Just Fake It

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

abibas-counterfeit-adidasDesigner clothing brands like Gucci, Prada, Chanel and DKNY are high-end brands that most women would love to have in their closet. However, the huge price tag that most designer items carry is a huge deterrent for “fashionistas” on a budget. Ever since the global economic downturn gripped most nations around the world, many designer labels have suffered a hit to their bottom line. The demand for luxury products has severely dropped around the world as people struggle to feed their families. Having a designer dress or handbag does not seem that important when trying to pay bills on time.

In the Middle East, however, business is booming for knock-offs of famous designer brands. Although most governments pay lip service to enforcing international copyright laws, little is done to police shop owners who import designer knock-offs from China. Countries like Dubai, Bahrain and Kuwait are a feeding ground for the knock-off designer goods market. Just about everywhere you turn someone is wearing a knock off, whether it is a Dolce & Gabbana t-shirt or a Louis Vuitton purse.

Depending on where you shop, designer knock-offs look almost identical to the real thing give or take the misplacement of the odd button. A fake Chanel watch costs less than $100 compared to the thousand-dollar price tag that the original carries. Some shops offer even lower priced knock-offs but the poor craftsmanship makes them easy to spot as a counterfeit a mile away. Most have misspelled logos, cheap zippers or smell like chemicals. Despite the faults, eager shoppers in the region scoop them up as fast as they can get them.

The downside of knock-offs is that not only is it a crime, but also that someone else’s work is pilfered for profit. What is worse than that is that copyright crimes are being committed in Islamic nations right under the noses of authorities and all for the sake of something as inane as fashion.

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New Initiatives: “The Muslim Element”

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviAs the times progress and technology develops, different and new ways are being found to accomplish age-old goals. From teaching children their A-B-C’s, to distance education, to social interaction—the amount of new and innovative means to accomplish these ends are innumerable. Everyone is looking for less traditional, and more creative ways to cater to society’s interests, in particular, those of the youth.

A group of youth from New Jersey has identified with and understood this phenomenon, and has undertaken the task of using newer, more creative technology to develop a positive sense of brotherhood between Muslim youth, as well as youth of other religious and cultural backgrounds. “The Muslim Element” (The Mu for short), as they call themselves, is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide products that express their religious as well as universal humanitarian beliefs. They are currently focused on providing clothing that embodies various messages, the goal being to positively affect the lives of youth by allowing them to connect to their religion through the use of a more creative and modern medium. The Mu garners no profit from their sales: every penny generated by the organization is used either for the creation of new products and t-shirts, or is given back to the community in the form of charitable donations or sponsorship of events at local Islamic centers.

Muslim_ElementThe Muslim Element has developed three products thus far, one of which being a “Freedom” t-shirt, sold in early 2011, when revolutions were sparking across the Islamic world. This shirt helped to get youth involved in promoting the idea of freedom and justice in a more innovative and creative manner than before. Even if they could not physically attend rallies to demand freedom for those innocents being oppressed in countries across the world, they could display their support of justice and truth to everyone they met through the clothing they wore.

Initiatives such as these are necessary for reaching out to new generations of youth. The Muslim Element supports the enlightenment of Muslims—especially the younger generation living in the West—and aims to show them through messages embodied in clothing that they should take pride in who they are and the beautiful messages of truth and justice, propagated by the religion they believe in. In this way, says their mission statement, they hope to help the youth to “remain vigilant in understanding their faith and their humanity, develop an awareness of relatable and current topics in the world, and actively propagate truths and dispel misconceptions about the beautiful religion of Islam.”

More information about this initiative, as well as vending information for your local center, can be found online at: www.facebook.com/TheMuslimElement

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Reaching Out

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviAfter the tragic events of September 11, 2001, communities around the nation came together to help each other grieve, to support those who had lost loved ones, and most importantly, to help each other heal. One aspect of this healing was seen in many interfaith communities, as the horrendous acts by terrorists on 9/11 had sent waves of discord through interfaith relations.

In order to keep communities together and keep interfaith relations strong, many communities reached out to centers of different faiths. One such is the Freehold community, where three centers of different faiths: Muslim (Bait-wali-ul-Asr, IZFNA), Catholic (St. Robert Bellarmine Church), and Reform Jewish (Temple Shaari Emeth), came together in 2006 to form a program called Project Understanding. This program, according to the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission, was created to “promote positive human relations amongst diverse groups in Monmouth County through interaction with interfaith groups and community service projects, such as the collecting and delivering food for the Open Door Food Pantry, serving meals at the Freehold Area Lunch Program, and collecting and distributing food and clothing to homeless in the Midnight Run Project.” The Midnight Run Project involved youth from three different faiths in collecting clothing, food items, and toiletries at their respective centers, and coming together on a cold, winter night, to load the items on a bus, and distribute them to the less fortunate at midnight in New York City.

DSC05266At the completion of the program, the youth were awarded with certificates of appreciation, presented by the Monmouth County Human Relations Commission. The program is now inactive, but memories of the positive effect it had on creating relationships based on understanding and friendship between youth of different faiths calls for more programs of its kind. By focusing on the youth, programs like these will allow for the future leaders of the world to build the foundation of their interfaith understanding today, instead of waiting for tomorrow, so that in the years to come, acceptance and understanding between the communities can continue to grow, and ties of friendship will continue to be passed down for generations to come, Insha’Allah.

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Special Amenities Trust: Preserve Governmental Benefits and Protect Your Inheritance

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By: Adil Daudi, Esq.

In the unfortunate situation of having a child with a certain disability, the stress on the parents can be overwhelming. Families in such situations face unique challenges when it comes to planning for their estate planning; as not only are they concerned about their child receiving their inheritance, but they carry the additional concern of not knowing whether their child will continue to receive their governmental benefits (Social Security Disability, Medicaid, or Supplementary Security Income).

It is imperative for any parent who has a disabled or mentally ill child to be proactive by developing a sound estate plan that takes these needs into consideration and helps ensure that their child’s inheritance will not interfere with their government benefits. One way of handling such a situation is through the use of a Special Amenities Trust (SAT). An SAT is a specific trust created to ensure that beneficiaries who are on governmental assistance can continue to receive their inheritance without losing their governmental benefits.

How Does a Special Amenities Trust Work?

There is one primary rule when it comes to a SAT: the trust funds in the trust can’t be used for food, clothing or shelter for the beneficiary. In other words, the Trustee of the trust can pay for anything the beneficiary would want for personal purposes, as long as it is not in the category of food, clothing or shelter. The rationale behind this restriction is that the funds received from the government should suffice for the beneficiary’s ability to provide food, clothing and shelter. Outside of this restriction, the trust is able to purchase any other item it deems necessary, or even luxurious. If the beneficiary wishes to go on a vacation, the trust funds could be used to cover the entire trip.

Who Manages the Trust?

One thing to note when setting such a trust is that it is deemed irrevocable. That means that once it is created, it cannot be changed, altered or amended.  If done properly, this irrevocability is not an issue because this type of trust has proven to effectively assist families and protect their beneficiary’s interests.

As part of the creating process, the individual who manages the trust would be a Trustee. The Trustee’s sole responsibility is to ensure that the funds in the trust are being distributed to your beneficiary as they request it (as long as the request is not for one of the above-listed limitations).

The Trustee, who should be a trusted family member or friend, carries absolute discretion over the distributions to the beneficiary. Prior to any funds being withdrawn, the beneficiary must seek the permission from the Trustee who would make sure that the funds would be used for the proper purpose. However, this does not limit the beneficiary from receiving their funds, it simply ensures the trust is being maintained for its primary purpose. It is very common for the beneficiary to ask the Trustee for certain items they wish to purchase, and any purchases made should be paid directly from the trust. It is important for the Trustee to make sure that the beneficiary does not have any direct access to the funds, as that would negate the purpose of the trust and possibly have the government stop their aid.

If you have a special needs child receiving governmental benefits, then there is no better planning you can do than by obtaining a Special Amenities Trust. Knowing that your child’s inheritance can impact their ability to receive public assistance is enough to take a proactive approach and build an estate plan that is carefully tailored and monitored to meet your needs and objectives that goes beyond the mere avoidance of probate and tax minimization. Be sure to speak to your local Attorney to learn the many advantages of setting up such a trust.

Every parent intends to support their child well after they have passed. Take the time and sit down with an attorney to better develop your estate plan and guarantee your child continues to receive care throughout their lifetime without having their government assistance disqualified.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Ramadan-Wear 2011: What Are You Wearing this Season?

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Siddiq Ather, TMO

thobes 4We have been blessed to be this close to the holy month of Ramadan, a great month of brotherhood, sisterhood, and spiritual advancement. Everyone is getting their Ramadan-wear ready. Lines of e’thr are arrayed on tables, and thobes (robes) and shalwar kameeses (long shirts) are dug out from the closet. But, there is some conflict.

One man looking at the one Saudi thobe he got as a gift a year ago realizes it’s a bit worn. He thinks in urdu,” Kash mera paas aik neya thobe tha ( I wish I had a new thobe).” Another looks at his Friday thobe sequestered between his stylish array of dress shirts and sweaters and thinks, “Man, I wish thobes had a bit more variety.” A third comes back from work, and upon seeing his thobe back from the dry cleaners thinks, “I wish I had a thobe with enough presence to wear at a business meeting.” A sister, after running around the mall all afternoon, stops for a breath of air, and thinks, “All that looking, and I still haven’t found one proper outfit I can wear to the masjid.”

Brothers and Sisters, look no further. There are options out there. First, I would suggest looking up your local Muslim all-in-one stores, or indian pakistani clothing store. If you still can’t find what you are looking for, there is still hope. If you attended the recent ISNA convention of 2011 in Chicago you probably could not help but notice the two Muslim-wear powerhouses, Kamani Clothing and Lawung Ltd. On their two websites, www.kamanionline.com and www.lawungdirect.com , respectively, they have taken Muslim-wear to a whole new level. Kamani clothing has a variety of thobe styles: Legacy, Prime, Ideal, and Classic. Lawung has a nice variety of children’s thobes along with their adult collections

They have integrated styles reminiscent of brand name formal and casual wear into the thobe. They have re-invented the thobe as we know it. Their items are modern, sleek , and affordable. Prices range from about thirty five dollars to eighty dollars, depending on what style you choose; shipping and handling is an additional cost. However, these items would be ideal for Ramadan-wear for you or as a gift. Lawung is based in the United Kingdom, and Kamani Clothing is run by the young Midwestern scholar Mufti Hussain Kamani.

From ’Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (R) who said that the Prophet (s) said, “No one will enter Paradise who has an atom’s weight of pride in his heart.” A man said, “What if a man likes his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride means denying the truth and looking down on people.” (Muslim) Muslims should try their best to be clean, neat, and nice, especially during Ramadan; this allows the environment in the masjid to continue to be inviting, even with the higher number of attendees.

Many sisters try wearing hijab for the first time during the holy month. Be supportive of such sisters, instead of ruthlessly criticizing there slight hijabesque blunders. If you are such a sister or are just looking for tutorial on how to wear the hijab in different styles, search “stylecoveredvideo” on youtube. Stylecoveredvideo is the Youtube channel by the Muslim designer Hana Tajima-Simpson, and her tutorials may make the transition to wearing hijab a bit easier. 

Hopefully, you all find the Ramadanwear you are looking for, locally, online, or elsewhere.

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