Running for the Hills: The Rocky Mountain Ummah




In May of 2011, Sister Jann McClary and her husband Tariq moved from the Washington DC metropolitan area to establish a new home in the mountains of Colorado,

(LEFT) Brother Tariq (right) and Basheer. Photo courtesy of the author.

building it from the ground up as part of their plan to become free of the spiritual and physical stress of modern urban life. Sister Jann is documenting her experiences for the Muslim Link. See her earlier installments at by searching for “Running for the Hills”. Make sure you select “Exact Phrase” in the search options. – TML

Do you know how incredibly you've been blessed with the Muslim community around you? Sisters and brothers in Lanham, Baltimore, Gaithersburg, College Park, Laurel, Capitol Heights, D.C., Fredericksburg, Germantown, and I haven't even started on the Northern Virginia crew. I mean, you've got Muslims all over the place! Alhamdullillah! And Allah subhaanah wa t'ala says in Surat ul An'am “There is not a moving (living) creature on Earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you...”

When my husband, Tariq, and I first moved here in 2011, along with the young brother who made the trip with us, we were the only Muslims within a 75-mile radius, or so we thought. Then, in our second year we came across a brother in the Walmart parking lot. Later that same year a brother from Jordan opened a small dollar store at the edge of town. Wow, five Muslims. Enough for two whole rows in salaat. Alas, two of the brothers moved away. Back down to three... (sigh).

2013 rolls around, and we're driving down Main Street one day and my husband goes, “Look! Is that a hijabi?!” There, to my amazement was a young sister in a stylish hijab. We pulled over and I stumbled out of the car in my haste to give her the greetings. I hurriedly explained that I was the only Muslimah in town and I was so happy to meet her and I hadn't seen another Muslimah in who-knows-how-long and I couldn't believe here she was just walking down Main Street and how long had she been in town and would she like to have lunch some time? And then I took a breath. She stared at me wide-eyed and I introduced myself. She laughed and told me her name was Du'ah. Well, of course, I thought: I made du'ah to Allah for a sister and Allah sends me a sister named Du'ah. How appropo! She was an attorney for the public defenders office, but was scheduled to be transferred to Denver (at the total opposite end of the state!) in one week. So we got together a couple of times for lunch and I had a sister for six days. Alhamdulillah. Hey, I'm not complaining because a ni'mah is a ni'mah, albeit short-lived, and I'm grateful for as many as I can get!

So, lo and behold, we're at the gas station earlier this year, and when Tariq comes out of the convenience store after paying for the gas, he tells me, all calm and everything, as if it's an everyday occurrence, “There's a Muslimah in there.” Well, this time I kept my composure and approached her sanely and with adaaab, and the manners my mama and Catholic high school etiquette class taught me. We exchanged salaams and I found out her name is Hadeel, and she and her husband, Majdi, are from Jordan and Palestine. We visit with them, pray with them, and eat with them, and they can both stir up a mean pot of bamia!

Now, as if things couldn't get any better, on October 1st of this year, we had two new shahadahs, Billie Jean and her son Kyle. They had been our neighbors down the road the first year we lived here, but then they moved into town. They, too, had wanted to homestead, but it hadn't worked out the way they'd planned. But we kept in touch with them, visiting every now and then and sharing Islam with them. Then, this summer they had come to visit us while we were working on the cabin. And they had questions about Islam. Intelligent questions. Thoughtful questions. Like there'd been some pondering going on behind our backs. So they went home that day, insha Allah, clearer about some things.

About two days later I'm in a friend's car coming home from town and Tariq had gone to Pueblo, a larger town about an hour away, with a neighbor. I get a cell phone call and it's Billie Jean. The conversation went something like this:

“We've been thinking, and we want to do Islam. How do we become Muslim?”, she calmly asks. “Wait! What?! You want to make shahadah?”, I stammered.

“What's sha-da-dah?”, she says, “We want to be Muslim. How do we do that?”

“Ok. Ok. Hold on, Listen. Don't go anywhere! Let me call Tariq 'cuz he needs to know this. I'll call you right back. Ok? Ok?” “Alright. I'll be here.” Subhanaanallah. Subhaanallah!

I quickly dialed Tariq. “As salaamu alaikum! You have to come home, like, now! Billie Jean and Kyle wanna make shahadah!” “Allahu akbar! You serious?! Ok, I'm finishing up here just now, and should be there in about an hour. Tell them we'll come to their house.”

So later that night we witnessed their shahadah and explained to them the five Pillars, the seven points of aqeedah, how to make wudu and how to make salaat. The next day when we went to check on them, Billie Jean had hooked up a scarf as best she could into a pretty decent hijab, and you could tell that Kyle hadn't shaved. They proudly informed us that they had chosen Abdia and Basheer as their new names. The noor beamed out of them like neon signs. We invited them to try homesteading again, this time on our property. Insha Allah, they intend to begin building their cabins in the spring.

This is what community, jamat, is all about, and to finally get some of it is like being told that your Vip-executive-premium-platinum-10 star-hajj package has been paid for anonymously, AND you're being given spending faloose, AND can you be ready to leave in four days?! There's so much barakaat in having other Muslims around. In a hadith found in Imam Malik's Muwatta it is mentioned that Abu Idris Al Khawlani (radiallahu anhu) entered the Damascus masjid and found Mu'adh Ibn Jabal (radiallahu anhu) praying. He waited until Mu'adh was finished, then greeted him and said, “By Allah, I love you for Allah.” Mu'adh said, “By Allah?” Abu Idris said, “By Allah.” Mu'adh said, “By Allah?” Abu Idris answered, “By Allah.” Mu'adh again asked, “By Allah?” And Abu Idris confirmed, “By Allah.” Mu'adh then took Abu Idris by the upper part of his cloak and pulled him to him and said, “Rejoice! I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa salam) say, “Allah the Blessed and Exalted said, “My love is obliged for those who love each other in Me, and those who sit with each other in Me, and those who visit each other in Me, and those who give each other generously in Me.”

Choppin' wood, haulin' water, buildin' cabins. Little Rocky Mountain ummah growin' strong.