You're listening to shaping narratives, a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color brought to you by WGVU, NPR and PBS in West Michigan. In a partnership with the WK Kellogg foundation, the voice of today's podcast is Rishi Singh host of WGVU’s Meeting God. A TV show that uses immersive experiences of faith to explore belief, and commonality in the human experience. Rishi is a successful businessman and a first generation immigrant, with deep commitment to family and community. For this podcast, he talks to faith leaders about resources they are offering their congregations and in the community at large.
With so many people laid off. Or struggling. It's hard to know where to turn, faith communities across West Michigan are responding to dependents the best they can. Here today to discuss the response from our local mosque and Islamic centers is Dr. Metwali. Dr. Metwali is the chairman of the board at the mosque and also a professor at grand Rapids campus of Western Michigan university college of business document. Molly, thank you so much for your time and thank you for letting us know how you're dealing with this pandemic.
Great. You're welcome. Uh, we're trying to do our best, uh, in connecting with our community member and, uh, conducting activities, uh, utilizing, uh, the technology that we have available. Uh, one of the most important activities that we have is we have a food pantry that we run. Uh, the first saturday and the third saturday of the months. And we still have volunteers that, uh, one at a time go to the mosque and basically put packages together. And then we have volunteers that delivered them. To the people that we know that they need them. So that's one activities that we, uh, have, uh, diligent and trying to achieve on a regular basis. And we are searching all over for anybody that needs food. So we can add them on the list of our activities. Also our religious leader. Have a number of activities connecting with the community on a regular basis. It just happened that the months of Ramadan, uh, started, this is the finished week. Uh, we started on the 24th of April and the screen to go to the 23rd of May. And that month normally people get together and, uh, uh, join in, um, uh, prayers and join in, uh, if, uh, when you break your fast. Cause you're supposed to be fasting from Dawn to sunset. So people fast at home, but we are connecting with these people with regular schedule. Actually, we have about. Eight activities that is conducted on a regular basis to connect to his people. There is a daily, uh, recitation of the Koran. Uh, normally it's done as to, um, the start of the fasting every day using the zoom. Uh, there is, uh, another activities called the treasure. From the Koran and it's daily after 9:00 PM and we utilize Facebook and YouTube and also we link with the youth, especially the young youth. We have every Tuesday during Ramadan at 5:00 PM on Zoom activities for the youth and conduct story time. Again, for the youth from five to nine years old, we normally have them on Monday at 5:00 PM on zoom and Instagram. And then they use who are basically 10 to 16 years old. We normally connect with them on Thursday at 5:00 PM on zoom and Instagram. And then we have a sort of supplication. Um, uh, it's called Dawah in Arabic. And it's daily at 11:00 PM for the community. Uh, community can connect basically through zoom, um, and the first, um, 20 days of Ramadan, it's at 11 o'clock and the last 10 days of Ramadan at 11:30. And then we have session for questions and answers. Every Friday at 5:00 PM on Facebook. And then we have for the ladies again, uh, there is, uh, sessions with , Imams, teaching. Uh, if we set their day at 3:00 PM on zoom. So we try to basically have the community active by interacting with them at all time. And
That's quite remarkable. It looks like it's a busy schedule. And I think for a lot of her. Listeners and certainly a lot of members of different congregations and congregations at large. I think these are trying times because the congregation, you look forward to meeting with, um, people from your congregation, people at the same faith, and that's no longer there. So it seems like you've really figured out a way in these times to really connect with your congregation.
Yeah, this is, this is a Holy month that people look forward to because they connect at all time to get loose and do prayers together and join and, um, uh, eating and, and celebrating. And that's missing because everybody is sitting home. So you have to connect with them one way or another. To allow them to have the joy of that month, but being distanced from the community and that's not easy by the way.
Absolutely. And then during the days of Ramadan, especially when you're breaking the fast, there's nothing like having your family, friends and rest of the congregation together at the dinner table. And I can only imagine that this is it's really unprecedented.
Yes it is. And, uh, but I always look at it from the positive. I think, uh, being disconnected with the community from the religious aspect, I think will get the people to appreciate more. When we get back to our normal or new normal, which nobody knows what that new normal , but, uh, you know, we have to always look at say that there is something good that comes out of the bad. So we can think of that, that, uh, Corona virus is really bad, but I think we'll end up. Um, uh, doing things, um, that is different. That will help not only individual, but help the family, the community, the country, and probably the world, you know?
Yeah. There's an, you know, it's important to always look for a silver lining, even if there's, there's not much here also, where can you provide me the address of where the mosque is located?
Uh, Three three five, seven East Paris Avenue. South East.
Wonderful. What would you, what would you tell the listeners if they want to connect with you or be part of some of the things that are going on? What, what is the best channel of communication to use for listeners to connect with you?
The mosque have a website that we post everything on our website. And, uh, also if somebody wants to connect, um, you know, they can, um, give us, give us a call or call the mosque numbers. Uh, and we can retrieve, uh, the messages, uh, can drop us a note in our mailbox. We normally look at the mailbox every other day and, you know, uh, reply to people that they have any questions or any needs. So these are ways that, um, you know, would be available to connect with us.
But that's wonderful. My parting question, and I always. This is a question that is kind of dear to me, for listeners that aren't practicing members of your faith. What would you say in these times when they're isolated, maybe feeling lonely, sometimes even depressed or anxious, what advice would you have for listeners? What is something that they can do to kind of center themselves and, you know, maybe less than that burden.
Well, you know, for the ones who are not really active, maybe, uh, you know, they can get on it, our website and maybe join in one of the eight or nine activities that we do. We have to allow them to eliminate that, um, disconnect. And I, I call it, uh, uh, forced the prison, uh, especially if you are sitting at home and you don't have anything, um, uh, I hear that is lots of issues. With individuals, families. And, uh, you know, because they w w we have not experienced that before. So you can always connect with people online. You can connect with people on zoom, uh, Facebook, uh, mosques have a Facebook that you can connect to, um, and, and try to reach out.
Uh, I always say if you want to have friends, you need to be one.
Yeah, I agree. Yeah.
So, um, you have to reach out and you'll find out that, um, people will reach out for you.
Dr. Metwali Thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate it. And I hope you are okay. Faith and healthy with your family. And we'll look forward to speaking with you soon.
Thank you very much.
Thank you so much. Bye bye. Bye.
Shaping Narratives a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color is brought to you in partnership with the wk Kellogg Foundation, a partner with communities where children come first. Want to hear more Shaping Narratives episodes download and subscribe at WGVU dot org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe if you get a chance, it helps us to know you're listening. Shaping Narratives is produced by WGVU PBS and NPR in West Michigan through the facilities of the Meijer public broadcast center in the service of Grand Valley State University. Matt Gruppen processed all the audio, Joe Bielecki edits each episode, Vance Orr designed our graphics and manages our Web presence, Phil Lanes is our director of content. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the hosts and their guests and do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU or Grand Valley State University.