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389 Religious Institutions in Murfreesboro, TN is okay- just no Mosques

389 Religious Institutions in Murfreesboro, TN is okay- just no Mosques

By on August 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

I visit the great state of Tennessee every year.  Much of my husband’s family lives there.  I love Tennessee.  It is a southern haven that still amazes this Chicago city girl each and every time I go there.  The pace is slower in the south than where I’m from.  For example- while my natural tendency in a grocery check out line is to get out as quickly as I can, cashiers in the south hold my goods hostage while they (gasp!) talk to me.  Ask me about my kids.  Share a short anecdote of the day.  In other words, they are friendly.  People say things like, “yes, m’aam” and “have a blessed day” and “thank you.”

It’s a pure and sweet charm that oozes out of every interraction and that is very noticeable for me, the fast-paced midwestern girl.

So being a Tennessee step-child as I am, I have followed the Murfreesboro mosque stories in the news with much interest.  Murfreesboro is not too far from where my in-laws live in Tennessee.  Reading stories and watching news segments on the problems this Muslim congregation has faced as they have tried to move out of a tiny worship space and into a beautiful mosque that they paid for and built- broke my heart.  Watching in horror as the construction vehicles parked on the building site were torched sent shivers down my spine.  I’ve attended a mosque my entire life and I couldn’t imagine my mosque property being torched simply because the congregation were muslim.

I happened to be in Tennessee last Ramadan and decided to visit the Mursfreesboro mosque.  I called the number listed and left a message, “Assalamu alaikum, my name is Yasmina.  I’m in town from Chicago visiting relatives.  I have been following the mosque stories in the news and would love to come and visit to see the property … ”  I soon received a call back from a very gracious Board Member who essentially bent over backwards to accomodate my request.  So my mother-in-law, my children and I- we took a drive to Murfreesboro to visit the mosque.

Driving north through Manchester and Shelbyville towards Murfreesboro is a beautiful sight indeed.  What I remember most from that drive are miles of white picket fence-lined horse farms and church after church after church.  This is the bible belt and all you see for miles is a place on earth where people worship God.  Faith is obviously a very important part of the southern culture.

We first met our Board Member tour guide at the original mosque space in a strip mall.  We were escorted in and treated like esteemed guests as we toured the small prayer space and read a huge poster on the wall from a mosque in Texas where kids scrolled their well wishes to the Murfreesboro congregation.  We talked about the hardships endured trying to build the new mosque- this community that has been well established in Murfreesboro since 1982.  But none of the conversation took on a “whoa is me” tone at all.   On the contrary, I felt a huge sense of relief as I spoke first-hand with this mosque representative that stood firmly, calmly and with patience, much like the prophet (peace be upon him) might do in a similiar situation.  This congregation knew they had truth on their side.  That they were doing nothing wrong. They had no plans to stop construction. And they remained steadfast in having every intention to invite neighbors to their new mosque and to forgive all of those who have thrown bumps in their road.

We then visited the new mosque site itself.  At the time, they were striving to move in before Eid-al fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.  I recall this majestic feeling as we drove up the road sighting the great white steeple of the Grace church on the left and the green dome of the Murfreesboro mosque on the right.  Growing up in an interfaith home and attending church and mosque, this scene felt so right.  So beautiful. A visual example of what it means to be American where religious freedom is not only protected- it’s  a value we as Americans are proud of.

We were greeted by Imam Ossama Bahloul.  I had seen him on television and felt like I was meeting a celebrity.  This is a man with a scholarly background that could take him anywhere in the world to lead a congregation or do the work of God.  And here he stood with me and my family, patient, calm, humble and steadfast- welcoming us.  You expect a certain demeanor I guess from someone who has been fighting law suits against bigots, has witnessed spray painted “you are not welcome” signs on his house of worship, has had his property torched and the list goes on.  But what I sensed was a peaceful calm that you can only get when you stand on the side of truth and justice and sincerity and faith.

At the time, the construction work did not allow for us to go inside, but we stood outside and visited.  Imam so graciously gave us a huge package of dates which are customary for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.  I wished the mosque well and thanked him for taking time out of his day to meet us there and talk with us.

When we drove away as I sat in the passenger seat, I could not help but turn my head back and watch the sight of the Grace church on the left and the Murfreesboro mosque on the right standing side by side.  I watched until I couldn’t see it any longer.  And I left with a sense of hope and steadfastness.

When you struggle for something in life … when it is a jihad to gain what is right … the reward is much sweeter.  When you inspire others by remaining patient amid opposition, toil and trouble- the reward is much sweeter.  I knew in my heart at that moment- that no matter what happened … even if the haters continued to make grief for the congregation of the Murfreesboro mosque, they would be okay.  Because they are worshipping Allah (swt.)  And they will always do so.  And they will always welcome neighbors and celebrate Ramadan and hold daily prayers and teach their youth and have gatherings like they always have since 1982.  They will.

Latest news of obstacles for the Murfreesboro Mosque- yes- still

 

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About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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