Summer at M.E.C.C.A.

M.E.C.C.A. Kids: Knowing and Loving the Family of the Prophet
Loving the family of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace is an important part of our love of the Prophet himself.  In this 4 week series, children will learn about the House of the Prophet, including his wives, children, and other close relatives such as Sayyiduna ‘Ali.
Starts: Sunday, July 9, 12:00-2:00pm
*Cost: $40 before July 2, $50 thereafter
Teacher: Ustadha Wajiha Khalil

Register

The Virtues & Biographies of the Prophet’s Family

Join us and strengthen our knowledge, love, and connection to the Family of our Beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). We will discuss the rank, virtues, and biographies of the wives of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), all of his blessed children, with a special focus on his daughter – the Queen of Paradise – Fatima Az-Zahra & Saydunah Ali and their two blessed sons Hasan and Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them all).

Starts: Sunday, July 9, 2:30 – 3:30pm
*Cost: $30 before July 2nd, $40 thereafter
Teacher: Ustadha Wajiha Khalil

Register

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Fall 2017 Semester

Faith First
Learning the foundation of one’s faith is essential for every Muslim. This 8 week course will include the attributes and names of Allah, angels, Prophets, destiny, Day of Judgment, and the unseen. Students will gain a firm understanding of these creedal matters of Islam.
Starts: Saturday, Sept. 16, 11:00am-1:00pm
*Cost: $60 before Sept. 12, $70 thereafter
Teacher: Ustadh Meurad Osman

New Muslims Program
This 8 week course is an introduction to Islam for new Muslims that focuses on the basics of belief and practice, provides emotional support and offers practical advice to help with any issues they may encounter.
Starts: Saturday Sept 16, 1:15-4:00pm
*Cost: $50
Teacher: Ustadh Tariq Ameer

Meaningful Prayers
This 8 week course emphasizes the meanings and pronunciations of the words of prayer. Students will learn to focus and to connect with their Creator during both individual and group prayers
Starts: Saturday Sept 16, 4:15-6:15pm 
*Cost: $50 before Sept 12, $60 thereafter
Teacher: Ustadh Tariq Ameer

Muslim Manners (Adab)
We are blessed to have standards outlined for us through the way of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as to how to behave, treat others, and situate our hearts. In this 8 week course, we will cover many of these character traits and learn how to acquire them and practice them in our lives.
Starts: Sunday Sept 17, 12:00-2:00pm
*Cost: $60 before Sept 12 , $70 thereafter
Teacher: Ustadha Wajiha Khalil

Alif Baa Taa
In this 8 week course, students will learn the Arabic alphabet in its written form and with proper pronunciation. By the end of this course, students will be able to read words and begin their journey towards understanding the Arabic language.
Starts: Sunday Sept 17, 2:15-4:15pm
*Cost: $100 before Sept 12, $110 thereafter
Teacher: Hafidh Muhammad Islam

Arabic 1
During this 8 week course, students will learn the fundamentals of the Arabic language by focusing on building vocabulary, improving reading skills, basic grammar and simple conversation. Prerequisite: Introduction to Arabic or its equivalent.
Starts: Sunday, Sept. 17, 4:30-5:30pm
*Cost: $100 before Sept. 12, $110 thereafter
Teacher: Hafidh Muhammad Islam

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M.E.C.C.A. Kids

Qur’an Memorization
Memorizing the Qur’an has immense blessings, and it’s important for children to establish a relationship and love the Qur’an at a young age. During this 8 week course, students will focus on memorizing several short surahs of the Qur’an. They will also learn the background of each of these surahs, as well as the meaning.

Starts: Sunday Sept 16, 11:00-1:00pm
*Cost: $60 before Sept 12, $70 thereafter
Teacher: Mufti Fathi Alam

For ages 6-11

Advance Registration Will Open August 1st

All classes held at 4 West 43rd St, New York, NY 10036
Cost* includes class materials and refreshments
Financial aid is available for most courses.

Living Islam

Please join us for this month’s Living Islam gathering. Our monthly Living Islam gatherings create a time and place to explore the issues specific to entering into the faith of Islam. There may be cultural, experiential, or emotional challenges you are facing.
As an institution founded with the primary mission to support new converts to Islam, M.E.C.C.A. takes your questions and concerns seriously. We are here to provide answers to your questions and help you in any way we can.
Our teacher Ustadh Tariq Ameer will lead this session. Meet new friends and enjoy dinner together.
When: Saturday July 15th, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Where: 4 W 43rd St. Suite 416, New York, NY 10036
Free admission* Registration is required,
please register by Saturday, July 15th at 12pm
*To register email info@meccacenter.com 
No children under 12 please
 

Brothers’ Gathering

A monthly gathering where brothers get together to discuss Islamic topics and current events. We will also talk about the science of self-purification and how to actually put into practice, step by step, the Islamic knowledge one has learned throughout life.
Dinner will be served. We look forward to your attendance!
Coordinator: Brother Mujtaba Tariq
When: Saturday July 8th, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Where: 4 W 43rd St. Suite 416, New York, NY 10036
 
Free admission * Registration is required,
please register by July 8th at 12:00pm
*To register email info@meccacenter.com

No children under 12 please
 

Sisters’ Gathering of Remembrance

Rejuvenate your heart with love of God and His Messengers!  
Join us as we remember the Divine by singing and reflecting on traditional poems (Qasa’id) that have been passed down from generation to generation in Islamic history. We will be continuing our discussion on the book ‘The Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance’ translated by Imam Zaid Shakir.

Dinner will be served. We look forward to your attendance!

Coordinator:  Sister Haseena Sahib
When: Saturday July 22, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Where: 4 W 43rd St. Suite 416, New York, NY 10036
Free admission* Registration is required,
please register by July 22, at 12:00pm
*To register email info@meccacenter.com
No children under 12 please
 

By Josenny Torres

Bismillah,

I was raised Catholic, as a child I would go to church but never felt a connection.  I knew there was a God; however I didn’t understand the beliefs of what the religion consisted of.  I never really gave the religion much thought and went about my life.  In 2011, I downloaded the Qur’an on my phone. During my commute to and from work I would read it, unfortunately I never finished.  In 2012 after writing a paper on Islam for one of my college courses, I decided to order a hard copy of the Qur’an.  Surprisingly it was delivered to my house a day before Ramadan started.   This time around everything was making more sense.   I didn’t understand why I was so eager to learn, but I just followed that feeling.  I ended up visiting a mosque with a close friend and enjoyed the experience. The 2nd time I went my friend came to me and asked “are you ready” I literally smiled from ear to ear and replied “just take my hand”.   Shortly after I was standing in a room full of sisters taking my shahada, I’ve never felt happier than I did that day.  Below is a poem I wrote about my experience.

Emotions of a convert
Caught up in this dunya, thinking it will get me by,
last 10 days of Ramadan really changed my mind…
A whole new life ahead of me,
that means kiss the norm goodbye..
wasn’t sure what would be instore for me but I was ready for the ride.

Shed tears
in fear, …
of those close by
simply because they may not understand me.
I Worried more about the outcome, and worse,
if I was left with no immediate family.

I cried, & cried, and asked god why?
I knew exactly what I wanted,
But i wasn’t sure why?

They said follow your heart,
It will never lead you astray.
So I made my way to the masjid and was enlightened by such praise..
The sight, the sound, the welcoming phrase,
The recitation of the Qur’an protruding through the speakers
Made its way to my heart and I was finally given my reason !

Not sure how to say it,
But I knew it made sense
The imam said repeat after me
So I took one deep breath.

“Ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaahu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulallah”

He said
“Takbir”
The sisters replied
“Allahu akbar”

Now in English
“I bear witness that there is no god except God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

And just as the words flowed out of my heart,
I smiled with such ease
for this brand new start….

I stand here today
With confidence
And I pray
That the last breath I take
Will be for the words that I say
“Ash hadu anlaa ilaaha illallaahu wa ash hadu anna muhammadar-rasulallah”

Shahada Story by Anonymous

My interest in Islam sparked from a trip I took to Morocco as part of my study abroad program in Spain. I was very attracted to the warmth of many individuals and the strength of the family structure. Later, after returning to Spain, I was researching the Albayzin neighborhood (Arab quarter) of Granada (the last Muslim kingdom in the Andaluz). There I met a Moroccan boy about my age who I became very close with. The way he treated me as a woman, with much care, concern, and respect, combated any negative stereotypes I had ever heard about Muslim culture. In fact, it made me see the way American men can treat women in a much more critical light. I think we as a white culture are so preoccupied with the behavior of individuals of other cultures that we sometimes forget that our own people are not perfect. So the Morrocan boy and I began to discuss religion, and I told him I wasn’t a practicing Christian and I really respected the Islamic faith, but I would have to learn it before I considered converting. Both of us agreed that belief in ONE God was the cornerstone of our personal beliefs.
Once I left Spain, I decided to get in touch with the local Muslim community. I figured that, worst case scenario, I would learn more about the faith and be able to understand Muslims better. Eventually, I was even able to observe one of my mentors praying the Maghrib prayer. For me, that was the moment in which I decided that I wanted to become Muslim. The prostration, dedication, and beautiful recitation of the prayer showed me a really profound side of this faith. The not only spiritual but also physical submission to Allah made me see how genuine this community believes in trusting God. What felt like it was “right” was that it answered a lot of the gaps or holes that I had found in the Christian branch of faith. I believe that Allah gave Muhammad the Quran to, for lack of a better phrase, “get humans back on track” and make clear the kind of disciplined lives we are to live for the sake of Allah.
My life has definitely changed since becoming Muslim just a short time ago. Most of the change has been positive as I have been welcomed so strongly by sisters and brothers in New York and my hometown. The love and friendship I feel is something I could not ever replace, and I’ve only been getting to know my new Muslim sisters and brothers for a few weeks. There, of course, have been challenges, however. Although I go to school in New York, my campus is predominantly Christian. It is a bit difficult to practice my prayer living with 3 non-Muslim girls and not knowing many other Muslims on campus. It is also pretty difficult to feel like some people do not take my conversion seriously or not feeling a strong presence of individuals who share my beliefs – but I know that will all come in good time. And lastly, the hardest part is to think about when I will be able to tell my parents. They are strong Christians and I have a feeling they will take it as a rejection, which makes me feel very sad. However, I know this is the right path for me, and inshaAllah one day the time will be right for everything to fall into place. This whole journey (or beginning of the journey) has been full of ups and downs, and I would never give up this new sense of purpose for anything else.

Shahada Story by Fatimah Madinah

My journey toward Islam took place two years ago, when my life was an absolute mess.  At this time in my life, I was in a very abusive marriage and extremely isolated from my family, and I was very depressed.  I was ashamed to tell anyone of the suffering I was going through.

I would go to church and pray, even offer prayers to saints, as most Catholics would do.  I remember one day I had the urge to go to confession and put my problems before a priest.  As I went into church I could see one of the priests getting ready to leave.  I said, “Please Father I need to make confession.”  He said, “You are late for confession; come again next time.”  I was shocked, and feeling worse than ever.  On my way home all I could do is think of dying, how I wanted my life to end.  I had no support from my family.  I was compelled to stay because my daughter was too young to be without a father.  Breaking a family wasn’t a Catholic thing to do, so I started drinking heavily, hoping I wouldn’t wake up.  But life couldn’t let me go; I would somehow wake up each day more and more depressed.  I was alone with no comfort.

I remember heading to Jamaica Ave just to get away from the house for a little while.  There was an herbal shop run by a woman who was fully covered, even her eyes, but she seemed of a gentle spirit.  She seemed to see a certain sadness about me and asked me if I was ok and if I wanted to sit and talk.  I couldn’t help the tears that began to fall.  This stranger who didn’t even know me was so willing to take time to listen to my drowning heart.  It touched me greatly and was far more comforting and helpful than the priest. As she listened to me, the woman advised that I hold on because God knows my suffering.  He is there for me, even if I don’t see it right now and she even gave me some Islamic stories to read.  I was reluctant and told her I was a Catholic, but yet I began to read them that night.

While my husband and I continued to have our problems, I began to try to ignore him by reading the pamphlets on Islamic faith.  As I read, I began to cry and wonder why in my faith I wasn’t respected like the Muslim women are, and how men are commanded by God to protect women, not to abuse them.  I read how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would stop what he was doing to aid women who sought his help and I thought about how I sought help from a priest and was turned away.

Once again I visited the Muslim woman from the shop.  It was so peaceful to sit, talk, and be treated like a human being.  She told me her name was Maryam, a beautiful name I thought.  I began to question her on why women in Islam cover up.  She began to explain how women cover themselves to protect their beauty and modesty for God, and how only their husbands and close relatives are allowed to see them.  I thought, wow, here I was with my tight jeans trying to look appealing to a man who has no regard for me at all.  She invited me to come and visit her masjid.  I was worried about how I was dressed, but she insisted I come with her.  I was welcomed and was amazed by how these women interacted with each other and how they were dressed.

The women continued to invite me to join them at their social gathering, and I went thinking that this is a good way to stay away from the problems at home.  Little did I know how much my life would change.  The more I got to know these women, the more I felt a sense of peace and calmness.

One night I remember just crying quietly to myself thinking of the kindness of these Muslim women.  Here I was, dressing provocatively, wearing makeup, doing my hair nicely, yet I was treated like garbage.

As I continue to go to the masjid, I wanted to know more about Islam.  I continued to read more and observe more, especially the prayer.  I thought it was so beautiful.  One sister asked me if I was thinking about become Muslim.  I was scared, but I said maybe.  That night as I lay in bed, I started thinking about why Catholics didn’t seek God directly?  The more I thought about it, the more things just didn’t make sense.

When I went back again, I was asked by a sister if I would like to take shahada. I remember feeling scared, but this time I felt a sense of calmness and tranquility. Then I said yes. What a peaceful feeling that came over me as all the sisters embraced me. For the first time I was happy.  When I visited Sister Maryam at her shop to let her know I took my shahada, we both embraced with tears of joy.  I learned to let go of a bad marriage and the life style I was leading.  From the moment of my shahada, there was peace with Allah, for I totally submitted to Him only and not priests, saints, or anything else. This is how Islam found me.

Shahada Story by D. Fuentes

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

“La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah.” “There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” By pronouncing these words and finding out the meaning of them, I took one of the most important steps towards Islam, the testimony of faith. This wasn’t the first or the last step on the road to learn Islam, but it was one of the most important. Becoming Muslim is a spiritual and personal commitment one must be willing to make, along with feeding the soul and letting it grow continuously. It is a process that takes time, effort and dedication, especially when one wants to implement this way of life in order to enrich one’s blessings and please Allah alone.

My interest in Islam started two years ago, after meeting someone who was full of faith, honesty, respect, and spirituality. It greatly impacting me, and little by little I began to become interested in knowing how I could acquire these characteristics. I was introduced to new terminology and methodology that at first was hard to understand. I learned a lot from books, documentaries, and the internet. I met amazing people that helped me and taught me many things, things I didn’t even know I was looking for.

For a long time I was interested in finding a class where I could fortify the knowledge I had acquired by my efforts, and receive guidance. I had a difficult time finding one.  Then one day, after looking over and over again everywhere, I found something that interested me, “Muslim Education and Converts Center of America.” I quickly went to M.E.C.C.A.’s website and was surprised by the variety and number of programs. I immediately enrolled in the “New Muslims Program.” Although I was a few weeks behind, I was quickly able to catch up with the help of the amazing teacher and all the wonderful sister converts I met. A lot of my doubts were resolved and I learned a lot.  I then signed up for a second class called “Perfecting Prayer,” which reinforced and refined my prayer.  After completing both of these classes, I am pleased with my developing connection with Allah now.

This was a beautiful experience, and it is one that will last for the rest of my life and afterlife. I’ve learned that it’s important to feed oneself every chance you get, ask questions, and be unstoppable on your quest for knowledge.  At the end of it all is the most magnificent miracle, closeness to Allah.

 

 

Conversion to Islam by Henry C.

Bismilah ir Raham ir Raheem

First and foremost, peace and blessings on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his family (may Allah be pleased with them all), and the righteous companions (may Allah be pleased with them).

As salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. My name is Henry Chelune, Jr. To give the reader some context, I was born and raised in New York City. My parents baptized me Catholic, and I was raised in the Methodist church. We attended the Methodist church because that was where the food pantry was. I grew up in an underserved community. I would frequent the church’s youth group on Wednesdays only for the free pizza. I was unwillingly active in the church routine of youth group meetings, Sunday school, communion, confirmation, and, of course, Sunday worship service. Due to this, I became somewhat versed in the Bible. I have always believed in God, so I had a genuine desire to understand what I was being taught. Even to this day, I am able to hold my own in a conversation on the Bible. I often questioned the Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders. Their answers never satisfied me. “It is the mystery of God,” they would say.

I NEVER accepted the concept of trinity; I knew that God was One with no partners. Even during my extremely wayward days as a youth, I viewed Jesus (AS) as a great man, and prophet. As I came to understand it, he was no different than the prophets from the Old Testament. What made that idea stick was that NEVER in the Bible did he refer to himself as the Son of God, but ALWAYS as the Son of Man. Rather than inspire hope in me, the crucifixion story scared me. It also made no sense; punishing someone for another’s sins is unjust. I knew that God is not unjust.

My first real exposure to Islam came in 1998 during a high school Global Studies course. This course gave me a very general and vague idea of Islam. The class discussed all world religions with no specifics on Islam. Islam would not reappear in my life until 2005.

In 2005, I was attending college for my Associates Degree, while struggling through my third bout of homelessness. It is in that school where I met some wonderful Muslims from Bangladesh. They were females; I not knowing the Deen or customs approached them. I never had the opportunity to ask practicing Muslims about their faith. I asked general questions. The questions surrounded the Islamic position on Jesus (AS). I asked if Islam believed in Jesus (AS), they replied “yes.” What about Mary (AS) being a virgin? They responded in the affirmative. The final question on Jesus (AS) blew my mind. I asked if Islam taught the Second Coming? They responded with “Yes we do believe Isa (AS) will return.” I was dumbstruck. I was under the impression that only Christians felt this way about the Second Coming. My last question was regarding the concept of trinity. They told me that God is Uniquely One. He does not have any sons, daughters, etc.

Some time later, they enabled me to obtain a copy of the Holy Qur’an. I read it thoroughly. It was the first religious text outside of the Bible I had ever read; I loved what was inside. Prior to this intense exposure to Islam, I had developed ideas on God. I always believed these ideas grew organically. I quickly realized that the tenants of Islam shared many of the concepts I often pondered about: the creation and role of Jesus (AS), the strict Oneness of God, praying directly to God, no crucifixion story, the Universe being created in six eons (not six twenty four hour days). There were times I had the Bible in one hand and the Qur’an in the other comparing and contrasting. As I read and researched, I soon learned there was no other option but convert to Islam.

I finally embraced Islam in January of 2006 at the Jamaica Muslim Center with Imam Shamsi Ali presiding over the Shahada. I did not change my name to an “Islamic name” out of respect for my father who is Henry Chelune, Sr. However, at a recent event at the Jamaica Muslim Center, I had the privilege of meeting renowned speaker Yusuf Estes, who conferred on me the name Hauron. I’ve since decided to use that name within Islamic circles.

I have now been a Muslim for seven years. I have yet to make Hajj (“anyone want to sponsor me?” in sha Allah) Since my conversion, I joined the United States Army, where I served one year in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I am currently a senior at Lehman College, City University of New York. I am applying to graduate school for Urban Affairs & Planning (please make duaa for my acceptance!). Allah has helped to turn my life around full circle.

This past summer, I started a daw’ah organization called the Ridgewood Daw’ah Project. My purpose is to invite the people of Ridgewood, Queens, along with Bushwick, Brooklyn to Islam with a bilingual approach. In addition to daw’ah, I am attempting to reawaken the Islam of the existing Muslim community. Since July, I have supplied non-Muslims with over 500 Qur’ans in both English and Spanish. In addition to Qur’ans, almost a thousand pamphlets on various topics in multiple languages have been distributed. If you or anyone you know would be interested in volunteering or helping out in other ways, please contact me!

Wa alaukum assalam

Contact info: Twitter: @RidgewoodDawah

Email: Ridgewood.Dawah@gmail.com

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/islam-in-nyc/x/5436067