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Our Commitment in Action

CONVERT SUPPORT

Offering support to the new Muslim community is the primary reason for the existence of Ojala foundation. Ojala Foundation pioneered catering to the Latino Muslims across Illinois and recognizing the need to create spaces where our brothers and sisters can congregate and belong. We hold yearly Eid celebrations and iftar gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan, and we hold classes and lectures, diligently selecting topics relevant to the convert community. To all of these events, we encourage members to invite their families, whether muslim or non-muslim, recognizing that most converts may not be surrounded by people of the same faith. Many times, close relatives of new Muslims are challenged with understanding why someone has accepted a faith that may seem foreign. Convert care extends further than merely imparting new information of Islam, but in support of a new lifestyle and helping those around converts to find ways to support them. Our hope is that others can learn about our faith and hold open conversations where their questions are answered. All of this and more is offered to provide support and a resource for spiritual growth through education for our community.

MEDIA RELATIONS

Ojala Foundation is currently the only organization in the Chicagoland area giving voice to the Latino Muslim Community. Our efforts are to represent the Muslim faith with integrity, honesty, and conviction, giving a genuine glimpse into Islam in action. Members are encouraged to speak openly about their experiences, in the hopes that viewers might resonate with our message while also lending visibility to an ethnic minority in Islam.

Some of the places we have been featured Include: Univision, Telemundo, Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago History Museum, Mas/ICNA conventions, Islamic Horizon, Radio Islam, and other media outlets like WTTW, where you can find our feature story about our volunteer initiative, Neighborly Deeds.

NEIGHBORLY DEED INITIATIVE

Neighborly Deeds is our response to the rapidly rising homeless population in Chicago. Without fail, every Friday we distribute warm meals and compassion to those in need. Ojala Foundation members and volunteers’ team up to package home-cooked meals and other essentials like blankets, clothes, and hygiene products to distribute to our less fortunate neighbors. The pandemic had not stopped this effort, and even now the initiative grows stronger. This is a life-changing experience that we have committed to undertake, every week no matter the weather hot, cold, rain, or pandemic. Often, the funds, food, and clothes come from our own members and through generous donations from kind souls in the community. We rise above our own selves, dedicating a night a week to give out what Allah has already blessed us with. Alhamdulilah, we are here to serve.

AN INVITATION TO THINK: DAWAH

Dawah: A call towards Allah (swt)

Many reverts are extremely grateful to the individual who allowed us to reflect on the concept of God, to initiate our thought process on what it means to be Muslim. This is our method to pay it forward. Ojala Foundation sets up shop at various locations across Chicago to invite people to learn about Islam and Muslims and welcome them to reflect on their own connection with the creator. Literature and material are distributed free of charge, extending to any individual who requests material through mail or virtual resources. Dawah is the responsibility of every Muslim and an honor to fulfill. Our efforts continue to reach people who might have never considered Islam. We are proof that it can be, that the journey might be difficult but that it is fruitful and possible. The journey has been taken by every member, whether born Muslim or found through other’s efforts of dawah. Through dialogue and education, we hope to bring a better understanding of our faith and build a stronger relationship with the diverse community in Chicago.

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

We recognize that the youth is where it’s at. Living in a time where so many young people are looking to represent their faith and identities, we grant space and empower them to lead and build skills necessary for future employment and educational development. Ojala Foundation has joined efforts with various youth and youth organizations, such as ICCI Masjid, to enhance their experience. We entrust the youth to assume leadership roles at various events through the year and provide opportunities to gain event organization skills. Particularly, when it comes to our Eid celebrations, potlucks, and lectures. Weekly classes are led by a young student of knowledge, and designated space for our Muslim youth to present relevant topics. Young Muslims are critical, representing the next generation of Islam’s leaders.

COLLABORATION

Collaboration is important amongst Islamic and other nonprofit organizations, allowing for partnership and support to flourish between communities and developing a better understanding of one another. We have collaborated with various Islamic organizations, such as Islamic Foundation School, Mecca Center, ICCI, and Pious Projects to name a few to hold classes, lectures, Jumah khutbah’s, potlucks, dawah events, and other activities. Ojala Foundation had held a weekend track at the MAS/ICNA convention in the Spanish language for over a decade, and we have also collaborated with the Chicago Mayor’s Office and The Muslim Civic Coalition to strengthen our bonds politically and establish visibility in more than just Muslim spaces. Our goal is to build and fortify our presence, allowing our Islamic organizations to recognize the importance and needs of the growing convert community.

BACK TO SCHOOL DRIVE

Once a year since 2022, we have hosted a Back to School Drive focused on helping Chicago youth with their educational needs. We gather donations from our network, like MCC and ICNA Relief, and members to put together backpacks and necessary school supplies for the upcoming school year. We are focused on bolstering the greater Chicago community, and our efforts would not be complete without supporting the youngest and brightest, regardless of background or faith. Each child deserves a supported education, as they stand to inherit the greatness and complexity that is the city of Chicago.

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