Arab American Muslims, Christians–Relief to Haiti

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Arab Detroit, Ameera David

DEARBORN,Mich.–Just a day after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the death toll was already estimated at over 1,000 people. Today, only a week later, that toll is thought to stand at 200,000—a number inclining with each passing hour.

Now, in the wake of such a disaster, a host of global organizations are contributing to relief. Joining those ranks are Arab American Muslims and Christians, who from a national to local level are stepping up to the plate and helping in unprecedented ways.

Immediately following the incident, Islamic charity Zakat mobilized as many as 50 volunteers to distribute high-need commodities. The charity, founded and directed by Khalid Demir, has pledged over $50,000 dollars in hygiene products, medical supplies, and hot cooked meals.

Demir himself just returned from a trip to Haiti in hopes of better facilitating the relief but was troubled by the amount of people who still hadn’t received any medical attention or food. “With severely overcrowded streets, there is chaos. These are people who haven’t eaten in over a week” he says.

Other Muslim organizations such as Helping Hands (based largely in Detroit) and Islamic Relief of USA have also dived in to help— both by sending in representatives to assess the calamity as well as by pledging over $1 million dollars in goods and services.

Helping Hands is currently negotiating the start of an efficient medical base clinic in Port-au-Prince. There, they will equip the center with sizeable medical provisions while also contracting quality physicians from the US and abroad into Haiti for treatment.

Umbrella organizations representing America’s Arab Christian population have also taken a stand in supporting the Haitian earthquake survivors.

Arab Melkite and Maronite Catholic Eparchies have opened special collections in their respective churches which will go directly to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an organization with a $25 million commitment to relief.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), representative of America’s 300 plus Arabic Orthodox churches, will provide over $170,000 in relief.

Thus far, they have airlifted water purification equipment to accommodate 10,000 people as well as enough tents to lodge 500 families. Not to mention opening a campaign for donors to both finance and assemble “Hygiene Kits” complete with soap, towels, toothbrushes, and band aids.

Amal Morcos, IOCC Communications Director, is pleased to be afforded this opportunity to help. She says, “Faith based organizations play a very important role in humanitarian aid. They should uphold certain values in representing the religion and its followers— demonstrating that they care about all people regardless of their faith.”

Also showing compassion is the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, an umbrella organization which encompasses hundreds of Arab owned restaurants and stores in and around the metro-Detroit area.

The association, founded by Syrian American Edward Deeb, hopes to rally member businesses to contribute monetarily as well as with food products, with the goal of giving $2 million or more in aid.

“They don’t have enough food, enough water, or enough medical supplies. There are 1.5 million people, and they need our help” says Deeb.

While donations are surfacing mostly though large, pre-established organizations, there are also many individual Arab Americans finding creative ways to help.

Just this week, Lebanese American, Reem Sater, has initiated a fundraiser which will support Architecture for Humanity, an organization that works on reconstruction and the building of a sustainable infrastructure that can withstand earthquakes in the future.

Almost immediately after the earthquake hit, Sater thought of ways to activate the younger generation, “I didn’t see anyone from our age group organizing any relief efforts, and I felt like we had a responsibility just as anyone else to assist those in need.”

Taking place at a Ferndale lounge, each $20 donation made to the relief organization will include a drink of the person’s choice. The event promises to attract more than 200 guests and raise $5,000 in proceeds.

With recurring aftershock earthquakes and new problems developing, Haiti holds an uncertain future; however, while the true devastation remains to be seen, Arab Americans are stepping in, actively responding with open hearts and little hesitation.

12-4

AFMI’s Educational Mission: A Success

January 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

(A Press Note with photographs and a few comments of AFMI delegates)

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Delegates of American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) wrapped up their India-visit last week (January 10) on a satisfactory note. AFMI has been engaged for more than two decades in promoting literacy among Indian Muslims by establishing and/or aiding the existing educational institutions. As a part of its aim to achieve 100 percent literacy rate, the AFMI delegates hold an international convention every year in a different city of the country. This is followed by zonal conventions in several areas. Since the early 1990s, the AFMI has awarded medals (gold, silver & bronze), certificates and cash prizes to students having scored high percentage in Class 10th and 12th board examinations. While recipients of the awards are selected from across the country for the international convention, the zonal convention includes students of that particular zone.

Expressing satisfaction with increase in literacy rate of Indian Muslims, its key founder member, Dr. A.S. Nakadar said: “AFMI has made a difference.” Literacy among Muslims has increased by 60%, with 2008 being witness to greater upward trend than earlier, he said. He drew attention to increasing number of Muslim students scoring above 90%. Besides, Nakadar pointed to Muslim applicants to “higher educational institutions being higher than before.” He supported this point by referring to 50% quota in Muslim-minority educational institutions being now filled by Muslim students, which “earlier was not the case.” Nakadar, a retired cardiologist in Detroit, Michigan, visits India regularly to pursue AFMI’s literacy mission.

A key recipient of AFMI’s aid is Mijwan Welfare Society run by actor Shabana Azmi in the town called Mijwan (Uttar Pradesh), from where her father- renowned poet late Kaifi Azmi hailed. Azmi showed AFMI delegates the areas in which the students of this institution are engaged in. She expressed the need to further expand this organization with possible aid from AFMI, which is under consideration. The AFMI delegates were here last Thursday (January 8). AFMI delegates addressed the Zonal Educational Conference at Shibli National Inter-College, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh the same afternoon.

The two-day international convention was held (January 2-3) at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Among Indian dignitaries who addressed AFMI’s 18th annual convention were Union Minister of State for Corporate and Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Salman Khursheed, Justice MSA Siddiqui, Chairman National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Mayor of Indore Krishna Murari Moghe and others. It was the first international conference to be held in Indore this century. It was also the first one, where people from diverse political backgrounds, spoke only on importance of enhancing the literary rate of India’s largest minority community- the Muslims.

The Indore convention was followed by a tour of several towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh, with Amroha being the first to be visited by AFMI delegates (January 5). They addressed the Zonal Educational Conference at the institution run by Hakeem Sirajuddin Hashmi. AFMI delegates addressed a similar conference at Hira Public School at Hanswar (January 6).

Summing up his opinion, AFMI President Dr. Iqbal Ahmed expressed that though “Indian Muslims have developed the awareness about importance of education,” “poverty remains a major hindrance in achieving education.” He cited instances of people who had approached him in Indore about their children having secured admission to B. Tech but were dropped as their loan application was rejected by banks. “Rich segments of Muslims, Wakf boards and other Muslim groups must come forward and share the responsibility,” he said. Ahmed is a medical doctor (gastro-enetrology) in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Shakir Mukhi, also a medical doctor (New York) said that AFMI delegates were “impressed” by increase in involvement of Muslims in pursuing higher education. Describing AFMI awards for bright students as providing the needed “incentive” to students to move forward, he said that AFMI plans to come forward with more incentives to help students and educational institutions pursue higher goals.    

Reflecting on AFMI’s achievements in UP alone, Ali Quraishi said: “We strengthened about 25 schools and built two new ones. It is not easy to complete this job.” Nevertheless, expressing confidence, he said: “AFMI’s aim is to promote education among Muslims so that no child is left behind. Our aim is to specially educate female students to help educate a whole family.” Quraishi, runs a business in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has built a number of educational institutions in Pune, Mumbai and elsewhere.

Psychiatrist Dr. Razia Ahmed (Cleveland, Ohio) said: “I am proud of AFMI which has definitely contributed to increasing awareness of importance of education among the Muslim community.” Laying emphasis on the need of involvement of other organizations to help in progress of Indian Muslims, she said: “I wish everyone joins us (AFMI) for this cause.”

During their India-visit, the AFMI delegates also met several leaders, including Ahmed Patel (Congress). They voiced their concern about “plight” of Muslim community in Gujarat. In a letter addressed to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, AFMI stated: “The Muslim community in Gujarat feels that opportunities that ideally should be available to all communities are denied to it because of its religious identity. Obstacles are created in its way to establish new educational institutions. State grant is not available to deserving institutions and meritorious students are discriminated in scholarship. In fact, the state government has failed to disburse the full Federal scholarship and grant money to deserving students which they were promised.” The letter also states: “The delegates of AFMI strongly feel that implementation of Mishra Commission as well as Sachar Commission” reports “would pave the way for ensuring rights of minorities in Gujarat in all walks of life.”

The signatories to the letter addressed to Congress chief include the AFMI delegates visiting India. These include Dr A.S. Nakadar (AFMI-Trustee), Dr. Aslam Abdullah (Trustee), Dr. Iqbal Ahmed (AFMI President), Dr. Shakir Mukhi (former AFMI President), Sheikh Muhammed Quraishi (former President) and AFMI members from various parts of USA and Canada. These are: Rizwana Quraishi (New Mexico), Dr. Razia Ahmed (Ohio), Dr. Khalid Khan (Nevada), Dr. Abdul Aziz (Florida), Dr. S. Ashraf (Washington DC), Dr. W. Baig (Ohio), Dr. Shahida Akhtar (Florida0, Dr Abdur Razzak (Massachusetts) and Mr & Mrs Gahffar Shaikh from Canada.

AFMI’s next international convention is scheduled to be held this December in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

12-3

Nigerian Terror Suspect: This Apple Fell Too Far From the Tree

January 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

2009-12-27T180848Z_310678741_GM1E5CS060801_RTRMADP_3_SECURITY-AIRLINE-NIGERIA

Nigeria’s Information Minister Dora Akunyili speaks during a news conference in Lagos. Farouk Mutallab, originally from Nigeria, had travelled widely, returning to Nigeria just before the jet attack.

REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

USAfricaonline, Commentary, Chido Nwangwu, Posted: Dec 28, 2009

The most unlikely person has snatched Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallab’s relatively mild-mannered public persona from him: his own son, Farouk Abdul Mutallab.

Farouk is the alleged terror-executor who on Christmas Day reportedly fumbled his own plan to blow up Delta-Northwest Airlines flight 235, minutes before landing in Detroit, the economically troubled American motor city.

The events in Detroit merely played up, to a global canvas, the contrast of the two individuals.

The older Mutallab, a conservative Muslim, was born in 1939 in the north central state of Katsina (home of the current, ailing President Umaru Ya’Adua).

A USAfricaonline.com count found that Umaru Mutallab was chairman of more than 36 blue chip companies inside Nigeria and overseas.

But while the older Mutallab sought and gained multiple millions dollars in rewards for his core, long-standing interests and skills in business especially in financial services, the younger Mutallab, by his own admission, sought to be a foot soldier for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida.

A highly respected conservative man whose friends cut across states, religion and gender, Mutallab is soft spoken and very intelligent and industrious.

Having reported and followed key aspects of Umaru Mutallab and Nigeria’s military and civilian elite, I know that the older Mutallab benefited from his deft positioning across an immense network of family, geo-ethnic and professional layers of interests.

Consequently, the man has had a near permanent presence on Nigeria’s economic landscape as a government official, banking investor, facilitator or shareholder – working the levers of power- all through civilian and military governments in Nigeria for more than 35 years.

Alhaji Mutallab is one of Nigeria’s most respected technocrats and administrators, having also served as a Federal Minister of Economic Development & Reconstruction. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (FCCA), Institute of the International Bankers Association (FIBA, USA), the Institute of Bankers and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA).

Mutallab was appointed director of First Bank on March 8, 1996 and became chairman of the Board on March 18, 1999. In mid December, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab – after his massively rewarding decade at the helm of the First Bank Plc – fully retired as Chairman. He was succeeded by Oba Otudeko, a billionaire chairman of the Honeywell Group of Companies and immediate past President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Mutallab has been in strategic board positions of the banking sector for decades as CEO and/or Chairman of various financial institutions including United Bank for Africa (UBA).

“The man is amiable and always at the forefront of any economic revival committees and boards of government, the alleged link of his son to the alleged terrorism plot left many of his friends and associates devastated,” notes Obinwa Nnaji, USAfricaonline.com bureau chief in Lagos. “Other Nigerians still argue at their homes, various places and across USAfrica multimedia blogs that they still do not believe it to be a stock in trade of Nigerians to be found planting bombs in aircraft.”

The Alhaji, from some indications, has been concerned about his son’s radical Islam associates, including potentially violent views. He reportedly, but yet unconfirmed by government and independent sources, visited the U.S. embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to alert its security of the son’s growing liaison and engagement with al-Qaida-type characters, especially in the radicalized country of Yemen.

In a Dec. 12, 2001 exclusively commentary for USAfricaonline.com, I raised a red flag and forewarned in the critical insight which focused on al-Qaida, rag-tag Taliban and Nigeria’s security situation.

Farouk attended college to study engineering in London, and lived in a posh, upscale apartment paid for by his father.

But one of the areas where the older Mutallab’s skills and services did not yield much if any significant value for Nigerians was his tenure as chairman of the troubled and woeful former National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

As a key member of the Nigerian ruling groups, he bagged the chairmanship of the Vision 2020 Business Support Group of Nigeria. He is a key shareholder and chairman of the very successful Spring Waters Nigeria (SWAN), and a host of other investments.

Evidently, even the luxury and resources amassed by the older Mutallab could not dissuade his 23-year-old son Farouk from being a jihadist and fighter for Islamic fundamentalism through the violent, toxic mechanisms of terrorism, as alleged from his actions on Christmas Day.

Chido Nwangwu is the Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the Internet at USAfricaonline.com, The Black Business Journal, CLASSmagazine, PhotoWorks.TV, AchebeBooks.com, USAfrica.TV and several blogs. Nwangwu has been honored by the Washington, D. C.-based National Immigration Forum for utilizing multimedia to fight authoritarianism and foster freedom of expression.

12-1

Muslims, in Concert with Jews, Perform Acts of Kindness on Christmas Holiday

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Adapted from an Associated Press article by TMO

Detroit–December 25–Many Jews consider Christmas Day an opportunity to serve their community while Christian neighbors celebrate their holiday. This year, what’s also known as Mitzvah Day in southeast Michigan is getting an added boost from Muslims.

For the first time, about 40 Muslims joined 900 Jews for what they call their largest annual day of volunteering. Leaders say it’s a small but significant step in defusing tensions and promoting good will between the religions — particularly on a day that is sacred to Christianity, the third Abrahamic faith.

Mitzvah Day, a nearly 20-year tradition in the Detroit area also practiced in other communities, is so named because Mitzvah means “commandment” in Hebrew and is colloquially translated as a good deed.

The new partnership stemmed from a recent meeting between members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit — which said it was unaware of any similar Mitzvah Day alliances.

The Jewish groups organize Mitzvah Day, which consists of volunteers helping 48 local social service agencies with tasks such as feeding the hungry and delivering toys to children in need.

Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, said he was seeking a public way for the two faith communities to “build bridges of understanding and cooperation,” which led to joining the Mitzvah Day effort.

“These guys are really organized,” he explained to TMO, saying really there was no need for Muslim organizations to try to put together their own event when the event has already been sustained over a long period of time by the Jewish organizations.

“The general public is what we need to give the message to, our entire community,” he said.

Not only are most Muslims and Jews available to serve on Christmas Day, but leaders also recognized a shared commitment to community service. Charity in Judaism is known as “tzedakah.” Actually this Hebrew word is pronounced the same as sadaqa, which is an analogous Islamic term of doing charity.

“It’s an interesting parallel,” said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “Both of our faiths predispose us to engaging in this sort of thing.”

Muslim and Jewish volunteers will work together at the Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac, about 25 miles north of Detroit.

“We felt it was a perfect activity for people to be getting together like this because you work side by side with one or two other people as you’re moving the boxes,” Cohen said. “The grass-roots connection builds relationships on a personal level.”

Cohen said the local bonds are important given global animosities. He said Muslims and Jews here “have serious differences about what happens in the Middle East,” but that shouldn’t be the only dynamic defining their relationship.

Begg added the two faiths can set an example in the Detroit area, which has historically large Jewish and Muslim populations.

“Whatever happens in the Middle East, we have no control over it,” Begg said. “But here, our kids go to the same school, we work together. … We need to focus on building an inclusive community.”

Mitzvah Day is planned months in advance, so the number of Muslim participants is modest to start, but both groups expect it will grow. Next year proves challenging for Jewish volunteers because Christmas falls on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Details have yet to be worked out, though Cohen and others are considering moving Mitzvah Day. That would give Muslims the opportunity to try a solo run on Christmas, join Jewish groups on another day, or both.

Both Mr. Begg and Mitzvah Day organizers explained that next year it will be impossible for the Jewish organizations to do Mitzvah Day on Christmas Day because it falls on their Sabbath, Saturday, therefore 2010 might be an opportunity for CIOM and area mosques to do a similar event on their own.

The Muslim volunteers this year came mainly from two mosques, the Islamic Center of America, whose Eide Alawan has for decades been involved in community and interfaith outreach work, and Canton’s MCWS mosque, from which about 20 volunteers came.

“The bottom line is we really want to do it together,” Begg said.

12-1

Muslims and Jews Volunteer Together in Southeast Michigan

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Adapted by TMO Stringer from Press Release

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) is coordinating with Detroit’s Jewish community this holiday season in a “Mitzvah Day” of doing good deeds on December 25. 

Mitzvah Day, explains CIOM Chairman Ghalib Begg, is “very organized” so CIOM chose to join hands with the Jewish community rather than setting up a competing venture to do good works during Christmas. 

Mr. Begg explained to TMO that there has been a miraculous level of commitment by Muslims, explaining that already 50 Muslims have volunteered to participate, including 20 from the MCWS mosque and many from the Ford Road ICA in Dearborn as well.

Mitzvah Day is presented to the community by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. 

“Make someone happy” is the theme for Mitzvah Day 2009, where as many as 900 Jewish volunteers — joined for the first time with Muslim volunteers — are expected to take part in “mitzvahs” (good deeds), aiding 48 Detroit area social service agencies on Christmas Day.  Many grandparents, parents and children will volunteer together as families, in the spirit of giving back to the community.  This Mitzvah Day participants will also take part in a non-perishable food drive, bringing donations with them as they report to volunteer duty on December 25.  The event chairs are Micki Grossman and Stephanie Rosenbaum.

Volunteers will begin their day at the Jimmy Prentis Morris Jewish Community Center on the A. Alfred Taubman Campus, located at 15110 10 Mile Rd. in Oak Park.   Following a light breakfast and brief orientation, they will depart for their volunteer projects.  The teams will fan out to 74 pre-assigned volunteer sites throughout metro Detroit.  Project times vary, but they run between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Families with children, as well as teens, young adults and seniors, will donate a few hours of their time to participate in a variety of activities, including visits to older adults in nursing care facilities, preparing and serving holiday meals, and delivering toys and gifts to families in need.

For more information about Mitzvah Day, call the Jewish Community Relations Council, 248-642-5393. or Ghalib Begg at (586) 808-2864.

11-53

Mohammed Ikram, ‘Green Hero’

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pic Mohammed Ikram, Energy Manager and former Electrical Engineer for the USAG Detroit Arsenal, was awarded the 31st Annual Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Award. He successfully solved the challenge of coordinating five projects which resulted in a reduction of of more than 30,000M  BTUs and a cost savings of over $500K in one year’s time. As the Program Manager, Mr. Ikram oversaw the total coordination and implementation of the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC).

“Mr. Ikram’s work to maintain energy levels at the installation are a significant achievement given our small land mass and increasing population growth at Detroit Arsenal,” reads the citation.

Because of the dedicated efforts of Mohammed Ikram, the USAG-Detroit Arsenal has established a strong foundation for the future development of safe, dependable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective energy and water campaigns.

11-52

Southeast Michigan (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

eid carnival 2009 Detroit ‘Eid Carnival 2009/1430

Sunday, November 29, 2009 (The 3rd day of Eid al-Adha)

12:00pm-6:00pm at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi

(46100 Grand River, Novi, MI 48374)

For more information contact: carnival.eid@gmail.com or your local community leaders

The new website will be launching very soon at http://www.eidcarnivaldetroit.com

Limited Tickets: Register in advance at www.eidcarnival.com (on line registration begins 11/13)

Tickets: $10/person or $40/family (includes 2 parents + their children) for admission, parking, and unlimited rides

‘Oudhiya Program

Many local mosques are participating in the Michigan Oudhia/Qurbani,  a collaborative program among major Islamic centers in Detroit area. The meat will be donated locally to needy families and to soup kitchen in Southeast Michigan.

To participate in this local program you can:

- Donate on line by loging into www.muslimunitycenter.org  and clicking  the Buy now link

- Mail your check to the unity center ASAP and write in the memo section write “Michigan Oudhia)

-Pay by Credit card at the Muslim Unity Center’s office or by calling 248 857 9200.

Bloomfield Unity Center ‘Eid Prayers (Friday 11/27)

Eid Program:

8:15:First Eid prayer

9:45: Second Eid Prayer

10:30 Eid Breakfast and kids program

1:40 Jumaah Prayer(the first Jumaah prayer will be cancelled the day of Eid)

IONA ‘Eid Prayers

IONA is following FCNA on the issue of ‘Eidul Adha, and FCNA in turn is following Saudi Arabia’s announced days for hajj as determinants of when ‘Eidul Adha falls. 

This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research.

‘Eidul Adha at IONA will be at 8 AM at IONA center

· In order to lessen congestion in the parking lots, we ask you to car pool. Once IONA’s parking lot is full, it will be closed and you will be directed to park at King Plaza’s BACK parking lot. Additional parking is at the Professional Medical Building (behind King’s Plaza by 12 Mile Rd.) Please use the back end of their parking lot.

· Please park in the designated parking areas only. Please do not park illegally. Parking on people’s driveways or streets is not allowed.

- Absolutely no praying outside the building.

·  No food will be served after the Eid prayer. Please DO NOT bring food of any kind nor any drinks to the center.

· We ask you to keep your children with you at all times.

“We look forward to your cooperation. Have a blessed and happy Eid.”

11-49

Military Muslims: What Now?

November 12, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

2009-11-08T171028Z_192441419_GM1E5B902TX01_RTRMADP_3_TEXAS-SHOOTING When Major Nidal Hasan went on a murderous rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas, the entire nation snapped to rapt attention and said, “Here we go again.  Those crazy Muslims are at it again.”

Immediately after the story hit the airways the usual apologies from Muslim organizations and individuals started pouring in.  “We Muslims do not condone the actions of Major Hasan.  “This is not Islam.”  “Islam means peace,” etc etc etc.

I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring about the grief being felt by the family and other loved ones of the slain.  Of course, we abhor the actions of any deranged person who without warning, and seemingly without any justification or provocation, takes innocent human lives.  This person was obviously not in a rational state of mind, and plainly his actions had absolutely nothing to do with his religion, or lack of it.  I believe the world knows this but the anti-Islamic fever sweeping the world, fed by the other media, will keep people’s rational thoughts from surfacing.

Some news accounts make reference to the Islamic signs that major Hasan had on some of his property.   The news media interviewed some people who made statements like “I heard him speaking Muslim talk.” (He could have been saying as-salaam-alaikum).  It is an obvious attempt to discredit anything with any ties to Islam.  And by making note of his artifacts, they are saying that having these things in his possession automatically makes him a dangerous “Islamic Radical.”

But actually it is no stranger than a Catholic crazy man having a rosary, or a Buddhist crazy man with his statue of Buddha, or a Jewish crazy man with copy of the Torah and a yarmulke on his head.  It does not matter what his religion is.  If you’re crazy, you’re just crazy.

But on the other hand there are numerous Muslim soldiers and veterans who have annual observances to mark Veterans Day in this country.  But for the most part, they are not reported.  I realize that good, positive events that enhance humanity are not as sensational as a shooting rampage by a crazy person. But they are nevertheless so very important because with the automatic sensational reporting of negative events getting all the attention, it takes extra effort to put some balance in the reporting.

For several months the Dawah Team at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan, under the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, has been planning a salute to all veterans from any branch of service and any dates of service.  The event will be a luncheon held at Masjid Wali Muhammad from 11AM – 1PM.

Brother Lawrence Ziyad, a veteran of the Viet Nam war and one of the coordinators of the event, says the program will be one heavy with reverence for ALLAH, and patriotism for the United States government.  It will begin with prayer followed by the National Anthem and Lift Every Voice and Sing, popularly known as the Black National Anthem.  Also, as part of the opening and closing of the luncheon, they will salute the American flag.

These Muslim brothers, maybe more than many other people, are keenly aware of the ills of this country.  Most are descendants of slaves that suffered what is arguably the worst treatment of any human beings in the history of mankind.  Still they recognize the beauty and importance, and the privilege of being Americans, and are grateful for being so. This picture of Muslim patriotism is rarely seen in the media.

Another group, the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA) is a nationwide service organization comprised of former members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The group is officially recognized by the United States government along with other veteran groups such as the veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legions, Polish American Veterans, Jewish Veterans, Italian Veterans and other Veteran organizations.  The Muslim-American group is made up primarily of Muslims of African American descent since most Muslims that immigrated here from other countries, came here past military age.  The group, comprised of five posts in various cities is headed by National Commander Saleem G. Abdul-Mateen.

What major media cared to report that the MAVA Commanders recently met on Capitol Hill in Washington to meet with Muslim American Congressman Andre Carson to present ways to help assist young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  What media (other than the Muslim Observer) cared to report that the MAVA Post #1 received a community service award from CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionalism for its untiring efforts in making life better for those who sacrificed and served this country unselfishly.

Congressman Carson was so impressed with the group that he invited them to establish a forum for dealing with veteran affairs and open up a dialogue for addressing these issues.  MAVA has already created programs to assist returning servicemen and women.  “Our aim is is to interact locally and nationally with organizations and institutions that have exhibited care and concern for these service members,” said member Saleem Abdul Mateen.

Another fine example of Muslim American patriotism is in the person of Chaplain Lt. Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad.  Chaplain Muhammad is another Muslim American in the community of Imam Warith Denn Mohammed.  I have personally watched his rise in the military and admired his character, and balanced approach to different situations.

These fine Muslims are just a few examples of the great majority of Muslims in this country.  They love their religion, they love their country, and they love being fine and caring representatives of both.

Let us remember the victims, and their families in our prayers.  And let us strive to be good Muslims and good Americans.  Ameen.   

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

FBI Kills Muslim Imam–What Really Happened?

November 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

549 The recent killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah in an ambush by the FBI is rife with controversy in varying reports by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s office, eyewitnesses, and the people who knew the imam personally.  The reports do have one thing in common though.  No one found or acknowledged any evidence of a terrorist threat or any planning to take over the U. S. Government by Imam Luqman or his followers.

Imam Luqman’s murder comes on the heels of a 3 year investigation that used FBI-planted provocateurs using electronic wiretaps to secretly tape conversations and take pictures of what they say were “suspected Terrorists.”

Imam Luqman Abdullah was known by the general community as a very generous, kind, and amicable person.  The Masjid Al Haqq, under his leadership, sponsored a soup kitchen and other charitable acts operating out of an area in one of the most impoverished areas in Detroit.  The majority of the people in the neighborhood are either unemployed or in a low-paying job that is incapable of providing a decent living environment.  Still his community tried as best they could to live and fulfill their Islamic duty to provide for those less fortunate than they.

The FBI knew the economic situation of the followers.  They knew these brothers were unsophisticated, uneducated, and emotional.  This three year investigation is summarized by a 45 page complaint using statements gathered by three Federal informants.  It is ironic that during this investigation there is a lot of emphasis on a used truck that the FBI informant says the imam tried to seduce him to get a false vehicle Pin Number for.  The rest of the “so-called “stolen goods were actually supplied by the FBI; including pay-off money.  These goods included supposed stolen furs, stolen lap-top computers and stolen firearms.  None of these items were actually stolen.  They were supplied by the FBI.  So you can imagine a scenario where a person goes from allegedly trying to steal a used truck to handling large shipments of furs and pallets of laptop computers, when in actuality these people had no capacity to operate or run such an operation.  The masjid these brothers attended did not even have running water or heat for an entire winter.  With such a meager existence, they couldn’t even take over their block – much less the U.S. Government.

I am not saying this to denigrate the brothers of Masjid Al Haqq.  I’m saying this to paint the picture of what appears to be intentional entrapment and excessive overkill.  Whatever the purpose of the FBI going to these extremes to kill Imam Luqman, whether it  was to further discredit Islam or trying to put more emphasis on African American Muslims because since 9/11, most of the spotlight was on Arabic and Asian Muslims and now the campaign has spread wider.

It is also ironic the way the imam was killed.  The imam and four other brothers were ordered to lie on the ground and be still.  The other four men did as they were told and laid down.  Imam Luqman did not.  He just stood there and refused to lie down on the ground.   At this point, the FBI unleashed a vicious dog to attack the imam.  The imam had a firearm on him and pulled it out and shot the dog.  At this point, the FBI unleashed a barrage of gunfire at the imam and he was hit multiple times by numerous bullets.

First of all it was pointed out that if any one of us was the target of a vicious dog with fangs bared running toward you, and you had a means to protect yourself, I believe any one of us would have a natural instinct to protect yourself.  It brings to mind the vicious dogs that were unleashed on innocent unarmed protesters during the civil rights era of the 60’s.  And these people were only trying to eat a hot dog at a lunch counter.

By their own admission, the FBI knew there was no real threat to the United States.  They knew they were only committing petty crimes, mostly because of poverty.  Because the infiltrators knew the mindset of the imam, it may have been known how he would react.

Here’s something else to ponder.  While the imam lay dead or dying, a medical evacuation helicopter was brought in and landed in the lot to..….rush the dog for medical treatment.  They rushed the dog to hospital, blocked traffic in front of the doggie hospital by setting the helicopter down in the middle of the street.  And they had just finished killing a human being by fabricated evidence and what appears to be a set-up.

There is another sad chapter in this story that many people seem to miss.  Imam Luqman was a husband and the father of 10 children, the youngest a 13 year old girl.  They are hurting big time and don’t know when or if any relief and comfort will come.

Public opinion is heavy on the side of Muslim victims by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  Mudher Hamudi, an Iraqi native says he feels there was a better way to deal with the situation. “Taking of a human life without good reason is against decent living,” he said.

A different twist was added by Brother Lawrence Ziyad, a retiree of Chrysler Corporation.  He says Imam Luqman could have handled the situation differently.  “Imam didn’t abide by the law,” he says.  “The government went in to arrest Imam Luqman; not to kill him.”

Derrick Mustafa says he doesn’t have ill feelings of the police or government officials.  He says the Muslim guys made a mistake and got caught-up in a trap.  He feels an investigation is in order to get to the bottom of this perplexing event.

Everyone wonders why the FBI didn’t arrest the guys and send them to prison since they knew they were petty thieves and had no chance to overthrow the government.  As said, they couldn’t even keep the water on.

Many say the imam and his followers were attacked because of America’s fear of Islam.  So why are they so afraid of Islam that they will go to such extraneous means to attack and discredit it?   Islam is now said to be the fastest growing religion in the world and the majority of the 1 ½ billion Muslims are peaceful, God-fearing, normal human beings.  Sure, we have our fanatics and crackpots just like every other religion.

So what is there to be learned by this tragedy?  We all know that nothing happens without the permission of ALLAH.  ALLAH has allowed Imam Luqman to lose his life undoubtedly for the better good.  Imam Luqman was not stupid.  He was also very aware of the deviousness of some law enforcement.  How then was a FBI informant able to get so close to him?  It is reported in the 45 page complaint that one informant in particular traveled to distant states regularly with the imam.  He became so close to him that it seems he was the imam’s right-hand man. 

This should be a warning to Muslims.  Everyone that says As Salaam Alaikum and prays five times a day is not necessarily your friend.  We Muslims are sometimes the most gullible people in the world because we have good hearts which the Devil uses to his advantage.  The case of Imam Luqman is good example of how the Satan works as described in the Holy Qur’an.

The Devil says he will come up on your right side.  He did so when he came to the masjid and immediately started to make salat and talk good “Muslim talk.”

He slid up on their left side when he slid “stolen” goods up to the impoverished Muslims and told them how easy it would be for them to make money, of which the Muslims had none.

He snuck up behind them when he infiltrated and informed on them without their knowledge and he also came right up in front of the brother’s faces and told who they were.

ALLAH’S word is true.  When someone comes to the Muslim and tries to entice him to do things that are out of the favor of ALLAH, the Muslim must resist the temptation – no matter how easy and sweet it sounds.  You know it is displeasing to ALLAH.

Imam Luqman did not die in vain.  Let us get a lesson from his murder.  Let us remember to keep ALLAH first, even in front of ourselves.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Why Was Imam Luqman Killed?

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-chief

Over one thousand Muslim Americans were present at the funeral of Imam Luqman Amin Abdullah in Detroit. He was shot several times by the FBI in an apparent attempt to arrest him. He was accused of orchestrating illegal financial activities to raise funds to establish an Islamic Sharia state in the United States. Some 10 of his supporters were also accused and arrested for using violent means to preach his ideology.

If illegal financial activities are potential reasons for killing the perpetrators, then perhaps all those who are responsible for the financial crisis of the country, who were responsible for pursuing illegal means to maximize their profits should have been killed. If stealing is a crime punishable by deaths, then all those CEO’s of Banks and other major financial institutions who steal from people’s money in the name of bonuses should have been dealt with differently.

There are several questions that need to be asked to get a clear understanding of what happened and why it happened. We believe that law enforcement agencies are there to protect citizens and defend their constitutional rights, and not to kill them. Imam Luqman’s death has raised several questions. However, we do not expect any truthful answers. There is ample evidence to prove that our government is not afraid to tell lies. The FBI lies even under the leadership of Robert Muller, the media lies–even CNN and MSNBC, and people of course lie. In general, in our social and political life, we lack honesty, integrity and truthfulness. To cover up issues, we and our officials and law enforcement agents can concoct any lies. Since those who concoct lies have the power their lies rule and rock.

We want to raise the following questions.

Was Imam Luqman Amin Abdullah really involved in illegal financial activities? Did he really break the law? Was he aware that his group was doing that? Or were those who had been planted in his organization responsible for creating situation that would ultimately lead to his tragic death? Is it possible that illegal financial activities were performed by FBI informants?

Was he so naive to believe that he would be able to defeat the entire military power of the United States to establish a Sharia state? Was he so knowledgeable that he defined the shape and form of a Sharia state that no Muslim scholar has done in this or previous century? Did he really promote violence? Did he ever ask his followers to kill people randomly or in a systematic manner? Did he really think that a small warehouse in Detroit, MI, can become the headquarters of one of the most deadly movements of the world?

Luqman, that people knew, does not fit into the description of FBI. He dressed different that most American do. But so do Amish and Indians and many others. He believed that America has been unjust to many of its people, a belief that is held at least by 75 per cent of social scientists who have written about race and ethnic relations in America. He believed that America is run by powerful interests, an idea that was repeated by Michael Moore in almost all of his documentaries. He believed that American political leadership invents lies to kill people, an idea that most American think was behind the invasion of Iraq.

But who is going to investigate? The government will do everything possible to cover it up. The media is already biased and one cannot expect the mainstream media to do any real investigative story. What will the media get to prove the innocence of Luqman?

Private sources cannot reach to a level of credibility where their report can be trusted.

The truth may never come out. FBI agents who would give testimony under oath can say anything to make more money or to save their own life. The government investigator cannot put the blame on a major government agency and the court would act only on the basis of evidence that would be presented before the judge?

Thus the truth will never be known. But, we can outline certain scenarios that we have heard people talking about. They may be totally absurd or wrong. Nevertheless, they must be reported  in  order to develop an understanding of the reality.

1. FBI always speaks the truth, hence its account of what happened in the shot out should be accepted and matter should be closed.
2. Some FBI agent acted in panic and now the entire organization is trying to cover him up.
3. Some FBI agents were anti-Islam and Islamophobic and they found this opportunity to show their anger.
4. Luqman was very close to Imam Jamil Amin and hence he was punished for his vocal support for the jailed leader.
5. Some law enforcement agents are hunting down the old black panthers leaders and targeting them.
6. Luqman was really a criminal who wore an Islamic garb to cover his real violent nature.
7. Luqman was promoting violence in his sermons in a coded language that only FBI was able to decipher.
8. Informants made it up.
9. FBI informants trapped him and made him do things that later turned out to be illegal.
10. Luqman reacted angrily when he saw a dog running around at a place which was used by his followers as a prayer place.
11. Some forces in law enforcement agencies are acting on behalf right wing Christian fundamentalists who want to silence every assertive voice of Islam.

And so on so forth.

But we can suggest an Islamic course of action to resolve the issue.

1. We should refrain from accusing and making inflammatory statements.
2. We should ask our representatives to seek total disclosure in this matter
3. We should demand a congressional or state level hearing on the subject.
4. We should seek clarification from FBI and other law enforcement agencies on how it views Muslims and Islam
5. We should ask FBI and law enforcement agencies to screen their agents for their affiliation with Christian, Zionist or Muslim fundamentalist organizations.
6. We should ourselves resolve that non-violence is the message and method of Islam and Islam does not promote violence to achieve its objectives.
7. We should not shy away from expressing the truth, exposing the government and public officials for their failure to protect the lives of people.
8. We should demand justice for all.
9. Rather than remaining aloof from the political system, we should be part of it to introduce changes to protect people from the tyranny of law enforcement officials.

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Raphael B. Johnson, Candidate for Detroit City Council

September 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

raphael b johnson Farmington–September 23–This upcoming Detroit city election is historic because of the candidacies of four Muslim candidates, including Imam El-Amin, Raphael B. Johson, Mohamed Okdie, and Reggie Reg Davis.

Despite the loss of Imam El-Amin in the primary, three of those candidates have soldiered on into the general election, and I had the chance to interview one of them, Raphael B. Johnson.

“I believe there is no god but Allah,” began Mr. Johnson.  “Our odds are high–I believe faith without work is like a ship without water–we are putting in the necessary work to make sure victory is ours.  We are knocking on doors, visiting churches, reacing out into all the neighborhoods not likely to vote.  We are doing everything.”

Asked if he has run for any office before, he shows his quick wit–joking, “I’ve only run for my life.”

Mr. Johnson worships at Muhammad’s Mosque Number 1, a Nation of Islam mosque, in Detroit.

Asked why he is running, Mr. Johnson explains, “because I owe the city of Detroit, because as a young person I took an innocent life… in Detroit.  Our leadership has failed us time and time again.  Our leadership should be the example of the change to see in the people.  If the leadership did not change in themselves, they can’t change the city.

“I have nothing to hide–Islam is what changed me.  Islam comes when all else has failed.”

For Detroit, “nothing has worked, we have tried everything”  — except Islam.

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1st Annual IONA Street Fair

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Warren–August 15–Many local mosques have made an effort to reach out to their local communities, and just such an effort was this past weekend’s street fair at the IONA mosque in Warren.

The mosque blocked off its large parking lot and hosted vendors of food and clothing, and provided health screenings to fair attendees.

Dr. Naseer Ahmad, who provided glucose diabetes screenings, explained that as of early in the afternoon he had screened 51 people for diabetes.

In part the purpose of this street fair was to break any ice remaining with local neighbors of the mosque, some of whom vociferously opposed the mosque.  The fair bore fruit, as the Warren mayor and several city councilmen attended early on Saturday. 

The mosque’s imam, Mustapha El-Tourk, explained that several other local non-Muslims had attended as well.

“This is our first year–we hope to continue the tradition,” he explained.  “We want to draw the non-Muslim community so they will know who we are–we don’t discriminate against other cultures and religions.”

P8158139 “This is a changing community,” he went on to say, pointing out that just a few years ago Warren was overwhelmingly white and Christian, while now there are many different ethnicities and religious communities who have made the Detroit suburb their home, including a Buddhist community, people from the Hmong community, and of course many Muslims from the subcontinent and from the Arab world.  As evidence of this and of the mutual goodwill in the area, Reverend Curro (Exec. Director of the ICRJ) and also two Buddhist monks in saffron robes were at the fair.

Imam El-Tourk is very involved in local Muslim organizations and interfaith groups, including the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) which has its office in the IONA buildiing, and he has just been nominated president of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice (ICRJ), of which Rev. Curro is the executive director.

The imam explained IONA would follow the FCNA pronouncement regarding Ramadan and ‘Eid, therefore tarawih will begin Friday night insha`Allah, and fasting Saturday. 

Speaking on the FCNA/ISNA pronouncement regarding moonsighting, Imam El-Tourk explained that “there is enough evidence for both sides, and Prophet (s) used to take the easiest way, as long as there was no sin in it.  Let’s be merciful in our communities–one ‘eid and one Ramadan.”

Imam El-Tourk said ‘isha prayers would begin at 9:45pm, followed by tarawih prayers, and he explained that each tarawih session would begin with a ten minute description of the Qur`anic passages to be covered in that session.

11-35

Imam El-Amin Upbeat After Loss in Detroit City Council Primary

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

charles pugh
Detroit City Council frontrunner, Fox 2 news reporter Charles Pugh.

Detroit–August 5–Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center appears largely unfazed by the setback of not winning the primary for the Detroit City Council.

Speaking with TMO this morning, Imam El-Amin explained that he had not won; however he explained that his next column for TMO would be about accepting Allah’s will, which is an important and sometimes difficult decision to make, as here, when things have not gone the way we intended.

While many who engage in politics immediately lose their moral compass once they smell the possibility of success and a fat government paycheck, not so Imam El-Amin.

He explained to me on the eve of the election that “I’m not worried about [the notable people in the election] because we don’t know who’s going to be running, and actually it doesn’t matter–because I just want people to vote for me.  I’m not running against them, I’m running for me.”

The imam met with early success in his bid for the city council spot, collecting 800 signatures–in a weekend–for a petition that required 458 to qualify to run.
In fact, he explained that he  only ran after having been asked to run for the office by a group of Muslims and non-Muslims.

The imam had a core group of approximately 10 volunteers and a larger group of “about 50  or 60” altogether, who worked hard to help him meet people, knock on doors, and pass out flyers.  He was able to build an election budget of over $10,000 with minimal time–in the space of less than three months of campaigning.

He received the endorsement of Reverend Nicholas Hood, a former city councilman, who is in Detroit a relative political heavyweight although he did lose in his mayoral campaign to both Ken Cockrell Jr. and Dave Bing.

El-Amin portrait The campaign was destined to be difficult, as a few minutes’ analysis before the primary could have told you.  Approximately seven incumbent city councilmen intended to hold their seats, and outside of that group there were about 9 very serious contenders for the city council spots from among the former mayoral candidates who had already lost in the mayoral election–of those, all of the politically connected and experienced candidates unclouded by legal action passed the initial 18-person threshold.  There were several other serious political contenders with their irons in the Detroit fire on Tuesday, and it looked like a tough race.

Detroit has a unique political structure, in that it is perhaps the only major city in the nation that chooses nine “at-large” councilmen who are elected by the entire city, without leaving any seats apportioned by district.  The city is not divided into polling districts in order to elect councilmen.  The top vote-getter serves as president of the council, and the second vote getter serves as president pro tempore. 

If the poll numbers from the primaries hold true through the November election, those two spots will be held by, respectively, Charles Pugh and Ken Cockrel Jr.  After the 2005 poll, Cockrel was the president and Joann Watson was the president pro tempore.

The field of candidates in August 2009 was approximately 167 people vying for the city council positions.  Former Fox 2 reporter Charles Pugh was the top finisher with 9% or 59,560 votes.  The formerly dominant Ken Cockrel Jr. was in second place, followed by former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown (who helped set in motion the downfall and disgrace of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick via text-messaging fiasco).

The eighteenth out of those vying for one of the nine seats was John K. Bennett, who won 8,164, or about 1%, out of the total 84,000 voters who cast ballots  (because each voter can vote for nine people).  There was approximately a 15% voter turnout.

John Bennett expressed some dismay as to his eighteenth place finish, tempered with the sweetness of passing this first threshold- “It’s kind of bittersweet, I’m happy to be 18,” he said.  “But some of those people ahead of me have not campaigned at all.  I’ve been out here busting my tail for 23 months.”

Two incumbents, under fire for ethics allegations, lost the primary, Monica Conyers and Martha Reeves.

Detroit city councilmen earn approximately $81,000 per year as compensation for the four-year post–on a par with Michigan state legislators, who are among the highest paid state legislators in the nation.

The mayoral election, absent any major revelations or missteps, appears to be a nearly sure thing for Dave Bing, who is still fresh from his most recent contest with Ken Cockrel Jr. for the seat vacated by Kwame Kilpatrick.

11-33

Upcoming Michigan Events

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

* Ramallah Club of Metro Detroit 3rd Annual Golf Outing

Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:00AM; Fox Hills Golden Fox CC

* Arab and Chaldean Festival

Saturday, July 25, 2009 12:00PM; Hart Plaza Detroit

* Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce Party-Mixer

Thursday, July 30, 2009 6:00PM;  Bayview Yacht Club

* ActionGAZA Fundraising Gala

Saturday, August 01, 2009 5:00PM; Arab American National Museum

11-31

Arab Americans are a Political and Economic Powerhouse

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Access

A recent report published by the Immigration Policy Center has determined that immigrants, including Arab Americans, not only wield sizable political power in Michigan, but are also an integral part of the state’s economy and tax base. As workers, taxpayers, consumers, and entrepreneurs, immigrants and their children are an economic powerhouse and as voters, they are a potent political force.    

As Michigan’s economy begins to recover, immigrants and their children will continue to play a key role in the shaping and growing the economic and political landscape of the Great Lakes State.

“Immigrants have always been vital to Michigan’s economy and society,” said Nadia Tonova, Advocacy and Policy Supervisor at ACCESS. “The IPC’s report confirms that Michigan still benefits tremendously from the contributions of immigrants and their families.  We are all enriched, culturally and materially, by immigrants.”

Highlights of the report include:

  • Immigrants make up more than 6% of Michigan’s total population (roughly equal to the total population of Boston, MA) and nearly half of them are naturalized citizens who are eligible to vote.
  • Arab Americans accounted for $7.7 billion in total earnings in the four counties of the Detroit metropolitan area, generating an estimated $544 million in state tax revenue and supporting an estimated 141,541 jobs.

To read the full report, please click here.

11-31

Kashif Weds Komal

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Stringer

kashif-komal

Detroit–June 4–Kashif, son of Mohammad Saleem and Kishwar, and Komal, daughter of Syed Nisar (Arif) Akhtar and Dr. Nilofar Syed, enjoyed a unique wedding on the Detroit River Princess boat, with over 1,000 people in attendance.  The boat journey and wedding reception lasted for about 2 and a half hours.

The reception hall on the first deck of the boat was decorated elegantly for the occasion.  The 3rd deck was reserved for children’s entertainment, including a “magic show.”  A large number of guests from outside of Michigan, including California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and from overseas (India and Pakistan) were in attendance.

After a brief introduction and speeches, a delicious dinner was served, and people journeyed up and down on the boat through four different levels.  On the fourth level a lovely Mushaira was in progress, in the unseasonably cool Michigan breeze that wafted across the Detroit river.

The guests were entertained as they attempted to pray Maghrib and a person called out “The boat is turning, wait a minute…” and all the guests were forced to adjust their positions.

In their eagerness to attend, people arrived at the waterfrong before the boat’s departure–this is somewhat unusual for the Indo-Pak community.

11-29

Highway Cleanup / HUDA Medical Clinic / Soup Kitchen at Detroit Muslim Unity Center

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Highway Cleanup by Canton Mosque

Canton—April 22—Several representatives of the Canton mosque (Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs) participated in a 2-hour cleanup of Rte. I-275 between Ecorse and Michigan Avenue as a part of MCWS’s “Adopt-a-Highway” program.
This year about 5 members of the community picked up trash alongside route 275, working from early in the morning until about 10 a.m on Saturday. Said Mr. Ahmad Siddik, an MCWS member who helped start the program, “At this point it is hard to get patches of highway that are close to urban areas—mostly what is available is far off the beaten track.” MCWS, however, was fortunate enough to obtain a prime patch of highway, only a few minutes’ drive from the mosque, convenient for the community and highly visible to the many commuters who use I-275.
The procedure for obtaining a patch of highway to care for is fairly simple: fill out an application and file it with the Michigan Department of Transportation. Thereafter, MDOT approves the application, issues a safety video and trash bags and hi-visibility fluorescent vests, and the group can begin to pick up trash along the highway at three designated two-week window-periods during the year. After each trash pickup session, the volunteers fill out a report and give that to their MDOT handler.
The government advises volunteers to use work gloves and workboots, to avoid stepping in bodies of water, and to avoid picking up very large or heavy pieces of debris, but to only mark those pieces for later pickup by MDOT personnel.
MCWS is responsible to pick up trash along their patch of highway in April, July, and September. They have maintained this program for two years, and have received a good response from the Muslim community for the event. During their last pickup session, about 15 volunteers spread the work over more hands and made the load somewhat lighter than this weekend’s effort. Still, this week’s effort was a successful one that resulted in dozens of white MDOT Adopt-a-Highway bags of litter being set aside for MDOT pickup.
For more information, contact MCWS at 734-467-7704 and leave a message for Ahmad Siddik.

HUDA Clinic Stretches Out a Hand to Those in Need

Detroit—April 22—The HUDA Clinic, in downtown Detroit at the Detroit Muslim Unity Center on Davison, has been in operation for about two years.
The clinic now sees about 30 patients a day, performing blood pressure checks, giving antibiotics, helping people with colds, with a staff of five to six rotating physicians. The clinic is open only on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.
The main group of five doctors who are involved are of many different ethnicities: African American, from the subcontinent, Arabs. Other doctors come on a more occasional basis.
On a visit this past Saturday, about 15 patients of many different backgrounds—some Arabs, some Indians, some African American, some Muslim, some non-Muslim—were all waiting patiently to talk with local doctors.
According to third-year medical student Yusuf Qamruzzaman, who volunteers his services at the clinic, the clients are “mostly walkins,” who have heard about the clinic through word-of-mouth or through advertising in local newspapers. He explains that the budget of the clinic is between $20,000 and $40,000 annually, which pays for medications, rend for the building, and more. The money comes mainly in the form of grants, he explained, from the state government. He explained also that HUDA has a deal with the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) labs to do lab tests at reduced cost.
“I’ve been here since it started about two years ago,” says Qamruzzaman, “It’s very different now from how it was—we used to work a four-hour shift and maybe two or three people would come all day. Now we see maybe twenty or thirty patients a day.”
For more information about HUDA, please visit www.hudaclinic.com, or contact 248-470-3688.

Soup Kitchen Serves 125 People Every Week

Detroit—April 22—Very few mosques provide soup kitchens and free food to local people, but the Detroit Muslim Unity Center has that unique good quality among American mosques.
The program is run by Kabah Muhammad and Adel Muhammad, who serve about 125 people every week, giving that many boxes of food. The program is one that provides donations in two ways. First, visitors receive a warm meal prepared by Ms. Muhammad the previous evening, then, the visitors receive a box full of groceries donated by local grocery stores.
Ms. Muhammad is a kindly woman who radiates a sense of motherhood and warmth. Her husband Adel Muhammad is a dignified and quiet man who also provides security for the Detroit mosque.
Friday afternoons, several local grocery stores (Kroger, Farmer Jack) deliver food to the mosque. Mr. Adel Muhammad and his son Omar bag bread and fruit and vegetables, separating the food into different cartons.
At 11:30 am on Saturday, people come to the mosque and she serves lunch, including stir-fry halal beef, vegetables, chili, chicken, string beans, salad, meat from Sad’s halal meat market, and fruits and vegetables from different markets.
Then, after all have eaten a wholesome meal by Ms. Muhammad, they go home with a carton full of donated groceries from Kroger or Farmer Jack. -

Friends in Difficulty

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Friends in Difficulty
By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
A few months ago, the Muslim community lost Syed Salman —now comes the news that Dr. Dilnawaz Siddiqui is on a ventilator and fighting a crippling illness. We hope that Dr. Siddiqui will recover soon and join us again in the ongoing struggle for Islam in this country.
But we acknowledge the reality that in front of God’s Will nothing works. We accept His divine will for determining the destiny of people He creates.
Both Syed Salman and Dilnawaz Siddiqui are true gifts of Allah for humanity. Salman, through his dedication and sincerity, served the community to the fullest and until his last moment was ready to give all he had for Muslims.
He was active in the local Muslim community in Detroit and his contribution in national and international arena was of no small significance. He worked to bring people together. He struggled to help the poor, neglected and impoverished masses in the world, especially in India.
He was involved in the movement for an educational renaissance of Muslims of India, and he was concerned about the plight of the so called untouchables all over the world. He led a full life. He certainly would have no regrets for the time he spent in serving people and His Creator and most certainly His soul must be happy for what he did in life. This is what God wanted him to do and this is what he did. We are grateful to God for giving him to us and inspiring us to work with him. He lives on in his work and in his contributions in the field of Muslim unity.
Dr. Dilnawaz Siddiqui is in critical condition, and we hope that he will come out of the situation healthy. But if so, his recovery will take a long time. He too was vibrant and dynamic during good health. He too was eager to serve his religion and his community.
He has not neglected his responsibilities toward His Creator while he was working as a professor or researcher. He would use his spare time and weekends imparting the knowledge he had gained to his community.
His absence from the active work will be greatly felt. But his dynamism and vibrancy lives through his work. He too must be content with the contribution he made to help his community gain a respectable position in this country.
These are the people who have done their best to serve us all and above all to serve God Almighty. The question that we must ask is what do we do to honor them?
The least we can do is to remember them in our prayers, and to make their families know that their contribution is appreciated and acknowledged. Above all, we can try to institutionalize the values they tried to practice throughout their life.
Moreover, we must constantly remind ourselves that we too will be recalled one day by Allah Almighty. We must also realize that the moment could be sooner than later. Thus we must hurry up doing good that is required from us.
They didn’t wait for tomorrow to do good. They did good at the time available to them and they did it (and Dilnawaz may continue to do so) with humility and dedication. Thank you, friends, for doing what you did and thank you for being part of our lives—Dilnawaz, we hope you will recover.

Community News / North America Vol 8 Iss 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Breaking down the barriers at Wesleyan
MIDDLETOWN, CT—In order to prove that Muslims and Jews can coexist peacefully, Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Imam Abdullah Antepli of Wesleyan University took a group of Muslim students to Istanbul and Jerusalem. The group of 11 students say that their outlook was totally transformed after their 11 day excursion, reported the campus newsletter.
The group visited the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem where Palestinian and Israeli children of all faiths learn together. In Israel the group also visited the Kibbutz Metzer, a socialist commune, and other historical landmarks.
The group met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders, including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo.
Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external,” says Berkowitz. “I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.”
“On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace,î sayid freshman Jamal Ahmed. “Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”
Rare copy of a translation of the Holy Quran donated to Muslims
DEARBORN, MI—A nearly 300-year old English translation of the Holy Qur’an — the Islamic scriptures — has been donated to the Islamic Center of America (ICA) by Richard L. Steinberg, a Detroit trial attorney. The book is to be held in trust for all Muslim peoples in metro Detroit at the ICA, according to a press release.
“If we do not stand together as a nation, but become a community of clashing cultures and warring factions, we will all be destroyed,” Steinberg stated. “Jesus said ‘I give to you a new commandment that you shall love one another’ and the Qur’an says ‘I swear by the declining day that man is in deep loss except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth and urge one another to steadfastness.’ This is the community our faiths are calling us to.”
The copy donated to the ICA was purchased from Bauman Rare Books in New York and contains a hand-drawn map of the Arabian Peninsula, a genealogical chart of the Prophet Muhammad, and a drawing of the original lay-out of the sacred shrine in Mecca. It also contains a preliminary discourse discussing Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Steinberg has been practicing law for 34 years and his notable cases include the first Title IX discrimination case in the country and his recent defence of Geoffrey Feiger in the investigation of contributions to the John Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. He is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a member of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit. Steinberg was recently re-appointed to the Michigan Advisory Board of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Muslims request zoning change
HARRISBURG, PA—A Mus-lim couple have submitted a request to Silver Spring Township seeking a change in the zoning ordinance to allow for places for worship in the residential estate district. Mr.and Mrs.Azim Qureishi own four acres of land and plan to donate it to the local Muslim community to build a Mosque.
The Muslim group wants to build a 8000 square foot mosque costing about $6-800,000, Qureishi was reported as saying to the Sentinel.
The estate district where the land is located is the only residential district in the township that does not allow places of worship.
An attorney representing the couple that his clients are willing to pay the costs to advertise the text change to give the public proper notice.

Hit and run charge against Muslim teen dismissed
DAVIS, CA— A Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Halema Buzayan, the teenage Muslim girl who claimed that she was unfairly targeted for being a Muslim. In June of last year, a witness reported to the police seeing an SUV hit a parked car and flee the scene. The Davis police investigated the report and believed that Halema Buzayan was driving. The family said the driver was the mother.
Six days later the police arrested Halema Buzayan for misdemeanour hit and run.
The Buzayans paid $870 for the vehicle damage shortly after the incident. In one court hearing the victim of the parking lot fender-bender testified on Halema Buzayan’s behalf. On Monday, 10 months after the incident, a Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case.
The Buzayans believe they were investigated and prosecuted differently because they are Muslim. They are supported by community activists who last week petitioned the Davis City Council to create an oversight commission for the police department. “When the community showed up they really provided a comfort that kind of made up for the discomfort caused by the police department,” said Halema Buzayan. “So it meant so much to me and it was such a wonderful feeling.”
The Buzayan family is now planning to file a civil lawsuit against the Davis Police Department on allegations of ethnic bias.
Awareness week kicks off with talk on Women in Islam
MADISON, WI—The Islamic Awareness Week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison kicked off with two lectures on Islam and Women. More than 60 people attended the panel addressed by Yasmin Mogahed, a freelance journalist, and Rohany Nayan, the principal of the Madinah Academy of Madison.
Mogahed said that women are not objects to be seen as physically pleasing to others.
“We dress this way as an act of devotion to God,” Mogahed said. “When a woman covers her body, she is covering what is irrelevant for people to see.
“When people judge me, they should judge me based on my heart, my character.”
Nayan said there are some nations where men repress women because the male leaders are insecure and crave power. Nayan said that in her native country of Malaysia, nobody gave her any trouble for being a woman.
“During the time of the Prophet (s), women had a golden age,” Nayan said, referring to the life of the Prophet Mohammed (s), who lived from the years 570-632 in the common calendar. “The Prophet (s) was never threatened by a woman.”
Somali student awareness at UM
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—The Somali Student Association at the University of Minnesota held a day long event to create awareness about the Somali culture. The day was marked by food, clothing, arts and cultural performances.
Organizers said that one doesn’t have to travel overseas to gain cultural experience. It can happen right on campus. 15 percent of population of Minneapolis in made up of Somalis and they have a sizable presence on campus.
Somali Student Association secretary and global studies senior Kadra Ibrahim said it is important for the association to show its presence on campus.
There are many different cultures on this campus and it is crucial that the Somali Student Association is able to celebrate its culture in the midst of such a vast array of cultures, she told the student newspaper.
Islam exhibit at California State University-Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, CA—The Muslim Student Association of the University of California at Sacramento held an Islamic exhibition to counter the prevalent negative image of the faith. Students were encouraged to ask questions as they viewed the walk through exhibition.
Several professors came to the exhibit with their entire classes. Those interested were given free copies of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic literature.
MAS Minnesota Convention attracts thousands
The Muslim American Association-Minnesota’s third annual convention attracted over 3000 attendees. Two sessions related to politics attracted the most number of participants. Democratic candidates spoke at a late-morning session titled “Democracy in America: A return to our Democratic ideals.” In the afternoon, Republican candidates spoke on the theme “Building a More Diverse Minnesota: Is there room for Muslims?” Keith Ellison, who is running for the US Congress, and if elected will be the first Muslim Congressman also spoke at the event.
From thought-provoking and spiritually uplifting lectures, to fun-filled entertainment sessions, there was something for everyone. With over 50 bazaar vendors, shopping was a popular past-time activity between sessions. Comedy sessions, skits, and songs were among some of the entertainment sessions we witnessed.
Many members of the community also took advantage of the MAS Legal Clinic to ask questions regarding immigration, housing, and other legal issues.

Muslims Among Highest-Achieving American Women

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslims Among Highest-Achieving American Women
Courtesy Donna Gehrke-White, Miami Herald
April 17, 2006
She should be one of those red-white-and-blue success stories: An immigrant, she worked her way through med school and now directs the laboratories of two Florida hospitals. She passed her career drive on to her daughters: One just graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing; the other is an investigator for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
This feminist vision of a successful family, though, has a flaw: Shahida Shakir and her daughters, Sadia and Sofia, are Muslim.
They’re supposed to be downtrodden. Or so that’s what most Americans think.
In a Washington Post/ABC poll last month, nearly half of Americans admitted that they have a negative view of Islam. In a poll conducted for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, most people also said that they would feel better about the religion if they thought Islam treated women better.
The evidence is in our own back yard: While researching my book, “The Face Behind the Veil: The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America,” I found Muslims are among the most achieving women in the United States. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, social workers and artists.
Indeed, we should be exporting the success story to the rest of the world.
I found Muslim women achieving from coast to coast. They are leading worldwide humanitarian groups in Washington, presiding over juvenile court in Baltimore, delivering babies in Los Angeles, teaching in Miami and helping the homeless in Las Vegas.
Just like other American women, the Muslimah — or Muslim women—have made startling progress in the workplace in the last 30 years. In fact, except for the recent refugees, Muslim women are among the most educated in the United States. Most of the 50 women profiled in the book have at least college degrees. And they are far from the stereotype of the secluded Muslim woman. One ran for county office in northern Virginia while a University of Louisville professor crusades against “honor killings” of Third World women suspected of adultery or premarital sex.
Another risked her life to help women under the thumb of Afghanistan’s oppressive Taliban.
These women should reassure many Americans in these anxious times. They are intensely achieving — as well as patriotic. After all, they have as much to lose as any other Americans if our economic and political systems come under attack.
Since 1990, the United States has welcomed more than 300,000 Muslim refugees fleeing war and persecution. They have come from 77 nations.
Unlike the poor North Africans who went to Europe for a better life, our Muslim poor have been given more opportunities to better themselves, and have become part of the American fabric. The Arizona Community Refugee Center in a Phoenix suburb, for example, teaches many women to read and write for the first time. The center also provides programs for their children.
The great majority of these new refugees insist that their children study hard. Batool Shamil is an Iraqi Shiite single mom working two jobs in Phoenix. She demands A-studded report cards from her teenage son and daughter.
“I am working so hard,” she told me. “My dream is for my children to go to college.”
In Erie, Pa., Senada Alihodzic, a refugee from the Bosnian violence, is just as determined that her two sons and daughter will go to college.
“They can have a better life here,” she said.
Meanwhile, more American mosques are making an effort to ensure women are treated equally. In northern Virginia, Cathy Drake, an
American-born, home-schooling mom, told me that she would not have converted to Islam had she not felt comfortable.
Does more work need to be done? Yes, judging from several Muslim women who have come up to me while on a recent book tour to complain about their own mosque’s inadequacies. But Ingrid Mattson, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, promises that change is coming.
“I believe,” she said, “the struggle is now out in the open and that it will get better soon.” -
Donna Gehrke-White is a features writer for the Miami Heral and the author of “The Face Behind the Veil: The Extraordinary Lives of Muslim Women in America” (Citadel). Write to her in care of the Free Press Editorial Page, 600 W. Fort St., Detroit 48226 or oped@freepress.com.

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