Eid prayers are the highlight of Mariya and Dhuha Karaghool’s day because they get to dress up and meet new people.
“It’s basically like Coachella, but like modest Coachella,” Mariya said in reference to the popular spring arts and music festival held in California’s Colorado Desert. The sisters moved here from Baghdad with their family five years ago.
Although prayers were scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Sunday, people continued filing into a banquet room at the Holiday Inn Executive Center 20 minutes later. They needed the large banquet hall because the Islamic Center of Central Missouri is the only mosque in Columbia. Muslims of all nationalities were found greeting, hugging and wishing each other “Eid Mubarak,” or “Blessed Eid.”
“I think at one point we counted about 45 nationalities,” Shakir Hamoodi said of the diversity in the community.
Hamoodi himself moved to Columbia from Iraq in 1985, a newlywed at the time who was pursuing a doctorate in nuclear engineering at MU. His five children were born and raised here, and now he considers himself a Missourian. He serves the Muslim community by managing outreach at the Islamic Center and leading the prayers.
“I love this town,” he said. “I really love this town.”
Women at the back of the hall and men at the front placed prayer rugs on the floor or spread out white sheets. Hamoodi told the gathering to fill the gaps, as the men and women formed rows and prepared to pray. The prayers began, and everyone fell silent, except for the crying children who didn’t quite understand what was happening. A toddler in a white shirt and suspenders clutched his mother’s yellow shirt while she prayed. She steadied him with one hand while going through her movements with the other.
A few members of the crowd left at the conclusion of the prayers, but most stayed for Hamoodi’s sermon, which revolved around the topic of “Labaik,” or, as he describes it, “Allah, we are answering your call.”
Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, which begins in the middle of Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The festival honors Prophet Abraham’s submission to God’s word when he was commanded to sacrifice one of his sons, although God eventually allowed him to sacrifice a lamb instead.
In remembrance, Muslims also sacrifice either a goat, cow, sheep or camel on Eid al-Adha and distribute the meat among their immediate family, relatives, friends and the needy. As the sermon ended, people mingled with friends throughout the hall.
Muna Sherif came all the way from Kansas City but used to live in Columbia and taught mathematics at Hickman High School. She has family and friends here and looks forward to the morning prayer. She doesn’t concern herself with the sacrifice, though, letting her husband manage it. Back home in Philadelphia, where her parents live, they used to go to a farm, buy a goat and carry out the sacrifice. Here, her Eid revolves around her 7-year-old daughter.
“The whole day is basically whatever she wants to do,” Sherif says.
Amna Faisal, 29, has been in Columbia for over two years with her husband and a baby boy. She originally came from Faisalabad, Pakistan. She likes the Islamic Center’s arrangements, but on Eid, “I always, always, always miss my family, my in-laws.” Faisal’s Eid is mostly spent talking on Skype with everyone back home.
Alp Kahveci and Salah Daghlas said Eid is usually a day to relax with family. They’ve always lived in Columbia, and people visit on Eid from out of state.
“It’s a nice way to catch up with your friends again,” Kahveci says.
The Muslim men have been here since 7:30 a.m., their five cars parked around the scattered buildings of the Amish farm near Sturgeon in northern Boone County. Horses peek out from their stables at strangers, while their tails swat at flies. Meanwhile, the Amish are having breakfast inside, the men are passing around cookies, apples and bananas outside, cracking jokes in Urdu and Punjabi.
Some of the men are relatives. Afzal Choudhry is lounging on a chair, his white hair sticking to his forehead because of the heat. He’s there with his son, Arif Choudhry, and three other family members. There are his two brothers, Akhtar Choudhry and Akram Choudhry, and Akram’s son, Amir Choudhry.
Enjoying his life of retirement, Afzal Choudhry has lived in Columbia since 2004 but regularly visits his hometown of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Amir Choudhry, his nephew, walks around in beige pants stained with the blood of their sacrificed goat, already hanging upside down inside the slaughterhouse.
There are two rooms inside. One has sinks for washing and cleaning and a machine for cutting the meat, and the other has hooks and pulleys, with carcasses hanging from the ceiling. A few goats, with their throats slit, lie on the ground. Outside the slaughterhouse, a red bucket and a black one are overflowing with the animal parts that nobody wants — intestines, hooves, fur and the like.
Which part of the animal you take home depends on what country you’re from, because everyone has their own food preferences, Vakil Ahmad said. He’s 38 and from Chiniot, Pakistan, but he’s been in Columbia for the past five years.
Ahmad is completing a postdoctorate in biological sciences at MU. Every year he comes to the Amish farm for the sacrifice. Afterward, he gives the meat to the Islamic Center, which asks people to donate some of their meat every Eid al-Adha. This meat is then cooked into meals, which are delivered to prisons as community service. The Choudhrys will also give meat to the Islamic Center.
Usually, the men visit the Amish about a week before Eid al-Adha and pick their animals. This year, the goats and sheep cost between $150 and $200, depending on their size and age. The men said the farm on Monday was booked through 6 p.m.
Around 9 a.m., an Amish farmer and his son were in the room with the carcasses holding down a brown goat as Suhail Khan, another Pakistani customer, ran a knife over its neck, in accordance with the Halal way. It requires not only that animals be killed with a knife to the throat but also that God is praised while the sacrifice is made.
In the other room, Afzal Choudhry and his son, Arif Choudhry, are trimming meat. The Amish help them with preliminary butchering and load the meat into blue shopping bags. Father and son then carry the bags to their car, where they put them into cartons and drive away.
Kahveci said he and his family used to sacrifice with the Amish, but now they donate money to organizations that do it on their behalf.
Fatten Elkomy came to the United States from Egypt in 1983 and also takes care of her sacrifice online. She feels Columbia is blessed, and she’d rather her meat go to more disadvantaged communities. She said it’s difficult to visit the slaughterhouse and manage the sacrifice all by herself.
Rashed Nizam, an opthalmologist from Bangladesh, moved to Columbia in 1997. For him, Eid is an opportunity to get together and worship God. The manner of the sacrifice depends on each family, he said. He knows of 21 families who are sacrificing three cows. Each cow will be shared seven ways.
Dina Hossain grew up in Texas and moved to Columbia in 2008. Last year, her family did the sacrifice with the Amish, but this year they’re donating meat to the Rohingya refugees through a friend.
“So we basically spend the whole day eating. We go from house to house to house,” she said.
The festival of Eid al-Adha will carry on until sunset Wednesday, as the Muslims of Columbia meet up with family and friends for dinner, take their children to the park, sacrifice animals in the name of God and distribute meat to the needy.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.
Tom Hiles helped raise more than $1 billion as vice chancellor for advancement for University of Missouri. But as he prepares to retire in the coming year, he is focusing on his program’s impact rather than a dollar amount.
“One of the big ones for me that’s so meaningful is just seeing millions of dollars of scholarship raised to supporst our amazing students,” Hiles said. “That probably is No. 1 on my list in terms of where I see impact, because I get to see ... these great young people coming on this campus to further their lives and careers, and scholarships make just such a huge difference.”
Hiles, 60, spearheaded the “Mizzou: Our Time to Lead” campaign with University Advancement. Since its launch in 2012, the universitywide campaign has raised over $1 billion of its $1.3 billion goal and aided MU in supporting students and faculty. He announced he will retire on June 30, 2020, after the campaign’s conclusion, in a press release Monday morning. He held the position for seven years.
“Mizzou: Our Time to Lead” works to support the university in remaining among the nation’s leading public schools through fundraising. The campaign’s case statement cites four key focuses: strong endowment, signature centers and institutions, campus facilities and student success.
Monday’s press release included several accomplishments Hiles has reached with University Advancement, such as four new signature centers and institutes, a 34% increase in the MU endowment since 2014, more than $35.2 million raised on Mizzou Giving Days, and 131 gifts of $1 million or more.
The Office of the Chancellor reported that Hiles’ Advancement team helped raise over $200 million during the 2018-19 school year.
Hiles, who has worked in fundraising for 34 years, believes that his success at MU can be attributed to both his team and the university’s alumni.
“I’ve been at six different universities, and I will put up this group of alumni at Mizzou against anyone in the country,” he said.
Chancellor Alexander Cartwright praised Hiles for his dedication to MU in a letter addressed to the community on Monday morning. He will initiate a nationwide search for a replacement within the next academic year.
During his retirement, Hiles plans on taking a six-month break in order to spend time with family and friends. He hopes to use this time to play golf and search for new ways he can help the community through volunteer work.
Caleb Rainey was 11 years old when he drew his first conclusion about poetry.
“I think poetry is the most boring thing to write, but poetry is not all that bad to read,” Rainey scrawled in his notebook. “I also think when I’m older, most likely, I will write poetry.”
Rainey, now 24, reads the words with a grin, shakes his head in disbelief and admits that he never thought he’d be a poet.
Three months ago, he self-published his first book, “Look, Black Boy.” Its pages are full of poems about growing up black in the Midwest and directly address white America. Rhythmic lines weave together stories of Rainey’s identity, one that did not always feel comfortable.
Growing up in Columbia with a white mother, a black father and among peers who called him “the whitest black person,” Rainey often contemplated his own blackness. Later, settled into the University of Iowa, he felt alienated for being “too black.”
Those experiences over time culminated in the identity that he has given himself — “The Negro Artist.” Rainey read from his book of poems Aug. 3 at Skylark Bookshop on Ninth Street.
Rainey’s mother, Joanne, recalled many nights at the dinner table, unpacking what race meant with her two sons, daughter and husband.
“Race has been a topic of discussion since Day One of his life,” she said. “We talked about it consistently.”
She encouraged her children to speak their experience to educate people around them. But she watched as her son’s frustration grew.
For Rainey, it appeared the more he achieved in school, the less he looked like his peers and the more criticism he faced from teachers.
“A lot of the time, the teachers would say, ‘Do you really think that you should be in here? Do you think you have what it takes?’” his mother said.
He remembers the time a teacher called him dumb.
“I had teachers who didn’t like me because I was being rambunctious, and that was fair,” Rainey said. “And then I had teachers that just didn’t like me for some reason that I couldn’t put my finger on.”
Rainey’s later poems are structured around examples of what he called a “blatant misuse of power in the education system.” But those weren’t the experiences he took to the stage at Hickman High School’s poetry slam during the fall of his junior year.
He’d already begun writing poetry but was drawn to the stage because of a girl he liked.
“I wrote a lot about my identity, but not my black identity,” Rainey said. “I was a teenage boy. I was talking more about romance.”
But his goal quickly changed from impressing a crush to being heard. He rarely felt listened to, he said, unless he was causing a scene. But on the stage, behind a microphone, people had no choice but to listen.
Brett Kirkpatrick, Rainey’s senior year African American literature teacher, was one of those who listened. He remembers Rainey having a certain swagger, and he was impressed by his ability to deliver fully memorized poems.
“When I remember his work, he was interested in mining his identity,” Kirkpatrick said. “Yet, he was comfortable.”
Kirkpatrick, a white man teaching a class about the black experience, addressed his white privilege and fostered discussion among his students, Rainey said. In class, Kirkpatrick, who Rainey calls “KP,” taught differently from the rest of his teachers.
Once, he handed out a quiz that asked students about their racial identity. Then they were asked to compare answers. Rainey turned to his friend Jared, who is also biracial, and began talking.
One question asked the students to rate on a one-to-10 scale how often they thought about race. Rainey had circled a nine. Jared, however, shrugged and said he leaned toward a three or four.
Rainey admitted being shocked to learn that Jared’s answers didn’t align with his own.
“That required me to think a lot about my own relationship with race,” Rainey said. “And it really planted the seed that’s been growing and been intentionally nurtured, which is to learn that the black experience is not one single experience.”
Kirkpatrick and Rainey sometimes butted heads, but the teacher said he liked the challenge.
“You don’t have to think what I think; you just have to think,” he said.
Shortly after Rainey moved to Iowa to pursue training in creative nonfiction, he continued to share his work with Kirkpatrick, though it was never for critique. Kirkpatrick said Rainey instead sent the work because he was proud of it.
Rainey was introduced to the University of Iowa, home of the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in the summer between his junior and senior years. He’d been accepted into the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, a two-week intensive program that allowed his creativity to flourish.
He knew he wanted to return to the university for its prestigious writing programs. Once settled, the focus of his work changed. For a while, he felt so black in Iowa — in contrast to Columbia, where he’d always been “the whitest black guy” — that he couldn’t write about anything but race.
“It was a culture shock almost to think like, ‘Well, now I am too black and all alone,’” he recalled.
When Rainey and his friend submitted their work to two of the campus literary magazines, neither were accepted.
“Our stuff wasn’t terribly worse, and theirs wasn’t terribly better,” Rainey said. “That made it so confusing to us, but both of our work centered around black things.”
In a predominantly white student body, the two saw a crucial need for the publication of black perspectives.
Together they launched a black literary magazine called “Black Art; Real Stories,” which continued to thrive even after the two graduated.
“We wanted to do more than just have a publication. We wanted to try to create a black writers’ community,” Rainey said.
They hired editors, hosted workshops and events, social gatherings and poetry slams. The literary magazine sparked a new type of rebellion in Rainey.
It was his way of beginning to leverage his power by intertwining his poetic talent and black experience. He’s since shared that experience with college, high school, middle school and elementary students, teaching and helping them workshop their own writing.
It was also during his junior year that he made a serious commitment to performing on stage as “The Negro Artist.” The name came from a 1926 Langston Hughes essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.”
“Langston Hughes says: ‘You’re a Negro artist, and you will always be a Negro artist. Accept it,’” Rainey summarized. “There’s beauty in that it gives you access to a whole different perspective in life and culture that other artists don’t get. Appreciate that rather than be mad that you’re not like the others.”
Rainey graduated from the university in 2017, and two years later he was agonizing over the decision to publish his collection of poems. He spent two months making panicked phone calls to friends before he published, ultimately deciding he could not wait.
Now, comfortable calling himself a poet and identifying as “The Negro Artist,” Rainey experienced a different kind of reception when he stood atop the wooden stairs Aug. 3 at Skylark.
He greeted the room full of friends and family with hugs and handshakes. It felt like a graduation celebration, he said.
“It was the idea of coming home or having reached a certain point in life in which people want to recognize you,” Rainey said. “And that was really almost profound to me — to think all these people that know me want to experience this moment with me.”
Rainey read eight poems, his words punctuating the space and rippling through the crowd, which responded with snapping fingers and emphatic “Mm-hmms.”
Mahogany Thomas, a classmate from high school who had heard Rainey’s earlier work, said his new level of boldness and sense of authenticity was exciting to see.
As a black woman, she said all of Rainey’s poems spoke to her, particularly his school experiences, which she said were similar to her own.
“I was able to make connections as a black body in white America,” Thomas said. “The work compiles us to not only notice black and brown bodies but to cherish them.”
His work speaks to the world prophetically, she said, and what the future will look like if people don’t wake up and notice people on the margins.
One young boy perched on a staircase during Rainey’s Skylark reading called out a question, his high voice carrying across the bookshop: “What inspired you to make this book?”
Rainey’s eyes pooled with tears but he didn’t water down his message to the curious 9-year-old, Isaiah Smith.
“These were experiences that I needed to unpack that I was carrying with me,” Rainey responded. “To know what we’re angry about, why we’re angry and where that anger should be directed, all of that matters a whole lot.”
For his wider audience, Rainey’s book aims to enlighten readers and listeners who believe that racial tension in America is “not that bad.”
“It’s for those people who are leaning far away, but they’re not completely away from the truth,” Rainey explained. “They haven’t turned their backs from it. Those are the people who might turn around.”