MYDC: With Project Downtown
Posted July 15, 2007on:
It’s Saturday morning, I’m very sleepy, and I’m waking up to the sound of my 2nd alarm (after fajr alarm). Saturday is the only day that I could sleep in because I work 6 days a week. So to find a reason to wake up early on my only day off must be a very good reason. I’ve been invited before to a couple of MAS Youth events but this is the only one that I took seriously. It is true that this event really caught my eyes because it had a start time of 11:00 am, but it still means I have to wake up by 9:00 am because I would have to meet my friend at the metro station by 10:00 am.
I have learned a couple lessons which helped me change my perspective on life and charity work. One of the lessons that I learned from a Friday prayer khutbah (speech) is that, Allah will offer you opportunities in life that might not arise ever again. Who knows how long you might live and might happen with your life. Everything in life happens for a reason, there is no such thing as a coincidence, and it’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunities that Allah throws at you.
Another great lesson that I learned came when I was learning more about one of Allah’s attributes, al shakoor (the Grateful). Allah “is the one who repays a good deed with a much greater reward. Thankfulness is to return good with good”. He is the only one that knows what is inside your heart and what are your intensions in life. For example, if you walk by a stranger and give him a smile, even though that deed seems so small and insignificant, that one good deed might be as heavy as a mountain on the Day of Judgment. That one smile might have made that persons day. It could have made them forget about their hardship and could have made them think positively of Islam.
So when I heard of the MAS Youth event of going to downtown DC and feeding the needy, something told me in my heart to not miss out on this opportunity. This beautiful verse in the Quran reassured me: “(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: ‘We feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.’” – The Holy Quran, 76:8-9
Anyways, we finally got there, and after gathering everyone and the food, I was very happy to see the great turn out! The leader of Project Downtown, Rami, gave a very good speech and hit some key notes. He told us that some other charity organizations come by to these parks all the time, throw food out the van, never say one word and leave as soon as possible. We don’t want to do that, he said. Be yourself, talk to them, and leave a good impression with them about yourself and our religion. This is also a very strong dawah event, where you don’t have to ask them to convert and interrogate them about their life decisions, but you can just show brotherhood, care, manners, and that can go a long way.
When we broke up into teams and started to spread the food and water around, I didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, it was a very pleasant experience. To see the smile of a thirsty individual receiving a free water bottle can just light up the park. To talk to them and check on their day and have them open up to us was also great. After talking to these individuals, I realized that 99% of them are very intelligent and know a lot about life. They might have made some wrong decisions in life, but who doesn’t? And to tell them that we are all brothers and we are all equal in God’s eyes was something special.
The evening came to an end when we finally ran out of food and water to give away. We hit two parks and talked to a lot of great individuals. The event was very well organized, and all the people that showed up really helped make the event special. At the end of the day, I can only thank Allah from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity and beg him to accept these deeds. I look forward to hearing more about more events to come from MYDC and look forward to giving back to the community some more.
(click on photos to enlarge)