More on the ILM Foundation – Expansion and Service

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The ILM Foundation will be familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer. ILM is the Arabic word for “knowledge” and also stands for the virtues of intellect, love, and mercy. Many sub groups have been seeded by ILM including the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity (CPHD), Go for the Game, Islam: A World Movement, Humanitarian Day, and a prison outreach support services.

ILM was founded in 1998 through the efforts of Imam Saadiq Saafir who sought to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. He had a vision inspired by his Muslim faith to work for community cohesion and social justice. ILM is the fruit of his vision. Imam Saadiq now is the Chairman of ILM Foundation’s Board of Directors and senior Masjidulus member of Masjid Ibaadillah, Los Angeles. Imam Saadiq’s son, Imam Jihad Saafir, is currently doing a wonderful job as resident Imam.

ILM’s Director, Naim Shah, Jr. has spoken to The Muslim Observer to tell readers of the latest actions and goals of ILM.

Mr. Shah last year spent six months as a trainee with the Community Organizing Residency (COR) project. COR is a product of Jewish Funds for Justice. His placement was with LA Voice Pico. LA Voice Pico is a local federation of the PICO national network. LA Voice represents over 20 multi-faith congregations throughout Los Angeles representing nearly 20,000 families. It works in the arenas of education, responsible banking, immigration, health care reform, and violence prevention.

During that period Mr. Shah was able to introduce LA Voices’s responsibility banking initiative to the Muslim community.This initiative seeks to support legislation that seeks leniency from banks regarding foreclosures and encourages community reinvestment and increases in small business loans. Mr. Shah’s work was highlighted when he organized nearly 80 Muslims to attend a townhall meeting packed with nearly 800 people hosted at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.

Now LA Voice has Muslim representation through the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity which ILM uses to coordinate Humanitarian Day. He and ILM’s Associate Director, Umar Hakim, joined LA Voice in a rally coordinated by Pico California in Sacramento to encourage our elected officials to stop delaying the passage of the state’s budget. It is with great pleasure to announce the excellent community organizing work coordinated by Umar Hakim at LA Voice, as the new COR resident for 2011-2012.

Humanitarian Day, founded by the ILM Foundation but coordinated through CPHD , is now in its 11th year. What began in a few cities as a one day outreach to the poor and homeless community has now become an institution. Food, toiletries, and other personal items are distributed free of charge, and representatives of medical clinics are usually available to answer questions. It is observed in 13 cities throughout California and nationally. The Humanitarian Day monthly effort is coordinated by ILM Director, Taswiyah Muttaz, which includes the distribution of fresh, warm meals, hygiene kits, occasional health screening services, and student community service learning engagement. ILM Foundation is extremely grateful for the support of and sponsorship from the Hassan Hathout Foundation, Masjid Ibaadillah, Orange County Islamic Foundation, Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation, Islamic Center of Irvine, UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles Police Department,  the USC Ansar Partnership for Service and many other institutions.

ILM has expanded its interfaith work and has partnered with the LDS Church (Mormon), LA Voci the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC), and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, and NewGround Muslim Jewish Dialogue.

Mr. Naim Shah Sr., Director of ILM Foundation Prison Outreach Services, corresponds with federal and state chaplains about the conditions of Muslim inmates and how the foundation can assist. Currently, on a monthly basis, ILM distributes inmates care packages which include books, oil, prayer rug, etc.. We have volunteers who correspond via mail to assist with referrals and letters during the inmate re-entry process back into society.  ILM’s goal is recruit additional Muslim men to mentor inmates while in rehabilitation to prepare as much as possible to prevent recidivism after their release.  

Mr Shah and Mr. Hakim also graduated from the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a product of Nadia Romani and institutional partner of the Center of Religious Civic Culture Department at the University of Southern California.

Shaykh Ayub, ILM Director of Islamic Studies and Arabic, will visit Ghana to work on many of ILM’s humanitarian projects. Ghana is now approaching it 4th Annual Humanitarian Day. ILM’s focus in Ghana is education, breast cancer, youth recreation and infrastructure building. ILM Foundation currently supports several students with school tuition, technological support and other vocational training. In Ghana the top pastime for youth is soccer.  Currently through the gracious support of Zeeni Sports, ILM sponsors an entire youth soccer team with uniforms, socks, bags and educational support. ILM has recently been offered land to build a center to house all of our services in an area near Accra called Caswa. The annual ILM Ghana Tour is an attempt to increase the awareness and penitential of re-seeding our roots in West Africa. Ghana has a Muslim population of 30%,and rising. With a good political climate, strong economy , Islamic scholarship and good interfaith relations, ILM future in Ghana looks very bright. The partner organization in Ghana is the Bureau for Social Services located in Accra, Ghana.

Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim have answered questions regarding their work posed by The Muslim Observer.

TMO: Could each of you tell our readers how you came to hear of the Community Organizing Residency (COR)?

NAIM: I learned about COR as result of participating in the American Muslim Civic Engagement Institute. Nadia Romani co-founder of AMCLI works as one of the program consultants with COR. So was really blessed to be included within this civic engagement network, which constantly share opportunities for graduates to further expand upon their experience and education.

UMAR: The opportunity for Community Organizing Residency (COR) came through our social network, American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. We are always building essential leadership skills, and seen this was a great opportunity to learn hands on community organizing with agencies in California and/or throughout the U.S such as LA VOICE.

TMO: Will you describe your days at COR? Was it all study, was it hands on organizing?

NAIM:  COR is nice blend of on-site hand on community organizing with leadership and peer support training. I love it. The founders of COR were passionate and extremely professional. The residents were the spot light and we were provided all the tools to use our natural talents for extracting as a much from the 6 month residency as possible. I was also very fortunate to serve my residency at LA Voice Pico under the leadership of Zach Hoover and Rochelle

UMAR:  The COR training at Mt. Eden in the New Jersey countryside, was a genuine break from urban Compton. I spent 4-5 days within a faith-based cohort of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, and Latino Indigenous; together we focused on several key learning areas a preparation for sustaining this organizing experience. My objective is phase II of ILM’s community organizing vision, identify and build the organizing component of the CPHD.

TMO: What about the COR program impressed you the most?

NAIM:  My most impressive moment was witnessing the excellent talent pool residents selected for the program. I felt so honored to represent Islam in such a setting. There was once central focus of exploiting our faith for the betterment of humanity not just ourselves and not just members of our faith. I was drawn into the coordinator’s of COR collective intention to make this program address the critical drought America was facing due to lack of replenishing our community with organizers. The experience increased my faith in Islam and in what can be accomplished working for a common cause!

UMAR:  One of the impressive moments was during Shabat, led by a Jewish cohort. It’s where I learning the meaning of Shabat and how Judaism is closely aligned to Islam, through Ibrahim and his worship of Tauhid. Dispelling a lot myths I had and now I’m able to apply my conduct of Islamic Fiqh more appropriately.

TMO:  What was the most valuable thing you learned at COR? What was the most valuable thing you think you introduced to that group?

NAIM:  The most valuable thing I learned is that Allah is the one who choose your teachers. I have been working in the Muslim community for nearly 18 years. Community organizing was not taught or practiced formally by any Masjid to my  knowledge. The skill sets, however, are re-surfacing back into the community though participants such as myself and Umar in wonderful programs like the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and COR sponsored by the Jewish Funds for Justice. Both programs transformed me into a more effective leader and I am extremely grateful.

UMAR:  A valuable walkaway is knowing I now have the ability to reach out into different communities for religious and social intellectual insight, share my ideas and simply have another effective social network an email away; something that is very needed in our world of changing dynamics. Good question, what was the most valuable thing I introduced; I would say the second Pillar of Islam, Salat. Each member was asked to share an aspect of their religion or way of life and I was asked to explain Salat. I explained it through an interactive presentation for a customized delivery about our obligation prayers.

The Muslim Observer wishes to thank Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim for their cooperation in conducting this interview.

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Khosrow Semnani, Businessmen Turned Philanthropist

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

semnaniSalt Lake City, UT–Khosrow Semnani’s story is a classic example of hard work and dedication and the realization of the American Dream. An Iranian immigrant who came to Utah in 1969 with $47 in his pocket, Semnani  helped pay his way through Westminster College with a part-time job as a janitor. Eventually he founded Envirocare (now EnergySolutions) in 1988 and shortly thereafter the company began accepting low-level radioactive waste for treatment and disposal in above ground, reinforced buildings with three-foot-thick concrete walls.The company, now sold,  reportedly has annual revenues of more than $100 million.

Semnani now devotes more of his time on a wide range of philanthropic activities. He founded and funds Maliheh Free Clinic, which provides free medical services to poor and uninsured patients in South Salt Lake.He has also partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to send aid abroad to natural-disaster victims.Hi foundation donated $125,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for famine relief in Somalia and Somali refugee camps. Additionally, last year the Semnani Family Foundation donated $20,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for earthquake relief in Haiti.
He also actively participates in bridging the gaps of understanding between various faith groups. Most recently he presented a paper at Brigham Young University on his experience of being a Muslim in America.

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Community News (V13-I19)

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

MDC Humanitarian Award for Salman Khan

NEW YORK,NY–MDC Partners, a business transformation organization, announced the creation of the MDC Humanitarian Award to recognize individuals and organizations whose disruptive thinking and innovation have led to lasting and sustainable impact. The inaugural award was presented at the 2011 WIRED Conference in New York on May 3. The focus of this year’s conference is “Disruptive by Design,” and it brought together leaders in business and technology to discuss how using disruption and innovation will pave the way to growth.

The first award was presented to Salman Khan in recognition of his creation of the Khan Academy and his innovative approach to education. The Khan Academy was the result of Salman’s desire to help tutor his cousin in New Orleans while he was living in Boston in 2004. Over time his lesson plans evolved into videos, which he began posting to YouTube for her to complete at her own pace, and they quickly built a strong following of viewers.

“We have created the MDC Humanitarian Award because we feel it is important to recognize that true talent innovates and creates not merely for profit and prestige, but to create a legacy of transforming the lives of those in need,” said Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners. “We are proud to honor Salman Khan because he reinvented broken systems to deliver educational tools across the world. Perhaps most significantly, these tools are encouraging under-served individuals to fuel their love of learning and help themselves.”
Although Khan is the only teacher at the Khan Academy, he has posted over 2100 videos and 100 self-paced exercises that have received more the 24 million views. His lessons continue to expand, covering everything from physics to finance and history. Khan’s goal is to bring a world-class education to anyone in the world completely free, and he is currently being aided by Google to help translate his lessons into all the most commonly spoken languages.

Overall, MDC Partners has pledged $100,000 to the recipients of the MDC Humanitarian Award during the first 5 years of its existence. To honor Khan’s work, MDC will contribute $20,000 to the Khan Academy.

“I am extremely honored to be the first recipient of this award, and am excited that a company like MDC is recognizing innovation beyond the business world,” said Mr. Khan. “The Khan Academy has been very successful thus far, and with the support of companies like MDC its influence and reach will only continue to grow.”

Mohammed Alamani wins award

WILKES-BARRE,PA–Every spring, the Center for Global Education and Diversity hosts a ceremony honoring members of the Wilkes community who are being recognized for fostering multicultural awareness at Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University. This year Mohammed Alamani has been named as the recipient of  Wilkes Helping Hands Student Award. The award is given to a student who has contributed the most to improve the diversity climate at Wilkes.

Woodland mosque raises money for Japan victims

WOODLAND,CA–Imam of the Woodland Mosque, Qari Aamir Hussain, recently lead a fundraising campaign for victims of Tsunami disaster in Japan, the Daily Democrat reported.

Imam Hussain appealed the Muslim Community of Woodland for funds and said that Prophet of Islam Muhammad (s) “has taught them to be kind to each other, to respect elders, and care for our children, and he also taught us that it was better to give than to receive and that each human life is worthy of respect and dignity.”

In this campaign to raise funds appeals were made for three Friday’s during the weekly prayer services and community raised $850 for the victims of Japan tsunami.

Director of the mosque, Khalid Saeed, invited representatives of Woodland Red Cross to Woodland mosque receive a check for the funds. At the Friday, April 22, prayer services two representatives of the Red Cross, Katrina Kilgore and Maria Elena, visited the mosque, where Saeed and Imam Hussain presented them a check and thanked them for their visit to the mosque.

Kilgore thanked the Muslim Community of Woodland for their generosity in raising these funds for the sake of humanity and accepted the check in the main prayer hall in front of the weekly congregation.

Tasmiha Khan speaks at Yale’s United for Sight Conference

NEW HAVEN,CT–Tasmiha Khan, a Wesleyan University student and founder of Brighter Dawns, spoke at United for Sight Global Health and Innovation 2011 Conference April 16-17 at Yale University. She spoke on “Water and Clinic Social Enterprise Pitches – Ideas in Development.”

Tasmiha Khan, a native of Chicago, founded Brighter Dawns in the fall of 2010. In the Summer of 2010, she worked with World Peace & Cultural Foundation (WPCF) in Bangladesh to offer free diabetic screenings, and seminars on hygiene and food preparation. Touched by the people she worked with, she felt the need to address many of the issues she encountered there and brought her mission back to Wesleyan University, where she is a student.

Now Tasmiha, with many of her fellow students, is working to establish Brighter Dawns as a non-profit, collaborating with WPCF to improve living conditions in the slum in Khalishpur, Khulna, Bangladesh.

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