In the past, I have mentioned the tremendous need that the American Muslim community in Philadelphia has for social services such as shelters, schools, reentry programs, job training, conflict resolution, counselign services, and food banks. There are many people starting programs, and whenever I see something of promise I try to promote it because it gives me hope. One, it reminds me that there are people who are dedicated and are committed to improving our community and contributing to society. Two, because these efforts are signs of positive growth within our community. Just today, I learned of another project that put a smile on my face. It is a fundraising project for a senior housing development from the MECCA CDC (Masjidullah Economic Community Corporation of America).
About the Jewels of Islam
Hajja Rafiqa Abdul Rasheed, M.S., Founder and Coordinator of the Jewels of Islam Program met with Hajjah Fatimah M. Ali and Hajjah Shahidah Ali Muhammad, Co-Founders, in her home to plan the program which was first called the Older Muslim Women’s program. The first meeting was held at the Wynnefield Cultural Center in Philadelphia, PA in June, 1989.
After that meeting they started to search for a permanent location to have their meetings. Hajja Rafiqa wrote letters to a number of Masjids, and Hajjah Fatimah spoke with Imam Abdul Aleem who was the Imam at that time at Masjidullah. He was the first to respond and said we could have the program which became known as the Jewels of Islam at Masjidullah.
The Jewels of Islam Program is for older women 50 years and older. There are 108 members and 1 volunteer under 50. The program has operated as an all volunteer senior program for older adult women for the past 20 years. The age range of the members is 50 to 96. Jewels members reside in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia. The program has Islamic, educational, nutrition, health, supportive, recreational and intergenerational activities.
A variety of professional speakers in the field of aging address members on topics pertinent to the older adult population. And, the Jewels of Islam have been active in having a multiplicity of fundraisers towards the senior housing development effort.
Just as we need to focus on our youth, we have to honor our elders and build upon the legacy they have left for us. They have so much wisdom to give and owe them so much for making it possible for us to be comfortably Muslim in America. I hope that many of you can give to Muslim foundations and help them build endowments. We really need to look to Muslim institutions such as the awqaf system in order to increase our sadaqah. By helping build a waqf, you are planting a tree that will shade weary travelers and yield fruit that can feed generations. Our schools, masajid, charities, and scholarship organizations shouldn’t have to live precariously month to month begging for what they need. Ultimately, this is why we need savvy Muslims who are adept at business (and ethical) who can help build endowments. InshaAllah through efforts like Jewels of Islam, we can move beyond just talking the talk, but walking the walk. We can show how Islam is a mercy and that Islam provide comfort and relief not only just to its adherents, but to the society as a whole.