“Our mission is to disrupt the narratives which say our elders are disposable or a burden, rather than what they are, which is carriers of our truth and protectors of our legacy,” proclaims Asha Noor, the coordinator of a new initiative which trains black Muslim youth to document their elderly community members legacies.
The founders of The Wisdom of the Elders Project says that the the coronavirus pandemic, which is taking a disproportionate deadly toll on African Americans, was very much in their minds when they started the program last month. Led by Kameelah Rashad of the Muslim Wellness Foundation and Margari Hill of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, the initiative brings together black Muslim activists, healthcare and social service providers, faith leaders, scholars and creatives to support vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
“In our communities, in black Muslim communities in particular, our elders are a treasure that we will not give up, not this way,” says Ms. Rashad. “With Allah’s help, we will do everything in (our) power to preserve their life and their safety … We want to talk about the strength and wisdom of our elders, and how we can harness, preserve and protect it.”
Zaheer Ali, a historian who works at the Pillars Fund, makes the pivotal point that “every time we are faced with a crisis and rupture, we run the risk of losing our continuity to the past. When an elder dies, it is as though an entire library has burned down.”