I received a visit from a group of friends from the Tampa area this past Sunday. We spent the night in the building that was designated for a place of worship but was denied to us by county commissioners. The next morning about 4:30 a.m., one by one the travelers woke up and prepared themselves for morning prayer.

During my meditation, I heard a distinct sound of tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock on the wall. Every second that passes reduces the time we have left in our earthly journey and brings us closer to death. How precious is time. We act like we’ll live forever; but do we prepare ourselves that tomorrow is not promised to us? Tick-tock, tick-tock, that clock seems to get louder. I ask myself ... how will I show my love today? How will I assist in the welfare of the community?

This is the first time I prayed with a group at this location since the county commissioners’ ruling. After offering the morning prayer, we sat in a circle reading about our obligations to Allah and our duties toward mankind. These particular travelers comprise different birth origins: Egypt, Jerusalem, Ghana, Iraq, Somalia and Burma. And all are U.S. citizens. They take time from their jobs or businesses to visit others of like mind, reminding them to do good in this world. We cook, share our different ethnic foods by eating together and enjoying each other’s company. The beauty is at one time we were strangers, and now we are friends with a common bond, serving Allah.

“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you into races and (nations) tribes so that you may (get to) know one another, not to despise each another. Surely the most noble of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah is truly all Knowing, all Aware.” (Qur’an, 49:13)

“You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus, 22:21)

“When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The stranger living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Torah, Mishpatim, 5768)

Can we talk?

When did we deem being born in DeSoto County as better than one birth outside the county? Have you ever thought that you didn’t have a say about where you’re born? Are we judging others before we give thought about ourselves or the contribution to the community? Are we so squeaky clean from faults that we can cast aspersions on others?

When we rally around a person just because he is native-born—regardless of qualifications, kindness, dedication or contributions to the community—we could be moving in the direction of bigotry and racism. We can mistreat others emotionally by ignoring, belittling, mocking them or opposing anything that is progressive in enhancing, energizing or revitalizing the community. Where’s the love? I hear you when you tell me God is love. I hear you when you tell me your Master practiced and died in love, but where’s your love?

Remember love conquers fear, that fear is related to ignorance, and knowledge can conquer ignorance. Let’s come together to seek the bounty of Allah through practicing tolerance, being respectful to self and others. Live with patience, moving in peace and love. Be consistent in your day-to-day life, living in the light of positive energy.

Alibaba Lumumba is a believer of peace who sees Arcadia’s potential and wants to participate in the evolving process in the future of the city and DeSoto County

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