Celebrating Our Differences by Asiya Cummings Aqsa School
A community is more than to simply acknowledge one another’s existence amongst each other; a community celebrates the uniqueness and diversity that thrives between us and to hold these individualities above our heads with pride. My family has always held the standard that you should love for one another what you love for yourself, as the Prophet Muhammad said, "No one of you becomes a true believer until he likes for his brother/sister what he likes for himself". This quote leads my family and my community to strive towards treating everyone not only with tolerance, but enveloping them with equal kindness, compassion, and open-mindedness.
The first Sunday of every June for the past six years, people from all across the Chicagoland area gather together in a massive park district to the welcoming smell of different foods, the disordered cacophony of hundreds of people speaking in different languages, and the pleasing look of smiles spread across the faces of men, women, and children alike. This is an event that my parents have organized to raise funds to build their masjid in Chicago, and it has blossomed into an experience for people of all cultures, faiths, and genders alike. This is an Ethnic Food Fest, wherein people gather to partake in a learning of culture, food, faith and even a little language from countries all over the world. Not only does everyone get a literal taste of the foods around the world, but we all get to learn from one another and taste a piece of life from different people.
The Fest is something that my family always looks forward to. Every year around April, my sisters and I would call up the rest of our family, asking them if they’re coming to the fest, what kind of food they are cooking, and predicting the outcome, nearly bursting with vivacity. Every year we are astounded by the amount of diversity that is presented and the entertainment that is experienced. I remember last year, a large group of people from the senior citizen home came, and they were beyond enthusiastic to meet Muslims and learn about our religion, as much we were thrilled to learn from them. Another year, I was working behind the Caribbean table and a woman approached me complementing the headscarf I was wearing, then taking my hands in hers, saying,
“What you guys do here is amazing, I am so happy to be a part of this. I look forward to this event every year! I learn so much!”
We laughed and talked and my heart swelled with happiness because I knew right then that my community was upholding a standard set for all people; we were celebrating each other’s differences and loving one another for it. I am proud to be upholding the saying of the Prophet Muhammad and loving for everyone what I love for myself, and that is to coexist peacefully and blissfully.