CULTURE | The rules and norms established from a human perspective interpretating how life should
From neighbor to neighbor
by Sadeel Allam
Can you picture 115,296,797 persons? Now, out of that amount, 3,700, according to a 2010 census by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography are Muslim, with a one third concentrated in Mexico City. Over the past 10 years in the conflicted area of Chiapas, reside approximately 300 native people, some which are from the ancient Mayan civilization that don't speak Spanish, but have reverted to Islam. This is where the heart of the journey begins for Nahela Morales, a Mexican American Muslim who has taken it upon herself to carry through a project that aids and builds a bridge for people around the world to needed Muslim communities throughout Mexico. An expedition that initiated today with her travel to Mexico along with 11 full bags of donated clothing such as scarves, overgarments, and other items from people around the U.S.
It was during the revert's panel at the Islamic Circle of North America(ICNA) Convention in May 2013, that I met Nahela Morales. She is Why Islam's National Hispanic Dawah Coordinator. Why Islam? is a program part of ICNA that breaks the wall of misunderstanding of Islam. She was holding a panel of stories by reverted Muslims. After the panel, I followed her to a video recording session about more stories on reverts for a special program that will be held during Ramadan by Why Islam? It was in the waiting area that I heard her story and what she was preparing to embark on. During 2011 while vacationing in Mexico, Nahela Morales was looking for a mosque to pray the Friday prayer, but had a very hard time finding one. It was on this trip that her initiative to help the much needed Mexican Muslim community in Mexico awakened. After meeting with community organizers and leaders like Isa Rojas, a Mexican national who studied Islamic Law in Saudi Arabia and leads various Mexican Muslim communities and before departing from Mexico, Nahela Morales vowed to return in a year with donated items and $500 dollars. A year later and a month before her take-off to Mexico, she found herself in a bit of frustration due to the lack of support including from recognized Muslim leaders in the U.S. who literally turned her down. It was also during the ICNA time while Nahela Morales was in the elevator making a supplication where things changed around. After putting her son to bed and heading to the hotel lobby to get coffee, she gets off the elevator and sees Muslim leader Nouman Ali Khan. Nervously and courageously, Nahela Morales told him about her initiative. He didn't just offered monetary aid in a tripled amount to what she had already raised, which surpassed the initial $500 goal, but himself and his wife's presence as well. Interesting enough, the Islamic leader that turned her down came up and joined them at that same moment, which he then also agreed to help.
Nahela Morales and her strongly belief in this initiative is something very close to heart, because it is not only about helping out the neighbor as Islamic scriptures asks Muslims to do, but aiding people in the most of their basic needs. A need that is not seen, lived nor even smelled for many people who live in America or even heard of. The need of essential clothing, food and housing in addition to support new Muslim communities with knowledge and everyday faith struggles. Nahela Morales tells a story of her while in her 2011 vacation in Mexico on how she stood up the whole night sharing her knowledge about women issues with a group of eager learning Mexican Muslim women. The need is clear at all levels and should not be understated nor should our responsibility to comply. It doesn't stop there for Nahela Morales. She has another goal in mind when she travels to Chiapas.
Her goal is to rebuild the mosque that has sheets as dividers and exposed wood and brick walls with the money she has received in donations for the Muslim community that reside in Chiapas. Islamic leader Nouman Ali Khan along side his wife will be accompanying Nahela Morales and others on this building project and to Chiapas too. Nahela Morales also counts with the support of WHY ISLAM? This will be also the first time for Nahela Morales to travel to the southern region of Mexico in a state that has been know for continuous warfare between Mexico and Zapatistas since the early 1990's. All in the exact one year as she vowed by the grace and permission of Allah(God), The All Mighty and All Merciful.
Nahela Morales and friends will be traveling throughout Mexico to different communities in different states during a month to give out their collected donations along with their support. The expedition may be followed through Facebook page Unidos Para El Dawah En Mexico(United For The Dawah In Mexico). Nahela Morales advised pictures will be continuously posted as they travel and stop at their travel points. We asked Nahela Morales what is one way for the everyone to help and she responded that by joining her in her initiative.