ISPU’s 2011 Annual Banquet in Dearborn

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ISPU Press Release

For Immediate Release—The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding has  announced that Hollywood screenwriter, producer and director  Kamran Pasha  will serve as  its keynote speaker for the 2011 ISPU annual banquet “Navigating a Post 9/11 World”on Saturday October 22, 2011 at the Ford Conference and Events Center in Dearborn, MI.

Pasha is a prolific writer, penning two historical novels Mother of the Believers and Shadow of the Swords. He has been a writer and producer for NBC’s television series Kings, a modern day retelling of the Biblical tale of King David. Previously he served as a writer on NBC’s remake of Bionic Woman, and on Showtime Network’s Golden Globe nominated series Sleeper Cell, about a Muslim FBI agent who infiltrates a terrorist group.

The event will mark the culmination of ISPU’s special series of publications, events and conferences planned across the country to reflect on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.  “Navigating a Post 9/11 World: A Decade of Lessons Learned” explores several of the most pressing policy issues facing the United States and the American Muslim community, and presents forward thinking and inclusive policy recommendations for the future. The series addresses the threat of terrorism, policy shifts over the past decade and challenges and opportunities for Muslims in America. 

The annual banquet  will focus on the role ISPU has played in shaping the policy debate on key issues over the last year, as well as how trailblazers like Kamran Pasha, have broken down barriers and helped to change the way the American public views Muslims in popular media.

ISPU will honor Dr. Aminah McCloud with the 2011 Scholar Award. Dr. McCloud is the Director of the Islamic World Studies Program at DePaul University. She is the founder of Islam in America Conference at DePaul and editor for The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture.

The 2011 ISPU Distinguished Award for Philanthropy to will be presented to Tim Attala. Saeed Khan will act as the Master of Ceremonies.

In 2010, ISPU’s Annual Banquet featured Keynote Speaker Rashad Hussain, US Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The event gathered 600 attendees including Congressmen John Conyers, Deputy Special Envoy to the OIC Arsalan Suleman, and Michigan State University Provost Kim Wilcox. 

Event information:

Saturday October 22, 2011 6:00pm Registration & Appetizers, 7:00pm Program. Ford Conference and Events Center, Dearborn, MI; 1151 Village Road; Dearborn, MI 48124-5033; Tickets – $100

13-39

Community News (V13-I26)

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslim-American Encyclopedia Racks Up Awards

communitynewspicThe “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History,” has been named one of best reference books of 2010 by “Library Journal”; one of the top 40 reference titles of 2010 by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association; an editor’s choice reference source by “Booklist” ; and an “honor book” by the Society of School Librarians International.

The recognition is gratifying for the encyclopedia’s general editor, Edward E. Curtis IV, Millennium Chair of Liberal Arts and professor of religious studies at IUPUI. “This is exactly the kind of attention we need to get this encyclopedia into public and school libraries, where the reference is really needed,” said Curtis.

Ten undergraduates and one graduate student from the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI are among the 125 contributors to the “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History,” published in 2010. The IUPUI students contributed entries to the reference book by way of Curtis’ spring 2008 religious studies course on Islam in America.

A recent wave of Islamophobia, including protests over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan, a number of state legislative attempts to outlaw shari‘a, or Islamic law and ethics, and U.S. Rep. Peter King’s hearings in the House of Representatives on Muslim American “radicalism”, has helped to make Muslim Americans more visible and more vulnerable.

“Knowledge of the various contributions made by Muslim Americans to U.S. society” has never been more critical, according to one review of the encyclopedia.

“Many of today’s anti-Muslim sentiments express the idea that Muslims and their cultures are foreign to America,” said Curtis. “The encyclopedia shows instead how Muslims and Islam have been part of American life since before the republic was even founded.”

Several reviews of the “Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History” describe the reference as the first to chart the long history of Muslims in the United States.

“It is unique in that there is no other source that chronicles the history of Muslim-American experience so broadly,” states “Reference Reviews.”In addition to covering religion, the encyclopedia analyzes Muslim contributions to realms of American life such as agriculture, poetry, basketball, philanthropy, and politics.

According to Curtis, the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI deserves some credit for the reference’s success. “By creating an environment where public scholarship is rewarded rather than punished,” he asserts, “the school is helping to show how the liberal arts are essential to navigating today’s world.”

Halal poultry plant to add new jobs

PRINCESS ANNE, MD–Tauherr Poultry plans on bringing 15 to 25 jobs to Princess Anne. The company plans to use the recently purchased plant in the Princess Anne Industrial Park to process halal chicken.

Terrence Nichols, part owner of Tauherr Poultry, says he’s excited to help and bring jobs to the community. The facility in Princess Anne is already paid for. Nichols met with Somerset County town commissioners on Monday evening to explain his plans and inform them of the jobs the plant will create.

Nichols says the plant is looking to serve a niche market. Halal chickens are prepared according to Islamic dietary laws.

Naiyer Imam appointed to Stem Cell Assurance

JUPITER, FL–Stem Cell Assurance, Inc.  today announced it has created a Scientific Advisory Board and has appointed Naiyer Imam, M.D., M.Sc. to serve as an advisor. Dr. Imam will assist the Company in establishing strategic relationships with leading physicians, scientists, and medical institutions as well as participating in potential clinical trials and stem cell applications.

Dr. Imam received a Medical Degree at an accelerated program from Brown University, as well as a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. In addition, he obtained a Master of Science degree in Biostatistics at Harvard University. Dr. Imam completed his radiology training at USF in Florida and a neuroradiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, MD. His previous academic posting include Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and Professor of Radiology at Virginia Tech School of Medicine. Dr. Imam is well published in the medical and radiological literature as a physician, computer scientist and businessman.

Dr. Imam is currently serving as the chairman and CEO of Advanced Medical Imaging and Teleradiology, LLC — a new-generation teleradiology corporation that he founded in 2009. Dr. Imam is also the chairman of Gulf Advanced Imaging Corporation, a growing network of imaging centers based in Dubai, UAE. He has previously served as medical director for NightHawk Radiology Services, a publicly traded corporation, and chairman of American Teleradiology Nighthawks (ATN). He has previously served as chairman of Medical Imaging Specialists, a radiology corporation that he founded in Virginia, which served as a base for a number of imaging centers and surgical centers that Dr. Imam has either founded or developed.

Dr. Imam commented, “I am delighted to be involved with Stem Cell Assurance as a member of its Scientific Advisory Board. Stem cell science is a very exciting and evolving industry and Stem Cell Assurance is appropriately building its management and advisory team to ensure progressive strides in its research and clinical initiatives.”

Mark Weinreb, Stem Cell Assurance’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are very pleased to have Dr. Imam, a highly regarded physician and scientist, join our Scientific Advisory Board. His expertise in medicine, science and business will prove to be highly beneficial to the Company’s ongoing efforts in supporting our growth and expansion.”

13-26

University of Michigan MSA Organizes Event with Dr. Sherman Jackson

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

islam2005_jackson Ann Arbor–This past weekend an event was organized by the MSA of the University of Michigan, attended by an audience of about 600 people.

The highlight at the event from the students was the presentation of skits from boys and girls. The consensus of those in attendance was that the girls’ skits were better.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Sherman Jakson, who exhorted MSA students and other Muslims not to despair despite the present anti-Muslim climate, because they have a legacy to carry.

He reminded the audience that the Holy Prophet (s) faced terrible terrible hardships, but that he never relented in his mission.

Professor Jackson also emphasized to the students that they should trust people based on thier actions, and not based on their religion. He gave the example of when our Prophet (s) left Mecca for Madina, among others was one mushrik whose trust Prophet (s) valued, based on his honorable actions and deeds.

Thirdly, Professor Jackson said that MSA is an important institution. Citing his own example he said “I am one of its beneficiaries.” When he accepted Islam in 1977–when the Iranian revolution was at its height, the Palestinian issue and other similar problems were just creeping up–when we turn to MSA, he said, that was our source of inspiration. We put our intellectual resources, physical resources and financial resources–that provided us focus and solace. He concluded by saying; “MSA is the future of Islam in America and elsewhere.” He further said: “ Every one in MSA has a place to work and each one of you is important for the vision and mission of MSA”.

When the five TMO Foundation scholarships were announced, students cheered it with approval and appreciation.

For more information about the scholarships visit http://www.tmofoundation.com.

12-8

Save the US Ummah!

March 15, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Bloomfield—March 10—Jeffrey Lang, converted Muslim and prolific author, spoke passionately this past Saturday night at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center on the need and methods to keep our children within the fold of Islam.

About 300 people packed the banquet facilities at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center, by far the biggest crowd this reporter has seen at the facility.

Lang, professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas, is an important intellectual voice in the American Muslim community. Lang was born January 30, 1954 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Born Catholic, he went through several phases of belief through his sincere quest for belief in the truth; during periods of agnosticism and atheism, before he accepted Islam, he had recurring and comforting dreams of himself performing the communal prayer—this was eventually to become reality, as Professor Lang did in fact become a Muslim in the early 80s.

Lang has written four books addressing the core problem the American Muslim community faces, that of the disaffection of American Muslim youths and converts with what they see of the practice of Islam in their local communities and mosques. His books include Struggling to Surrender (1994), Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America (1997), and Losing My Religion: A Call for Help (2004).

While Islam may be the fastest-growing religion in America, he said, it may also be the fastest-shrinking. He began his speech with an engaging and essential statement, that while perhaps 80% of Muslims in the United States are native-born, either coming to Islam through conversion or birth to Muslim parents, the population at any communal mosque service has only a minimal percentage of such native Muslims—typically even less than 1% of the active membership in most mosques. Therefore, “by the most essential measure,” our situation is very bleak. The main purpose of his speech was to describe what has brought about the disaffection on the part of those who have left their mosques in droves, so that the community can redress the grievances that drive people away from the mosques.

The professor explained the fundamental process by which young Muslims distanced themselves from the religion—as they grew up they had many deeply painful and viscerally felt experiences relating to their own Muslim community, which led them in later life to a visceral distaste for the community. Converts did not at first have this visceral reaction to problems in the community, but developed it over time. One experience at a time, the community delicately hammers away at converts, until they feel at a visceral level unwelcome, and—frequently—leave.

Lang’s essential solution lay in refraining as Muslims from imposing questionable “Shari’ah” interpretations on newcomers to Islam. Confronted with just the five pillars, he said, many people will already be unwilling to change their lives to fit Islam. If Muslims approach newcomers to Islam with immensely heavy and debatable “Islamic law” they will drive away the remaining people who would have been willing to practice Islam–they would have prayed, made hajj, abstained from what is plainly haram.

Lang explained that his interest in the subject began about two decades ago, when a brother at his local mosque, after they prayed ‘isha together, explained in tears that, “Brothers, I lost him—I have lost my son.” Not to death, but to a life without real devotion to Islam. This story, of course, has been repeated many thousands of times in other American Muslim families since then. In reaction to this event, Lang wrote his first book about Islam, Struggling to Surrender—he received many letters from other converts, who he said had followed a similar trajectory to his own on becoming Muslim. They accepted Islam with spiritual ecstasy, went through a period of extremism as they learned the extreme views of the religion from the most vocal members of their communities, then—many times—went out of the religion as they were faced with cultural barriers and inconsistencies in the way that Islam was portrayed to them.

Under pressure from the Muslims he knew to not ask the questions that had originally brought him to Islam, he wrote Even Angels Ask, about the basic fundamental challenges to belief that many born Muslims find so disturbing that they really cannot face, but which he said must be faced in dealing with young American Muslims whether they are converts or 2nd generation Muslims in America. In reaction to this book he started to uncover a great hidden mass of people within America, second-generation Muslims, disaffected by what they saw of Islam in their homes and communities, unable to find answers to the basic questions of belief that they encountered as they grew up in a secular but—in many ways—just society. In reaction to their letters and emails, he wrote Losing My Religion—based on opening the basic issues that came up in his correspondence with these youth who found themselves confronted with the impossibility of opening fundamental issues with their home communities (parents and imams). When these youth tried to bring up fundamental issues with parents or imams, they were called “kafir” or sometimes instructed to hide their disaffection from the community they were in—to hide their fundamental questions of belief for the sake of appearances in their parents’ social community.

Lang said that growing up, Muslim youths go through a process of imbibing the ethos of America at a deep level, building their fundamental assumptions on the American ethos which many times, he pointed out, is fairer than their own communities (not to say Islam) on issues important to them—for instance race. Living astride two cultures, they grow up going through a psychological process of trying to accept only those parts of each culture that do not conflict with the parts of the other—and they end up with fundamental questions about the assumptions and lifestyles of their parents.

The essential questions that our own Muslim people face and question within Islam are the following, in descending order of their impact on disaffected youths: (1) the treatment of women in American Muslim communities, (2) the cultural chasm between mosque culture and the culture of the outside world, (3) in Lang’s words “problems with traditional theology,” (4) the perceived race problem of the Muslim community in America (which he said caused many converts to leave the community).

Lang was at pains to say that the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center is in fact an enlightened mosque which has as a part of its charter 30% of its board members women, and is very friendly to Muslim women.

Issues he described with the treatment of women were first that the issue of “segregation” of women is a charged issue in America, so any time women are asked to go to a separate, inaccessible and inferior part of the mosque for their prayers, the psychological effect on converted women is immense. Young Muslims saw their mothers and other women discouraged from attending the mosque, asked to attend parts of the mosque that were “small, poorly maintained, and dangerous to children.” Women are denied positions of power in the mosques, except there is a frequent practice of allowing one woman to act as a token representative to the men who run each mosque. Muslim women are sometimes viciously unwelcoming to newcomers—he told the story of how one woman he knew was accused, her first time entering a mosque, of having come only to find and marry a Muslim man. The social structure among American Muslim women, he said—based on his experience with American mosques, his family’s experience, and with his contact with the community—is hierarchical as follows: Muslim newcomers to the US are accepted directly proportional to the inverse of their time in the US (if they arrived yesterday they have higher status than if they arrived 2 years ago), then children of the first generation are in a group considered behind that first group, then converts come after that; race and color are also factors in this hierarchy. An essential problem is that American converts to Islam are treated as third-class people in their own country when they try to integrate with the community. Discouraged from attending the mosque, these women are extremely isolated when they convert to Islam. Despite this, he said, women were actually the best and most devoted Muslims, “hanging on by their fingernails” to this religion.

He described his own mother’s once-interest in Islam: after she visited the community and was asked to attend prayers in a separate dirty room accessed only with difficulty, she told him, “There is no place for me in this religion.” He also explained that while he had tried to raise his daughters with abundant contact with the mosque he had reached a point where other men in his community would try their best to dissuade them from attending the mosque.

The second problem Lang perceived was the divisions in Islam by ethnicity—a different mosque for each ethnicity. Each has its own culture which it imposes on newcomers as “Islam;” violation of the norms of that culture will lead to ostracism or verbal attacks by that community.

The third problem, he said, is “problems with traditional theology.” He said that young people receive no answers to their questions. When they use mainstream resources to find answers to their questions their minds end up in the hands of people who hate Islam and provide information with a view to undermining the Muslim community—for instance, if a child does a search on “women in Islam” he/she will likely end up at virulently anti-Muslim sites—which in fact are most of the sites available on the issue. If they go to the library or to their educational institutions they face the same problem. Muslim scholars, he said, should make themselves available to US Muslims so that the latter can find legitimate answers to their questions.

Lang’s arguments relate to an important point, which is that studying Islam from non-Muslims has none of the light associated with it that has been transmitted from Muslim to Muslim from the time of the Prophet (s).

Finally, he hinted that the Muslim community in the United States must recognize its fundamental race bias. In supporting his perception of bias he recounted his own experience of converting Islam to the rapturous love of his surrounding community, while African American converts of similar background were ignored by the community. He pointed out that at his mosque, white converts were celebrated and remembered regardless of their piety or commitment, while African American converts frequently went ignored and unknown in the community.

Professor Lang’s speech was deeply troubling to many members of the community, challenging as it did many of their fundamental beliefs relating to Islam and challenging also many of their habits, traditions, and beliefs. While his core point is valid and requires attention, Muslims must maintain a balance between their belief and their assimilation with mainstream American culture—that balance should be struck in a way that accommodates American/Western culture better than we do. His speech’s essential truth shows that we have failed to strike that balance, and instead have perhaps lost an entire generation due to our blindness to our own flaws.

9-12