The following also appears on my blog at: http://americanbrother.blogspot.com/
I made my way out of the flat (apartment) at around 7:20 am, knowing that I needed time to take a tram two stops and then a train for a slightly longer period and then hope to run into some brothers and make sure I got to the venue in a timely fashion. I wasn't too worried though, as one always manages to find a crowd of brothers or sisters walking in the same direction and eventually reach the desired destination; in this case, it was a gym/arena that we had performed E'id-al-Adha Salah in several times in years past (pictured below, at top).
As I sat on the train, I tried to see if there were any visible Muslims also on the carriage that I was in, that I could join when the train arrived at the desired station,. No luck. The station came (pictured above, at bottom) and I made my way off the train, towards the escalators. As I stood, being carried up to the street level, An African man, in traditional outfit slowly walked up the stairs, going past me. I though, this must be a brother . . . then it was confirmed - I saw a prayer rug in his hand. I made my way up the few steps on the escalator that were between us and tapped him on the arm, "Brother, E'id Mubarak" as we then shook hands warmly. He was from Guinea - ma'sha'allah, I love meeting brothers from so many different nations. You'll remember from my E'id-ul-Fitr post, I met a brother that was from Benin, so it always a joy for me to meet brothers from countries that I wouldn't probably meet otherwise, even if I was at home in the United States.
As we made our way to the gym, there were three sisters walking in front of us and shortly thereafter, a brother, with a clear Arabic accent joined us. The brother from Guinea and I were talking about how E'id in several countries was going to be celebrated the following day, instread of Tuesday, November 16. The other brother had been on the phone, so once he joined us, he told us that he had overheard our conversation and went on to give his opinion on the matter.
We finally arrived at the entrance of the gym and made our way up the stairs that led into the gym or arena and immediately, I could here the beautiful dhirk . . . in one harmonious voice "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illallah . . . . " This always brings happiness to my heart - of course, it is a simple yet beautiful recitation, yet it and E'id Salah in general always reminds of the days when my late father would take me early for these Blessed days when I was in grade school and I would be so tired, as I had school that day and I would keep leaning against him, but he would shortly thereafter push me back up with his shoulder, implying that I should sit up straight. Bless him, when it came to such important events and moments, he was stern and I am grateful for that to this very day. I hope I can pass this on if I am blessed with children.
I removed my shoes and made my way to the last row and found a nice spot, next to one of the brothers that I know that works at a business nearby my apartment. Sadly, I had brought my camera, as I had my school bag with me (I was going to class at 11:00, though it was only about 8:00 at the time I arrived at the salah), but just as we had entered the building, I realized I had left my SD card in my laptop - oh no! I mention this because, though I love recorded moments such as this, I think it was a Blessing in disguise - I could now fully concentrate, focus and participate in the dhikr - so I began to feel less regretful that I wasn't going to be able to take pictures. After about 20-30 minutes, we began the salah. The Imam that leads E'id Salah, as well as Tarawih during the Month of Ramadhan, was leading today's salah, and I just love his voice - it's beautiful ma'sha'allah. Of course, as many of you have probably experienced no matter where you are in the world, as we said salah, there was the pitter-patter or even pounding, in our case, given we were on a wooden floor, of the feet of young children who were running around behind us, in between us and the sisters or even around the sisters, I noticed as the khutbah followed.
We sat through the Arabic and the Czech version that followed. Once these were completed, I found all the Pakistani brothers, fellow medical students (many Malaysians, some Pakistanis and Indians) or the business men that I know that run some shops and restaurants that I frequent here and gave them all big hugs. As I left with some of these fellow medical students to make our way to a small Turkish restaurant near the smaller masjid where I attend Jumu'ah, I agreed with some other students that we would also meet in the evening for dinner at night. Among this group of student making the way to the lunch site, were two German brothers - one of Asian and one who was Caucasian. As we stood in line, these two German brothers were behind me and I turned around and told them I had always seen a German Imam, Pierre Vogel who I see converting so many new Muslims in Germany on YouTube and at this moment the Caucasian, said, "Like me alhamdulillah" He was a German convert! Allahu Akbar! I said, "Ma'sha'allah . . " His parents were still Christian he told me.
As I sat down at a table with two other brothers in the group, I commented on how I thought convert brothers & sisters are so much more passionate and better practicing Muslims that those of us who are born into Muslim families. That's how I feel at least. These two brothers agreed with me, as they have been transformed and have made so much sacrifice, sometimes losing their families or at least no having their support. The humbleness of this German brother stuck out even more, when, as I stood up to leave, as I had 30 minutes to get to class (a hospital in the city center, though we too were in center, but I like to give myself enough time), he also partially stood up to give salaam to me . .. ma'sha'allah, May Allah (swt) Make him a great example for the rest of us. I hope I get to see him again before I leave Prague, insha'allah.
After class ended, I went to the library for a good part of the afternoon to get some reading done. I admit, I didn't get much done the previous day, as I had gone to get my Visa renewed and I was fasting, so no energy at all. I came home around Maghrib time and then I relaxed and waited for the SMS that the brother who was gong to make a plan for the evening meal, to arrive. We were to meet at the Pakistani restaurant that tI go to often, at 7:30. I got their early, as it was only two tram stops away. Once the rest of the brothers (and one sister actually!) got there, we ordered our food and took a table in the back room, that allows for more privacy. We had great food (my FIRST dish is pictured below; yeah I had two dishes! Jab zyaada khushi hai, zyaada khaanaa khana hai (When there is more happiness, you have to eat more food). I just made that up when I got there!
As we waited for our food to arrive, we had great laughs and at one point, we all made speeches (yes, even I made a short one, more on that in minute). First up to make a speech was the brother I've mentioned, who made the plan for this meal and I was able to catch a bit of this fun moment on camera -
When my turn arrived I said the following (I'm paraphrasing here): One thing I love about Islam is that we are all one (I quoted the first ayah that appears at the top of my blog header) and that even though we are all away from home, from different nations (one of the brothers had mentioned that we had a bit of a diverse group, though we were mostly from either a Pakistani or Indian background, though we did have one Somalian)) and that this brotherhood bounds us all by the one important thing we have in common - al-Islam. I hoped that the youngsters here will continue this effort in meeting each other and keeping this wonderful feeling alive, as it is my last year and wont be a part of it in the future. That's about it *pause* . . .(I then switched to Urdu for a closing statement) "Allah ke naam pe, aaplog ko boht pyar kartha hoon" (In Allah's Name, I love you all very much). *Applause* :-)
Ma'salaam / Peace be with you.