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It was your typical, slow, Monday morning and setting up had initially been tough. After an hour or two, more volunteers popped up and things began to pick up quickly! As the percolator bubbled with hot chocolate, people passing by began paying attention and the table was buzzing. Cups of hot chocolate were flying off the table to the point where we were giving out 80 cups of hot chocolate within a couple of hours. (That has to be a record of some sort!) Not only were people taking hot chocolate, they were also genuinely interested in learning about the AAW campaign. Many of them were inspired by the message of Imam Hussain (a.s) and were interested in learning more information. By the end of the day, we handed out well over 500 items including cups of hot chocolate, water bottles, flyers, pamphlets, and books.

Spreading the message of Imam Hussain (a.s) and his stand at Karbala was quite an interesting task to undertake for the volunteers. They came across various perspectives and kinds of conversation. For instance, one volunteer came across a fellow who thought we were supporting Saddam Hussein at first. This volunteer explained the mission of Imam Hussain to the only astonishment of the person holding the misconceptions. Another passer by had questioned us as to what sect of Islam we are from, to which one volunteer beautifully replied that it didn’t matter whether you were Shia, Sunni, Muslim, or even atheist to appreciate the mission of Imam Hussain (a.s). A Hindu person approached our table and was quite interested in the story of Imam Hussain (a.s) and Shi’ism as a belief set. The conversation that ensued with him went from Imam Hussain (a.s.), to all the Imams, questioning the concept of Imam Mahdi (a.s), and finally to the occultation of the Mahdi. This conversation lasted well over an hour and although it went quite off topic from the event we were holding it was a very informative discussion for both parties.

It was incredible to see people passing by and recognizing terms like “Hussain” and “Karbala” and showing their support. What was even more amazing was to see the people who knew nothing about Imam Hussain (a.s) or Ashura but still taking a genuine interest and listened to what we had to say. The fact that these people took time from their day to stand, talk with us and connected to our message was heartwarming. While grabbing a flyer, an elderly gentleman agreed with the stand Hussain took saying that more people needed to emulate that. There were many people who shared their own causes with us on the “I Stand For…” banner. Their causes were things that they were passionate about like women’s rights, lowering tuition costs, love, social justice, human rights, world peace, humanity, and plenty more. By the end of the day, the “I Stand For…” banner was almost full and proved to be a successful addition to AAW, brining in a more personal element to it all. This was the end of the day and the beginning of our week and all in all, we are excited to see what the rest of the week brings and Inshallah every day will be as exciting s the first!

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