ICNA Launches Campaign on Understanding Sharia

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Rida Fozi, ICNA

Hartford, CT (June 5, 2011) – From a thought-provoking performance at Sunday’s entertainment night, to jam-packed sessions with various scholars the ICNA-MAS Convention was the place to be this Memorial Day weekend.

2011 convention videos are now available exclusively on ICNA TV channel.

More people attended the ICNA convention this year than any other in the past 4 decades.

A record 18,900 people attended the three-day conference entitled “Quran: Guidance Towards a Just and Balanced Way,” 4,900 of which were unique online viewers. Convention-goers benefited from nearly 80 sessions by over 100 prominent scholars, leaders and activists from across the country and around the world. The overwhelmingly successful Youth Conference ran parallel to the ICNA-MAS Convention, and crowds lined the entrance as speakers discussed “Diamonds in the Rough: Heroes of the Past.”

Reverend Dennis Perry of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA was honored for his interfaith and community work with the Community Service Award.

National and local leadership of organizations including ISNA, CAIR, MSA, MANA and MUNA attended the convention this year, and were recognized at the Community Leaders Luncheon on Sunday.

The Islamic Circle of North America launched its nationwide, yearlong “Understanding Shariah” campaign at this year’s conference, which, according to president Zahid Bukhari, “will educate the American public on the definition and place of Shariah in Islam.” Says Bukhari, “Our campaign will also counter Islamophobia that is fostered and spread by groups who hide behind the false guise of an anti-Shariah movement.”

ICNA plans to develop an online portal as part of the campaign in order to support those engaged in similar efforts to shed light on religious freedom and the concept of Shariah. The organization also hopes to mobilize the Muslim community to undertake several grassroots efforts to better explain Shariah, and intends to partner with various faith and civic organizations to reach this goal.

The convention also marked the beginning of ICNA and ICNA Relief’s Back to School Giveaway campaign, a two-month long initiative that will culminate in a series of free school supply giveaways in low-income areas in the month of Ramadan (August 2011). The Back to School Giveaway, previously hosted in New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC is now expanding to Houston, Chicago and Southern California. Mahmood Aijazi, national director of the Back to School Giveaway hopes more cities will follow ICNA’s lead and host giveaways in their respective areas.

Aijazi says the initiative is necessary because “it’s part of our duty to help our society. We need to go out, reach out to others and give back to our communities.”

Social media played a significant role in this year’s convention, with ICNA hitting its 10,000th Twitter follower and 14,000 Facebook likes over the weekend. Perhaps the most creative initiatives at this year’s conference were the “surprise events”, exclusive to those who are members of ICNA’s social media fan base.

The attendees then enjoyed one-on-one time with renowned speakers. ICNA also offered a live webcast of selected sessions for the second year in a row, and families as far away as Trinidad were able to enjoy the lectures. One convention attendee said this spurred his family to raise the money to attend in person next year.

And bringing families together is a staple of the convention. In the middle of the day you’ll find parents and their children lunching together or friends strolling through the bazaar searching for the perfect gift. Strangers will stop you and ask your opinion on the right hijab color or ask you to borrow your charger to recharge their cell phones. The ICNA-MAS Convention is that experience that brings together people of all backgrounds for a unified purpose. And as one speaker said, “It just gets better and better every year.”

Credits:
Article: Rida Fozi. Photographs: Arfa Aijazi, Waqas Syed, Rida Fozi. Videos: Talha Faruqui, Anas Faruqui

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ICNA’s Statement on Killing of Osama bin Laden

May 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

icna-logoJAMAICA, New York (May 2, 2011) – The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) issued a press release this morning on the killing of Osama bin Laden by a US military operation outside Abbottabad, Pakistan yesterday.

“Osama bin Laden posed a serious threat to the security of America and the world, and the removal of this threat is a significant turning point in the post-9/11 global War on Terror.
“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the families of those killed on 9/11 and the countless innocent men, women and children who have died in the ensuing wars. We pray this news brings closure to these families and ultimately ushers in a new chapter of peace and understanding in America’s history.

“ICNA hopes that the Obama administration will use this pivotal moment as an opportunity to rapidly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure the safe return of our troops.
“We reiterate President Obama’s statement that America is not at war with Islam and Osama bin Laden was not representative of Muslims. We must remember with conviction the unity that brought us out of the devastation of September 11, 2001, and work to preserve that unity in coming days.”

The Islamic Circle of North America is a leading American Muslim organization dedicated to the betterment of society through the promotion of Islamic values. Since 1968, ICNA has worked to build relations between communities by devoting itself to education, outreach, social services and relief efforts.

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Houstonian Corner (V12-I8)

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Haiti In-Kind Donations Container: Overwhelming Support by Houstonians

The Muslims and the South-Asian communities this past Saturday and Sunday did something for humanity that was not directly related to one of their own home countries. They came together at the International Courier Services (ICS) located at 6160 Westview Drive under the guidance of Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD), to send a 40-Feet long container from Houston for the dire needs of Haitians. Since there are many useful things from USA, which are not readily available around Haiti, this was indeed a much needed campaign to launch, so as to involve the kind-hearted Americans in the service of fellow human-beings in Haiti, who are in living dire situation.

For the last one month, HHRD team in Haiti has been working, taking care of injured Haitians in six rotational clinics.

HHRD has termed this $1.50-Million Campaign as Muslims for Haiti (www.MuslimsForHaiti.Org) to unify the community under the platform of providing human services at global level and so that world can view this as the work of people of Mercy Unto Worlds Messenger Muhammad Peace Be Upon him and at the same time, opening opportunities’ to all Americans (not just Muslims) to join in the good work.

Other than HHRD, the supporting organizations of this effort include: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH); The Houston Police Department (HPD);  The Nigerian Muslim Association of Greater Houston (NMA – Masjidul-Mu’mineen); The Haitian Multi-Cultural Association; The Darul-Arqam School of North Houston; The Omair-Sana Welfare Foundation (Dr. Kashif Ansari); The Young Muslims of North America (YM); and The Houston Shifa Foundation.

The event got good coverage from Mainstream American and South-Asian & Spanish Community Media, which resulted in several non-Muslim donors coming to the ICS with their in-kind donations. For more information, one can call Maaz Adil 281-468-2238 / ILyas Hasan Choudry 832-275-0786, or visit HHRD office at 11945 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas 77099; or visit www.MuslimsForHaiti.Org

Representative Al Green Inaugurated Quaid’s Exhibition at the Houston Consulate of Pakistan

Most unique exhibition of photographs of the founder of Pakistani Nation Quaid-e-Azam (The Great Leader) Mohammad Ali Jinnah was launched this past Saturday 02-13-2010 at the Houston Pakistani Consulate, by US House of Representative Honorable AL Green. Present on the occasion were His Excellency Consul General of Pakistan Aqil Nadeem; Commercial Attaché in Houston Consulate of the Government of Pakistan Zia Ahmed; Consulate of Pakistan Team Salient Members Manzoor Ahmad, Iftikhar Ahmad, Mohammad Arshid, Ali Mohammad, & Tanveer Siddiqui; President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Khalid Khan; Honorary Investment Counselor Faisal Amin; Executive Director of Joseph Educational & Outreach Ministries Reverend Dr. Afzaal Firdous; Community Liaison in Rep. AL Green’s Office Badar (Bobby) Rafaei; and many others.

US Representative AL Green (TX-09) said he is aware that Quaid was born on a most joyous day of December 25th in the year 1876 and passed away on one of the saddest days for Americans 9/11 in the year 1948. He admired the constitutional battle with no military weapons, that was forged by Mohammad Ali Jinnah to achieve Pakistan. He chose the picture of Quaid with Mohatama Gandhi, which he plans to put in his office.

Later on Mr. Green met with the community members in the consulate and discussed about issues related to Pakistanis in USA like immigration, small business financing & taxes, healthcare, etc.; as well as issues facing Pakistan in terms of national sovereignty, democracy, educational uplifting, national security, terrorism, etc.

Consulate of Pakistan-Houston is located at 11850 Jones Road, Houston, TX 77070. To see the exhibition, one can visit the Consulate by calling in first at 281-890-2223 (http://www.pakistanconsulatehouston.org/)

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I47)

November 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ICNA – ISGH – & – Hafiz Tauqer Shah Provided Alternative to the Muslim Families

Picture AB “Human-Beings have been created better than anything else and God has informed us about this in Quran. As such there is no need to turn one-selves into a monster by doing face painting and wearing devilish clothes. Even going out to play game of trick and treat, it is not safe, since one does not know who is giving what inside the candy cover. Muslims need to stay away from such hazardous events. Safe way is to come to Masjid, establish prayers, while Masjid and other community organizations should organize some fun activities within the safe premises. This is what this event is all about, which represents that just barring Youth from certain activities, without giving proper substitutes within the bounds as stipulated by Islam, is no solution.”

These were the approximate sentiments of Hafiz Tauqer Shah, as he talked on “Halloween Night” to a large gathering of Youth, parents and community members at Masjid At-Taqwa located along Synott Road in Sugar Land. Instead of being on the streets, hundreds of Youth and others gathered in the Masjid, were able to establish Mughrib and Isha Prayers together; had fun activities including rides, basketball, etc.; and had dinner together.

This program was part of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Houston Chapter effort within the Nationwide “Save Family – Save Society Campaign”. It was a collaborative effort of ICNA Houston and Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH). This Campaign was held between September 21 and October 31, 2009 by ICNA.
Idea is that the family is the most fundamental unit of society – it is the cornerstone and the foundational unit of the social, cultural and religious structure of our world. It is a divinely inspired and ordained institution that came into existence with the creation of man. The family unit is an important component of Islam, and all elements of a family are given due significance – from parents to children to spouses to kith and kin. A sound family can grow and flourish only if man, woman and children are bound in a solid relationship of love, care, compassion and kindness, which has far-reaching results, bringing progress, prosperity and tranquility in the society.

Earlier inspirational speaker Samid AL-Khatib of ICNA Houston Chapter talked about preserving the institution of family, as without that, we cannot build a nice and strong society around us. For more information about ICNA Houston, one can call 713-201-8080 or visit www.ICNA.Org

Jam-Packed Cullen Performance Hall Saw Loose Talk 2: Exploded With Laughter

The much awaited “Loose Talk 2: Loose Mushaira” featuring legendary figures like TV Producer and Script Writer Anwar Maqsood; Comedians Qazi Wajid; Moin Akhtar; Behroz Sabzwari; Shehzad Raza; & Ayaz Khan; came to Houston this past weekend through the immense efforts of young Nabeel Ishaq and Rehan Ahmed of Naya Andaz Radio, which is aired worldwide on www.YouAreOnAir.Com and in Houston at 1460AM Radio Frequency every Saturday 1pm.-5pm. and Sunday 5pm.-10pm. (US Central Time). Program also included some old and golden songs from Pakistan sung, by Sadia Malik and Aziz Warsi.

As promised by the organizers, this program did indeed became one of the biggest Pakistani vents of 2009, as almost every single seat was occupied at the Cullen Performance Hall of University of Houston and Hall Staff had to politely usher some people out of the Hall, since standing along the walls and on the stairs was not allowed.

The poetry presented during the “Loose Talk 2: Loose Mushaira” was absolutely hilarious. Written mainly by Anwar Maqsood, it was presented in a most jovial manner by Qazi Wajid; Moin Akhtar; Behroz Sabzwari; Shehzad Raza; & Ayaz Khan. Several poetries were presented in the rhythm of several well-known poems of prominent poets and also some famous songs of films from the subcontinent.

Topics included change in the White House; social, political and cultural problems facing Pakistan and Pakistanis; security and terrorism issues facing the world and Pakistan (a wish was called out to in a film’s song beat for Osama to come out of his hiding place, as we have waited too long now and this may avoid the killings of so many innocent people); and several other contemporary topics were included. The best part was that program was full of comedy, which was not baseless, but had a strong message behind everything for people to understand.

Audience was very receptive and for a change very cultured (except for a few things said by a few people here and there). Anwar Maqsood said that Houston to him is just like any other city of Pakistan, as people give full respect to the performers by listening attentively and giving complete appreciation. Moin Akhtar said that he always prayed for the Houstonians as they have given him much love each time he has come here. Behroz Sabzwari; Shehzad Raza; & Ayaz Khan said they feel blessed and have gained immense conviction the way people have laughed and given ovation to them.

Birthday of one of the main organizers Rehan Ahmed was celebrated on stage with the legends around him. Our media was one of the prod sponsors of this most well-organized program. Presenters, audiences and international promoter of the program Shaam Chhabria were all most satisfied and happy with the hard work of Nabeel, Rehan and their team of volunteers.

Our media wants to congratulate Naya Andaz Team on job well done and would like them to bring similar shows, which has both the elements of entertainment and learning.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I44)

October 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ICNA Relief USA Starts Homeless Women’s Shelter

Picture V Famous Journalist and Houston Fox TV Channel 26 News Reporter Isiah Carey has called the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA (ICNA Relief USA) Houston Homeless Women Shelter as: “Providing Haven for Houston’s Homeless”.

“We will able to accommodate 14 homeless ladies at a time, without any discrimination (religious and/or ethnic), at this ICNA Relief USA Houston Women Shelter Facility, We do have a procedure and interview all the candidates for eligibility to stay at our Facility. At this time, we are unable to house children with the women. We do have a food pantry, where any needy person can come and avail from the non-perishable food items. We also follow certain procedures for this pantry. Moreover, we have an Islamic book service, from where people can borrow or buy books for their review. We are looking for generous cash donations from people of all backgrounds, to pay for the beds we have purchased for this shelter and for other amenities. People can give in-kind donations as well in terms of computers, not expired non-perishable food items, toiletries’, items used by women like hair brushes, lipsticks, etc., cleaning stuff, and so on. For this people can call us at 713-692-2408 or visit the Center located at 4021 Baden Street, Houston, Texas 77009.”

These were some of the things informed at the Open House this past Saturday, October 10, 2009 by Manager of Operations Sister Munirah Vaid & Project Coordinator Sister Seemi Bukhari of ICNA Relief USA Houston Homeless Women Shelter.

“This is building upon the success of our Temporary Housing Facility in New York City. We have a well known track record in the Southern States for sheltering those displaced by Disaster and providing short term emergency assistance. Now we will be offering long term care and shelter for internally displaced and homeless women,” informed Ayub Badat, the National Executive Director of ICNA Relief USA.

Throughout the day from 9:00am. till 9:00pm., several gentlemen, ladies and families kept pouring into the Center for the Open House and prayed for all those involved in this project of extreme social need. For further information, Ayub Badat can also be reached at 1-917-602-4450 (Cell) or call Munirah Vaid 936-355-3751 (Cell) or Seemi Bukhari 832-382-1669 (Cell).

Two Rallies for Former President/General Pervez Musharraf’s Visit to Houston

Picture W Quarter of a mile from the main hotel doors at the entrance of the access road to the Omni Hotel, several Pakistanis had gathered this past Saturday, October 10, 2009 between 10am. and 2pm. to organize two separate rallies: One against him and another one in his favor. Since Mr. Musharraf was staying in the same hotel, he may not able to see these demonstrations.

Those against him were carrying banners with the name of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif Group) and Tahreek-e-Insaaf, asking Musharraf to go back to Pakistan and face the cases filed against him, where according to the protestors he had resorted to unconstitutional measures. They were calling him the oppressor of judiciary, who committed crimes against the innocent families of the judges, by keeping them under house arrests for weeks.

Those in his favor, were mainly young students from colleges and universities of Houston, carrying banners, calling the Former President a national hero, statesperson and reformer, who had worked hard for progressives, enlightenment and moderation in the Pakistani Society.

After the special morning breakfast reception with the World Affairs Council Members & other large contributors of the luncheon event with the World Affairs Council, General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and his wife Ms. Sehba inside the Omni Hotel had group photos with hundreds of Pakistanis, who had to remain in the queues for more than thirty minutes, to have their picture taken with the former President and his wife. Some of the Pakistanis present over there; did not have a picture with him, because they wanted to distance themselves, considering him a dictator, who had started an unnecessary fight with the judiciary and trampled upon the constitution of Pakistan.

Picture X At this occasion, the Honorable City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan gave Honorary Citizenship Proclamation Certificate of behalf of the City of Houston to General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and Space City Memento to Ms. Sehba Musharraf.

M. J. Khan called Mr. Musharraf the man of vision for whom the nation has been waiting for years and gave him the tile of the greatest Statesperson of Pakistan after Quaid-e-Azam, on which General (Retired) Musharraf said this is huge title given to him and has placed much burden on him to fulfill. Some people over there felt, it was not appropriate to give this title, since Pervez Musharraf did many excellent things for Pakistan, but also did a few contentious decisions towards the end of his tenure.

Honorable M. J. Khan, who is running for the City Controller position, said he was expecting that during the World Affairs Council event, he will get endorsement of his candidacy from General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf. He did not directly endorse M. J. Khan, but just said: “Why not”. Again people felt that it is unfitting to ask for endorsement for an American Elections from someone from Pakistan.

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Ladies’ Qur`an Class By Fatimah Murad

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

P1040696 A delighted chatter permeates the room, occasionally an effusive call of “Assalamu-alaikum,” or “Alhamdulillah,” rises above the general murmur as two sisters greet each other for the first time. The setting is the Qiyam-ul-Layl program, organized by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) sisters-wing’s Chicago-land unit.

The majority of the participants are the regular attendees of a Quran Tafseer Class, also organized by the ICNA sisters. The class takes place in the morning after fajr prayer in a conference call room, throughout the year it takes place every Saturday and focuses on select Surahs but during Ramadan it becomes a daily occurrence so as to complete the reading of the entire Quran, in English translation, within the blessed month. This is the third year that it is taking place and, where it started as a local meeting involving sisters from the Chicago metropolitan area, it has now grown to include sisters from various states including Michigan, Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina and even from as far as Bahrain. There is diversity not only of location but also of background, there are revert Muslimahs and born Muslimahs who hail from various different nations. Many are of African American or South Asian background but there are also sisters from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and the Philippines.  

Every morning, the sisters take turns reading a few of the ayahs punctuated by brief explanations and insights into the Surahs by Huma Murad and Amina Jaffer-Mohsin, the two moderators. Roll is called every class by the ever reliable Amidah Burton, to acknowledge the nearly forty participants. Through sharing their love for the Quran and Allah, the attendees have come to know and love each other as well. One sister, Afsheen Khan summed up the shared sentiments of many participant in commenting that though she had physically attended similar classes before “…this was special because of meeting so many sisters and [feeling such] spirituality.” Sister Shahina Begg who has been a regular attendee for all three years continued in a similar vein when she commented that she felt blessed in being introduced to the class because it “brought me closer to Islam and my sisters,” she added that though she initially only met her fellow participant on phone she felt compelled to “keep in touch throughout my life and inshallah stay spiritually connected.”

It was in hopes of fostering this bond, and to reap the most benefits from the blessed odd nights of the last third of Ramadan, that the Qiyam-ul-Layl event was organized. The class participants are given a chance to meet face to face, some sisters travelling from out-of-town to take advantage of the opportunity, and share a night of spirituality and sisterhood. As sister Jameela Karim explained, “The Qiyam-ul-Layl is the glue of the class, and having the program helps us put it all together. Seeing the people you hear every morning, you are fully connected.” Many sisters said they felt it created something akin to family ties.

The program allowed the sisters to share food and each other’s company, but also to join together for congregational prayers of Taraweeh and Tahajjud, and group discussions on spirituality and remembrance of God. Revert sisters, who constituted a majority among the nearly fifty attendees, shared stories of their early struggles with their families in the way of Islam, while their companions reminded the group that the greatest struggle took place within and that we all had our own hurdles to overcome. One of the greatest examples of triumph that the sisters witnessed at the Qiyam-ul-Layl was in meeting sisters Habiba Castulo and Hina Altaf, both legally blind from birth, who regularly attend the class and diligently read the Qur’an in Braille.

Jamila Yusuf commented to great agreement how she was “inspired by Habiba and Hina’s dedication to the Quran.” It was one of many instances where the sisters felt their faith had been strengthened by their fellow Muslimahs.

Though initiated as a rather humble project in hopes of sharing the knowledge of God’s word, the Quran Tafseer Class has grown into something unique and transcendent. It is difficult for any of the participants to explain exactly why this class, among so many similar ones, feels special. Moderator Huma Murad has a theory that it is due to its timing, the Prophet (s) spoke many times on the blessings of reading Quran after fajr. The greatest factor in its success, however, is the dedication and enthusiasm of its members. Newcomer Vonzella Matin called being introduced to it the “best gift I could have been given,” by sister Amidah, but she and her fellow participants have, with the help of Allah, given this gift to each other many times over.

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