Successful Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

MPAC-initials-white-on-blkWith the phenomenon of Islamophobia on the rise and now the province of Presidential candidates, thoughtful Americans welcome organizations which confront this problem and work toward solutions. The United States cannot truly fulfill its democratic destiny until the issue of Islamophobia is consigned to the dustbin of history. In addition, many other problems – perhaps trumping Islamophobia in impact – call out for Islamic participation with the concurrent application of Islamic values. The Arab Spring and what America’s role should be, and the Islamic movements outside of the United States are but two. 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) successfully examined these issues during its 11th Annual Conference, rising once again to the challenge inherent in its founding principles. The Convention took place this past Saturday in Los Angeles and was titled: “Spring Forward: America’s Role in A Changing World”. The Convention consisted of two parts: three work sessions and an evening banquet with speakers.

During the welcome by MPAC President Salaam Al Marayati, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke about Islamophobia and praised the Los Angeles Muslim community in general and MPAC in particular for their cooperation with law enforcement. His presentation might well have been the prologue to the second workshop session. In a direct approach, Sheriff Baca reminded his audience that the United States Constitution grants religious liberty. There should be no interference in the construction of a church, synagogue or mosque. He said that he, like all law enforcement officers, took an oath to defend the Constitution. If there are officers who for reasons of deep seated bigotry are unable to reconcile their positions with their oath, they should leave the office. He received a standing ovation.

The first session,  Plenary I ,  featured Dr. Nayyer Ali, a member of the MPAC Board, as moderator and was titled: “US Foreign Policy: Potentials and Pitfalls”. A diverse panel considered the question of US foreign policy towards the nations of the Arab Spring. While there were answers as diverse as the participants, the results were a mixture of optimism, pessimism, and a wait and see attitude. There was consensus that an American Muslim role is imperative. D Ali gave a summary that perhaps best describes the work of the session.

He said that what we see in the Arab world is the end of the post colonial slumber period much like 1989 was for East Europe. Pay attention to the input of Islam, he continued. It will play a large role and will be integrated into democratic governments.The message of the Koran is a perfect guide as it calls for justice, religious and political freedom, and consensus. Injustice is un Islamic. While the Koran is not a political document, it lays the framework for a just society. The concept of Shura intrinsically prevents dictatorship. “The Arab spring will evolve into something we find admirable”. 
“I feel as if I have attended a graduate level political seminar” said one young woman.

A second session followed a luncheon break. This session was titled: “The Industry of Hate in the Public Square”. Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programing, was the moderator.  She described a whirlwind of activity with emphasis currently on Lowe’s stores withdrawal of sponsorship for the TLC show All American Muslim.

Before the session began, each attendee was given a publication by the Center for American Progress. The book is titled: “Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America”.
One of the authors, Wajahat Ali, was the first presenter. Mr. Ali is also a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist, and blogger. “Congratulations. The Muslim agenda is in place”. He cited, facetiously, a Muslim beauty queen and stealth halal turkeys. Mr. Ali spoke of the recent decision of Lowe’s stores to remove their sponsorship of the widely acclaimed television series, All American Muslim. He surprised his audience by telling them that the pressure on Lowe’s to withdraw its support was initiated by the work of one man. He identified this man as David Canton, virtually the lone member of the highly touted Florida Family Association, and a man with a history of bothering corporations. He continued by saying that even Mr. Canton’s web site was poorly done. Yet, like the effect of a megaphone,  the efforts of one man was presented as a large group effort.

“Its like watching a balloon deflate” whispered one audience member.

He cited bloggers Pamela Geller and David Horowitz for their role in taking this issue and publicizing it. He referenced the book he co authored and told his audience to read about the money trails, the donors and the amounts they have contributed, the beneficiaries with their organizations and/or web sites.  The book is truly encyclopedic and a valuable weapon in confronting and defeating Islamophobia.

Attendees were given an opportunity to fill out sign up sheets indicating their willingness to work with MPAC in this crucial venture.

Steven Rohde, a well known civil rights attorney and activist, spoke next. He recited a poem which he had written which paraphrased the famous work of the Reverend Martin Niemoller about the German intellectuals’ reluctance to speak up against injustice because they were not not initially targeted. In this version, the Muslims were the miner’s canary.

Mr. Rohde expressed his willingness to stand with Muslims and fight with them against any injustice turned their way. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Aziza Hasan was the last presenter. She is MPAC’s Director of Southern California Government Relations. She said that we are commanded by the Koran to stand up for truth and to speak up against injustice. She told her audience to anticipate and to build. We can reasonably expect that Islamophobia will get worse by the election of 2012. We can prepare for that battle. We will build alliances and work with those already in place.

The final session, Plenary II, was titled: “Islamic Movements: Help or Hindrance”.  Haris Tarin who is the Executive Director of MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office was the moderator. Will political movements, suppressed for decades, be able to lead the people in a government that is democratic and pluralistic?

Salaam Al Marayati introduced Haris Tarin and complimented him on bringing the MPAC Washington, D. C. office to new levels of influence. In the Arab world, he noted, Islamic groups were able to organize against the dictators in power.

The Muslim world entered modernity through colonialism and therefore entered it as subjects, said panelist Haroon Mogdul, an Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches, a Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly, and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Dr. Jasser Auda said that the landscape is complex. For example, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood is closer to liberal youth than to the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Auda is an Associate Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. He continued by saying that the Salafist youth are separate from their Imams. Youth are developing the idea of a civil state with an Islamic reference.

Invited guests for the evening banquet were Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of “Race Matters” and Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council has worked since 1988 to promote an American Muslim community which will enrich American society through the application of Islamic principles. These principles are Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom and Equality. MPAC has become the go to group for media and government officials. American Muslims have come to accept it as a spokesgroup on their behalf.

MPAC’s programs include: an Anti-terrorism campaign; a Hollywood Bureau; Government Relations; Countering Islamophobia; Young Leaders Development, and Interfaith Outreach.      

The foregoing is but a small portion of the work of MPAC. To learn more about the group, to contribute, and to volunteer, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org.

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One Ummah

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The 15th Annual Western Regional Convention of MAS

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

maslogoThe United States faces serious problems, both domestically and internationally, problems that at a glance seem insurmountable.  Ignorance of Islam and Islamophobia are rampant. Muslim organizations are needed to combat the latter two and to offer Muslim solutions based on Muslim values to provide answers to our crises at home and abroad. Our culture is moving from R rated to X rated: What to do?

Many Islamic groups are active in offering such aid. One in particular the Muslim American Society (MAS), deserves special mention.

The Muslim American Society held a highly successful annual Western Regional Convention, the organization’s fifteenth, this past weekend in Los Angeles. The title of the event and its theme was: “One: One Ummah, One Brotherhood, One Pulse”.

More than two thousand people were in attendance in an event that began on Thanksgiving Day and ran through the following Saturday. The Muslim American Society of Greater Los Angeles (MAS GLA) was the host.

The majority of the three day convention was devoted to workshops, many intended for youth. The titles of the work sessions mirrored the theme of the convention. They included, but were not limited to: “The Believers are But a Single Brotherhood”; “One Ummah, One Body”, “The Fiqh of Priorities”, and “Our Means to a Beautiful End”.

Each session was conducted by learned speakers who were available to answer questions and expand on their presentations at the end of each session.

In one particularly timely session,  students from the original Irvine 11 spoke about their legal ordeal which grew out of their collective exercise of free speech at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in February 2010. At that time the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, addressed a student audience and was confronted by a group of young Muslims vis a vis the illegal actions of the state of Israel.

Their subsequent arrest and indictment – almost a year to the date after the original incident and days before the statute of limitations would expire – angered civil libertarians. The students became a symbol of the limitations on free speech imposed on Muslims.

In a session titled: “I Don’t Plead the Fifth: Irvine 11 Speak out”, the students received a standing ovation, and many in the audience sought their autographs after the session ended. Each of the students stated unequivocally that he was glad of his actions and, given the opportunity, would do it again.

“What brave people” said one young woman in the audience. “It makes me feel  so proud”.

During a session titled: “A Quilt to Cover the Nation: Shaping the American Society by Applying the Fabric of Islamic Family Values”, two young Muslims introduced the Islamic Speaker’s Bureau.That organization will send Muslim speakers to address schools and law enforcement officers, to name but a few potential audiences, in an effort to explain Islam to non-Muslims and to counter act Islamophobia. Farhan Simjee and Shaista Azad invited the attendees and others who are interested to contact them at: isbsocal@gmail.com.

In one of the final sessions of the convention, the topic could not have been more timely. “One Ummah, One Pulse: Education and Mobilization to Help our Syrian Brothers and Sister” featured three speakers who gave the history of Syria, both ancient and modern, and offered practical actions that might be taken on Syria’s behalf.

One of the speakers,  Hussam Ayloush, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the greater Los Angeles area spoke movingly on behalf of the aspirations of the Syrian people. “We have a common bond as human beings and as Muslims”.

He called for the following actions. Be outspoken, use Facebook and e mail; talk to the media, and take part in protests; Get the DVDs sold at the booth of the Syrian American Council (SAC) in the bazaar, stay in contact with the activists (syrianetLA@gmail.com); wear buttons and T shirts to advertise your cause; donate money to help the victims in Syria.

“The right to freedom is a human right”.

A bazaar was held in the lobby during the convention. Attendees could purchase Islamic clothing, books, jewelry, and DVDs, and they could learn of different community organizations.

The booths included, but were not limited to: CAIR (http://ca.cair.com), ACCESS (www.accesscal.org ), InFOCUS News (www.infocusnews,net), One Legacy Radio (www.onelegacyradio.com),and the Institute or Arabic and Islamic Studies (IAIS) (www.islamic-study.org) and (www.legacyofpeace.net).

The Muslim American Society began in 1993 as a charitable, religious, social, cultural and educational  organization. It has grown since then to its present strength of fifty chapters across the United States. It is a go-to group for information and commentary, held in high esteem by the media and government officials on all levels. MAS emphasizes proactive community involvement such as community service, interfaith dialogue, youth programs, and civic engagement. It seeks to build strong Muslims with strong faith and a deep knowledge of Islam.

The recent roots of MAS can be traced to the Islamic Revival Movement that took place at the turn of the 20th century. Its ancient roots, of course, can be traced back to the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The recent convention lived easily up to the standards of the Muslim American Society – to fulfill its mission for God consciousness, liberty and justice through the conveyance of Islamic values.

For more information on the Muslim American Society, please use the following email address: http://www.mascalifornia.org.

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Congressman’s Apology to Muslims

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By James Warren

Mike Quigley knows about cheap shots on ice. Now he’s an expert on being blindsided on the Internet and cable TV.

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Congressman Mike Quigley, (D-5th-IL)

Mr. Quigley, a Democratic Chicago congressman, had a relatively light Saturday recently. He played ice hockey in the morning, did a beach cleanup with the Sierra Club and hit four block parties in the 32nd, 43rd and 44th Wards. Along the way he surfaced at a conference held by the American Islamic College. It was a quick in-and-out, with remarks to perhaps 100 attendees about the strengths of American pluralism, the sort he makes to many groups. They included:

“Forms of discrimination come in many forms, many shapes and many guises. You have my pledge to work with you to fight them, and I think that it is appropriate for me to apologize on behalf of this country for the discrimination you face.”

He then bicycled to the first block party. The Islamic College audience was apparently grateful but didn’t find his appearance especially notable as they returned to the business of their meeting.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, found the address nice and patriotic. “What we’d expect of a congressman,” he said.

Neither he, Mr. Quigley nor anybody else there was prepared for the response initiated in the conservative blogosphere, then intensified on radio and TV.

The congressman was attacked harshly, with at least one death threat on a Fox News site that by week’s end was still not taken down despite requests.

Andrew Breitbart, a conservative activist, blogged that Mr. Quigley made a “surprise appearance”  before “the primarily Muslim audience. He rambled on about the typical racism and discrimination that the liberal left is so convinced America is rampantly infected with.”

The appearance was not a surprise, even if not on the formal program.

But the nefarious implication was repeated on blogs and the Fox News Channel. Video links included the lines above but not related comments about the legacies of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Social media posts and hundreds of nasty calls, e-mails and faxes poured in to his offices, which deleted profane and violent posts and passed direct threats to law enforcement.

But the conservative echo chamber was in high dudgeon. Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host, decided that Mr. Quigley’s remarks were a story and thus conferred high-profile legitimacy to the bloggers’ vituperation on Tuesday. Mr. Quigley could not appear, but Mr. Rehab did, initially nonplused that the remarks were deemed newsworthy.

With “Questionable Apology” emblazoned on the screen, Mr. O’Reilly repeated the same two sentences Mr. Quigley had uttered and declared:

“Wow! What discrimination?”  Statistics don’t support claims of bias against Muslim Americans, he said.

Much data and polling contradicts him. As an unabashed Mr. Rehab told him, “You’d have to be living under a rock” to miss the overarching reality.

Mr. Rehab cited federal figures on rising workplace complaints of anti-Muslim discrimination and polls showing both that 39 percent of Americans would require Muslims to carry special identification and that one-third don’t think Muslims should be allowed to run for president.

“O.K., those stats bolster your argument,” Mr. O’Reilly conceded. “But in economic realms, Muslim Americans are doing well, pretty well,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to be anti-Muslim. Thank you for coming on here,” Mr. O’Reilly concluded brusquely, with Mr. Rehab having clearly failed to fulfill a role of self-righteous liberal piñata.

But Fox wasn’t done.

On Wednesday, its morning “Fox and Friends” show saw Mr. Quigley, 52, called a “silly old fool” by Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and advocate of aggressive military actions. He belittled Muslims with a series of mock apologies like “We should apologize for preventing them from beating their daughters to death for flirting.”

Eboo Patel, an Indian-born Muslim and former Rhodes Scholar who runs the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Corps, found the response offensive.

But he noted a Gallup poll finding that American Muslims remain very optimistic despite facing discrimination.

He mentioned that his nephew in Houston was hassled when, for religious reasons, he wouldn’t eat school pizza with pork.

Well, at least we occasionally try to curb school bullies. We clearly don’t when it comes to the bullies who can drive our public dialogue.

jwarren@chicagonewscoop.org

James Warren writes a column for the Chicago News Cooperative.

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Phoenicians Partner for Peace

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nidah Chatriwala

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8426551As the nation united to peacefully acknowledge the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Arizona State University (ASU), held an interfaith service, inviting Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Partnering For Peace was a program encouraged by President Obama for schools to participate in an interfaith worship in remembrance of 9/11 and ASU was one of them to accept.

The service was held at Tempe campus of ASU, attracting a large diverse crowd, which sung along the chorus or stood silently in respect to religious recitations performed.

The event began with Sue Ringler introducing TEAM-Tempe Interfaith, who organized the service, saying their mission used to be limited to collecting and donating canned foods but 9/11 changed everything, and they began giving hope through service of love in the community.

Partnering for Peace was also represented by a group of young adults called iMagine, who shared their goal of breaking down interfaith barriers to help teach each other the richness of diversity.

Soon the chorus sang “Where Can I Turn for Peace” on a candlelit stage with an enlarged photograph of a glittering white dove, represented peace in the background. 

The audience was encouraged to stand in silence as the three Holy Scriptures: Bible, Torah and the Holy Quran’s title covers were displayed on the screen, followed by each person reciting excerpts from them.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro read Isaiah from the Torah, then Pastor Chris Gonzales read Luke from the New Testament and Ayman Alhadheri recited verses from the Quran, which were translated by Elena Coassolo.

To help the interfaith audience understand the meanings of the holy recitations, three speakers shared stories of peace from their Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions.

Susan Schanerman performed her Jewish tradition story called “A Talmudic Tale of Peace” as she created pictures with her hands and directed audience’s mood to various tones of her voice.

Following Schanerman’s performance, Doug Bland connected his Christian tradition story of “The Saint and the Sultan” to the Muslim influence of building Christianity and extracting the greeting “peace be upon you” from Muslims to saying it among Christian followers as well. He credited Islam’s teachings, especially to be more merciful to each other, to improving Christianity’s message among its followers.

To build on Bland’s story, Saiaf Abdallah told the “Musa and the Good Things to Come” Islamic story about Moses and Khidr’s journey of seeking knowledge through patience. At the end of the story he added that we must learn to see wisdom in atrocities such as 9/11 that united us all.

As the event came to a close, iMagine group members painted a rainbow representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim unity, as the audience stood up arm-in-arm chanting freedom and peace.

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Stand Up for Palestine

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Testimony of Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s Sister-in-law

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

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Lauren Booth speaks to her audience.

Newark, CA–August 14th–Ms. Lauren Booth of the United Kingdom came to this town in the Northeast Silicon Valley region of the South Bay just above San Jose to attend the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) Annual Ramadan Iftar Banquet.

Ms. Booth is amazing for many reasons; not the least of which, by any means, is her conversion and commitment to Islam.

Lauren Booth is an exceptional journalist and activist, and the poignancy of her conversion resides in the fact that she is the Sister-in-Law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is presently a Special Envoy to the Quartet (of four non-Middle Eastern political entities plus the U.N.) who have an interest in settling the Arab-Israeli imbroglio.

Ms. Booth route to Islam and this Sunday night’s dais in Northern California at this well-touted San Francisco Bay Area Indo-Pakistani Restaurant, Chandani, were circuitous.  

Lauren Booth is mother to two, and sister to Cherrie Blair (the wife of the UK’s former Prime Minister); her brother in law also, has been quoted expressing pro-Palestinian views.

Lauren Booth is the sixth daughter of the actor Anthony (Tony) Booth and Pamela Smith (Cohen).  Although Booth had Jewish antecedents, she was not raised in that tradition.

She has a C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) which your resident journalist here on these pages can only look upon with jealousy.

She has worked on such prestigious English Newspapers as the New Statesman, The Mail on Sunday (for which she served on as a feature writer and columnist). 

Further, she has been a panelist on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) “Have I got the News for You,” and is a broadcaster on other radio and television outlets.  Additionally, she is a regular reviewer of the U.K.  print news media on Sky, a satellite television network.

She remarked to our audience on the West Coast of the U.S.A. here that “The right-wing press has enabled my left-wing credentials!”  One of the most courageous stands she has taken was to publicly oppose the Iraq War while being a close relative by marriage of the architect of the British envolvement in that War, PM Tony Blair.

She began her speech by talking about the grave aggression by the Israelis in the Occupied Territories that she had beheld as a reporter.  “Something inside me [changed]… [when] I was sent to Palestine to cover the elections [there].”  An Israeli soldier from Brooklyn (Sic!) who examined her passport said, “Hey, a Brit, we love you!”  She realized something was askew in her country’s policies!

She came with what she described as Arabphobia, but she had to overcome a lifetime of propaganda within seventy-two hours. 

She was told “Don’t comfort the children because they won’t [can’t] cry…!”    She asked several Palestinian children what they would like to be as adults.  One young precocious girl replied, “I want to be a psychotherapist because we all are suffering [here].” 

The Israeli press undoes its photographic documentation [of the West Bank and Gaza] through its accompanying prose.

She told us about her first relief trip to Gaza, and how the citizens there were unaware of their arrival.

During Operation Cast Iron (the Israeli brutal assault on the mini-country during the last month of 2009 through the first month of 2010) the Israeli soldiers went as far as to loot the bodies of their Gazan victims!             
From reports directly from Gaza last month from doctors documenting abuses through their mobile phone cameras, she saw a boy wrapped by Israeli soldiers in barbed wire!  Also, a baby born with her intestines outside her body without the means for further emergency treatment!  She saw graphic images of Israeli mistreatment of the doctors themselves – even a M.D. being shot in the back!   There has been reported mass rape of Arab women, also.

She quotes a Palestinian boy replying to: “What did you do when they kicked you?  I got up, and I threw stones [at them]!”

She ended her comments in Newark (California) with “Thank you for listening.  Stand up for Palestine!”

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TMO Foundation Awards

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Celebrating Young Muslim Journalists’ Accomplishments

By TMO Staff

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TMO Foundation awardees who were able to attend the August Awards Banquet; l-r:  Noor Hani Salem, Ayesha Jamali, and Asra Najam.

Troy–August 7–Affluent Muslim students are sometimes pushed towards the field of medicine before they know what a career is, much less what they want. And while this profession brings honor to families and individuals, it leaves the community in need of talented and intelligent people in other fields.

Journalism is such a field, and the need for Muslim journalists was the focus of a banquet held by the TMO Foundation at the MET hotel in Troy on Sunday.

About 250 people attended the award ceremony, iftar and fundraiser, including among many other prominent community members, US Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-13-MI), Michigan legislator Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12), the prominent journalist Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News, important members of the Muslim community, Dr. Jawad Shah and Dr. AbdalMajid Katranji.

The TMO Foundation is a not-for-profit, founded in 2009 by Dr. AS Nakadar, who also is the president and publisher of The Muslim Observer.  The TMO Foundation’s stated aim is to “serve American Muslims through research, scholarships, and journalism.”  Dr. Nakadar of the foundation explained that TMO awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships in 2010, and more in 2011, by means of scholarship essay competitions on subjects relating to the Muslim community in the United States and its need for journalists.

The banquet on Sunday had as MC Dr. Shahid Tahir, and the other speakers at the event included Dr. Saqib Nakadar, Mrs. Sadaf Ali, Dr. AS Nakadar, Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, Mr. Imran Ahmad, and the previously mentioned prominent community members.  Several of the night’s award-winners also spoke at the event.

The overarching theme from all of the speakers was that Muslims must speak out through journalism, to defend the Muslim community against the aggressive anti-Muslim rhetoric that spills from non-Muslims.

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks to the TMO Foundation audience Rep. Hansen Clarke and Dr. AS Nakadar address the banquet audience
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Rep. Hansen Clarke presents an award to Jumana Abusalah; Dr. Shahid Tahir is standing to the right. Detroit News reporter Gregg Krupa speaks to the banquet audience (Imam Aly Lela in foreground).

The evening began with recitation of Qur`an, specifically verses from Surat Imran including the verse to hold fast to the rope of God together.

Dr. Saqib Nakadar in his speech said that the publicity for Muslims has been bad recently, and that a part of the function of the TMO Foundation was to bring it back to good publicity again.

Dr. Shahid Tahir, the MC, also gave brief introductory remarks, including an admonition to encourage kids to go into areas other than medicine.

Mrs. Sadaf Ali, a PhD candidate at Wayne State University, introduced the TMO Foundation Writer’s Workshop program which she will head, and introduced the TMO Foundation internship program and Faiz Khan’s Voice of Pakistan internship program, and she announced the winners of the TMO Foundation essay contest.

Ayesha Jamali, the second place essay contest winner, spoke briefly, thanking the TMO Foundation and everyone who helped put the banquet together.

Aqeela Naqvi, the first place winner, sent a video explaining that we should “propagate the truth about Islam.”  She quoted the verse that Allah has made us nations and tribes from one man and one woman, and that we should know one another–Naqvi argued that therefore it would be our strength to embrace our diversity.

Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News was one of the keynote speakers at the event, and he gave a speech on the theme that Muslims must stand up and speak, not only on issues related to our countries of origin or to our religion, but in sports, or any other area we are interested in.

The central story of Mr. Krupa’s speech was a description of a visit he made to the New York Times after 9/11, where he walked down a huge corridor filled with tributes to that preeminent newspaper’s Pulitzer prize winners–at the end of that long corridor he met with the editorial staff of the paper and learned that to their knowledge, and to their consternation, there was not a single Muslim reporter at the paper.

Mr. Krupa emphasized that this fact spoke of a tremendous lack of knowledge about Islam and Muslims, 3 blocks from ground zero at the best newspaper in the country.

He spoke also of his own background working through the civil rights movement towards greater inclusion of African Americans.

Perhaps the most depressing part of Mr. Krupa’s speech was his brief mention of how he had become incapable of continuing as a religion reporter at the Detroit News because of the intolerance of his own editors regarding his writing, and their assigning minimal importance to his efforts to write about religious issues. 

Thus Mr. Krupa shifted to the sports department of the Detroit News.

He emphasized that other faiths before Muslims had to confront gross American prejudices in order to create a niche in this country. Mr. Krupa argued that “more parents will have to content themselves” with children who lower themselves to be journalists instead of doctors, and argued that what is needed in this country is real dialogue, and mutual acceptance.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke at the event of her admiration that all of the winners were women, and emphasized that many non-Muslim journalists write nonsense about Islam, which is then picked up by other non-Muslim journalists who repeat it, and she emphasized the importance for non-Muslim journalists to reach out and talk to the other side.

Dr. Nakadar said that the first commandment of Allah, transmitted through the Angel Jibril (as) to Prophet (s) was “Iqra,” or read.  This is important for two reasons. First, this initial commandment of “iqra” began a 23 year period of revelation and in fact communication, the communication from Allah (swt) through the angel Gabriel (as) to Prophet Muhammad (s); second, the first word of the 23 year period of communication was a commandment to read—thus he argues that communication and iqra (education) are the two most important fundamental aspects of the beginning of Islam. Those who have understood the value of communication and education are flourishing today, while Muslims who have ignored these intial commandments have suffered.

Without a voice, Dr. Nakadar argued, there is no power in politics because political outcomes are predetermined by the tone of the news that reaches people before they vote, or before they act in politics.

“We need to create a new generation of journalists” to address national issues within the framework of Islam.

Dr. Jawad Shah gave another keynote speech, arguing that journalists must give deep thought to their articles before printing them, and that Muslim journalists if true to the ideal he advocated would be able to bring a level of profoundness to their reporting far beyond the superficial coverage he complained of from non-Muslim journalists.

Dr. Katranji followed this impressive list of speakers with an impassioned fundraising effort, which was very successful, gaining thousands of dollars to fund the TMO Foundation’s efforts through the next year.

Dr. Nakadar wanted to thank Mr. Ali Qureshi (New Mexico), Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed (Florida), Dr. M Amirana (Nevada), Mrs. Samia Mustafa (Virginia), Dr. Mazhar Malik (New York), and many others for their support and past contributions.

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“The Israelis are Coming! The Israelis are Coming!”

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

San Francisco–July 28th–Before your narrator begins his tale, he would like to unequivocally state that he supports the now overwhelmingly Islamic Palestinian (sub-) nationality within their seized State.  Your reporter like the grand majority of the people there and most of us support a two-State solution, but time is ticking, and the ball is in Tel Aviv’ court.  The issue has gained an increasing pungency with the bid of the Palestinians for recognition of their statehood status at the United Nation (U.N.’s) headquarters in New York City this coming September.

J Street, who invited your scribe to this event, is pro-Israel with a progressive vision, but at the same time is strongly in favor of a two-State solution.  (Of course, our reasoning is different their “whys” rom ours, but they are not so far away from our aspirations that we could not negotiate with them towards a middle ground.)   J Street was the sponsor of this evening as part of their national (U.S.)tours targeted at their Jewish-American constituency of (retired) political officials, diplomats, and (that even included four) military generals, who disapprove of their current government’s out-of-hand rejection of the (U.S.) Obama’s Administration proposals to base future negotiations  between the two contentious  sides over the pre-1967 borders with agreed swaps.   In the sponsor’s words:  “…increased tensions in the region [which is] undergoing rapid transformation [i.e., the ‘Arab Spring’]…is a critical time” for Israel, too.

I am urging my colleague in the Southland (that’s what we call Southern California from the North to balance my reporting with hers dedicated to the Palestinian perspective) whose cause she has so fervently espoused! 

The (former) Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Ilan Baruch, resigned from his nation’s Foreign Service early from his post as the Ambassador there.  (Formerly, he was Tel Aviv’ representative in Manila.) His action was prompted because of his inability to argue his nation’s policies to an international audience with whom his homeland was becoming ever more isolated and looked down upon as a pariah entity.

Ambassador Baruch served in the Israeli Foreign Ministry for more than thirty years.  Besides his exalted duties as Israel’s (former) Ambassador to the Philippines and South Africa, he worked in their embassies in London, Copenhagen and Singapore.   He, also, led the Bureau for Middle Eastern Economic Affairs and was the Deputy Head of the Peace Process within the Middle East Department and founded and served as first Director of the Palestinian Autonomy Division within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which position he became acquainted and worked with the (now) President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.  They bounded as life-long friends.  They make regular personal contact over the phone, and Ilan recently visited him at his home (fifteen minutes away!).  Such integral relationships are central to resolution of the enmeshed friction between these two neighbors.

Baruck is one of most conspicuous of the high-ranking former members within previous Israeli Administrations who have come forward in opposition to the Netanyahu regime’s policies – especially in regards to the peace process.

His Excellency’s presentation, which was largely fielding questions, took part at a Synagogue within this Pacific-rim City.

J Streets’ Northwest’s Regional Director, Gordon Gladstone, began by stating that 57% of American Jews support the two-State resolution.  Strategic opinion holds to Obama’s proposals to negotiate along the lines of the pre-1967 boundaries with agreed land swaps are defensible (counter to their Prime Minister [PM’s] protests). 

Baruch noted that to be an Ambassador did not allow you to express your own opinion within hearing:  It is “…a total project” in and of itself.  His rather dramatic public resignation was made as a matter of principle.  Therefore, he emphasized that his words at the end of last month in no way represented the positions of his PM’s government.  His views are from the opposing side of the Israeli Establishment and their Society, but they represent a good deal of Civil Society’s unvoiced body political there opining.  

The contemporary Hebrew State is more complex than is apparent to its observers in the West. 

Baruch unequivocally uttered that “I am not with government [now], but have created governmental policy in the past.”  Unfortunately, the last several Israeli regimes “have been right-wing …[reflections] of their societies [electorates].”  The present, alas, does represent the will of the people, but often they merely have become e a voice for the Settlers at that. 

To a Jewish-American audience, he reiterates that so much of West Jerusalem’s security resides within their relationship with the United States.  Your relator’s audience would be pleased to hear that he believes much of this relationship is eroding away (because of his admin’s mismanagement).

The principle of “Land for Peace” means [succinctly]the end of…the Occupation…with Occupation we cannot achieve peace,” but Netanyahu disagrees.  Thus, there is no trust by the other side (us) to negotiate.  

The Netanyahu reign demands Israel remain as a Jewish State.  Also, the Palestinians look upon the West Bank and Gaza together as one (potential) State wherein Tel Aviv perceives them as separate.  This could become an issue with the current or similar-minded future Hebrew governments.     

In questioning, he fell into the standard Israeli (and American) position that the Gazans were at fault for the token scud attacks upon Israeli soil from the micro-“State’s” territory that led to Israel’s disproportionate reaction of Operation Cast Iron (December 2008-Januay 2009) when in fact it was instituted by non-State actors that Gaza City could not or would not control.  This refusal to acknowledge a popular uprising there and blame the State(s) instead (that they had set up as supposed puppets nonetheless) and punish their innocent citizens for the actions of others that their elected governments were not able to contain, must cease if there is ever to be peace.   He, then, asserted that the principle of “Land for Peace” cannot work without commitment, (but, conversely, commitment has been so poorly lacking by those series of Tel Aviv’ right-wing governments that he mentioned previously above).

It is sheer ideology that is driving Netanyahu.  The Prime Minister knows what the right thing to do is, but he does not possess the courage to do it!

The Ambassador believes that (Palestine)Statehood will be vetoed (by the American States, but that is only if it goes directly to the Security Council before the General Assembly [GA].  There are complicated legal questions if the Palestinian bid is accepted by the one and not the other.)  There is a long-standing legal differentiation between a “disputed” and an “occupied” territory that is being argued domestically within Israel herself at the moment.

Baruch pointed out that Kadima, a Centrist/Liberal (Party) within their Knesset (Parliament), towards whom he appears to lean, and who holds the largest block of seats there.  Yet they were forced from the present coalition – still, they have the greatest chance of forming a future Israeli government, deems that it is necessary to allow a neighboring State of Palestine to be formed as soon as possible.

In summation, Palestinians – largely Islamic with a vibrant Christian minority therein – have common interest with liberal political elements within Israel herself as well with a majority in the American Jewish community and others over the West. 

The American government should be cultivating these elements within the  Israeli military and their Civil Society to pressure their Middle Eastern “ally” to accept President Barrack Hussein Obama’s Administration’s proposals for bi-lateral dialog towards peace.  Influential former members of past Tel Aviv governments support our hopes and aspirations for peace in our mutual Abrahamic homeland. 

Not all Israelis or Jews are our enemies.  We should, subsequently, embrace those whom we can as friends and allies, and ask how we can work together for our common good!

13-32

Leadership Summit Summer 2011

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

With Islamophobia rampant in the United States, programs and people to combat it are essential. While there are very many with the knowledge, faith, and desire to be warriors in this mission, one essential ingredient is often missing. That is the practical knowledge of how to form teams to fight Islamophobia. This past Saturday that problem was remedied in a practical, “how-to”, nitty gritty session which gave these willing warriors their tools.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) California and the Muslim American Society held a leadership training program this past Saturday at the Islamic Center of Reseda in Reseda, Ca. Titled: Leadership Summit Summer 2011, the event was well attended and enthusiastically received. The speakers were highly motivational and well versed in the field of leadership training and its application to Islamic activity.

Mohammad Abbasi, the first presenter, is a Regional Director for Keller Williams Realty Group Greater New York area. His experience in the field of leadership training is vast, and he devotes his time to serving his community. In addition to his experience, he is able to teach in a way that captivates his audience. The message is well structured and comprehensive, educating the listener while making him enjoy the lesson.

Leaders make themselves leaders and consciously develop the necessary qualities for leadership, he began. They are not born, and no one can force leadership onto a person. To the surprise of the audience, he continued, in any group one can tell the leader because he or she is the one who talks the least. If the leader has formed efficient teams, the leader will be the least missed in the event of his absence. Leadership is about team building.

Brother Abbasi told of his visit to one of his companies after an absence The receptionist said upon seeing him: “May I help you?”. That is when he knew he was a success. He was a good leader because the company was able to function without him.

He spoke of former General Motors CEO Lee Iacocca whom the public perceived as being a great executive. On the contrary, Brother Abbasi insisted, he was a failure. The company could not sustain itself without him. As a leader he was a failure.

Speaking of the Arab world he described Arab leaders as being insecure. The do not reward success on the part of others for fear of the competition these successful people would present.

He also referenced President FDR and called him insecure. He chose a weak Vice President, Harry S. Truman, because he could not stand competition.  English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on the other hand, was secure and cultivated others to replace him throughout his entire political life.

A Board of Trustees, a position he favors, determines the course of funding and defines the group’s mission. In the United States we have the government sector, the private business sector, and the non-profits (known often as NGO’s – non government organizations). In the Middle East the NGO is absent and is very much needed. He made the point that a member of a non profit is not motivated by the chance to be elected to public office or by the paycheck he will receive. He is motivated by idealism. Because of this his dedication should be greater. He gave as an example the late Mother Theresa and her organization, Sisters of Charity. The audience seemed surprised to discover that there is a six month probationary period for her volunteers. People work for non profits because they have high ideals, and they will only work for organizations that have high standards.

After a lunch break CAIR representative Adel Syed spoke to the group. Brother Adel is the Government Relations Coordinator for CAIR – LA. His function is to strengthen working relationships between Muslims in the Los Angeles area and government officials and organizations.

Brother Adel referenced literature that had been given attendees upon registration. The discussion began with the problem of Islamophobia. He showed a map of the United States with many marked areas where opposition to the building of mosques took place.

“I never realized it was that bad” said one young woman looking at the well marked map.

“I knew about Park 51 and Temecula” said another “But I never knew there were this many.”

Also discussed were anti Islamic hate web sites: Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, and Pamela Geller, to name but a few. On the positive side in the news, again to name but a few, were Jon Stewart, the web site loonwatch (which tracks hate sites), and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (for his strong support of the proposed Park 51 Islamic Center).

Islamophobia was defined as was the term “close minded” and the term “open minded. To take a soft stance on Islamophobia is to accept a form of second class citizenship for Muslims. Civic engagement is primary. It is best not to begin with grandiose plans, as that will inevitably lead to disappointment. At the local level one might begin by becoming a county commissioner. Invite community members to mosques, Eid events, Ramadan Iftar, and to your homes. Engage in coalition building. Organizations such as CAIR and MAS are indispensable to this. After each success – or failure – analyze to decide what the next step should be.

“Reinforce positive norms for working together and continue to cultivate new leaders.”

We will know we have achieved success when being Muslim is considered an asset for a public official, and when those who associate with anti-Muslim hate groups will be de facto discredited.

Mitch Krayton, a noted author, coach and motivational speaker gave the day’s final presentation. He specialty is training people to be effective and confident public speakers.

Following is a statement from Brother Fiaz Zubair Syed of MAS who was one of the organizers of the day’s event.

“In the Quran, chapter 33 line 22, God says “For you the life of the Prophet (s) is a good model of behavior.”

One of the major roles of Prophet Muhammad (s) was to lead mankind toward a just society who strives toward God Consciousness. The purpose of this program is to understand what leadership is, it’s qualities, and every persons role of being a leader. This Leadership Summit is one in a series of many that will be introduced to the community where different skill sets will be shared, workshops will be conducted as well as opportunities to be active in our society and cause positive change. We believe in development of individuals through education and practice and that is why we (Muslim American Society) have partnered with CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) to begin training a group of young Muslim Americans to fulfill the mission of MAS and ultimately of Islam which is to: “To move people to strive for God consciousness, liberty, and justice, and to convey Islam with utmost clarity.””

13-29

Interview with Graffiti Artist Mohammed Ali

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Siddiq Ather, TMO

Mohammed Ali also known as Aerosol Arabic is a Muslim Graffiti artist who has gained attention worldwide, painting murals and conducting shows for peace, justice, and humanity. He was born and raised in Birmingham, England. He was involved with graffiti art during the eighties when it was spreading like wildfire across the U.K. His work has been displayed in a variety of exhibitions, and he has spoken at various artistic and academic venues. 

ma1ma2ma3ma4ma5writing on the walls2

Do you think the attitude towards graffiti has changed since the eighties?

They have and haven’t. You still hear the questions of whether graffiti is just vandalism or art. People like Banksy have targeted a whole different audience and shown the power of street art. The attitudes toward the art form have not evolved enough, but the art form hasn’t either.  Many of the artists from this movement are not like Banksy. They are not trying to communicate to the mainstream.

Do you think art needs a purpose?

For me, it has to communicate something. Initially, I was just expressing myself: one’s identity, your name, or your tag. What’s the point of that? If I am painting a public space why should it just be a selfish expression? Why should I be expressing my name? Communication is paramount for me.

What is the value of graffiti art in society?

Who owns the public space? I suppose it’s the people.  So, when I’m painting, I’m painting for the people. I need to be communicating something of value. In big cities we are bombarded by visuals and imagery by different useless commercial products.

For me, it is about taking ownership of the public space and offering, to the public domain, ideas that are beneficial for a progressive and positive society. In our lifetime we have seen the breakdown of certain values. I want to bring something back that will be of benefit to the people, me, as a Muslim, me, as an artist, and me, as human being.

How much of your art is for you and how much is for the audience?

For me, it’s for the audience. I paint for the people, really me getting any personal fulfillment from painting is like a bonus for me. I’m an artist, but I don’t do art for art’s sake, so art for the sake of mankind, I suppose. Art I hope will bring some good to society. It’s a channel for me to release my thoughts and ideas so people may benefit personally, spiritually, or otherwise.

Is art only meant for adding positivity to the world, and for the betterment of society?

Each to their own really. It’s fine that people want to express their color, art, and composition for their own personal benefit; I’m not going to criticize that. Certainly art has some therapeutic properties for personal benefit. There’s a space and need for that.

But I feel, as a Muslim, I also have a strong social responsibility. What did I do in this world if I leave, not if, when I leave I feel I am accountable. What did I do for my community and society at large? What would be the point if I left this world and didn’t do anything to benefit it?

How does being Muslim affect your art?

As a visual artist, graffiti and the Islamic art of written word were interesting. In graffiti art it was man. In the Alhambra Mosque in Spain, it was the word of God. When I rediscovered my identity as a Muslim, as a graffiti artist, I was blown away by the marriage and melding of the two art forms. I felt I could take the best of both worlds without conflict.

There are issues of drawing figurative forms. I do a lot of shadowesque silhouette forms of people. So I have found different ways of expressing things. It has made me think outside the box.
How has your outlook on art changed since you started?

I wasn’t one of those people mindlessly vandalizing property: painting an eyesore, with something of color. I have a social responsibility now. What kind of example would I be if I was painting walls illegally? So I’ll see a wall that’s ugly screaming to be painted, that’s someone else’s wall, anyone can tell you about painting someone’s wall without permission.
Before there wasn’t really a message, just a name, now the focus is on the message rather than selfish expression.

What keeps you going?

Feedback from people, whether it’s to know kids in Palestine were joyously talking about some wall painted in an English city, or seeing an old woman emotionally passing her hand over a load of painted bricks. Art has the power to change the world. I’ve seen how it can.

What is one of the most difficult moments as an artist?

Well the event with the Chicago mural was a challenge, being unable to complete it. Difficulties I face are a blessing. They give me encouragement to come back and do something bigger and better.  I’m planning an event similar to”Writing on the Wall” with IMAN in Chicago, insha’Allah.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

Engaging with the people and traveling my travels. Historical figures: Malcolm X and Salahuddin, leaders who fought for justice. The prophets would be the best examples of course. What we are doing as artists and activists is a continuation  of these people who fought and struggled, fought for justice, fought for bringing back values.

One of my favorite quotes is from the author George Orwell, he once said, “In a time of universal deceit, speaking the truth will become a revolutionary act.”

How do you see yourself advancing in the future professionally, personally?

I established an organization called Soul City Arts, and have been programming and directing theatrical events with other artists. My arts organization in my city is called the Hubb Arts Centre. I want to continue collaborating with groups like IMAN. The scene of arts for social change is very small and people who work in this arena need to connect so they can effectively bring about social change.  We have to think strategically and think where we want to be in ten years.

13-24

Community Town Hall at Islamic Center

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) hosted a community town hall meeting this past Sunday. The event featured representatives of law enforcement agencies on the local, state and national levels. 

The ICSC was filled to capacity as the attendees listened to each representative discuss the role of his or her agency and what sort of services that agency provides. A question and answer session followed the brief presentations, and the speakers stayed beyond the scheduled meeting for discussions.

The agencies represented were: the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Muslim Community Affairs Unit), the presenting agency; Los Angeles Police Department; City of Los Angeles; State of California (Emergency Management Agency); State of California Office of the Attorney General; U. S. Department of Justice  (FBI); U.  S. Department of Justice (Offices of the US Attorneys), and the Department of Homeland Security (Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties).

Saadia Khan of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) was the Master of Ceremonies.

The representative of the FBI said that her organization has a valued Multicultural Advisory Committee. She further said that her organization worked with all of the agencies represented in the auditorium. In addition the FBI Field Office in Los Angeles has a Citizens Academy where selected members of the community spend an evening each week for eight weeks learning about the inner workings of the FBI.

Nadia Bacha, a Senior Policy Advisor for the Department of Homeland Security, said that her office is a watch dog. “We push for civil rights protection, and we have to work with our partners.”  She cited the recently discontinued NSEERS program (National Security Entry/Exit Registration) as an example of what citizen activism can accomplish. This program mandated an alien to reregister after 30 day and one year of continuous residence in the United States. NSEERS was unpopular with civil liberties advocates, and, according to Ms Bacha, was discontinued after continuous pressure by concerned citizens on the government.

Members of the audience were warned to be careful when consulting attorneys who advertised themselves as immigration attorneys. It is best to inquire about the bona fides of these people before engaging them.

A representative of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was asked to address the audience. She said that in October of the past year, MPAC trained 2200 TSA officers in cultural sensitivity.
“I have learned a great deal by coming here” said one young man in the audience.

The first question was from a woman who wanted to know how best to raise her children with respect to civic participation. All of the speakers answered, and their advice was remarkably similar. Participate in civil matters yourself and get your children involved at an early age so that civic participation becomes a duty.

For further information regarding the Muslim Community Affairs Unit within the office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, please contact Deputy Sheriff Sherif Morsi at: ssmorsi@lasd.org.

13-23

Palestine: “An Invisible Nation” at UC Irvine

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The University of California in Irvine held a week long educational event titled: Palestine: An Invisible Nation. Beginning on the 5th of May and lasting through the 12th, multiple events took place illuminating the plight of the Palestinians under the boot of Israel. Well known speakers including Alison Weir of If Americans Knew; Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, and University of California in Berkeley Senior Lecturer Hatem Bazian, spoke movingly to their audiences. Topics covered included Anti Semitism: The Zionist Facade; BDS: Apartheid ends Here, and Taking Bullets for Palestine.

The latter was particularly impressive. The presenter, a young Jewish Israeli citizen, Matan Cohen, spoke in a popular outdoor area known as The Flagpole. Shortly after he began to speak in front of the waiting audience others walking along this popular commons joined him. When he was about half way through his presentation a group entered the area carrying Israeli flags and placards supporting Israel. They walked in a circle around the speaker and the perimeter of his audience. A number of them spoke out during the presentation, and Mr. Cohen had to ask them to hold their comments until he was done, and he would enjoy addressing them during the question and answer session.

Mr. Cohen said that when one country occupies another, the occupied country becomes invisible. He called on young people in Palestine to march on Israeli roadblocks and roads marked “For Jews Only” on the 15th of May – the anniversary of the Nakba.

“As an Israeli Jew I stand with my Palestinian brothers”.

The Israelis say that BDS is destabilizing. They say that democracy is destabilizing. “How”, he asked, “can anyone living in a democracy say that?”

He said that Israel wants a democratic state for Jews and a Jewish state for Palestinians. While he referred to himself as an optimist, he warned that Operation Cast Lead might have been only the beginning.

“There seem to be a lot of hecklers” said one young woman.

“No” said a woman standing next to her. “They continuously circle the area to make themselves look like a larger crowd than they are”.

He spoke of the onslaught of repression within Israel against non-Jews.

After the event, students in the crowd spoke among themselves, discussing his speech and the calm and intelligent manner he used while addressing the hecklers. A recurrent theme was admiration for his courage in speaking  out and working for justice while living in Israel.

13-21

The Muslim Voice of Baseball

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

CnuzXAs5Michigan native Ahmed Fareed has become a media face of baseball after joining the cable television channel MLB Network this past February. He works a host and reporter, appearing on studio productions including Hot Stove and MLB Tonight. MLB Network had the largest cable launch in history in 2009, with 50 million homes. During the season, the network provides nightly live updates, highlights and live look-ins involving games in progress.

Fareed moved up the broadcasting ranks rather quickly. Before joining MLB Network, Fareed spent five years with WAVY-TV/FOX 43 TV in Norfolk, Va., where he covered the Washington Redskins, the Orioles Triple-A affiliate Norfolk Tides, and Virginia Tech and University of Virginia football. “I really liked it at WAVY,” he told the Virginian-Pilot. “But it’s difficult speaking to an audience that’s so fragmented. You don’t know what they’re interested in – the Redskins, ODU, Virginia Tech. It’s nice being here [at MLB Network]. You know your audience. They like baseball. It’s enjoyable to speak to that viewer.” Fareed is still, however, grateful for his time in Norfolk. “Growing up in Michigan,” he said, “I never would have thought this place in Hampton Roads would be so important to my life. But without that job, I’m not where I am today.”

Before joining WAVY/FOX 43, Fareed was a weekend sports anchor at WILX-TV and WSYM-TV in Lansing, Mich. He grew up a Detroit Tigers fan in Sparta, Michigan. But he went on to graduate from Syracuse University’s prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where he majored in Broadcast Journalism. Considered a breeding ground for major broadcasters, the Syracuse program has been attended by many of the top sports journalists, including quite a few at ESPN.

Ahmed can be followed on Twitter at @AhmedFareedTV.

13-19

Imam Latif Speaks at Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

latif

April 17, 2011, Bloomfield Hills–Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif, is a leader of the Islamic Leadership Council of NY, was the guest speaker for the evening program on April 15, 2011 at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills MI. Imam Almasmari, the current imam of the center, introduced him.

The theme of his speech was on Mercy, Compassion and Guidance based on the life of our beloved Prophet (s). And through this he said, “I want to present to you the true picture of Islam”.

Giving examples from the life of Prophet (s) he said in a forceful and convincing way that we as a Muslim, respect life, but there are people in the east and the west who believe in destroying life with impunity.

This gives a bad name to Muslims all over the world.

A real Muslim is the one with whom the world feels blessed and safer, who believes in Mercy to the Muslims and to the non Muslims.

We are living in a difficult time, he said, but if we follow the path of our Prophet (s) in dealing with our women, children, neighbors, and those who disagree with us, we will make our communities and societies rise to a higher degree than what we are today. We must continue to strive for a better and safer world.

America is the only country in the world where people can exercise their rights freely. Giving the example of recent huge rally in NY he said, “Look, how people mingled, talked, shouted slogans and moved about fearlessly.” People in the rally hailed from all sorts of backgrounds, they hailed from different ethnicity, different countries, with different cultures, old, young, and some parents with their babies in strollers moved freely, talked and chatted with people unknown to them and even with the people from the law enforcement agencies, in spite of the fact that the whole atmosphere appeared to be highly charged.

He concluded by saying, “American society is an open society and because of current degradation of moral and social values the door for Dawah is wide open. We must utilize this opportunity by remaining on the path of Mercy and Compassion towards all as shown to us by our Prophet (s).

Imam Almasmari thanked the speaker for enlightening the audience and entertained questions from the audience.

13-21

Muslim Americans for Palestine Event

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

muzammil-siddiqi
Muzzamil Siddiqi

The plight of the Palestinian people as they suffer under the boot of Israeli occupation is at the forefront of humanitarian concerns of people throughout the globe. Many individuals and organizations have addressed themselves to the Palestinian plight.

In December of 2009, as the world observed the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the devastation wrought then by Israeli forces on an already beleaguered land, a new organization pledged to help Palestine was introduced to the public.

Muslim Americans for Palestine (MAP) is a project of the youth division of the Muslim American Society (MAS). Readers of The Muslim Observer will be familiar with MAP as its formation was announced at the MAS convention during the last weekend of the year. Its objectives are in many ways similar to those of other Palestine oriented group, yet it is also distinctive.

This past Saturday the group held its first formal event, a banquet and fundraiser at the Crowne Park Anaheim Resort in Garden Grove, Ca. Islamic Relief cosponsored the event and was the recipient of the funds collected. Islamic Relief will use the funds for their relief work in Palestine.

After prayers the evening began with a recitation and translation from the Holy Koran. Dinner followed.

During the early evening as people took their seats, two screens presented a video of MAP and its founding principles and goals.

The keynote speaker was Alison Weir, a human rights activist from Northern California. She spoke of the plight of Palestinians from her personal experiences and from the testimony she has received from eye witnesses, victims, and victims families. Her first trip to the oPt was in 2001 and was a fact finding expedition. What she discovered was the reverse of what she had been told by the media and her own government. Her organization, If Americans Knew, and her web site, www.ifamericansknew.org  are excellent and hard hitting sources of knowledge about Palestine.

As she spoke, her quiet voice and her presentation of facts and the inevitable conclusions these facts indicated, captivated the audience. Her emphasis was on the bias of the American media toward the state of Israel and against the Palestinian people. Ms Weir cited major news outlets: The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News and the Associated Press. “I am not talking about Fox News” she said.  She spoke of their unerring misreporting of deaths, always exaggerating Israeli losses and minimizing Palestinian ones; always manifesting a bias towards Israel with such consistency that it defied simple error or random chance. As she spoke, charts were shown on the two screens, statistical proof the accuracy of her claims. In addition cards were passed out to every guest with similar data.

Ms Weir included National Public Radio in her list of news outlets biased towards Israel.

Ms. Weir concluded by urging her audience toward action.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi was another informative speaker. Dr. Muzammil’s leadership in the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC); the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); the Fiqh Council of North America, and the Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC), to name but a few organizations, have made him a sought-after speaker. As a theologian and Islamic scholar he is also famous for his interfaith work.

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi spoke of his trip to Palestine with interfaith leaders. The audience gasped when he spoke of the  650 checkpoints imposed on Palestinians by their Israeli occupiers..

“ I never imagined that there would be so many. How do you get through the day?” asked one young woman. As if in answer to her question Dr. Siddiqi spoke of the hardships wrought by these checkpoints on workers, students, and people in need of medical help.

Dr. Siddiqi urged people to visit the oPt and “see with their own eyes” the conditions there.

Dr. Siddiqi also spoke of the place of Jerusalem in the Islamic faith and referenced Koranic verses.

Attorney and human rights activist Reem Salahi spoke of the “Irvine 11”. A murmur passed through the audience with this familiar reference. These eleven students are threatened with expulsion or suspension by the University of California in Irvine (UCI) for exercising their free speech rights during the appearance on campus of Israeli Ambassador to the United State Michael Oren. In addition, the University has referred their case to the District Attorney in Orange County.

Ms Salahi was part of a delegation to Gaza a year ago, a delegation sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild. There the group found numerous violations of International law on the part of the Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead.

Ms Salahi said that to speak of the Irvine 11 was not off subject. They are symbolic of the plight of the Palestinian people. The Israelis are the occupiers and the oppressors. The presence of their representative at UCI is not acceptable.

In dealing with the Israeli/Palestine issue she made an analogy with a boat that should be parallel but is instead diagonal with Israel on top. Muslims want fairness for Palestine: they want to right the boat.

Muslim Americans for Palestine has a three pronged approach to the Palestinian problem: Educate, Empower, Preserve. It is a grass roots organization dedicated to justice and self determination in Palestine. Recognizing the natural affinity between the American Muslim community for Palestine and recognizing also the pioneering spirit embodied in youth, MAP, in accordance with the Islamic faith. has been launched.

For further information, please access the MAP web site at: www.mapalestine.org

Islamic Relief may be accessed at its web site: www.islamic-relief.com.

12-10

University of Michigan MSA Organizes Event with Dr. Sherman Jackson

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

islam2005_jackson Ann Arbor–This past weekend an event was organized by the MSA of the University of Michigan, attended by an audience of about 600 people.

The highlight at the event from the students was the presentation of skits from boys and girls. The consensus of those in attendance was that the girls’ skits were better.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Sherman Jakson, who exhorted MSA students and other Muslims not to despair despite the present anti-Muslim climate, because they have a legacy to carry.

He reminded the audience that the Holy Prophet (s) faced terrible terrible hardships, but that he never relented in his mission.

Professor Jackson also emphasized to the students that they should trust people based on thier actions, and not based on their religion. He gave the example of when our Prophet (s) left Mecca for Madina, among others was one mushrik whose trust Prophet (s) valued, based on his honorable actions and deeds.

Thirdly, Professor Jackson said that MSA is an important institution. Citing his own example he said “I am one of its beneficiaries.” When he accepted Islam in 1977–when the Iranian revolution was at its height, the Palestinian issue and other similar problems were just creeping up–when we turn to MSA, he said, that was our source of inspiration. We put our intellectual resources, physical resources and financial resources–that provided us focus and solace. He concluded by saying; “MSA is the future of Islam in America and elsewhere.” He further said: “ Every one in MSA has a place to work and each one of you is important for the vision and mission of MSA”.

When the five TMO Foundation scholarships were announced, students cheered it with approval and appreciation.

For more information about the scholarships visit http://www.tmofoundation.com.

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