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Community News (V9-I8)

February 15, 2007 by  


Hermain Khan makes it to finals of Intel Science Talent Search

Hermain Suhail Khan, 17, of Staten Island, has been named one of the 40 finalists for the Science Talent Search (Intel STS) 2007. The selected students came from a pool of 1705 contestants who took part in America’s oldest and most prestigious science competition–often called the “Junior Nobel Prize.”

For his project, Khan used electron spin resonance (ESR) techniques coupled with iron-uptake experiments to determine the age of fossilized crocodylian teeth from India for his earth and planetary science Intel Science Talent Search project.

ESR is difficult to use on fossilized teeth because they contain iron, which interferes with ESR data. Hermain found a way to date the teeth, using ESR, by subtracting a pure iron signal from the signal in the teeth. He believes the remaining signal provides reliable age information. His work has already generated two conference publications. Hermain, who hopes to enter Harvard, attends Staten Island Technical High School, where he enjoys running, birdwatching, playing the violin and tennis. The son of Shahid and Rehana Khan, he wrote a play, performed off-Broadway last June, based on his mother’s move to the U.S. and her struggle to raise five children and adapt to American life. Founder of a non-profit group, Muslims United, Hermain spearheaded fund-raising efforts in the school and community for earthquake relief in his native Pakistan, raising $6,000.

He will travel on March 8 to Washington D.C. for a weeklong event. At a black-tie gala at the end of the week, 10 students will be chosen for scholarships totaling $500,000 with the top winner receiving a $100,000 scholarship. All finalists will be awarded a laptop run with the Intel® CoreTM2 Duo processor, and have the opportunity to display their research for the general public at the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

Muslims, Prof. team up for lectures at Hollins University

Members of the Clarence Sabree Islamic Center in Roanoke have teamed up with Rev.Jan Fuller, the chaplain and religious studies professor at Hollins University, to lead a six-week lecture series on the Muslim faith.

Fuller, who attends Christ Episcopal Church, said she broached the lecture series as a way of fostering mutual understanding, conversation and respect.

Many of the forum participants said it has given them a broader context to news of religious clashes in Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Caroline Bloodworth of Roanoke said she has attended all of the lectures so far and plans to show up at the remaining two sessions.

“I came here not knowing anything about Islam and wanted to be better educated. My eyes have been opened,” Bloodworth said. “This series has given me a deeper respect for the Muslim community.”

Fuller draws from experiences in her own life, growing up in Lebanon and Jordan as the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries. The classes, which are open to the public, discuss the life of Prophet Muhammad (s), Islamic prayer, the role of women in Muslim society, and the Qur`an.

Fuller and Hamidullah explained the history and significance of the Muslim’s sacred text of the Qur`an, and drew comparisons with the Torah and the Bible. Many Muslims use the Qur`an for “guidance, inspiration and wisdom,” Fuller said.

Prof. Ihsan Bagy to speak on Islam and Violence

DANVILLE, KY—Centre College will host a public lecture by Ishan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky. The lecture, titled “Islam and Violence,” will take place Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in 101 Young Hall on campus.

Bagby’s lecture will focus on the disparate interpretations and the ramifications that arise in political and policy debates.

“In the popular imagination, Islam and violence are deeply related,” says Nayef Samhat, Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies at Centre. “Such misperceptions have a profound impact on foreign policy and serve to reinforce the idea, a false one, that the war on terror is in reality a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. Professor Bagby’s work, and his talk, go far to dispel these notions and bring clarity to the issues at hand.”

A native of Cleveland, Bagby received a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. His research for the last 10 years has focused on Muslims in America.

In 2001, Bagby published The Mosque in America: A National Portrait, the results of the first comprehensive study of mosques in America. He has published numerous articles based on the 2001 study, and he is presently working on a book on African-American Muslims.

Bagby serves on the advisory board of Hartford Seminary’s The Hartford Institute for Religion Research and is active in other organizations including Interfaith Alliance, Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).

Discover Islam series at West Virginia University

The Muslim Students’ Association at West Virginia University organized a lecture by Jamal Daoudi as part of its Discover Islam series. Daoudi spoke on the topic of women in Islam. “In the Islamic culture, a woman is described to be the queen of the house,” said Daoudi, who is also the religious leader of the Muslim community of Charleston.

“It’s not 50-50 (between men and women) in Islam. It’s complementary. They complement each other,” he said.

Daoudi said Islam forbids women to perform jobs that it considers to be inappropriate and could damage their honor.

In general, Islam wants women “to be secured, protected, and preserved in their positions of highest values as mothers and wives,” Daoudi said. “For me, as a Muslim, the Qur`an gives me a lot of reflection, (on how) to adopt and conduct certain behavior toward women.”

In 2005, Daoudi earned the West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. “Living The Dream” award as an “advocate of the peace.” He was also presented with the Islamic Community Service Award for political activism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

First Muslim head for Toronto’s York University

York University has made history by hiring the first Muslim university president in Canada.At a Board of Governors meeting on Feb. 6, it was ratified that Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri will become York’s seventh president as of July 1. Shoukri replaces Dr. Lorna Marsden, who has been York’s president and vice-chancellor for the past 10 years.

“I watched York grow to become Canada’s third largest university, and it is racing ahead. I consider myself to be very privileged to be given this opportunity at this important juncture in York’s history,” Shoukri said after his appointment.

Shoukri is currently the vice-president for research and international affairs at McMaster University in Hamilton, a position he has held since 2001. Shoukri is also a professor in the mechanical engineering department at McMaster. Originally born in Egypt, Shoukri did his undergraduate work in mechanical engineering at Cairo University in Giza. He went on to receive his masters in mechanical engineering at McMaster in 1974, and his PhD in the same program from McMaster in 1977. Shoukri continued on to work for Ontario Hydro in their research division until 1984, when he was hired as a professor in the mechanical engineering department of McMaster. He became chair of the department in 1990, and the dean of the faculty in 1994.

Jinnah statue at York University

York is the first university in Canada to erect a statue of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The statue, which stands about five feet tall, is made of bronze casting and is located north of the Curtis Lecture Halls on Campus Walk. It was created by David McDougall, a MFA candidate at York.

The Pakistani Students’ Association (PSA) has worked closely with a number of people both on and off campus in regards to the statue, which was unveiled in a ceremony on Jan. 30.

Babar Qureshi, president of the PSA, said the Pakistani community is the third largest international student group on campus. The PSA also had a scholarship created in 2004 called the “Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan Scholarship,” which is awarded to a York student who demonstrates a commitment to academic excellence and leadership. Qureshi said that these two things combined, as well as the PSA’s involvement on campus, was what instigated the idea that the statue should come to York.

“That’s how we came up with that we should be giving this to York,” Qureshi explained.

Qureshi said the PSA worked closely with Ghalib Iqbal, the Consul General of Pakistan, who helped to absorb 70 per cent of the statue’s cost. He was present at the ceremony on Tuesday when the statue was unveiled.

Glad to be Canadian, Muslims say

More than 80 per cent of Canada’s roughly 700,000 Muslims are broadly satisfied with their lives here and only a very small percentage — 17 per cent — feel that many or most Canadians are hostile toward their religion.

According to a new Environics poll conducted in association with the CBC, a much larger proportion of Canadian Muslims is satisfied with the way things are going today than is the case in Europe. The proportion is greater even than the 61 per cent of Canadians who generally feel their lives are on the right track.

At the same time, there are clearly different perceptions between the Muslim community and other Canadians over such flashpoint issues as integration, the role of women and the wearing of headscarves.

And despite intensive efforts by the Stephen Harper government to reach out and recruit prominent Muslims to its cause — witness the recent floor-crossing of former Liberal MP Wajid Khan — there is little sense that this is yet taking hold.

Asked whom they intend to vote for in the next federal election, 54 per cent of Muslim respondents said the Liberals, 13 per cent said NDP, and only seven per cent said the Conservatives, which is virtually the same way they voted in the last election.

These are some of the key findings of a wide-ranging new survey of Muslim attitudes in Canada as well as attitudes toward them.

The survey—conducted by Environics Research Group in conjunction with the CBC and other clients—interviewed 500 Canadian Muslims and 2,045 members of the general population between Nov. 30, 2006 and Jan. 5, 2007 and is said to be accurate within 4.4 percentage points and 2.2 percentage points respectively, 19 times out of a 20.

In general terms, the poll found that 73 per cent of Canadian Muslims describe themselves as “very proud” to be called Canadians, even if many of them see their religion as coming first in certain instances. As well, they have very little sympathy for extremists or terrorist groups and they aren’t crazy about the northern climate — it tops the list of things they like least.

Canada’s Muslims have different priorities, the poll suggests. Unemployment and immigration issues are more important to them than the health care and environmental concerns that are driving other Canadians.

There are also differences over how much and to what extent minority communities should “blend in” with the Canadian norm.

Almost half (49 per cent) of the general Canadian population feel new immigrants should blend in with the rest of the country, while 40 per cent feel they should be encouraged to maintain their religious and cultural practices. For Canadian Muslims, these numbers are 15 and 65 per cent respectively.

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