Manipulations in Masajid

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

In Southern California, during the last 15 years, in a radius of 3 miles four masajid have sprung at a cost of at least $5 million.  Most of them remain empty most of the time and when they are frequented by Muslims in large numbers it is for either the Friday prayers or education of their children, or funeral get together or dinner in memory of some one. Sometimes lectures are offered, but the number of those attending can be counted in fingers. Masajid have yet to offer dynamic to galvanize the community and attract people to its programs and functions.

There are several reasons for the lack of involvement of people. One of the reasons is the way the Masajid are run by organizers. We have different type of models of mosque ownership.  Even though all the masajid are built with donation from people but the pattern of ownership reveals their inherent weakness to attract people in general.

1. Mosques donated by people but run by an individual or a family.

2. Mosques donated by people but run by a religious party or group

3. Mosques donated by people but run by an ethnic group

4. Mosques donated by outside religious entities and run by the followers of that entity.

5. Mosques built and run by an individual or a family

There are no standards by laws for the mosque. No one has ever attempted to draw by laws that demonstrated the spirit and dynamism of Islam, Most of the by laws are designed to ensure that the power stays in the hands of those who are controlling the management. The by laws are amended to suit the interests of those controlling power. If it suits them to cancel election, they do so, if it suits them to have election they do so.

By and large, there are not many Masajid and Islamic centers that can claim that their rule and by-laws are not designed to help a particular group of people to lose their grip.

Ironically, this kind of mechanism is played with an institution that is established in the name of the Creator, God, the source of all guidance. The very fact that most of these religious institutions are irrelevant to the needs of the people speak volumes of the divine relations with them.

In other words, most masajid serve the interest of particular group. They are like shops and businesses and their attitude is not different than usual shopkeepers. This is our shop and if you want to come here play our rules, otherwise get out.

Islam offers a different style and functionality than what is being offered. First of all, it builds any institution on the concept of God consciousness. Without being accountable to people in running affairs meant for them, one cannot be accountable to God in real honesty. Wen people manipulated behind doors and use all sorts of means to deceive ordinary people they are not honest to God or people. This is one of the most important problems that our mosque managements face. Most are not honest with people. They manipulated events. Hundreds of examples can be given to substantiate this.

Interestingly, the people involved in manipulation often claim that if they leave the board, the future of Islam will be in jeopardy. They defy the Quran in logic here. The Quran addressing the Prophet (s), the Messenger who delivered the divine message to people, said: even if you leave this world or killed, the Divine guidance would continue. Some of these people think that Islam and God depends upon them for their survival in that masjid. It is a very arrogant claim and obviously, if everyone start thinking this way, there would be no place for any change.

The cruz of the matter is that what is happening in most of our masajid is not demonstrative of Islam. It needs to be changed to serve Allah and His creation better.

How?

The only way is to develop a model based on the values of the Qurn and the life of the Prophet (s) as substantiated by the Quran. Without that it is almost impossible to think of any other ways of bringing about effective chanages.

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AFMI on Women Empowerment

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah-Chicago

Oct 3rd 2011

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) successfully held its 21st annual national convention in Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed, the incoming AFMI president, and the chairperson Dr. Siraj Ahmed, Co-chair Hassan Kaleemuddin and various heads of other committees. Over 350 people attended the banquet session.

The theme of the convention was “Women Empowerment Through Education”.

Distinguished and knowledgeable speakers from across the nation who participated during the whole day sessions discussed various issues like “Current Status of Indian Muslim Women”, “Tools and Models for Empowering Women Through Education” followed by the session for “Strategic planning and Moving Forward in to Action”.

Mrs. Priya Dutt, Member of the Parliament, address the banquet session of the convention. She is also in charge of women section of the Indian National Congress and Congress party’s general Secretary. The other Chief Guest was the former Illinois senator, Mosley Braun. The theme of the convention being women empowerment, both the main speakers focused on their educational and economic empowerment through creating opportunities at all levels. Priya Dutt is the daughter of Late Sunil Dutt, a Bollywood icon and a former minister of youth affairs. She is involved in running a number of women empowerment centers in the slums of Bombay.

The AFMI convention enables people from Indian origin to find ways of cooperation on issues of concerns for Muslims of India. AFMI organizes an international convention in India in December to distribute medals to students who out excel others in education. Besides, AFMI also runs and supports a number of educational institutions in different parts of India. Relief and political education are two other areas that form the focus of AFMI activities in India. The organization was established in 1989 to provide a platform to Muslims of Indian origin living in the US.to contribute their human and material resources for the Muslims of India. This year’s convention saw the emergence of a youth leadership in the organization as they made significant presentation on educational and economic issues. Some of the presenters presented the conclusion of their research in the city of Hyderabad and other places where women are making significant efforts in bringing about changes in their sociopolitical conditions.  The emergence of a women leadership in India’s Muslim dominated areas is a fact that is being recognized by the community as was suggested by one of the speakers.

Mr. Ashfaq Qureshi, the current President of the organization said that the organization was focused on education and has adopted a motivational approach to help Muslims achieve the goal of 100 per cent literacy.

Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, the founder of the organization presented an overview of the organization’s projects in different part of the country that includes schools, hospitals, clinics, and relief centers besides the distribution of medals to the achievers of highest academic honors. Dr. Nakadar presented the graph of progress in the field of education asserting that the encouragement and recognition of highest achievers create an environment of healthy competition and inspires students to become high achievers.

Among those attended the convention were Dr. Khurshid Malik, a prominent Chicago physician involved in several developmental projects in India. Manzoor Ghori, of the Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Rashid Khan of American Indian Muslim Council, Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, prominent Muslim educationist, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Media professor at Western Illinois University, Macomb, Dr. Azhar Quader, a community activists and former President of the Chicago Area Council of Muslim organizations, and recipient of AFMI’s award of Excellence. Dr. A. Razzaque Ahmed, recipient of AFMI’s “Excellence” award and an internationally known dermatologist. The youths who made a mark and were keen to participate in AFMI activities were: Dr. Fareen Parvez (Boston), Dr. Tasneem Osmani (Chicago), Dr. Sana Uddin (South Bend-Indiana), Dr. Saad Mahmood (Boston) and many others.

This year’s AFMI international convention will take place in Ranchi on December 24 and 25, zonal conventions in UP is slated for Faizabad and Lucknow. MP zonal convention will take place in Burhanpur.

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Hunger and Starvation in Somalia?

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Are We doing Enough?

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

In this month of Ramadan, those who listen to the huffaz reciting the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and those who read the Quran on their own will come across some of the verses that perhaps might be the most relevant ones for us in the times we are living.

We would read the verse four of Sura 106 that describes Allah as the one “who has given them food against hunger, and made them safe from danger.” We will also read the verse eight of sura 76, “And they fee, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captives. And in sura 90 verse fourteen describing the most challenging task for human beings and believers specifically, we are reminded of a group of peole who feed people on a day of hunger.

Doubtless Allah has given abundant food against hunger. Yet millions are suffering from hunger all over the world. In Somalia alone, hundreds are dying each day of starvation. So where is the food that Allah has provided the people with?  In Italy alone, 1.5 million ton of food is wasted every year because farmers do not want to sell their crops at a cheaper price. Estimates of how much food we toss in the US vary, but according to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), we’re wasting around 40 percent of the total. The leading English magazine the Economist recently wrote the following:

[T]he average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. That amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the country as a whole—about 40 percent of its food supply, up from 28 percent in 1974. Producing these wasted calories accounts for more than one-quarter of America’s consumption of freshwater, and also uses about 300 million barrels of oil a year. On top of that, a lot of methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) emerges when all this food rots.

These figures are about just countries out of 200 plus countries in the world. Obviously, when the food is not brought in the market due to cheap prices and some 40 per cent of what is cooked is wasted, one cannot blame God for failing in his promise.

The blame can certainly be placed on those who speak in the name of God. Why are they not raising the awareness about hunger and disproportionate distribution and known wastage of resources. More specifically the Muslim religious leadership can be questioned for failing to transmit the divine message to its followers and others. There is hardly anyone talking about the unjust distribution system that exists in our world. No one ever brings up the issue of wastage of food in our homes and religious institutions. How much food the Muslim community is wasting? All you need to do is look at the dumpster at a mosque that is serving iftar and dinner to the community. You will not be surprised to find the similarity between the national and Muslim pattern of wastage.

Hardly anyone is talking about sacrifice for the betterment of the world.

Economists describes the situation in terms of world food prices and its impact on future economy. Politicians, depending on whose money they are using to get re elected, would talk about the poverty without ever doing anything to change the situation and the religious leadership is talking about issues that are totally irrelevant to the life of people. They are still talking about the differences in fajr and isha times whether the time of fajr arrives when the sun is at a 15 degree angle or 18 degree angle.

Hardly anyone is acting on the Divine message that those who prefer the needs of others over their own comfort are indeed the one successful in the life and the life hereafter. It is the quality of sacrificing for others that is the foundation for a better world and better commitment to Allah.

For a rich man who does not know the limit of his wealth, spending a few hundred thousands is nothing. For the filthy rich Muslim leaders, feeding the poor and needy from Somalia and other starving country for an entire month is almost nothing. However, when the responsibilities are limited to only two and a half percent of one’s savings regardless of the savings and regardless of the means of earning, the results would not different. How come we rarely question those dictators who have usurped the national wealth of people about their fiscal policies. How come we do not talk in our masajid about those issues?

The crisis in Somalia can be resolved in a month if even a quarter of all the money that has been looted by leaders in the Muslim world is spent on developing projects to eliminate hunger.

But that is not going to happen. Within the religious framework even the biggest cheat would offer two and a half percent of his savings to qualify for Divine blessings.

It is now left to us, the people to do sacrifice even more for the sake of humanity. We are capable of doing that. But we need to get organized which often we are not.

We need to do the following to help improve the situation in Somalia and other places.

1. On an emergency basis our relief organizations survey the availability of food at a low prices in a world market.

2. On a longer term basis, a proper survey of putting an irrigation system with the possibility of growing new high yielding crops can be made to plan for the future.

3. Our entrepreneurs work in coordination with these agencies to produce and prepare cooked nutritious food to serve those who are in need.

4. Our masses demonstrate the quality of sacrifice in their life style. Every time we eat a meal, we make it a habit of donating amount at least half or one quarter of the amount of the meal we eat and give it to an organization that knows how to do the job right.

If the 4 plus million US Muslim community saves a quarter each meal, it alone can generate resources to do everything that is mentioned above. But this would happen only when we are willing to sacrifice and willing to heed to the divine call beyond the call of our duty.

One of the steps that American Muslim relief organizations should have taken is to organize a summit to discuss this humanitarian crisis so that all could coordinate their resources and direct them to appropriate actions. But then that would require sacrifice on the part of the leadership. If they want people to sacrifice their monetary , they have to show they are willing to tame their egos and willing to sacrifice their organizational popularity for a goal much bigger than that: serving the creation of God on a day when some of it may be hungry. (90:13)

A worrying alarm arrives now from the Italian Farmers Association (CIA): mass amounts of food is sitting and rotting in their fields because sale prices don’t cover all of the costs of production. The result is a 1.5 million of tons wasted every year and 4 billion of Euro frittered away. All this with rising costs for Italian consumers and farmers. (Source: EcoLocalizer (http://s.tt/12uez))

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Christian Conservative Terrorist Causes Havoc in Norway

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

Norway is a liberal democracy. It is ruled by Labor Party. It has liberal policies on on a number of social issues. On July 22, it was hit with the worst terrorist attack on its territory by a right wing Christian conservative. Even though the so-called terrorist experts claim that he acted alone, the hand of other right wing Christian conservative individuals and groups should not be ruled out. With what is being taught in several conservative churches against liberalism, socialism, non-Christian religions (especially Islam and Judaism), the action of the Norwegian terrorist is not out of line of the dominant thinking.  The 32-year-old Norwegian man who allegedly went on a shooting spree on the island of Utoya has been identified as Anders Behring Breivik, according to multiple reports.The gunman was dressed as a police officer and gunned down young people as they ran for their lives at a youth camp, which means that he might have some Christian conservative sympathizers in the police force.The possibility of receiving support from some Christian conservative individuals or groups from the US should also not be ruled out. After all, Christian conservatism emerged as a major force in the US.

Breivik belongs to “ring-wing circles” in Oslo. He has been known to write to right-wing forums in Norway and is a self-described nationalist who has also written a number of posts attacking Islam On July 17 he posted a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill on his twitter account saying: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.” On a Facebook account Breivik describes himself as having Christian conservative views.

Obviously, not all Christians subscribe to the theology of Christian conservatives who regard everyone who does not believe in their doctrine as pagan and destined  for hell. They regard liberalism as the major threat to their way of life. Christian conservative talk show hosts in the United States fill the airwaves with hatred against all those who have liberal attitudes.

The initial reaction of the media was to point fingers at Muslim extremists. Initially, several experts concluded that either Libyan backed terrorist groups or pro- Afghan Taliban groups might be the culprits. However, as details emerged, those experts went into hiding. When it became known that the gunman was a Norwegian ultra right wing extremist, few spoke about the theology of Conservative Christianity or the danger it poses to democracies or free societies all over the world. Not one recalled Timothy Mcveigh, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. It is not a coincidence that this terrorist attack came at a time when the champion of right wing ideas, the media empire of Rupert Murdoch is in terrible shape facing challenges for its survival.

Terrorism in all its forms and shapes is wrong and must be condemned. One cannot blame an entire religion for the terrorist act of a few. Had it been a Muslim perpetrator, the experts might have already concluded that Islam is a religion that cannot find itself at peace with the West and Democracy and Muslims living in Europe and America cannot be trusted.

What Breivik did in Norway is the natural outcome of the theology of arrogance and hatred that is taught in several churches around the world in the name of Christianity. We must realize that terrorism is not related with one religion or race or ethnic group. It is a threat every religious community and country faces. Instead of pointing fingers at religions, we must all come together to stand all those who believe that violence is the only method to ensure that point of view is heard. Violence must be rejected by all who believe in the sanctity of human life and with a clear understanding that the Divine will is not seek the destruction of the human race but to help people find common ground–to create a world where people can live the faith of their choice without any coercion.

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Tax Dollars Used Against Islam and Muslims

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO

A few weeks ago, a former Palestinian Muslim, who is now an ultra conservative Christian equated Islam with terrorism describing the two inseparable. There is nothing new in what the so called former PLO terrorist said or says on a regular basis. In the last 10 years, several individuals claiming to speak on behalf of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism have spoken openly against Islam and Muslim Americans in particular. Expressing one’s opinion is everyone’s right and that right must be preserved even if it is based on misconception or lies.

What is problematic is that the Homeland Security invited the so called terrorist-turned Christian to an official event attended by more than 300 law enforcement officials in South Dakota. This is a violation of our constitution that clearly indicates that the people’s tax dollars would not be spent in either promoting or targeting a particular religion. The so called expert was paid 5,000 plus other expenses.  In other word, the our tax dollars were spent on supporting someone whose anti-Islam agenda is well known. If the Homeland Security had invited a Muslim American to counter his argument, one could have argued that the purpose of the event was to have a balanced perspective. However, by giving money and podium to an avid anti-Islam fanatic, the Homeland Security has revealed its hatred of Islam, a crime which is in breach of the constitution and which deserves to be thoroughly investigated.

Ten after the September 11 attack, Muslim Americans are still deemed unfit by many law enforcement agencies or agents to be partners in the country’s fight against terrorism. This policy or attitude is hurting the country and wasting its tax dollars money. Seemingly, the Homeland Security and other federal and state agencies have wasted millions of dollars in rewarding anti-Muslim and anti-Islam experts on terrorism by giving them legitimacy and authenticity through invitation to officially organized events for state and federal agents.

Most of the so called experts on Islam belong to several religious groups who anti-Islam position is well known. They use the Tax payers money and resources to promote their religious agenda and to make money for themselves. The country does not benefit from their expertise.

One is entitled to his or her opinion on Islam or any other faith but when that opinion is given legitimacy by agencies that are meant to uphold the constitution and the citizens, then it deserves the attention of all those who are serious about the sanctity and supremacy of the constitution. As far as opinions against Islam are concerned, we Muslims must be aware of the task that we have at hand, i.e. challenging the misconception and informing the country and the world that there is another side of the explanation that can be offered only by those practice this faith and who understands its in and out better than those so called experts who have found a new opportunity to mint money from the new venture that we can term as “Islamic Threat to the West.”

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Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Convention

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

With the twin scourges of Islamophobia and racism prevalent in the United States and with the media acting as an echo chamber, a great burden is placed on individuals and groups who seek to speak the truth about Islam and the nature of the crises that effect us domestically and internationally.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), created in 1988, is one such organization. MPAC was formed to work for the civil rights of Muslim Americans and to facilitate their entry into American pluralism. MPAC works at the national as well as the grassroots level and has won the trust and respect of the Muslim and non Muslim community. MPAC has become an information source for those seeking to understand Islam and seeking also to put current events in their proper perspective.

MPAC held its ninth annual convention in Long Beach, Ca. this past Saturday. The event brought a capacity audience to attend workshops and listen to speakers, expert in their fields, and who provided insight and education into topics taken from today’s headlines. The title of the convention was: “With Change come Challenges.”

After thought provoking and informative workshops, the event ended with a banquet featuring Congressman Andre Carson (D,IN), awards, and entertainment.

Among the presenters (but not limited to) were Dr. Maher Hathout, a retired physician celebrated in the Muslim and non Muslim community for his dedication to peace and human rights and for his interfaith work. Dr. Hathout is the MPAC Senior Advisor, an author, and a sought after speaker.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the Editor-in Chief of The Muslim Observer, a weekly English language Muslim newspaper. He was recently elected vice president of the Muslim Council of America, a new organization which serves Muslims in the arena of policy and political affairs. Dr. Abdullah is active in Islamic affairs in Nevada which activity also includes being secretary of the Interfaith Council of Nevada.

Dr. Laila Al Marayati is a physician and the Chairperson of KinderUSA, an organization dedicated to the well being of children, focusing in particular on the children of Palestine. Dr. Al Marayati is also the spokesperson for the Muslim Women’s League, a Los Angeles group which seeks to strengthen the role of Muslim women.

Haris Tarin of MPAC is that group’s Community Development Director. Mr Tarin has traveled extensively and has spoken at various symposia on the topic of Islam and the Muslim community.

“Fort Hood: A Defining Moment” was the topic of an afternoon panel. Most of the audience spoke among themselves before the event began and indicated thoughtful interest in how the matter would be handled.

“I am so glad this is being discussed” said one young man to his companion.

“I know there is more than what the media say” said his companion.

When asked by panel moderator, Salaam Al Marayati, MPAC’s Executive Director, whether Muslims should respond to this event, Dr. Maher Hathout declared that Muslims should not be apologetic because of the deranged acts of one man who happened to be Muslim. He reminded his audience that Major Nidal Hasan shouted  “Allahu Akbar” before he began his killing spree.  He said that if he used those two words now, every non Muslim would run out of the room.Yet Muslims use the same two words forty two times a day during their prayers. It is wrong to tar Muslims with a broad brush as the media have been wont to do. Non Muslims, most of whom do not understand the phrase, and its meaning, “God is Greater”, automatically fear it. Muslims are an essential part of the solution to the problem of Muslim extremists. They are essential to the education of non Muslims about Islam and the only ones truly qualified to ascertain when there is extremism and to propose effective solutions.

Dr. Connie Rice, an attorney and activist and a second panel member, said that this incident indicates more than ever the essential role that MPAC and other moderate Muslim groups must play in partnering with law enforcement. This places a terrible burden on MPAC, she said,  but one which they will willingly and efficiently carry out. She seconded the presentation of Dr. Hathout in presenting the necessity for groups such as MPAC to educate the community about Islam and to partner with law enforcement.

After the panel MPAC received an award from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Maher Hathout accepted the award.

During a particularly timely panel on “”Rebuilding US-Muslim World Relations”, a State Department official, Jonathan Morgenstein of the Department of Defense, commented that in Iraq and Afghanistan American soldiers were interacting with the local population. Dr. Laila Al Marayati commented that it would be so much better if these men and women were doing so in the capacity of peace corps volunteers and not as occupiers.

A bazaar was held in the main room and featured booths representing different Islamic groups. These booths include (the list is incomplete): CAIR; Islamic Relief; the Muslim Women’s League; ACCESS; American Medical Overseas Relief (AMOR); the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) Youth Programs, and Al-Madinah School. AMOR is dedicated to helping the medically needy in the Middle East with emphasis on children in Afghanistan. It may be accessed at: <www.AMORelief.org>.  The Al-Madinah school in Los Angeles is currently engaged in building projects that will be in the heart of urban Los Angeles.

Those wishing to learn more about MPAC and/or to make a contribution may access it at: www.mpac.org.

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How Should We Describe These Events?

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

During the last week in the United States, some 200 plus violence related deaths were recorded.

Many of these acts were committed by people who are church goers and who identify with right wing evangelical churches.

During the last week, some 5,000 protesters came out on the streets opposing health care reform. Man of them admitted that they did not know anything about the current health reform, rather they were asked by their religious leader to join the chorus.

Some admitted speaking on behalf of insurance agencies and their lobbying groups. During the last few weeks, many US backed mercenaries, once part of the US army, once again demonstrated their religious zeal by reminding each other that their job was to eliminate Islam and Muslims.

The Blackwater anti-Islam crusade is not fully discovered. But it is apparent that rather than the security of the country it was the religious fanaticism that led to many torturous and murderous acts on the part of their perpetrators.

What do we make out of this? How do we describe it?

Is this not a Judeo-Christian version of Osama Bin Laden and his gangs who use the name of Islam to justify acts which in fact are harmful to Islam?

Indeed, it is becoming clearer that in every sphere of the bureaucracy, there are some Americans who are driven by anti-Islam hatred and and who do not waste any opportunity to harm Islam and Muslims. They are everywhere.

At the airports they demonstrate their anti-Islam face by harassing and humiliating ordinary and average law-abiding citizens in the name of national security. On our streets, they stop Muslims not dressed like an average American and force them go through humiliating search. In public places, many show their hatefulness to Muslim women wearing hijab and Islamic attire.

The anti-Islam climate is often fuelled by fanatic and fascist minded religious leaders and political activists.

During the Bush Administration, not a single day passed without some Republican and/or right wing Christian evangelical making a statement against Islam or Muslims.

Even now, in thousands of churches across the country, anti-Islam sermons are very common. In one of the churches in Florida, Islam was equated with satanism and Christians were encouraged to stop having any dealings with Muslims.

Of course most of these Churches combine their racism with their religions. They were the ones who refused and some still refuse to accept blacks as equal human beings.

How should we deal with this situation?

First and foremost is to recognize that this situation exists.

Second, to understand that we must invest in investigating individuals and organizations who are indulged in anti-Islam crusade.

Third, these individuals and organizations should be exposed and brought to court, if they appear to be promoting hate speech.

Fourth, we must have a public initiative to interact with non-Muslims at the grass roots levels through joining projects that are beneficial to people.

However, we must do whatever it  takes to ensure that the interests of Muslim Americans are secured and this task would be undertaken by Muslims in cooperation with those who are not hate mongers and who believe in an America that is pluralistic and accommodating to all.

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