Focusing On What’s Important

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness – to believe in ALLAH and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give Zakat, to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic.  Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. 

Al Qur’an  2:177

One of the beautiful things of this great religion of ours is the diversity of people, cultures and Madhhabs, or schools of thought, which make up the religion.  We learn so much by traveling through the earth, meeting people, studying their ways, and applying the good of what they have to enhance our own situation.  In fact, Almighty ALLAH, (swt) says in Qur’an “He has made us different so that we may know one another” (so that we may grow).

I don’t think there will come a time (at least not in our lifetime) when all the Muslims will think alike, act alike, or worship alike.  So ALLAH has said it’s not important which way you turn your head.  It is not important how far you stick your finger out in jalsa (or whether you stick it out at all).  Focusing on such trivialities only cause feelings of animosity and seek to cause dis-unity rather than unity.
What ALLAH says He does like is for us to treat our fellow human being in a way that respects him or her and helps him or her to the best of our ability.

One of the things I am so elated about is I see more and more of the Muslims going out of their way to be courteous to one another.  I see more and more people trying to understand each other; I see more and more people trying to work with each other; even if they only come to the realization that they would rather not work together.  This is also positive because it keeps down confrontation.  A quote from Imam W.D. Mohammed puts it this way.  “The whole world is changing.  None of us are staying the same.  It’s wonderful to see people changing now to accept each other, understand each other, get to know each other and try to do something together to make life better for all of us on this earth.  This is really a wonderful time we’re living in!  A time that brings Jews, Christians, and Muslims together for a common cause in the spirit of fraternal or brotherly friendship.”

In the above sura ALLAH tells us what is not righteousness and then He tells us what is righteousness.  He says to fulfill the contracts that you have made.  Don’t get in the habit of being untruthful to each other.  There is nothing that can destroy a community quicker than lies – intentional untruths.

So let’s not worry about turning our faces East or West.  Let us gain righteousness by believing in ALLAH and following His guidance to all mankind. 

We invite the community to the Muslim Center on Sunday November 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM for an Interfaith Service.  Christians, Jews, and other faith traditions will join us and watch a re-enactment of the Hajj, done by our young people.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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Focusing On What’s Important

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness – to believe in ALLAH and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give Zakat, to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic.  Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. 

Al Qur’an  2:177

One of the beautiful things of this great religion of ours is the diversity of people, cultures and Madhhabs, or schools of thought, which make up the religion.  We learn so much by traveling through the earth, meeting people, studying their ways, and applying the good of what they have to enhance our own situation.  In fact, Almighty ALLAH, (swt) says in Qur’an “He has made us different so that we may know one another” (so that we may grow).

I don’t think there will come a time (at least not in our lifetime) when all the Muslims will think alike, act alike, or worship alike.  So ALLAH has said it’s not important which way you turn your head.  It is not important how far you stick your finger out in jalsa (or whether you stick it out at all).  Focusing on such trivialities only cause feelings of animosity and seek to cause dis-unity rather than unity.
What ALLAH says He does like is for us to treat our fellow human being in a way that respects him or her and helps him or her to the best of our ability.

One of the things I am so elated about is I see more and more of the Muslims going out of their way to be courteous to one another.  I see more and more people trying to understand each other; I see more and more people trying to work with each other; even if they only come to the realization that they would rather not work together.  This is also positive because it keeps down confrontation.  A quote from Imam W.D. Mohammed puts it this way.  “The whole world is changing.  None of us are staying the same.  It’s wonderful to see people changing now to accept each other, understand each other, get to know each other and try to do something together to make life better for all of us on this earth.  This is really a wonderful time we’re living in!  A time that brings Jews, Christians, and Muslims together for a common cause in the spirit of fraternal or brotherly friendship.”

In the above sura ALLAH tells us what is not righteousness and then He tells us what is righteousness.  He says to fulfill the contracts that you have made.  Don’t get in the habit of being untruthful to each other.  There is nothing that can destroy a community quicker than lies – intentional untruths.

So let’s not worry about turning our faces East or West.  Let us gain righteousness by believing in ALLAH and following His guidance to all mankind. 

We invite the community to the Muslim Center on Sunday November 13, 2011 at 1:00 PM for an Interfaith Service.  Christians, Jews, and other faith traditions will join us and watch a re-enactment of the Hajj, done by our young people.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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IZFNA Sports: Importance of Family Exercise

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi

Aqeela-NaqviImam-e-Zamana Foundation of North America (IZFNA) held their annual picnic and sports day this weekend in Freehold, NJ. There was face painting, nail and mehndi art, falooda and nacho/cheese stands, sports games, as well as sprints and sack races for boys and girls ages 3-14. Though the picnic provided all sorts of fun, the sports day aspect may be singled out as the most commendable part. It signals for the stressing of the importance of physical activity to the coming Muslim generation. Instead of allowing our children to fall completely into the ‘technology craze’, we must find time to invite them towards natural pleasures, such as running, biking, hiking, swimming, etc. These practices are important because since they are group activities, and not individual ones (such as video games and television shows tend to be), they can be done as a family.

When we teach our children to appreciate the beauty of nature, and turn “physical activity” into “family bonding time”, we are not only setting the stage for a growth in their imaginations (by teaching them to have fun creatively, instead of depending on a computer software); but we are also teaching them to see being healthy as fun, and not a chore. They will begin to associate innovative physical activity and ‘playing games as a family’ with fond and heartwarming memories. Not only will this serve to make our future generation healthier and more creative, but it will also serve to bring families together in a fun and simple manner—a bonding process that is greatly needed, especially in our fast-paced world.

If an appreciation for simplicity, and gratitude for the beautiful natural blessings Allah (swt) has given us, is instilled in our children at a young age, it can be hoped that lasting effects will be seen as they grow into adolescence and adulthood. Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said: “Up to seven years of age, a child should play; for another seven years, he should be taught how to read and write; and for still another seven years, he should learn about lawful and unlawful things.” Thus, if we allow our children to play and grow and explore the world at a young age (such as by involving them in fun physical activities), then Insha’Allah as they grow older, they will use those imaginative and cherished family experiences as stepping stones towards: gaining an appreciation for family togetherness, trusting their parents as their guides and eventual companions, and displaying an eagerness to join their family unit on a group (rather than strictly individual) journey towards learning more about Islam.

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‘Eidul Fitr 1432, Delran, NJ

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviThis year, the Eid celebration at Bait-ul-Qayem center in Delran, NJ was a gathering made complete with an array of appetizing barbeque, dizzying amounts of cotton candy, refreshing snow cones, and a moon bounce that was never empty of laughing children. About 200 members of the local community got together to pray Eid namaaz and to thank Allah (swt) for granting the Muslim ummah the opportunity to experience another blessed Month of Ramadan. The Imam of the congregation, Maulana Syed Tilmiz Hasnain Rizvi, recited the khutba, reminding the congregation that the day of Eid is not only a day for celebration, but is also a day for self-reflection—we must ask ourselves on this blessed day, has there been any change in ourselves at the end of this month that has brought us closer to achieving the pleasure of Allah (swt)? He quoted Imam Ali (peace be upon him) saying, “Every day in which you do not disobey Allah (swt) is a day of Eid.”

Aside from the laughter and the games and the food, there was a deeper thread that could be felt weaving its way through the congregation—a thread pulsing with the radiance of unity and brotherhood, and most of all, a sense of indomitable spirit. The Muslim community found itself congratulating each other on achieving a level of self-discipline to stay away from all things disliked by Allah (swt) during this month. There was a sense of hope, that if this manner of controlling one’s desires for the sake of Allah (swt) could be accomplished for thirty days, then so too could it be accomplished in all the days in the future, Insha’Allah.

It was a gathering of wayfarers, all having traveled different distances on the same journey towards attaining nearness to Allah (swt), pausing for a moment to bid farewell to the Holy Month that had become so much like a dear and respected friend and companion; whose departure was a separation of the aggrieved and lamented, and whose arrival the following year will be awaited with desirous hearts, restless souls, and eager preparation in the months between.

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Encouraging Program For Young Ones By Masjid At-Taqwa

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (3) Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (4)
   

It all started with the volunteers like Mahmood Marfani, Irfan Ibrahim, & Hanif Samana; and tireless efforts of Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui, that the first Quran Qirat Competition for young boys and girls, could become a reality By the Grace of Allah SWT. First time in the history of MasjidAttaqwa at Synott Road, in Sugar Land near Houston, on the 21st Night of Qadar, more than seventy talented and amazing young boy’s and girl’s participated in this Quran Qirat Competition and recited one after another in a beautiful voices – the verses of the Holy Quran which they have memorized by heart.

Masjid was filled up with parents and others, who love Quran and want to encourage the young stars, who were shinning until 3:30am. The Judges, Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Hafiz Arsalan Majid, were following the criteria of memorization, pronunciation, and tajweed to choose the winners of the competition.

Parents and children were excited and anxiously waiting as Abdur Rahman Siddiqui pronounced the results of the competition. The Qirat Competition came to an end with twelve winners, who were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes in four groups.

First place was awarded with a cash price of $100, second place was $50, third was $25, and every participant was awarded with a cash price of $10 each. The program ended with Tahjjud Prayer and Suhoor.

Administration of Synott Masjid want to thank Allah SWT and the generosity of the Brothers who supported this event financially and morally. InshaAllah, They will have more Quran Qirat  Competition in the near future. For comments/suggestions, please visit www.masjidattaqwa.com

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Preparing for Ramadan: Renewing Our Intentions

July 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Muslema Purmul

ramadan_family

Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that: “I heard The Prophet, peace be upon him, saying, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended…” (Bukhari; Muslim)

In a hadith Qudsi, the Prophet, peace be upon him, tells us that Allah (SWT) said,

“And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him.

And My servant continues to draw near to me with nawaafil (extra good) deeds until I Love him.

When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks.

Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.” (Bukhari)

Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “Those who are the closest to Allah are the ones who have their Mubaah (allowed acts like sleep) turned into acts of worship and into a means of approach to Allah, on account of their good intention (Niyyah). They no longer have a Mubaah that is equal on both sides (where doing or abandoning it are the same). All their deeds are leaning to one side, (that is, they always gain a reward).”

Practical Steps

The first thing we need to do in preparing for the month of Ramadan is renewing our intentions, yes all the way from now! One of my teachers in Egypt had mentioned to me that the companions in order to increase the amount of reward they would get for a single good deed, would compete in seeing who can come up with the most amount of good intentions for that deed. Our practical tip for the day in renewing our intentions is two-fold:

1-    The first part is to make a list of all that you want to accomplish in Ramadan. This includes doing acts that are obligatory, recommended, and allowed as well as staying away from discouraged and prohibited acts.

This list should cover every aspect of your life: your spiritual relationship with Allah, your knowledge, your activism and volunteering in teamwork in the community, your relationships (family, bonds of brotherhood, sisterhood, your neighbors, etc.), your speech and character, your career, your finances, everything. And think about making each goal something you seek sincerely for Allah (SWT)’s pleasure. Make your goals challenging but within reach. If they are too easy you will take them for granted and if they are too difficult then they may discourage you. It has to be doable for you.

After you make your list, spend a few minutes making dua that Allah (SWT) grants you success in achieving each and every intended act, and in achieving sincerity in them all. Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes for this tip! Also keep in mind, some of the goals you have will be covered in our Count-Down, and some won’t be. Try to practice in a gradual way the goals you have set for yourself all throughout the Count-Down days, and as such you will have habituated your soul on the good action even before entering Ramadan insha Allah!

Just by renewing your intentions constantly, you will also find yourself speaking to Him more and making more dua

2- The second part is something you can practice today and continue practicing during the count-down. That is try to renew your intention for everything you have to do today as many times as possible.

When you eat, seek Allah’s pleasure by intending to gain energy through the food in order to serve Him better. When you sit down at the internet, seek to gain or deliver beneficial knowledge that would draw you and others closer to Him (SWT). When you send an email, seek to increase your bonds of ukhuwwah (brotherhood) and better the relationship with the other person for the sake of Allah (SWT). When you pray, seek to have the most concentration in order to increase the reward of that prayer, etc. etc. etc.

You will find, insha Allah—the more you renew your intentions, the better each act becomes, and the more blessings you find in them. Even chores will have a sweetness to complete when the remembrance of Allah (SWT) is present in the heart. You will find that just by renewing your intentions constantly, you will also find yourself speaking to Him more and making more dua. Remember and rejoice in Allah’s Generosity! There is reward and Allah’s pleasure just in having good intentions, even if we were not able to accomplish the specific actions we wanted!

In a hadith Qudsi, the Prophet, peace be upon him, mentioned,

“He who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as a full good deed; but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over.

But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah (SWT) writes it down as one bad deed. (Bukhari and Muslim)

May Allah (SWT) bless both the quantity and quality of our intentions, and grant us success in them in this life and in the hereafter.

Ameen

From the site:  http://theramadancountdown.wordpress.com

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ISNA Convention Chicago

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Top Moments From 48th Annual ISNA Convention

ISNA Press Release

ISNA07042011

The 48th annual ISNA convention has come and gone, and thousands of attendees from across North America were able to learn, laugh and reflect. From July 1-4 in Chicago, convention-goers learned from some of the most influential Muslim icons in the West, on topics ranging from social pluralism to racism and classism to Islamophobia, and more.

Whether attendees were taking part in the ISNA, MSA, or MYNA programs, sessions followed the main convention theme: “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony,” in an effort to illustrate how the merits of integration and social harmony in America are in line with Islamic spirituality and inspire community members to respond proactively to discrimination with patience and initiatives to promote tolerance.

The four-day convention-the largest Muslim convention in North America-had many great moments, lessons and events. Too many to count, in fact. But here are the Top 11 highlights of the 48th ISNA convention:

1. Hathout, Mattson, Esposito and Shakir on Social Harmony. 

At the Friday night main session, “Islam, Pluralism, and Social Harmony,” speakers Maher Hathout, former ISNA president Ingrid Mattson, John Esposito and Imam Zaid Shakir addressed the importance of a peaceful, pluralistic society, and the social movement needed today. Their reflections on the topic set the tone for the rest of the weekend, illustrating the main theme of social harmony.

Mattson urged others to have a positive attitude toward religious diversity.

“Allah [swt] in the Quran tells us that it is His will that there should be religious  diversity in the world,” Mattson said. “This is Allah’s choice. … He could have chosen it to be a different kind of world.”
Imam Zaid Shakir said he believed what is needed now is a social movement within the Muslim community.

“Our community has proven that we can live with other people,” Shakir said. “Our challenge [now] is to build a social movement to enhance values in our own community and then just share those values with others. Our movement should be of grace and rehabilitation to show that we have something to offer this country.”

2. Tackling the “difficult” topics head on.

There are those topics that, perhaps in our local masjid community, are often shied away from, brushed under the rug, or aren’t given the proper attention or depth of discussion needed. The majority of the sessions this weekend were chosen by ISNA members, so many were not the run-of-the-mill topics, but were instead those that are often “uncomfortable” but extremely necessary today to bring to the forefront.

Convention-goers attended sessions from topics ranging from substance abuse and addiction to Muslim women in the military, to how to respond to Islamophobia and anti-Sharia sentiment, to the need for many of our mosques to be more inclusive.

3. All the Muslims. 

Let’s face it: ISNA is the largest Muslim convention of its kind in all of North America. And seeing thousands upon thousands of Muslims from all over the country flock to one place in an effort to learn more about their faith, network, reflect, and learn how to be a more active citizen or a better Muslim, is awe-inspiring.

“As a first time ISNA-er, the number of Muslims from all over for one weekend is what is amazing to me,” Zaynah Qutubuddin said.

Another perk to being the biggest Muslim convention? ISNA-goers are able to see old friends.

“Probably one of the best things about my weekend was seeing the faces of people I haven’t seen in nine years or so,” one convention-goer said.

“I got to spend time with friends from D.C., Chicago, Boston and California, all at once. I never would have been able to see them otherwise, and I look forward to seeing them at the ISNA convention every year,” said Dalia Othman, of Detroit.

4. Learning more about the faith.

The contemporary sessions of the weekend were remarkable, but some convention-goers are also looking for a revitalization of their faith, to learn more about Islam and be inspired. One of the breakout lessons that left a strong impression with attendees was the MSA session, “Inner Whispers: Defeating Satan’s Playbook” with speaker Wisam Sharieff, who addressed ways to fight temptation and strengthen one’s bond with God instead.

“One thing he said that just completely opened my eyes was how we should start any form of speaking with either alhamdallah, subhanallah, or la illaha ila Allah,” said Khalid AbdelJalil, of Villa Park, Ill. “[Sharieff] said by starting with that, it could stop us from things like getting into arguments or gossiping. It was tips like that that I think are going to make a big difference in my day-to-day.”
For some, sessions like this were a reminder of the importance of spiritual learning, and how the convention is a chance to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time.

“It truly reminded me of why I came to ISNA and reminded me of how special I am to be a Muslim, alhamdallah,” sai Lama Musa, of Chicago.

5. Entertainment Night.

Native Deen, Muslim country singer Kareem Salama, poet Mona Haydar, and musician Najam Sheraz headlined Entertainment Night on Sunday evening. The crowd got to sing along to their favorite Native Deen songs, and old and new fans of Kareem Salama’s music were able to finally see the artist in a rare Chicago appearance.

“When Native Deen got on stage, I felt like I was a little kid again,” said Haneen Waheed, from Indiana. “They’re an exciting, thrilling, amazing and talented group, mashallah. They really got the crowd going-I had a blast.”

She also caught Kareem Salama’s performance for the first time. “He was like a rock star country singer!”

6. Sheriff Leroy D. Baca & Keith Ellison.

Baca’s testimony at the controversial hearing led by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) was key in highlighting the baseless singling out of Muslims, and turned him into a veritable hero to the Muslim American community. His appearance at ISNA’s “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony: Building Bridges Through Caring” session showed attendees his support for the Muslim community, as well as other faith communities.

“We will defend all religions at all times,” Baca told attendees.

Following Baca was congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who closed the session with a rousing speech asking the Muslim Americans to be active in the arenas of social and economic justice.
“Get ready to help your country, help your country revive the economy, help your country say liberty and justice for all to include all and help your country to relate to the rest of the world,” Ellison said. “All these strengths are on your table, all these things demand your attention. But I believe you can do it if you put your mind to it.”

7. Islamic Film Festival.

Whether you’ve been dying to watch “Mooz-lum,” “I am Here,” or “The Deen Show,” it was all available for screenings at the Islamic Film Festival that showcased some of the latest and most critically-acclaimed films by and about Muslims.

The big weekend crowd-pleaser was the documentary “Fordson,” about the Fordson High football team and what happens when Muslims play football. It also helped that the “stars” of the film were there for the screening. Film creators talked about the making the film and gave the audience a “behind the scenes” look, team members took photos with fans, and the team coach threw a football around with kids at the bazaar.

“I kept fighting with myself-I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to a lecture or sneak back to the film festival and watch another movie,” said Samira Mohommad, of Chicago. “’Fordson’ was great, gave a really strong patriotic message, especially on fourth of July weekend!”

8. Health Fair.

At a time when more than 46 million Americans lack health insurance, the free health screenings at the convention health fair were a welcome offer, and had an almost constant stream of traffic all weekend.

Along with health screenings, testing for blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even dental health screenings were available on site. There was also a blood drive from the Red Cross, and a bone marrow donor registration-in memory of 15-year-old Bilal Mallik, who passed away earlier this year after a brief battle with Leukemia.

“I registered to be a bone marrow donor,” said Omar Yunus, of San Francisco. “Just took a swab of the inside of my cheek-the whole thing took about five minutes. This is a good thing they’re doing.”

9. Love for the orphans.

Dozens of people signed up to be an orphan sponsor, seeking to clothe, shelter and nourish orphans from all corners of the world through Islamic Relief’s orphan sponsorship program. And when Imam Shakir, along with speakers Elena Melona and Wafa Bennani, discussed orphan adoption in Islam in the session “Each of Us is a Flower: Adoption in the Muslim Community,” the room was so jam-packed that attendees were standing in any space that was available-the phrase, “this may be a safety violation” was uttered more than once-demonstrating the eagerness with which many ISNA-goers sought to learn about adoption and how they can reach out and care for orphans.

“If we don’t provide nurturing environments for both our biological children and those children who are orphans, then we are going to provide a social situation that is going to provide a lot more haraam,” Imam Shakir said. “There are social consequences that accrue when we don’t look care for our orphans.”

10. Zumba! Fitness.

This year’s convention had many new and fun activities, including the return of the ever popular basketball tournament, but none more anticipated than the all-ages “Soul Improvements: Sisters Fitness Extravaganza,” where attendees (sisters only!) were able to enjoy a food tasting and an exciting Zumba routine, while also learning about healthy living in Islam.

Zaynah Qutubuddin of Boston, a newcomer to the convention, said, “I absolutely loved it. It was my first time doing Zumba and I had a lot of fun. I also appreciated the tie-in to Islam and general health.”

11. Bazaar, Bazaar, Bazaar.

It’s always fun to see what stops vendors pull out to attract ISNA-goers. From free t-shirts and electronic tasbeeh counters to live-and oh-so-adorable-baby chicks, to a chance to win a free cruise, you can always guarantee a good time at the bazaar (and get to go home with a respectable amount of free swag!).

Many booths even featured surprise appearances; bazaar shoppers could take get their Kareem Salama CD signed by the artist himself, take a photo with the football players from the critically-acclaimed film “Fordson,” talk with imams Yaser Birjas and Yasir Qadi at Al-Maghrib Institute’s booth, or meet NFL players-brothers Hamza and Husain Abdullah.

“Kareem Salama signed my CD, that was a definite highlight for me,” one young convention attendee said. “I love his music, so different from other Islamic music, with its own unique message.”

“I got to hold a baby chick,” gushed another attendee, Tamara Saleh, of Washington D.C., said. “The chicks at the Crescent Chicken booth were my favorite.”

Article courtesy of ISNA volunteer and freelance journalist Meha Ahmad. Photos courtesy of ISNA volunteers and photographers Nushmia Khan, Osama Alian, and Mariam Saifan.

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IV. End Game!

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Ashland (Ore.)–Your raconteur has found himself in the Siskiyou (Mountains) of Southern Oregon (about ten miles north from the California border).

This charming small city has been short-listed as one of the best “urban” areas in America with the right mix of (nearby) nature (Crater Lake National Park et al. is close) in balance with (Euro-American) culture.  This municipality is home to the highest acclaimed Shakespeare Festival in the United States along with other festivals and individual events.  Provided one is not working against a deadline, one does not have to be bored here – with Allah (SWT’s) awe-inspiring natural landscape during the day, and His arousing beauty of the human mind’s creations during the evening!
In the Middle East the vocabulary is stalemate.  Libya, Syria and Yemen are in all-out civil war with no end in sight although Colonel Khadafy is “testing the waters” for an amnesty from prosecution if he steps down and to allow polls to determine the will of the people to conclude this status of civil war.  It was reported Sunday (the 19th) a horrible bungled NATO (North Atlantic Treaty organization) sortie over the city of Tripoli missed its target slaughtering a large number of human souls.  Although your author had originally supported the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty organization’s) intervention at the behest of Islamic organizations pressing for the end to these repressive regimes, I must question its methods at this time, for it is doing further damage to the Muslims there who have suffered so much.

On the 15th, the Lower House of the (U.S.) Congress passed a vote of “no confidence” for their support of the Executive’s activities in Libya; and, thus, also, of our orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan as well.  Curiously, on Saturday (the eighteenth), (U.S.) Secretary of State Robert Gates admitted that the District of Columbia had recently had face-to-face negotiation with the Taliban, too, which is a positive sign towards solving an intractable confusion between the West and a less than attractive faction within Islam itself.

Let it be noted that Barrack Hussein Obama has been the most sensitive of American Chief Executives to Dar al-Islam.  He has nearly rectified the mess George W. Bush had created through his criminal aggression and War Crimes against Humanity (especially torture) in Iraq; the Obama Administration has fashioned a reasonable policy for Afghanistan, which mêlée was dumped upon him by the previous Administration when it refused to neutralize a legitimate threat to the Columbian Commonweal (Al-Qaeda) – because it violently and maliciously crashed into the heart of North American Metropolis, and, instead, “W” began to chase imaginary “goblins” elsewhere in the Islamic world (i.e., Iraq). 

The current regime in Washington has shown a much greater restraint compared to France and Britain over the  Tripolian desert, and the U.S. has served officially in more of a supportive than leadership role.  The criticism of Obama in and out of Congress is from the Tea Partyers (“No Nothings”), and disgruntled Leftists who are unable to cope with the real-world; and, therefore, criticize almost anything practical. 

(For the American populace of Islam, the bell-weather Representative Keith Ellis should be listened to determine a correct course for those of the faith, for he is a Muslim who has chosen to work within the highest levels of the System, and can guide all of us well!)

In Islamic South Asia, the ill-falling out between the District (Center) and Rawalpindi over the Punjab-related incident of the bin-Laden raid is inanely claimed by ill-trained (U.S.A.) J-School (Journalism School) graduates that the two uneasy long-phased allies—the U.S. and Pakistan – now against the Taliban – and even  before the U.S.S.R. (Union of Socialist Soviet Republic) invaded the Afghans — are almost at the point of pugilism is pure rubbish…although the unannounced commando attack next to an Army base near Rawalpindi (and, thereby, Islamabad) against bin-Laden himself has provoked tension that will not go away quickly!

Let us continue, and move to the denouement of the view of what is happening within the Middle Eastern Hebrew  State from the perspective of a dissident retired IDF General and a Ministry of “Justice” lawyer with the comments of the Director of a liberal American pro-Israeli group, J-Street, who are seeking a realistically striving  for an  acceptable peace with justice between our mutual Holy Land’s inhabitants (from where Prophet Muhammad (s) made his Night Right from the Spire of Solomon’s Temple). 

Just this afternoon (the twentieth) the journal, Foreign Affairs, reported that there was a great uneasiness between the Tel Aviv establishment and their military (IDF) over the actual security situation over the Jewish State and their Islamic neighbors – including the “Occupied Territories.”  General Sharoni

Our discussants, who acknowledged the Palestinians just entitlements, were noticeably at odds with their Prime Minister (Netanyahu’s) positions.  It was interesting to hear a high-ranking Israeli military officer’s comments regarding the defensibility of the pre-1967 borders from the perspective of his homeland.  In his estimation, they are eminently defendable from his military view:  “Formerly, we were threatened by the surrounding nation-States.  Now that is not the case [they’ve made peace and/or understanding with their neighbors].  Today, the threat is terrorism, and having unsecured borders makes it hard for us to defend ourselves!”  In the end, this interpretation of their security counters his government’s claim that the Obama proposed borders are indefensible, and forces Tel Aviv to continue their policy of “unending War” which in the end is unsustainable.  (It, also, demonstrates that the contemporaneous rightist establishment is more concerned with founding a “greater” Israel which is a dangerous policy both to their dominantly Islamic neighbors.)

Ms. Hassan of Justice; therefore, urges all of us (Jews, Muslims and Christians, etc. alike) to request (our governments) to support the Two-State Solution as the only workable resolution! 

The American-Jewish leader on the call, Jeremy Ben-Ami, rejoined his recommendation that the American Jewish Community support this resolution within the Halls of Congress, and to explain their assessment to their co-religionist landzmen!  (Your critic behind the computer has advocated the best allies for American Muslims are progressive American Jews, for they have had to go through many of the same things American Islamic citizens/residents to become accepted on this Continent, and you must get to know each other better to build avenues for communication between each of your communities if you, personally, are willing to do so.  Liberal American Jews and Muslims can do much to walk together to change things around in Washington for all of us born from Abraham’s seed!  That is, we, personally, must resolve to be part of the resolution.  We have agency!

There is still one more section to go before the final analysis and conclusions can be made from this rich experience your reporter stumbled upon.  Hopefully, it will provide one of many possible scenarios for discussion.

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Are Human Beings Worse Than Animals? Honorable Ramday Speaks at Sharia’a Community Open Forum

April 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Houston, Texas: “Sharia’a means highway (Shahrah) and in the religious sense, it is the path that takes one towards the right direction in this world, bringing tranquility in this life and will bring much joy in the life hereafter. The basic principle of Sharia’a is establishment of justice based on the universal accepted values of virtues, to keep the balance in the world.”

These were the approximate words used to put forth some of the ideas by former Supreme Court Justice of Pakistan Honorable Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, as he spoke for over an hour at an Open Public Forum at Shahnai Restaurant Banquet Hall in Houston, on the topic of “The Role of Sharia’a Law in Modern Legal World – Useful toll or a liability?”

“In Quran, New, & Old Testaments, we can read the story of Hadhrat Noah (Peace Be Upon him – PBUh). It is not just a fable, but a lesson for the whole humanity. There are little details given that all the human beings on right path joined the prophet to go into the ark, and then names of several animals and birds are mentioned in much specification: Why? Perhaps that is an indication from Allah SWT to mankind to live in harmony with each other. But today we are fighting furiously with each other. Are we than even worse than animals?” These were the powerful closing remarks of Mr. Ramday.

He was on a private trip to Houston, where on the insistence of his friends, he agreed to speak. More than 350 persons attended the program, including some elected County Judges, prominent attorney, lawyers, persons from Republican Party, some people from the Churches, and many expatriate Pakistanis & Muslims from various countries.

Program was emceed by Ms. Sobia Izfaz, while opening address was done by the head of three members host committee Dr. Mohammad Afsar, while another member Tahir Bhatty gave the vote of thanks. The third host committee person was Zafar Kureshi. The Q-&-A session was conducted by well-known Attorney Syed Izfar.

Famous Community Attorney Anwar-e-Qadeer, who used to be Honorable Ramday’s student, introduced the Honorable Judge.

Mr. Ramday’s presentation had several quotes from Quran, New & Old Testaments’; and the idea was to bring to light that the fundamental doctrines of all the people of faith are similar and that there is no conflict. He said that there are certain commandments of Allah SWT and sayings & conduct of Messenger Muhammad (s), which are required to be followed: Beyond them the field is open to legislate and having rulings according to ones’ society and environment.

He appealed to people of all faith to closely examine their behaviors, where at times out of emotions, they stereo-type people based on the acts of few, with whom the faith and people of faith have nothing to do with.

He tackled the issue of coexistence of people of varying backgrounds through the Medina Pact (the first constitution of an Islamic State established by Hadhrat Muhammad (s); what Quran says about people creating chaos in the world through environmental degradation and terrorism (Fasad Fil Ardh) and how with force they need to be tackled; municipal laws & Islamic principles not contradicting, child custody laws, polygamy, homosexuality (commandment of Allah SWT is there for this matter through the story of Hadhrat Lut PBUh), Separation of Church & State, etc.

“Sharia’a is kind of boogeyman in the western society. I do not know from where such fear is coming because the principles of justice and all the universal good values are part of the basics of laws made within Sharia’a. These are the same as the Ten Commandments given to Hadhrat Moses (Peace be Upon him – PBUh). There are no systems of criminal procedure courts, etc. prescribed by Quran, etc. So the systems of corpus duress get evolved by societies according to their set-ups and environment. There are certain commandments given by Allah SWT through Quran and life of Messenger Muhammad PBUh, which cannot be violated. Other than that Sharia’a and municipal laws can exist together. I was part of a Judiciary Review Board of Pakistan Sharia’a Court, where three court judges & two established scholars did an extensive assessment for almost five years of all the Brisitsh & other manmade laws in subcontinent since 1841: They all were studied word to word and nothing of substance was found in them that was unIslamic, since the values are universal. No faith will ask people to commit crimes. Few things where the spirit of Islam was missing was for instance in the punishment of the crime of murder. What was missing is now part of Pakistan’s law and that is if the people of the deceased pardon the murderer with or without compensation, the court has to nullify the punishment of death or life imprisonment penalty,” added Honorable Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday.

Recorded DVD and CD copies of the program are available. For that call 832-419-0302.

Justice Ramday is most widely considered to be one of the most independent minded judges Pakistan has ever produced. He was born in Lahore on January 13, 1945 in the famous Ramday Arain family of (Late) Justice Mr. Muhammad Siddique as the fifth child and the third son. The family is known for outspoken and principled stances throughout its history. His late brother Chaudhary Muhammad Farooq has been recognized as a powerful and courageous Attorney General of Pakistan. His younger brother Chaudhary Asad-ur-Rehman, a politician, was elected as a Member of the National Assembly three times on a PML-N ticket and served as a Federal minister as well.

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