Over the course of the last few months of my Watson Year, I began to think of what I could bring home with me. Having grown up in the Boston area for most of my life, I had the privilege of participating in my community. As a high school student, I often facilitated interfaith dialogues in my hometown, which is what Rabbi Mezler calls a living laboratory of pluralism. However, organ donation was something we didn’t talk about it. At least not in our Muslim community.
With the help of Maham Zia, who planned and moderated the event, and the support of Imam Abdurrahman Ahmad and other members of the ICNE board and community, we were able to lead the first and lively dialogue at the Islamic Center of New England (ICNE) in Sharon, MA on Saturday, August 25th. The previous night, at the Friday Halaqa or Community Dinner, we presented a shorter version to pique people’s interest. Expecting my family only to show up, I was surprised to see around 50 community members at the Saturday event, which included about 45 minutes of presentation, followed by a 1 hour Q&A (for which two intensivists joined to answer medically-related questions) that seemed too short for the number of questions asked.
Many people approached us afterwards and mentioned how they had been undecided or hesitant to be organ donors. They had left the box unchecked when renewing licenses or deferred the question until later. I felt happy that we could share something useful with our community. It’s worth mentioning that the intention was not to convince people to be organ donors, but feel informed about their decision to say yes or no and to be motivated to have a conversation with their family, friends, and neighbors.
InshAllah, in the future, I look forward to our community engaging more with bioethics topics. You can watch the speaking portion below. The Q&A was not recorded so that attendees could feel comfortable asking their questions.
I am indebted to Imam Ahmad, Maham Zia, the ICNE-Sharon community, attendees and the people who helped me learn about organ donation during my Watson (a very long list)! JazakhAllah khairun.