"Get to Know Each Other"
with the Bilal Islamic Center
by Kristen Stangas
On Sunday, Jan. 10, we trekked across town to visit our brothers and sisters from the Bilal Islamic Center. This was the first in a series of monthly intra-faith events that have been scheduled to strengthen our relationships with Muslims from other Islamic centers in Los Angeles.
It was a beautiful event that featured two youth speakers from their community, Aziza Hasan from NewGround, and retired LA Councilman Robert Farrell. The youth expressed how Islam plays a role in their lives as American teenagers and shared their aspirations for the future. Aziza then shared a life-changing story from her childhood where she emphasized the importance of speaking up in challenging situations and the need to be vulnerable in order to build relationships. She summed it up in three short words - courage, support, and investment. We need the courage to venture into uncomfortable territory, to address the important issues. Next, it is critical to have a support system. Surround yourself with people who will stand beside you in difficulty. Finally, invest in the causes that are meaningful to you. Put the necessary effort into maintaining relationships with people and organizations that you courageously ventured into so that you may strengthen your community.
Our closing speaker was retired LA Chairman, Robert Farrell. During his time on the podium, he took a walk down Memory Lane - recalling his early days in the South Central neighborhood and the challenges that the community faced. He spoke of Malcom X and the role he played in bringing Islam to the African American Muslim population. His stories were enriching and reinforced the need to not only shine a light on interfaith work, but also the intra-faith community building. This exchange allows for history to be passed on to generations to come so that we can learn from each other and grow together.
"Those of you who are pioneers, I hope you will tell your stories." - Robert Farrell
For those of you who were unable to attend this unique event, please mark your calendars for Feb. 21 when our brothers and sisters from Bilal Islamic Center will be coming to visit us for the next session of the "Get to Know Each Other" Program.