Honest Chops – Job Postings

Burgers by Honest Chops

Burgers by Honest Chops is the first craft hamburger store under the Honest Chops brand. We specialize in local, organic & halal meats. We are seeking full and part time cashiers for our new location in the West Village of Manhattan.


Cashiers – Part Time and Full Time
We are looking for dedicated, hardworking individuals who are outgoing and friendly, responsible, punctual and team players. We offer flexible hours, good pay, much to learn, and room for growth.

Job Duties:
– Ringing up customers, taking phone orders, assisting cooks, prep works, light cleaning duty of tables and work station.
– Afternoons, Nights and weekends shift.

Schedule an Interview
Please send us your resume with the subject “Cashier” to jobs@honestchops.com.

 

Cook / Grill Position – Part Time and Full Time
Requirements:
Short order Cook experience and/or NY food handler’s card. 
New York kitchen experience a plus. 
Shifts available AM/PM and weekends. 


Schedule an Interview

Please send us your resume with the subject “Cook” to jobs@honestchops.com.

Assistant Managers – Daytime, Evening and Weekend roles

Position Requirements:
– 2 to 4 years experience within a New York City food establishment required.
– NYC Food Handlers/Protection Certificate.
– Proficient in all aspects of food service.
– Able to quickly integrate into a team and be recognized as a leader.
– Passion for food and service.
– Must have strong sense of urgency.
– Must have superior communication skills (written, verbal and spoken).
– Must have basic computer and math skills.

Primary Duties:
– Opening and closing of store.
– Maintain and check inventory

– assist in bookkeeping and P&L managment

– Communicating and working with the prep cooks.
– Maintain integrity of service, interact with customers to solicit feedback, help in prep, clean-up, on the line, when necessary.
– Ensure ambiance of restaurant are in compliance with the standards of the company.
–  Assist in training and oversee staff in accordance with the standards of company policies and guidelines, ensuring proper knowledge of all company policies and procedures, rules and regulations.
– Assist in evaluation front of cooking, delivery and customer service staff.
– Assists in training and evaluating all dining room personnel and enforces food and beverage policies and procedures.
– Ensures sanitation compliance throughout restaurant and conduct daily inventory.
– Handles customer complaints. 

– Train store staff to successfully handle service issues and intervenes when necessary.
– Ensure stores have adequate shift coverage at all times, while adhering to scheduling and labor guidelines.
– Assist in the recruiting, hiring and training practices to ensure quality of store staff.
– Manage staff and day to day responsibilities of the store


Schedule an Interview Please send us your resume with the subject “Assistant Manager” to jobs@honestchops.com.

 Honest Chops Butchery

Butcher/Meat Cutter

Honest Chops is the first organic and humane halal butcher shop in Manhattan. We are seeking a Meat Cutter/Butcher that can grow with our vision.

Duties & Responsibilities:
– Cut, trim, bone, tie, and grind meats, such as beef, lamb, and poultry to prepare meat in cooking form.
– Prepare special cuts of meat ordered by customers.
– Shape, lace, and tie roasts, using boning knife, skewer, and twine.
– Wrap, weigh, label and price cuts of meat.
– Maintain and stock product in display, understanding product dating and inventory control.
– Maintain clean and organized work station, back room, storage and surrounding areas.
– Follow all guidelines and procedures as outlined in the health and safety policy manual.
– Basic meat cooking techniques (cooking time, temperatures- internal/external).
– Understanding the use of cutting equipment, grinders, etc.

Qualifications:
– Candidates must be able to read, write, and speak English with adequate and/or minimal proficiency. – We are seeking candidates with exceptional customer skills.
– Must be able to work in a cold environment, and stand for extended periods of time and lift 40 lbs regularly with or without assistance. 
– Must be able to maintain the cleanliness of their department. 

Schedule an Interview:
– Please provide your resume with name, availability, and a phone number with subject header “Butcher” to jobs@honestchops.com

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Imam Khalid Latif named Mic News ‪#‎Mic50‬ list of the next generation of impactful leaders, cultural influencers, & breakthrough innovators!

In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made Khalid the youngest chaplain in history to the New York City Police Department. At the time, Khalid was only 24. Today, he is also the Executive Director and Chaplain of the Islamic Center at New York University. At NYU, Khalid is building a community with his vision of a pluralistic American Muslim community in mind. Khalid says, “my work involves creating supportive spaces for people to recognize who they are and help them find the courage to meet the person they can potentially become.” He is working to build a religious community around these principles at the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the world.

What major change or innovation makes you excited about the future?

I think the advent of social media has created a new way for people to make demands of what they want. It’s inspiring to see people see that they have power as a group and not waiting for a single individual or leader to speak up for them. It also creates opportunity for diverse groups to collaborate and come together on issues in ways that they might not have been able to otherwise.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

I believe diversity is advantageous only when it’s harnessed and utilized to breed a much-needed pluralism. I’m hoping over the next five years that I can be a part of whatever is necessary to make New York City more pluralistic in all frames of diversity, whether that is racial, ethnic, cultural, social class, religious, spiritual or any other box that we try to put each other in.

What is the best or worst advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received is that a healthy and strong community is usually one that knows where its leader’s home is. The way I took this is that leadership isn’t about leading from a distance, but being with the people that you are blessed to serve and letting them be with you.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do or be when you grew up?

I think I wanted to be in the Olympics as a runner. Unfortunately my growth spurt still hasn’t happened yet.

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Ramadan Reflection Day 13: Hunger Is Not A Choice for Some But Giving Is

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

There is a narration in the Prophetic Tradition of Islam that tells the story of three men who found themselves trapped in a cave. At the mouth of the cave was a boulder that has slipped from it’s place and landed in a position blocking the entrance way. They had no tangible means to move it so one came up with the idea of saying a prayer to God by a sincere deed that they had respectively carried out at some time prior for Him.

The first told the story of serving his parents and the third told the story of how he gave an employee of his wealth due to him. The second person prayed in the following way:

O Lord, I had a cousin whom I loved her more passionately than anyone loves a woman. I tried to seduce her but she would have none of me, till in a season of great hardship due to famine, she approached me (for help) and I gave her one hundred and twenty Dinars on condition that she would sleep with me. She agreed, and when we got together and I was coming closer to her, she pleaded: ‘Fear God, and do not approach me in an unlawful way’; whereupon I moved away from her, despite the fact that I desired her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Lord, if I did this thing seeking only your pleasure, then do move the distress in which we find ourselves.” At which point the rock moved.

To be clear, in case the point was missed, this woman was approached by this man quite often to have sex with her, which she refused. At a time when she needed support for basic necessities, he agreed to help her only if she would have sex with him. She agreed and he gave her money and then went to be with her in the night but kept himself from doing anything. When this narration is taught, a lot of lessons are taken from it. One thing that is never questioned though is the integrity of the woman who, when stricken by hard times and had no food for herself, made the decision to sell her body in exchange for money. No one says that her choice was wrong or finds any reason to be condescending or obnoxious. She needs to live and is without basic necessities – really what other choice would she have?

Here we’re not talking about education. We’re not talking about emergency response or lack of medicines. We’re talking about just food – something that a lot of people don’t have all over the world, including most cities in the United States. I’d also like to talk about what we can do about it.

Our Islamic Center at New York University holds a fundraising campaign every Ramadan for a charity cause. This year we are working again with Islamic Relief USA, a perennial four-star charity org. rated by Charity Navigator, and our hope is to raise funds and awareness for a food pantry located in the Bronx and headed up by The Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development.

The Bronx ranks the hungriest borough in NYC. The South Bronx is said to have the highest rate of food insecurity in the country. In fact, nearly half of the borough’s children lack access to the food they need and 36% of households are food insecure, according to a recent New York City Coalition Against Hunger report. That means roughly 1 in every 3 families do not know where their next meal is coming from.

There is a serious issue with food insecurity in our backyard and it’s on the rise. MWIRD’s food pantry is doing its part by helping feed 200 families in the Bronx every week and have more than 1,300 families registered as clients. But the pantry wants to do more to meet the growing demand of their service. They need our support now more than ever. The #ICNYU4Bronx campaign hopes to follow suit on the successes of the last five years of fundraising in which we have been able to raise anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 in humanitarian aid. Our campaign has raised over $4000 so far and will continue through our 5th Annual dinner taking place on July 9th. Whether you are in NYC or not, you can help out with the #ICNYU4Bronx Campaign by sharing and making a contribution at our Team Fundraising Page — all donations are tax-deductible and for those of you who are Muslim, zakat-eligible as well.

None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” ~ The Prophet Muhammad.

In his commentaries on this narration, Imam Nawawi, a well-known Muslim scholar from the 13th century, explains that the word “brother” is not in reference to your “brother in islam” but rather is in reference to your “brother in humanity.” In the spirit of Ramadan, give of what you have and encourage others to give as well without condition on qualification. And if not to this effort, than to some other. And do so with a sense of love and compassion.

I remember the first time I met a woman who was lacking basic necessities in her life. She had a good job and was married, but ended up losing her job and her husband walking out on her around the same time. She depleted the savings she had pretty quickly and was left with very little to make ends meet – other than herself. She described vividly to me her encounters with many different people as she turned to prostitution so that she could simply live. A lack of compassion, understanding and services left her with no other choice. In her own words, “I had to do what I needed to in order to survive.”

Hunger is not a choice for some this Ramadan but giving is. The confining realities of poverty can be alleviated if we who have wealth are willing to share it. Don’t look to see what you are losing but see what the other will gain. Organize small fundraisers at your own personal iftars and let the recognition of all that we have been given manifest itself in actions for those who don’t have as much. But just give and keep on giving. And at the very least keep those who are less fortunate in your thoughts – that itself won’t cost us anything.

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Ramadan Reflection Day 10: Lessons Learned on Healing From a Recovering Alcoholic

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

Last night, two of our community members at the Islamic Center at New York University spoke to a crowd of 150 or so in our prayer room about their experiences with alcohol and drug addiction prior to our breaking our fast. One was male, one was female.

They opened up to us with a courageous vulnerability about their respective lives, how they roller-coastered through ups and downs for years, and the impact it had on them and others.

They spoke about what it felt like to be drunk and high and everything that came along with it — the people they socialized with, the places they frequented and the eventual damage it caused.

They described looking for ways out, but not finding too many, having good days and bad ones, and the challenges of finding supportive spaces and services, eventually ending up in Alcoholics Anonymous and shifting in a new direction.

They concluded on self-acceptance and validation, faith and spirituality, and how forgiveness and God played a role in helping them get to where they wanted to be — sober now for 5 years and 3 years, respectively, and still going strong.

They shared in a way that most in the room had never heard before or been privy to, about occurrences that most had never experienced, and in a way that left every soul in that room inspired, impacted and a little more healed in regards to their own life’s challenges.

We found ourselves in their story, and through their story, we became more connected with ourselves. It was one of the best experiences I’ve personally had in a long time, and one that I wish many more people could have experienced.

Sometimes when we think about creating inclusive spaces, we think about how those dealing with life’s challenges and struggles will benefit from space provided to them. We need to start thinking about how we will also benefit from their presence. Not one person who attended last night’s program said that the people speaking were lucky to have a space to go to. Rather, the sentiment was that we all were lucky to be able to benefit from them and their stories.

The discussion that followed wasn’t about haraam or halal, but about healing and recovery. I watched as heads nodded in agreement in the audience as the two of them described how they struggled with forgiving themselves. Each heart listening found solace and comfort in how tough forgiving yourself can be sometimes. One young woman broke down in tears, saying that she was so grateful to hear their stories — that she herself feels isolated at times and knows that by societal standards she is somewhat “eccentric”, but hearing their words helped her understand that it’s ok that she’s not perfect. And we all felt a little better at that time about not being perfect and closer to understanding that God’s love is perfect because it understands and embraces our imperfections. He is Al-Wadud, the source of Love.

When I see the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, I see people who had flaws and challenges. They struggled in their own right with many of the things that we struggle with today, both inwardly and outwardly. I also see that they had space to navigate their challenges and people to lean on and learn from. They took not only from their own challenges but the challenges of those around them or, when they failed to do so, the Prophet Muhammad made it clear to them that they were missing out.

The Prophet Muhammad had a companion by the name of Abdallah who he was quite close to. There are narrations in our Tradition that finds the two of them laughing together. Abdallah was also known for having a drinking problem and amongst the narrations that discuss this, their is one in which another companions speaks poorly of him and how habitually he drinks. The Prophet Muhammad rebukes that man, saying “Do not curse him, for I swear by God, if you only knew just how very much indeed he loves God and His Messenger.” He then added: “Do not help Satan against your brother.”

Do I believe that most mosques today would let recovering alcoholics and drug addicts speak to their congregations? Probably not. Do I think there is a problem with that? Yes, definitely. Aside from the fact that we are leaving a lot of people hanging, our failure to engage diversity in our communities, inclusive of diversity in terms of life experience, leaves us potentially stunted in our individual and communal growth. My role is to serve in the way I know best and not be reactive or seek validation from existing apparatus alone. Rather, it is to dig deep into a 1,400-year tradition that expands on the teaching of the Quran by showing me how it’s meant to be lived. I know somewhat, and am constantly learning as I am blessed to be in this role, the reality and needs of my community. And I know that many of them have pain in their hearts and last night those who attended were met with a remedy through perspective I could never share with them as a Chaplain or Imam, but only those who were speaking could administer.

Our teachers can be many more than we realize. With humility we have to admit that. Over the years at our center we have learned from the experiences of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and forced marriage. We’ve grown by listening to the stories of converts to Islam and how hard it was for many to find a place in the Muslim community. We’ve coordinated forums around race, ethnicity and social class and heard from people that we call “brother” and “sister” what its like to really be a Black person. We’ve had experts and professionals speak on a variety of issues related to mental health, emotional care, and physical well being. But it is not frequent or regular enough. We’ve only just started and none of this is happening as often as I would like, but our growth and, in turn, ability to impact, has been distinct as we learn from those that many unfortunately look over. We are better because of each story that we have been blessed to hear. There is no doubt in mind about that.

Please pray for the two who spoke with us last night. May God continue to make them a source of illumination for all those whom they meet. Ameen.

 

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Ramadan Reflection Day 8: Reflections Through Sickness

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve been having some ups and downs with my health. The bad days were not as frequent as the good ones, thank God, but the remnants of the bad days had serious impact on the good ones. I finally went to see my doctor and was told that it sounded like I had a respiratory infection of some kind. Upon further testing, they told me I had a slight case of pneumonia, which was surprisingly not as alarming to me as I thought it would be. I got some prescriptions for two tablet medicines and an inhaler, which my wife, Priya, got filled for me and I took in the evening.

My breathing up until that point had been really terrible — I was always short of breath and struggling to breath, hard. I’d wake up often in the nights from the heavy congestion in my head and my heart racing. The worst part of it was my nose being blocked.

Around 2:30 AM, I woke up in a sweat, but felt so much better than I had in the last couple of weeks. My lungs didn’t wheeze and my head wasn’t heavy. The best part was being able to breathe in through my nose after not being able to do so for the last couple of weeks. I sat and smiled for a moment, and then wondered to myself how I’d never realized before what a blessing good health is.

I am not exactly sure what I am hoping to convey in this post. In that moment I took a breath in, I felt more spiritually connected to God than I had ever before. The realization of a blessing is as simple as breathing, and despite all of my strength, how truly fragile a creature I am was made clear to me right then and there. Some of my most immediate thoughts:

  • My unwillingness to acknowledge that I am no longer in my teens or 20s, but at 32, I need to be planning better so my 50-year-old self doesn’t hate the body that it inherited from me.
  • Exercising more self-care in every sphere of my life — physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
  • Being appreciative and grateful for the small things I overlook quite often. I know I wrote about this already, but I can’t stress how important it is.
  • Taking care of myself not just for me but for my family. My daughter, Madina, and wife, Priya, are of the most important blessings in my life and with a son on the way I have to take better care of myself for them. Priya always tells me to exercise, sleep better, eat well and I think I understand better now why.
  • Spending time with my parents and letting them know how important they are to me. My parents are almost in their 70s and every day with them is one more day to create new memories to carry and cherish.
  • To take more time for reflection. Sitting and thinking about the value of breathing properly has given me so much in terms of reaffirming and realigning my current values while recognizing new ones. If I deliberately took even a couple of hours a week or some time in the day to be introspective, the world around me would be so different because I would come to it renewed and refreshed as a regularity, not just by chance. As it has been said, “Reflection is the lamp of the heart. If it departs, the heart will have no light.” (Imam Al-Haddad)
  • Understanding my relationship with God and the important role that self-recognition and assessment plays in determining that relationship. I have needs, He does not. That can be daunting to think of if it is isolated from the realities of His Mercy, Love, and Compassion.

My apologies for missing the last few days, and my thanks to all those who have reached out asking if I was okay or if I was planning on writing again soon. It’s encouraging to know that there are people who actually read these,, and more importantly that there are those of you who I have never met in my life, but still would take the time to reach out and check-in. Your thoughtfulness is more appreciated than you realize.

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Ramadan Reflection Day 4

Ramadan Reflection Day 4: How to Be Truly Rich — On Surat al’Adiyat Part 2

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

For those who missed my last reflection, I had started to discuss the profound impact the 100th chapter of the Quran, Al ‘Adiyat, had on me. At a time when I felt quite isolated and confused, I found solace in it like I had never found in the Qur’an before and it helped me to read the Quran in an entirely different way. It helped me to understand the human condition, my own condition, in a deeper way. My first reflection discussed briefly my interaction with the first half of Al ‘Adiyat and the importance of bringing gratitude into my life deliberately in order that it serve as a catalyst for real contentment. The second half was just as eye-opening, if not more so, as it gave me an insight as to what was possibly preventing me from having that contentment.

wa innahu li hub-il khayri la shadeed
and indeed he, in his love of wealth, is most intense

To me, the connection between my desire for long term contentment and my actual reality of short-lived complacency was made clear through this verse. The word khayr is normally used to denote something that is good and beneficial. Here it is meant to denote wealth that is worldly and is described in such a way that its pursuit is so severe, that the normal good one would attain from it is lost and in turn it brings great detriment. I wasn’t experiencing real contentment because I was making my pursuit the material itself, rather than seeing it as a vehicle for something much bigger.

Islam does not prohibit the acquisition of wealth. You have men and women who were the closest companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who were quite wealthy. His wife Khadijah, may God be pleased with her, was in fact a wealthy businesswoman.

As long as the water remains under the boat, it helps the boat [to sail]; but if the water seeps into the boat, it sinks it.” ~ Rumi, a 13th Century Muslim Persian poet.

Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.” ~ Ali ibn Abi Talib, may God be pleased with him.

What Islam does recommend is a mindfulness of what the pursuit of wealth can do to you. Giving it an abode in our hearts is very different than simply pursuing it through our hands. One consequence is that it helps breed an unfortunate egocentricity and unhealthy individualism that has permeated much of society. It makes me to what I can to fulfill my own wants, even if it comes at the expenses of my needs or the needs of others. When I read this verse, in the context of the verses prior to it, I felt like I had just woken up. It was and still is quite clear that so many of us 1) put our efforts into getting as much of this world as we can and 2) that so many of us also aren’t really happy. I now saw a connection that resonated for the first time deeply.

Something that seemed quite simple but I hadn’t really done before that day was ask myself how these verses applied to me and my life. The insight that was being offered as to how humans can potentially be – was I like that? And if the answer was yes, was I going to actually do anything about it?

True richness is not having an abundance of things from the earth, but true richness is having a richness of the soul.” ~ The Prophet Muhammad

I think Ramadan affords a unique opportunity to reflect on what really drives us, what really gives us tranquility and peace and what also causes us anxiety. We as men and women can be quite beautiful, both inwardly and outwardly. But when the focus becomes on the outward alone, an imbalance surfaces that throws us off. And when that imbalance deepens, we begin to consume just for the sake of consumption. For those who are fasting, think deeply about how people can be. No other animal in the world has the potential for selflessness and selfishness as we do. Even when our stomachs are full, we still look to fill them more.

Changing our life necessitates at times changing how we think about life. If you feel like the aspects of human condition that this chapter, al ‘Adiyat, discusses, those of ingratitude and love of wealth, find presence in your life, seek to actively change them by starting with your inside. Reflect on it and let ideas take root that will help govern your decision because you live by values that you have firmly established for yourself.

A few practical suggestions to try this Ramadan:

  1. 1) Put others first by putting yourself last. Be the person who serves food when its time to break your fast, rather than the one who is being served. Give up your seat to someone on the bus or train. Save half of your meal or the money you would spend on a meal and give it to someone in need. Try anything really, so long as it doesn’t put you before others.
  2. 2) Meet new people and learn their stories. An unhealthy pursuit of the world also at times makes us believe that we are at the center of the world and everything revolves around us. By putting yourself in new experiences, learning about new cultures and ideas, and at the same time making yourself vulnerable in sharing your own story will more likely than lead to a lot of personal growth and development. Beyond simply talking with someone of a different race, ethnicity, social class or culture, seek to purposely build a bond. It won’t take away from your own importance, but help in recognizing that others are important as well.
  3. 3) Reflect on where it is that you are going. We get stuck in the past a lot and become more shackled by our flaws when we acknowledge them in comparison to when we didn’t know they existed. Who you were is not who you will be, so long as you let yourself move forward.

If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments so that others can benefit from them.

 

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Gratitude rock

Ramadan Reflection Day 3: On Surat al’Adiyat — Qu’ranic Advice on Gaining Contentment Through Gratitude

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

One of my favorite chapters of the Qu’ran is the 100th chapter called Al-‘Adiyat. I can still remember reading it about seven years ago while I was yearning for some answers, despite not knowing what actual questions I was wrestling with. I was looking for purpose and meaning and found a connection through this small chapter that made me then see the entire Qu’ran in a different way.

It opened up for me insight into the human condition, particularly my own and more generically those of people all around me, helped me to see the Qu’ran and in turn Islam through more than the legalistic framework I often was taught about it in, and served as a starting point in my continued spiritual quest to understand God through His own words, rather than the words of those who claim to speak on His behalf.

Like many other chapters of the Qu’ran, the initial verses of Al-‘Adiyat start with an oath. In Islam, a person can only take an oath, if ever, by God. God, however, can take oath by any of His creation. The chapter title takes its name from the oath as God is swearing by Al-‘Adiyat, a group of horses that He describes quite vividly.

Horses in a Meccan Arabia were considered to have great worth and to conceptualize the impact these verses have, its important to recognize their dissemination was not in a book form that we have today, but rather as the verses were revealed they were told to the people. The description given of these horses is quite captivating and it’s key to understand this to get the point of the chapter.

In the first five verses of the chapter, they are described as a group of horses, pushing themselves to their limits as they run forward, breathing heavily and nostrils flaring. Their feet move at such a speed that they leave a trail of sparks behind them caused by their hooves striking the ground. They come upon the people they have been charging against in the morning, having no fear of it being known that they are coming. Their hastened arrival causes clouds of dust to arise with them, and as they reach their destination, they go head on and penetrate into the middle of the group, essentially surrounded. If you’ve ever seen any movie with a battle, from the Lord of the Rings to Braveheart, you can picture the scene in your head. A smaller group going against a larger one — what will the end result be?

At this climactic point, when everyone is waiting to hear what happens next, the listener is given a most important message:

Inna-al insaana li rabbihi la kanood
Indeed, mankind, to its Lord, is ungrateful.

I had read this verse over and over throughout my life, but when I read it that day, it felt like I was reading it for the first time. I didn’t know how to be appreciative, and the impact it was having on me was quite severe. I saw a lot of the world in terms of what I was missing and not what I actually had. I was quite focused on my wants at the expense of the fulfillment of my needs. But when I read it this time, I realized I needed some positive emotion in my life, and being purposeful and deliberate in the acquisition of appreciation was the key to it.

The word kanood in this verse can denote a few things:

  1. A person who always looks at the hardships, but never looks at the blessings . Our blessings come in so many different shapes and forms, but we become those people who focus on the negative always rather than the positive.
  2. A person who misuses the blessing in a way that the one who gave it to us did not intend for us to use it.
  3. A person who acknowledges the presence of a blessing, but fails to recognize the one who gave it to them in the first place.

Being any of those things wasn’t bringing me anything other than short-term satisfaction, if that. More often than not, it was bringing me a lot of despair. But in being open to taking advice from God that He was offering not for His benefit, but for mine, I found in this verse insight not just on what not to be, but also on what to actively be. If the absence of gratitude was yielding pain, then the presence of gratitude would quite possibly yield the contentment I was seeking, or at least help me in my pursuit of obtaining it.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, once heard a man saying, “Oh God, make me from amongst the few.” Umar said, “What is this supplication?” The man said, “I refer to the saying of God the Exalted: And few of My servants are grateful.” (Qu’ran, 34:13) Umar said, “All of the people know better than you, Oh Umar!”

In the work that I do, I find a lot of people who are very hurt, and that hurt puts a blanket over their hearts that makes the world that much more of a heavier place.

I also find a lot of people who then fail to recognize the goodness inside themselves. The pain has become so consuming that they believe there is nothing good about them and they have nothing good to offer to anyone, including themselves. I would be the first to tell you that is the farthest thing from the truth. Where the world has failed to help you recognize the value inside of you, don’t fail to recognize it yourself. Confidence can be built by affirming with appreciation the God-given talents that we have been endowed with uniquely and through that affirmation finding the strength needed to acknowledge and take on areas where we can improve. Arrogance causes us to only see weakness in the world around us — they are two very different things.

I firmly believe that active pursuits of gratitude can help to ease hurt. Where there in pain, anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, or negativity of any kind, its removal can be sustained and actualized through the interjection of gratitude and Ramadan creates ample opportunity to start bringing some of that positivity into our hearts. The water we drink tastes that much more refreshing, the food we eat that much sweeter. Build into your routine, whether it is daily or a few times a week, moments where you sit and just reflect. Be around people who are positive and can uplift your insides. Two actionable items that are suggested by psychologists:

  1. Keeping a gratitude journal — something in which you document regularly things that are blessings and bring benefit in your life. We see that this is built into the Islamic tradition as there are numerous advices from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to take time after our daily prayers and perform certain litanies that praise God, glorify God, and proclaim God’s Greatness, subhanallah, alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar. Rather than just rattling them off your tongue, take a moment to attach reason and meaning to them from your heart by thinking of specific occurrences and instances to tie to each remembrance.
  2. Writing thank you letters to someone you might not have ever properly thanked before and, if possible, as a second step sharing that letter with the person you wrote it to. I ask my students and community members to do this often and the experience is always moving and remarkable. Hearts tremble as they recognize what someone has done for them as much as they tremble when someone hears that we are appreciative for all that they have done for us. And as the prophet Muhammad has said, “He who has not thanked people has not thanked God.”

Tomorrow I will probably write more on the concluding verses of the chapter Al-‘Adiyat as it speaks about a second aspect of human condition that is important to reflect upon.

 

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SUNRISE CEREMONY

Ramadan Reflection Day 2: Juneteenth, Dylann Roof and the Continued Struggle for Equality

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Remember the Titans.It’s a true story about a high school football team in Virginia dealing with deep-rooted issues of race as they become the first team in their district to integrate have both black and white players. For those who don’t know, football was and is a big deal in Virginia. And unfortunately racism was and is a big deal as well.

A group of the players go into town to celebrate after winning a game and one of the white players, nicknamed Sunshine, suggests going into a restaurant that they are walking by. Petey, one of the black players, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

Sunshine: Petey Jones. Come on, man.
Petey: No, man.
Sunshine: What, man? It’s on me, man. We party on. Let’s go.
Petey: Look–look here, man, all right? This here’s Virginia. All right? They got problems with, you know — They don’t want us in there, man.
Sunshine: Oh, man, that’s history, bro. It’s on me. Come on.

Petey and Sunshine go into the restaurant and are met by the owner, a middle-aged white man.

Owner: We’re full tonight, boys.
Sunshine: What? There’s tables all over the place, man. What are you talking about?
Owner: Well, this is my establishment. I reserve the right to refuse service to anybody. Yeah, that means you, too, hippie boy. Now, y’all want somethin’ to eat, you can take these boys out back and pick it up from the kitchen.

Petey and Sunshine outside the restaurant joined by Blue, a black member of the team.

Petey (angrily): What’d I tell you, man?
Blue: Yo, come on, Petey, man!
Sunshine (apologetic) Petey, I didn’t know, man.
Petey: I told you! What you mean you didn’t know?! You think I was playing with you?!
Blue: Man, he didn’t know, Petey.
Petey: Blue, he don’t want to know. You pull some crap like that, you better be able to back it up.

That’s pretty much what it comes down to. It’s not that we don’t know. It’s that we don’t want to know. And to many black people, it feels like we just don’t care to know.

Today Dylann Roof will appear in court in South Carolina for purposely murdering 9 black men and women in a Charleston Church.

Today is also Juneteenth. For those who don’t know what that is, the United States of America was once built on slavery. Millions of black men and women were enslaved and treated as property – goods that could be bought and sold and treated or mistreated however the white slave-masters desired. When Abraham Lincoln decided to enact the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863, it took two and a half years for the actual end of slavery to be achieved. On June 19th, 1865, 150 years ago from today, slavery actually ended in this country and Juneteenth commemorates that. Its importance should be realized and appreciated, especially as so many of us are still trying to realize that black lives matter.

If you are aware of your humility, then you are arrogant.” ~ Ibn Ata’illah Al-Iskandari

The conversation around race issues in the United States can be framed in a lot of different ways. If you are reading this, I’d like to lay frame it in two ways:

1) If you are Muslim, utilize the month of Ramadan to acknowledge any micro-aggressions that you might have towards African-Americans in general. We have a big issue with racism in the broader Muslim community. The specific conversation that has to be had and acted upon, not just had and then left alone, is one that deals particularly with treatment of African-Americans only. That means its not a generic conversation that brings in how everybody unfortunately mistreats everyone. Yes, we have issues with gender, Arabs and South Asians also exclude each other, young people and old people have generation gaps, but this conversation has to happen with specific framing constraints so that the African-American experience is better understood and our institutions, services and programs start to reflect that understanding in how they are run and implemented. Talk only about the experience, history, and legacy of being Black — leave the other topics for a different discussion — and then do something with what you learn.

2) If you live in the United States, whether you are Muslim or not, become deeply aware of the reality we find ourselves in today. We are not in a post-racial America. Black people are very much so treated differently and a lot of that does stem from white privilege. The racism that we are dealing with is not someone calling someone else a bad word or a slur, but a racism that is structural, systemic and perpetuated through institutional mechanisms. It is overwhelming in its unfiltered injustice, an injustice that seeks to maintain a supremacy and privilege that is deliberate in who it lets in and who it keeps out. The only way to combat the ignorance upon which it is established it to acknowledge its existence, to educate ourselves about its roots, and then move to obliterate our own passivity and indifference towards the experience of Black men and women in this country as we seek to find sustainable solutions to counter it.

Now is not a time to no longer know — it’s no longer an excuse. All you really are saying then is that you don’t want to know, or you just don’t care to know.

 

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DC vigil for Charleston

Ramadan Reflection Day #1: #CharlestonShooting — Healing Requires Admitting We’re Sick

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fifth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

About a week ago, I woke up extremely congested. I had spent the night asleep under a blanket that I didn’t realize was stuffed with something I am apparently allergic to. The first two hours of my day consisted of lots of sneezing, heavy breathing and headaches — not so enjoyable to say the least. The inability to breathe through my nose made my sleep lacking in a lot of ways and my body and mind responded in turn with a lot of tiredness. I decided to just let it take care of itself and not take any medicine or get medical advice.

This morning, I woke up around 3 a.m. to have a meal before the sun started to rise and my first fast of Ramadan officially began. My head was spinning and chest was heaving as I struggled to breathe. I ate some fruit and drank some water, said my fajr prayer, the prayer that Muslims are required to pray at sunrise every day, and then sat on my couch trying to figure out with my wife, Priya, what to do about my breathing.

My throat felt like it had grown smaller and my heart felt it was struggling to keep up with the short breaths I was attempting to invigorate it with. I tried lying down in every position possible, blowing my nose excessively, and was ready to call the hospital until I decided to stand under a hot shower and see if the steam could help relax my breathing a bit. I felt an immediate release of pressure followed by a more gradual lessening. I was then able to fall back asleep for a little while around 6 a.m. until my daughter Madina, now two and half years old, woke me up a couple of hours later. She wanted to show me a necklace that she said she got from her friend Shyema, who is actually a friend of my wife and I, and more than 25 years older than Madina, telling me that it would look prettier on me. I said thank you.

My wife noticed some flowers in our bedroom, to which I usually have a slight allergic response, but nothing of this nature before. The fact that I had remnants from my previous sickness still with me made this second experience that much more challenging. Had I taken the measures to deal with it, this second wave of congestion wouldn’t have had the impact it did. But my shortsighted decision left me in a place where the consequences were quite severe.

This morning, I also woke up to images and media outlining the horrific tragedies that took place last night in Charleston. Just like my body, my heart, my emotions, my spirit can retain remnants of past experiences in similar ways. If I have felt pain, I have felt anger, I have felt grief or sadness, and I am then met with something similar some time later, it will have that much more of an impact on me.

I feel Charleston as I have felt Ferguson. I feel Charleston and I have felt Baltimore. I feel Charleston as I have felt Syria, Burma, Gaza and Iraq. I feel for the nine victims, Cynthia Hurd, 54, Susie Jackson, 87, Ethel Lance, 70, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, Tywanza Sanders, 26, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45, Myra Thompson, 59 and their family members as I felt for Deah, Yusor and Razan and the Barakat and Abu-Salha families. The layers of unreconciled experience can pile on top of each other, blending together and at times it is difficult to keep them separate. I feel pain and frustration on top of pain and frustration that never left. And as my Ramadan starts, I’m trying to understand what to do with it.

A failure to acknowledge and deal with illness doesn’t mean that it’s not there. I can pretend like I’m not sick, but my body will let me know otherwise. We can pretend like our society is not in pain and in need of healing, but atrocities like Charleston will let us know otherwise. Our indifference to the narratives of those distinct from our own coupled with our own egocentric priorities places us in the reality that we find ourselves in. Issues of race, class and privilege are the roots of our ailments, and unwillingness to recognize is leading us to a terrible place. With every death, our collective humanity is dying. With every failure to remedy injustice, we add to the pain. The assailant knew that he was going to kill the people he killed. He knew he was going to let one person survive to tell others of what happened. He will not be labeled thug or terrorist or any other term reserved only for the black and brown people of the world. He, as a young white male, will never represent anything or anyone other than himself, and the black lives that he took will only be known as his “victims,” not part of a larger systemic issue, and worst of all, be made to seem as if they did not matter.

After last Ramadan, I prayed that this Ramadan would not be as intense. That there would not be as much injustice, death or violence. But on this first day, the reality of the world stands where it is. I have to decide if I will be a bystander to it or do my part to bring about a much needed change.

To me, fasting is about gaining a deeper awareness and mindfulness of one’s self and, in turn, the world in which one is situated. From the outside it might seem like it’s about deprivation of food and drink. But by shifting my focus away from a simple satiation of my stomach and looking more towards the satisfaction of my soul, I realize that are many different ways that I can nourish myself and many different parts of me that need to be nourished that I often times neglect, my heart being a primary amongst those. My fast helps me to be more present and aware, to see my blessings and reflect upon my strengths and weaknesses. It helps me to understand that as much as I have a place in this world, so too do many others whose lives are similar to my own as well as those whose lives have been completely different. It is mostly for my benefit to understand and appreciate their existence, rather than being comfortable living in my own bubble.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this attack and their loved ones, the people of Charleston, and for all of us and our hearts. May we never become the reason people have dread in this world and always be the reason people have hope in it. Ameen.

I am not sure how regular I will be in writing reflections this year. I am hoping it will be frequent, but it may not be daily. I may also ask friends and colleagues to share their thoughts and write from time to time as well. As always, I appreciate those of you who have read them in the past and continue to read and share them with others.

As I did in the last four years of writing these reflections, I would like to start this fifth year of writing with a quote from a female Islamic scholar named Fariha Fatima al-Jerrahi that my wife Priya shared with me before we got married. But this year I read it with the people of Charleston in my heart and with an understanding why my fasting this year can’t be just about me, but something much bigger than I am.

There are as many forms of fasting as there are organs of perception and sensation, and each of these has many different levels. So we ask to fast from all that Allah does not love for us, and to feast on what the Beloved loves for us.

Let us certainly fast from the limited mind, and all that it conjures up. Let us fast from fear, apart from fear and awe of Allah’s majesty. Let us fast from thinking that we know, when Allah alone is the Knower.

Let us fast from thinking negatively of anyone. Let us fast from our manipulations and strategies. Let us fast from all complaint about the life experiences that Allah gives us. Let us fast from our bad habits and our reactions.

Let us fast from desiring what we do not have. Let us fast from obsession. Let us fast from despair. Let us fast from not loving our self, and from denying our heart. Let us fast from selfishness and self-centered behavior.

Let us fast from thinking that only what serves us is important. Let us fast from seeing reality only from our own point of view. Let us fast from seeing any reality other than Allah, and from relying on anything other than Allah.

Let us fast from desiring anything other than Allah and Allah’s Prophets and friends, and our own true self. Essentially, let us fast from thinking that we have any existence separate from Allah.

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The Future Of Islam

I live in New York city, the borough of Manhattan to be precise.

My religion mandates that I pray during 5 separate windows of time every day. Those times are determined based off of a cyclical pattern of the sun.

I was once eating dinner at a restaurant in Times Square when one of the prayer times came in that had a uniquely short amount of time to be performed in given the time of year it was and how short the days were. I excused myself from dinner, letting my friends know I needed to pray, and did my best to find a quiet place where I could for a few moments in the busiest and loudest part of New York City recenter and reflect. I was lucky enough to find a somewhat empty place outside of the restaurant and so I started to pray there on the sidewalk. Immediately after I started a tour bus filled with people pulled up in front of me and emptied itself to my prostrating with M&M World behind me. As I stared at the ground more intently than I’ve ever before, I felt their stares on me and a growing discomfort inside of me.

I live in a city that has more diversity than most places in the world – a city that has a rich tapestry of cultures and creeds lining its foundations. But diversity is only an achievement if it leads to a pluralism that acknowledges, accepts, and embraces both similarities and differences. A pluralism in which the most underserved and underprivileged are given the highest consideration and level of thoughtfulness instead of being written off by a stereotype that boxes them into one single variable of their identity.

As I tried to focus on my prayer, I heard whispers and wonder from the people getting off the bus. Amidst their conversations, an elderly woman from their group took a step towards me and where I was praying. When she got to my side, she took a look at the ground and then bent down in front of me for a moment and then walked away taking the rest of her group with her. She left in front of me a scarf that was wrapped around her neck so that I would have something cleaner than the NYC sidewalk to pray on. I don’t even know what this woman looked like but I can tell you she is one of the most beautiful people that I’ve been blessed to have present and learn from in my life.

There will always be people who don’t understand, who are fueled by hatred, racism and bigotry. The future of Islam depends on Muslims deciding whether we will be fueled by examples of hope or examples of hatred. Around me I see many who are doing more of the former than the latter, and finding in turn a courageous voice that is both speech and action.

The future of Islam to me is Linda Sarsour, a Brooklynite at heart who is poised to be one of the greatest Muslim leaders in the United States. Her passion, commitment and dedication to social justice for all people is remarkable and inspiring. Her recent march from NYC to Washington DC to raise awareness around the #BlackLivesMatter campaign is just one of many examples of her leadership.

The future of Islam to me is Zaytuna College, the United States first accredited Muslim College, helping to shape and build a generation of leaders that will add to the foundation of what we have today.

The future of Islam to me is Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, a respected figure and scholar across Muslim communities who consistently calls for peace, compassion, and tolerance and is a critical thinker and intellectual voice on the relationship of Islam and Modernity.

The future of Islam to me is one that recognizes and respects the tradition and past that it finds its roots in while understanding the needs and realities it lives in today. It appreciates ideas of continuity and change and looks to build a better existence for humanity on a whole. It doesn’t live in reaction to the worse stereotypes that people have of it. It no longer simply says “I am not violent, I am not a terrorist, I am not oppressive to women.” It no longer simply says what it is not, but it says what it is. It lives what it is and meets the discrimination of people by indiscriminately providing and helping everyone and anyone without condition and qualification. And not in response to the small-minded and bigoted, but simply because the purpose of Islam since its onset has been and continues to be to increase benefit and reduce detriment.

The future of Islam to me is every young man and woman that I am blessed to meet in the work that I do. Every ally and partner that I have been blessed to stand with and follow. Every person who is able to find a value within themselves and in turn use that same perspective to find value in those around them. Every one that realizes the importance of their individual narrative as well learning the narrative of those around them.

Life can be hard and cause a lot of damage. We are the tools needed to help heal each other. All of us. Not just some of us, including me and you.

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