I am both honored and humbled to be part of the Masjid al-Wali project. The idea for a dedicated place of worship for Muslims in Edison was sparked by the suggestion of my Shaykh and guide of almost 40 years, Maulana Muḥammad Yusuf Islahi of India. Over the past year, we have witnessed such strides in the progress and growth of this project, which can only be described as blessed and nothing short of miraculous.
At this foundational juncture in our community, I would share with you an image that always remains in my mind, an image that can provide inspiration and direction to any growing community.
In the dusty plains of Mina in ancient Arabia, an astute businessman observed a scene which remained forever etched in his mind. He saw a single man come out of his tent, look towards the sun and begin going through a series of motions. A woman came out of the tent shortly after him, and began doing the same. Then a young boy came out of the tent and followed them in the same.
That man was our Prophet Muḥammad, peace be upon him. That woman was our mother Khadijah. And that boy was our Imam Ali. They were praying to Allah. At that moment, they were the only believers.
This moving portrait was one of the very first public expressions of our Islamic faith. This is in fact where our public story begins. Our tradition began with a man, a woman and a child. Let every Islamic community and institution remember that.
My years of experience and study have inspired me to an absolute, unreserved appreciation for the Majestic words of the Creator that are in the Qurʾān and the never-failing ocean of wisdom that is in the life-legacy of the Prophet, peace be upon him. These two treasures are our salvation, and I seek to share that love and appreciation with others.
I will be broadly committed to the following:
- Evidence-based religious practice
- Education and basic literacy in our Islamic faith-tradition
- Tolerance and respect for differences within broad guidelines
- Ethnic diversity that demonstrates the true brotherhood of Islam
- Reviving the concept of Muslim unity that puts the ummah above other interests
- The inclusion of our sisters as equal partners
- Prioritizing the youth in all our programs
I know that I am utterly lacking in the qualifications for this task, but at the same time, I am confident that under the direction of my esteemed mentor Dr Hatem El-Haj and the sincere support of each and every member of the community, we can succeed at building a model society that will augment and support existing institutions in the Muslim community, as well as provide leadership and guidance to others.
I invite all of you to embark on this journey of character-building and community-building.
Dr. Abu Zayd