Ingrid Mattson Appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IngridMattsonLONDON, ON–Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario, announced the appointment of Dr. Ingrid Mattson as the inaugural London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology. The Chair in Islamic Studies builds on an almost 150-year tradition at Huron University College of open discourse and engagement between people of different faiths. Dr. Mattson will begin her appointment on July 1, 2012.

“Dr. Mattson brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise to this area of study and Huron is privileged to have a scholar of her calibre,” said Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal of Huron University College. “We are honoured that, with her pick of many positions around the world, Dr. Mattson has decided to return to Canada and accept our appointment to the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies.”

Dr. Mattson was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago. She is the first convert to Islam and the first woman to lead the Islamic Society of North America. Before accepting the Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, Dr. Mattson was Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford Connecticut. She has also been an Advisor to both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

“It is an honour to be back in Canada and to accept this position at such a prestigious institution as Huron University College,” said Dr. Mattson. “Huron has a remarkable history of critical inquiry and I look forward to building on this tradition by offering Huron students the opportunity to learn about a faith that more than 20 per cent of the world’s population practices, in an open and liberal environment.”

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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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Commemorating September 11th in Detroit

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jumana Abusalah

7624788As we all know, September 11, 2011 was the anniversary of the tragic attacks that occurred in New York City ten years ago.  People all around the world were devastated that innocent lives were lost; they were shocked that anyone could do such a horrible thing! Many communities held events and ceremonies that commemorated the anniversary of 9/11, including Wayne State University (WSU), in downtown Detroit.  The WSU event was an interfaith Remembrance Ceremony that took place on Thursday September 8, 2011.

Students, staff, and faculty of all different religions and cultures gathered around in Wayne State’s Undergraduate Library. The ceremony was held on a weekday instead of the weekend, in order to allow more staff and students to attend. It was only a twenty minute event, but it held great meaning.  One of the ceremony speakers was WSU Dean of Students, David Strauss. He remarked that it is a great thing to be able to have such an event on campus and to be able to have people of different faiths and backgrounds attend. “We want to respect and honor those that we lost, but the message that we want to get out there is that we want to promote civility and understanding and coming together.” It did not matter what religion you were, it just mattered that you were there for a reason, and that this reason has brought everyone together. 

The event also included a poetry reading, a flag ceremony, and a moment of silence. WSU is a very diverse university, and was therefore the perfect place to hold such an event. It showed the coming together of people in remembrance of the sad day that took place ten years ago. This date in history brought people from different backgrounds and states together at Wayne State for the Remembrance Ceremony.  

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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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Remarks By The President During Iftar Dinner

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you so much. Everyone, please have a seat, have a seat.

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President Obama welcomes guests at an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House, August 10, 2011.

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the White House. Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation. So these are quintessentially American celebrations — people of different faiths coming together, with humility before our maker, to reaffirm our obligations to one another, because no matter who we are, or how we pray, we’re all children of a loving God.

Now, this year, Ramadan is entirely in August. That means the days are long, the weather is hot, and you are hungry. So I will be brief.

I want to welcome the members of the diplomatic corps who are here; the members of Congress, including two Muslim American members of Congress — Keith Ellison and Andre Carson; and leaders and officials from across my administration. Thank you all for being here. Please give them a big round of applause.

To the millions of Muslim Americans across the United States and more– the more than one billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion. It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings. So to you and your families, Ramadan Kareem.
This evening reminds us of both the timeless teachings of a great religion and the enduring strengths of a great nation. Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life. This has been especially true over the past 10 years.

In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts. It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade. And tonight, it’s worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans.

Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes, including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child.

They were workers in the Twin Towers — Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life. They were cooks and waiters, but also analysts and executives.

There, in the towers where they worked, they came together for daily prayers and meals at Iftar. They were looking to the future — getting married, sending their kids to college, enjoying a well-deserved retirement. And they were taken from us much too soon. And today, they live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget. And tonight, we’re deeply humbled to be joined by some of these 9/11 families, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized, please.

Muslim Americans were first responders — the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety. On this 10th anniversary, we honor these men and women for what they are — American heroes.

Nor let us forget that every day for these past 10 years Muslim Americans have helped to protect our communities as police and firefighters, including some who join us tonight. Across our federal government, they keep our homeland secure, they guide our intelligence and counterterrorism efforts and they uphold the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans. So make no mistake, Muslim Americans help to keep us safe.

We see this in the brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans. In a time of war, they volunteered, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. Our troops come from every corner of our country, with different backgrounds and different beliefs. But every day they come together and succeed together, as one American team.

During the 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, among them Army Spec. Kareem Khan. Galvanized by 9/11 to serve his country, he gave his life in Iraq and now rests with his fellow heroes at Arlington. And we thank Kareem’s mother, Elsheba, for being here again tonight. Like Kareem, this generation has earned its place in history, and I would ask all of our service members here tonight — members of the 9/11 Generation — to stand and accept the thanks of our fellow Americans.

This year and every year, we must ask ourselves: How do we honor these patriots — those who died and those who served? In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago. We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for.

An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity. An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity, remembering that here in the United States there is no “them” or “us;” it’s just us. An America where our fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights are not simply preserved, but continually renewed and refreshed — among them the right of every person to worship as they choose. An America that stands up for dignity and the rights of people around the world, whether a young person demanding his or her freedom in the Middle East or North Africa, or a hungry child in the Horn of Africa, where we are working to save lives.

Put simply, we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger. This is who we are and this is who we must always be.

Tonight, as we near a solemn anniversary, I cannot imagine a more fitting wish for our nation. So God bless you all and God bless the United States of America. Thank you

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Two Hands, One Meal, One Smile

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Hajra Khatri

 

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Ten thousand meals, ten thousand smiles. The Muslim Youth of Greater Detroit (MYGD) gathered good-hearted volunteers and their two hands to participate in a food packaging day. Kids Against Hunger is a national organization on a mission to feed starving children in the US and around the world. MYGD teamed up with Kids Against Hunger for the first time on April 23rd. Around 110 volunteers of different faiths partook in this event. The day started with a feeling of excitement and ended with a sense of pride.  Volunteers from all over the area were given the chance to suit up and package food. Plastic gloves pulled on and hair covered up, volunteers were placed at stations. Each station had a specific task, vital for the formation of the bag. The first station volunteer rationed vitamin-fortified crushed soy into the food bags. The next three volunteers scooped dehydrated vegetables, chicken-flavored vegetarian powder, and white rice respectively into the bags. The bags were then passed onto volunteers who ensured the mass of the bags were 350 grams each. The bags were tightly sealed to guarantee a shelf life of three to five years. Bags were then packaged into boxes, ready to be sent out to local cities, and even countries like Japan and Pakistan. Ten thousand meals were packaged on that day by adults, teenagers, and even young children!  Feeha Hasan, an active teen in the Muslim community, praised Kids Against Hunger and MYGD for teaming up for this event. After participating in this event, she said, “Kids Against Hunger was a really fun and memorable experience. It was my first year and I plan on volunteering next year. Not only did this day teach me that many people die from hunger, but also that it is our duty to help the people who are in need. It was a great idea to have interfaith groups along with the Muslim community. I enjoyed working with others!”  Many youngsters like Hasan participated in this event for the very first time. By the grace of Allah (SWT), the event was a success! MYGD would like to thank those from the IAGD community who sponsored this event! This event would not have been made possible without the generous contributions. InshAllah, MYGD hopes to team up with Kids Against Hunger next year for another successful event. Our two hands can make a difference in the world. Our two hands can make meals which lead to smiles from children all around the world. It takes our two hands and our hearts to make a difference. MYGD thanks those who made a difference.

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Stories of Friendship & Faith: The Wisdom of Women Creating Alliances for Peace

April 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

opening hearts, opening minds, opening doors

By Brenda Naomi Rosenberg

WisdomWomen_PROMOcover In Metro Detroit, a mostly segregated area of isolated and sometimes hostile communities, with almost every person affected by the failing economy, a devastated auto industry, sky- rocketing unemployment, an area where homes have been devalued by as much as 50%, I saw a spark of hope. A spark ignited with my friends from WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in MetroDetroit), women who share my passion for opening hearts and opening minds, women who dare to cross boundaries to make friends. Together, we created FRIENDSHIP and FAITH; the WISDOM of women creating alliances for peace, a book that offers hope and the possibility of how we can create peace if we are willing to extend our hands in friendship and formulate meaningful connections.

Twenty nine of us, ages 20 to 80 from seven different faiths -Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Sikh, and Buddhist-collaborated for a year to produce a collection of inspiring stories, stories of creating friendships across religious and cultural divides. Stories that describe everything from surviving flat-out hatred—to the far simpler challenge of making friends with someone of a different religion and race when you share a hospital room; stories that describe making friends at school, overcoming misunderstandings with colleagues at work and even daring to establish friendships that circle the globe; stories that will lift spirits—perhaps even inspire people to spark a new friendship wherever they live.

Our Journey to create Friendship & Faith began on January 24, 2009, when 14 WISDOM leaders gathered for a retreat at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, led by the Rev. Sharon Buttry, whose story appears in the book. The retreat was called “Building Bridges”. Together we explored ways to strengthen relationships between women and create innovative projects for the future. To deepen our reflections that weekend, we divided into pairs— I teamed up with Gigi Salka, a Muslim friend and board member of the Muslim Unity Center. Our first exercise was to draw the bridge that connected us. Our bridge was a beautiful rainbow of colors; filled with many of the interfaith and educational projects we had worked on together, including placing a mini Jewish library, a gift of the Farbman family, at the Muslim Unity Center.  I wanted to share not only our bridge-building efforts but all the stories in the room. I proposed a book of our personal stories of how we built bridges across religious and cultural divides, with the hope to inspire others to reach out and to expand the circle of WISDOM.

The group’s enthusiastic response led to a task force focused on gathering stories from dozen of women from diverse backgrounds. Our task force includes WISDOM members Padma Kuppa, Sheri Schiff, Gail Katz, Trish Harris, Ellen Ehrlich, Judy Satterwaite, Paula Drewek and me. We turned to another friend: David Crumm, (founding editor of Read The Spirit www.ReadTheSprit.com, an online magazine, and publisher of ReadTheSpirit Books. David not only published our book, but helped us expand our creative circle. We invited writers from a similarly wide range of backgrounds to help us. Some of the writers are still in college—and some are veteran, nationally-known writers.

As you open the book, you’ll meet my three dear friends; Gail Katz, (Jewish) Trish Harris, (Catholic) and Shahina Begg, (Muslim) who will invite you to sit down with them around a kitchen table. They’ll tell you about the creation of WISDOM – their meeting at an interfaith event, the documentary premier of “Reuniting the Children of Abraham” at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church, and how WISDOM has developed into a dynamic women’s interfaith dialogue organization hosting many successful educational and social-service programs.

Many stories will feel like you’re witnessing events unfolding in your back yard – stories about overcoming tough problems with relationships at school—or finding solutions when families suddenly encounter friction over interreligious marriages. Other stories take you to times and places around the world that you’ll find so compelling—so memorable—that you’ll want to tell a friend – two girls in Iran risking the wrath of religious authorities with their interfaith friendship,  a Jewish woman, child of holocaust survivors, who finds an unexpected friendship when a German couple moves in next door – a Muslim-Hindu marriage that raises cross-country anxiety in India—and a rare true story about an innocent Japanese girl who bravely faced hatred  in an internment camp here and also in Japan during World War II.  You will read the heartfelt stories of personal struggles. One Muslim woman shares her story of how challenging it was for her to start wearing a head scarf after 9/11, and another about how she ended an abusive marriage, stopped wearing her head scarf and started helping other Arab woman in all their relationships. And, some stories like mine show how a lunch with an Imam led to creating an interfaith project  “Reuniting the Children of Abraham”  that has crossed race, faith, cultural barriers and  international boundaries.

Read our book with a friend or neighbor. Meet us online at our www.FriendshipAndFaith.com web site.  Look for our stories on www.ReadTheSpirit.com.,and our book on www.Amazon.com.  We would love to come to your congregation or organization and present our program 5 Women 5 Journeys, an insightful exchange about our faiths, beliefs and challenges as women. If you are interested in organizing a congregational –wide “read” of this book contact: Gail Katz at gailkatz@comcast.net

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The Divine Language of Music

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Ann Arbor–December 15–Tuesday night there was an interfaith event designed to open common bonds of humanity through celebration of spiritual music.

Seven different performances of varying kinds were presented to an audience of about 250 people representing several different faiths at the combined syagogue and church–Temple Beth Emeth / St. Clare Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor.

The first performance of the evening was in Urdu, a song sung beautifully by Hera Abedi, called “Khuddi Ka Sir-e-nehan.”

After this there was choir music mixing Jewish songs with Christian ones, and with choir members from both  religious traditions in the choir of about 20 singers.

Then there was an adaptation of instrumental music designed to showcase the religious spirit of jazz performances of “Compassion” and “El is the Sound of Joy” by John Coltrane and Sun Ra, respectively.

There was a Hindu performance of very beautiful dancing.

Finally and most beautifully there was a beautiful recitation of the Shahada, Astaghfirullah, La ilaha illal Lah, Qasida Burdah, and beautiful English-language qasidas celebrating the Prophet Muhammad (s) by a group of Sufis demonstrating zikr, hadrah, and “whirling dervish” style whirling.

There was also a flute performance and a performance of Amazing Grace.

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