The MAS Monthly Meeting
As a member of MAS, I have to participate in many activities that helps me develop and grow. MAS Tarbiya is a unique and essential value in MAS. Although tarbiya happens as one moves in life, MAS requires its members to participate in several programs that help them develop. One of these programs is the monthly meeting or monthly Revive as MAS Youth calls it. In this meeting, members from one area get together for a full or a half night for an extended spiritual, social, and, often times, educational program. During this program, people will have the chance to meet one another, increase brotherhood, strengthen their relationship with Allah, etc.
My challenge: Brooklyn
At one point of time, most of MAS members were concentrated in Brooklyn, NY, over an hour drive from where I live. I used to go there every month for this meeting since it was only carried out in Brooklyn. Now, and as MAS grows out of the city into other areas, we were able to conduct such a meeting in areas closer to where I live. However, since NY metro area and its surrounding is part of one organizational unit in MAS, all of MAS members in this area decided to meet once every quarter.
I have to say it was always very difficult for me to make the trip to Brooklyn for the monthly meeting. It is even more difficult now as I moved farther away from the city and as this monthly meeting became available in a relatively closer location. So, even the once every quarter trip was a burden especially that one only gets busier as he gets older. I also realized that it is not only me who feels that way. It is almost all of us in our area. I struggled with myself a little bit of what I should do. Should I skip those meetings and try to find an excuse for not attending? Nah, I am too old for making those excuses :-). Maybe I should lobby the organizers of these events and MAS local leadership to excuse us from those meetings. I then asked myself, what is the reason for me not to want to go? Maybe I see no value of going. Or, Maybe I think there is a value but there are other things that are valuable. Man, If they just make it a little closer than Brooklyn! Actually it is not just Brooklyn; it is the most southern tip of Brooklyn, the farthest it can be.
What is the point of going?
As I can enumerate all the reasons I should not be going to this meeting. I can also enumerate many more reasons for which I should go. I am sure you can guess how beneficial getting together with people from all over the city is. I am sure the warm feeling one can get in such a gathering is enough to convince me to go. I am sure an idea, a reflection, or a joke I hear there can be the one I am just looking for. I am sure the sense of community for all of those who strive to please Allah by working together for His sake can easily be found in such a meeting. I am sure the miles and the steps I travel to visit JUST ONE PERSON because I love this person for the sake of Allah is enough for me let alone visiting a few dozens of them in the same trip.
However, I will not use all of that to convince myself to go, for the Shaitan can always convince me otherwise. I will just use one argument. This argument is “Going to Brooklyn is my river test!”
What is this river test anyway?
This is a story Allah presented in the Qur’an about a group of people from the Israelites who were marching under the leadership of a righteous leader. The march was to meet a tough enemy in a decisive war. The story is nice and full of inspiration (check it out). While they were marching and feeling very thirsty after a long trip, their leader told them that Allah will test you with a river: whoever drinks from this river will not be part of this army except those who drink one sip with their hand. When they passed by the river, they all drank except a few. Those few were the ones who continued the trip and were the ones who fought the war. They were also the ones who were victorious.
It was a very tough test! I am sure those who drank were thinking: “Why can’t we drink? Aren’t we tired? What is the difference between taking a sip and drinking a lot? That does not make any sense. We will drink anyway.” Many of their arguments make a lot of sense as do many of my arguments not going to Brooklyn. However, the challenge this army was going through was one that required discipline and commitment. Only those who were able to overcome the temptations of thirst were the one who succeeded. Only those who showed commitment to their cause and to their leader’s direction were the ones who won. Those who can overcome such a tough test are the ones who deserve to take on serious responsibilities.
I would like to view my trip to Brooklyn as my “River Test.” It is a test of discipline, discipline of driving miles to do something good. It is a test of my commitment to the group I chose to join hands with in a great endeavor. It is a test of my love to this group for the sake of Allah not because they are cool or they happen to live close. It is a test of my ability to do something I do not like to do while expecting reward from Allah. It is a test to be a disciplined member of a team, and a committed member to this team, its ties, its leaders, and its cause.
I will go to Brooklyn because if I fail to go to Brooklyn once in a blue moon I will probably fail to do many other important things that are much more difficult than just going to Brooklyn. Brooklyn, you are my river test!