Dar us Salaam Salafi? – The Goal is not Isolation

The second in a series of articles by the Washington Post on Muslims in America five years after 9/11.

The title of the article “For Conservative Muslims, Goal of Isolation a Challenge” is misleading. The Dar us Salaam community in College Park, Maryland is highlighted as a salafi community and “one of the most conservative in the Washington area”.

I have been involved with the Dar us Salaam community for around three years. I attend many religious and social functions in the community. Since community leaders declined to speak to reporters from the Washington Post, I feel a need to correct some of the errors and misperceptions published in the article.

Number 1: The goal of Dar us Salaam is to build a strong Muslim community based on the tenets of the Quran and Sunnah where Muslims can find the support and services they need to live, maintain, and nurture their Islamic faith to the fullest extent in a nonMuslim society.

One is able to buy halal food, purchase clothing tailored to Muslim religious guidelines, pay for the Eid al Adha sacrifice to be performed on their behalf, there is a preschool and K-8 school for children, there are institutes and classes for New Muslims on the basics of Islamic faith, learning Quran, Arabic, and English, and a full-time hifz school for the memorization of the Quran.

Number 2: The “Sisters Only” sign in the parking lot does not denote strict gender segregation although the prayer areas, restrooms, and classrooms are separated along gender lines. In the parking lot, a special section close to the building is designated for sisters yet brothers do also park there. And the rest of the parking areas are mixed gender.

Number 3: Since the Imam of Dar us Salaam Safi Khan declined to be interviewed the reporters relied exclusively on his recorded lectures. Published in the paper were a few sentences taken out of context of much longer lectures.

NonMuslims are “disbelievers” in Islam which while it may not be politically correct should not be a view soley ascribed to Safi Khan. Imam Johari AbdulMalik another prominent Muslim leader in the DC area uses the term “poofis” (which I also favor) to describe “people of other faiths”.

Imam Safi’s Eid khutbah this year focused onour responsibilty as Muslims to be the best of neighbors to both Muslims and nonMuslims. His message is one of tolerance and building bridges while not comprimising on Islamic values.

Check on the comments on koonj’s blog
If you disagree with Caryle Murphy’s article as I did you can send feedback through the WashPost’s Feedback Form.

Ms. Murphy discussed her article online on Thursday. I wish I had known about it because I would have tried to participate. You may need to register in order to view the conversation.

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Author: Ify Okoye

Muslim woman, RN, & rebel with a cause.

8 thoughts on “Dar us Salaam Salafi? – The Goal is not Isolation”

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

    To be honest, I thought Ms. Murphy’s observations/assertions about the Muslim communities in the DC metro area were pretty accurite for an outsider. The only two statements that I totally didn’t agree with were her assertions that Al-Timimi is Salafi and so is Safi Khan. What is wrong with the word “disbelivers?” This is what is says in Kitab Allah and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet Alaihi Salaam. Your prefered term “people of other faiths? What’s that about? Allah subhana huwa T’ala has made a judegment upon “people of other faiths” and so what do call the people of Lut or Faraun? Have a blessed ramadhan.
    Barak Allahu fiqi

  2. Wa salaam alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

    I find the umbrella term salafi unworkable. It lumps together many disparate groups which may have very little in common other than claiming to be following in the footsteps of the salaf which almost all Muslims claim. Even in the article, those masajid and figures labeled as salafi have views which very greatly. While some may have an isolationist tendency, others don’t. While some are conservative, others are liberal.

    Often, we see this term used interchangeably with wahabbi, terrorist, isolationist, backwards, women-hating, violent, fanaticism, fundamentalists, and everything else negative.

    Murphy used the example of the girls’ essays to try to show that Dar-us-Salaam is isolationist which is ridiculous because these same girls often are those who after the 8th grade attend public high school, finish in two years instead of four, and go on to earn college degrees. Is that isolationist?

    As well, Murphy used some highly selective quotes from lectures some of which I have listened to to paint the Imam of Dar us Salaam as an isolationist which is also ridiculous because his lectures taken as a whole demonstrate the reality that our community is trying to establish an environment which helps foster and maintain our Islamic values and identity in the American environment that we were born in or have chosen for ourselves. Is that isolationist?

    I prefer the term poofi to describe people of other faiths because it is an light and amusing umbrella term that does not have any negative connotations associated with it. Some of the other terms used to describe Muslims or non-Muslims carry additional baggage and immediately put the one being described on the defensive. So poofi is an attempt to bypass that defensive posture in a respectful manner to foster dialogue.

    Ramadan Mubarak

    (PS, the questions are rhetorical)

  3. as Salaam ‘alaykum

    I was browsing through your old posts and just wanted to say that the Shaykh, Safi Khan is the BOOOMB!!! I pray to Allah that he is doing well. May Allah restore his health. Do you know anything??

    jazakAllahu Khayran

  4. Asalamu alaykum,

    Alhamdulillah, Imam Safi does indeed rock. He’s very busy serving the community but amazingly he still finds time to give the occasional Friday khutbah and teaches a class on the pillars of Islam and the articles of Faith each Saturday at the masjid.

  5. Assalaamu Alaykum,

    My brother I was wondering do you happen to have the direct e-mail or mobile/ contact number of Shaykh Safi Khan at all?

    I am from the UK and a number of Islaamic orgs and Masjids here would love to have him visit us to do lectures here insha’allaah.

    If you do or know of somewhere I can obtain it please e-mail me back insha’allaah.

    I would appreciate all help you can provide.

    Jezak’allaah.

    Wa Alaykum wa Assalaam

  6. I remember when this story came out and the ensuing controversy lol. Just wanted to remark on the Number 2, “Sisters Only”, that doesn’t show segregation in any way, but merely shows the amount of respect that the brothers have for the sisters to let them park in the front for their convenience. I wonder if Caryle Murphy ever visited an IKEA before because they also have a ‘segregated’ area of parking in the front for mothers that are pregnant or have recently given birth. Nobody in their sane mind would regard that to be wrong, and in the same way, there is no problem if we give preference and respect towards our sisters in Islam.

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