SE Michigan Community News–week ending 6/7/06

June 8, 2006 by  


By Adil James

Money Management Seminar at the Detroit Muslim Unity Center

Detroit—June 3—The Detroit Unity Center sponsored a very informative series of talks this past Saturday on the subject of money management.

The room for the event was completely packed, with about 30 people sitting rivetted to their speakers’ every word on the subject of how to save, build wealth, and spend wisely.

Speaking were three representatives of Charter One Bank, who spoke about home ownership, the importance of a credit score, credit repair, and the importance of saving.

The Charter One Bank (COB) representatives spoke about COB’s “My House” credit education & counseling program for homeownership, which provides applicants with credit deficiencies with a plan to potentially qualify them for a mortgate loan.

They recommended sending an explanatory letter with credit applications in order to provide a life story that might, they said, be the difference between accepting and denying your loan.

They also explained that most people have a 600 credit score. They recommended having at least one credit card for special needs like renting a car and for establishing credit, but not for impulse use. They explained the importance of resolving credit issues, even by partial payments and settlements. They said that purchasing a home is the best investment, sheltering against depreciation. They emphasized, again and again, the importance of saving, in part as shelter against a volatile—even for Americans with the best possible employment situation—job market. They recommended avoiding selling a home via “For Sale By Owner,” and recommended against buying a first-time home that is not ready to move into immediately.

They also spoke about the IDA program, intended for people 200% below the poverty line, which provides a way to match savings for investment in housing and small businesses.
The COB representatives spoke at length about spending plans, identifying financial goals, identifying income, tracking spending, evaluating income against spending, setting savings goals, making a spending plan, following through, and gave useful tips for managing money like: buying “things you need” (food, clothing, shelter) instead of “things you want,” looking for sales before making purchases, eating at home and taking lunch to work, avoiding check-cashing stores, pawnshops, and rent-to-own stores (which charge high fees and interest rates), using direct deposit to avoid temptation, labelling envelopes with weekly expenses and putting only spendable cash in each envelope (when the money runs out, you are done until your next paycheck), freezing ATM and credit cards in a container of water—giving you time to think before making a purchase.

They also gave a Monthly Spending Planner and Daily Expense Sheet for keeping track of money.

This was a wonderful program, once again intended to help the flock and environs of the Detroit Muslim Unity Center. The only problem with the event was that there was not enough space for all the people who wanted to come.

Interfaith Conference in Dearborn Heights

Dearborn Heights—June 3—The city council of Dearborn Heights, in association with the Islamic House of Wisdom, promoted an event this Saturday at the Riverside Middle School Auditorium in Dearborn Heights.

About 40 people attended the conference, a disappointing result for the organizers who had hoped to fill the Riverside auditorium with its capacity of more than 1,000. The organizers blamed insufficient advertising for the poor turnout—in fact they said the event had only been advertised by word of mouth and via the Islamic House of Wisdom’s email announcements.

They intend next year to do a more successful repeat of the conference, with more complete advertising.

Those who attended were mainly Muslims, with about 10 non-Muslims.

The format for the event was a few brief words of introduction by several different speakers, followed by a lengthy question and answer session. This format was not entirely appropriate because it led to sometimes very antagonistic questions being levelled across religious lines, and forced all of the speakers a little bit off-balance, confronted sometimes with prejudices and ignorance, for example one questioner asked too-pointed questions regarding biblical injunctions for women to cover their hair of the Christian minister. Obviously the Christian minister cannot personally be blamed for a thousand years of tradition in his community.

The speakers were Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Professor Khan of Wayne State University and a Christian minister, Reverend Allen Bendert.

Imam Elahi spoke eloquently on the importance of prayer for Muslims, referring to the hadith of bathing 5 times per day and the effect of such bathing on one’s cleanliness. He said of prayer that it is the life of Muslims. He said that the prayer of Muslims washes away the “dust” of different bad characteristics like arrogance, selfishness and greed. Prayer, he said, leaves a person in humbleness, feeling an association to the entire human family, and in harmony with God’s creation.

In responding to questions regarding the difference between Islam and Christianity, Imam Elahi explained that Muslims must balance faith with good works—he explained that although Christians focus on internal aspects, faith, Muslims must complement faith with action, which together complete one another. Faith, he said, is “a promise” to do good. Faith and good works, he concluded, also can go nowhere without the responding grace of God. Again, he emphasized combining faith, good deeds, and hope for forgiveness.

One questionner asked about specific biblical verses in the epistles Corinthians and Timothy which prescribe women’s covering their hair. The reverend responded that that was for a past time when women with uncovered hair were presumed to be prostitutes—now [Western] culture does not look down on women who fail to cover their hair, he said, so it is no longer necessary to cover.

The reverend also supported the canonical gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, arguing that all were written by companions of Jesus (as) within 225 years of his ascent. In fact, many scholars argue that the linguistic evidence of these gospels indicates that Mark was the earliest-written of the gospels incorporated into the Bible, and that it was written about 300 years after Jesus (as), while the other books came after that. He did not discuss what is accepted by the majority of Muslims to be the lone true gospel of Jesus (as), that written by the companion Barnabus.

Responding to a question about jihad, Imam Elahi argued that jihad is a struggle for goodness, an overarching theme whose primary component is internal rather than the external form of jihad by battle. External jihad also, he explained, includes many other practices besides fighting—even the conference itself, he said, was a form of jihad.

He said that Prophet (s) never initiated a war—all of the fighting he did was in self defense. He also explained that in fact all of the people killed in the early years of Islam, all together, were only a very few thousands—war at that time was not fought on the same scale as it is today. He also pointed out Prophet’s (s) injunctions regarding preserving women, children, and even trees from harm by Muslim armies.

Imam Elahi said that, yes, other Muslims after the initial time of Islam have attacked and done other bad acts in the name of Islam (just as adherents of other faiths) have done crimes in the name of Islam, but this is not the original message of Islam.

While few attended this event, it was nevertheless a success as the launching point for the attempts by Hamid Soueidam, the Chair of the Dearborn Heights Youth Association (which works as an appendage of the Dearborn Heights City Council), to promote interreligious dialog, debate, and exchange.

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