‘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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Pastor Concerned About Carnegie Mosque

June 30, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Jill King Greenwood

The Rev. Keith Tucci preaches from a pulpit more than an hour from Carnegie, but he’s concerned about a different religious community’s plans to relocate there. Tucci, pastor of the Living Hope Church in Latrobe, said he has “serious concerns” about members of a Muslim mosque who want to move to a former Presbyterian church in the heart of Carnegie’s business district. Tucci said he and members of his congregation will travel to Carnegie on Monday to pass out “informational packets” about the Muslim faith.

“I have questions: Who are these people? Are they American citizens? Has anyone done a background check on them?” said Tucci, whose church is part of a national network of Bible-based churches with headquarters in Reserve, La., according to its website. “I’m not saying all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. We need more information about these people before they are allowed to move in and ruin a community.”

Carnegie Councilman Rick D’Loss, president of the borough’s synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Achim, said some residents asked questions about the plan for the building but generally expressed support.

“In a town of 8,000 people, of course you’ll have some dissenting opinions, but Carnegie is a very inclusive place,” D’Loss said. “Muslims have rights just like anyone else, and they can pray as they choose. It’s a shame that we have to keep telling people that. I find it funny that a group is going to drive all the way from Westmoreland to tell us we shouldn’t allow the Muslims to be in our community.

“If we say no Muslims, then we have to say no Jews, too. Then what?”

The borough council on June 14 approved the Attawheed Islamic Center’s request to convert the 19,000-square-foot stone and brick building along East Main Street into a place for prayer and religious education. No residents expressed opposition at a public hearing about the mosque or during the council meeting that followed. The Muslim group rents space on Banksville Road.

Even with council approval, it’s unclear when the group would move into the building, which needs extensive repairs, including a roof. Al-Walid Mohsen, vice president and manager of the Attawheed Islamic Center, did not return calls for comment.

Police Chief Jeff Harbin, who is the part-time borough manager, said the Living Hope Church group has a right to come to Carnegie and pass out information and talk about concerns, as long as they do so peacefully.

“I grew up in Carnegie, and we tend to welcome everyone,” Harbin said. “We believe in the right of people to express their opinions, and we respect the First Amendment. People are free to disagree.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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