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New Medinah’s 25th: Mississippi Muslim milestone

June 2nd · No Comments · Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Islam, Muslim

For me, the most enduring image from the 25th Annual New Medinah Islamic Retreat was the youngsters, blissfully enjoying the sun and fun, engrossed in their safe, stimulating, loving-and-learning environment. It was a reminder of times gone by, when elders provided the same for us — who now have a responsibility to do even more for the generations to come.

Yet the contented youths were among many memorable images from  this 120-acre educational, agricultural and farming community in Southwest Mississippi, founded in 1987 by Muslim American students of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.

I’d heard much regarding the vision, commitment and diligence with which New Medinah’s hard workers were establishing the rational spirituality and model community life for which our Creator made us, and to which our late leader Imam Mohammed pointed us. (See backgrounders here, here, here, here and here).

But during New Medinah’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, May 27-29, with the theme, “All ‘Roots’ Lead to Education,” I saw for myself the land, the wonderful spirit and why all the kudos.

For the youngsters were the hay rides, horseback riding, water slide, story telling, bonfires and kosher marshmallow roasts, swimming, sports, games, Children’s Village, jump house, youth workshops and youth social.

For all, there was the Friday congregational prayer. Three days of presentations by some of the world’s most knowledgeable and insightful imams. Family breakfasts and luncheons. An inspirational banquet, with live entertainment.

For visitors choosing to forgo a hotel room, there was room to pitch a tent under the stars. Or roll in an RV.

And much more:

A Grand Bazaar featured outstanding food and merchandise — including honey from New Medina bees.

There was the groundbreaking for the W.D. Mohammed Boarding School. And the dedication of Ayesha K. Mustafaa Road, honoring the tireless editor of our international weekly Muslim Journal.

Plus, ladies’ sessions on “Hajj — Journey of a Lifetime,” and a “Healing Circle.” A talent/fashion show. A singles social & workshop. The “New Medinah Games.”

There was our meeting of the Southern Association of Masajid and Centers, comprised of my fellow imams and others in positions of leadership in our communities.

Also, a special business session. And a meeing of the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA).

As always, I learned much to take home from our sessions, and from conversations with our community’s pioneers.

There also was time for private conversations with the Divine, while strolling the rolling land that echoed its past even as it fulfils the Almighty’s promise for the future.

In between were scenes such as the med-school bound college ladies receiving encouragement from our beloved Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad of Miami’s Masjid Al-Ansar — one of whose own daughters recently completed her medical school training.

There were second-, third- and fourth-generation Muslim teens…

… Little ones cozy in their mothers’ arms …

… and young adults born into or new to our balanced Muslim community.

Long-timers told me New Medinah’s inaugural celebration featured fields full of tents. Today there are Masjid Al-Halim, the Dr. Rashad Ali Community Center and other sturdy buildings.

Thus I thank our Maker — “The One Who takes you from nothing, and brings you to maturity,” as one imam put it — for the organizational diligence and hospitality provided by Imam Alvin Shareef, his wife Rosa and the New Medinah team.

This was the most time I’ve spent in Mississippi. Given the historical legacy, it was a revelation. I’m not ready to pick up and move. Not yet. But G-d willing, my wife and I plan to be regulars in New Medinah each year.

More scenes:


— C.B. Hanif

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