My Masjid, My Home
The Baitus Samee Mosque of greater Houston is a place I really miss. I, and many other youths today are feeling a strange emptiness in our hearts with COVID-19 preventing us from going. Needless to say, this year has been a strange one. I haven’t gone this long without frequent visits to the mosque. My whole life has been rooted in that sacred place.
I was born during Ramadan, and the first place that I went to after the hospital was the Bait-ul-Hameed Mosque in Chino Hills, California. Before I even went home, I went to the house of Allah. My uncle was doing Itikaf at this time, and he was able to come out to see me for the first time in the parking lot. It was a very special time, and the masjid really was the starting point of my life. I even took my first steps there too. So many personal milestones happened there, and I just really feel a very particular connection to it. Being without it is very strange to me, to say the least.
The mosque was central to the very integral experiences of spirituality in my life. It served as a vessel and a safe space to reconnect, learn, and reflect on Islam and my relationship with it. Despite any opposition and persecution from the outside world, us Muslims found the mosque to be a symbol of Allah opening his arms to us and keeping us safe. In a school setting, it quickly became apparent that I am a minority. Many people would not understand what being a Muslim entails, and how a Muslim navigates their own spirituality alongside their own place in the world. In the masjid however, everything is already understood among one another. We can talk about our faith as more of a fact of life and a building ground from how we interact with one another. I remember how much fun I had in young lajna (youth) and Nasirat (girls between the ages of 7 and 15) sleepovers in the masjid, and how together and in tune everyone was with each other. I really felt connected to so many of the girls there. Having fun in such a sacred place made me feel a strong sense of warmness and sisterhood with everyone else. When we played games, discussed our faith, talked about each other’s lives, I just knew how deeply we understood each other. I miss that dearly.
When we had educational retreats known as Ijtema, they challenged us to learn more about our faith and present that knowledge in a friendly competitive nature. The togetherness and excitement that came with those retreats is something that I miss, and it feels empty when to go a year without them. While Ijtemas were a time to meet competitively, Jalsas (annual conventions) were a time where everyone united together to delve even deeper into their spirituality. The amazing speeches, the delicious food, the diversity of people coming from so many different places, the different shops and stalls, just the entire atmosphere was so distinctly pleasant and heart-warming.
In the 1980s, Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (ra) the 4th Khalifa of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community laid the foundation stone for this mosque, and eventually it was completed in 2004. In 2018, Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) the 5th Khalifa visited. Overall it is a mosque with a rich history. Fast forward to 2019, and my family and I moved to Houston and started attending the Baitus Samee Mosque. When we first started attending, I was a bit apprehensive since Baitus Samee was new to me, but I soon found out that sisterhood is the same wherever you go. The Lajna (women) and Nasirat (girls) were open and welcoming to us. That wonderful aspect of the masjid never goes away no matter where you go in the world.
COVID-19 has certainly made our lives seemingly devoid of a place of worship, but it is important to remember to pray that this pandemic will pass soon. We have to take command of our own spirituality and make do with what we have. Let our own houses become houses of God. We must maintain our inner sense of spirituality, and the rest will follow. I pray for the day that I can recite the sacred prayer of peace and mercy for entering the mosque upon pulling into the parking lot.
Maariya Rehman is a second-year college student studying Communication Sciences and Disorders.