Every soul has a story. And in every community, there are enough stories to create a momentum. Heartbeats Newsletter is an initiative by Dar-us-Salaam to highlight these quiet stories cocooned in our community. We have people from all walks of life sharing their stories, a glimpse of the events in the community and so much more in store! Turn the pages and find yourself hooked. Most importantly, share it around.

Click on the link below to read and download the latest version of the Heartbeats Newsletter:

2024 April – Heartbeats Dar-us-Salaam’s Quarterly Newsletter |  Spring 2024/ 1445

2024 January- Heartbeats Dar-us-Salaam’s Quarterly Newsletter | Winter 2024/ 1445

2023 October – Heartbeats Dar-us-Salaam’s Quarterly Newsletter | Fall 2023 / 1445

2024/1445 January Heartbeats Newsletter: Winter Edition
(A Glimpse!)

RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY - Our Dar-us-Salaam Community Rises for Palestine

If there’s one thing we can learn from the people in Palestine, it is resilience in the face of great adversity. At Dar-us-Salaam, our community has been rising in solidarity and advocating for Palestine. Multiple staff halaqas and sessions with the local community were held at Dar-us-Salaam to address the Palestinian cause. Many of our students, alumni and community members are also courageously advocating for Palestine. They are leading on area campuses, at area masajid, and on the boards of national organizations. Several of their stories are featured here in the newsletter.

As an Ummah, seeing the suffering of our brothers and sisters for the last couple of months has taken a toll on all of us, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We watch with tear-filled eyes, angry at the indescribable injustice and the media lies which turn the oppressed into the oppressor and the oppressor into the victim.

“It’s a struggle to live life as normal,” said Arif Kabir, one of our Al-Huda School alumni and Dar-us-Salaam community members. “We can’t be happy knowing the atrocities happening across the globe in Palestine and seeing how it’s affecting us as a Muslim community, especially the Palestinian community members I know. One of my Palestinian colleagues lost 50 of his family members in the ongoing crisis.”

Yet something so powerful is rising out of the ongoing strife, and that is the beautiful light of Islam and Eman exuding from the faces and hearts of the Palestinians amidst the most excruciating time of their lives. We see it on our screens everyday. A light of Eman so bright, it has touched the heart of the Muslim Ummah worldwide, reinforcing within us the strength of faith in our hearts, and shining through the darkness of the Islamophobia we face here in the West. A light that is inspiring so many non-Muslims to take their shahada and embrace Islam as their way of life.

What’s their secret? It’s a phrase we have been hearing over and over again: “Hasbunallahu wa ni’malwakeel -” Allah is sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of our Affairs.

The secret to resilience in the face of great adversity is our Aqeedah, a firm foundation in our faith that we base our lives upon, and we teach to our students at Al-Huda School. It gives us peace in our hearts knowing Allah is in control over everything and we are content with His Decree.The Palestinian cause is not just for Arabs, Palestinians, or those in the Middle East – it’s our cause collectively as the entire Muslim Ummah. We ask Allah to alleviate their pain and suffering, and grant them peace, safety, and a free Palestine.

WRITING FOR PALESTINE
Al-Huda Alumnus Provides Literary Platform for Muslim Youth

Many of us have grown up hearing and living the Palestinian cause. Palestine wasn’t just another place, Palestine was in our hearts. “As a child, I grew up around many Palestinian brothers and sisters, and I saw how the occupation personally affected them,” said Arif Kabir, one of our Al-Huda School alumni and Dar-us-Salaam community members.
“I remember seeing the picture of Muhammad Al-Durrah and how it shocked me, imagining my life in his
shoes. No one should have to live through that.” A clip of 12-year-old Muhammad Al-Durrah being shot at by the Israeli army in Gaza went viral on the news in late 2000. His father’s harrowing reaction to seeing  him killed still haunts those of us who witnessed it, and the clip is reminiscent of the footage we see today on our phones from Palestine.

The passion behind wanting justice and peace for the Palestinians has driven many of us to take action, whether by speaking up and raising awareness about the Palestinian cause, joining peaceful protests, boycotting, or simply donating and making dua for our oppressed brothers and sisters. “In my personal experience, I’ve found that what
truly resonates with people are personal stories,” said Arif Kabir. “I share stories of people I know, rather than statistics which, unfortunately, people seem to gloss over. Giving voices to the people we see on our screens is powerful, it brings to life the reality for so many people who are unaware of the cause. That’s why it’s very important to us at Muslim Youth Musings, my literary non-profit, to ensure that our voices, especially those of our youth, are being heard in their advocacy for peace and justice in Palestine. We are committed to promoting that.”

If you would like to learn more about Arif Kabir and his work with Muslim Youth Musings, please check out the
website www.muslimyouthmusings.com and follow @muslimymusings on Instagram!

UHUD TO PALESTINE: Drawing Lessons on the Walls of Al-Huda School

Our 12th grade girls at Al-Huda School took their love and passion for the health and well-being of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine and turned it into an outpour of creativity. They painted and put together a large mural describing how the events of the Battle of Uhud teach us how to deal with the ongoing oppression and genocide in Palestine.

“We learned about the Battle of Uhud and how the Muslims were defeated, but, regardless of their defeat, they still remained steadfast and Allah helped them in other ways and in their ultimate victory,” said one of our 12th grade
students. “We tried to connect that to what is happening currently in Gaza where even though it looks like the Muslims are losing, it is still important to know that Allah is always with them, and that ultimately we are all winners.”

“Part of doing this mural was to process the grief and intense feelings that we’re all feeling. The girls are very artistic and a lot of them express their emotions through art,” said Sister Dalia Elamawy, high school Islamic Studies teacher. “In 12th grade, they are learning the Tafsir of Surah Al-Imran, and a lot of it has to do with the Battle of Uhud. Due to the recent events in Gaza, we found a lot of connections between the two events, especially the idea that Allah will always give victory to the Muslims. The girls created the Uhud to Palestine mural as a reminder for everyone that Allah is with us.”

TALE OF A PALESTINIAN LIVING IN THE WEST
Nadeen Ashkar is a Palestinian community member of Dar-us-Salaam and a former teacher at Al-Huda School

It has been comforting to see that this cause isn’t just a Palestinian issue. This time I feel like everyone is feeling our pain, and it’s making a big difference. We’re not feeling alone, you know this issue has been going on for 75 years, and wars have broken out in the past against Gaza, and people speak up for a few days and then move on.

But this time, Subhanallah, it feels different. I’m noticing my friends are posting on their social media more, they’re involved, and it makes me feel so good that we are being heard. My friends are checking in on me, asking what they can do to help, and I say that what they’re doing (their advocacy of the Palestinian cause) is shedding light on the issue. Alhamdulillah, our Emaan in Allah is strong. As a mother, my heart shatters seeing the mothers crying over their children, and sometimes I feel helpless and guilty that I am a Palestinian living in safer conditions here in America, while the Palestinians back home are suffering. But I tell myself that Allah has chosen the strongest people for the most difficult of tests. It is the only thing that is giving our hearts ease at this time, knowing that all these people are
happy in Jannah and not struggling any more. It reached a point that when I see them suffering in pain on hospital beds that I start thinking martyrdom would be a better solution, at least they would be at peace in Jannah.

My family is from Bir Nabala, a small town located in the West Bank, in an area between Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Ramallah. While people’s attention is rightly focused on Gaza right now, our life in the West Bank isn’t talked
about enough, especially of how suffocating it is. Everything is restricted by the Israeli occupation. Our home is 10 minutes away from Al-Quds, but with Israeli security checkpoints it takes us at least 2 hours if not more. If someone has to go to work or needs to go to the hospital, they are at the mercy of the Israeli soldiers’ in charge of the security checkpoints, and we can’t do anything about it. If they close the gate, that’s it, they won’t open it until they feel the people have suffered enough for that day. As you enter the checkpoint, it’s like a cage. They only let one person at a time through the metal gate after being corralled like livestock.

I was born in Al-Quds, but moved to America as a baby. I never received a Palestinian passport, so when I travel to Palestine, the Israeli government treats me as an American tourist and doesn’t allow me to stay in Palestine except for
a limited time even though I was born there.

Even though they live 10 minutes away from Al-Quds, they are not allowed to go except with permission that is only granted after a long, difficult process. My siblings have not been allowed to enter Al-Quds for years, since they were children, because they have a Palestinian passport and are treated as second class Palestinian citizens, despite
also being American citizens. They are also not allowed to go to the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948, including Tel Aviv, Akka, Yafa and Haifa. We have never been able to breathe the air in Gaza or witness its beauty and we wish we could visit there one day, but unfortunately it’s an open-air prison and no one is allowed to enter or exit except under Israeli permission.

Every time I travel to Palestine they will put me aside in the airport in  small room after a 12-hour flight, and start interrogating me. They take my passport and ask me why I’m coming, where I am going, how much money I have and how long I’m staying. They will put my husband and I in separate rooms for hours, and not talk to us in the beginning, just investigate everything about us even though they have all the information. They also always physically search my
husband. The purpose of that room is to just make us feel intimidated, humiliated and broken. But they don’t know that no matter what they do, we will still come back to Palestine every year.

When you see the heart-breaking stories coming out of Palestine, we try to see the bright side. How many people have bought the Qur’an and said they want to read the book that has given the Muslims resilience and strength. Witnessing mothers see their children killed and still saying “Alhamdulillah” has shaken the Western world and inspired them to learn about Islam and embrace it.

Israel knows it is losing and takes out its frustration on the civilians, because it angers them seeing that we don’t care about their tactics and aren’t afraid of dying for our land. The saying goes: “the owner of the land is never afraid, but the one who steals will be afraid his whole life.” They have all these weapons, and backing from America and the
biggest corporations in the world against our small civilization, and they’re still afraid of a child holding a rock. We have never seen the Israelis wake up from the brainwashing, and now their own people are standing against the Israeli government.

Footage came out showing Israeli soldiers attacking Rabbis who stood up for Palestinian liberation – and they call us antisemitic. I feel so tied up, at the end of the day, all we can do is say Hasbiyallahu wa ni’malwakeel [Sufficient is Allah and He is the best Disposer of affairs] and make du’a for them, and victory is near by Allah’s permission. We are
trusting in Allah. Alhamdulillah, we are believers. They do everything to dehumanize the Palestinians in every way possible. Where are the human rights and children’s rights movements? I used to be upset at the Western world, but now realize that they were uninformed and misguided by the mainstream media. We feel like we are a forgotten cause. That’s why I say I feel the difference now, because social media is opening the eyes of so many people, especially the journalists who are on the ground in Gaza giving us live updates of the reality of what’s happening there. I check in on them every day, hoping that they’re still alive and well. You see what happens to them, they kill their families and loved ones to scare them into silence, but they don’t know we won’t stop for anyone and we only fear Allah. May Allah
grant victory, liberty and safety to our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

"We aren’t against Jews, we are against Zionism and illegal occupation. The Jews, Christians and Muslims have always lived together in peace."

AL-HUDA PAVES THE WAY FOR ISLAMIC HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION AT ISLA

"ISLA is a very important step towards a more unified and effective standard of Islamic education in the English language.”
Brother Abdul Qadir
Vice Principal, Al-Huda School

Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA), the umbrella organization for hundreds of full-time and weekend Islamic schools across the United States, held its annual retreat at the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham,
Maryland, from Friday, December 1st, to Sunday December 3rd, 2023. Al-Huda School, along with many Islamic schools nationwide, joined the event.

On the first day of the conference, ISLA attendees toured Al-Huda School and met with students and administrators. Among the ISLA attendees was Abdiaziz Ahmed, our Al-Huda School alumni and now Secretary of the ISLA board! Brother Haroon Baqai, Principle of Al-Huda School, led the tour, showcasing the work we do at our school and the community we are building at Dar-us-Salaam. 

The theme of the ISLA conference was centered around health education from an Islamic perspective. The
discussions included how Islamic schools across America should be dealing with some of the more controversial topics regarding gender and identity in the classroom. Many Islamic schools around the nation are grappling with how to address these topics to their students. Al-Huda School presented a sample lesson plan on LGBTQ issues for high
school from an Allah-centric viewpoint at the ISLA conference. This session was presented by Brother Abdul-Qaadir Abdul-Khaaliq, Vice Principal of Al-Huda School, and was very well received by the ISLA attendees.

“Such retreats provide valuable opportunities for Muslim educators to learn what is happening across a broad spectrum of Islamic Schools in America and beyond, to network, share and collaborate as well as remind us of what our common goal is. Namely, to educate Muslim children effectively and in a manner that pleases Allah Most High and thus gain His blessings and guidance. Many of the ISLA attendees were interested in purchasing our curriculum after the event. We recognize that there is a need in the community right now for an Allah-centric education, and Al-Huda School is committed to producing a stellar curriculum which will be beneficial for Islamic schools nation-wide, and hopefully across the globe in the English-speaking world, that addresses the issues in our contemporary world. We have teacher training and manuals in the works, and Al-Huda School is excited to help schools implement its new high school Islamic Studies curriculum” said brother Haroon Baqai. 

Alhamdulillah, our work at Al-Huda School and our high school curriculum received great praise from ISLA members. “The Al-Huda School tour and presentation were among the highlights of the conference,” said Dr. Shaza Khan,
ISLA President. “We definitely want to continue our collaboration with Al-Huda School.”

“Al-Huda School holds a special place in my heart, and returning as an alumni and now an ISLA Board member was a profoundly nostalgic and heartwarming experience. The ISLA tour at Al-Huda brought to light the incredible strides the school has taken in advancing strong and quality Islamic education. As I walked through the familiar halls, a deep sense of pride washed over me, recognizing that Al-Huda continues to be the school of choice for Muslim American families across the DMV and the country Allhamdulliah. 

What stood out most during the tour was witnessing the dedication and passion of the school leaders as they shared with the guests what AHS is doing in the upbringing of the next generation of Muslim American leaders. The exchange of ideas and the shared commitment to elevating Islamic education showcased a collective effort towards positive change in the broader Islamic Education scene. It was evident that Al-Huda’s impact extends far beyond its walls, influencing a cycle of positive change in Islamic education nationwide.

My heart swelled with gratitude for my teachers, principals, and Imam Safi. Their guidance and nurturing during my formative years laid the foundation for my deep connection to Islamic education. I am forever thankful for the Tarbiyah and strong upbringing I received at Al-Huda School. Allahmdulillah, it was this invaluable experience that fueled my motivation to contribute and make a difference in the realm of Islamic education. The tour served as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of quality Islamic education and the enduring impact it has on individuals and
communities. May Allah continue to bless and guide the efforts of Al-Huda School in shaping the future of Islamic education for generations to come.” – Abdiaziz Ahmed, Al-Huda School | Alumnus (Class of 2016) and Secretary of ISLA

  • | To learn more about our Islamic Studies curriculum and textbooks, visit us at faithpublications.org |