Time for Self-Respect

TIME SLIPS AWAY, so quickly. Often we think we have more time than we do—when the sun is shining, you get preoccupied with day-to-day stuff and before you know it, your day is gone and it’s dark outside again.

That’s how life is for everyone.

This past week I went on a short trip with the family, just a few hours away from my home town, and we ended up staying overnight there. Once again, the time had gotten away from us, and it was late and we were tired. It was a good decision to stay, because it gave us time to see more and do more.

The time we were there went by so fast, I felt like I only had time to blow out the dandelions that we had found. Suddenly, with one short huff, all the seedlings were flying in the wind and it was time to go home. We all wished the trip had lasted a little longer.

We went there because I was on a quest for something special, and I did find something special there…but it was not what I was originally looking for.

Life is like that too sometimes, and most of the time, that’s a good thing.

The place we visited was a small, quaint town where (it appeared and felt like) time stood still.

All around town were old buildings with interesting architectural details, seemingly untouched after all these years. In the local neighborhood, we discovered many large and stately Victorian homes…. this town was pure history, up close and personal.

We never saw any children there, although we did take a walk at a historic park. The people there were mostly elderly and all very pleasant and polite; no hateful or suspicious glares to be found, there were only smiles and welcoming waves as we, complete strangers, drove by.

As we arrived in town, I noticed that the small shops and sidewalks were so tidy—it was clear that these people took the time to care about those types of things; through their mannerisms and style you traveled through their streets and got a strong sense that they were proud of their neighborhood, that they had self-respect.

I felt a longing for that for our community, for us all to experience. I felt a deep sadness as well.

Self-respect and pride in our community is something that we, as Muslims,(at least for the most part) seem to sorely lack.

Our masajid are rarely as clean as they should be and their lawns rarely tidy. “Muslim owned and operated” grocery and retail stores are no better. And, although there are a few exceptions here and there, most are in disrepair due to simple neglect—including those that amazingly started out being newly renovated or were built brand new.

It made me wonder why that is…why, as a community, do we not take more pride in our Islamic centers and masajid?

Looking out my car window, passing through the historic town center, I noted every storefront—each one more than 100 years old, yet in pristine condition kept with love and care by the elderly shop keepers.

Later in the day, I revisited the main street shops. The stores were run by either a single elderly person or an elderly husband and wife team…. they had no helpers to wash the windows, take out the trash, or clean their restroom…yet everything was very clean. When I entered their store, they greeted me with a friendly smile and while I shopped, they organized. I felt welcomed and comfortable being there, and cannot wait to return. And, even if I never get a chance to get back to that little town, I will always have a fondness in my heart for it.

Our Islamic centers deserve better treatment; they deserve our respect and care, but before we can achieve that we must have self-respect.

We must endeavor to make our masajid become that special place that embraces our multi-cultural heritage and presents our religion in the best possible light – both in attitude and in environment.

There is something to be learned from the inviting ways of those whose manners and sense of pride inspire a welcoming feeling for all who visit.

People who feel welcomed may return in embrace or, in the least, hold a fondness in their hearts for all time, passing that feeling on to others.

The first impression we give will either be our first or our last.

I would have never thought twice about an old rundown, inhospitable town.

It is time for us to attain self-respect for ourselves, our Islamic centers, masajid and schools – but we need to remember that, time will not stop and wait.



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