Community News Vol 8 Iss 37

September 7, 2006 by  


Muslim immigrant paints the flag

YORK, PA–Mohammed Khan came to the United States from Bangladesh 25 years ago. He worked hard, clocking in as many as 15 hours a day in New York City restaurants. Through hard work and perseverance, he opened his own restaurant with the man he worked for. He later bought out his partner and is now the sole owner of the Majestic.

All of his three children were born in the U.S. and go to schools in the Dover Area School District. In a mark of appreciation for the opportunities that the US has offered for him, he is painting an 18 foot wide, 12 foot high American flag on the outside wall of his restaurant.

“It’s kinda neat that somebody originally from outside the country wants to do this,” neighbor Beth Lutz told the York Daily Record. “So many people born here take the flag for granted.”

A few people have not been so supportive. There have been some who, when passing by, have yelled from their cars, “It’s not your flag.”

But Khan, who became a U.S. citizen 10 years ago, looked up at his flag and said, “Yes, it is.”

NJ Muslims help feed the poor

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ— Morristown’s Muslim county is doing its part to help fight hunger by delivering cooked food to soup kitchens.

The Muslim communities of Somerville, Boonton and Piscataway on the third Thursdays of alternating months prepare an elaborate meal of chicken and rice for those in need, reports the Daily Record.

“I’m told the clients look forward to when the Muslims are coming, because they like the food,” said Ali Chaudry, an organizer of the Muslims Against Hunger Project.

With the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaching, the group will also work at the soup kitchen on Sunday as a way to remember and honor the victims and their families. Twenty-three members of the Muslim community, mostly youths, are signed up so far, Chaudry said. Chaudry, president of the Center for Understanding Islam in Bernardsville, said it’s important for Muslim-Americans to interact with the community, especially at a time when the actions of Islamic fundamentalists dominate the news.

“There is a backlash because people don’t understand that Islam doesn’t support violence or killing innocent people,”Chaudry said.

Applications Sought for Arab-American Leadership Training, Oct. 23-27, Dec. 4-8

The Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership is now welcoming applications for its next intensive, 5-day training seminars scheduled for Oct. 23-27 and Dec. 4-8, 2006, in Washington, DC. All applications for the Oct. 23-27 seminar should be received by Sept. 20.

There is no charge for the training sessions, which are held in Washington, DC, but participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation. The training will be led and coordinated by the Hala Foundation‘s Program Director, Dr. Hussein Ibish. Participants are asked to commit to attending the full five days of the program.

Applicants should be young Arab-American professionals who have completed their education and have already begun their professional careers, or those in the final stages of a Ph.D. program. They should have a demonstrable commitment to advocacy on behalf of Arab-American concerns, and a desire to devote substantial time and effort to leadership on behalf of the community.

Applicants should send a letter of interest explaining their desire to become community leaders or activists, a CV and a writing sample or any other relevant material to:

The Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation; 815 Connecticut Ave. NW; Suite 200; Washington, DC 20006; director@halafoundation.org with any questions.

Search for replacement of Arkansas’ lone Muslim prison chaplain

FAYETEVILLE, AR–The Arkansas’ Prison System is finding out how hard it is to replace the state’s lone Muslim prison chaplain who retired three months ago. Imam Agin Muhammad, 67, in his five years working for the system provided services to the state’s approximately 500 Muslim inmates.

Since Muhammad’s retirement, the department has advertised the position five times but without any success. It received just one application and that too from an unqualified applicant. The job pays $27,629 a year and requires formal education equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in counselling, religion, theology, or a related field plus one year of experience in chaplaincy services and denominational endorsement.

Until a qualified chaplain is found, the department is using taped sermons of Imam Muhammad and volunteers to fill in the gap. In the meantime, Imam Muhammad is working to build a half-way house for former inmates.

Purpose Prize for Dr. Akbar Ahmed

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Noted Scholar Dr. Akbar Ahmed, along with Dr. Judea Pearl, has been awarded the $100,000 Purpose Price for their outstanding work in promoting tolerance and understanding. The prize, which was begun this year, will celebrate and support five outstanding individuals 60 or older who are already producing significant social innovation and accomplishing work of great importance.

Pearl and Ahmed speak around the U.S. at colleges and other public forums, tackling such issues as how to encourage peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Ahmed, 63, said the award is a good counterbalance to the youth obsession of American secular culture.

“Muslim culture is somewhat different,” he said in a telephone interview. “The older you are, the wiser you are considered, the more status and more authority you have.”

From about 1,200 nominations, Purpose Prize judges selected 15 finalists. A separate jury headed by Sherry Lansing, the former head of Paramount Pictures, chose the five big winners. The John Templeton Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies funded the prizes.

Al-Iman becomes first Islamic school to enroll in “Reading First” Program

NEW YORK, NY–Al-Iman School, New York becomes the first North American Islamic High School to be accepted in the “Reading First” program, which is aimed at improving reading comprehension in the Elementary students. The No Child Left Behind Act signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002 established Reading First as a new, high-quality evidence-based program for the students of America.

Sr. Suraiya, who is the Reading First coordinator at Al-Iman School, said “The students coming to our school largely belong to immigrant families with English being their second language. This program will help us provide individualized attention to students at various levels of reading proficiency.”

“More importantly we will be able to build a strong reading Foundation in Grades K and 1.”

“If we want the children to read well, we must find a way to induce them to read lots,” she said.

She was leading a group of seven teachers attending a two-day introductory workshop sponsored by the Board of Education at Marriott, Brooklyn. The group included Sr. Asiya, Sr. Nilofer, Sr. Rehana, Sr. Maryam, Sr. Mubina and Brother Meesam.

The Reading First initiative builds on the findings of years of scientific research, which, at the request of Congress, were compiled by the National Reading Panel. It ensures that more children receive effective reading instruction in the early grades.

As part of the program, funds have been dedicated to help Al-Iman School students eliminate the reading deficit by establishing high-quality, comprehensive reading instruction in kindergarten through grade 3.

Building on a solid foundation of research, the program is designed to select, implement, and provide professional development for teachers using scientifically based reading programs, and to ensure accountability through ongoing, valid and reliable screening, diagnostic, and classroom-based assessment.

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