CAIR Michigan’s Watershed Annual Banquet

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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CAIR Founder Nihad Awad, Wendell Anthony, Imam and CAIR Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid, Congressman John Conyers, CAIR Michigan Attorney Lena Masri, Civil Rights Activist Jesse Jackson, Jr., Ron Scott, Raheem Hanifa, and Jukaku Tayeb of CAIR Michigan.

Photo courtesy Nafeh AbuNab, American Elite Studios, 1-800-218-4020.

Dearborn–March 31–This year’s CAIR banquet really was special.  Every year, CAIR Michigan and many other organizations have gala awards and fundraising banquets, but typically in the past Michigan’s Muslim organizations have been less connected to the political landscape than some ethnic organizations which have in the Southeast Michigan region managed over several decades to establish long term ties with all levels of the political landscape, from the local to the federal level.

The Muslim organizations however, from the mosque level up to the level of national organizations, have not opened strong and lasting relations with any political groups (other than coordinated discussion groups and organized means of complaining to politicians and mainstream media about perceived and real injustices), other than an occasional speech by a political celebrity.

Perhaps a stronger movement has been the involvement of individuals in politics, such as for instance Farhan Bhatti, Deputy Campaign Manager at Virg Bernero for Michigan.  There are Muslims who have been elected to individual office, such as Rashida Tlaib in the Michigan legislature, and Keith Ellison in the US congress.

This year’s CAIR gala, with about 1,000 attendees including many powerful audience members from the business, media, and political community, on the other hand, seemed to offer the potential of a long-term conflation of interests between the Muslim community and America’s established civil rights aristocracy.  Present at this year’s fundraiser was Nihad Awad, who founded CAIR and set it up as a not-for-profit franchise operation of sorts, with now branch offices across the country to advocate for Muslims.  Mr. Awad is not always able to attend all of these gala events, but it seemed that he sensed the importance of this particular one. 

But the real jewels in the crown of the 2010 CAIR Michigan fundraiser were the civil rights workers who for sixty years have been deeply involved at their own personal peril with the struggle for civil rights in the USA. 

Jesse Jackson Sr., the keynote speaker, was one of those.  But there was also Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-14), whom Jackson described as “perhaps the only man who was ever endorsed by Martin Luther King.”  There was Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-15).  There were many others, including the strong gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero (currently Lansing’s mayor). 

But famous people frequently collect together–many famous politicians have given stilted practiced speeches before Muslims, hoping to say what pleases their audience and earns their political support, but rarely does the politician seem to be present in deference to his or her own inner principles–and this is perhaps the characteristic of Sunday afternoon’s banquet that was uncommon.  Famous people with shared bonds of suffering coalescing in defense of a group they perhaps had not previously thought of as being within their shared interests.

The feeling wasn’t just from their presence in the same room; rather the feeling was in the mutual love between those famous people, and their expression of that love in the context of the protection of Muslims against injustice from government interference.  Jackson and Conyers both spoke of the famous people they had met and worked with through the years, including King, and Rosa Parks (who worked for Conyers for many years), and their describing the debts of gratitude they owed one to another–for example Jackson’s mentioning of MLK’s endorsement of Conyers, and Conyers mentioning publicly his gratitude to John Dingell for supporting him in his early days in the US House of Representatives.

What was different this year was that CAIR did not just bring politicians to speak for their own interests, rather CAIR Michigan bought into a movement, a movement that has been intrinsically and vitally important to the American landscape for the better part of a century, carrying with them the ghosts and spirits of men who gave their lives in that journey.

Nihad Awad offered his goal, a vision of a seemingly impossible world, post-911, in which Muslims face no discrimination–he argued that CAIR is working toward that goal from where we are now.

Jesse Jackson is a famous man, and in consideration of his famous personal failings it is sometimes surprising to see him still on the national stage–but in seeing him speak you understand the source of his sway across the American public–his voice carries so strongly and he has a magic in his delivery that is present in person but that is not felt through the television.  He speaks with vivid images and polished phrases and a very powerful and loud delivery, almost more like a musician or conductor than a politician, but he speaks logically and intelligently also, intimately conversant with the big picture of American politics, even if sometimes the details he cites are not precisely accurate (accidentally he cited the total number of coalition KIA in Iraq and Afghanistan together as Americans KIA in Iraq). 

But on the broad points he has very sharp insight. For example he stated that what is vital in the civil rights movement is to “change the frame.  Once you change the frame, you can change the furniture around whenever you want.”

Thus, he argued that after the recent health care legislation, eventually there must be a public option, although the public option was compromised away in the course of the bill being passed.

The theme of his speech was an argument to get Muslims to buy into a broader political agenda.

He argued that Muslims have to engage in issues beyond Muslim issues, offering the analogy that if one is in a burning house, he must try to put out the fire for the entire house–if the house is saved his room will be saved but it is impossible to save his room without saving the house.

He cited as examples labor union issues and health care issues.

Perhaps the most inspiring thing he said was that “we are not the left, we are the moral center,” thus dismissing the arguments from reactionaries who term his agenda a leftist agenda.  And this connected to another powerful theme from his speech, that “we are winning” in this struggle by the grace of God, and it is because God supports us because we are right.  He cited the achievements of abolition and civil rights, labor, and, at length, health care.

He said not to worry about government informants, arguing the view that the solution is to be completely above board and transparent and above reproach.  He said that several informants were intimately connected with the civil rights movement, saying that “our controller who signed all of our checks was a government informant.”

“Yes it does get dark,” he said, “innocent people get hurt, there is pain, but there is joy in the morning.”

“Through it all, keep marching, fighting, pursue excellence, don’t have time to hate.”

The involvement of the civil rights community with Muslims seems to have begun Sunday evening, and the person likely responsible is CAIR Michigan’s Executive Director Dawud Walid, who had the vision to pursue this goal, and who also has worked to bridge gaps between African Americans and other Muslims, and Sunni and Shi’a.

It remains to be seen whether the large-scale involvement of Muslims as players on the political (and not religious) landscape is healthy or potentially dangerous, and it remains to be seen whether non-Muslims from the civil rights community will be good partners in working toward civil rights for Muslims; also it remains to be seen to what extent Muslims can endorse  the agenda of a civil rights community that too often supports for example abortion services and homosexual issues; but perhaps these are the details, the furniture.  What is important is that the frame may have changed–to one where a Muslim organization has built a bridge or harmony and good will to an entire movement that is intrinsic to the American political landscape–this seems to be an important move in a good direction.

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Houstonian Corner (V12-I10)

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

PARENTS: Get Your Children Health Insurance On March 12th At Shifa Clinic

“Houston Shifa Foundation (HSF) established a partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) some twelve months ago, when HSF was offered training by Ms. Kelli Jackson. Because of this partnership we have managed to enroll close to 150+ families in various CHIP and Medicaid programs. This has benefited the most vulnerable members of our community, our children. Now on Friday, March 12th, 2010, 1pm.-5pm., our community parents can come to our Southwest Clinic at 10415 Synott Road, Bldg “D”, Sugar Land, Texas 77478 and get their children’s CHIP / MEDICAID Applications filled out. For eligibility, documentation requirements and more details, parents can call Mahmood Marfani at 832-660-1848 or visit www.ShifaClinicHouston.org:” This was informed at a Special Press Briefing for Community Media at HSF by Rafique Jangda, Executive Director of the Shifa Clinic.

Kelli King-Jackson, Director of Outreach for CDF-TX provided information on mission of the Children’s Defense Fund: “There are 1,584,276 (24.1%) children uninsured in Texas. Just in two of the 13 counties in the greater Houston region, Harris County has 332,093 (30.7%) children uninsured and Fort Bend has 336,030 (26.2%) children without health insurance. Our motto is that every step we take to improve the lives of children improves the lives of all of us: Today – Tomorrow – Together. Our mission is to leave no child behind without proper healthcare and our partnership with Shifa is significant, as this institution is providing excellent basic health services at a very minimal cost or for free to those vulnerable in our society, who have no other place to go. We would like to invite all the eligible parents to come on Friday, March 12th, 2010, between 1pm.-5pm., at HSF located at 10415 Synott Road, Bldg “D”, Sugar Land, Texas 77478 and get their children’s CHIP / MEDICAID Applications filled out. For eligibility, documentation requirements and more details, parents can call CDF office at 713-664-1975 or visit www.ChildrensDefense.Org

Other than the Children’s Defense Fund, HSF has established partnerships with Denver Harbor Clinic and Airline Children’s Clinic, which gives opportunity for the community living in other parts of town to avail excellent low cost (some free) health services near their home. Marisa Ponti, Marketing Director of Denver Harbor Clinic was present at the Press Conference. Denver Harbor Clinic is located at 424 Hahlo Street, Houston, Texas 77020, Phone: 713-674-3326 and Airline Children’s Clinic is situated at 5808 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77076, Phone: 713-695-4013.

Another good resource to visit is www.CHIPMedicAID.Org

Mayor Parker & Faith Leaders Unite to Celebrate Census Sabbath This Weekend

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Census Sabbath Press Conference by Interfaith Ministries at United Methodist Church Downtown Houston…

Community Being Encouraged To Simple Mail-In The Census 10 Questions Form by March 21st, 2010

“As members of this faith-based community and the communities in which we live and work, we have much at stake going into the 2010 Census. We pledge to dedicate sermons, provide spiritual guidance, and teachings focused on a ‘higher calling’ to make every person count.”

This was the pledge read by Mayor of Houston Annise Parker at the special press conference held to announce March 5th, 6th, & 7th, 2010 as the Census Sabbath in Houston.

Census numbers are important, as they determine the representation in the US Congress and if all Houstonians are counted, there is every possibility that this region will get a new Congressional Seat. The US Constitution requires Census to be done every ten years at the beginning of the decade and the results also provide a yardstick to allocate federal and state funds for infrastructure development, health, education, and other developmental projects at local levels.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, joined by Pastor Rudy Rasmus of St. John’s United Methodist Church and President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston Dr. Aziz Siddiqi to call on Houston’s religious community from all walks of faith to pledge their commitment to provide Census education to their congregations during Census Sabbath weekend.

“The weekend of March 5-7 celebrates Census Sabbath, a time in which faith-based institutions throughout Houston will dedicate sermons, provide spiritual guidance and teachings focused on a ‘higher calling’ to make every person count. A complete count in Houston will result in additional federal funding to help meet the growing needs of Houston’s diverse communities. We want to gain congressional seat; make sure legislative boundaries are drawn based on all the persons counted; and not lose $1,700 per person who does not get counted. It is Easy – It is Important – It is Safe.”

Mayor Parker said that funding based on the Census will help expand community centers, improve transportation and increase health care options.

Houston mail-in response rate in 2000 Census was 61%, 3 points lower than national average of 64%: So this year all Houstonians are being urged by our media outlet that they need to beat the national average this year. The moment you receive the Census Form in the mail around March 15th, 2010, simply fill out the easy 10 questions and mail them in, to fulfill your moral, national, community, and societal duty.

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Community News (V12-I1)

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Salman Khan, Math tutor to the world

Salman-Khan The name Salman Khan evokes the images of a Bollywood personality. But there is another 33 year old with the same name who is changing the way people learn math and along the way changing lives of people for the better.

Salman Khan, a Mountain View resident, has posted 800 plus tutorial videos on his website the Khan Academy which interactively teach math at all levels. These videos are viewed 35, 000 times a day.

Salman Khan, who holds engineering and science degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School, says it all started in 2004 when he was tutoring his cousin Nadia, who was having having trouble with her math, through the telephone and Yahoo Doodle as a shared notepad. She ended up getting ahead in her class and also started tutoring her brothers.

Nephews and family friends soon followed. But scheduling conflicts and repeated lectures prompted him to post instructional videos on YouTube that his proliferating pupils could watch when they had the time.

Realizing the immense potential of his method and the possibilities of the internet Khan formed the Khan Academy, a non profit organization. The nonprofit generated thousands in advertising revenue this year through YouTube and could become self-sustainable as a one-person operation within a year. Khan is in talks with several foundations for capital that could enable him to expand the organization’s reach.

For his services Khan was awarded the 2009 Tech Award for Education. The Tech Awards website praises the Khan Academy as follows:

Millions of students around the world lack access to high quality instruction, especially in the sciences and math. The Khan Academy provides it for free in a way that can be accessed on-demand at a student’s own pace.

The videos are directly teaching tens of thousands of students on every continent on a daily basis. Other non-profit groups have even begun distributing off-line versions of the library to rural and underserved areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Lilburn sued for denying mosque permission

LILBURN, GA–The Dar-e-Abbas, a local Muslim congregation, is suing the the Lilburn city council for discrimination in denying the required zoning to build a mosque. The council had denied the zoning request citing traffic and other issues. The Muslim group says that the council caved into pressure from residents.
Doug Dillard, an attorney for the Muslim group told the WABE Radio, ‘There’s seven churches within a two mile radius of this facility. Within half of mile there’s a Baptist church. They have 110,000 square feet on 11 acres. We were asking for 28, 000 square feet on 8 acres, so it was clearly discriminatory and their decision had no basis.’

The congregation filed the lawsuit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits local governments from restricting land access to religious groups.

Madison mosque decision in Jan.

JACKSON, MI–The Madison County zoning board would decide in January whether to allow the Mississippi Muslim Association to build a mosque on US 51. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet on Jan 4.

The association owns five acres just north of the Madison city limits and proposes to build the Magnolia Islamic Center, a worship center to serve the 100-plus local families who now attend a mosque in south Jackson. The association has met resistance from nearby landowners and residents, who say the project is not the best use for the property.

The association earlier this month received conditional approval from the county’s planning commission for the site plan detailing the landscaping and building design.

The plans for the Islamic center call for a 10,000-square-foot, two-story building made of red brick with a standing seam metal roof. The first floor will contain the prayer hall, multi-purpose room, office, restrooms and kitchen. The second floor will contain a prayer hall, classrooms, restrooms and office. The building is based on a capacity of 650.

Toronto’s Muslim convention sends message of unity

TORONTO, Dec. 29, 2009–Speakers at a three day  Islamic convention held in Toronto on the weekend (Dec. 25-27) urged Muslims to live up to their responsibility to save the world. The Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention, in its eighth year, was attended by more than 15,000 people from across Canada and some from the US and elsewhere. The convention is unique as it is completely organized and managed by the youth.

The convention theme, SOS: Saving the Ship of Humanity,  hosted more than a dozen hi profile speakers from the USA, Canada, and the Middle East. Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, the former minister of justice of Mauritania and a member of the Islamic Fiqh Council, said that Muslim youth must not forget the spiritual legacy of their predecessors bust must reconnect with that tradition.

Dr. Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, was another main speaker at the event and spoke on the universal message of Islam.

The convention saw a steady stream of people converting to Islam.

Dr. Tarek Al Suwaidan (a leading scholar and public speaker from Kuwait) spoke on Islam and the modern world. He said Muslims should look up to the character of Ali (RA)  as a role model for their own lives. He also spoke at length about Islam and science and criticised those who try to force in strange assertions in such an exercise. He stated that scientific facts can never contradict Islam but scientific theories can. He said the distinction should always be kept in mind.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf urged the assembled gathering to live up their responsibilities and fight for a sustainable and peaceful world. He said Muslims should shun bickering over minor issues and instead unite. He also said that Muslims should avoid indulging in takfeer of fellow Muslims.

Shaykh Habib Ali Al Jifri, Dr. Tareq Ramadan, Dr. Abdul Hakeem Murad, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Imam Zaid Shakir, and a host of other scholars spoke at the convention. 

Prominent Canadian politicians including Derek Lee and Liberal Finance critic John McCallum also spoke at the convention and appreciated the efforts of Canada’s Muslim youth to build an inclusive society.

The convention’s entertainment session featured live performances by Maher Zain, Irfan Makki, Junaid Jamshed, Bennami and Grammy award winning  Outlandish. The Allah Made Me Funny comedy troupe also performed.

As part of its social outreach the convention raised more than 1000 winter coats and close to 10,000 meals for the needy in the Greater Toronto Area.

The convention featured a large bazaar selling books, clothing, and other Islamic items. Prominently missing from this year’s convention were the packaged Halal food product companies. An interest free MasterCard from the UM Financial group was launched at the event.

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Community News (V11-I50)

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Dr. Omar Ali develops cancer vaccine

CAMBRIDGE, MA–A team Harvard bioengineers and biologists have developed a cancer vaccine that eradicates melanoma tumors in mice and slows their reoccurrence. The study which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, used a plastic disk implant carrying the vaccine to recognize and eliminate tumor cells, the Harvard Crimson reported.

The new vaccine specifically attacks cancerous cells, avoiding the collateral damage on healthy cells that other cancer treatments often cause. This approach may also build long-term resistance within the immune system, the researchers said.

Dr. Omar  A. Ali, a researcher at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is the co-author of this study.

He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard University (2008). His research focuses on developing cell-instructive materials to study immune processes. His research has resulted in publications, patents and the foundation of a start-up company, InCytu, which aims to develop regenerative methods for vascular disease and vaccine delivery systems.

He has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States published by the Greenwood Press.

Saving by cutting back on Halal food ?

DEARBORN, MI–The Dearborn school district has one of the largest concentration of Muslim students. The students have been offered the option of eating halal hot dogs and chicken nuggets for a number of years. But if the teacher’s union have their say the choice will no longer be made available.

The union had listed halal foods among the list it presented to the district which it said could lead to potential savings.

While most of the other items on the list had a value attached the union did not provide any such details for eliminating Halal foods from the lunch program.
However, better sense prevailed and the school district did not even consider the option. While this a relief it also brings into question the real intentions of the teacher’s union.

Hertz sued for accommodating Muslim employees

ATLANTA, A–Hertz Global Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. rental car company, was sued by former employees who say its policy of allowing Muslims to take daily prayer breaks discriminates against non-Muslim workers, according to press reports.

Katie Barkley and Shirley Harris, who worked as part-time drivers moving Hertz cars from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to other locations, claim Muslim employees were given as many as three paid, 15-minute prayer breaks each shift while non-Muslim employees were denied equal time off, according to the suit filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Atlanta.

Barkley and Harris lost their jobs in February when Hertz fired all 120 drivers at Hartsfield and replaced them with contract drivers, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status as well as back pay and other damages.

A similar suit filed in 2007 is pending before the same court. In August, Hertz said in court documents filed in that case that it allows Muslim employees at the Atlanta airport to take prayer breaks and that they aren’t required to clock out. A non-Muslim worker “has no need for such an accommodation,” Park Ridge, N.J.-based Hertz said in the court documents.

Slaughterhouse proposal rejected

ALMA,TX–Ellis County commissioners last week rejected a proposal to build a halal slaughterhouse on a 200 acre property. The property is owned Shamsul Ahmed who runs a grazing ranch and wanted to build a 4,000 square-foot slaughterhouse for specialty processing.

The halal facility would have hired 20 people. Ahmed said it would be run according to the state and federal rules, as well as the Halal requirements, which adds up to cleanliness first. An estimated 25-30 steers or heifers a well, and up to 400 goats a week were to be slaughtered there.

The country commissioners rejected the plan by saying it wouldn’t fit into the growing residential area in southern Ellis County. Despite the refusal Ahmed is not giving up. He is hoping to locate his plant near    Interstate 45 since his primary customers will be businesses in North Dallas.

Texas has a growing Muslim population of more than 400,000 and their needs are not met by the current businesses which cater to them.

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Community News (V11-I34)

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Islamic Summer Fest held in Delaware

WILMINGTON, DE–The first Islamic Summer Festival was held in Ogletown, Delaware. The event had a number of sports, rides, games, food and other activities. It was held in the parking lot of Masjid Ibrahim.

Proceeds from the event will help the Islamic Society of Delaware build a private school that will be open to all, not just students who practice Islam, organizers said.

“We wanted to open up our place of worship to people of all religions. We are trying to become more integrated into the community,” said Vaqar Sharief, president of the Islamic Society of Delaware. Sharief said the group wanted to send a message to the community that Muslims are good neighbors who welcome all. Another goal is to help people coming from other countries to the Delaware area get acclimated.

“This is a way to help you develop faster when you come, so you won’t become isolated,” Sharief said. “Unity is a big deal.”

NYPD reaches out to Muslims for Ramadan

NEW YORK,NY–In an annual pre-Ramadan meeting, city police officers, religious leaders and community members gathered Monday to discuss steps to ensure a safe holiday.

The NYPD says more foot patrols, special patrol cars, increased presence at mosques and greater communication with the Muslim community will all be in place.
“Across the police department we continue our work to familiarize all our police officers with the Islamic faith,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “We do this with the help of special training videos to mosques and meetings such as this one.”

“Commissioner Kelly did a good job to keep it a tradition, a relationship between the police department and the Muslim community,” said Ahmed Jamil of the Muslim American Society of Queens. “We encourage this. And it has to be developed a little bit more. But it’s a good start.”

Kelly also eased concerns of profiling saying they are not monitoring any communities, including Muslim communities.

Fl religious leaders urge action on health reform

ORLANDO, FL– An Imam in Central Florida joined Christian priests and a Rabbi in urging the government to make affordable health care for all families in the country. Imam Muhammad Musri of the Islamic Society, Bishop Thomas Wenski, Rabbi Gary Perras, and Rev. Priscilla Robinson issued a joint statement urging the same.

“In Islam we are told all human life is precious and equal, therefore it is time for our nation to realize this fundamental right for all of it’s citizens,” Imam Musri said.

To further promote their agenda the faith leaders will gather on August 20 for a health care forum at Good Shepherd Catholic Church.

Airport chapel caters to all faiths

ATLANTA,GA–The chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport now caters to a number of faiths including Islam. The 1,040 square foot chapel which recently underwent a renovation has doubled to its current size.

About 1,500 people per week visit the chapel, a fraction of the 250,000 people who pass through the world’s busiest airport each day.The chapel remains unadorned to maintain its interfaith feel.

Saginaw Township approves mosque

SAGINAW, MI–Saginaw Township Supervisor Tim Braun expects the Saginaw-based Islamic Center to be a good neighbor for the community once a 14,000 square foot plus mosque is completed, some time next year.  The Township board unanimously approved the proposed special use permit for the site on North Center north of McCarty near Tittabawassee.

Braun and other Township officials explained to the nearly 70 people in attendance at the board meeting that the Islamic Center met all zoning requirements. Islamic Center officials say the design will not include exterior loud speakers for the Azan.

Bronx Muslims targets of attacks

BRONX, NY–The West African Muslim community in Bronx is calling on authorities to seriously tackle a wave of hate crimes. There have been twenty such attacks on members of the community within the past one year. They are now seeking help from the NYPD and Housing Authority.

“We are calling everyone to come and help us to address these issues. And these are not things that will be accepted and tolerated,” Said Ebrahim Dawood Ndure of the African Action Network in an interview to the NY1 news channel.

Last week a community forum was held with members of NYPD, NYCHA, and District Attorney Robert Johnson in attendance.

Johnson said the authorities are seriously looking at the problem and the perpetrators will be prosecuted.

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Community News (V11-I33)

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslim women’s shelter in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC–Sa’idah Sharif-Sudan, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is starting a shelter for Muslim women in Charlotte. She had earlier started a shelter in New Jersey in 2003.

At a luncheon sponsored by the Domestic Violence Advocacy Council this week Sudan said the shelter, the first of its kind in Charlotte, would be officially would be launched in the coming months.

Sudan says she would also like to sensitize social workers to the needs of Muslims. “I’d like to educate the social workers, the police departments,” she said. “They don’t know much about the Muslim community and domestic violence.”

For starters, she said, it is important to keep in mind that domestic violence is not just a problem in the Muslim community.

“Domestic violence has no religion, no color, no face – it’s everywhere,” Sudan said. “If Muslim husbands beat their wives, they are not practicing what they say they believe (as Muslims). But neither are Catholics or Baptists when they beat their wives.”

Syed Muzzamil wins scholarship

SOMERVILLE,NJ–Syed Muzzamil is a recipient of the 2009 New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome’s 2009 Children’s Scholarship in the amount of $500. Muzzamil, who graduated from North Brunswick Township High School, was selected for his academic achievement, community service and accomplishments as an individual with Tourette Syndrome.

Muzzamil served as student government president; played varsity golf; participated in the Model U.N. program; was a member of the National Honor Society and was a member of his school’s robotics team. Muzzamil took part in the Robert Wood Johnson Mini-Medical Seminar and volunteered at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick, the physician office of Dr. Saleha Hussaidn and the Muslim Center of Middlesex County.

NJCTS congratulates Syed Muzzamil on his achievements and wishes him continued success in his academic and career endeavors.

The NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award is given to outstanding high school seniors in the state of New Jersey who have excelled in their schools and communities in the face of living with Tourette Syndrome.

Miss. group gets initial OK for mosque

CANTON,Miss.–The Mississippi Muslim Association has been granted the initial permission required to build a mosque in the city of Madison. The county supervisors voted 3-2 for the zoning exemption. Opponents have fifteen days to appeal the decision.

The mosque when constructed will be called Magnolia Islamic Center. Muslim association spokesman Azzam Aburmirshid says more than 100 families who attend a mosque in south Jackson want to worship closer to their homes in Madison County, north of the capital city.

Before the mosque can be built, the Muslim association must show building plans to county officials. It also must verify water and sewer service are available.
Islamic school to open in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis private school to open

MINNEAPOLIS,MN–The Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center, the largest mosque in the state, will open a private school this fall.  The leaders of the project say the mosque will fight the ‘youth crisis’ among local Somalis by teaching students to embrace their unique identity.

The mosque has raised about $760,000 in private donations to help pay for the school.

The Islamic school is expected to open in September with classes for kindergarten and first grade, but the mosque hopes to expand the offerings as the school grows. In addition to core subjects such as math and English, the school will also offer classes teaching the Somali language and Islamic studies. “Iqra” means “read” in Arabic.

The renovated space will also house the mosque’s weekend Islamic school and summer programs.

The mosque needs to raise an additional $173,000 to pay for the project.

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Community News (V11-I31)

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kent Displays Names Dr. Asad Khan Chief Technical Officer

KENT, OH– Kent Displays announced this week  the naming of Dr. Asad Khan as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Dr. Khan replaces Dr. J. William Doane, a pioneer in reflective LCD technology and Director Emeritus of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. Dr. Doane has moved to the role of Senior Advisor and will remain on Kent Displays’ Executive Committee.

Dr. Khan joined Kent Displays in 1995 as a Research Engineer. He has since held roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as the Vice President of Technology and as a member of the Executive Committee. He has published over 60 papers in U.S. and international journals and possesses over 15 U.S. and international patents (with several applications pending).

In his new role, Dr. Khan has primary responsibility for further development of Reflex(TM) No Power LCD technology, the foundation for which was built by Dr. Doane as cofounder of Kent Displays. Focus activities include authoring the development framework for Reflex technology to meet the overall company strategic plan, directing a growing internal team of scientists in the implementation of the framework, and playing the lead role in managing various strategic relationships with suppliers and joint development partners.

Kent Displays’ CEO Dr. Albert Green stated, “We have been exceptionally fortunate to have the services of two internationally-recognized LCD industry leaders in the CTO role, Dr. Doane and now Dr. Khan. As one of Kent Displays’ longest-tenured employees, Dr. Khan offers keen insight into the company’s history and vast experience in the display industry. This knowledge, combined with an extensive technical background, makes him the ideal individual to lead the development of Reflex technology for new and unique applications such as smart cards, electronic skins and writing tablets. We have great confidence in his ability to provide the necessary direction to take Reflex technology into these new frontiers and many others.”

Mosque opposed in Town of Niagara

TOWN OF NIAGARA, NY–The Islamic Cultural Center of Niagar Falls has sought permission from the town to construct a new mosque. The group wants to convert the old Credit Union building in order to meet the needs of the area’s growing Muslim population.

Earlier requests were already denied by the Planning Board. They have now been placed before the Town’s Board.

Town of Niagara allows places of worship only in residential zones and only with a special use permit. The property also would need a zoning variance because it does not have the proper amount of road frontage required.

A public hearing would need to be held prior to the property’s rezoning. However, town officials delayed scheduling one until the other concerns are addressed and worked out.

Walmart rehires Muslim employee

ST.PAUL, MN–A Muslim employee at Walmart fired for praying in the workplace premises has now been re-hired.

Abdi Abdi was fired in February from the Wal-Mart in Woodbury where he worked as a stocker and loader. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new supervisor fired him after instituting a ban on prayers during work breaks, even though a previous supervisor allowed him to do so.

The St. Paul-based Islamic rights group says Abdi was rehired at a St. Paul store that’s closer to his home. The group says he will be allowed to pray during breaks.

A spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer tells the Star Tribune that the company is “glad everyone came together to resolve the issue on a positive note.”

Madison mosque public hearing postponed to August 3

MADISON, MS– A public hearing on the construction of a mosque has been rescheduled for August 3rd in Madison, Mississipi. Roger Williams, an attorney representing the Mississippi Muslim Association in Jackson, asked the Madison County board of supervisors for a continuance of the hearing on June 7, saying the group needs more time to lay out plans for a sewer system for the property on U.S. 51.

“We thought we had reached an understanding with the city of Madison to provide sewer service to the property, because we thought it was located in the city’s certificated area,” he said.

“But last Thursday, we learned that the property was not in the city’s certificated area.” As defined by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, a certificated area is an area where the certificate holder cannot legally deny water and sewer service.

Now Williams said the group plans to install a private sewer system akin to a septic tank. “We felt it would be inappropriate to go to the board without all the information.”

Muslim charter school sues Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN–The Tarek Bin Ziyad Academy has sued the state of Minnesota for unfairly fining it $1.4 million. In its recent complaint in Ramsey County Court, the Academy claims the Minnesota Department of Education fined it for violating teacher licensure law, but refused to provide enough documentation for the school to appeal. It claims the state made “a purposeful and calculated resistance” in withholding the files.

The academy was sued earlier this year by the ACLU which claimed which claimed the school was sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and was unconstitutionally receiving taxpayers’ money.

The ACLU claimed TIZA permitted and promoted Islamic prayer and rituals in school, in violation of Minnesota Charter School Law.

In June, TIZA appealed the Minnesota Department of Education’s “final determination letter regarding certain allegations of teacher licensure law violations,” which led to the $1.4 million fine.

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Muslims Count Michael Jackson as One of Our Own

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Iftekhar Hai, San Mateo County Times

THE UNTIMELY death of Michael Jackson became international news, and it has affected many people, including my children and grandchildren.

I dedicate this column to the philosophical and spiritual turmoil I felt when I heard Jackson died June 25 of an apparent cardiac arrest.

He had an extraordinary charisma, absolute innocence and a childlike charm that never left him.

As his music spread all over the world, bringing him wealth and recognition, he slowly transformed his God-given African texture and features into something else.

I could never explain this part of his life to my children.

He appeared to have a genuine concern for children and wanted to offer them a world that was denied to him as a child because of the abuses he claimed to have suffered.

I was very happy for him last year when he reportedly became a Muslim in Bahrain. He had apparently followed the footsteps of his brother Jermaine Jackson, who converted to Islam 20 years ago and found peace when he gave up drinking, drugs and womanizing. Michael Jackson admired this kind of change in him.

So in search of peace, he lived in Bahrain.

For some time, Jackson thought of making an album in Bahrain to promote spirituality and signed a contract. However, when he returned to America, he was too afraid of the consequences of aligning with the Islamic faith.

Islamophobia is a curse in America. He was advised by close associates and sincere friends not to go public with his new found spirituality.

He remained in his own closet of spirituality that few outside his close circle knew.

American pop culture is not about religion but about a world of fantasy — a flamboyant facade. And he sunk deeper and maintained a lifestyle that increased his dependency on drugs.

He lost all peace of mind and self-control to such an extent that his personal doctor said, “I had to wake him up with medication and had to put him to sleep with the help of medication.”

Michael Jackson is a trivial pursuit of American popular culture.

In my culture we say, “this was a bud that was cut before it could fully blossom.”

Practically, we have powerful people who worship money and power and who are constantly defeating any new ideas that challenge the status quo. Jackson — who was sweet, innocent and talented — fell victim.

I am obsessed with the question, “Why couldn’t Elvis and Michael Jackson remain famous, rich and on a musical pedestal and still live a drug-free and spiritual life?”

Ali Akbar Khan of Berkeley was such a musician, who gained great wealth, fame and popularity and left more than 1,000 students who are spiritually elevated musicians.

Michael Jackson’s death to all of us is one that is sobering. One can climb to fame, acquire great wealth and riches, but death comes knocking without much fanfare.

Nevertheless, Jackson’s very public death is a powerful reminder that no matter how famous, talented or wealthy one is, death comes sometimes sooner than later.

He has now entered a world of extraordinary perception, a world that makes his “Thriller” video seem mundane.

Given Michael’s r eported conversion to Islam last year, Muslims count him as one of our own, and we pray that he can finally find the peace he never found in this world and that he is in a place, God willing, of mercy, forgiveness and solace.

Iftekhar Hai is president of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance and a resident of South San Francisco.

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Magic Post-Eid Banquet

October 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Jackson–October 20–MAJC is pronounced “magic,” and the magic of MAJC was evident Saturday night in the generous welcome offered to local non-Muslims by this especially well-connected Muslim community.

The event included singing performances by children, explanations of what it is to be Muslim, a warm atmosphere and fine food. Prominent people were present, including Michigan House Representative Marty Griffin (D-64th), who spoke very briefly and warmly to thank MAJC for hosting him.

Another speaker was Mrs. Gumar Husain, a social activist from Kalamazoo, described her understanding of marriage in Islam, describing it as a contract between two individuals. She described women’s rights in Islam, explaining “what she earns is hers to keep and she shares in her husband’s earnings too.”

She looked at the audience and pointedly said to them, “Isn’t that more than equal rights for women in Islam,” and the audience applauded.

In a brief interview with TMO, the Accountant Khawaja Ikram explained his happiness with this year’s MAJC event. Ikram is one of the main movers behind the MAJC community; he explained that the turnout was very good this weekend. “We ordered 300 seats and they are all full.”

“When we started not very many people came. This year for the first time 250 people RSVP’d” on their own that they would be coming. This he explains is a sign of progress, when compared with the first year when the MAJC community had to make a point of calling back all of those invited to make sure they would come.

About 300 people were present for the evening, about half of those who came were Muslim, and of the Muslims about half were actually from the Jackson community–the other half were composed in large part of members of the Ann Arbor Muslim community.

MAJC’s regular mosque is a converted two-story house–not large enough to entertain the hundreds of guests who attend this post-Eid “Introduction to Islam” banquet that MAJC holds. Therefore the event is held at local Jackson Community College.

The food for the event was provided by Kazi Catering from Rochester-and although the food was identifiably from the subcontinent and somewhat spicy, MAJC representatives explained to the guests of the evening that they had specifically asked for the food not to be too spicy.

Dr. Manzar Rajput, also of the MAJC community, explained that “We are very proud to be Muslim” and he expressed his happiness to be a part of the American and Jackson communities. “We are happy with the turnout–we have been doing this for 6 years and every year is better than the last.”

MAJC also runs an annual event in which it feeds homeless people on one night at Thanksgiving time. Another ongoing program the mosque conducts is to provide support to a community of about 30 Uzbek families who have come to Jackson as refugees and are living without much support, jobs, or even knowledge of the English language.

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