Iqra Foundation Annual Dinner

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Staff Reporter

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Mary Ali gives her acceptance address for the IQRA Education Leadership Award
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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf receives for him and his wife Daisy Khan an award from Ali Yurtsever & Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

IQRA, the leaders in Islamic Education hosted their Annual Dinner on October 29th. IQRA’s community of advocates, educators and private Ansar (sponsors) gathered to celebrate the 28 years of the Foundation’s accomplishments.

The room was filled with more than 550 up beat supporters. The keynote speaker, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chief architect of the Cordoba Initiative discussed the importance of Muslim Americans taking an active role in society. Appreciating the pioneering work and leadership role that Drs. Abidullah and Tasneema Ghazi have played, American Muslims were urged to invest in organizations like IQRA to help realize the implementation of critical and pivotal work in promoting innovative Islamic education in USA and worldwide. Dinner guests were also honored to hear the inspirational speech of Sister Mary Ali, the recipient of the IQRA Education Leadership Award that the organization has instituted to honor the memory of Dr. MAW Fakhri, its founding chairman.

Dr. Shahid Siddiqi, a member of the board and chairman of reception committee, lauded the leadership of IQRA team and its innovative futuristic approach. Dr. Ghazi in his presidential address narrated IQRA’s past achievements and laid down its future vision which covered revision of the program, use of electronic media for publication, standardization of Islamic education, establishment of distance education on internet and producing new genre of literature appropriate for our age and the global village.

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Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Banquet Fundraiser

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) held its annual “Healing Hands” banquet/fundraiser this past weekend at the Hilton Anaheim in Anaheim, Ca. Internationally known and acclaimed Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diana Buttu, was the keynote speaker.

During her address Ms Buttu exposed the fallacy of the so-called Peace Process. The 1993 Oslo Peace accords were a ploy by Israel which gave the Palestinians nothing and permitted Israel to triple its illegal settlements in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.

While the Palestinians suffer under the continued yoke of occupation, Israel, using the illusion of a peace process, has tricked 34 other nations into establishing diplomatic and economic relations leading to considerable economic benefit to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to the pre-Oslo Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has become Israel’s surrogate, subcontracting for Israel in imposing the occupation and doing Israel’s all around dirty work. This has often been called “outsourcing the occupation.”

Ms Buttu said that there were advantages and disadvantages to submitting an application for statehood to the United Nations. For example, of course it would bring renewed attention on an international scale to the suffering of the Palestinian people. But she asked her audience to consider as a considerable disadvantage the wording of President Mahmoud Abbas’ application in which he used the tern “Jewish State”. Is this de facto recognition?

Ms Buttu suggested the following remedies: We need to demand better representation; we need to demand democratic representation so that our leaders are not tools of the occupation and represent the will of the people. Useless negotiations should be replaced with world wide boycott and divestment of Israel.

Ms Buttu is a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently resides in Palestine and served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. In 2004 she was part of a legal team that successfully challenged Israel’s Apartheid Wall before the International Court of Justice. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Queens University, Stanford University and Northwestern.

Ms Buttu has appeared on television news shows and is valued for her knowledge, experience and sense of fair play.

Nurse Asma Taha of Loma Linda University Hospital received the Huda Sosebee award for her humanitarian work. She has made numerous trips to the Middle East with the PCRF and has supported the PCRF in the United States.

Huda Sosebee, the late wife of PCRF CEO Steve Sosebee, was the lead social worker for the PCRF and one of its leading humanitarians during her all too brief life. She was known as the “heart” of the organization.

The Southern California chapter’s  leader, Lily Karam, spoke movingly of the children who have been helped and of the need to continue PCRF’s work.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is an internationally known and acclaimed children’s charity, specializing in the Middle East. PCRF is perhaps best known for its medical missions which send teams of doctors and associated medical personnel to countries in the Middle East to treat needy children there. The teams also train Middle Eastern doctors on site.

If a child cannot be adequately treated in his or her home site, the child is transported, at no cost to the parents, to a country where optimum medical care is available.

PCRF announced at last year’s banquet that it would enter the field of pediatric oncology. Plans are progressing in that arena.

PCRF also runs summer camps; has a Woman’s Empowerment Project; has distributed eyeglasses and wheelchairs to children, and does emergency relief.

The accomplishments and projects of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, of which the foregoing is but a brief part, can be found at their web site: <www.pcrf.net.>  The web site also has provisions for making donations.

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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

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Remembering the Tragedy of 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

One of the most corrosive elements in our society is Islamophobia, a well funded and staffed industry which, to the surprise of no one, shifted into high gear after the tragedy of 9/11.  Muslims have been its victims, and Muslims have, through their community outreach, been its stalwart opponents. Their solution has been simple, but not easy: to persevere in the truth.

The Los Angeles area remembered and commemorated the tragedy of 9-11 that took place a decade ago. Two events were held: a Health Fair that honored first responders which took place at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), and an ecumenical prayer service held in the historic Los Angeles down town area at St Johns Cathedral. 

The ICSC is the site of the first Masjid in Los Angeles. Saturday it played host to first responders and city officials, including keynote speaker, Kevin James, a Muslim firefighter who was at the World Trade Center when the planes struck. Mr James spoke of the first responders he worked with, many of whom were injured or killed in the line of duty.

Mr. James further said that he was puzzled when recent Muslim immigrants to the United States spoke as if being Muslims made them outsiders. He reminded his audience that Islam was a part of the America fabric and that Muslim explorers from Africa were here before Christopher Columbus. In addition, he continued, one third of the slaves brought to this country were Muslim though many were forced to adopt, albeit superficially, the Christianity of their masters.

Also honored were: Captain ll Sean W. Conway of the Los Angeles Fire Department; Reserve Chief Michael Leum of the LA Sheriff’s Department, and Officer Mike Odel of the Los Angeles Police Department. Like Mr. James, emotion cloaked their acceptance speeches as they recalled comrades injured and killed.

City Council President Eric Garcetti recalled the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. He said that in Los Angeles people seemed to be dividing and standing alone because of the tragedy. It was the ICSC and its members that wove together the tapestry that was and again could be Los Angeles. In the midst of considerable hate and suspicion, these Muslims made us all stand together.

Dr. Maher Hathout, the founder of ICSC and a man celebrated in the area by Muslims and non Muslims alike, summed up the program. He said that in the beginning of fear is the voice of courage. It tells one to enter a burning building that others are exiting. It is, he said, the voice of God.

Sponsors of the event were the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); The Islamic Center of Southern California; the UMMA Clinic, the American Muslim Health Professionals, The Council of American Pakistan Affairs; American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council; UPLIFT, and the Guibord Center.

On Sunday September 11th an interfaith service was held at St John’s Episcopal Church. The event was sponsored by the Guilbord Center, an interfaith organization dedicated to celebrating what the different American religions have that unite them. The service was titled: Finding Hope in the Holy. Representatives of different faiths read from their holy books. Jihad Turk, the Religious Director of the Islamic Center of Southern California, spoke for the Islamic faith. Each speaker poured water into a cistern upon the completion of his or her address.

The congregants answered each spokesperson with a prayer of hope and commitment

Children born since September 11, 2001 were presented with saplings watered by the above cited cistern. These children are the hope of the future and the event was a pledge that all those who were present would work to make that future a just and peaceful one for them.

Among the co sponsoring groups was: MPAC, the South Coast Interfaith Council, The Islamic Center of San Gabriel, Progressive Christians Uniting, and the ICSC.

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Annual Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Gala

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The Southern California chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) will hold its annual banquet/fundraiser September 24 at the Hilton Anaheim Hotel in Anaheim, Ca.

Titled” “Healing Hands”, the event will feature prominent Canadian-Palestinian attorney, Diane Buttu as the keynote speaker.

In addition to Ms Buttu, there will be a video presentation about the children of Palestine; an address by Dr. Alexander Zorous, Associate Professor of Pediatric Neurology at Loma Linda University who has been on numerous PCRF missions, most recently this past July; the presentation of the Huda Sosebee Humanitarian award to Nurse Asma Taha, and Middle Eastern entertainment.

The PCRF was founded in 1991 by concerned humanitarians to meet the medical needs of children in Palestine. Eventually the purview of PCRF’s administration expanded. The organization sends medical teams to: perform surgeries, including plastic surgery; treat congenital ailments; treat heart ailments; provide dental care, eyeglasses, and custom build wheel chairs. The medical teams teach as well as treat, seeking to make the area self sufficient. There is a women’s empowerment project, summer camp facilities for disabled children, and emergency disaster relief. Last year at PCRF’s gala the organization announced the entry of PCRF into the field of pediatric oncology. This is only a partial list of the outstanding work of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

If the patient is deemed to need medical treatment that cannot be provided locally, he or she is transported free of charge by PCRF to a hospital in the West or the Middle East where appropriate care is available. This care, including follow up visits, is provided free of charge while the patient and perhaps an accompanying relative stay with a local host family.

The late Huda Sosebee, wife of Founder Steve Sosebee, was the heart of the PCRF. A dedicated social worker and advocate for the children of Palestine, Ms Sosebee worked tirelessly and dreamed in the last year of her life of extending the work of PCRF to include pediatric oncology. Last year the dream was realized and is now in its early stages at Hussein Hospital in Beit Jalla.

The keynote speaker, Diane Buttu, is an internationally known and respected attorney. She was a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization and was cited for her work as a legal advisor and negotiator on peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. She has appeared on numerous occasions on TV news broadcasts.

The event will begin at 6:00pm. Tickets are $100 per person with table sponsorship available. It is suggested that tickets be purchased in advance of the event.

To reserve a ticket or to make a donation, please call: (562) 432-0005 or fax: (562) 684-0828.

To learn more about the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, please access their web site at: www.pcrf.net.

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MUNA Conference in Hamtramck

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman, TMO

“The Muslim Ummah of North America’s north zone will have an educational conference in Hamtramck to discuss youth involvement and community development on June 5. MUNA is a social dawah organization in the U.S. which seeks to spread Islam through dawah, organization, education, social service, and relationship building. Michigan has four chapters and 15 sub-chapters, including two youth groups.

Guests will include: Congressman John Conyers Jr., Congressman Hansen Clarke, President of the Islamic Center of North Detroit (Masjid Al-Falah) and Imam of the Canton Masjid, Sheikh Ali Suleiman Ali, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter, Dawud Walid, Imam Aly Lela from the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit, and Publisher of The Muslim Observer Dr. A.S. Nakadar. President of MUNA Dr. Syed Rahman Chowdhury is the keynote speaker.

The program will be held at the Gates of Columbus, 9632 Conant Ave., Hamtramck, MI, from 2:30 – 7 p.m. Admission is free. For more information contact Muhammad Rafiqul Islam at 313.231.1986 or Maleka Begum at 313.492.9695.”

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Haroon Siddiqui Speaks at Indian American Muslim Council Event at Tawhid Center in Farmington

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

P5210005One of the most prominent journalists in Canada spoke at the Tawheed Center Saturday evening.  Haroon Siddiqui, originally from Hyderabad, India, started working as a reporter before leaving India, then came to Canada and progressed through a meteoric rise at the Toronto Star, Canada’s best newspaper.  He progressed from reporter to national editor in only twelve years (1978 – 1990).  Finally he served for eight years as “Editor Emeritus,” the editorial page editor of the Star.

Siddiqui is the recipient of numerous awards from organizations and from national and provincial bodies.  For example, in 2000 and 2001 he became a member of the Order of Ontario, for crafting “a broader definition of the Canadian identity,” inclusive of our First Nations, French Canadians and newer Canadians he is active in several organizations, including service as a professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism.  He is also the author of Being Muslim, a book which he signed for visitors on Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.

Saturday, Asim Khan of the Tawheed Center explained in detail the recent achievements of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) which sponsored the evening with Haroon Siddiqui.  the IAMC is an Indian advocacy  and service organization based in Washington DC.  Recent changes included changing the name to reflect the IAMC’s center of gravity in the USA.  Achievements include serious work to counter discrimination in India (and to some extent in America) against Muslims.  Mr. Khan explained the most important achievement was the work of the Human Rights Law Network, an association of 300 lawyers in India who work to protect Muslims from abuses and injustices by authorities in India. The lawyers handled 50 cases this year.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Siddiqui, spoke on wide ranging issues concerning the philosophical foundation for Muslims to live in the United States and Canada. He spoke about the three levels of conflict that arose out of the 9/11 attacks (a generalized war on terror, actual war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by a few, a cultural warfare aimed against Islam and Muslims–blaming every Muslim for every evil done by any Muslim).  He quoted Anne Frank, who in her diary explained that when a Jew does something wrong, every Jew is blamed, but when a Christian does something wrong then only that Christian is blamed–Siddiqui showed the parallel current situation for Muslims. Siddiqui emphasized that “there is no dichotomy between being Muslim and being American, no clash, no law contrary to Islamic principles, except one–four wives.”  He emphasized that in the West there is in fact sometimes more freedom to practice Islam than in supposedly Muslim countries.

He also advised against pitfalls that he said confronted Muslim immigrants to the West, including individual success built at the cost of community success.

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Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) 2011 Spring Reception and Conversation

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Immigrants and Urban America

Dearborn–May 14–The ISPU’s event this past Saturday really amounted to a celebration of Arab culture.  The venue for the event, the food, the main speakers (Fatima Shama and Rashida Tlaib) all tended to create the impression of a family reunion of Arabs more than an Islamic event or an intellectual event.

About 100 people attended this ISPU event in Dearborn on Saturday at the Arab American museum.  The evening’s speeches were preceded by a guided tour of the museum–the tour guide described many of the exhibits at the museum–having a tour guide did add another dimension to the exhibits, even to me although I have toured the museum more than once.

Following the guided tour there was a buffet table filled with Arabic food and then there were speeches in the museum’s auditorium basement.

The two people present with the most political clout were Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12-MI), one of the most prominent Muslim women in the nation as the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan legislature, and the keynote speaker Fatima Shama, New York City’s Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The rise of Fatima Shama was attributable to her outspokenness and firm convictions, which was shown by the story she told the ISPU audience Saturday.

After 9/11, seeing the need to attenuate the hatred of non-Muslims for Muslims and Arabs, Shama quit her job in order to reach out full time to people she didn’t know (helping to form a group called Muslims Against Terrorism), trying to give a face to a religion caricatured by the actions of 9/11–to the very people most scarred by those horrific events, New Yorkers.  She had served in community service organizations (New York’s Arab American Family Support Center, similar to ACCESS), and like Ms. Tlaib had become a lawyer. 

After MAT, she began working for Mayor Bloomberg, and spoke out in favor of Palestinians and Arabs in ways she thought would cost her her job.  But her outspokenness earned Bloomberg’s respect and she rose in prominence to her present position. Ms. Shama has since argued in favor of allowing Muslim holidays in New York schools, has served as Mayor Bloomberg’s liaison with immigrant communities of Muslims, granting him a level of sensitivity to Arab concerns over, for example, Israel and Palestine.  She speaks very respectfully of Bloomberg’s own commitment to his ideals, for example his support for Park51.

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