SE Michigan (V9-I32)

August 2, 2007 by  


IAGD Hosts Darul Hikmah Project: The Forgotten Traditions

By Adil James, MMNS

Rochester Hills—-July 27-29–Are young Muslims keeping their religion or not?

This is the underlying question for the Muslim community in America, and teaching young people about the virtues of Islam was the subtext for last weekend’s seminar at IAGD in Rochester Hills, The Forgotten Traditions, Reflecting Upon the Sunnah.

The Forgotten Traditions program was a well-attended seminar organized by Darul Hikmah in concert with motivated young people from the IAGD community–the event was attended by perhaps as many as 500 people, many of them adolescents or teens, and provided them with a series of motivational speeches on the importance of involvement with the surrounding community and the importance of adhering to the sunnah of Prophet (s) in developing good relations with the community.

Darul Hikmah was formed “in late 2006” by young Muslims in Chicago who, according to their website, “banded together to find ways to encourage the local Muslim youth population to engage themselves in healthy, educational and authentic Islamic activities.”

Adnan Faiz, one of Darul Hikmah’s founding members, explained that Darul Hikmah seeks to reach out to young people “through the language of the people, by choosing native speakers of English so as to maintain a better conversation with the youth.”

This focus on approaching native-speaking Americans through native-speaking teachers betrays the underlying fact that in fact this organization has been founded to serve mainly second generation immigrants to the US, and is in fact one of the first such groups to be organized and grow somewhat powerful even in the short time it has existed.

“In talks with many people from the community, including the imam of this mosque and many others,” said Mr. Faiz, “Darul Hikmah determines the areas in a specific community where there could be a lack, or room for improvement.

“Here in the Detroit area, the focus of the group was the treatment of women and building family values, family relationships, based on the life of Prophet (s) as a basic foundation.”

Mr. Faiz explained that the speakers chosen by Darul Hikmah are people well-versed in Islam, and emphasized its goal of building the community through proper understanding and knowledge.

Most of the participants in Darul Hikmah and the Forgotten Traditions program–audience and teachers–are of South Asian descent.

Ali Rana, one of IAGD’s members and a co-organizer of Forgotten Traditions, explained after the event that “I think it was a success, it was a great event for the whole family, with a really inviting atmosphere.” He thought that among the speakers at the event one speaker especially stood out.

“Imam Tahir Anwar was really interesting–he is also the Human Rights Commissioner of San Jose, and he explained how Muslims should stand up” and be a part of their community.

Indeed, Imam Anwar was the rock-star of the event–Anwar, an under-thirty second-generation Muslim whose parents are from Gujarat, held court in IAGD with young people hanging on his every word, bringing titters with small jokes, his audience showing the moment-by-moment enthrallment that comes from real admiration.

He explained to them the importance of getting involved in the community and talked about proactively engaging with the non-Muslims he meets through his work or on airplanes, emphasizing the importance of just “saying hi” to them, and talking about his experiences wearing traditional clothing in settings where such dress is anachronistic, like in the San Jose government buildings.

His rock-star status can be seen in his neat well-groomed presence–a black full beard that fills his hand, and his modernness can be seen in his new iphone and laptop customized with a picture of his car with vanity California license plate “The Imam.”

He says in private that “there is a lot of confusion–we live in a society, especially in the US, where we want Islam to adapt to us, and we don’t want to adapt to Islam. Sometimes we forget that Islam means submission.”

Imam Anwar argues that Islam’s being unfashionable in the US today is actually “bringing people to Islam,” and says “I can give many examples of this.”

One of the more attentive students at the IAGD event was Shafi Ahmed, a college senior from UM Dearborn who regularly attends various Muslim conferences like ISNA and ICNA, and who attended all three days of the Forgotten Traditions event. He said that “Masha`Allah it is a very good conference.”

“This conference gave practical steps–usually conferences just discuss problems but not solutions, but this one offered practical solutions.”

As a specific example he offered Imam Anwar’s descriptions of how to work with the community, getting involved with city government in San Jose.

He said that as a result of Forgotten Traditions and especially the inspiration from seeing Imam Anwar, “after this I am going to look into getting involved with my local government.”

IIK Girls’ Canoe Trip

By Adil James, MMNS

Dearborn–July 24–IIK’s teenage summer fun in the sun continued with a canoe trip this past Tuesday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

Khalida Beydoun, public relations director for the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, explained to TMO that as a part of her girls’ leadership religious instruction program she brought about 25 girls with her on a canoe trip.

The women and girls, including 5 chaperones, spent several hours paddling from Delhi Park in Ann Arbor on a route around Lake Huron–sometimes falling in, also enjoying a group barbecue and praying together. The trip cost $35 per person including the bus, food, and renting canoes; most of the canoes fit either two or three girls each. Sunburned, tired, many of them drenched in Lake Huron, the girls were also extremely happy and thankful to Hajja Khalida because of the trip.

They went on a Tuesday to avoid crowds, so if they needed to they could remove their hijabs. “Alhamdulillah, we were the only group renting canoes,” said Hajja Khalida.

“It was unique,” said Hajja Khalida. “Quite adventurous but it was very good. We had 31 people altogether on the trip, including 5 chaperones, and it was a beautiful day although they said there would be showers all day.”

“We prayed dhohr and asr, had some snacks, and then went paddling to the other side of the lake, on a 1.5 hour trip. We wore life jackets–we had initially gotten an hour and a half canoe ride–the water was only 3 feet to 8 feet deep. All the chaperones were very good swimmers, and most of the girls are swimmers too.”

One girl said of the trip, “This is the best field trip I’ve had in my entire life,” mainly she said because she saw her teacher flip into the water! Unfortunately Hajja Beydoun was one of the first to fall into the water, despite having warned the girls against tipping over.

They passed under three bridges, seeing tadpoles, dragonflies, and guppies. They had to navigate running water, and kept getting grounded in shallow spots. After they returned the canoes, washed up in restrooms and changed clothes, they barbecued hamburgers, salad, chips, hummous, fruits and vegetables, watermelon, and enjoyed a watermelon eating contest–they also played around in a little swimming hole, splashing around.

The IIK plans another event for August 12, a girls’ only swimming trip to Ford Civic Center. This trip is limited to girls’ program participants.

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