Community News, Vol. 8 Iss. 43

October 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslims speak out on global warming

PHILADELPHIA, PA–Dr. Syed Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was one of the keynote speakers at the Sacred Seasons, Sacred Earth Interfaith Celebration, organized by the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. The event marked the coinciding of Ramadan, the sacred Jewish month that includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. October 1 was Worldwide (Protestant/ Orthodox) Communion Sunday. October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday. October 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. This confluence will occur again in 2007. Thereafter, it will not recur for thirty years.

The event in Philadelphia called for urgent action to fight global warming.

“Many of the resources are vanishing and that is not what God intended for us,” said Dr. Mohammed Almashhadani, of Al-Aqsa Mosque and former imam of the Albanian American Muslim Society mosque, both in North Philadelphia.

Participants observed the Jewish tradition of building a Sukkah, a hut that brings the community into close with the earth and listened to meditations offered by Buddhists. They later joined together for Iftar.

Cavium Networks Receives 2006 Excellence in Technology Alignment Award

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA–Cavium Networks, a world leader in networking, security and embedded processor solutions, has received the Excellence in Technology Alignment award from Cisco Systems, Inc. Cavium Networks was selected based on its currently shipping products. This prestigious award recognized significant Cavium technology that has met Cisco’s product requirements and positively impacted the satisfaction level of Cisco’s customers. The award presentation was done at the Cisco 15th annual supplier appreciation event keynoted by Cisco’s President and Chief Executive Officer, John Chambers.

“Cavium Networks is honored to receive top recognition from Cisco,” said Syed Ali, CEO and President of Cavium Networks. “This recognition reinforces Cavium’s solid commitment and dedication to developing market-leading technologies and exceeding our customers’ requirements.”

Syed Ali has over 23 years of management and engineering experience in the semiconductor area. Prior to Cavium Networks, Syed Ali was a founding management team member and VP Marketing/Sales at Malleable Technologies , a communication chip company focused on developing Voice over Packet processors. Malleable was acquired by PMC-Sierra in June 2000. Earlier, he served as Vice President, Marketing at I-Cube which developed switch fabrics and chipsets for networking. He also spent 4 years as Executive Director, Samsung Electronics, where he started the Flash memory and CPU businesses and put together the business plans and strategies that drove sales in each line to over a $100M in less than two years. Syed also spent over 10 years at WSI/SGS-Thompson, and Tandem where he was involved with product line management and product design. He earned a MSEE from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1981 and BSEE from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India in 1980.

LA Muslims reach out to the homeless

LOS ANGELES,CA– Muslims in Los Angeles reached out to the homless by distributing food, clothing, books, toys and other items to around 3000 people. The drive was organized by the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity, which is comprised of more than 40 mosques and Muslim organizations.

More than 300 volunteers had helped feed several hundered people by mid-day. Free HIV and diabetes tests were also made available.

Other branches of the group were holding similar outreach efforts in 14 U-S cities.

Islamic Relief, an international aid organization, and I-L-M Foundation, an L.A.-based group, were coordinating the efforts.

Obstetrician/gynecologist joins Caritas Norwood Hospital medical staff

BOSTON–Caritas Norwood Hospital has added a new obstetrician gynecologist to its medical staff.

Amna H. Khan, MD, of Dover has a special clinical interest in treating adolescents, and before coming to Caritas Norwood Hospital was administrative chief resident in the OB/GYN department at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.

Dr. Khan also completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where she was executive member of the advisory committee on medical education and a member of the graduate medical education committee.

She received Rochester’s 2004 Berlex Teaching Award and Medical Student Teaching Award and has served as co-president of the American Medical Women’s Association and research assistant to the Women’s Health Project, both at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.

Dr. Khan received her medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina and her bachelor’s degree in biology and economics from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley.

She is accepting new patients. Her practice is located at Caritas Foxboro, 70 Walnut St., Foxboro, 781-698-2229.

The 264-bed Caritas Norwood Hospital provides emergency, cardiology, advanced surgical, endoscopic, ob/gyn and Children’s Hospital Boston pediatric services and is a member of Caritas Christi Health Care, the second largest health care system in New England.

Books for Baghdad Announces Second Drive

JACKSONVILLE,AL– Jacksonville State University’s Books for Baghdad project (www.booksforbaghdad.org) has announced a new drive for books, supplies, and cash donations to help rebuild the war-torn library at Baghdad University.

Dr. Safaa Al-Hamdani, JSU biology professor and founder of the project, said, “Our objective includes collecting recent editions of textbooks in math, science, medicine and technology to be sent to war ravished Iraq. Books are being accepted now and may be dropped off at JSU. We can also make arrangements to pick up large contributions. In addition, we are planning to collect computers and refurbish them. They will be sent to the Baghdad Library to be used by the students.”

“Jeff Spurr from Harvard University and Dr. Anwar Diab of Baghdad University will be involved in this project,” said Al-Hamdani. “Furthermore, a committee was established in western Massachusetts by a group of librarians to help in accomplishing the same objective. If all comes about as I expect it, we will have enough material to be shipped from Massachusetts to Baghdad in the near future. We should do what we can to help and I can not emphasize the tremendous need for the books and computers in Iraq.”

Anyone who would like to contribute books and other gifts should contact Dr. Al-Hamdani (256-782-5801; sah@jsu.edu). Cash contributions can be made to the JSU Foundation, 700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville AL 36265.

Dr. Safaa Al-Hamdani and a small group of faculty volunteers established the Books for Baghdad project in 2004 as an international humanitarian effort to help reestablish the war-torn Baghdad University library. Local volunteers were soon joined by faculty and students from throughout the U.S. Thanks in part to international media coverage, including special reports on CNN, the project far exceeded its goal of 5,000 books with a total collection of more than 11,000 textbooks and $6,500 in school supplies.

Statement from State Senator Peter Roskam on the Holy Month of Ramadan

“I would like to wish the Muslim Community in the 6th Congressional District and across the nation the very best during this holiest time of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. This important holiday is a time for family and friends to come together to express their faith.

Muslims across our nation continue to enrich our communities and our nation and we value their contribution to our society.” Senator Peter Roskam, Congressional Candidate for the 6th District of Illinois

Recently, State Senator and Republican Congressional candidate Peter Roskam attended an Iftaar event at the residence of Moon Khan, York Township Trustee and Founding President of Asian American Caucus of DuPage, where a large number of American Muslims of the 6th Congressional District attended it.

Yusuf Islam still faces difficulties coming to US

Yusuf Islam still faces difficulties entering the United States–two years after being refused entry into the country because of national security fears. In 2004, after flying to the United States from London, the Muslim convert, formerly known as Cat Stevens,was barred from entering after US security officials said his name was on list of banned individuals. Now plans to tour America promoting his comeback album AN OTHER CUP could be in jeopardy for the same reason. ANN DAVIS, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Agency, told the New York Daily News, “The TSA does not confirm whether any name is on or not on the ‘no-fly’ list. But Mr Islam was a positive match on numerous watch lists when Customs and Borders Protection agents interviewed him in Maine. “They refused him admission to the United States based on national security grounds.” However, SHEILA RICHMAN, spokeswoman for Islam’s US record label Atlantic, remains optimistic: “We don’t yet have firm touring plans for Yusuf. We hope he will be coming here in mid-November.”

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Community News, North America (US & Canada)

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Curtain controversy in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL— The board of the Muslim Community Centre in Chicago has voted to let the organization’s president to work on a compromise on whether to replace a curtain hung to separate the men and women’s areas of the mosque.
The curtain was removed during renovations and since then has not been replaced. In an earlier meeting the board had voted 13-2 in favour of the “Not To Raise Curtain” resolution with two members abstaining.
Despite the vote Dr.Abdul Sattar, president of the MCC, said that a majority of the community wants the curtain divider and called for last Sunday’s meeting.
The new resolution calls on the president to take into consideration how women felt and to try to please everyone.

Minister praised for interfaith work

AUSTIN,TX—The Rev.Jim Mayfield, pastor of Tarrytown United Methodist Church, who retired recently was praised for his years of interfaith work. Imam Safdar Razi of the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association said Rev. Mayfield played an important role in supporting the local Muslim community in the wake of Sept.11 attacks.
Under Mayfield’s leadership, the organization gathered clerics from different religions to pray on the steps of the Texas Capitol and “helped the Muslim communities a lot by letting people understand that Muslims also condemn the acts of terror and terrorism,” Razi told the Statesman.

Muslims join immigrant rights rally

DES PLAINES,IL— Muslims joined hundreds others in a rally calling for immigration rights and reform in the Des Plaines suburb of Chicago.
“We come here to work. We don’t come here to do anything bad or — we come here to have a better future,” said Lizeth Rios to ABC News.
What they’re doing right now is shameful and they’re trying to take away people’s hope. But there are good people who are doing things like that. We re trying do things in a peaceful matter. God did not create any borders,” said Rita Gonzales, Latin Americans United.
The rally ended with a prayer for those who had died trying to cross the border.

Nazir Baig passes away

BALTIMORE, MD—Nazir Baig, prominent Baltimore area Muslim community leader, passed away this week. He was a board member of the Muslim Community Center of Maryland. He also served as the organization’s trustee and chairman for 5 years and as president for 10 years. His tenure saw tremendous growth in the organization. He actively took part in various community building activities. He worked as a town planner for the Montgomery County.

New mosque in San Luis Obispo

SAN LUIS OBISPO,CA—- The Islamic Center of the Central Coast is seeking a building permit to build a new mosque and community center on Walnut Street in San Luis Obispo. The new mosque will be bigger than the centre’s present one.
Architect Heidi Gibson said the mosque’s new location makes it a good fit among San Luis Obsipo’s cultural and spiritual centers.
“We have the mission downtown. We have the other downtown churches,” Gibson told the Tribune. “Now weíll have a mosque.”
The mosque has already received approval from the city’s commissions and it can take three months to a year before permits are granted and construction begins.

Eid ul Fitr poem wins Ray Bradbury award

CHICAGO, IL—Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem Eid-ul-Fitr, 1946 won the coveted Ray Bradbury Poetry Writing Contest surpassing 118 entries received from across the world. Mohyuddin, 27, teaches English teacher at Highland Park High School.
The poem is described as a wrenching, fictional ode to a little boy lost amid the prayers and politics of Pakistan.”
“[The poem] is about impending loss, a lot of violence, pain and suffering,” Mohyuddin told the Chicago Tribune.
Mohyuddin’s other entry, The Sadness, also attained a honourable mention in the contest.

Saudi culture shared at Valparaiso

VALPARAISO, IN— Saudi students at the Valparaiso University held a special program to inform the community about the Saudi culture including music, food, religion and life. Around hundred people attended the event sponsored by the International Studies Office of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Student advisor of the Saudi Culture Mission Dr.Faleh Al Hogbani told the student newspaper: “In the Saudi culture we encourage this kind of event and encourage students to spread the culture to the real people of America, not just in D.C.”
The attendees were treated to a multimedia presentation, demonstration of Azan and prayers and lectures. Dr.Nelly Van Doorn-Harder, Patheja professor of world religions and ethics at the university, discussed the history and significance of Saudi Arabia to the Muslim world.
“Saudi Arabia is a country that despite everything, upholds the true concept of Islam,” said Van Doorn-Harder, who has traveled all over the world to study religion.
There are 80 students from Saudi Arabia currently studying at Valparaiso University.

Egyptian student shares perspectives

MADISON, WI— Ahmed Ayad is computer science student working on his Phd at UW-Madison. He is one of of about 60 students from countries around the world who volunteer to share their experiences and perspectives with audiences on and off campus as part of the university’s International Reach program.
Ayad,31, says he wants to present a more realistic picture of Egyptian culture while speaking to a group of eighth graders at Waunakee Middle School. “I want them to come away with a closer-to-reality idea of what a place like Egypt looks like,” he told the State Journal.
The International Reach program was started in the 1990s by Lise Skofronick, a member of Madison Friends of International Students, and was later adopted by the university, said Merilee Sushoreba, student services coordinator, who coordinates the program’s on-campus component.
But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, International Reach was put on hiatus because of staff constraints and the need to focus on implementing new federal policies for students from other countries, said Stephanie Cowan, international student advisor, who coordinates the program’s off-campus component.
The program began making a comeback in 2004, and is now going strong after receiving a $5,000 grant from the university’s Kemper K. Knapp Bequest, which has paid for a student assistant this year to help with scheduling and other costs, such as materials and transportation.
Ayad, who came to UW-Madison in 2000, said people have a lot of misconceptions about the Middle East. “The most troubling to me is the misconception about religion,” he said.
While the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the current war in Iraq “have not helped,” Ayad said they also have sparked interest in the Muslim faith.
Though he keeps his presentations “as neutral as possible,” sticking to subjects such as history and culture, Ayad told his audience of eighth- graders, “You guys can ask me any question you want.”

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.

Arabia’s Ancient Past Alive at Madain Saleh

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Arabia’s Ancient Past Alive at Mada`in Saleh
By Siraj Wahab, Special to Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
It may sound strange, but the first time I heard about Madain Saleh was when I was visiting Jordan in the summer of 2000 on a media junket organized by the Jordanian Tourism Board. The JTB guide, Odeh Al-Shobaki—I remember his name because he was a diehard Bollywood fan—while leading us through the beautiful valley where Petra is, said: “This is an extension of your Mada`in Saleh. The structures are similar to what you have in Saudi Arabia. The Nabataean tribes lived and flourished in this area around 500 B.C. Petra was their northern capital, while Madain Saleh was their southern one.”
We, or rather I, was clueless. Still, we nodded our heads. Mada`in Saleh remained in the back of my mind until one fine morning last month when Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the Indian consul general in Jeddah, and his No. 2, Dr. Suhel Ejaz Khan, wondered if I had been north of Jeddah. If not, would I like to be part of a three-day diplomatic trip to Madain Saleh? “Yes,” was my instant response.
It is not every day that you get to travel with diplomats. Along with being a diplomat, Dr. Sayeed is also a geologist. In fact, he is a geologist first and a diplomat second. It was in geology that he did his doctorate and then joined the Indian Foreign Service. The unique rock formations of Madain Saleh thus hold a special attraction for him. He visited the area years ago when he was stationed at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.
Day 1
We were a group of five families and we left Jeddah at 5 on a Wednesday evening. As the sun went down, we kept traveling until we reached the SASCO stop, which is midway between Jeddah and Madinah. We prayed maghreb there. It was cold and windy. The children—Shin, Malak, Aiko and Sania —came out of the vehicles but then scurried quickly back inside. We gulped down refreshing cups of tea.
It was here that we asked each other what we might expect at Mada`in Saleh. I had no idea. My friend, Danish Abdul Ghafour, was as clueless as I. Dr. Suhel Khan had only heard about it from the consul general. Saleem Quadri had some idea, thanks to what he had seen on the web. The only person who had been to Mada`in Saleh before was Dr. Sayeed but he and his wife, Farha, sons Faateh, Faaleh and Azhaan and another couple, Mr. and Mrs. Shafiq and their son, Ubair, were already in Madinah. They had started earlier and we planned to join them for dinner in the holy city. About 6:45 p.m., the caravan started for Madinah.
Madinah is the city of peace, the city of radiance and the city of our most beloved Prophet (s). For some reason, your eyes get moist the moment you enter the city’s holy precincts. We were cracking jokes and having fun all the way, but the moment we entered the Prophet’s (s) city we were in a different world. By the time we got to Madinah, ‘isha was over. Unlike the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which is open 24 hours every day, the Prophet’s (s) Mosque in Madinah is closed after ‘isha. We prayed the night prayers in our hotel rooms and had a delicious dinner at an authentic Hyderabadi restaurant called Meraj. During dinner, Dr. Sayeed told us the plans for the next day and what we should expect at Mada`in Saleh.
Day 2
At 5 a.m., we heard the call to prayer. We performed our ablutions and headed to the Prophet’s (s) Mosque. A cool breeze was blowing across the city. Praying in the Prophet’s (s) Mosque so far has been the most moving experience of my life. We prayed fajr and said our salaams to the beloved Prophet (s) and his Companions who rest next to him under the green dome. We then came out of the gate named after the Angel Gabriel, and it was a great sight. The minarets stood out against the light blue sky. Danish and I spent time in the area around the mosque’s majestic courtyard, sipping tea from a nearby “boufiya.”
By 8.30 we were ready to leave for Al-Ula. At this point, we were joined by our guide and his two daughters. Obaidullah Abro is a Pakistani working for a Makkah-based tourist company. He has a passion for Mada`in Saleh and all the Islamic sites and, in addition, he is very well-read. He had all the relevant Qur`anic and literary references about the area. It was he who informed us that Al-Ula is 380 km northwest of Madinah. And, at legal speed limits, it would take us about three hours to reach our destination. What we had not factored in was that long stretches of the road to Al-Ula were single track, and driving can become both hazardous and slow. Abro said plans were under way to build an airport at Al-Ula. Quoting local authorities, he said the airport would promote regional business and tourism and should be operational within three years.
We thought we would drive nonstop to Al-Ula, which is what Abro told us, but he and Dr. Sayeed had charted a different course. Our vehicles suddenly veered off the main road and we got into an area of ancient, crumbling mud houses. They were baking in the scorching sun. As we rolled along, in the distance we saw an imposing fort perched high on a cliff. As we got closer, cameras clicked away. This was Khaybar. It was here that a very important battle between non-Muslims and the Companions of the Prophet (s) was fought. The fort was almost impregnable and had given the holy warriors a tough time. After many failed assaults by different Companions, Prophet (s) finally asked Sayyidina Ali (ra) to lead the final battle and he was victorious. The spring where he performed his ablutions is still flowing. The shade of the palm trees was indescribable. The peace and tranquillity there has to be experienced to be believed.
Our caravan then rolled on, and soon we were in Al-Ula. It was an amazing landscape. The mountains had a red hue while Al-Ula was green. There were plenty of date farms, and the tall trees swayed in the wind. We soon arrived at the beautiful Mada`in Saleh Hotel (www.mshotel.com.sa), which sits in front of a huge mountain. The hotel is relatively new. Asghar Baig Younes, the hotel manager, was waiting for us. We were welcomed with cool drinks and then we had lunch. We were tired but excited.
That evening, we explored Al-Ula. Abro took us to the place where the Prophet (s) stayed after returning from the Battle of Tabuk. It is said that the Prophet (s) prayed at one of the mosques in Al-Ula, which is unfortunately now closed.
As the sun was about to set on the town of Al-Ula, we saw haunting silhouettes of the mountains. One particular peak looked as if it were a woman begging for mercy. From the other side, it gave a completely different impression, but an eerie one nonetheless. “Caravans never stopped here in ancient times,” Abro explained. “They scheduled their trips so that they would cross the valley before sunset.” When we returned to the hotel, we prepared for the next morning’s trip to Mada`in Saleh.
The word mada`in comes from the Arabic word madina. Madina means city, and mada`in is its plural. Many expatriates from the Subcontinent confuse the Arabic word mada`in with the Urdu maidaan, meaning a plain stretch of land. We were visiting “Mada`in Saleh,” (the cities of Prophet Saleh (as)).
Day 3
We got up early on Friday, and by 8:30, we were on our way to Mada`in Saleh, 22 km north of Al-Ula. The area was once the location of a significant city located on a major trade route from Yemen to Damascus. During the early Islamic period it became an important pilgrimage station for Syrians and Egyptians traveling to the holy cities of Madinah and Makkah. We saw tombs with massive facades decorated with eagles; there were dozens of tombs carved inside the rock. Someone has rightly mentioned that the first thing that strikes you is the Nabataeans’ skill at carving mountains into burial chambers. The symmetry of their work testifies to their knowledge of geometry. Outside each tomb there is an inscription.
Before arriving at Mada`in Saleh, we saw billboards telling people to discover Islam rather than discovering Mada`in Saleh. We were curious to know what was wrong in visiting an ancient Nabataean city. According to scholars, Prophet Saleh (as) was the son of Thamud. He came from the tribe of ‘Ad. Saleh’s tribe moved from Yemen and had moved to a place called “Hager.” This is what is known as Mada`in Saleh today.
Like the tribe of ‘Ad, the Nabataeans built their homes on mountaintops. They learned the art of building from the tribe of ‘Ad and they were also blessed by God as the tribe of ‘Ad before them had been blessed. They had power, riches and gardens rich in plants. However, they too, like the tribe of ‘Ad, worshipped idols. God sent them Prophet Saleh (as), who was one of them—from a good family and wise—people often came to him for advice. They admired and liked him, and had hopes that one day he would become one of their leaders. They were disappointed, however, when he began preaching to them about one God. They were so disappointed with him and angered by his teachings that they began to turn from him. They told him that they would believe in him if he performed a miracle—but not just any miracle. They pointed to a huge rock and told Prophet Saleh that they wanted to see the rock split in two and that they wanted a she-camel to come out of it. They wanted the she-camel to be 10 months pregnant, tall and beautiful. God allowed Prophet Saleh (as) the miracle and as the rock broke into two pieces a magnificent she-camel appeared from within. Some of Prophet Saleh’s people believed and became his followers, but most continued in disbelief.
There are a number of accounts of this camel and her miraculous nature. Some mention that she used to drink all the water in the wells in one day, and that no other animals could approach the wells. Others claim that the camel produced milk sufficient for all the people to drink, on the same day that she drank all the water and left none for them.
For a while, Prophet Saleh’s (as) people let the camel graze and drink freely but in their hearts they hated her. The unbelievers now began complaining that this huge camel with its unusual qualities drank most of the water and frightened their cattle. They hatched a plot to kill the camel. They watched her closely, observing all her movements. As she came to drink at the well, one of them shot her in the leg with an arrow. She tried to escape but was slowed by the arrow. Another followed the camel and struck her with a sword in the other leg. As she fell to the ground, he stabbed her with his sword. The killers were given a hero’s welcome, cheered with songs and poetry composed in their honor. They mocked Prophet Saleh (as), but he issued a warning. “Enjoy life for three more days, then the punishment will descend upon you.”
Prophet Saleh hoped that they would see the folly of their ways and change their attitude before the three days had passed. Instead, they plotted to kill him. Nine men were sent to kill him, but God protected him by sending large birds from the sky, killing all the nine assassins.
After three days, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by a rumbling noise and severe earthquakes that destroyed the entire tribe. The land was violently shaken, destroying all living creatures in it. Neither their strong buildings nor their rock-hewn houses could protect them. All were demolished before they realized what was happening. As for the people who believed in the message of Prophet Saleh (as), they were saved because they had left the place.
It is said that while Prophet Muhammad (s) was passing through the area on his way back from the Battle of Tabuk, he stopped to meet with the people there. The people fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water-skins from it (the water from the wells). The Prophet (s) ordered them to empty the water-skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she-camel (of Prophet Saleh) had drunk. He warned them against entering the area where the people had been punished, saying: “I fear that you may be affected by what afflicted them; so do not enter upon them.”
In other `ahadith, it is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (s) warned his people that should they enter Mada`in Saleh, they should think about what had happened to the unbelievers.
This is why people have not been encouraged to visit Mada`in Saleh. Now, however, the Supreme Commission of Tourism (SCT) is putting emphasis on tourism and in the future, tourist traffic to Mada`in Saleh is expected to increase considerably.
When we got back to the hotel, it was nearly 1 p.m., and we headed straight to the biggest mosque in the center of Al-Ula to say our Friday prayers. The imam had a sonorous voice, and the Qur`anic verses reminded the believers of the life in the Hereafter and God’s punishment for those who disobey. I was again reminded of the community of disbelievers who met such a fate in the mountains in Mada`in Saleh.
We got back to our hotel, had lunch and said good-bye to the hotel staff before setting off for Madinah. It must have been four in the afternoon. Abro wanted to take us to the exact place from where the she-camel had emerged and so we went, thanking him profusely for his knowledge and his skills as a guide. We were in Madinah by 8.30 and back in Jeddah by 1 a.m.
Mada`in Saleh is an excellent place to visit and learn about Saudi Arabia’s pre-Islamic past. One also can actually walk in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (s). The modern accommodations and good people in the area will welcome visitors who, I suspect, will hope as I do to return.
For those who are interested in a trip to Mada`in Saleh, Obaidullah Abro can be reached at 0502509688. His firm also organizes field trips for schoolchildren. The manager of the Mada`in Saleh Hotel, Asghar Baig Younes, can be reached on 04-8842888. The hotel’s e-mail address is: info@mshotel.com.sa. -

SE Michigan Events Volume 8 Issue 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Mawlid Fills Hearts of IIK Worshippers with Love for Prophet (s)

Dearborn—April 15—The Islamic Institute of Knowledge (IIK) in Dearborn celebrated the blessed birth of our holy Prophet (s) this past weekend at a very popular meeting attended by about a hundred Muslims who sang praises and rejoiced at his coming into this world with the message that is the light of our lives.
The event was by open-invitation to the community. There were three main speakers at the event, being Imam Abdul Latif Berry, Imam Baquir Berry (the son of Imam Abdul Latif Berry), and the Chairman of the IIK, Dr. Ali Sobh.
The elder Imam Berry spoke on the importance of education, emphasizing that the first revealed verse was “Iqra,” read. He also spoke on world events, discussing the impact of Islam on those events, and saying that it is important for Muslims to be educated, to participate in politics, education, and the media. In support of this he quoted Qur`an and `ahadith.
Imam Baquir Berry and Dr. Sobh echoed this theme, the first saying that those closest to God are those who are well-educated, and the doctor emphasizing the hadith to “seek knowledge even if it is in China.” Imam Baquir Berry said that it is important to raise children in the ethnical and moral way that Islam was founded on. There were many children at the event, and one of the speakers mentioned a hadith that when your children look at you with love in their eyes, it is as if you are paying charity. Candy bags and balloons were given to the children to make them happy on the blessed occasion of the birth of the holy Prophet (s).

Women’s Mawlid at IIK Dearborn Heights

April 12—The women of several mosques gathered at the IIK to celebrate Mawlid together on Friday. About 75 women were in attendance at the event, at which Imam Baquir Berry spoke.
The event began with a brunch of fruit and other nice food. Then Imam Baquir Berry spoke.
He spoke on different issues of how Prophet (s) was—as a role model, how forgiving and compassionate and understanding he was. He spoke for a few minutes.
Then two women, Linda and Hanan, read anthems or songs of praise including Tala’al Badru ‘Alayna and other songs. A first-grade class from the neighboring Islamic academy also sang songs of praise for Prophet (s).
Following this, the ladies had a raffle event, for which they competed in answering questions about the life of Prophet Muhammad (s) and Companions, wives and descendants—the winners receiving different prizes.
Hajja Khalida Beydoun, when asked about the event, quoted a hadith of Prophet (s) that “Live howsoever you like but you will surely die; love whatsoever you like but you will surely depart from it; do whatsoever you like but you will certainly meet it (and receive its reward). The honor of a Muslim believer is his midnight prayers, and his nobility is his refraining from ruining the reputations of people.”

Sunni-Shi’a Dialog

Canton—April 15—A packed house greeted IIK’s Imam Baquir Berry this past weekend in celebration of Shi’a-Sunni unity.
This event was held at the Canton Mosque, the Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs, on 40440 Palmer Avenue, in Canton. This mosque is a huge and sprawling center with a large mosque, cafeteria, and school, with until now signs of recent construction—unfinished landscaping and some building debris close to the mosque.
About 130 people were in attendance in total, roughly evenly split between men and women. MCWS is primarily considered, in its community’s eyes, as a south-Asian mosque composed of peoples from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.
The evening began with words of welcoming and an introduction of the evenings main speakers, firstly MCWS’s own imam, Shaykh Ali Suleman Ali, and then of the visiting imam, the guest of honor at the evening, Shaykh Baquir Berry, the son of Imam Abdul Latif Berry and an imam in his own right at the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn. Their topic, chosen by the mosque, was “Shi’a-Sunni relations—how to keep unity.”
Imam Berry spoke first at the behest of MCWS. He said that he was impressed by MCWS, and reflected that it is the result of 100 years of hard work by Muslim immigrants to this country. He quoted an ayah of Qur`an that Allah made Muslims the best nation to grace human beings. He said that Allah made this ummah appear as the best. He said that Prophet (s) had one mission, which Imam Baquir Berry emphasized was to lead people from “dhulumaty `ila nur” to guide people from darkness to light.
In view of this single mission that Prophet (s) did, we must continue his work of bringing guidance and nur to humanity. He said that in order to accomplish this we must work, hand in hand with other Muslims—by means of this ayah he emphasized the importance for all Muslims of all different forms of practice to come together to further this message.
He emphasized Prophet’s (s) example of bringing brotherhood between people by means of pairing the ansar with the muhajiroon. He emphasized that although the Companions disagreed over things at times, they would set aside their disagreements in light of their respect for and love of the Holiest Messenger (s).
He emphasized that we should, firstly, focus on this overriding mission rather than on the minor differences between Sunni and Shi’a, and secondly, that we should come closer together in order to know one another because just opening enough knowledge to bridge gaps of ignorance will solve by itself many problems.
He minimized differences of practice between Sunni and Shi’a, saying that even the differences between the Ja’fari madhhab and the Sunni madhahib is not that much, and emphasizing that the founders of the madhahib used to keep mutual respect and used to pray behind each other without disputing differences of practice—even following the practices of another madhhab’s imam when in his presence rather than arguing with him.
Imam Ali Suleman Ali also emphasized similar issues. Imam Ali is a Ph.D. holder who received his doctorate from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
He emphasized that in his early days in Michigan, decades ago, he and other Sunni imams including Shaykh Musa, now of the Bloomfield Unity Center, used to visit Shaykh Berry’s father on Fridays and sit and joke together and spend pleasant time with one another.
He said that in fact there are no problems between Sunni and Shi’a here in the US, but that historically there have been some differences. He said we should bury these issues and focus on what’s good for Muslims as a community. He emphasized shahada, of clinging to “hablil Lah jami’an,” and emphasized that there are many efforts today to divide Muslims based on sex, race, and differences of practice and belief like Sunni and Shi’a.
He thanked Shaykh Berry for coming, and emphasized several definite plans for Sunni Shi’a cooperation in the immediate future.
In their questions and answers the people of the mosque asked questions for which there are not easy and clear-cut answers, (1) trying to establish universal acceptance of an ‘ied day, (2) to establish that Sunni and Shi’a zabiha-halal meat is mutually acceptable (Shaykh Ali said unequivocally that Shi’a zabiha halal meat is acceptable for Sunnis), (3) how to prevent the terrible division between Sunnis and Shi’a in Iraq from spreading here and to other places (Shaykh Berry said that in fact America is the shining example for the rest of the Muslim world, because we have held so many mutual Sunni-Shi’a gatherings since the terrible Samarra boming, and Shaykh Ali said that no Muslim could have bombed that shrine), (4) what we can do as Muslims to come together (Shaykh Berry said that religious people are open to come together, but that some people in the community are not religious and therefore not open to relations with people of different ethnicities), (5) asked whether Sunnis and Shi’a can pray behind each other.
Shaykh Berry’s response to this last question was very nicely worded, emphasizing again that the founders of the madhahib used to show respect to one another by following the rulings of the other major jurists when in their presence in order to show respect and mutual love and honor, and would pray behind one another even in a manner out of keeping with their own practices for the sake of mutual respect—therefore we also should adhere to this practice of mutual respect despite differences of opinion and law.

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