Sound Vision Event for Shariah Education

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

A fundraiser was held Saturday evening at the Dearborn Hyatt to counter the “anti-Shariah” legislation that is sweeping the nation.

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Abdul Malik Mujahid speaks at his fundraiser

The voices from the extreme right that vilify Muslims and Islam have made an important strategy shift in recent years, aiming to promulgate their hatred into the law of the land.  That difference has come in the form of plainly unconstitutional legislation that despite its illegality in relation to the religious protections of our nation has been passed as “anti-Sharia” legislation in 5 states to date, with ongoing battles to enact such legislation in other states.

Sound Vision pioneer Abdul Malik Mujahid is therefore planning an intelligent response to the shrill anti-Shariah efforts.  He has begun to assemble a team of knowledgeable people from relevant walks of life including lawyers and professors, and a website (called Sharia101.org) and more, all designed to fill the void on the internet of people knowledgeable about Islam who can respond to the “anti-Shariah” distortions of Christian bigots.

Mr. Mujahid has successfully built Sound Vision, and is prominent for his other contributions as well, in fact he was given the honor of being listed in the “Muslim 500” book of most influential Muslims.

Saturday, approximately 100 influential Southeast Michigan Muslims attended Mr. Mujahid’s fundraiser, one stop on Mr. Mujahid’s tour of several fundraisers, to raise money in support of his vision of educating people on what Shariah is.

Mujahid spoke eloquently on the importance of Shariah legislation, the danger it poses to Muslim investing, the danger to Muslim family arbitration, the danger to the existing multibillion dollar halal investment funds, the danger to the halal industry.

Mujahid also pointed out the profound implications of anti-Shariah legislation for similarly distinct religious groups which apply their religious laws within the American legal system, for example Jews, Catholics, the Amish, and Mormons. 

Mujahid gave one of the first good explanations of the nature of Shariah as being our way of life–something that is not at all fairly represented by sometimes hideous abuses done in foreign countries under the banner “Shariah.”

13-51

Muslim Spelling Bee

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

ScreenShot006Spelling Bees were made famous by the 2006 movie Aqeelah and the Bee, about a young girl from a bad neighborhood with a talent for spelling, who works hard, finds a teacher to prep her for spelling competitions, and becomes a champion speller.

Tausif Malik, a Chicago entrepreneur from India, perceived a need for a platform of competition in which children could engage from around the world, and chose spelling.  He has planned a 10-city national competition in spelling which he eventually hopes will become an international spelling competition open to Muslim students.

“Muslims are not aware of spelling bees because they are focused on” getting their children into engineering or medicine, he said in a recent interview with TMO.

The purpose, he says, of the program is “to get Muslim children into the mainstream.”  His competition will be held in each city at a Muslim private school, however it will be open to students from private schools, public schools, or home schools, children up to 14 years old.

Mr. Malik expects 500 children per city to compete in the competition, and as yet he has not announced the prizes.

The competition is scheduled to begin in March – May of 2012, it will be a weekend affair in each city.

The competition regions are to include Washington DC, New York City, New Jersey, Orange County California, Chicago, Tampa Florida, Atlanta Georgia, Phoenix Arizona, and Houston Texas.
The entry fee per student will be $50–each student will have to fill out an application and pay the $50 fee online or via check.  Once they are registered they will receive a word list, and then on a set day they will arrive at the testing location and take a written test (to screen the applicants and winnow the best of them) and then an oral competition.

Mr. Malik explains that there will be a cash prize, scholarships, college sponsorships, companies giving holiday gifts.

His scheme is to begin with a spelling bee but to expand into other areas, with science competitions, geography bees, math bees–”an Olympiad.”

“Muslims have lost education,” Mr. Malik argues.  “They are getting into stuff that is not worth it–Muslims were creators, innovators.”  Malik believes his program of competitions will move the Muslim community towards that.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Muslim spelling bee, please visit www.muslimspellingbee.com.

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My Education Key Fundraiser at Tawheed Center in Farmington

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

PB190152Sohail Khan of MyEducationKey.com, with many prominent supporters, described his website and performed a fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.  About 200 people attended the fundraiser.  Sohail Khan described the MyEducationKey project, emphasizing its themes of being useful to people everywhere, empowering people world-wide with high quality education–for everyone, everywhere.  The website provides all levels of education through video-taped lectures.  Interactive education is available from kindergarten through graduate school, including ACT/SAT prep, and professional development.  Instruction is provided by excellent professors. 

Some of the universities that have already contributed lecture series are MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and more.

In the future, Mr. Khan explained to TMO, there may be degree programs available and possibly accounting, but for now students pursue their educations on the site on an ad hoc basis.

The site is perfect as a supplement for a separate educational system–high school students (including non-Muslims) through testimonials on the site have explained that they use Myeducationkey to cover holes in their understanding of what they have learned in their full time school.

Several of the evening’s speakers spoke of their deep happiness at being able to, in a sense, attend MIT for the purposes of learning a subject.  People in their sixties expressed the hope that in fact the site provided a way for them to continue to learn.

The site already has very impressive statistics.  13,500 video lessons have been uploaded to the site.  47,000 lectures have been watched.  The site has received 800,000 hits.  Students, (university and primary/secondary), in the US, Pakistan, India, and China, have sought knowledge through the site.

Future plans for the site include global outreach, courses of professional development, teachers being able to create their own courses, mobile apps, multiple languages, virtual classrooms, and much much more.

This is a project helpful to all of humanity that was started by Muslim insights and contributions, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Several educators including Dr. Mohammed Syed, Dr. Nasser Ahmed, and Mr. Saleem Khalid spoke of their admiration for the project.

If you are interested in donating, please visit myeducationkey.com.

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All Muslim Cemetery to Open in Flint

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Farmington–May 12–Any Muslim who enters a non-Muslim cemetery to visit a relative or friend is confronted with a difficult dilemma, that in order to approach the grave of his friend he must walk across the graves of other people, or must sit on the graves of other people–meanwhile there are ahadith that this is a terrible act.

Thus, we Muslims need a cemetery planned from the beginning around Islamic law, where in order to visit a friend or relative, or to pray jinaza for that person, it is not necessary to walk across or sit upon the graves of other people.

And so it is a welcome event that a new all-Muslim cemetery is launching in Flint.  Garden of Peace is a fledgling cemetery with so far approximately five people interred–the cemetery features Shari’ah compliant planning, competitive pricing, and maintenance and ownership all by Muslims.

Hossam Shukairy, Abed Khirfan, Muhammed Saleem, and Dr. Khalid Shukairy held a meeting this past weekend to introduce the cemetery to local imams. And in attendance were imams and other representatives from Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, and Flint.

The initial effort of the Garden of Peace meeting held this past weekend was to spread the word about the cemetery, and especially to introduce the idea of each local mosque buying plots of 25 to 50 gravesites to distribute to the people who attend that mosque. 

One person in attendance emphasized that “They offered any mosque who buys 50 plots at one time, will get the best deal.  50 or more.  And price, they didn’t want to haggle about price right now.”

Some in attendance at the meeting from Detroit expressed doubts about buying gravesites in Flint, hours away, when for $1,400 one can buy a site in Detroit.
The new cemetery is intended to build to “10.5 acres in 3 phases,” explained Dr. Shukairy, the head of the cemetery committee.  The three phases comprise growing from its present modest size of five graves to 2,500 graves in 10.5 acres, with more than adequate parking.

Dr. Shukairy explained that each grave will be aligned facing qibla, pointing to the Northeast. 

The graves will be covered with uniform stones parallel to the earth, with uniform markers perpendicular, to show names and dates of birth and death.  Not like the public cemeteries with all different kinds of stone markers.

People will be interred on their right sides with their heads toward the qibla, and the graves are designed to acommodate both Michigan law and Shari’ah, so that each person is enclosed in a concrete vault as required by Michigan law, but without a casket and in contact with dirt below and above as required by Islamic law.
According to Michigan law, Dr. Shukairy explained, bodies must “be transferred in a wooden casket… but at the [burial site] the vault is opened from the top, the body placed inside without a casket, and with dirt inside, and the vault is sealed from the top–More acceptable from Shari’ah,” explained Dr. Shukairy.

There will be adequate space in the cemetery for maneuvering the heavy machinery required for digging graves–without their needing to drive over occupied graves.

Dr. Shukairy explained “the other advantage is that a public cemetery is maintained by [non-Muslim] public cemetery management; when they are digging or cleaning, they might not respect our concerns about respecting gravesites.  People might step on graves or not know the direction of graves.”

A theme on which Dr. Shukairy’s focused was the issue whether it is acceptable in the presence of an all-Muslim cemetery for Muslims to continue to be buried at mixed cemeteries.  The “point is, when we have a purely Muslim cemetery, an Islamic cemetery, is it desirable or allowed to use non-Muslim cemeteries?”

The cemetery is “very very close” to the Flint Islamic Center [on Corunna, west of Flint], which is only 7 minutes away.

The cemetery directors have also made efforts to smooth the entire transition from life to death.

For example, Dr. Shukairy explained that “assuming someone in Flint dies in the hospital, a shaykh or scholar does the preparation of the body, a funeral home transfers the body to the Islamic center, there is a prayer over the deceased, and a funeral home takes the body to the cemetery to be buried, and according to Shari’ah guidance.”

Imams were present from the Detroit Muslim Unity Center, Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center, Muslim House in Flint, the MCA in Ann Arbor, and several others.

“It was a really good gathering, imams were present from Lansing, Ann Arbor, and so forth–we believe this is a good service in Michigan,” said Dr. Shukairy.

“We tried to invite mosques through the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan–we know we did not do a complete job–some imams probably were not invited and we will invite them later.  Spread the word,” he said.

Some issues regarding the cemetery are still in flux.  For example prices, and arrangements for individuals to buy pre-need. However, Dr. Shukairy emphasized that “I believe prices will be less than other public cemeteries or at least comparable, with the advantage of having been buried in a purely Islamic cemetery.”

The cemetery is at 1310 South Morrish Road, in Swartz Creek, Michigan.  For more information, you can call Hossam Shukairy, 810-691-7738, Abed Khirfan, 810-877-1415; or Muhammed Saleem, 810-730-1776.

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Muslim Business Leaders Invited by Democrats

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

The blowback of the Bush administration’s fierce pressure against Muslims has been the movement of once stalwart Republican Muslims over firmly to the Democratic camp.  Thus, 28 powerful Muslim businessmen and politicians flocked to a Democratic fundraiser in Washington, meeting with White House and Democratic Congressional leaders on April 14th and 15th–a project sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

The event was organized by Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, the two Muslim congressmen.

It comprised on the first day (April 14) a visit to the White House, and on the second day (April 15) a breakfast and meeting with House Democratic Congressional leaders.

This meeting was actually the second annual DCCC “Leadership Summit.” The delegation of 28 Muslims went to the White House and met with White House senior advisor Valerie Bowman Jarrett (Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Relations), who interestingly was born to American parents in Iran and speaks Persian.

The delegation had a very friendly and fraternal meeting with congressmen including Keith Ellison and Andre Carson,  and the following Democratic congressional leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip James Clyburn, DCCC Chaimran Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the House Finance Committee Barney Fank, Chairman of Ways and Means Committee Sandy Levin, Chairman of the Homeland Securiity Committee Bennie Thompson, as well as seven other members of congress, and the DCCC executive director Jon Vogel.  The friendly nature of the meeting is evidenced by the testimony of attendees and also by the warmth of the discussions from pictures from the event.

Saeed Patel, a prominent New Jersey businessman, President of Amex Computers, said of the two days of meetings that “the main theme was making introductions, raising concerns, and the second thing was promotion of business.”

“Ellison now has been looking into arranging trade delegations to other countries, including India,” explained Mr. Patel–”he’s focusing on Muslim countries but there are also 150 million Muslims in India.”

Patel attended a recent such trade commission to Turkey.  “We went to Turkey last year–one week, different places, to promote trade.  We were hosted by the US ambassador in Ankara.  We met quite a few people… made a lot of contacts.”

“I am hopeful,” he said.  There can be “a lot of business between here and Turkey.”

The delegates, as described by Mr. Patel, included “a lot of people, some social activists, some doctors.”

“I felt that [Democratic leaders] were very gracious–they went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable.  Pelosi, Jarrett, all were very nice.  Very sympathetic.”

The honorable Mohammed Hameeduddin, a city councilman of Teaneck NJ, explained that his  agenda was “racial profiling.”

As an example, Hameeduddin cited the recent visit by Saeed Patel to Turkey–saying Patel on his return trip was “treated harshly by the TSA.”

“I expressed my views to Pelosi, Frank, and Benny Thompson,” said Hameeduddin.

Patel explained that the meeting was “very promising, Ellison and Carson both mentioned that, and Jarrett–this is not just hello and goodbye, this is hello and more hello, more interaction.”  The democrats communicated that “You are more than welcome, give us your personal opinions and experiences to take into account.”

“It was a good exchange,” said Patel.  “Nobody was holding back, everyone was speaking his mind.”

Some of the delegates expressed some consternation, he said, that Obama and the Democrats have been in office more than a year and yet there is still harassment in travel.

Benny Thompson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee, explained in seriousness that if a person is mistreated by airport security personnel he should “always get the name of the person disrespectful to you.”  But he also quipped, “Not too long ago your community was Republican, was it not?”

Patel explained that a follow-up meeting is in the works with Attorney General Eric Holder, on the subject of civil rights abuses against Muslims.

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Day of Goodness

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

P4178782 Southfield–April 21–Small fundraiser highlights up and coming local Muslim organizations, delivers goodness despite missing keynote speaker.

The Islamic Shura Council of Michigan’s “Day of Goodness” last Saturday night was deprived of its keynote speaker due to a problem with specialized visas. 

However, many prominent and active Muslims from local organizations still attended, perhaps showing more in quality than in quantity, with about 100 people present, but among those people perhaps 10 imams, and the leadership of the many organizations associated with the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan.

The event is essentially a fundraiser, and by the end of the evening it had earned approximately $75,000 towards its stated goal of $150,000.  The event was in a conference room at the Southfield Westin hotel on Town Center Drive.

ISCOM Chair Dr. Mouhib Ayas explained that intended keynote speaker Jamal Badawi’s visa did not permit him to speak at Not-for-profit fundraisers.  So Badawi was not able to speak despite his coming to Michigan from Canada, and despite his having given the khutbah at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center earlier in the day.

ISCOM was established in 2005 as a non-profit umbrella organization with, according to the dayofgoodness website, “the mission of providing coordination between and building cohesiveness among the Islamic centers mosques, and organizations in Michigan.  The council works for the betterment of all Muslims, to advance Muslim interests, and to promote Islamic values.”

The chairman of the Board of Directors is Mouhib Ayas, and its Vice Chair is Arif Huskic.  Attorney Misbah Shahid is the Secretary, and several other prominent Southeast Michigan Muslims are also on the board–the executive assistant and first employee is Reheem Hanifa.

20 different mosques, comprising the majority of the major mosques in Southeast Michigan, including the biggest Shi’a mosque and most of the big Sunni mosques, are involved.

Dr. Ayas gave a long but interesting presentation with a slideshow demonstrating the accomplishments of ISCOM.  He pointed out the association of ISCOM with Gleaners Food Bank, and also showed the institutional progress the organization has made by hiring a grant writer to apply for available grants–this alone has netted thousands of dollars in projects and may likely bring more projects in the near future.  One project the grant writing process obtained was a $25,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield project.

One program he spoke about was the “Maintaining Houses of Allah” program, which is designed to address the disparity between the wealthy mosques and the mosques with less money that are sometimes dilapidated and run down for lack of funds.

In a moving presentation Dr. Ayas pointed to pictures, first of a wealthy mosque then of a more destitute mosque, saying “This is a house of Allah, and this is a house of Allah,” driving home the point that ISCOM is working to benefit Muslims who really need help in order to worship Allah in clean and nice mosques.

P4178785 Another ISCOM project is working with MSA’s, using them really as a lever to connect to non-Muslims in universities–”we need to start influencing minds when people are young.”  He explained the goal is to meet future leaders of this country early on, and Dr. Ayas gave examples of programs where non-Muslim students fasted (not during Ramadan) in order to understand the effects of fasting on Muslims.

Dr. Ayas explained also that in order for the institution to move forward, ISCOM needs to start hiring professional full-time people, and he gave the example of Mr. Reheem Hanifa who has begun working full-time for the organization.

Dr. Ayas also showed a fairly inspiring diagram which showed ISCOM as the hub of a wheel reaching about 15 different important Muslim organizations in Southeast Michigan, including Muslim Family Services, MSA’s, the Huda Clinic, Islamic schools, and more.

There was a presentation by a relatively new organization called Muslim Social Services, www.muslimsocialservices.com, whose mission is to extend the reach and value of social services to Muslims in Washtenaw County, Michigan. 

There was a strong fundraising effort by a young but dedicated medical student, Farhan Abdul Aziz.  He told a beautiful story of a Chinese Muslim who travelled to the United States and passed away knowing nobody, but who was able to be buried by Muslims because of the social service institutions that had been set up in the city in which she died, which drove home the vital importance of such institutions.

For more information about ISCOM, you can visit either www.islamicshuracouncil.com or www.dayofgoodness.com.  You can also contact Dr. Ayas at 248-705-9137.

12-17

Tariq Ramadan, Keynote Speaker at SoundVision Fundraiser

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Sunday–April 11–Tariq Ramadan is not what you probably expect. 

Tariq Ramadan

You might expect someone barred by the Bush administration to have an Arabic accent, to have an angry or at least emotional manner of public speaking, but the reality is Tariq Ramadan better fits the mold of a French intellectual than the typical Muslim populist.  In fact, from his nature it does not appear that he has any intentions towards seeking any political power, other than spiritual and intellectual power or accomplishments.

The subject of a six-year ban by the Bush administration, ended only recently by Secretary of State Clinton, speaks English and even Arabic with a French Swiss accent, and has the breezy intellectual worldly air of a French intellectual–he seems as though he has certainty about many things.  For example during his speech he interrupted emotional applause for one popular point that he had emphasized, saying “let me explain the rules,” instructing listeners not to clap during his speech (“not because it is a fatwa, although it is”) and then going on to say that the emotional reaction to his words may detract from what “we are trying to accomplish.”

Tariq Ramadan is called, by the reactionary right, an “Islamist” of Egyptian ancestry. (By Islamist do they mean someone who likes Islam? So is George Bush a Christianist?) In fact it may be his ancestry which scared the Bush administration more than any other fact about him.  His mother’s father was Hassan al-Banna, the Supreme Guide and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.  His father was Said Ramadan, who was also prominently involved in Ikhwan, and who married Hassan al-Banna’s daughter.  He was raised in Switzerland, where his famous parents sought refuge from Nasser’s Arab nationalist animosity to the Ikhwan. 

Ramadan is now 48 years old. He is no firebrand.  He was ranked by the British Prospect and American Foreign Policy magazines eightth in a list of the world’s top 100 contemporary intellectuals in 2008.  He has authored several books, focusing on the issue of Islam and the West.  He wears his intellectualism on his sleeve–on Sunday he said of his most recent book that he had made it very thin so that American journalists would actually read it, although he complained that they still do not.

Ramadan is in the book 500 Most Influential Muslims–2009, being listed in the Scholars section.  He is even an honorable mention for the top 50 listings in the book. 

His entry in the book is as follows: 

Ramadan is Europe’s preeminent Muslim intellectual writing about Islam in public life. He is a professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University and formerly a visiting professor at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He has a weekly television show, ‘Islam and Life’, on Press TV, and is an advisor to the European Union on religion. He has written 15 books and produced over 100 recordings.

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Ramadan did not in his SoundVision speech show real leanings either toward extremist Islamic views nor even towards the strong organization-based approach to Islam of Ikhwan.  Rather he focused on his theme of building consciousness of God through spiritual endeavor, a consciousness of God which would empower one to seek his or her rights when those rights are denied by people (he emphasized Western anti-Muslim people) who overreach their authority in working to the detriment of Muslims.

Ramadan certainly understands the West better than his grandfather did (whose entire reaction to the West came from an unpleasant encounter with a drunk European), and to casual observation it is clear that the younger Ramadan has imbibed its values more than even he probably realizes.

He remains, despite being a European intellectual, a Muslim intellectual as well.  He thinks and speaks and writes about living Islam in a real context.  He thinks about what God says that He wants from us in His Holy Book, and Ramadan endeavors to accomplish that.

Soundvision

Soundvision’s event was, even aside from its invitation of such a memorable figure, very impressive.  The event filled the Burton Hall banquet facility nearly to capacity, with approximately 600 guests in attendance.

There was a description of the difficulties and opportunities that lie before SoundVision and then a fundraiser which appeared to gross approximately $150,000 in about 20 minutes.  There was a dinner and appetizers.

Many prominent Muslms from Southeast Michigan were in attendance, among them CAIR Michigan’s executive director Dawud Walid, Ghalib Begg of CIOM, recently selected by the Detroit News as one of a handful of “Michiganians of the Year,” and many prominent Michigan imams.

Dawud Walid spoke on the importance of SoundVision to his own family, citing the books and videos he has bought for his own children from SoundVision.

There was a brief video by SoundVision, emphasizing the Adam’s World show, with a “One Big Family” soundtrack.

Janaan Hashim, a SoundVision director, spoke at length about SoundVision and its strategic goals–and perhaps her speech did the most to reveal the terrible importance of SoundVision’s work.

Ms. Hashim is an attorney, journalist and teacher, as well as a mother.

The theme for SoundVision’s future was plastered throughout the fundraiser event, “Helping Tomorrow’s Muslims today.”  Ms. Hashim emphasized this meant helping them now.

She showed the terrible current state of Muslim youths by showing a chart of anger among youths aged 18-29 by religion, which showed anger among Muslim youths at 26%, which was almost double the rate for Protestants and Mormons (14% each).

She showed statistics that 75% of American Muslims felt that they had been discriminated against or had witnessed discimination, 12% of Muslim students in New York public schools felt doubt about Islam.  7% of Muslims had been assaulted.

95% of Muslim youths, she said, are in normal public schools, and do not attend Juma’a prayers.  Less than 5% of Muslim youths go to Muslim schools.

Where do the children spend their time? On average, they spend 53 hours per week online, 7 hours and 38 minutes per day.

Hashim quickly demonstrated the overwhelmingly negative nature of the information about Islam–much of it provided directly by people who hate Islam and Muslims, like Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes.

Hashim pointed out that many Muslim youths respond to these many overwhelming pressures by changing their names, possibly even changing religions, or at least by caving in to such pressures as drinking alcohol or joining gangs.  She cited a statistic that 47% of Muslim college students report having drunk alcohol, and about 10% report binge drinking.

“We must rethink things for kids,” she said.  “We must reallocate our resources.”

Therefore Muslims need to create a powerful online alternative to these hate sites that assault the minds of our children with their ignorance and negative stereotypes of Islam.

SoundVision  came up with a thorough plan to address these challenges after one year of research.  This is their strategic plan:  1) they plan 1,000 pieces of new content in the next 12 months; 2) they plan to emphasize new media for ipods, pda’s, iphones, etc.; 3) they plan mega-websites, age specific, and their model is the Disney websites (they intend good sites competitive with Disney); 4) they plan to make it all free (because they need to connect to the 95% who are slipping through the cracks); 5) Weekend 2.0–a web-based Islamic School 2.0 with lesson plans for existing schools, teaching basic Islam; 6) Networking among stake holders–creative arts hubs to allow youngsters to engage in creative activities; 7) Crucial Concepts (to teach skills, values, pluralism, response to objections, citizenship training, and career and marital counseling).

Ms. Hashim explained that much of this work has already been completed:  SoundVision has enlisted the help of 270 artists, scholars, 18 editors.

SoundVision’s website is ranked a very respectable 100,000 on Alexa’s ranking system (The Muslim Observer has risen to about 335,000 over several years of assiduous work).

SoundVision pioneered Adam’s World, the Al-Qari software, Islamic songs, and a Muslim radio program (which in fact is hosted by Ms. Hashim).

She emphasized that SoundVision is at the cutting edge, and that its software has attracted attention for its very high quality and for its advanced technical competence.

In fact SoundVision has pointed out a potential disaster that faces the American Muslim community, but has also stepped forward to face our problems.

12-16

CAIR Michigan’s Watershed Annual Banquet

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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CAIR Founder Nihad Awad, Wendell Anthony, Imam and CAIR Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid, Congressman John Conyers, CAIR Michigan Attorney Lena Masri, Civil Rights Activist Jesse Jackson, Jr., Ron Scott, Raheem Hanifa, and Jukaku Tayeb of CAIR Michigan.

Photo courtesy Nafeh AbuNab, American Elite Studios, 1-800-218-4020.

Dearborn–March 31–This year’s CAIR banquet really was special.  Every year, CAIR Michigan and many other organizations have gala awards and fundraising banquets, but typically in the past Michigan’s Muslim organizations have been less connected to the political landscape than some ethnic organizations which have in the Southeast Michigan region managed over several decades to establish long term ties with all levels of the political landscape, from the local to the federal level.

The Muslim organizations however, from the mosque level up to the level of national organizations, have not opened strong and lasting relations with any political groups (other than coordinated discussion groups and organized means of complaining to politicians and mainstream media about perceived and real injustices), other than an occasional speech by a political celebrity.

Perhaps a stronger movement has been the involvement of individuals in politics, such as for instance Farhan Bhatti, Deputy Campaign Manager at Virg Bernero for Michigan.  There are Muslims who have been elected to individual office, such as Rashida Tlaib in the Michigan legislature, and Keith Ellison in the US congress.

This year’s CAIR gala, with about 1,000 attendees including many powerful audience members from the business, media, and political community, on the other hand, seemed to offer the potential of a long-term conflation of interests between the Muslim community and America’s established civil rights aristocracy.  Present at this year’s fundraiser was Nihad Awad, who founded CAIR and set it up as a not-for-profit franchise operation of sorts, with now branch offices across the country to advocate for Muslims.  Mr. Awad is not always able to attend all of these gala events, but it seemed that he sensed the importance of this particular one. 

But the real jewels in the crown of the 2010 CAIR Michigan fundraiser were the civil rights workers who for sixty years have been deeply involved at their own personal peril with the struggle for civil rights in the USA. 

Jesse Jackson Sr., the keynote speaker, was one of those.  But there was also Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-14), whom Jackson described as “perhaps the only man who was ever endorsed by Martin Luther King.”  There was Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15).  There were many others, including the strong gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero (currently Lansing’s mayor). 

But famous people frequently collect together–many famous politicians have given stilted practiced speeches before Muslims, hoping to say what pleases their audience and earns their political support, but rarely does the politician seem to be present in deference to his or her own inner principles–and this is perhaps the characteristic of Sunday afternoon’s banquet that was uncommon.  Famous people with shared bonds of suffering coalescing in defense of a group they perhaps had not previously thought of as being within their shared interests.

The feeling wasn’t just from their presence in the same room; rather the feeling was in the mutual love between those famous people, and their expression of that love in the context of the protection of Muslims against injustice from government interference.  Jackson and Conyers both spoke of the famous people they had met and worked with through the years, including King, and Rosa Parks (who worked for Conyers for many years), and their describing the debts of gratitude they owed one to another–for example Jackson’s mentioning of MLK’s endorsement of Conyers, and Conyers mentioning publicly his gratitude to John Dingell for supporting him in his early days in the US House of Representatives.

What was different this year was that CAIR did not just bring politicians to speak for their own interests, rather CAIR Michigan bought into a movement, a movement that has been intrinsically and vitally important to the American landscape for the better part of a century, carrying with them the ghosts and spirits of men who gave their lives in that journey.

Nihad Awad offered his goal, a vision of a seemingly impossible world, post-911, in which Muslims face no discrimination–he argued that CAIR is working toward that goal from where we are now.

Jesse Jackson is a famous man, and in consideration of his famous personal failings it is sometimes surprising to see him still on the national stage–but in seeing him speak you understand the source of his sway across the American public–his voice carries so strongly and he has a magic in his delivery that is present in person but that is not felt through the television.  He speaks with vivid images and polished phrases and a very powerful and loud delivery, almost more like a musician or conductor than a politician, but he speaks logically and intelligently also, intimately conversant with the big picture of American politics, even if sometimes the details he cites are not precisely accurate (accidentally he cited the total number of coalition KIA in Iraq and Afghanistan together as Americans KIA in Iraq). 

But on the broad points he has very sharp insight. For example he stated that what is vital in the civil rights movement is to “change the frame.  Once you change the frame, you can change the furniture around whenever you want.”

Thus, he argued that after the recent health care legislation, eventually there must be a public option, although the public option was compromised away in the course of the bill being passed.

The theme of his speech was an argument to get Muslims to buy into a broader political agenda.

He argued that Muslims have to engage in issues beyond Muslim issues, offering the analogy that if one is in a burning house, he must try to put out the fire for the entire house–if the house is saved his room will be saved but it is impossible to save his room without saving the house.

He cited as examples labor union issues and health care issues.

Perhaps the most inspiring thing he said was that “we are not the left, we are the moral center,” thus dismissing the arguments from reactionaries who term his agenda a leftist agenda.  And this connected to another powerful theme from his speech, that “we are winning” in this struggle by the grace of God, and it is because God supports us because we are right.  He cited the achievements of abolition and civil rights, labor, and, at length, health care.

He said not to worry about government informants, arguing the view that the solution is to be completely above board and transparent and above reproach.  He said that several informants were intimately connected with the civil rights movement, saying that “our controller who signed all of our checks was a government informant.”

“Yes it does get dark,” he said, “innocent people get hurt, there is pain, but there is joy in the morning.”

“Through it all, keep marching, fighting, pursue excellence, don’t have time to hate.”

The involvement of the civil rights community with Muslims seems to have begun Sunday evening, and the person likely responsible is CAIR Michigan’s Executive Director Dawud Walid, who had the vision to pursue this goal, and who also has worked to bridge gaps between African Americans and other Muslims, and Sunni and Shi’a.

It remains to be seen whether the large-scale involvement of Muslims as players on the political (and not religious) landscape is healthy or potentially dangerous, and it remains to be seen whether non-Muslims from the civil rights community will be good partners in working toward civil rights for Muslims; also it remains to be seen to what extent Muslims can endorse  the agenda of a civil rights community that too often supports for example abortion services and homosexual issues; but perhaps these are the details, the furniture.  What is important is that the frame may have changed–to one where a Muslim organization has built a bridge or harmony and good will to an entire movement that is intrinsic to the American political landscape–this seems to be an important move in a good direction.

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Muslim Family Services Fundraiser

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Livonia–March 13—American Muslims have made inroads institutionally, with established mosques, advocacy groups, and media.  There are also fledgling efforts to build funeral services and graveyards and other necessary forms of care.  But the next level of institution building is to create self-sufficiency in medical and other care. 

One group which has begun the work of providing community and social and medical services to Muslims is Muslim Family Services, a devision of ICNA Relief.

Muslim Family Services held a fundraiser on Saturday night at the Radisson Hotel in Livonia, hosting about 250 people for an evening which celebrated the accomplishments and looked at the future goals of the organization.

Muslim Family Services is led most prominently by Dr. Ali Suleiman, Ph.D, who studied at the University of Michigan and at the University of Madina Saudi Arabia.  Dr. Asim Hussain (not to be confused with keynote speaker Altaf Husain), professor of Wayne State University, is also involved. Mr. Yousuf Vaid is also prominently involved. The organization focuses largely on providing social services, mainly specializing in marriage counseling, but also providing many other services including subsidizing funeral payments and providing food and other emergency care to Muslims in need.

The fundraising dinner began with Maghrib prayer, followed by a welcome by the MC Yousuf Vaid, followed by recitation of Qur`an by a young man, Nadeem Gulam, then dinner. Then there was a slide presentation by Steve Hernandez on the accomplishments of Muslim Family Services, followed by a keynote speech by Harvard Professor, Dr. Altaf Husain. Finally there was a fundraiser and a closing du’a.

Mr. Hernandez spoke movingly of the accomplishments of Muslim Family Services, pointing out its cooperation with other groups, and its work to support the community’s education, activities to minimize family violence (in coordination with ACCESS and the State of Michigan and Wayne County), counseling of individuals, families, pre-marital and marital counseling, psychological counseling, anger management, and substance abuse counseling.

He spoke movingly about MFS’s Janaza fund, which provides about seven funerals per year, at a cost of $3,000 each.

Dr. Altaf Husain also spoke movingly, focusing more on the future of Muslim healthcare in the United States, pointing out that the Muslim community faces similar challenges to those faced before by Catholics and Jews (such as dietary restrictions, discrimination, refused treatment, predatory missionary work by those who see vulnerable people of a different religion, and cultural conflicts)–who in the 1850s responded by building their own hospitals which exist to this day.  Husain emphasized one such hospital, Mt. Sinai, which had its origins in the need of Jews to respond to the above challenges, but which now serves the wider community.

Muslim Family Services emphasized that they provide services in a professional and confidential manner, and invited all Muslims facing issues to come to them for assistance.

Contact Muslim Family Services at 734-678-0435, or at www.muslimfamilyservices.org.

12-12
See pictures from this event at www.muslimobserver.com.

Monem Salem of Peaceful Communications Addresses Important Financial Issues

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Rochester Hills-March 10–Religious people are forced to confront directly decisions about their financial practices. Where people without religion have the luxury of making financial and other decisions without resort to a regime of discipline other than whatever feels right to them, religious people and especially Muslims have a strong structure of discipline into which they must integrate their financial lives.

How much to give as sadaqa? Is it halal to save money? And what about contemporary financial issues like debt–let alone the highly charged subject of riba.

Mr. Salam spoke at length about these issues to the Saturday night monthly dinner at IAGD.

The monthly dinner began after maghrib with Qur`an recitation and some demonstrations by IAGD children including a brief Qur`an recitation and a mock debate on the issue of Valentine’s Day and whether it is acceptable for Muslims.

Salam explained that in the environment of an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs, with a government that is borrowing money hand over fist, where all people are confronted with serious concerns about their economic well being, it is appropriate to ask what financial practices on an individual level are healthy and Islamically correct.

He had several main points which he emphasized carefully.  First, he emphasized balance.  He quoted a saying of Sayyidina Ali (kw) who said “spend neither extravagantly nor miserly.” This middle way, Salam explained, is dependent on what your personal wealth is.  But a sign of extravagance is buying things to compete with one’s neighbors or friends.  And don’t forget sadaqa and charity, he emphasized, saying sadaqa earns a reward far beyond what a person gives.  Spend less than what you earn, Salam said.

Also, he gave clear and convincing evidence from ahadith that debt is a terrible burden that must be avoided, pointing out that the level of debt of an American person, for example with a mortgage, is orders of magnitude beyond the debt avoided by Companions.  And his arguments about the terrible burdens of debt were powerful without his even touching on the subject of interest or riba.

P3068745 He explained that the word for debt in Arabic has the same root as the words “submission” and “humiliation.”

Also, Mr. Salam explained again with convincing arguments that saving is necessary.  He emphasized examples of Companions including Sayyidina Abu Bakr as Siddiq (ra) who gave a large amount of money to free Sayyidina Bilal (ra) from slavery–Salam’s argument was that this example of generosity must have meant that Abu Bakr (ra) had been saving in order to have such a large sum of money available to him when he needed it.

He gave examples from Qur`an also, including from Surat Kahf, where Sayyidinal Khidr (as) and Sayyidina Musa (as) rebuilt a wall to protect the savings of a pious man for his inheritors–therefore this means the pious man had saved money and was not spending all of it for sadaqa.

Another example from Qur`an was Sayyidina Yusuf’s dream of seven fat years and seven lean years–the principle being to save from prosperous times for “rainy days.”

Salam emphasized saving a significant amount, whether enough to live on for one full year or enough to survive a significant personal tragedy or catastrophe.

Mr. Salam is Director and Vice President of Islamic Investing and Amana’s deputy portfolio manager.  He was raised in Texas and earned degrees from the University of Texas.  After working with other firms, he joined Saturna Capital in 2003 and manages many of Saturna’s Islamic private acccounts. 

Mr. Salam was the subject of a documentary about learning to pilot a plane as a Muslim subsequent to 9/11, “On a Wing and a Prayer,” a review of which movie was featured in this newspaper.

12-11

Upcoming Events in Michigan (and one big event in New Jersey)

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

ACCESS 39th Annual Dinner

Tickets for the ACCESS Gala dinner are now on sale.  Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail and Lynx Investment CEO Peter Tanous will be there to receive the Arab American of the Year Award.

Tickets are $75.  The event is May 1, at the Marriott Hotel at the Detroit Renaissance Center.  Contact Rose Assi at rasi@accesscommunity.org or visit

ww.accesscommunity.org to purchase tickets.

IRS Deadline

The IRS has $40 million in unclaimed tax refund money from the 2006 Tax Year.

If you have not filed your 2006 return, you must file it by this April 15th in order to claim your 2006 refund.  Nationwide the IRS has approximately $1.3 billion in unclaimed tax refunds from the 2006 year.

CAIR 10th Anniversary Gala

CAIR will hold its 10th Annual Gala March 28, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency, 600 Town Center, Dearborn Michigan.

The keynote speaker is the founder of the Rainbow/Push Coalition and famous speaker and activist Rev. Jesse Jackson.  Also speaking will be CAIR national director and co-founder Nihad Awad.

Tickets will be $50 for general admission and $30 for students.

This gala will be an afternoon program which will begin at 1pm and end at 4:30pm insha`Allah.

For sponsorship and ticket information please contact Suehaila Amen at 313-615-1515.

Islamic Games

For those interested in competing, the Islamic Games Northeast Regional  Event will be May 25-30 in South Brunswick, New Jersey.

The games will have competitions in many interesting events, from track and field events to basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, cricket, flag football, tennis and table tennis, to wrestling, archery and martial arts.

The events will be separated by age categories, including events for children in age groups as young as 8 and masters categories for people in their 40s and up. The registration is only $15 per athlete for participation in unlimited events until May 10, and $20 per athlete from May 11 to the date of the event.  Spectators can attend for free.

For more information please visit www.Islamic-Games.com, or call 800-670-7901, or email info@islamic-games.com.

12-10

DIA Opens Islamic Art Section

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

As Muslims we always have great appreciation when our religion and the various expressions of our religion garner positive recognition and interest from respected non-Muslim institutions—sometimes in fact we take more pleasure from their taking notice than we do from recognition from our own Muslim institutions.  And so we Muslims take great pleasure in the recent exhibition at the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA), called the “Gallery of Islamic Art,” which was opened in a very exclusive event this past Saturday at the DIA at 5200 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.  This event was by invitation, with valet parking and a $250 fee for dinner, a black tie event attended by ambassadors and museum officials, and important and well-connected people from Detroit’s Muslim community.

The Islamic gallery itself is very interesting, and important as an expression of respect for Islam, however it is somewhat small, with about 1,000 square feet devoted to Islamic art—another slight detraction is that it seems to be a smorgasbord of Islamic art rather than an exhaustive or even organized look at Islamic art.  There is one large Persian rug, many examples of pottery and ceramics, several copies of Qur`an, and some collections of ahadith, but surprisingly without translations, and a video demonstrating the art of Islamic calligraphy.  There is perhaps as much space given to Christian and Jewish scripture (included as examples of Muslim tolerance, since they were made by Arabic speaking Jews and Christians living under Muslim rule) as there is to Muslim scripture in the exhibit.

There was some modern art which focused on Muslim themes, for example one painting by a modern Iranian painter on Sayyidinal Khadr (as)—who is mentioned in Qur`an.  Modern art on Muslim themes, however, is not strictly Islamic art.

There is nothing in the exhibit on Qur`anic recitation, which is a vital Islamic art.  There was to my noticing nothing from east Asia, or from central Asia, or from Africa.  There were no modern devotional musical forms represented.  There was to my noticing no poetry—one page of Rumi’s poetry in the original text would have been beautiful.  There was not clothing either—the entire exhibit could have been on Muslim turbans of various kinds and their meaning.  Or on kufis from around the world.  Or on any of many rich and different clothing  traditions from around the Muslim world.

There is very minimal calligraphy, which by itself could fill the entire museum with many different and beautiful forms of expression, from Chinese to Arabic to Turkish and even Japanese forms. In fact, likely 1,000 square feet would not be enough space to do a thorough exhibit of any one of several Islamic art forms, such as calligraphy, carpets, architecture, or pottery. 

But on the positive side, as a general approach the exhibit does show a long range of historical works up to the present, covering the past 600 years (including a Qur`an from the 1400s).  And the exhibit does show materials from several countries, although perhaps it centers on Iran a little bit more heavily than elsewhere.
The striking thing about this exhibit is first that Islamic art is in reality something that is in use in daily life, not something that Muslims hide from daily view, from the prayer carpets Muslims use, to the recitation they perform at specified intervals, to the buildings they live in and gardens they nurture, and the clothing they create.  And the natural and intrinsic beauty of this is different at a fundamental level from the concept of art as an icon that is produced and then ensconced in a museum for occasional admiration.

And, perhaps, another lesson from the exhibit is that Islamic art is something best demonstrated by Muslims themselves.  Still, the DIA has done something very gracious and important by devoting a substantial and expensive portion of its real estate to opening the world of Islamic art to museum visitors.

The DIA also opened itself to Muslims from around Detroit, including TMO, which is a very important gesture–when we as Muslims still face tremendous pressure from prejudice and ignorance–it is an enlightened act to show an Islamic art exhibit in this time.

12-9

BMUC Hosts Muslim Youth Pep Talk

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

P1308653 Bloomfield—January 29—What will become of the next generation of Muslims? The Bloomfield Unity Center (BMUC) held a session to host and encourage Muslim youths to use their Muslim identity to avoid becoming lost to forces of dissipation such as drugs, indolence, and undirected professional growth.

The focus of the seminar was “living with a purpose,” and several speakers at the center spoke about the greatness of Sahaba for example, to build in the youth a love of Islam to shield them against the distractions which surround them. 

Perhaps the most inspiring story of the seminar was one about the Companion Mu’adh ibn Jabal (ra), who was one of four Sahaba that Prophet (s) said to go to to learn Qur`an–the speaker explained that he had made ziyara to that Companion’s maqam, and it had been filled with a smell of musk, but the imam of the mosque explained that although the mosque always had that beautiful smell of musk, in all his years working at the maqam he had never seen anybody put one drop of musk there.

Another was a quote from Imam Ghazali, who said that his most beloved thing was what goes into graves with you, namely good deeds.

The keynote speaker of the event was Sister Aminah Assilmi, who spoke on the importance of facing difficulties, and described how she faced serious difficulties that she encountered, symbolized by a stone that caused her to fall dangerously.  Ms. Assilmi converted to Islam from a Southern Baptist family and faced brutal isolation from her family.  Her conversion story is very funny–she first socialized with Arabs with the full intention of converting them from Islam to Christianity.  Her sincere attempt to convert the Muslims resulted in her reading Qur`an carefully over a period of years and resulted in her eventually becoming Muslim.

12-6

Interfaith Singing Event in Ann Arbor

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Three members of the Threshold Choir of Ann Arbor sing at the East West Center on Airport Rd. in Ann Arbor. 

Photo by Steve Lyskawa

Ann Arbor–January 24–Three very different singing groups performed together at a Divine Language of Music Chanting special at the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth at 704 Airport Rd. in Ann Arbor Sunday night.

An audience of about 120 people packed a beautiful room lit by candles, with paintings on the walls designed to represent spiritual teachings, and symbols around the room of cosmological things like the stars and moon.

Norma Gentile sang first–she is a recording artist of four solo musical CDs, 10 Meditation and teaching CDs.  She sings in a way designed to connect to spiritual powers.

Also singing were The Threshold Choir, which may be of slightly more interest to a Muslim audience.  The Threshold Choir, represented Sunday by about 15 singers, sings at the bedsides of people–sometimes bedsides of people who are dying, sometimes bedsides of people who are sick or in comas.  The Threshold Choir actually has branches all over the United States and in Canada as well, although they began in the Bay Area of California (where they now have several branches).

“We sing in small pairs or small groups in hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes when we are invited by family or caregivers,” explains their website.

At the Center for Spiritual Growth the Ann Arbor brach of the choir did a demonstration of several of their songs, including a rehearsed bedside singing ceremony.

The songs they sang at the event were all in English, including one called “Breathe in, cherish yourself, breathe out, cherish the world,” and another one which is a Navajo prayer, “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced, live your life so that when you die, you rejoice and the world cries.”

The Threshold Choir is a women’s only choir which is in fact a kind of spiritual guidance–beginning singers are welcomed from all faith backgrounds but are trained for a period of months before they actually perform for people at their bedsides.

Finally there was a Sufi chanting group which chanted the Shahada and Allah’s Holy Names, and there was a drum accompaniment and also there were whirling dervishes; Mr. Kamau Ayyubi explained the dervishes hold their right hand up high and extend their left down, representing bringing Divine benefits to this world.

12-5

Secrets of Qur`an: Dr. Mohammad Ramzi

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Bloomfield–January 20–BMUC hosts Friday night events at which different personalities have the opportunity to explain their businesses that relate to the community, or to explore religious issues, or to give lessons to the community.

Dr. Mohammad Ramzi is a pillar of Michigan’s Muslim community–a prominent doctor like so many from the Muslim community, Dr. Ramzi is also a professor at Wayne State University who in 2008 won a prestigious $1.3 million grant to seek a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Ramzi is no stranger to the Muslim community, as a prominent and dynamic fundraiser, he has collected literally millions on behalf of local Muslim organizations. 

Dr. Ramzi also studies Islam, and it was in furtherance of this study that he taught at a meeting last Friday night at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center.  The doctor explored several different scientific aspects of the Holy Qur`an, echoing the previous work of Dr. Maurice Bucaille, a French doctor (1920 – 1998), the previous family physician of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and a convert to Islam.  In his book The Bible, The Qur`an and Science, Bucaille had explored many of the scientific revelations of Qur`an, impossible to see physically and unknown to the most modern science of the era into which the Qur`an was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s).

Dr. Ramzi explored several verses including An-Noor:40, which discusses light in the ocean; he said that no person could physically explore the ocean in 632 AD, and yet Qur`an accurately describes light in the depths of the ocean.

He described Ar-Rum:  48, in which the formation of clouds and rain are described, saying that winds blow across water, forming small clouds which aggregate into large clouds–Dr. Ramzi explained this is also the finding of modern science.

Also Dr. Ramzi explored An-Naba:14-16, which describes mu’sirat (translated clouds) but which in Arabic he said means huge clouds of a type which he argued are not seen at all in Arabia but which are seen above rain forests in Africa and South America.

The doctor also explored the verses showing the scientific fact of divisions existing between salt water and fresh water where rivers meet oceans, and also the divisions between different bodies of salt water where they come into contact–he explained that only recently has modern science arrived at the truths given in Holy Qur`an 1400 years ago.

12-4

Cloning Virtual Box Machines

January 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Virtual Box is probably the best program, currently, for making virtual machines.  I haven’t tried the others, but I did Google the issue and by reputation it’s by far the fastest, and it’s free.  It’s made by Sun, so with the backing of such a major tech company you know it has to be pretty good.

I have had two virtual XP installations running at the same time on a dual core machine with 2.5 gigs of RAM.  I had a full load of other programs running as I recall, including Firefox (which sometimes eats a lot of memory).  They ran okay but did crash the machine (grinding everything to a standstill, which had never happened before)—still I am amazed at how well the whole thing functioned.

We happen to have several XP Pro licenses because we bought several machines brand new, some of which are now running other OSs.

An issue with Virtual Box machines is cloning, however.  It should actually be pretty easy to clone a machine, but actually it takes some doing.  So I am going to give you the solution that I came to after some effort and lessons learned.

Of course it’s a good idea to get the copy of the virtual machine into good shape (i.e.  activated if applicable, with the programs that you want, whatever settings you want, and all the updates run).  These instructions assume you have Virtual Box running on a Windows machine (here Windows 7 RC [sorry, I made a mistake, this is really windows XP running with a facelift (using Seven Remix) to look like W7… but I would think these basic principles still apply to W7 although I have not tested these directions under W7]), and in this case the Virtual Box machine I am cloning is also Windows (here XP).  This method uses a “non-documented” internal command of Virtual Box that could be turned off at any time by Sun but as of yesterday (January 19, 2010) and today too, it worked fine.  There is another way using a documented command (clonehd) but I used the non-documented command because I had already made a copy of the drive I wanted and the easiest thing seemed to be to just make it usable—and this way worked for me and made sense to me. 

Although we did this on a Windows machine it should be pretty similar and about as easy in another OS, for example in Linux it is pretty routine to work on the command line so should be easier I guess.  Most of the instructions on the web seemed like they were aimed at Linux/Ubuntu users so that is why I did this instruction set for Windows.  Should make it easier to follow the paths and figure out where the necessary files are.

I don’t know what will happen if you have snapshots of the drive you want to clone—I didn’t have any snapshots of mine.  In many directions the first step is to get rid of all snapshots.

Be careful because these virtual machines will eat a hard drive very quickly.  I have about four virtual machines and my C drive went from being healthy and half empty to being nearly filled to capacity in just a couple of days.

Sorry, you have to go to the command line to do this.

Here is step by step how to do it:

Before you begin you must make sure the virtual machine to be cloned is turned off.

 

1) Make a copy of the .vdi file for the machine you want to clone.  The path is:

C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\.VirtualBox\HardDisks\*.vdi

Just right click the file you want and copy it, giving the new file an easy-to-remember name, like for example “XP.vdi” is the original file and “XPCopy.vdi” is the new copy of it.  Paste the copy into the same folder.

 

2) Reset the user id of the copy. This is the part of the procedure that uses an undocumented command, namely “sethduuid” (here are the instructions I used but I will summarize below):

Open a command window:  Start – Run – type “cmd” in the box to open a black command window.

Type the following commands (filling in your user name in the [user] box) in the command window:

cd C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\.VirtualBox\HardDisks

“C:\Program Files\Sun\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe” internalcommands sethduuid XPCopy.vdi

In above command make sure the path is right on your machine, and don’t forget the quotation marks around the path to VBoxManage.exe.  Of course you will have to put the correct name of your copied hard disk image, in this example I used XPCopy.vdi (and in the actual demo below I used “XPCopy2.vdi”) but yours is likely different.

cleaned-83 copy 

 

 

3) Now you have to make a new Virtual Box machine and link it to your clone:

Open Sun Virtual Box … New … Next … [type the name of your clone machine and change the OS and version as necessary] … Next … [i just use the defaults] … Next … click “use existing hard disk” and click the folder button, click “Add” and browse to the new .vdi file (in my example mine is XPCopy.vdi) … click “Open” … Select … Next … Finish

Ha.  You’re all done.  Start that new clone up and you’re in business.  I just followed these steps myself and it all worked but in case I left out a step or something please leave a comment on this article, which will eventually come to my attention.

 

I love your comments so whether you want to say thanks or want to say this doesn’t work for you or something please add a comment.

 

Errors:

1) I renamed a copy then stored the copy on an external drive then brought the .vdi copy back to the VirtualBox/HardDisks folder, and when I tried to reset the user id and got the error message “VERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND”. 

I kept getting this error, but not now…

I suspect I was not in the “HardDisks” subdirectory and this is why I was getting this error.  You must be in the correct directory where you have the copy before this sethduuid command will work.

2) The whole reason I realized the importance of resetting the user id was because I got the error “Cannot register the hard disk…” “UUID … already exists in the media registry”  when I tried to link to a .vdi image from a new machine, but without first going through the procedure of resetting the user id.  The user id is attached to each virtual box image by Sun, not Microsoft.  You cannot just copy another virtual machine’s hard disk and then start a new virtual machine and link to it, you’ll get the user id error.

Hojjaj Party at Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center (BMUC)

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

P1108645 Bloomfield–January 10–Many Muslims made the hajj pilgrimage this year from the Southeast Michigan region, and so the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center had a party this past Sunday night to celebrate their noble accomplishment.

About 150 people were present at the function which was in mood more spiritual than most of the other functions at the center.  The marks of hajj were in fact visible on some of the attendees, many of whom had shaved their heads at the end of the hajj and were still growing back their hair.

Imam Musa explained to TMO that “This year there were less people because of swine flu.”

BMUC presented small token gifts to about 10 people who recently came back from hajj, and a slide show played through the event, showing familiar faces and familiar places that one might not have seen together before, like Imam Musa on Arafat for example.

The Hojjaj party gave a chance for each of the hojjaj to present a few brief words either of advice, of admiration for having made hajj, or of lessons learned from making the hajj.

P1108646 One piece of advice was to make the hajj while one is still young because in fact it is a demanding exercise.

Many of the returning hojjaj remarked that they didn’t feel the exhaustion from the trip until after their return to home, because of having been so overwhelmed with fascination during their trip.

“Don’t stay away too long from this place,” advised one returnee.  “Come back in a year or two.”

One man said, “It is very hard to explain the feeling of seeing the Kaaba for the first time–it is something that comes from the heart.”

One returnee was moved to tears, and said “I was amazed what Prophet (s) did for all of us.”

The Unity Center will have an umra trip early this April.

12-3

1st Annual IONA Islam Conference

January 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Warren–January 2–IONA held its first annual Islam conference this past Saturday evening at IONA. 

Two speakers were invited to the event, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, and Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Muslim activist from Oakland California.

They both spoke on secularism and American democracy, Dawud Walif focusing on how American democracy and history includes elements of Islam, and Ali focusing instead on distinctions and points of conflict between the Islamic and Western worlds and world views.

Both focused on Islam as a non-religion, which may be a thesis that most people would disagree with.  The underlying argument is that Muslims must be involved in political life, because Islam is a “deen” which both speakers translated ast “way of life,” rather than as “religion.”

As a first such event from IONA, it was interesting that the underlying message echoed the previous speech at the center by a non-Muslim proponent of the thesis that Islam is not a religion, rather a kind of political awakening movement, Prof. Robert Shedinger (who spoke there on October 24th of 2009, reported on in TMO V11-I45).  Shedinger argues that Jesus was Muslim, as a corollary to his argument that Islam is not a religion. 

Shedinger’s companion argument is that the effort to define Islam as a religion rather than a way of life was imposed by non-Muslims in an effort to stem the efforts of Muslims to be politically involved, for example in combating colonialism.

It is surprising that the radical idea of Islam’s being just another worldly movement is gaining among Muslims, but apparently the IONA conference documents the spread of this idea.

12-2

The Divine Language of Music

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Ann Arbor–December 15–Tuesday night there was an interfaith event designed to open common bonds of humanity through celebration of spiritual music.

Seven different performances of varying kinds were presented to an audience of about 250 people representing several different faiths at the combined syagogue and church–Temple Beth Emeth / St. Clare Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor.

The first performance of the evening was in Urdu, a song sung beautifully by Hera Abedi, called “Khuddi Ka Sir-e-nehan.”

After this there was choir music mixing Jewish songs with Christian ones, and with choir members from both  religious traditions in the choir of about 20 singers.

Then there was an adaptation of instrumental music designed to showcase the religious spirit of jazz performances of “Compassion” and “El is the Sound of Joy” by John Coltrane and Sun Ra, respectively.

There was a Hindu performance of very beautiful dancing.

Finally and most beautifully there was a beautiful recitation of the Shahada, Astaghfirullah, La ilaha illal Lah, Qasida Burdah, and beautiful English-language qasidas celebrating the Prophet Muhammad (s) by a group of Sufis demonstrating zikr, hadrah, and “whirling dervish” style whirling.

There was also a flute performance and a performance of Amazing Grace.

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Rashida Tlaib Fundraiser

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

West Bloomfield–December 6–As the only Muslim woman ever to have been elected to the Michigan legislature, Rashida Tlaib has a natural base of support outside of her district in Southwest Detroit, the 12th congressional district, and she met with a few of those supporters this past weekend at a house in West Bloomfield.

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Citing the need to get her campaign organization in full swing before other Democratic challengers emerge, she kicked off her campaign season at the home of Dr. Safwan Badr, and about 20 well-heeled Muslims from many communities of Michigan were present to show support for the legislator and attorney who rose from humble beginnings to a level of power never before reached by a Muslim woman in Michigan.

Rep. Tlaib has a very quick mind and a clear grasp of the personalities and issues in Lansing, and this was clear from her easy and fluent answers to questions on various issues such as the upcoming governor’s race in Michigan, in which she announced that likely Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon would contest against other likely candidates such as current Michigan secretary of state Terry Lynn Land and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Rep. Tlaib described her intentions to build a campaign staff, and went into detail about the demographics of her own district, describing it as roughly one third black, one third white, and one third hispanic, with a small percentage of Yemenis. 

Her mere presence in Lansing’s legislature is of benefit to Muslims in Michigan, just by the fact of her example, as a Muslim woman who makes salat and is “not even hiding who I am.” 

Influential people from the community were in attendance, such as for example Ghalib Begg, who has maintained close ties across all of Michigan’s ranks of politicians.  Professor Saeed Khan of Wayne State was also there.

Rep. Tlaib can use your financial support and would welcome volunteers. Contact rashida4rep@yahoo.com, 313-297-8800.

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