Holy Week, Passover, and Rajab: On our responsibilities toward the stranger

By Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director.

This speech was delivered at a Maundy Thursday foot-washing ceremony in Morgan Hill on Thursday, March 29th, 2018.

Salam alaykum/peace be unto you.

We are standing here together during a sacred time in many faiths. For Muslims, we are in the month of Rajab, the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. The name of the month is derived from the meaning “to respect”, and is regarded as one of the four sacred months in Islam;
Rajab and the following month Sha’ban are a prelude to the month of Ramadan.

Rajab is said to be a month in which one’s good deeds are multiplied and is also the month of seeking forgiveness.

As we gather together to stand up for the voiceless it is fitting to begin with an often mentioned verse of the Quran which reminds us that we all are brothers and sisters. God says in the Quran, “Oh humankind, indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes, so that you may get to know one another.” (Qur’an 49:13).

God emphasizes in the Quran the innate dignity of all human beings by saying: “And We have certainly honored all the children of Adam.” (Qur’an: 17:70).

The Quran mentions the place of immigrants specifically, as well as praises those who come to their aid: God says in the Qur’an, “And (as for) those who believed and immigrated and struggled in God’s way, and those who gave them shelter and aid, these are the true believers; they shall have forgiveness and honorable provision.” (Qur’an, 8:74).

In fact, the Prophet Muhammad was himself a refugee, having fled Mecca with his followers in the year 622 AD to escape persecution.

And as a refugee, he was cared for by the host community in the city he fled to, who became known in Arabic as the Ansar or Helpers. The Helpers not only opened their homes to the immigrants, or Muhajireen, but extended to them a relationship of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Today, let us reflect that generosity of heart and extend a hand of support and love for immigrants, prisoners, and all marginalized people struggling for their basic rights.