that are incredibly talented and need an outlet to share and connect,” said Daoud. “I thought it would be a great idea to send all proceeds of the event to help Syrian refugees through ZF to show your expression could not only benefit you but it could also benefit our community at large. It can help us relate, admire, and understand one another and build a stronger foundation for our community.”
The conversation then switched to and what inspired the work of earlier influential Muslims.
“We are the most misunderstood people today,” said Amal Ali, the Outreach Coordinator at ZF. “But do Muslims even understand their own selves and legacy? Do we understand our beautiful history and faith?”
“Their architectural beauty was meant to articulate God’s greatness to the world” continued Ali, referring to the Muslims from the golden period. “They wanted their art to reflect the greatness of the Creator of the Universe.”
“We live in a globalized society where we’re all connected,” said Abdelhamid Omran, an Outreach intern at ZF. “Everybody needs to identify with something, but who do we follow? We need better role models.”
“No one in this world has the character that can compare to the Prophet Muhammad (saw),” added Lena Tleib. “He was worried about us, but how many of us worry about him?”
“You may get criticized for being a good Muslim,” said Tleib. “It’s not wrong to be different, but be different in a good way. People will judge you regardless. Be proud of being a Muslim and be peaceful with yourself. Our aim is not the dunya because then you will always want more. You should never have to compete, and always want good for yourself and others.”