Anticipated Date for Eid al-Adha is Nov 6, 2011

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

10545_596In preparation for Eid al-Adha, many in the community are eager to find out if the final date has been announced.  ISNA follows the decision of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA)  to determine the date for both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. In the case of Eid al-Adha, the Fiqh Council uses the date determined by the Hajj authorities in Makkah. 

This date has only been tentatively calculated at this point for Sunday November 6, 2011.

The official date will be announced by the Hajj authorities, and followed by FCNA and ISNA, later this month.  As soon as the Hajj authorities announce the official date, FCNA and ISNA will let the community know.  ISNA will send an email announcement to every person on our mailing list and will also post it at the top of our website.

For more information, please refer to a statement released by FCNA earlier this week regarding the determination of the date of Eid al-Adha in the year 2011 (1432).

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Community News (V13-I40)

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslim Society of Central California free health care

FRESNO,CA–There was a big turnout at Fresno’s Manchester Center last week, where dozens of doctors joined together to offer free medical services to the public.

The Muslim Society Of Central California hosted its second health clinic of the year, giving free medical care to both children and adults, ABC News reported.

Patients walked in to see 40 Doctors and 100 other workers who volunteered their time Sunday.

Organizers say the need for basic healthcare is great, with many people uninsured or unable to pay. “We have everything from pediatrics to general medical, to blood draws, podiatry, dermatology, EKG’s, blood testing. We have everything,” said Brenda Alvarez with the Muslim Society Of Central California.

The Muslim society holds two health clinics each year. Sunday’s clinic also included dental and vision screenings.

Man disrupts Princeton MSA event

PRINCETON,NJ–A man claiming to be part of the Knights Templar was arrested last Saturday night after allegedly interrupting Princeton University Muslim Student Association welcome back dinner, the student newspaper reported. The man, Adam Pyle, 26, of Princeton Township, had apparently been present for part of the actual dinner at Campus Club, said Sohaib Sultan, the University’s Muslim life coordinator.

Public Safety officers arrested Pyle and charged him with bias intimidation, criminal attempt, disorderly conduct, harassment and defiant trespass.

Public Safety ordered Pyle to stay away from campus for the next 90 days, and the department intends to ban him permanently.

Interfaith reception held in Reno

RENO,NV– In a remarkable interfaith gesture, clergy belonging to different religions and denominations held a  reception for Meredith Cahn, new Rabbi of North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista; Evon J. Yakar, new Rabbi of Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe and Abdelwahed Ali Awad, new Imam of Northern Nevada Muslim Community Center in Sparks, Nev.

The reception, organized by Nevada Clergy Association, was held at India Kabab & Curry Restaurant.

Imam Awad, born in Upper Egypt, started studying Islam and memorizing Quran when he was 15. He holds bachelor of science degree in geology from Egypt’s Assiut University, and besides Egypt, has traveled to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso and Ghana lecturing on Islam. Mission of Northern Nevada Muslim Community includes “to promote the values and teachings of Islam” and its activities include Friday prayer, monthly potluck dinner, and Sunday school.

Muslims, Christians, Interfaith Cooperation

DALLAS,TX– North wood Church and Islamic Center of Frisco sponsored a joint program at North wood church to promote trust and compassion between the two communities.
More than three thousand Muslims and Christians attended the program.

Addressing the gathering Pastor Right emphasized on mutual cooperation and promotion of understanding between two faiths, for which we need to cultivate resources and provide opportunities to have awareness of each other’s faith.He said that we are not gathered here to change each other’s faith but to learn from each other. He said that he has never seen this many people in his church.
Muslim community leader Azhar Aziz while addressing the gathering explained that Hazrat Mariam is the only woman who is mentioned by name and a whole chapter is designated on her name in which her chastity and high morals are discussed.

He said Muslims believe in brotherhood and peace.

Pastor Josh during his address stressed upon this type of gatherings to promote understanding between communities and this can send a message of peace and love to the rest of the world.
While relating the gesture in Tennessee where a church had given Muslims a portion of their church to Muslims, while the construction of a mosque was underway, he said he received calls from residents of Kashmir that they had wanted to help build a church in Kashmir the same way and they did built a church.

Lunch for 3,000 attendees was arranged with Zabiha Halal food for Muslims. People attending the event said that they have never seen any event like this before and they are very pleased to be here. Christian volunteers greeted Muslims in this occasion.

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Zaytuna Fundraiser at Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

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Bloomfield Hills–September 25–A new era has begun, quietly, in the past year, as the first Muslim university has begun its work on the West coast of the United States.

Zaytuna is important because traditional religious education in a legitimate format in the United States has thus far not been available.  The best way to achieve a religious education has been to travel outside of the United States to Muslim nations, and in fact many have done that, including some of those who now contribute to Zaytuna, such as Imam Zaid Shakir.

While there are other Muslim universities, Zaytuna is at a level above them in part because of its adherence to traditional Islamic knowledge, in part because of its cherishing of high quality in instruction, students, and in the manner of the running of the institution, and in part because of the quality of its relations with major American universities.  For example, Zaytuna students now carry UC Berkeley library cards because their university has a relationship with that prestigious university.

Zaytuna also maintains relations with the Graduate Theological Union, Princeton University, Imagine America, and the University Consortium (Claremont College).
The university is based in Berkeley California, and now provides a full bachelor’s program leading to a degree.  The first class of students matriculated during the last school year.
In support of Zaytuna’s effort to build into the future, it conducted a fundraiser at the Muslim Unity Center Sunday.

The fundraising banquet was attended by several hundred guests, who were provided a very good introduction to the activities of Zaytuna over the past year. 

Zaytuna has a full time staff of professors for its student population of 186, supplemented by frequent visits from prestigious professors.  Every week the university invites speakers, many of them Muslim and many of them the preeminent voices in their fields.

Of the 186 students at Zaytuna, 23 are from Michigan–105 are women, 84 are men.  The population is very diverse, which accurately reflects the demographics in this nation, with African American, Arab, Hispanic and South Asian populations all well  represented.

The 186 students came to Zaytuna with an average GPA of 3.6. 

A Zaytuna professor and spokesman explained that while Muslims may fear to send their students to Zaytuna because they might not build the careers there that their parents want for them, in fact such students will be the future leaders of the community, in education, business, graduate study, nonprofits, and in the professions of law and medicine, not to mention public service and community service.

He cited the need of American not-for-profits for Zaytuna’s graduates.  ISNA, CAIR, and the many other Muslim insitutions need people knowledgeable in Islam and well connected within the Muslim community to grow and develop our community. 

The professor cited the urgent need for education among all people, saying that the cost of education is absolutely minimal compared with the cost and opportunity cost of caring for people who for example in the worst case end up as inmates in prison.

“Our graduates are ready to be successful in the next world first, but also in this world.”

The students also endorse the university enthusiastically.  One student traveled from Ohio to Michigan, interrupting her studies for the LSAT to drive several hours to Michigan; she gushed at length about her gratitude to Zaytuna for what it had given her.

“This project is for all of us, not just California,” explained one of the professors at the Bloomfield event.

Zaytuna in fact is extremely cheap relative to other universities.  Tuition is only $11,000 per student per year, with generous financial aid available.  “Lack of funds will never prevent you from study at Zaytuna,” said the professor.

Compare this $11,000 tuition with the $52,000 per year for tuition alone (not room and board) at Stanford University.

Many if not most universities and colleges in the United States were started as religious institutions.  Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Earlham, Haverford, Cornell, Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, all started as religious institutions. 

In fact the building of universities reflected the broader trend that each community engaged in by building houses of worship, business communities, and hospitals.

Imam Zaid Shakir spoke at length at the event, emphasizing our familial relationship with one another, saying “believers are like bricks in a wall, they strengthen one another.”

“This institution is a source of pride in our community.”  He emphasized the importance of getting in on the possibility of donating now, at the ground floor, while the institution must still be hammered out of the metaphorical jungle.

We all as Muslims hope that there will be even better and even more prestitious universities built by our community in future years, but for now at least we can take pride in having one.

The event ended with a very effective fundraising effort which collected approximately $200,000 in donations and pledges–as this fundraiser reflects only a single episode in a broader nationwide fundraising campaign, we can expect that the fundraising effort will collect millions in only a short time–a worthy effort to support a traditional moderate Islamic institution.

The inaugural class at Zaytuna began in 2010, and expects to graduate in 2014.  The second school year began in 2011.  Zaytuna hopes to have bought its own campus by 2014 (currently it rents space for classes).

The university has deep funding needs; it will need tens of millions of dollars to establish self-sustaining faculty chairs, funding for scholarships and study materisals, and an annual fund.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of the fundraiser was the speech by an older doctor in the audience who came from Syria to the United States; he studied and worked to become a doctor, but while in Syria he had helped to physically build an institution which was to be a school for Muslims to attend from around the world, to learn about the traditional knowledge of Islam.  He would come home dirty from head to toe, to scoldings for being dirty.  “We were volunteers to move tiles, bricks.”

Little did he know that 20 years later a man we now know as Zaid Shakir would attend classes inside the very walls he helped to build with his hands; “20 years after that I met him.”

“Don’t underestimate what you do at any stage of your life.  I believe this is one of the best things I have done in my life.”

http://www.zaytuna.org/give/

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Community News (V13-I39)

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Presentation on Islam in Humboldt

EUREKA,CA–In order to obtain cultural/inter-religious harmony in the community through diffusion of information, the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission and the Humboldt County Library are co-sponsoring a one hour presentation on “Understanding Islam” by Abdul Aziz, professor emeritus at Humboldt State University.

It will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Conference Room of the Humboldt County Library, 1313 3rd St., Eureka, on Saturday.

Fundamentals of Islam including issues such as the concept of God, the life of Prophet Muhammad, Muslim beliefs, modes of worship, various forms of Jihad, status of women, suicide bombing and terrorism with reference to the current political and social environment will be discussed in light of the teachings of the Quran. However, any question on Islam will be welcome.

Aziz has taught an off-campus HSU course, “Introduction to Islamic Culture,” for a number of years. He is also a past Humboldt County Human Rights commissioner.

There is no cost to attend. Everyone is invited. For more information, call 707-822-8217

Fast-a-thon to be held at UNM

The Muslim Student’s Association at the University of New Mexico will hold its annual Fast-A-Thon this week to raise money and awareness for famine in the eastern horn of Africa.

Last year’s fast raised roughly $1,200 for flood relief in Pakistan. This year organizers says they hope to raise even more money and more awareness to help end world hunger.

“Just because now they don’t talk about it that much in the media, doesn’t mean people aren’t starving to death anymore,” said MSA President Mustafa in an interview to the student newspaper. “We need to keep focus and attention on people who need help, not just because it’s a news story, but because as human beings we all need to take care of each other.”

The event is not exclusive to Muslim students.

“This fundraiser is a human issue, meaning we want people of all different faiths, cultural backgrounds, different political ideologies, etc. to come help and support the people of the eastern horn of Africa,” she said. “As fellow humans we should bear the responsibility in making sure that we all help each other out, and this fundraiser is just another opportunity for doing so.”

New York cabbies win rights to veto racy ads

NEW YORK,NY–New York City cabbies who object to driving taxis topped with ads for strip clubs have won the right to veto the racy ads.

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a new rule last week  that lets cabbies who own their vehicles say no to the racy ads.

Several cabbies told the commission they hated the provocative roof ads.

Previously the owners of taxi medallions could decide what ads to put on the cars. Many taxi owners do not own the medallion.

The racy ads were objected to not only by Muslim taxi owners but also others. A Sikh owner told the board that  his six-year-old granddaughter had told him she wanted to become a dancer after seeing an advert for Flashdancers on his taxi.

‘We should keep [the advertisement] there to tell the children that it is good?’ he had asked.

Dupage County approves mosque without dome

CHICAGO,IL–The DuPage County board voted last week to allow a mosque and Muslim community center to be built along Roosevelt Road near Lombard.

It will be built just east of Interstate Highway 355, at the southwest corner of Roosevelt Road and Lawler Avenue. Plans are for a main building with place for worship, a gym, a library, a learning area and a conference room.

But the board did not allow the Muslim group to build a 50 foot high dome to cover the prayer area. This is the second Muslim development in unincorporated DuPage County that has recently modified construction plans because the board denied approval for a dome.

The county sets a height limit of 36 feet in residential areas, and only grants variances to exceed that limit on a case-by-case basis.

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Anam Miah: Second Time Around

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Anam_miahAnam Miah, Hamtramck City Council candidate, imagines the city of Hamtramck, Mich. as a place for leaders and community members to work together toward common goals by unifying through diversity and neighborly relations.

Miah, 35, said this is the right time for him to join in the leadership to help bring about a discussion between leaders and residents. “This community deserves to know what’s going on behind the doors in city hall.”

Miah received 345 votes in the August Primaries, making it to the top six. He ran in 2009, at a time when he had four union contracts as the President of the local USW 690 for steel workers (he was elected in April 2006), which took away time from door-to-door campaigning.

He has been employed at Flexible Products in Auburn Hills, Mich. for 15 years.

As a 25-year resident of Hamtramck, Miah remembers growing up in a time when people were proud home owners, and they took care of their neighborhoods. He said things have changed since, “Ethnic groups stick with their own.” 

“That’s not how a community works,” Miah said. “We need to all put our two cents in. I need to look at where I’m from and where you’re from to get a better sense of unity.” Miah was born in Bangladesh and moved to the United States with his family to pursue a better life.

One of the issues Miah hopes to tackle if elected is work to train Hamtramck police officers to better deal with the diverse community made up of predominant populations of Polish, Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Bosnian Americans. 

He said police are hard-wired to “follow the book” rather than explain offenses in a dignified manner to citizens who may “not fully understand the rules.” Another way to deal with this problem is by hiring people within the diverse communities to fill (when applicable) vacant spots in City Hall and the police and fire departments, he said.

Residents are left in the dark on how their tax money is used, he said. For example, Miah said leaders can help people find out about federally funded programs for low-income families such as the Michigan Weatherization Program, which helps people in the city without hurting the budget. “Vast amount of people are working class… more than well qualified don’t know or never have heard about these programs.” 

Miah was inspired to change his life after a trip to Memphis, Tenn., with USW, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The experience made him reflect and realize he could make a difference, “Instead of living my life working and paying bills.” 

This one man changed world history for minorities and people, he said. “If he can do it and he has done it I can try.”

Miah has been serving on the Hamtramck Zoning Board of Appeals since 2006.

He hopes to pursue an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice or political science at Oakland Community College. 

The father of two works from his home office with an average of 35 volunteers.

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Qur`an for Cambodian Muslims!

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

100,000 copies of Qur’an for Cambodian Muslims in next 5 years

Phnom Penh, July 31 – The World Qur’an Endowment Program organized by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) with the cooperation of Restu Foundation will print 100,000 copies of the Qur’an with translation in the Khmer language for distribution to Muslims in Cambodia in the next five years.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the effort was to fulfill the need of the Muslim community in Cambodia and to ensure that each Muslim family would have at least one copy of the Qur’an, ABNA reported.

“There are about 500,000 Muslims in Cambodia and there is only one Qur’an for every six families. So, we hope generous Malaysians can assist Cambodian Muslims through this program so that each family will have at least one Qur’an,” he told Malaysian journalists.

Ahmad Zahid had earlier handed over 10,200 copies of donated Qur’an to the president of the Cambodian Islamic Community Development Foundation Othsman Hassan and Cambodia mufti Kamaruddion Yusof at Chrouk Romeat Mosque in Kampung Chhnang and Amar bin Yazid Mosque at KM9, to be distributed to Muslims.

The minister said the program aimed to print and distribute 20,000 copies of the Qur’an annually over a period of five years and this was expected to commence from the month of Ramadan next year.
“Translation of the Qur’an into the Khmer language has been completed and we are only waiting for sufficient funds to print the copies of Qur’an,” he said.

Earlier, speaking before 1,500 Cambodian Muslims at Chrouk Romeat Mosque, Ahmad Zahid said the 10,200 copies of Qur’an given away today showed the concern of the Malaysian government and people towards Muslims in Cambodia.

Kamaruddin said he was touched and thankful for the gift of the Qur’an, adding that the Cambodian Muslim community depended on outside help for copies of the Holy Book.
“We hope there will be enough Qur’an for us in future,” he added.

At the two presentation ceremonies, Ahmad Zahid also handed over 500 Muqaddam booklets and 1,000 prayer rugs for use by the Cambodian Muslims.

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Commemorating 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Detroit Area Muslims Observe Anniversary

By Adil James, TMO

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Farmington–September 11th–The 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent scrutiny on the Muslim community has lasted until this date 10 years after the event.

Muslims have attempted to rebuild ties and bridges of mutual trust and understanding on this 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy through a multitude of different events.

Imams spoke at a CIOM event in Dearborn on the morning of the anniversary, and before the anniversary came, there was a huge food distribution done in Flint, also in the name of rebuilding connections.  Muslims across the nation, individually and through their organizations, also attempted to show their mercy and compassion for 9/11 victims by offering prayers and words of solace to the 9/11 families. 

In this issue of The Muslim Observer, we have attempted to collect some reports from around the country of Muslim events to honor the memory of the tragic events of 9/11.  The following Michigan events are not an exhaustive list of 9/11 commemorations, but a few good examples.

Flint

The Flint event distributed food to “about 1,000 families,” according to Iman Meyer-Hoffman, interfaith director of the As-Siddiq Mosque, from which food was distributed this past Thursday at 5:00PM.  

Each family recipient had to show a distinct i.d. in order to receive food, and the 1,000 family representatives who picked up food at the mosque came in about 300 carloads, showing Michigan’s desperate economic position after years of recession and layoffs.

The Flint Islamic Center in coordination with the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan arranged the event.  Ms. Meyer-Hoffman said of the event that “the two mosques felt it was important for the community to work together.”

Flint Islamic Center coordinators for the event were Bilal Ali, Mohammed Aslam, and Macksood Aftab.  They publicized the event extremely well, and planned it well also–occurring several days before almost all 9-11 celebrations it successfully attracted a great deal of attention and put Muslims in a very good light by helping them to serve the real needs of the larger community.

The immense enthusiasm of Mr. Aftab in building media knowledge about the event and advertising the event to local non-Muslims helped to make it a success.

“We are doing this because we are part of this community and this country. Most Muslims are peaceful people who care about others,” said Meyer-Hoffman.

PWAM Acts of Kindness

The Pakistani Women’s Association of Michigan was one of the other organizations to hold an event to commemorate 9/11.

The organization, in association with CIOM and other organizations, took advantage of the event to discuss past contributions, including helping out at Interfaith Health Fair and Soup Kitchen at the Muslim Center Detroit, as well as active involvement in the annual CIOM Unity Dinner.

Here, PWAM partnered with CIOM, ACCESS, the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the City of Detroit, United Way, WISDOM, J-Serve and Focus: HOPE, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Arts & Scraps, and Detroit’s Cities of Service “Believe in Detroit” Campaign to participate in the “Acts Of Kindness, Transforming 9/11” which had been called for by President Obama to counteract the incredibly negative and divisive event which took place ten years ago.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in projects such as park beautification, vacant lot clean-up, food packaging, sorting art supplies for local schools, and writing thank you cards to U.S. troops serving abroad. As they worked side by side, their energy and dedication helped transform 9/11 into a day of learning about each other’s interests, families, and faith traditions. After the projects were completed, there was a structured dialogue series designed to increase tolerance and understanding, with the goal of promoting a sense of unity, peace, community-building, and mutual understanding.

Dearborn

In Dearborn the morning of 9/11 was marked by a well-coordinated event at which several prominent local imams had the opportunity to speak about 9/11 and its broader meaning to Muslims after 10 years have elapsed. 

This event was held at the prominent Islamic Center of America (ICA), said to be the largest mosque in America–a huge mosque on Ford Road in Dearborn that unfortunately has served as a lightning rod for criticism of the Muslim community.

The CIOM statement about the ICA event stated that “The tragedy … will never be forgotten… The date brings back painful memories.  American Muslims…. wish for our fellow Americans to begin a renewed era of understanding, tolerance, freedom and justice for all.”

One of the prime movers for this event was Ghalib Begg of CIOM, known for his leadership and and hard work, and for his political and interfaith connections.

Some of the prominent imams present were Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam Qazwini of the ICA, Imam El-Turk of IONA, Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center in Detroit, Imam Aly Lela of IAGD,  Shaykh Ali Sulayman Ali of MCWS, Imam Kilyani, Imam Al-Azom, and Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan.

Imam Elahi said at the ICA that the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted a crime, against Americans but also against Islam, agains the teachings of Islam–over 90 nationalities were among the victims, including many Muslims.  “We as Muslims joined to show solidarity with the victims.”

The tenth anniversary, he said, was a day of prayer for the victims, to show national unity, to build dialogue and interfaith cooperation, to build towards “a better America, with justice, peace, and working together.”

He said of 9/11 that it could have been a much worse event, and that the calm and involvement of Muslim and non-Muslim community leaders in the aftermath had managed the event to avoid it being worse for all concerned.

Following the ICA event there were other commemorations attended by prominent Muslim speakers all over the Detroit area and literally all day long, so that the scheduling for the events shortened the ICA event; similar events were held at mosques, churches, and synagogues.

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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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Building Bridges Across a Diverse Community

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Milad Alucozai

Milad-AlcuzaiChristian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders reflect on September 11th.

West Lafayette, IN – On the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11th, 2011, Purdue University students, faculty, staff, and community members of all faiths and backgrounds came together in a memorial to the victims and a celebration of shared values and spirit.

The event was organized by Purdue’s Student Government as well as interfaith religious leaders from across all major denominations. Muslim representative Aurangzeb spoke of the universal sanctity of human life and recognized the loss of innocent life on September 11th as well as in the subsequent terrorist attacks around the world in places like Madrid and Pakistan and in the armed conflicts resulting over the last ten years. “Crimes against humanity, no matter in what form they are committed, are to be condemned in the strictest terms,” he said, “In the face of inhumanity, we must be more human.”

Purdue University has the second largest population of international students among American public universities with just under 8,000 and has long been known for its exceptional diversity of students from all nations, cultures, and religions. Purdue’s Dean of International Programs, Mike Brzezinski, honored this legacy by sharing his memories of the campus’s reaction after September 11th.  “Some [universities] were dealing with the desolation of mosques and religious housing but not at Purdue. Some were dealing with attacks on Muslim students, but not at Purdue,” said Brzezinski.

Since the awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts, heated rhetoric and acts of violence against Muslim Americans (and non-Muslim Arab Americans) have increased. Yet the victims, like the citizens of our nation, were of all faiths. Patriotic Muslim Americans were some of the innocent passengers on the planes, they were workers in the buildings, and they were heroic first responders who ran into the building when everybody else was running out.

We need to remember that Muslim Americans contribute to our communities every day. They serve us as police officers, doctors, and firefighters. They are public servants in local and state governments as well as in the federal government where they work tirelessly to guide our counter terrorist efforts. And there are thousands of young Muslim Americans serving overseas to protect the liberties that we all share.

The ceremony, held on the historic Purdue Mall, also included remarks by University President France Cordova, student body president Brett Highley, and students who lived in New York at the time of the attacks. Attendees gathered together holding firm the belief that every human life irrespective of the nationality, gender, color, language, or religion is sacred, united in their resolve to emerge from the tragedies of the September 11th era with greater faith, greater understanding, and greater humanity.

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PWAM Thanks Supporters

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

PWAM Hosts Annual Eid Chaand Raat Mela With Large Community Presence.

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The Pakistan Women Association of Michigan thanks the entire community for attending the Annual Eid Chaand Raat Mela in Novi, MI. The Mela was a huge success with over 2,500 attendees. Families from the entire Metro Detroit area attended the Mela to shop for clothing, Eid gifts, Eid Cards, delicious food, and just to say “Eid Mubarak” to each other.

The evening began with an Iftari donated by PWAM; followed by delicious food from popular vendors that everyone enjoyed.

The PWAM holds all their events for public service or charity; and in this spirit, PWAM raised money for its funeral fund by selling raffle tickets. Many individuals also donated for this noble cause. Visitors kept on coming to the venue until 1AM to enjoy the festivities and shopping of Chaand Raat.

Children had a great time with SpongeBob and Elmo characters. Ladies bought bangles, jewelry, clothes and decorated their hands with beautiful Mehndi. The attending crowd congratulated and thanked PWAM board members for holding such a beautiful event which brought friends and families together. After the success of this event, PWAM plans to continue this event annually.

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Community News (V13-I37)

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Quinn names members to Muslim American Advisory Council

CHICAGO, IL–Illinois  Governor Pat Quinn, last week,  named members to serve on the Muslim American Advisory Council, which will help ensure Muslim American participation in state government. Governor Quinn announced the new council during “Eid,” the close of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Illinois is a diverse state, which is one of our greatest strengths,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more than 400,000 Muslims and 300 mosques within our borders, representing various racial and ethnic sects of Islam. I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for input in how we address issues such as education, public safety and jobs, because the strategies may need to differ based on the history, culture and needs of different communities.”

The Muslim American Advisory Council will advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. Additionally, the council will recommend strategies to better integrate Muslims in Illinois socially, educationally, culturally and economically. The council will facilitate relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, and identify ways to more effectively disseminate information and outreach to Muslim Americans regarding state programs and services.
The council will advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims. It will bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues. It will also strengthen communication between the state and Muslim leadership and the general community.

Samreen Khan, senior policy advisor and liaison to Asians and Muslims for the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, and Kareem Irfan, president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, have been named as co-chairs of the council.

S.E. Idaho Muslims plan to build mosque

Southeastern Idaho’s Muslim population has swelled beyond numbers that can be accommodated in the current mosque, a small home near downtown Pocatello, the Idaho State Journal reports.
As a result, religious leaders from the region are trying to raise some $200,000 to erect a new facility that’s capable of holding about 300 people.

Still, local leaders said it’s been tough to raise the cash for a building and accompanying parking space.

Approximately, 150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.

Justice Dept. & Henrico Reach Settlement For Mosque Lawsuit

HENRICO,VA–The Justice Department recently  announced a settlement with Henrico County, Va., resolving allegations that the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied the application of a Muslim organization to rezone property to construct a mosque. The settlement, which must still be approved by a federal district judge in Richmond, resolves a lawsuit between the United States and the county of Henrico.

“Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and that right includes the ability to assemble and build places of worship without facing discrimination,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the county of Henrico has agreed to take steps to ensure that all people exercising this basic American right will not encounter discrimination during the zoning and land use process.”

“The law – not stereotypes or bias – should dictate whether a worship facility can be built in a community.” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “No one should be discriminated against based on their religion, and this agreement will ensure that religious freedom is upheld in Henrico County.”

The case arose from the county’s denial of a 2008 application from a Muslim organization for construction of a mosque. The government’s complaint, which was filed with the court along with a consent decree resolving the lawsuit, alleged that the county’s denial of the rezoning application was based on the religious bias of county officials and to appease members of the public who, because of religious bias, opposed the construction of a mosque. The complaint further alleged that the county treated the Muslim organization differently than non-Muslim religious groups that regularly have been granted similar rezoning requests.

As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to treat the mosque and all religious groups equally and to publicize its non-discrimination policies and practices. The county also agreed that its leaders and various county employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA. In addition, the county will report periodically to the Justice Department.

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Excellent Services Of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

eid event bwMasjid-ul Mu’mineen, located at 8875 Benning Drive (off West Bellfort at India Center), Southwest Houston, Texas TX 77031-2441, is one of the distinct Masajids of Houston. It has been providing for the past twenty years religious, cultural, social, and relief services to not only Muslims, but non-Muslims. Its activities are organized by the Nigerian Muslim Association of Greater Houston (NMA). Originally it started with a community of around 1,000 persons, which have now increased to around 45,000.

One of the major programs of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen is the Relief Project. Through this, all the Zakat, Sadaqat, Fitra, and general donation money received to assist those in needs, Masjid-ul Mu’mineen distributes those resources in most transparent and organized manner.

Every year after Eid, Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project, organizes an impressive and much needed program for the refugees, who have come to Houston from various Muslim countries and distribute Eid Gifts & have nice luncheon for the families.

This year a different program was arranged for the Somalian Refugees in Houston. Instead of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen organizing the program, they asked the Somalian Refugees to organize the program themselves. Over the years, the Somalian refugees community have organized themselves and have formed an association called “The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation”.

So Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project gave all the resources to The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation, like the sound system and the Community Hall besides Masjid-ul Mu’mineen, food for luncheon, gifts for children, and so on; and asked them to arrange their program themselves.

The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation organized a excellent program of Quran recitation, supplications, Q-&-A session about social, cultural, and family needs of the community, refreshments, gifts for children & families, and much more. This very well arranged and much needed program started around 10am and went till 3pm.

Our media outlet congratulates Masjid-ul Mu’mineen for empowering another upcoming Somalian refugees community and their organization The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation. This collaboration is not seen much around us and need to be appreciated and acclaimed.

Everyone in the community is being encouraged to visit Masjid-ul Mu’mineen and learn about the regular positive activities. For more information, one can visit http://masjidulmumineen.org/

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‘Eidul Fitr 1432, Delran, NJ

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

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

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

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

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Ambassadors of Islam

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Milad Alucozai

IMG_4526Lafayette, IN – Local Muslims gathered on Tuesday morning to join more than a billion around the world in marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which calls for fasting during daylight hours.
Located in central Indiana, Lafayette is mid-size Midwestern city with a community of about 1,000 Muslims. They gathered in the Old Burtsfield Gymnasium (a local school no longer in use) from every race, nationality, and economic status, to offer their prayers.

The event was organized by the Islamic Society of Greater Lafayette and drew a crowd young and old, with local families and their children joining with students from nearby Purdue University, as well as non-Muslim visitors taking advantage of the congregation’s open invitation to the community.

The special prayer began promptly at 8:00 am and was followed by a khutbah emphasizing the importance of building bridges with the broader community.

The khatib told attendees that they must be ambassadors of Islam not only in the Mosque but also at school, in the workplace, and elsewhere, by carrying themselves with the highest character and doing good deeds.

“Do not be just a doctor, a teacher, or a student. Be a Muslim doctor, a Muslim teacher, a Muslim student,” he said, “Be mindful of how your conduct is perceived and represent Islamic in the best light.”

Every Ramadan, Muslims young and old need to go back to the Quran and the teachings of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s) to become better Muslims.

This is even more important in these tough times when heated rhetoric and acts of violence against Muslim Americans (and non-Muslim Arab Americans) have increased.
As Muslim, we must do our part to break down prejudices and barriers through our daily actions.

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Community News (V13-I35)

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mosque parking lot decision delayed

SAMMAMISH,WA–The City of Sammamish has delayed its decision on the construction of a parking lot next to a mosque, the Sammamish Review reported.

Senior Planner Evan Maxim said the city has given the Sammamish Muslim Association until November 11 to reply to the city’s request for more information on their project.

The group is seeking to install a 38-stall parking lot and officially convert their single-family home into a religious use facility for 50 to 80 families who worship there.

Maxim said the city has asked the group for more information on the potential uses of the building, landscape designs near the proposed parking lot and the amount of people coming and going at given times of the day.The group has been operating on a temporary agreement with the city since buying the property in 2009.

Woodland’s mosque holds Iftar for community

WOODLAND,CA–Woodland’s Muslim Mosque held a community iftar open to everyone last week. About 300 people attended the event.

Among those attending the breaking of the fast were Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel, Vice Mayor Skip Davies, Yolo Sheriff Ed Prieto, Woodland Police Chief Dan Bellini and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada.

Yamada used the occasion to note it was the Japanese in America who were discriminated against as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor some 70 years ago, which generated a great deal of sympathy today when American Muslims were vilified immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

As such, she said, Japanese Americans were the first to support American Muslims being discriminated against after the 911 attacks.

“This country made a mistake” 70 years ago when Japanese were imprisoned, lost their property and possessions as a result of discrimination, Yamada said. “But it admitted to that mistake, made reparations and apologized.”

“We have learned that we can take the high road,” Yamada continued. “We can build peace and community together.”

Yolo Sheriff Ed Prieto and Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel talked about the importance of family structure and a sharing of cultures.

Buffalo Mosque organizes parking lot Bazaar

BUFFALO,NY–A Buffalo mosque opened its parking lot to provide opportunity for underemployed Queen City residents.

Muhammad’s Mosque welcomed inner-city neighbors to a community market and international bazaar.

It gives up to 50 people a chance to make and sell items and give buyers a place to get what they need without heading out to the suburban malls or factory outlets.

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Pakistani Women’s Association Celebrates Independence Day

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

… organizing Yaum-E-Dua for the Nation …

PWAM Press Release

In keeping trends of setting new traditions, Pakistan Women Association of Michigan conducted Pakistan Independence Day with humbleness, rather than the usual way of Azadi celebration. On Sunday, August 14, PWAM invited the entire Pakistani community at IAGD to gather for a day of holistic prayer session with very modest celebration (Yaum e Dua). Over 800 Pakistanis gathered at one place to beg Allah’s mercy for Pakistan and its people. The evening began with tilawat of Quran-e-Pak  and Hamd o Naat by Br. Jameel Syed, followed by Shaikh Mustafa Alturk (Emir of IONA masjid) who spoke about the roles of women in Islamic history, where women made significant difference in Islam and community at large. The President of Pakistan Women Association of Michigan, Erum Hussain thanked the community for attending the event for such noble cause and spoke about need for dua for the entire nation. Her speech ended with Pakistani  National Anthem, which was recited by the entire audience.

Dr. Latafat Hamzvi delivered a heartwarming speech on creation of Pakistan and lifted his words with poetry of Allama Iqbal. At the end, Hafiz Farooqui led an emotional dua for Pakistan and the entire Umma, which brought tears to many eyes. The evening ended with a delicious Iftar dinner hosted by Pakistan Women Association of Michigan. It was a remarkable evening which will be remembered for many years to come.

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Houstonian Corner (Volume 13 Issue 34)

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Landmark Radio Light Of Islam Enters Into The 18th Year

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Houston is considered as the Mecca of Community Media Outlets, with many Weekly Newspapers; Daily & Weekly Radio Shows. One of the longest running Radio Program is Light Of Islam (www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com)

Community entrepreneur Maqsood Siddiqui has been conducting this show, since August 14th, 1994. It comes on Houston Radio Frequency 1460AM every Friday between 1pm.-2pm. and every Monday between 9pm.-12am. and can also be heard worldwide at www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com

A special program was done this past Monday night to commemorate the entering into the 18th year of Light of Islam. Several community personalities were present including former Islamic Society of Greater Houston President Dr. Moein Butt, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati, PCC-USA Officer Bearer Abdur Rauf, and many others.
Everyone appreciated the hard work and perseverance of Maqsood Siddiqui for continuing to provide this community service for 17 years.

Maqsood Siddiqui informed: “We started this program because radio had become very popular media among the community, especially those from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh; and to provide voice to the Muslim community to learn our religion and for the preservation of the Muslim identity of our future generations. We have evolved to also provide other services like Hajj package, Matrimonial Services especially for those in late 30s and early 40s, Counseling Services, etc. Our most popular segments have been opportunity for the young ones to come live on air and read from the Quran or presenting Hamd-o-Naat; understanding of Islam by scholars like Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal of Madrasae Islamiah, Late Imam Mohammad Naseem, and many others from throughout the world.”
Special cake was cut on the occasion, and everyone was offered snacks and tea. For more information, one can reach Maqsood Siddiqui at 1-832-298-7860.

Calls for Unity at Houston Consulate Pakistan Day Celebrations

“Mudslinging in the community should finish. If we aspire to secure a progressing and peaceful Pakistan, we need to start here in Houston, through our mature, civil and responsible behavior,” these were the approximate words of Amir Shah of The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN), as he was one of the many speakers, who spoke at the traditional flag hoisting ceremony at the Houston Pakistani Consulate on the occasion of independence day of Pakistan August 14th.

Emcee of the event was Faisal Amin, Honorary Investment Advisor to the Government of Pakistan. He read the message of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Faisal Amin talked about the fact that this year, he has spent more days in Pakistan than USA and have seen very closely all the huge challenges, the government of Pakistan is facing and trying to resolve.

Others who spoke, included the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem (also read President Zardari’s statement), President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Taslim Siddiqui, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati (talked about enhancing trade links with Pakistan and working on economy to bring Pakistan out of gloom), and President of Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) Saeed Sheikh (talked about importance of law & order in Karachi for the sake of Pakistan).

Interesting thing about the message of Presdient Zardari was that he mentioned about People’s Party, while as the head of state, he needs to talk mainly about the country Pakistan.

“It is nice to see some young ones here among us. Parents need to inspire their children to become journalists, attorneys, and lawyers, other than doctors & engineers, to able to serve the community, USA, Pakistan, and get personal professionals satisfaction of doing something worthwhile,” said Aqil Nadeem, the Consul general of Pakistan.

This traditional Pakistan Day 14th August Flag Hoisting Ceremony was held at the Houston Pakistani Consulate with much fervor and enthusiasm. Despite Ramadan and heat advisory, appreciable number of people attended. It was heartening to see a bunch of youth that had come with Mrs. Mahmood, who has the privilege of once holding Pakistani flag with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

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Imam Salie: Preparing Islamic Chair at UD Mercy

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Imam SalieFarmington–August 10–Imam Achmat Salie, who championed an effort to establish an Islamic studies school at Oakland University, is now in the planning process of establishing a similar program at the University of Detroit–Mercy, a Catholic private university in Detroit.

Imam Salie is trying to establish a Chair at UD Mercy for Islamic Studies, and he explains the purpose of creating a chair is “to create a permanent place–if not, every year you have to beg for money, and spend so much time.  Once there is a chair, the money is there for life.  In 10 or 20 years, if I am gone, someone else fills that place.”

He says the chair of Islamic studies would help the Muslim community by fueling mutual understanding across religious lines and even within the Muslim community by providing bridges across the gaps of Shi’a-Sunni and other doctrinal disagreements.  “This will be a cosmopolitan approach to Islam, not an orientalist approach–an insider view, different from the skeptical and suspicious outsider view.  But this will still be objective, there will be analysis, it won’t be superficial.  Muslims speaking for themselves.  Founded by Muslims, with an Islamic ethos, with an accurate portrayal of Islam.”

The Oakland University program eventually failed under fiscal pressures.  And the learning process that Mr. Salie went through from Oakland University definitely shows in his approach to UD Mercy.  First, he chose UD Mercy in part because it is private rather than public.  

“With the recession, a lot of uncertainty in universities, public universities… [T]his is a private university, and there is more stability,” explains Salie.

He has also addressed the fundamental gap in funding that sidelined the Oakland University program.  Imam Salie has now secured “matching funding” from the IIIT, a well-funded Muslim not-for-profit based in Washington DC.

There are many Muslim graduates, Salie says, of UD Mercy’s various schools, practising dentists and lawyers, and he asks that they choose now to give back. 

“Education, like journalism, provides a safe environment, a great way to promote understanding.  Previous communities went through education to create understanding.  Catholic and Jewish communities promoted understanding of themselves by being present at educational institutions.”

The utility of the program, Salie argues, would be that it would provide exposure of Catholics to Islam, to alleviate the sometimes tense relations between the communities.  The program would also provide means for Muslims to speak across sectarian boundaries to one another.

Salie looks forward to this program because he has found “broad appeal” and acceptance at a very high level from the school and from the infrastructure of the Catholic church in Detroit, namely Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. 

Even more importantly within the Catholic church, the pope has also expressed support for maintaining good relations with Muslims.

“The pope has wonderful relations with Turkey.  There are delegations from the Vatican to Turkey.  But at the lowest level, this type of enlightenment doesn’t necessarily filter down.” 

Imam Salie points to distrust and animosity directed against Muslims from rank-and-file Catholics, including prominent Catholics like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

“One out of four Christians is Catholic,” Salie explains.  “We should not take the Catholic position for granted–they are not all at the same level as the good people at the top.”  Therefore he says it is important to reach out to the Catholic community.

Also, Salie’s experience with Islamic Studies at Oakland University taught him that sometimes the most attentive students are not those you might expect. 

Sometimes practicing Muslims attend, merely hoping for “an easy A, but the quality of their work is very bad.”  Salie cites one atheist student who devoured the material in the Islamic Studies course and then wanted to teach other atheists about Islam.  “Muslims are fooling themselves if they are expecting an easy A.”

Salie’s Islamic Studies classes are a way to reach Muslims who no longer practice.  “I have had students from everywhere, Bosnians, Albanians, Pakistanis… totally disconnected from the religion.”  The Islamic Studies courses are sometimes for these young people a safe way of reacquainting themselves with Islam.

Muslims wanting to participate are welcomed by Salie.  “One way is through donations…. Some people offer money, some offer expertise.”  Salie invites the various communities of Muslims to participate by offering their knowledge of their own practice of Islam, or of their own national community.  Salie emphasizes that specific communities of Muslims will be spoken for by that community, rather than having an intolerant view of any branch of Muslims imposed by an outsider to that community.

Salie is trying to establish an endowment at the university.  “For the first year, we need at least $200,000 to get started. That will be used up the first year.  If we get an endowment, it takes one year to mature, and then with that endowment money in, we don’t need much in donations.”

Imam Salie aims to collect $2,000,000 in donations, which will be matched by IIIT, amounting to $4,000,000 which will be an adequate endowment to build a self-sustaining Islamic Studies program at UD Mercy.

To contribute, please contact salieac@udmercy.edu.  Or call 248-659-2109.

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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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New Jersey Gets Its First Muslim American Judge

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sunita Sohrabji   

sohailconfirmed_72211The state of New Jersey got its first Muslim American Superior Court judge June 30, as Sohail Mohammed, a former engineer from Hyderabad, took his oath of office.

Following contentious confirmation hearings in the New Jersey State Senate, Mohammed, 47, who became interested in law after serving jury duty, began working July 1 in Passaic County Superior Court’s Family Division.

“I am deeply, deeply honored to be representing the two greatest democracies in the world: India and the U.S.,” Mohammed said, adding that he hoped to create a process in his courtroom that left people’s dignity intact, regardless of whether they had won or lost.

Mohammed, who earned his law degree in night school at Seton Hall University while working for GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, said he has already ruled on a number of adoption cases.

“You see the kids in court, and there are such smiles on their faces. They are already saying, ‘This is my mommy; this is my daddy,’” related Mohammed, who emigrated from India with his parents when he was 10.

“One kid asked to touch the gavel. I lifted him up and he gave the gavel a loud bang. It was such a moving experience,” he said.

Mohammed refused to comment on his combative confirmation hearings, saying only, “It was a process.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had nominated Mohammed for the post Jan. 14, and the attorney had told India-West in an earlier interview that he expected his nomination to be fast-tracked through the confirmation process.

At his confirmation hearing June 29, Mohammed was grilled extensively about his ties to radical Islamist groups, and his opinion of Sharia law. Republican state Senator Gerald Cardinale, asked Mohammed about the organization Hamas – defined by the U.S. as a terrorist group – and also asked him to define the term jihad.

Cardinale also asked Mohammed if he had ever objected to the term “Islamo terrorist.”

Republican state Senator Joseph Kyrillos asked Mohammed why there was not more condemnation from Muslims about terrorism.

In an editorial, local columnist Bruce Lowry likened Mohammed’s confirmation hearings to a “witch hunt.”

Jolsna John, president of the North American South Asian Bar Association, said the accusations levied against Mohammed were ridiculous.

“Just because your name is Mohammed does not mean you’re a terrorist,” she said.

“Sohail has done some really great work for our community,” said John, noting that Mohammed, post 9-11, had worked to build bridges between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.

NASABA reached out to Mohammed during his confirmation process, said John, who encouraged other South Asian Americans to apply for judgeships, adding that her organization could provide help and resources.

Cyrus McGoldrick, civil rights manager of the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York chapter, told India-West that the New Jersey state Senate had created a double standard during Mohammed’s confirmation process.

“This tells Muslim Americans that their service, their acts of patriotism, aren’t as valuable as those of other Americans,” stated McGoldrick.

“Muslims are being told on the one hand ‘acculturate within your larger community,’ yet our institutions and our people are being shut out,” he said.

Mohammed is a board member of the American Muslim Union and an executive board member of the New Jersey Bar Association. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammed represented more than 30 undocumented immigrants who were not affiliated with the attacks, but caught up in sweeps by federal agents. The father of three boys has trained the FBI on Islamic culture and arranged a job fair in New Jersey where young Muslims could apply for jobs with law enforcement agencies.

Mohammed, who formerly practiced immigration law in Clifton, New Jersey, told India-West he has disbanded his solo practice, handing his clients off to other attorneys.

“It was really sad for me,” he said. “But there’s a greater good to be done out there.”

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