I wrestled my way through the flickering lights and sounds of the coins cashing, virtual black jack dealer ladies, and faces from all over the world, gleaming with anticipation of every die roll and turn of a card changing their lives by winning them huge amounts of money. One face, however, was quite different. Through the poker tables, I saw my team standing with a man with a skull cap on his head, a subtle smile on his face and gaze lowered towards the ground in humility – this was one of Las Vegas’ most remarkable Imams, Imam Fateen Seifullah, standing in the lobby of the Sahara Casino to greet and welcome us to his city.
The day before, I received a phone call from the Imam inviting my team and I for bowling. As soon as I hung up the phone, I knew I was going to have a new favorite Imam. We had the privilege of visiting Imam’s mosque, which happened to be the oldest mosque in the city. The mosque was located right next to a Church in the middle of city. We were welcomed in the mosque by several people, including his wife and other sisters. I fell in love with that community instantly. What impressed me the most was that Imam and his wife, literally, embraced people from all walks of life, from the streets, Muslim or non-Muslim, with equal love and respect. I felt so much peace at this mosque. It felt like home. Imam’s wife and other sisters so quickly became my family. From talking about shoes and best shopping areas to joking around about setting me up for marriage, these sisters not only refreshed me from a long exhausting schedule but also reminded me of how Muslim communities should be like. Imam’s wife wasn’t like this only to Muslim women, she talked in the exact same way to non-Muslims as well, especially members of the neighboring Church.
Imam Fateen’s mosque and the Muslim community in Las Vegas really inspired me. It was so intriguing to find this much love, care, and compassion, the main tenets of my religion, followed so effectively in a Muslim community that has been residing in a city known for sin.