Hizbul Bahar – Powerful Du’a

December 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Hizbul Bahr de l’Imam Shadhily, the Litany of the Sea

Community News (V11-I48)

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Zeba Khan, finalist in contest

TOLEDO, OH– Zeba Khan, a Toledo native and social media consultant for nonprofits, has reached the final round of America’s Next Great Pundit contest, sponsored by the Washington Post. She is one of the ten finalists selected from a pool of 4800 entrants.

According to an online biography, last year she founded Muslim-Americans for Obama, a social network dedicated to mobilizing the Muslim-American community in the presidential campaign.

Her work and writings have been featured in numerous media outlets, including Newsweek, National Public Radio, Reuters, Voice of America, Washington Post, the Guardian, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Her work was highlighted at the 2009 Personal Democracy Forum Conference in New York.

A Fulbright Scholar, Ms. Khan received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and degrees from the University of Chicago.

The contest winner, to be announced about Nov. 24, will get the chance to write a weekly column that may appear in the print and/or online editions of the Washington Post, paid at a rate of $200 per column, for a total of 13 weeks and $2,600.

Parliament of the World’s Religions elects Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid

CHICAGO, IL– – At its biannual meeting Oct. 18-19, the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions elected as its chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid. The board met in Williams Bay, Wis.

Imam Mujahid’s term begins Jan. 1, 2010. He succeeds the Rev. Dr. William E. Lesher, who has served as chair since 2003. Imam Mujahid is an imam in the Chicago Muslim community and president of Sound Vision Foundation, which produces Radio Islam, America’s only daily Muslim call-in talk show.

The Rev. Dr. Lesher said he considers Imam Mujahid “marvelously equipped” to serve as the board’s highest elected officer.

“He brings to the chair a deep commitment to his own faith tradition,” the Rev. Dr. Lesher said. “He is a recognized leader in that tradition. He has an understanding of how religion is a force in American society and also in societies throughout the world.”

The organization traces its roots to the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions, which took place in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1993 the council organized and hosted the first modern Parliament of the World’s Religions, also in Chicago. Subsequent Parliaments have been held in 1999 in Cape Town, South Africa; and in 2004 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Most older things are known to fade away, but the Parliament is a phenomenon that constantly reinvents itself,” Imam Mujahid said. “We were ahead of our ourselves in Cape Town when we started engaging guiding institutions around the world on sustainability,” Imam Mujahid said. “Now it’s the talk of the town.”

Imam Mujahid is former chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, and has written extensively on religion, public policy and applied aspects of Islamic living. Imam Mujahid has initiated a joint campaign between American Muslims and the National Organization of Women to declare rape a war crime.

Muslim students fast to help others

BLACKSBURG, VA–Muslim students at the Virginia Tech are going on fast so that others don’t go hungry. The Muslim Students Association’s launched its annual fundraiser and day of fasting this week.

The Hungry Hokies Fast-a-Thon collects $7 to benefit the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry from participants who refrain from consuming food for a day.

Those participating in the fast are pledged to not eat anything or drink water from dawn to dusk, which is consistent with the customs of Muslim culture.

“It incorporates the traditional Muslim traditions of fasting,” said Asif Akhtar, president of the Muslim Student Association.

All the proceeds raised through the event will be directly donated to Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry, located on Main Street. The pantry deals only with families affected by hunger in Blacksburg. More than 1300 local residents are served, and the number is continually increasing.

Vote on Lilburn mosque this week

LILBURN,GA– The Lilburn City Council will vote this week on Dar-e-Abbas mosque’s request for zoning changes. It wants to  keep the existing residential zoning on the part of the property that is closest to the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

The mosque wants the rest of the eight acres closest to Lawrenceville Highway zoned or rezoned to allow for the expansion.

One of the leaders of Lilburn’s Dar-E-Abbas Mosque said Monday night that existing trees would be preserved as a buffer of 200 feet between the mosque’s proposed expansion and adjacent homes.

More than three acres of land “will be undisturbed, there’ll be a big buffer, all natural, it will stay as it is,” said Wasi Zaidi.

Obituary: Mustafa M. Khan, 84, Cardiologist

Dr. Mustafa Khan, 84, of Cherry Hill, a cardiologist and family physician in Camden for more than half a century died last Tuesday. He had opened a family practice in Camden in 1958.  The Trinidad born Dr. Khan was loved by his patients and was know for his social work.

He served as the physician for or Camden High School, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, and, for 18 years, the Camden City Jail.

He was active with Youth 2000, a YMCA mentoring program in Camden, and with the outreach ministries to the homeless at Solid Rock Worship Center in Clementon.

Dr. Khan grew up in Trinidad with 10 siblings. His parents were descendants of indentured laborers from eastern India who went to the Caribbean to work the sugarcane fields in the late 19th century.

As a young boy, he accompanied the local doctor on his rounds from village to village and “determined to one day also be of service to those in need,” his son said.

Dr. Khan earned bachelor’s, master’s, and medical degrees from Howard University in Washington.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, three sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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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.

11-46

Muslim Organizations Issue Statements Re. the Shooting of Imam Luqman Abdullah

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Farmington—November 4—The shooting of Imam Luqman A. Abdullah by the FBI sparked controversy, partly because it stirred up memories of America’s past persecution of African American leaders, partly because of the demeaning circumstances, and partly because news reports relating to the shooting have cast far reaching and highly unlikely aspersions on Imam Luqman.

The shooting spurred local and national Muslim organizations to issue alarmed press releases, the common theme of which was that they condemn any illegal activities if Imam Luqman was involved, but ask that news reports refrain from alleging any terrorist conspiracy absent any such evidence. Another theme echoed in several was the demand for an independent investigation into the events of the day.

The facts alleged by the reports do not conflict with one another, although only the MPAC statement actually explores the then-known facts of the incident.  On Wednesday 10/28 the FBI raided 3 Dearborn warehouses, to arrest Imam Luqman and 11 associates on many federal criminal charges.  At the end of the raid, Imam Luqman was dead, shot apparently 18 times.

The American Muslim Taskforce (AMT), Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim Public Affairs Coalition (MPAC), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Imams’ Committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM), ISNA, and Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, all made statements regarding the incident.

The American Muslim Taskforce  (an umbrella group including AMA, AMP, CAIR, ICNA, MANA, MAS-Freedom, MSA National, MUNA, and UMA) demanded an investigation and demanded that the government “stop injecting religion into this case,” apparently operating on the belief that the government may have had a valid criminal case against Imam Luqman but no terrorism case and that his religion was extraneous to the events that took place.

The Imams Committee of Michigan’s powerful CIOM unity group (representing most of Southeast Michigan’s mosques including Sunni mosques and Shi’a mosques) met with the director of Michigan’s FBI office (Mr. Andrew Arena, who had previously expressed satisfaction with his agents’ handling of the case) to discuss what happened.  They asked for clarification of what happened, without demanding a full investigation.  They also emphasized that religion should not be brought into the case.

ISNA, America’s largest and politically the strongest Muslim community organization, also made a statement saying it “is distrubed by the recent shootout.”  “The details of the incident are still sketchy,” read the statement, “but the way the incident is presented as a terrorism case when the actual charges involve criminal conduct, including alleged fraud and theft.” 

ISNA joined the chorus asking for a full investigation of the incident also, while also expressing support fot the “vital work carried out by law enforcement agencies” and spoke against resisting arrest, saying “[t]he only morally and legally acceptable way to challenge the actions of law enforcement agents is by working through the justice system and the court of law.”

MANA (which Imam Luqman was a part of) issued a statement which opened more directly the issues involved in the case, saying “Reference to ‘the Ummah’ as a ‘nation-wide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African Americans’ is an offensive mis-characterization.”

Further, the MANA statement said that “to those who have worked with Imam Luqman A. Abdullah, allegations of illegal activity, resisting arrest, and ‘offensive jihad against the American government’ are shocking and inconsistent.”

MPAC’s statement had one wise piece of advice, “With so much left unknown in the developing case, MPAC is warning government agencies and media outlets of the alarming exploitation of this isolated incident that is stigmatizing Muslim American communities around the country.”

MPAC’s primary concern appeared to be avoiding national backlash against Muslims based on the Imam Luqman shooting and resulting media coverage.

More facts have come to light since the organizations’ statements were made, including that Imam Luqman apparently resisted arrest and shot an FBI dog that was loosed to attack him before going down in a hail of FBI bullets.  Several senior Muslim community workers have explained that as Imam Luqman lay dying from 18 gunshot wounds, he was handcuffed to a stretcher and left to die while the FBI dog was medically evacuated by helicopter. 

News reports around the incident portrayed Imam Luqman as a violent anti-government jihadist bent on a government takeover, but foiled by FBI action. 

However the best report about the incident was in fact the one by this newspaper’s Imam Abdullah El-Amin, who traced a convincing story about FBI provocateurs luring Imam Luqman into dealing in stolen merchandise and then springing the trap before he could escape, perhaps even orchestrating his reaction and demise.

Unfortunately the national theme in investigations of Muslims has largely been one of government provocateurs luring down-and-out Muslim men into situations they don’t fully comprehend and which appear to be fully funded, planned, and coordinated from inside the FBI.  Then the poor stooges are arrested in midnight raids by SWAT teams in body armor and paraded before camera crews as dangerous al-Qaeda terrorists. And the poor slobs are carted away through years of trials which often as not end in their being released.

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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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Southeast Michigan (V11-I38)

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

BMUC Sunday School Opens

bmuc sunday school

Bloomfield Hills–September 9–Imam Hossameldin Musa welcomed 133 students to the Bloomfield Unity Center’s first Sunday School session last Sunday, September 6th. 

The Sunday school will be open 10AM to 2:45PM each Sunday except for ‘eid, Sept. 20th.

The imam was excited to tell TMO also about the hifz program which is beginning this year at BMUC, patterned on the extremely successful and powerful similar program at the Tawheed Center (which already has several graduates back in Western style schools)–the BMUC hifz teacher is Shaykh Ahmad Mabrook.

Imam Musa explained “we have a friendly school, it’s very clean, we have AC in every room, top of the line teachers–some of them with MBA’s–many were raised in this country.”

The Sunday school hopes to welcome many more students this year–so please consider joining the program to secure for your children a basic knowledge of Islam in a warm environment.  Imam Hossam emphasizes that one of the goals of his school is to give “warmth, love, and caring” to the students–nothing less than what they receive in their mainstream schools during the week.

The price of the school is $650 per year for BMUC members, and $750 per year for nonmembers–which is an amazing deal if you consider that for that price students receive food, books, and tuition for the program. 

Explains the younger imam Musa, “We use the I love Islam series–it’s really good.”

Most of the students in the program are from local public schools, some from Huda.

In school, children also pray dhohr in jama’at behind the elder Imam Musa, who is now the longest-serving imam in Michigan.

Michigan Food Pantry Program

Please support this program. The Islamic Shura Council of Michigan is supporting Gleaners Food Bank to buy food at a discount and distribute it throughout Michigan.  The program is year-round. 

www.zakatzone.com

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12th) Needs Your Support

The only Muslim legislator in Michigan is under fire from political opponents after opposing a bridge project by Matty Moroun.  Apparently in collaboration with Moroun, political consultant Adolph Mongo has filed multiple recall petitions against Tlaib.

Tarek Baydoun is spearheading an effort to defend her.  To join the effort to defend and help her you can contact 313-297-8800.

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Abundant Faith, Shrinking Space

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mosques Turn to Synagogues, Ballrooms to Accommodate Growing Membership

By William Wan, Washington Post

They stream in through the doors every Friday — a sea of Muslims pouring into a synagogue in Reston.

PH2009082103814

Muslims facing a lack of worship space lease a Jewish synagogue in Reston, Virginia, prompting an unexpected cultural exchange.

The men roll out long prayer rugs on the synagogue floor. An imam stands up front and praises Allah. And as the faithful begin whispering their prayers in flowing Arabic, their landlord, a rabbi, walks by to check whether they need anything.

This unlikely arrangement between a burgeoning Muslim congregation and a suburban synagogue is what happens when you combine the region’s rapidly growing Muslim population with a serious shortage of worship space.

As area mosques prepare for the start of Ramadan this weekend, many are simply bursting at the seams. Every available inch — even in lobbies and hallways — is being used. Parking is impossible. Traffic afterward is worse than postgame gridlock at FedEx Field.

Nobody knows how many Muslims are in America — estimates range from 2.35 million to 7 million — but researchers say the population is growing rapidly, driven by conversions, immigration and the tendency for Muslims to have larger families. One study by Trinity College in Connecticut shows the percentage nationwide having doubled since 1990. In the Washington area, the increase might be even sharper, local Muslim leaders say.

A building boom has brought new mosques to suburbs such as Manassas and Ellicott City, but many have been full from the moment they opened. So, desperate for room, Muslim communities have started renting hotel ballrooms, office space and, yes, even synagogues to handle the overflow.

“We say our prayers, and a few hours later they meet for Sabbath and they say their prayers,” said Rizwan Jaka, a leader at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque in Sterling, which added services at two synagogues last year. “People may think it’s strange or odd, but we are simply grateful for the space.”

The extra room will prove crucial this weekend with the beginning of Ramadan — a month of fasting that often draws hundreds to mosques in addition to regular members. Anticipating the throngs, many mosques have hired off-duty police and rallied volunteers to handle the traffic.

“Just like you have Easter Christians, Hanukkah Jews, we have what we call Ramadan Muslims. They just come out of the woodwork on the holy days,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church.

Last year at the height of Ramadan, Abdul-Malik had to turn many away to avoid violating occupancy rules, which limit his mosque to 2,000 worshipers. When asked how many he expects this year, the imam chooses his words carefully: “I’d rather not say because of the fire marshal.”

“The prophet Isaiah said our houses would be houses of prayer for all people,” said Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk. “Now, I don’t know if Isaiah could have imagined us hosting Ramadan in the synagogue, but the basic idea is there.”

It turned out to be relatively easy. Their new Muslims friends didn’t need much: wide-open space, carpet to cushion the floor and a place for their shoes. The synagogue’s social hall suited them perfectly.

The arrangement has led to the unexpected benefit of cultural exchange. There have been pulpit swaps, with the imam and rabbi preaching to each other’s congregation and interfaith visits as well.

David Fram, 72, who sings in the synagogue’s choir, was recently invited to the Sterling mosque for daily prayers. It was an amazing, if somewhat awkward, experience. “I didn’t know quite what to do; there was a lot of bending and kneeling in their prayers,” he said.

Standing quietly in the back of the prayer hall, Fram decided to simply bow his head in reverence. He ate lunch (“some kind of spicy meat and rice”) afterward. And a few weeks later, he found himself at Barnes & Noble buying a Koran, out of curiosity.

“It’s not like the U.N. here. We’re not looking to draft some final settlement agreement between Israel and Palestine,” Nosanchuk said. “But we’re learning from each other, and we’re trying to give them the space they need and make them feel at home.”

ADAMS and other congregations are unlikely to solve their space problems anytime soon because of the long lag time usually required for new mosques. Because the Koran prohibits borrowing money at interest, congregations don’t use bank loans for construction. Instead, they fundraise over many years and then pay in cash.

The process can be excruciating.

It took Muslims in Prince William County 10 years before they accumulated enough money for a new home. While they waited, they crammed into a one-story house off Route 234. Each week, they somehow fit 50 cars into a space meant for 20. When services got too full, people knelt outside and prayed on the grass.

Women working minimum-wage jobs donated their family’s jewelry to the new-mosque fund. When construction finally began in 2004, families often drove out to the site just to watch and dream about a future of plentiful parking and prayer space.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Almost as soon as the new mosque, Dar Al-Noor, opened three years ago during Ramadan, the building was packed with 1,200 people. So this year throughout Ramadan, members will continue praying and fundraising for further expansion, said the community’s president, Mohammad Mehboob.

“We are a community with many people but not so much money,” Mehboob said. “But Allah has always provided for us. It’s amazing we have this mosque now, and, inshallah, we will continue to build and grow.”

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Musings–The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Note:  This article is part of a CD series.  Write for more information.

First of all you should know that when we say “Rich” we’re not simply talking about material or monetary richness.  Finance is certainly a part of it, but richness comes in many forms.  You can be “rich” if you only make $150 a week – and you can be a multi-millionaire and be the “poorest” of the poor.  You are “rich” when you have a balanced life brought on by a balanced lifestyle.  This balanced lifestyle begins with the belief in ALLAH, His Messenger… and prayer.

Of course, having ample finances to take care of your necessities plus a few luxuries, goes a long way to making one happy.  You cannot be happy and fulfilled if you don’t have enough food to eat or clothes to wear or a comfortable place to lay your head.  This is one of the main reasons that poor areas have more despair, stress, lawlessness, and family and societal breakdown.

This is not to say these things don’t exist in affluent neighborhoods.  They do.  But the proportion of despair in poor neighborhoods far exceeds that in richer areas.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a psychiatrist to understand that if a person grows up looking at broken bottles and empty boarded up houses everyday, he or she will not be as productive as those who grow up looking at and utilizing wealth.

However, ALLAH says if you follow some simple rules, you will be “Rich” enough to be happy in peaceful, productive surroundings.

First let us look at ZAKAT.  Prayer and zakat are two of the most often repeated dictates of ALLAH.  He puts so much emphasis on it that He has given an example of what you get back by charitable giving.  He says charity is like giving a grain of corn and each grain grows seven ears and each ear has another hundred grains.  Now add that up and see what your reward is.  I must warn you – you’ll need a mighty bi calculator.

This principle of giving is for everybody – not just “affluent Muslims.  ALLAH says for the believers (rich and poor) to pay zakat.  Some people who don’t have much money think they are exempt from giving.  This is not true and may very well be the reason they are in need.  If you only have a dollar and you give five cents, ALLAH will multiply what you gave.

The next key for getting “Rich” is saving a portion of what you have.  Again, it is irrelevant as to how much you have.  If you only make $150.00 a week, save some of it before you start spending.  First give charity and then, pay yourself.  This savings is not to be touched for anything except a dire emergency.  (And an emergency does not mean running out and buying that good looking coat you saw in the paper.)  Saving will make you independent.  You can rely on yourself for emergencies and needs rather than rely on the generosities of other people.

This is sensible living and allows you to live a life “Rich” in value, “Rich” in productivity and eventually “Rich” in finances – or at least being able to live comfortably and happy.  This is the type of life ALLAH wants us to live.  It’s the very reason He sent His message and Messenger to us.

Too many Muslims do not key in on the simple, but powerful benefits of obeying ALLAH.  But in case you don’t realize it, it’s the way to a perfect life.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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

Houstonian Corner (V11-I33)

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Unique Fundraising Done For The Oldest Masjid Of Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “We have lived among masses and understand the psyche of the society. We understand the real issues of people at grassroots level and have always been at the fore-front of serving the humanity by example and not mere words: This is what AL Islam has taught to remain be active. This event is exceptional and we are absolutely delighted to see Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, coming here in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community with no strings attached:” These were some of the sentiments of Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam of Houston, which was started in 1950s in a barber shop and later on became a full-fledged Masjid in 1978, is the oldest Masjid in the Houston area. Most of the initial funds for the Masjid came from the famous Boxing Champ Mohammad Ali.

“Muslims from the communities like Masjid AL Islam, are the ones’, who know the local language and culture. They can explain and present Islam to the Americans in much better manner than us, who have come from overseas and America is our adopted home. We can all learn from each other, but when it comes to conveying the message, the local Muslim Americans are the ones, who can do an effective job. As such we need to be at the forefront is making communities like Masjid AL Islam stronger,” said Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who is In-Charge of the recently formed Moon Sighting Committee of Houston.

Due to the efforts of Syed Shahid Ali Sunni & Associates, more than $140,000 were brought to the fundraising evening for Masjid AL Islam from their anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

Masjid AL Islam was rendered unusable as a result of Hurricane Ike. Ever since that time, several members of the congregation and administration of the Masjid have been working themselves to re-build some of the things at the Masjid. Now the real groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 12-Noon on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at the Masjid premises located at 6641 Bellfort Avenue; Houston; Texas 77087.

In order to have a smooth rebuilding of Majid AL Islam, a fundraiser was held at Shahnai Restaurant. Keynote speaker on the occasion was Imam Faheem Shuaibe of California, who in an inspiring and intellectual manner using various metaphors from AL-Quran, the science of inception, etc. explained the Finality of Messenger Mohammad (s). Allama Mukhtar Naeemi, Qari Abdul Ghani Ovaisi and several other distinctive personalities of the community were in attendance.

Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam informed that around $500,000 are needed for the re-construction project of which some have already been collected and about $200,000 were needed to be raised that evening. He said he is absolutely delighted that Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, have come out in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community, who have much to offer to the larger Muslim and Other Communities living around Houston, by social and spiritual support. He specially thanked Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who worked very hard to gather more than $140,000 for Masjid AL Islam from his anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

First Islamic Radio Program in Houston: Fifteen Years Have Passed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Radio Light Of Islam airs every Sunday 10pm.-12am. on Frequency 1460AM and live worldwide at www.KBRZRadio.Com started some 15 years ago: To commemorate the occasion, Anchors of Radio Light Of Islam Maqsood Siddiqui and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui arranged a Community Dinner, where special awards were given to those youth, who have done memorization of Quran (the Huffas of Houston). Heart wrenching recitation of Quran by Qari Ahmad Siddiqui of Madrasae Islamiah was followed by Hamd and Naat presented by young children.

Several prominent speakers spoke on the occasion about the importance of Community Owned Media and ask people to financially support Radio Light of Islam, so that its hours are increased and more languages programming can be done on it like the Spanish. Those included Mufti Saleem, Imam Wazir Ali, Imam Yahya Gant, Imam Abu Mujahid (Spanish), Hafiz Nisar-ul-Haq, Hafiz Tauqir Shah and others.

For more information, one can call 832-298-7860.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Remembered For His Legendary Role

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

shahi imam

In this file picture taken on February 14, 2006, Shahi Imam of New Delhi’s Jama Masjid Mosque Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari addresses a press conference at The Jama Masjid.

NEW DELHI: Fire-brand Shahi Imam of historic Jama Masjid, Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari is no more, but memories of his legendary role live on. He is credited for being among the first Muslim clerics who strongly spoke and worked constructively to redress grievances of Indian Muslims. Suffering from illness, Bukhari (87) passed away at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), last week, where he had been admitted several weeks ago. Ironically, he breathed his last on July 8, the very day on which in 1973 he took charge as Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid. Though he passed on the charge of Jama Masjid to his son Syed Ahmed Bukhari on October 14, 2000, he retained the title of Shahi Imam till the very last. He was the 12th Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, a process which began during the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan’s reign. The Bukhari family was invited from Central Asia to take charge of Jama Masjid, with Shahjahan conferring the title of Shahi Imam on Syed Ghafoor Shah Bukhari on July 24, 1656. Since then, Imamat of Jama Masjid has continued in the family, with each Shahi Imam being succeeded by his son.

Bukhari played a crucial role in 1947 in persuading Muslims not to migrate to Pakistan. When he was asked decades later (in 2004) by former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan on had he ever thought of shifting to Pakistan, Bukhari replied: “India is my country and the very question of leaving it cannot arise at all.” His protest against communal violence in Delhi’s Kishanganj area in 1974 led to his being jailed for 18 days in 1975. Bukhari shot into fame in 1977, when he campaigned actively against the forced sterilization drive pursued by then Congress government in parts of Old Delhi. His anti-Congress campaign played a crucial role in pushing then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi out of power in 1977 Lok Sabha elections.

Remembering Bukhari for fearlessly voicing stand against government’s anti-Muslim measures, Qazi Ayub Hassan Choudhary said: “He was the one who looked Indira Gandhi in the eye.” Bukhari is remembered by Muslims for providing thousands of them shelter in Jama Masjid when they were driven out of their homes by mobs during troubled times. He provided them food, clothes and medicines. In other words, his service to the Muslim community extended far beyond rhetoric, reaching out to actually aggrieved ones. Though Bukhari played an active role in favor of Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, it had limited impact.

Among those who knew Bukhari well remember him for his secular credentials too. When a Hindu couple, who worked for the Imam, passed away around four decades ago, Bukhari decided to “adopt” their son, Raju. The little boy lived and worked at Bukhari’s house till his marriage. One of daughters-in-law of Bukhari was a non-Muslim. She remembers him for having never imposed Islamic beliefs and practices on her, which she adopted out of her own choice.

In his condolence message, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari said: “I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari.” “A respected personality,” he “had an impressive record of religious service to the people,” Ansari stated. “He would remain a lasting exemplar of selfless service and his death has caused a deep void,” he said.

Expressing grief at his demise, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: “He will always be remembered in the history of Jama Masjid and the country.”

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “In his whole life, he served his nation and Islam. Today, we regret that the great scholar has left us. I am sure that after his death his successors will carry forward his tradition of secularism.”

Mourning his demise, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: “He worked towards the betterment of all communities.”

“Imam sahab was a dynamic personality. Besides being the Imam, he was always involved in raising social and political issues. He played a constructive role in 1947,” Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan said.

“The Imam was a great personality. He was a fearless man. He tried to pressurize the government to take up issues concerning the community. He had been a fighter for 30 long years. After Emergency (June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977), he became more involved,” Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque, said.

In its condolence message, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations said, that Bukhari played a “leading role” for Indian Muslims for over three decades.

Born in Sambhar, Rajasthan, Bukhari received his religious education in the capital city. He was laid to rest in the family graveyard on the northwest side of Jama Masjid (July 8). He is survived by four sons and two daughters.

Remembering his father, Ahmad Bukhari, the present Imam, said: “Not only did I love my father, I admired him and tried emulating him. He always advised me to fight against oppression and he would tell me that I should never succumb before the cruel. I have tried to uphold his principles.

11-30

Wary serenity in Berlin mosques

January 4, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Submitted to TMO by independent journalist Frank Payne

Bombings in Madrid and London, riots in Paris. At issue are geopolitics, class and ethnicity. In Germany, it is not terror attacks but alleged plots, police raids, and continuing suspicion. For young Muslims in Berlin, the response to such scrutiny is to be at once welcoming but hyper-vigilant of outsiders.

Neukölln

Scattered groups of Muslim men and women make their way toward Nür Mosque, their faces aglow in the orange light of the setting sun. I watch them through the window of a coffee shop, where American hip hop and R&B music are the soundtrack to an afternoon’s end. The friendly owner of the place is Nayaf, a Palestinian in his mid-thirties who jokes with customers in Arabic, Turkish, German, and English.

This is Neukölln, a working-class neighborhood in Southeast Berlin, populated by Turkish and Arab immigrants sometimes down to the third generation. Finished with my coffee, I too make way toward the mosque. The exterior of Nür Mosque is painted a clean white but like nearly all places of worship for Muslims in Germany is otherwise nondescript. The interior, however, fits the classic image of a mosque: a light green, ornate oriental rug covering the entire floor and wide pillars supporting the roof and walls. There is a store, a small library, and an upstairs kitchen and eatery where one finds traditional foods like baklava and falafel.

In the mosque’s washroom, the lights are off, but rays from a single large window illuminate the room and balance calm shadows. Cool water flows from a row of aluminum faucets while Zaher, a North African, demonstrates the Muslim purification ritual to me. I mimic his motions as he bathes his hands, arms, face, insides of his nose, and feet. Curious onlookers, also washing, ask Zaher about me with friendly smiles.

I take a seat on the floor among dozens of young men, or brothers, as the mosque fills up. All but a few appear to be under the age of 30. The majority appear to be in their teens. Each wears his own style of dress: traditional robes, shirts pressed and tucked, leather jackets, or sports jerseys hanging over baggy jeans a la hip hop style. Flowing beards and shaven heads mix with gelled, slicked-back and spiked hair.

What the individuals of such a varied group have in common, though, is a commitment to their faith, and at this moment, absolute attention to the words of the imam, Abdul-Adhim or Abu Abderrahman. This bond, so communal that exterior differences become seemingly null and void; shows one of the central beauties of Islam, and what some non-Muslims may fear so much about the religion. These are all obviously very different men. Yet, inside these walls, within the context of Islam, they are not disparate individuals. They seem to be indisputably one.

Today Abu Abderrahman, a small, Tunisian-born man between thirty-two and thirty-eight years of age, is speaking about the corruption of Muslim youth. In German, he sermons into a microphone from his own seated position at the front of the congregation. An animated speaker, Abu Abderrahman waves his hands and punctuates every sentence with a wide, jolly grin. His jokes often elicit laughs from the crowd.

I tightly frame the face of a bearded young man in the viewfinder of my camera. My finger on the shutter button, he turns and makes eye contact with me through the lens. In the exact same instant, the imam shouted in a sharp voice over the microphone “halo, no photograph in here!” Dozens of heads turn and hundreds of eyes focus in my direction. Abu Abderrahman is shaking his head in disapproval. I nod and quickly stow the camera away.

During a break in the service, several clerics dressed in white robes approach me one by one. With warm smiles, each says hello and offers a handshake. One man, a native German with chestnut-colored hair and full beard sits down. “There is no danger”, he insists. He talks on, asking questions about the U.S. and proudly admits that he was once a break dancer.

There has only been a misunderstanding. I had taken the imam’s invitation to Nür Mosque as approval to take also photographs. But approval from officials even higher than the imam were necessary in order to do so. “Kein problem”, or “no big deal”, Abu Abderraham insists.

Wedding

It is Easter Monday, and I am meeting the English-speaking Amr at Osloer Strasse U-bahn station for a youth prayer group in the predominantly Arab and South Asian neighborhood known as Wedding. Walking together, Amr tells me the story of Bilal, the namesake of the mosque that we are about to enter. Bilal, an Assyrian slave, converted to Islam then refused to repent even under torture. Moved by his devotion, another follower of the Prophet Muhammad (s) purchased Bilal’s freedom. “Racism existed hundreds of years ago too”, Amr says, but the Prophet Muhammad (s) preached that all men should be accepted into the faith.

In Bilal Mosque, I sit shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, within a circle of twenty men and boys. Amr consults with a leader of the prayer group about my presence and taking my photographs. A small man, with a light beard and gentle voice, he turns and responds in perfect English “let’s see, maybe after (the service), because I know that some brothers will have a problem with this.”

This evenings prayers and discussion is being led by another lightly bearded, married but altogether youthful looking man. Like the imam of Nür Mosque, he has notable abilities as a speaker. He makes eye contact around the circle and punctuates statements with a smile, as if to ask “You understand, yes? You do believe, right?”

After the service I snack on potato chips and soda, chatting with a couple of brothers on either side of me. Amr then calls me over to the main room to sit down on the carpet with him and two others. Their decision is no to photographs. They are seriously worried about negative media attention, specifically about alleged links between German mosques and terrorist activity. One of them mentions that state subsidies for the youth programs are at risk. Likewise, some well-meaning parents might keep their children from attending the mosque if they got the impression that extremism was being taught.

Later, I am struck by one of the men’s positive perception of Muslim life in the United States, based on anecdotes from friends and relatives in the country. Freedom of worship in the United States, he says, means fewer problems for women who wear veils than in Europe.

Burying a Brother

The Turkish Sehitlik Camii Mosque near Platz Luftbrücke is the only Berlin mosque with a dome, minarets, and other traditional Islamic décor. It used to be the Turkish embassy to Germany. Now, it serves a predominantly Turk-German congregation. I meet Amr, my host once again, this time for a funeral. Shorly on arrival, he interrupts our interview to say that we must be silent for the next few minutes. With a friend, he then distances himself physically to pray. He is two rows ahead as other figures gather. In total, we are six rows of about 120 total men. It is noon as the sun peaks from behind high, white clouds. Lying before us is the coffin, draped in black cloth with gold letters in Arabic.


The Sehtilik Mosque

The funeral is for a German convert to Islam. Remarkably, most of those attending did not know him personally. Amr claims to not have known him at all, neither what he looked like, nor how he died. He asks others and gets much of the same response. Yet, all have come en mass to pay their respects to a member of the community.

At the burial grounds, the graves are separated into Muslim, Christian, and Jewish sections. Only yards away from where the young man will be buried is a large headstone for Kaiser Wilheim II inside a small, fenced plot. The funeral continues, with preaching in Arabic. A man of Black African origins then summarizes what has been said in German. Amr translates for me, speaking softly. “The sermon was a reminder that we are all visitors on this earth. And a visitor must always leave the place that he visits. We came from nothing, dirt, dust, and will return to nothing: taking only our deeds with us as we go back to the Creator.”

The only sounds afterward are light street traffic, and occasional cries from the man’s wife. Her deceased husband’s parents comfort her. Then, the thumping of mounds of dirt against the coffin, as worshippers with shovels take turns filling in the grave. Muslims are generally buried in shrouds, but German law mandates the use of coffins.

The Fundamentalist

Amr and I sit down for an interview and a kosher Muslim lunch of roast hen, french fries, salad, and Coke. His beard has grown significantly since I first met him a couple of weeks ago. “By the way, you’re looking at a fundamentalist” he says from across the table. Amr says this with a keenness of how much the term fundamentalist is a watch word for terrorist in Western media and popular culture. However, he brushes off my attempts to distinguish it from the alternate, perhaps more politically correct fundamentalist extremist. These days, most legal authorities, media, and the general public do not bother to make the distinction anyway, he says.

Amr was raised in a devout Islamic household. He is familiar though, with the ways of the Western world from his education in an English-speaking school in Germany and his travels abroad. He speaks four languages – English, German, Arabic, and French – and is well-versed in the nuances of United States society. “I am a Muslim fundamentalist by choice”, he explains, a man who finds genuine insight and intellectual stimulation from the Koran and religious observance. One surmises from talking to him that he gets as much stimulation from Islam as he does from academia and his worldly appreciation of foreign cultures.

So how is Amr, a young fundamentalist Muslim treated by Western society? Echoing the others I spoke with, he feels generally respected by other Germans, but within an undercurrent of fear. On Berlin’s streets, trains, buses, and shops, Amr senses in others a wariness of his Arabic features and traditional, Islamic beard. He is particularly wary of trying to visit the United States for fear of being entered on a terrorist watch list; of being mistakenly detained and interrogated by authorities. Like so many other Arabic and Turkish men in Berlin that I spoke to, he asks that his true name and other specifics about his identity be omitted from this article.

“Islam is peace. If only people would dig deeper, they would find that”. On this point, Amr is most emphatic, stressing that this is what he wants me to leave with. He leans forward, holding his hand eloquently to the side of his face, expressing himself as a professor or an imam would. His large brown eyes hold steadily and benevolently.

Before lunch, Amr and I climb the white marble steps into the dome of Sehitlik Camii Mosque. Inside, an imam in a black, gold-colored rimmed robe and white cap is speaking in Turkish. Rows of adult men sit or kneel in front of him. A few elderly men sit on chairs or on steps at the back. Amr joins the men toward the front to listen and pray.

I absorb the view of the courtyard outside through large windows with wooden doors and the expansive interior. The dominant colors of the mosque are white, green, and gold on the high dome ceiling, marble columns, and wall to wall oriental carpet. The decor is intricate and inspired. Many spiritual people, religious or agnostic, would be moved by such a mosque’s beauty; it’s physical manifestation of man’s quest for spirituality and tranquility.

Amr returns from the front sits on the floor nearby, watching me as I observe everything else. From the nearest window, a white column of light shone down, illuminating his face and everything around him. The other figures closest are partially lit or remain in shadows.

Sitting down too, I see white prayer beads strewn beside a neatly coiled microphone on the rug next to one of the marble columns. It is time for everyone to pray as one. The imam sings the call from the front of the mosque. Then, a teenage boy with black-rimmed glasses, a white Muslim cap covering the black hair on his head, and a moustache and beard sprouting from his face stands directly beside me. He picks up the microphone beside the prayer beads and sings alternatively with the imam. Making neat rows, our feet adjoined, we all pray together, lifting our hands and bowing our heads in rhythm. For the moment, there is no tension with the outside world: only serenity among ourselves and God.

9-2

SE Michigan News for week ending May 31, 2006

June 1, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

UMSA Sponsored Seminar/Conference Held at IAGD

Troy—May 28—The UMSA Udruzenje Muslimana Sjeverne Amerike), the Society of Bosnian Muslims of North America, held a conference this weekend with the support of the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit (IAGD).

About 300 people were in evidence this past Sunday at IAGD, part of a loyal following that attended the entire 3-day-long event. Most of those in attendance were from out of town, from as far away as Florida, Missouri, and elsewhere—reflecting the wide diaspora to which Bosnian immigrants to America have spread.

UMSA is an organization that is not particularly well-known among American Muslims, but which has had a growing presence since its founding in 2001. UMSA maintains an extremely well-organized website in the Bosnian language at www.umsa.org.

Speaking with The Muslim Observer on behalf of UMSA was its Secretary, Mirsad, who declined to give a last name. Mirsad is a huge bear of a man with a dark spot on his head from his prayers, who wore through the beginning of our meeting an artist’s beret, with a flowing beard that extends at least eight inches below his chin and that moves in chance breezes. He immigrated to the United States from Serbian Belgrade in the very early part of the war (1993), without himself serving in any military capacity because he was from the start on the wrong side of enemy lines. He had worked as a rock ‘n’ roll producer before the war, but prompted by Serbian and other antipathy to him during the war faced inward and embraced his own Islam.

Bosnians who came to the United States ended up, says Mirsad, in wildly different parts of the country. Some in Grand Rapids Michigan, some in Jacksonville Florida, some in Phoenix Arizona, some in Dallas Texas, some in Amarillo Texas, some in Hamtramck Michigan—in short a huge community of Bosnian refugees scattered across the US in cities—which cities that have nothing in common other than that they have Bosnian refugees.

According to Mirsad, there are within the United States about 500,000 Bosnian immigrants, refugees from the war, many of whom have had large families here. Therefore, he estimates that in the US (counting immigrants and their descendants) there are “more than one million” Bosnians, most of whom have taken American citizenship—a huge portion of the estimated 4 million Bosnians inside Bosnia itself. He estimates that 30% of Bosnians in America actively practise Islam.

But, surprisingly, he says that despite the Bosnian historical trend that most marriages crossed religious lines, within the diaspora that trend has become minimal and in fact Bosnians usually marry within Islam. Mirsad cites himself as an exception to that rule, as he married an American Christian woman who then converted to Islam—the couple has now had five children.
UMSA’s stated ambition is to “patiently work with our community to help them preserve and restore our Muslim identity,” therefore it was established in May of 2001 as an Illinois religious not-for-profit organization “for the purpose of da’wa in Islam.” Da’wa here refers primarily to preaching to people who are already Muslim, because UMSA focuses its efforts on reaching out to the Bosnian-American community.

The Bosnian community under communism lived under constant threat, and was unable to practise Islam fully; under the war of genocide of the 90’s, again Muslims were forced back on their heels. Now that Bosnians have come to the United States, they are faced with a different threat, that of assimilation. Being white and better able than other Muslim American communities to fade quietly into the American mainstream, they face a choice as to whether they wish to retain their Muslim identity or instead distance themselves from it and quietly merge with mainstream Americans. It is these threats to the Islam of Bosnians that UMSA was intended to counter.

Mirsad said that UMSA receives no outside funding for its activities, despite its having been very active since its inception—this week’s conference (though modest in its budgetary requirements—being held at a sympathetic mosque and with few speakers) was its sixth annual conference (UMSA also claims the ability to pay for tickets for Bosnian scholars to travel to the US)—UMSA also sports a publishing house which has already published two books independently, and the professional website mentioned earlier. Mirsad also claims that UMSA has distributed 100’s of thousands of audio tapes on Islam.

UMSA’s website shows that the organization sees the modern world through the prism of the Balkan war of the last decade. It features prominently ten-year-old pictures of murdered Bosnian civilians over whom stand merciless Serb paramilitary members or army soldiers. Random clicking around on the site leads to a disclaimer in English, which specifies that “any mention in any article of any type of weapons is for information purposes only. Udruzenje Muslimana Sjeverne Amerike and the maintainers of this website do not encourage you to commit any illegal acts anywhere, and disclaim liability for the same.”

The website is huge and well-organized—despite its being in Bosnian it is clear that through the website (which Mirsad claims has had millions of visitors since its beginning) viewers can easily access video, audio, and more.

The conference itself featured only three speakers who each spoke multiple times. They are: Dr. Anwar Hajjaj, Dr. Ibrahim Dremali, and Imam Edip Makic. Dr. Anwar Hajjaj is the President of the American Islamic Information Center, which advocates involvement in electoral politics by Muslims. Dr. Ibrahim Dremali is a proponent of the Wahhabi school of thought, featuring prominent and adoring references to the education and background of Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, and the usual detailed explications of what is bid’a and haram.

Mirsad, asked whether Dr. Dremali was representative of the thought of UMSA as a whole, answered absolutely not, that there were many speakers and in fact the speakers originally selected by UMSA had not been allowed to come to the US because of visa restrictions to their travel from Bosnia. Asked what their names had been, Mirsad declined to specify.

Imam Makic, another speaker, is the imam of a Grand Rapids community mosque. Grand Rapids, he explains, is the home of approximately 10,000 Muslim Bosnians, and is intending soon to build a new mosque. Imam Makic spoke in Bosnian to his primarily Bosnian audience—he spoke of the many benefits of Ottoman rule in Bosnia, of the linguistic abilities of historical Bosnian scholars (who spoke Arabic, Turkish, and other languages in addition to their own native tongue) and especially of the many scholars who have come from that area over the past 500 years. Scholars he mentioned prominently included Hasan Kafija Pruscak (1544-1615) and Mehmed Handzic (1906-1944). Imam Makic also mentioned the Rais-ul-ulama of Bosnia, who is Dr. Mustafa Ceric, who follows in the tradition of those great scholars by speaking many languages including Arabic and Turkish.

Describing the benefits of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, Imam Makic explained that since Ottoman rule was withdrawn from Bosnia, there have been 10 attempts at genocide against Bosnia’s Muslims.

In fact, the analogy which Mirsad applies to Bosnia is that of Andalusia, which likewise was a Muslim state in Europe, and which was over the course of a few centuries completely and bloodily hijacked away from the influence of Islam.

Imam Makic expresses his hope for Bosnians in America, saying that in fact their position is improving every day, with more schools and mosques. He says that Bosnian Muslims are also creating good relations with other refugees who somehow arrived in Grand Rapids (whose immigrant community is composed of Bosnians (the majority), Somalians, Ethiopians, and Kosovar Albanians), as well as with the other non-Muslim inhabitants of that western Michigan city.

The imam explained that his mosque is run out of a small rented building now, but that the community recently bought land for a large $1.5 million project intended to include a school, funeral home, and to be the home for many activities for young people.

Asked why the conference did not feature better-known speakers, Mirsad explained first that UMSA wanted to bring Bosnian scholars to speak, but was prevented because the scholars they chose were not granted visas. Secondly, he explained that UMSA wishes to sponsor speakers that speak as da’ees on political and social issues rather than imams who speak humbly on religious issues.

Mirsad explained that the nationwide Muslim organizations like ISNA and ICNA are not interested in UMSA because its base is relatively small, being able to pull only a few hundred people for one of its conferences rather than the tens of thousands attracted by ISNA or the thousands attracted by ICNA.

UMSA’s Mirsad says he is Hanafi, the madhhab claimed by the overwhelming majority of Bosnians.

He dislikes the celebration of Mawlid, which he claims is a cultural celebration which in Bosnia is celebrated with dancing and alcohol. Confronted with the suggestion that Mawlid is a world-wide Muslim phenomenon not confined to Bosnia, Mirsad bristles and appears deeply offended but retreats to his claims that he does not accept it because its Bosnian practitioners use alcohol. He does not debate that Mawlid and alcohol are two completely separate issues.
He proudly explains that UMSA’s participants take an active role in discussions with their lecturers or imams. They “demand the proof” for anything they hear and question, which itself is different from the absolute acceptance given Prophet (s) by sahaba, given sahaba by the tabi’een, given tabi’een by the tabi’ tabi’een, and so on—in fact this tradition of acceptance and following is an unquestioned one still practised by most Muslims and at most legitimate schools of Islamic instruction, that has only recently been upended by modernist reformers.

Mirsad sheds new light on the present situation of Bosnian Muslims, saying that in fact the entire war was decided in favor of the Serbs by the Dayton accords, which ceded huge lands to the Serb aggressors and which hamstrung Bosnia by appointing an EU “High Representative” with executive powers, able unilaterally to veto or ram through any change in Bosnia. He cites the Bosnian flag as the best example of this. Bosnia’s flag, he explains, was imposed on Bosnia by the EU—it is not a reflection of what the Bosnian people themselves wanted. While he avers his belief that the government’s employees are doing their best, whatever they do is subject to outside control and therefore in fact there is no autonomy.

Asked whether Bosnia now endures a lot of corruption, he argues that in fact corruption is everywhere around the world and perhaps less prevalent in Bosnia than in the United States itself.

As a further symptom of unfairness, Mirsad argues that the majority of prisoners brought to the Hague for war crimes trials have been Muslims, despite Muslims being absolutely the victims of the Bosnian war and despite Ratko Mladic and other prominent Serb war criminals living out their lives in hiding in Serbia with apparently very significant government support.

8-23

The Imam, Leadership, and Respect

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Imam, Leadership, & Respect
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin
“O ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before ALLAH and His Messenger; but fear ALLAH: for ALLAH is He who hears and knows all things. 2. O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. 3. Those that lower their voice in the presence of ALLAHíS Messenger—their hearts has ALLAH tested for piety. For them is forgiveness and a great reward. 4. Those who shout out to thee from without the Inner Apartments—most of them lack understanding. 5. If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them: but ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
Hujurat: 1-5
On July 4, 1976, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, leader of the Muslim American Society, delivered a stirring talk entitled “The Need For Leadership.” In the talk were references to how leadership is subtly and overtly disrespected. This is done in many ways such as constantly finding fault with the leader, putting obstacles in his path or refusing to remove obstacles from his path, or treating him like “one of the boys.” When the Prophet (s) was among us physically, ALLAH had to remind the believers to treat him with respect. Looking at where the people came from (Jahylia—ignorance) it is no wonder they had to be reminded. Can you imagine having the Messenger of ALLAH (s) in your midst and shouting into his house like he was your street running buddy?
We may wonder why ALLAH put these ayahs in the Qur`an. The Prophet (s) is no longer physically with us so He couldn’t be talking to us about shouting into the Prophet’s (s) dwelling. That is not physically possible. But since we believe that every word of the Qur`an is meant for our guidance, then, without doubt, ALLAH intends this as a sign for human beings in our dealing with each other.
Does this mean that we are to treat our leaders as kings and princes? No, not at all. But it does mean that we are to be intelligent and respectful to those ALLAH allows to be in charge. You may notice when the President of the U.S. enters the halls of Congress, everybody jumps to their feet to give him a standing ovation until he reaches the front. Then when the Speaker of the House formally announces him, the applause starts all over again. It is a respect for the office—not necessarily the man.
ALLAH reminds us of this because the community cannot prosper with such behavior. Yusef Ali says in his commentary that to behave in such a manner can destroy the good intentions of any service you may have wished to perform. You might be looked upon with disfavor without you even realizing your action was disliked. ALLAH says “most of them lack understanding,” but nevertheless the damage is done.
In order for us to be successful, we must take on the spirit of the Qur`an. We must drop cultural and ethnic hang-ups and adopt the plain and simple, but strong language of the Qur`an. It’s the only way to be Muslim and be successful.
As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin

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.

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.

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