When my husband and I first decided to fly to China, we were intending to fly off to some “exotic” place because of his employment travel benefits. We also knew that a group of Muslim Americans had traveled to China and so we intended to contact the company that had handled their trip in hopes of meeting local Chinese Muslims in Beijing.
We thought it would be very exciting to meet Muslims in China and that is how we first met Mariah. We contacted her by email at the last minute since we weren’t sure whether we would be able to make the flights or not and she dropped everything she was handling to reply to us. In fact, she even scheduled a one-day tour of the local Beijing Muslim community for us, despite the fact that she was already handling a tour group from the United Kingdom.
From the moment that Mariah stepped into the hotel lobby, I felt we were sisters – it is the universal beauty and bond of Islam that a girl from Knoxville, Tennessee could feel that way about a woman in China she has never even seen or spoke to and that those feelings of sisterhood would be returned.
I can honestly say that one day deeply impacted my life. I didn’t realize that the spirit of Islam was so deeply-rooted in China nor did I realize the hardships Chinese Muslims have to face.
We were touched to tears to see the Muslim Hui Township that was a model community to its neighbors and how they cared for the elderly whether they were Muslim or not. We were so blessed to meet the wonderfully talented and precious calligraphers Hajj AbdulHakeem and Imam Muhammad Danial and see their work. It is a great honor for us to display their works on our walls and share their talents with everyone who visits our home.
We were so excited and surprised that in the rural areas of Beijing, it was common to find masajid established long ago, still flourishing, and the green and gold signs hanging over the local butcher shops and restaurants (signifying halal meat). In fact, Mariah was gracious enough to arrange lunch at a Muslim restaurant where we had a fabulous meal!
My husband and I are really indebted to Mariah for her dedication and self-sacrifice. She came to us and accommodated us even though we had contacted her in less than 48 hours of arrival! She is genuine in her concern to bring light to the plight of Chinese Muslims and it is our responsibility as Muslims to spread the word and support Mariah in this wonderful cause.
If you want an unforgettable experience that will touch your soul, I would urge you to visit the Chinese Muslims. They have carried the banner of Islam for over 1000 years with little or no acknowledgement from the outside world and it is time that we help them carry it.
Praise to God that has created us from different peoples and languages that we may come together and learn about one another!
Margie Abdelrazek and Noman Zaheer
Knoxville, Tennessee USA