Makings of an American Muslim Expedition of Love and Mercy

Jameel 2

On May 8, 2015, Jameel Syed became the first person in the history of the world to make the call to prayer across all 50 states  in America within a record span of 35 days and reciting the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at every stop. In his new monthly column, he will share highlights showcasing his historic journey across the United States and reflections.

What Calls the Caller to Prayer

Muhasiba: to take an account of oneself January 2015 was the beginning of another Gregorian new year. A time where the word “Resolution” trends hot— are made, goals are set and targets are placed in hopes of a better life, a better future. Ironically, I found myself moving in the opposite direction. As I stared out of my son’s window into a neighborhood covered in snow searching for the future, I found myself looking into the past, replaying decades of memories and experiences throughout my life. At the end, I faced one question that stood alone: “What have you achieved?” and so, I meditated on this…

Just a few months ago I had turned forty, a major milestone in any person’s life. In those forty years so much had transpired. College degrees, trips around the world, accolades in athletics, the blessings of a beautiful family and the inception of Fluidvisions, my marketing firm that serviced over seven hundred and fifty organizations since its inception in 2004. A lot to be grateful for, a lot to be proud of. “I should write a book,” I thought to myself. A book that case studies the successes and the failures of doing business in the Muslim American space. It would be a tremendous asset for Muslims, non-Muslims, existing and would-be entrepreneurs. I’d forge it from an experiential point of view. And so I started writing “The 99 Scenarios”.

Just as I began to get comfortable with this line of thinking, midway into the book, I had writer’s block! In the process of answering the question of achievement, I was  blindsided with a heavier question: “Are you successful?” A straight punch to the gut and I had the wind knocked right out of me.

That word “success”.

As defined by whom? Your whole life, people have been dangling carrots in front of you to try and bring perspective to theword: “success”. Society: the media, government, universities, teachers, employers, clients, peers, parents, spouses and even your own bank balance formulate customized soundbites to build their own paradigms of success, impressed upon your mind and in your heart. They make you hold yourself hostage. But in that moment of clarity, I knew better… Success can only be measured by one standard and there is only one judge who will hold the balance. He is Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)!

Doubt and fear filled my soul!

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I thought of my late father, Dr. Salam A. Syed, who was an emeritus professor of Microbiology at the University of Michigan. He was respected by his peers and loved by his students. As a witness from his household, I will testify to the fact that he devoted every minute of his free time towards the recitation of the Qur’an, sending praise upon the Prophet and making da’wah in the prisons. He never preached to us about the Sunnah, but we would witness it in his daily actions. I have never seen him miss a prayer in my lifetime. In November of 2003, he went to the masjid with the intention to attend the Taraweeh prayer in Ramadan. He prayed Isha and the Sunnah.  In the second Rakat, in the second sajdah, he passed away. When I think of the word success, this man and this incident comes to mind.

I then looked to my son, Jibril. A twelve-year-old student of Hifdh who is the first one to wake up in my household, pray Tahajjud and indulge himself in the Qur’an. A boy who is dedicating his youth towards activities that would please his Creator, while maintaining honor roll status and breaking school records in track and field in the process. I think to myself, this is success. This world and that, Deen and Duniya, success! The two  men closest to me in my life had made a case for themselves, “but what about me?” I thought to myself. “What am I bringing to the table?”

[youtube]https://youtu.be/zFyt8ez8Axs[/youtube]

Surah Baqarah: 148- Compete and claim your rewards

I sat with myself for sometime and thought: “How could I compete with that?”. I felt like a failure, helpless and Miskeen…. I didn’t want to write any more. I closed my laptop and slowly walked away from the window, deeply dejected and filled with sorrow.

I sought an audience with one of my teachers and explained everything to him as I choked back my tears. He quietly listened and when I finished, he grabbed both of my hands and said: “Do not be sad, for this is not the etiquette a believer should have with His Lord. Be optimistic and have hope in Him”. Are you not a Muaddhin? Shall I tell you what the Prophet said about the Muaddhin:

“The muaddhins will have the longest necks of the people on the Day of Resurrection.”

  • Narrated by Muslim, 387. 

“Allah and His angels send blessings upon the front row, and the Muaddhin is forgiven as far as his voice reaches, and whatever hears him, animate or inanimate, confirms what he says, and he will have a reward like that of those who pray with him.”

  • Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 646

In a much stronger voice, full of conviction, squeezing my hands tighter with a stare of steel, he said “Shall I tell you what the Prophet said about the Muaddhin?”

The Prophet said: “Bilal, tell me which act you did at the time of the morning prayer for which you hope to receive good reward, for I heard during the night the sound of your footsteps before me in Paradise…”

  • Narrated by Bukhari, 2.250

He then said to me, go and be like your master Bilal raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and raise the Adhan. “Compete, and claim your rewards.” Sitting in the company of my teacher and listening to the words of hope relayed by the Prophet brought forth an adrenaline rush. My heart was filled with confidence and purpose. The executive in me took over. I had found something to be resolute about. I was going to capture the attention of my Creator by executing that one action of sincerity that would stand exceptional with the hope that it would weigh heavy on my scales on the day of judgment and that it would bring an audience with the one who is most Beloved .

In that moment of inspiration, I understood that I wasn’t going to be just another muaddhin, I was going to be “The Muaddhin”. I told myself that I would exhaust all of my resources in raising the adhan and praising the Prophet in the manner in which He deserves.

I could never have predicted that the attempt at answering such heavy questions would lead me into a historical journey across the United States and beyond. My mission now is to help people tell their stories, to amplify the voice of the adhan to the highest degree and to champion the “Original Constitution of Social Justice” as composed by the greatest ambassador of goodwill the world has ever known: The Chief of all Prophets, Mercy to the worlds, Muhammad .

jameelsyed

 

Jameel A. Syed, (“The Muaddhin”) is a Muaddhin, author, traveler, national speaker and marketing executive based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. In 2015, Syed became the 1st person in the history of the world to make the call to prayer across all 50 states  in America within a record span of 35 days while reciting the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Jameel attained his education from The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and Ross School of Business. In 2004, he founded the Fluidvisions Marketing firm, specializing in strategy consulting, building brand equity and launching new ventures.Currently he is traveling across the United States and abroad engaged in the “50 Mosque Man Tour” –  A visual and interactive keynote presentation of his historic journey across America. To learn more about his tour or to book a speaking engagement, please send an email at: info@jameelsyed.com. You can also follow him on Instagram & Twitter: @TheMuaddhin. Official Hashtags – #JameelSyed #TheMuaddhin #50MosqueMan

 

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11 responses to “Makings of an American Muslim Expedition of Love and Mercy”

  1. Taban says:

    it was kind of inspiring but i couldnt help but feel discouraged in the same way as the author was when he realised he had done nothing worthwhile in achieving success….i feel we can change the world in our own little capacities….is it only me does anyone else feel that it is not necessary to be famous to come in the eyes of Allah …..is it not that a simple common man like sweeper can be great in the eyes of Allah…..plzzzz correct me if i am wrong but i feel its not necessary to something outstanding to come in the eyes of Allah…..i feel kind of worthless after reading this article…

    • Jameel Syed says:

      Assalamualaikum-warahmathullahi-Wabarakathuhu, May Allah SWT accept from all of us and forgive all of our sins. Fame has nothing to do with this subject, so we need to discount this element from the discussion. Respect and honor belong to Allah SWT alone and it is his to bestow upon who He wills.

      The tradition as it is related by our scholars clearly states that deeds are not counted, but rather weighed. Who knows what will weigh heavy on the scales on that day? The judge of this is only Allah SWT.

      What we do know is that the focal point of that decision will center around “Sincerity/Ikhlas” towards following the commands of Allah SWT and the tradition of the Prophet ﷺ. Great deeds may be discounted simply because the intentions were misplaced and the simplest of actions may weigh extremely heavy because they were built and executed upon the foundations of pure sincerity.

      Yes, indeed a person can sweep the floor, share a smile, open a door and reap heavy rewards, all on the strength of good intentions. There is tremendous honor and dignity in the little things that we do, but we have to acknowledge and accept that we as believers need to exhaust our every bit of effort via the resources that are available to us in order to present something to our Lord who may consider us worthy. One of the greatest pitfalls that a person can fall into is the type of thinking that leads a person to think that “I have done something” or “I deserves such and such”. It’s all from Allah SWT. The Prophet ﷺ was clear that nobody gets a free pass. Not even his beloved daughter (May Allah SWT be pleased with her).

      You don’t simply gain admissions into Harvard/Oxford just because you have a perfect record. Everyone else applying has that too. You have to bring something special to the table and this understanding, has propelled the great companions (May Allah SWT be pleased with them), the first generation, the second generation and beyond to throw themselves into the servitude of humanity, constantly checking themselves in order to serve the heavens through big and small deeds, CONSTANTLY! Not to make a case that they have earned anything, but rather in hopes that they and their deeds may be looked upon favorably on that day. That they would have some provisions to present and we are optimistic in His love and in His mercy SWT.

      We as human beings will be tested according to our own specific set of circumstances and understandings. That much we know for sure. All that being said, simply put:

      “I think we do our LEVEL BEST according to our own unique set of circumstances and then pray that Allah SWT accepts all that is good and forgives all the mistakes that we made along the way”. Also, don’t forget about the Intercessor! Our prophet is a great man and He loves His Ummahﷺ. That is the greatest beacon of hope that a person can ask for. So, please don’t despair, but rather rise to the occasion and understand that you and all of us, have the potential to do great things if Insha’Allah we can the favor of Allah SWT. And Allah SWT knows best!

  2. Taban says:

    waalaikumasalaam warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu jazaakAllah khair for clarifying i think it is a kind of excuse that i myself make not to try my level best…..actually i dont find that i have anything particular that i can put to my best ability…like u had sometimes felt i also feel this spiritual need to do something…but i stop there only,bcoz i am not able to find anything that i can use for giving to islam , that thing u said about oxford university hit me….i hope i will find something worthwhile to give to islam in shaa Allah…Plz pray for me….

    • Mosen says:

      Anything you sincerely give to Islam at ANY level is quite worthy Taban. Don’t doubt it! That’s the beauty of Islam and great mercy of Allah. THAT should be the BEST motivation to just put in our best effort. All the best to you.

  3. Amatullah says:

    Amazing Brother! Way to go!
    May you be the inspiration for all the Muadhdhins around the world, Aameen.

  4. Great sharing ..its very inspiring .jazakAllah ul khyran

  5. christine dorothy says:

    its lovely to call masses of people together in prayer, but if that prayer tells people to reject the infidel and the jews, then its not a prayer that is serving Muslims nor non-Muslims as it leads to separation and discrimination.

    • Shafkat says:

      Our daily prayers ( towards which the Muaddhin calls ) do Not ‘tell the people to reject the infidel and the jews’ …. methinks you have read the wrong translation…..

    • Jameel Syed says:

      Hello Christine,

      I can understand perhaps why you may think that our prayer rejects Christians and Jews. There is so much misinformation floating around and all of it is centered around boosting ratings and “Would be leaders” tapping into the darker side of our country’s hate filled population.

      So, please let me elaborate :-) Muslims pray five times a day at specific designated times from dusk till dawn and beyond. Regardless of where an individual may be on the globe, they pray towards the direction of the Kaabah (Muslims believe this is the house of God) located in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

      When the time for prayer comes in, the Muaddhin (Caller to prayer) makes the adhan (Call to prayer) and the words go like this:

      God is great.
      I bare witness that there is no God, but God.
      I bare witness the Muhammad ﷺ is His messenger (Last)
      Come to prayer
      Come to success
      God is great.
      There is no God, but God.

      Prayer is encouraged to be in congregation wherever and whenever possible. It is actually a very peaceful and tranquil state of being. It allows one to disconnect from ones daily routine (which can place a really heavy burden sometimes) and just exhale, reconnect with what matters most.

      So really quick to summarize, there is no talk of violence, infidels, negativity and/or otherwise. An interesting fact is that the call to prayer is made literally every second by someone around the world in a different timezone. Muslims comprise 1.8B of 7.6B of the worlds population. That’s approximately 23% of the worlds population and nearly 1/4 people. With the exception of the extreme/radical 1% (Which is in every group, religion…) we are a very peaceful people. It’s just very sad how are religion is being misrepresented and their is so much misinformation about it.

      I hope this post helps to bring forth the correct information about the Muslim call to prayer.
      Christine, thank you for taking the time to write.

  6. junaid says:

    May you be the inspiration for all the Muadhdhins around the world, Aameen.Great sharing ..its very inspiring

  7. Umm Ayesha says:

    SubhanAllah a truly inspiring sharing. Another beautiful and soul lifting story about a girl can be read in,
    http://gum.co//Ljhu

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