Community News (V12-I4)

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Shama Qureshi: Volunteerism and Faith

TUCSON, AZ–For many people retirement means relaxation. Not so for Tucson’s Shama Qureshi. The 73 year old retired school teacher has been working tirelessly as an advocate and tutor children and refugees in the area.

She told the the Arizona Daily Star that she does the volunteer work but she loves it and not because she feels obligated to do it.  Besides as a Muslim she feels that it is her duty to help those in need in whatever way one can.

Her husband of fifty years the Pakistani born Mohsin Qureshi passed away last October. Shama Qureshi, known to some as Sandy, had converted to Islam after meeting her husband at the University of Michigan half a century ago.

Qureshi had helped start Tucson’s Noor Women’s Association more than a decade ahgo. The interfaith organization helps refugees. Qureshi visits several refugee families each week to provide tutoring and support.During the last year the group has helped more than 250 people with rent, food, tutoring and medical expenses.

Muslim physicians offer free medical care

COLUMBUS, OH–A free medical clinic for economically challenged families opens Jan. 20, 2010, at The Ohio State University. The clinic, operated by Muslim physicians and health care professionals, is open to all faiths from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Wednesday evening on the university campus in the Rardin Family Practice Center, 2231 N. High St.

The clinic is staffed by physicians, health care professionals, and medical students from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and is affiliated with the Muslim Clinic of Ohio, which also has free clinics in Cincinnati and Dayton.

The university also provides space and other resources at the Rardin location for three additional free clinics: the Ohio Latino Health Clinic, the Asian Health Initiative, and the Columbus Free Clinic meet on alternating days.

Appointments to the Muslim clinic can be made by calling 614-516-3075.

Anti-Muslim flyer denounced

BROOKLYN, NY (News Agencies)–The story repeats itself almost every week. As soon as proposals for a mosque are announced, a malicious campaign is started to malign the Muslim community. This week it is in Sheepshead Bay where an anonymous flyer is being circulated claiming that a Muslim organization behind a proposed mosque supports terrorist acts.

Responding to such vilification the owner of the property, the Muslim American Society, and the Community Board Chair Theresa Scavo, called the people behind the flyer as ignorant who do not understand the spirit and letter of American law guaranteeing freedom of religion.

The latest bout of controversy is the proposed construction of a four-story mosque and community center. The property was bought by a Allowey Ahmed, a Yemeni immigrant, who has been living in Brooklyn for over 40 years. He is in the process of gaining affiliation with the Muslim American Society.

As soon as the word got out the flyer was circulated within several blocks of the property asking residents, “Say no to mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue.”

Mahdi Bray, executive director of the MAS, characterized the perpetrators of the flyers as bigots.

“The world doesn’t disintegrate because Muslims come into the neighborhood. It’s not earth shattering to accommodate the First Amendment of the Constitution calling for freedom of religion and the building of mosques reflect the growing demographics of Brooklyn,” he told the Yournabe.com news portal.

Bray said the MAS renounces violence and that Islam, like all other major faiths in the world, is a religion of moderation.

“The whole claim by some that there’s a fifth column trying to destroy the country from within is a rallying call for the bigots and Islamaphobes who like to frighten other Americans about Muslims,” he added.

12-4

Community News (V11-I44)

October 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Mohammed Amjed for Clive City Council

DES MOINES, IA–Mohammed Amjed is running for the Clive City Council in the Nov. 3 election. He will face off four other candidates.

A physician Amjed is very active in the civic and community organizations in the area.

The available council seats are currently held by Paul Leighton, who is seeking re-election, and Ronni Begleiter, who will not run for another term.

A third seat will likely open up if Councilman Scott Cirksena wins his uncontested race for mayor. The council would then decide in January whether to hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the empty seat.

Beloved Imam says good bye to Auburn area

AUBURN, NY– Imam Abdur-Rahim Muhammad, who served for 25 years in the state prison chapel, has retired from the position and will now move to Texas. He had played a leading role in interfaith growth and was part of Community Wide Dialogues and the Interfaith works of Central Work.

His work with other communities had earned him a reputation among all communities. Last Sunday, a special ceremony was held for Imam Muhammad and his family during the morning services at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn.

The Rev. Philip Windsor said that he has become good friends with Muhammad throughout their years of working with one another.

“We, as a community, are going to miss him terribly,” Windsor said. “He has always been a strong voice of peace and understanding within our community.”

Arson cause of fire at Muslim business site in Columbus

COLUMBUS, MO–Investigators at a site where a fire destroyed several businesses in Columbus this Monday have identified arson as the cause. The two story building housed several Somali owned businesses including an Islamic book store, a cafe, and a tax service. The building is also next door  to a Mosque which is in dispute with its landlords.

The Masjid Salama was not damaged in the fire. The present leaders of the mosque are reportedly in legal dispute with the property manager, who also manages the building that burned.

Mohamed Hassan Adam, who holds the lease for both buildings, had filed a civil lawsuit against the mosque’s leaders last week alleging that they have occupied the building since August without a valid sublease and haven’t paid rent.

The mosque leaders were also served an eviction notice but have refused to vacate the premises. An eviction hearing is now scheduled for Nov.3.

Plans for a new mosque in Gwinnet County opposed

LILBURN, GA– Plans for a new mosque in Lilburn have been opposed by area residents who fear that it will disturb their small-time life. The Dar-e-Abbas group has plans to build a 10,000 square foor mosque which will include a cemetery.

But residents near the property at U.S. Highway 29 and Hood Road are poised to protest a rezoning to allow the mosque, a cemetery and recreation elements.
He says the neighborhood is peaceful and the big facility will disturb that.

Peace promoted at GWU interfaith dinner

WASHINGTON D.C.–Peace was the main theme at the Interfaith Dinner at George Washington University. Azra Hyder, a member of the Muslim Students Association, was the event’s keynote speaker, the Hatchet student newspaper reported.

“We are trying to affect people’s lives in a way that will invoke peace,” University President Steven Knapp said. “Peace is a more dynamic word, one about helping people flourish.”

This idea, Knapp said, comes at a time where the world is seeing peace as a multi-dimensional idea. He said he believes this theme is connected with the recent announcement of President Obama as the winner of this year’s Noble Peace Prize.

11-44

All-American

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–September 10th–The “Season” has begun and authors are trampling through Northern California – Muslims and non-Muslims, knowledgeable about the Ummah and its people – hawking their books.  Jonathan Curriel, author of Al’America:  Travels Through Arab and Islamic America visited my city the week after Labor Day.  Curiel is no scholar, but was trained as a journalist.  Although employed by the San Francisco Chronicle, he was partially educated in and reported from the Middle East.

The book under discussion was published by The New Press in November of 2008, and details the historic influence of Arab and Muslim culture on America — from the time of Columbus to 9/11 — with the ramifications of the latter event.  This is a book that concentrates on the historical and Pop Cultural aspects of Islamic influence upon America, but it does a great service by exposing the underpinning of Islam at the Grassroots of North American culture.  The author too often degenerates into uncomfortable insensitivity to your reviewers’ target audience. 

Reading the press release composed for his tour, I notice a “slickness” that makes your reporter feel ill at ease. His publishers are not presenting J. Curriel humbly forcing his readers to concentrate on his credentials rather than his work!  Still, that did not prevent the book from translation into Arabic by Arab Scientific Publishers, the Beirut print house that, also, has exposed several important European and American writers to an Arabic-speaking audience.

In 2005, his Newspaper was honored by Columbia University (the dominant) U.S. J-School (of Journalism) in New York City for Jonathan Curiel’s exceptional articles on race and ethnicity!  Your Observer commentator — does not know about bragging rights — but he should be proud of this!  This is something that he attempts to bring to this study, but he is honest enough to note where he fails.

For him – even after September 11th 2001 – denying Islamic civilization is not being part of the American fabric is wrong.  “Muslims not only belong…but are part of [the American] culture in so many ways!”

In fact, Christopher Columbus reached out to the Muslim “Moors.”  The Admiral of the Ocean Seas was substantially influenced by the Arabs to the point he could not have reached the New World in 1492 without his North African designed sails.  While Arab culture was waning in Southwestern Europe by the late 16th Century (CE), Columbus’ voyages notably brought subtle Arab influences to the Spanish colonies and later the Portuguese colony in the Americas – including those parts in the United States that Washington (D.C.) seized in the Mexican-American and the Spanish-American War plus the Louisiana Purchase!

Although Madrid prohibited Muslims from the Americas, the Alamo now in Texas is a classic example of Arabic Architecture!  New Orleans was a city shunted back and forth between the Iberians and the French.  Finally, President Thomas Jefferson bought it from the Emperor Napoleon.  When the Spanish possessed that famous city, they imported Islamic ironwork for which the Metropolis near mouth of the Mississippi — plus the renowned Muslim-styled courtyards within the Big Easy — migrated from the Middle East via the Iberian Peninsula.   

The date palm was brought to the Western Hemisphere — including the California of yours truly — from the Middle East, also, via Hispania. 

In the United States, a Muslim slave actually wrote a book in Arabic while being held in South Carolina.  Until the Twentieth Century most American Muslims came from West Africa (since they were victims of that ugly Slave Trade).  Jonathan Curriel, as well as a few eminent musicologists, believe that the American “Blues” musical sub-structure comes from Islam’s call to prayer.  

No less than the extremely important American thinker of the Nineteenth Century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was profoundly influenced by Muslim culture.  Many important American intellectuals have been influenced by Islam, too, throughout the history of the American Republic (and even before –Thomas Jefferson, of course, comes to your reporter’s mind most quickly) up into the contemporary period.  There has been a long-standing cultural interaction between the Potomac and the Islamic nations according to Curriel. 

Of course, some of this interaction was not fully comprehensible to the Americans; and, thereby, can be considered in bad taste.  The Shriners and the Masons adopted pseudo-clothing accoutrement and symbols of the Muslims.  At its most forgiving was mere mimicry, but at its worst was insulting and in bad taste.  (Your scribe must point out that Jonathan Curriel did make these issues transparent, and did not cringe from describing it for what it was.)  Yet, since the immigration reforms under the late President Lyndon Johnson, highly prominent Muslim immigrants have been attracted to, and have joined the aforementioned organizations.  They have pressured these groups to give a form of Zakat and to make them even more service-oriented. 

The iconic Los Angeles rock(-n-roll) band of the 1960s, the Doors, were highly influenced by Arab music while the ultimate Rock star (of the 1950s), Elvis Presley, was a great admirer of Khalil Gibran, a Christian Lebanese immigrant to America.  His best known work was a sequence of inspirational essays, The Prophet.  They were pitifully greeted by the critics when they were published in 1923.  It definitely belongs to the opus of Arabic-language literature, but not Islamic literature.  Having read the book as a young man, when it was still a best-selling “underground” rage, your reviewer considered it to be  overly simplistic.  How much of it might be based on Mohammed (PUBH) is hard to say because of the elevated ambiguity of its poetic language.

Curriel maintained Presley somehow turned this book into his Bible.  Also, along religious lines, the Christian Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II had instructed that his casket placed on a Persian Carpet to demonstrate the unity of all religions.

Back to Pop Culture, the movie cycle and “cult” television series, Stars Wars borrowed motifs respectfully from the religion from Mecca.  Jonathan Curriel concluded, “Cultures go back and forth, and always borrow from each other,” continuing, “Muslims have contributed from the inception of the American nations,” and they are still highly visible and contributing members of our society.  Their contributions are no longer seen as insignificant within North American society.  

11-40

Community News (V11-I37)

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Razi Imam, CEO, Landslide Technologies, Inc.

104H5RKelly_Imam_dscf6170

Razi Imam, is the CEO and president of Landslide Technologies. His company builds software to codify the sales process. His is a classic rags to riches story. His father worked as a laborer in Kuwait and his career prospects appeared dim. But he persisted and got a job at the Kuwait University library. There he taught himself programming by reading computer manuals.

He later went back to Pakistan and studied at the Karachi University majoring in Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics. A self starter he wrote programming code by hand to create a search program for the yellow pages of Karachi. His success lead to a job at Wang.

He moved to the US and thrived starting up successful tech businesses before launching landslide.

The basic principles that Imam imparts to his daughters are the importance of a solid education, good communication skills, and a willingness to work hard. “The beauty of the United States is that you can work hard and have success. In other places, you can work hard but be frustrated because the opportunities aren’t there.”

New Jersey mosque to organize national prayer meet

ELIZABETH, NJ–The Darul Islam mosque in New Jersey is organizing a national day of prayers and Islamic unity on Capitol Hill on September 25, 2009. Organizers hope that more than 50,000 worshippers will participate.

About 400 people are expected from Darul Islam mosque, which is raising money from donors to help pay the cost of the event, expected to surpass $200,000.
The event will be open to the public. However, there will be no political speeches or placards.

Muslim students accommodated for Ramadan

COLUMBUS, MO–Muslim students at Missouri State University feel relieved after the Campus Dining Services has extended dining hall hours and included more breakfast items on takeout menus.

“Campus Dining Services has accommodated Muslim students during Ramadan in the past by working with the students on an individual basis,” CDS Director Julaine Kiehn told the Campus newspaper.

Kiehn said this year, more options will be available to students on the whole instead of individually.

Muslim Student Organization spokeswoman Nabihah Maqbool said the accommodations were a “huge step forward.”

“We’ve been working with dining services, and they’ve been so helpful since we’ve brought it up as a concern,” Maqbool said.

Muslim students launch Ramadan food drive

SALT LAKE CITY, UT–Muslim students at Utah universities have launched a campaign to collect 2,000 non perishable food items in the month of Ramadan. They will then be distributed to needy families of all faiths in the city.

“By encouraging and participating in community service, we hope to not only achieve our goal of providing the most basic of necessities to the vulnerable, but also demonstrate the emerging, positive influence of Muslims in American communities,”  wrote one organizer of the event on her blog.

Supporters of the cause, including the Muslim Student Association at the U., come from various backgrounds, religions and ethnicities.

To learn more visit: muslimsunitedagainsthunger.blogspot.com.

Planet Ozone to stock Halal products

TAMPA, FL–Planet Ozone, one of Florida’s first “green commercial building, officially opened yesterday. Among many of its unique features is the availability of Halal food products. The project is a dream project of Mohammed Hussein.

In what he plans to be a 24-hour cafe and takeout restaurant, Hussein and his wife will cook Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes. Italian dishes will be prepared by an Italian chef. Customers also will be able to buy freshly made natural juices from the juice bar.

“We want to price it in the $6 range and have large portions of protein, as well as carbohydrates and vegetables, so you’re getting good quality,” Hussein told the newspaper when the store was first announced. “That’s what we are focusing on: price and quality.”

Instead of beer, the large bank of coolers in the grocery area will be stocked with natural and organic juices, produce and natural meats that meet strict Halal dietary guidelines, said the report.

11-37

Despite FBI Investigation, Minnesota Mosque Has Support

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ramla Bile, Mshale, New America Media

spring08-06-grocery
File:  A member of Minnesota’s Somali community

Despite fears of distractions from the missing Somali youth saga that has engulfed the Somali community in Minnesota, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center held its 9th Annual Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center over the weekend where thirty speakers addressed 10,000 people over three days.

Participants said it was encouraging to see the number of attendees, the breadth of topics, and the scope of talent.

Despite a tumultuous year, the mosque saw increased attendance at this year’s convention and a spike in monetary support. Since last fall, the mosque has come under fire for the “missing youth” debacle, a connection that the mosque administrators and its supporters continue to deny. People close to the mosque did not believe the annual event would occur this year, they feared that the need to address the allegations would distract the administration and volunteers from organizing the convention. But after successfully meeting fundraising goals and having a record attendance with the help of 200 volunteers, the Abubakar community believes it maintains the trust and love of the Somali community. “This crowd and their energy is a testimony to their commitment to the mosque and its respected leaders,” attendee Ali Abdi said.

People travelled from Columbus, Nashville, Toronto, Kansas City, and across the United States and Canada to listen, learn, and meet. Hundreds of others logged-in to a live broadcast through several websites that serve the Somali community. Twenty-year-old Anab Ibrahim travelled from Seattle to attend the convention. “We came because my aunt was impressed with the line-up. When we arrived, we were amazed with the number of people we saw standing and sitting around in the lobby… we were even more shocked to see the packed auditorium,” she said. At the peak of the event on Saturday, an estimated 7,000 thousand people filled the two auditoriums. Anab said she especially enjoyed the English lectures. “Other conferences are only about the politics of Somalia, and often make us feel hopeless. This was applicable to our lives here and our faith. It showed me what we could do for our community and ourselves.”

Speakers addressed a wide range of topics, including the future of Somalis in the diaspora, the prevalence of autism, the importance of knowing your rights, the danger of gangs and extremism, the notion of Islam as mercy among others.

The only wrinkle on the conference was keynote speaker, Sheikh Mustafa Harun, being denied entry to the United States upon landing at Newark airport. He ultimately addressed the audience via webcam the following day. Participants expressed outrage over their revered scholar being denied entry. Harun said he checked in with the U.S. Embassy in Norway weeks prior to his scheduled flight and was told he should not encounter any issues. Norway has a visa waiver program with the United States. Despite his attempt at planning ahead, he did not make it to the convention. After a 9-hour flight, he was questioned for 3 hours and was told that although his identity was cleared, he must leave the country. He was allowed to make a call before boarding another 9-hour flight back to Norway.

Other speakers included imams from around the U.S. including Minnesota, among them Sheikh Abdirahman Sheikh Omar, Sheikh Abdirizak Hashi, Sheikh Jamel Bin Ameur, and others. Audience members were astounded by the knowledge and wit of 12-year-old Mohamud Ahmed Mohamud, who was introduced as “Sheikh Mohamud.” He related the story of Salman Al-Farisi, a historic figure in Islamic history, and spoke on the importance of seeking knowledge and asking questions. He shared the Somali proverb of regret where a person says, “when I had youth, I did not want to learn, and when I had age, I wished I had learned during my youth.” Mohamud says he wanted to send a strong message to the youth, and encourage them to take advantage of their time. “I want young people to step up to the plate because I see so much good in them and it’s time for the youth to rise,” he said. Mohamud spent the past three years helping in the bookstore of the mosque, reading and writing as he could.

Gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley, and Constituent Advocate to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Siad Ali spoke on the health, education, and anti-immigration sentiment. Klobuchar addressed the audience by video where she touched on the cultural and intellectual wealth Somalis bring to Minnesota. Minneapolis welcomed Abukar Arman, the President of the CAIR chapter in Columbus who did a “know your rights” presentation in Somali, while members of the local chapter of CAIR did a program in English. “It’s important for people to understand their legal rights and the implications of their actions – intentional or not. Wanting a lawyer is not an omission of guilt. We want people to cooperate with law enforcement and we want them to know their rights,” he said. Arman also addressed the allegations against certain mosques in the city, saying that, “we’re finding that people are being judged by public opinion, which is ridiculous because this is a nation of law and order, and rumors should not absolve or condemn people or institutions of allegations. Rather, this should be determined by an established legal process.”

Poets Sara Mohamed and Maryam Warsame made their début at the convention. Warsame is one of three organizers for the mosque’s “Youth to Youth” group, a mentorship program for young women. Sara is a student in the program, and the two began writing together this winter. They rhymed about the situation of women in their homeland, and shared the stories of those who did not find relief. “We don’t want to be famous, we just want to get message out and not forget about those who are suffering,” Warsame said. She added that the convention was a good opportunity for students to share their work.

In addition to the poetry and lectures, the convention also included a fundraising component. In a little over an hour, participants pledged $150,000 to help cover expenses incurred over the construction of the second floor of the mosque, as well as to jump-start the next phase of development. The administration hopes to complete the parking lot and make the exterior of the building more visually pleasing.

It is difficult to imagine that this is the same institution that operated from a garage in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood – the epicenter of the city’s newest wave of immigrants. Founding member Abdulaziz Sugule says this vision for a mosque comprehensively serving the community started over a decade ago and the organization began operations in 2000. Then called the Imam Shafi’i Mosque, the name was changed to the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center and the organization moved to an abandoned warehouse in South Minneapolis. “Today, that vision is a five million dollar project,” Sugule said. “The mosque plays a major role in advancing the community; it consists of all kinds of social services including providing family counseling, settling community disputes, celebrating Islamic holidays, working with local and national government leaders, mentoring youth, and providing a place of Islamic worship and education,” he said.

Looking up with a smile, he added, “Contrary to what some people are saying, they (the mosque administration) are trying to build a healthy community with good people… they’re starting a movement for positive change and people love the place and its people.”

11-29