Community News, Vol. 8 Iss. 41

October 5, 2006 by  


Worcester Muslims help the local needy

WORCESTER, MA–In the holy month of Ramadan, Worcester Muslims are helping charitable causes locally. At the start of Ramadan they raised $35,000 for the Muslim Community Support Service (MCSS). The MCSS helps people from all around New England who desperately need financial assistance.

Rasha Boura, a member of the center’s Social Service Committee and secretary at the MCSS, told the Telegram that the money raised will be used to help people pay debts such as utility bills or funeral arrangements for a family member. The service also provides doctors who offer free medical consultations to the poor.

“We (the MCSS) are a group of Muslim individuals who volunteer our time and efforts to help improve the lives of the less fortunate,” said Ms. Boura, a real estate agent who lives in Northboro.

The Sept. 23 event drew about 500 people, and many Worcester-area Muslims are expected to take part in the Humanitarian Day for the Homeless, which will be held Oct. 14 at the Tobin Community Center on Tremont Street in Boston.

The event, sponsored by Islamic Relief, will benefit about 2,000 homeless people living in shelters in Greater Boston (and will have parallel sessions in other cities as well).

Money raised will provide winter clothing, hygiene packs, hot meals, sleeping bags, medical checks, toys and school supplies.

Minn. radio station apologizes for offensive satire

MINNEAPOLIS, MN– KDWB radio station has apologized for airing a comedy skit called Muslim Jeopardy. The skit included an announcer using a fake South Asia accent to introduce categories such as “infamous infidels” and “potent portables.” The skit also included a threat to behead a female host when she got an answer wrong.

The station’s Web site contained a short apology today. It says: “K-D-W-B does not condone making light of Islam and Muslims. We regret that listeners found the Muslim Jeopardy comedy skit of one of our on-air hosts to be insensitive.”

Supreme Court rejects call to stop class in Muslim culture

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The U.S.Supreme Court rejected an appeal from evangelical Christian students and their parents who said a Contra Costa County school district engaged in unconstitutional indoctrination when it taught students about

Islam by having them recite Muslim prayers. The court upheld a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last November in favor of the Byron Union School District.

The suit challenged the content of a seventh-grade history course at Excelsior Middle School in Byron in the fall of 2001. The teacher, using an instructional guide, told students they would adopt roles as Muslims for three weeks to help them learn what Muslims believe.

She encouraged them to use Muslim names, recited prayers in class, had them memorize and recite a passage from the Quran and made them give up something for a day, such as television or candy, to simulate fasting during the month of Ramadan. The final exam asked students for a critique of elements of Muslim culture.

Muslim leaders, Cardinal affirm ‘bonds of friendship’

LOS ANGELES, CA–Muslim American leaders of Southern California met Sept. 21 with Cardinal Roger Mahony to discuss recent statements by Pope Benedict which referenced Islam, and to reaffirm the strong bonds of friendship that have existed between the Catholic and Muslim communities of Los Angeles for several decades.

In their meeting at the Archdiocesan Catholic Center in Los Angeles, the Muslim leaders recalled the hurt that many Muslims felt when Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who stated that Islam was spread by the sword. The Muslim leaders said they welcomed the pope’s subsequent statements clarifying his position on Muslim-Catholic relations.

The delegation also condemned the violent acts that targeted Christian churches and people in the wake of the pope’s initial speech.

Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, recalled “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Church’s relations with non-Christians, in urging Muslims and Catholics to re-double their efforts to work more closely together on moral, social and civil rights issues.

Muslim and Catholic leaders have collaborated locally on issues of health care, education, immigration and the alleviation of poverty. Over the years, Catholic-Muslim dialogue in Los Angeles has resulted in the publication of two joint documents: “Religion and the U.S. Constitution” and a document on interfaith marriage.

“Los Angeles,” said Dr. Maher Hathout, Vice-Chair of the Shura Council, “is the capital of interfaith relations and of diversity.”

Both Cardinal Mahony and the Muslim leaders agreed to create more opportunities at the local level to educate Catholics and Muslims in Southern California about one another and the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two faiths. Cardinal Mahony said the two religions should seize this “teachable moment” to affirm commonalities and increase dialogue in all possible areas.

In addition to Dr. Siddiqui and Dr. Hathout, the Muslim American delegation visiting Cardinal Mahony included Moustafa al-Qazwini, Imam of Islamic Educational Center of Orange County; Ahmed Sakr, Islamic Educational Center; Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Shura Council; Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California of the Council on American Islamic Relations; and Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Harvard: Muslims & Jews break fast together

CAMBRIDGE, MA–Muslims and Jewish students at Harvard University joined together to break their respective religious fasts together. The Jewish Holy Day occurred during the holiest month of the Islamic calendar this year and both groups abstained from food until sundown.

The fast to observe Yom Kippur began at sundown on Sunday and ended Monday night.

Harvard Islamic Society President Ali A. Zaidi said that interfaith events like this one help to “open dialogue, clear misconceptions, and help create common community between seemingly disparate groups.”

The collaboration between members of the two religions was well received by students, who mingled and discussed everything from the politics in the Middle East to their class work.

“When problems come up, it’s good to have the foundation of a friendship to discuss matters, whether religious or political,” said Harvard Hillel’s Vice President for Community Relations Erica L. Farber.

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