Iranian Student With $750 Turns Billionaire — Made by Islamic Art

April 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By William Green, Bloomberg

stoneHead_plate March 30 (Bloomberg) — Nasser David Khalili stands in an exhibition hall in St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace, gazing at an 18th-century painted enamel of flowers that’s one of 25,000 works of art he owns. “I’d have paid anything for it,” he says, appraising this miniature by Frenchman Philippe Parpette. “There’s no way I’d have let anybody else buy it.”

Khalili, 64, an Iranian-born billionaire who lives in London, has come to Russia to unveil his fifth art collection: On this overcast December afternoon, 320 of his 1,200 enamel treasures will go on display at the State Hermitage Museum, home to the collection of Catherine the Great, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue.

Having flown in on a chartered plane, Khalili is relishing a private preview, peering through tinted eyeglasses at such possessions as a gilded clock with matching candelabras that once adorned the home of U.S. railroad tycoon William Vanderbilt. Khalili, who says he has a photographic memory, recalls paying $16,500 for these three pieces 34 years ago. He estimates that they’d now cost $600,000.

In all, Khalili says the enamels he has lent the museum are insured for more than 100 million pounds ($150 million). Even so, they are a trifle compared with the obsession that’s consumed him for four decades: his 20,000 pieces of Islamic art. “His collection is certainly the best in private hands,” says Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s London-based head of Middle Eastern art. “He is the man who has everything. He’s come to define the market.”

Khalili is revealing his latest collection just as the $43 billion global art market is showing signs of reviving — with an Alberto Giacometti sculpture selling for a record 65 million pounds in February to a buyer later identified by dealers as London-based billionaire Lily Safra. In the Islamic art world, prices for the best pieces have been buoyed by a new generation of Middle Eastern buyers, including museums in Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

“There’s fierce competition for anything unique, rare, beautiful or important,” Gibbs says, noting that an Islamic textile Sotheby’s estimated would fetch $250,000 to $350,000 in a March 2009 auction went to Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art for $3.4 million.

The limited supply in this niche within the art market has made Khalili’s collection all the more precious, says Claire Penhallurick, an Islamic art consultant for Bonhams auction house. She says it’s impossible to guess what his entire collection is worth.

“How could you value something that’s unique and irreplaceable?” Penhallurick says. “If you had all the money in the world, you couldn’t assemble his collection now.”

When an exhibition of 471 of Khalili’s Islamic pieces opened at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris in October, they alone were insured for almost 600 million pounds.

The story behind how Khalili built his fortune has long been shrouded in secrets. As a property developer, he shunned publicity and didn’t slap his name on buildings or the company that is his main investment vehicle. He has also operated under the radar when buying art.

“During the collecting, I don’t say anything,” Khalili says. “When it’s done, then I speak.”

His elusiveness has fueled much speculation, often revolving around how he financed his collecting. Khalili, who left Iran in 1967 with $750, says he’s since spent $650 million on art. London’s Sunday Times, which estimated his fortune at 5.8 billion pounds in 2007, gave up guessing his worth the following year and removed him from its annual rich list.

Khalili, whose works are held in a family trust, says he used subterfuge to amass his Islamic collection, pretending for several years to be an art dealer so he could acquire pieces at wholesale prices. While his stealth has often obscured the scale of his buying, the magazine ARTnews says Khalili is one of Britain’s top collectors, along with Safra and private museum owner Charles Saatchi.

The Iranian says he’s aware of whispers within the art trade that he grew rich buying Islamic works for Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Sitting in his office in London’s Mayfair neighborhood, where the treasures on display include an 8th- century bronze camel and a 7,000-year-old stone sculpture, Khalili beats his chest with his hand when asked about the rumors.

“I didn’t buy anything for anybody. Nobody, right?” he says. “I bought for myself. This is all bulls—, all right?”

The questions surrounding Khalili stem in part from his emergence in the 1980s as a trailblazer in Islamic collecting.

“There was this sudden transformation,” says William Robinson, director of Islamic art at Christie’s International. “In the late 1980s he was the No. 1 buyer.” Robinson and others thought he was buying as the exclusive agent for a powerful client. “It was assumed that the Sultan of Brunei was behind it,” Robinson says. “I really don’t know.”

Brunei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Britain’s press also fueled speculation about the source of Khalili’s riches. “He spends on a scale no art collector has done before,” London’s Independent wrote in 1994. “Yet no one knows where his money comes from. … (Khalili) vehemently denies the suggestion that he has been secretly investing the sultan’s money rather than his own.”

Khalili says he met the Sultan of Brunei around 1984, after the U.K.’s Foreign Office asked him to advise the monarch on creating an Islamic gallery at the Brunei Museum.

“He had about 10,000 pieces,” Khalili says. “I chose about 1,000 pieces and said, ‘Throw the rest away. They’re junk.’”

As a favor, he says, he selected several items for the Sultan to buy at auction and the Khalili family trust sold him a dozen pieces from its Islamic collection, including Qurans, metalwork and textiles, for about 4 million pounds.

Khalili dismisses rumors that he sold art to the Sultan at inflated prices, pointing out that he later convinced him to donate 10 million pounds to the University of London for an Islamic gallery.

“If you rip somebody off, would they turn around and give you 10 million pounds to build a gallery?” he asks.

It’s now obvious he was buying for himself, Khalili says, since his Islamic collection is cataloged in 19 books written by an army of scholars he has hired to document its provenance and authenticity.

Khalili, who has also built collections of Japanese Meiji art, Spanish metalwork and Swedish textiles since 1975, says the value of his artworks is irrelevant, because he will never sell them.

“All five collections are priceless: 2 billion pounds, 3 billion pounds, 4 billion pounds, it doesn’t make any difference,” he says. “These collections cannot be replaced.”

His Islamic treasures include a 14th-century Iranian world history by Rashid al-Din Fadlallah, which he says cost him 12 million pounds in 1990. “It’s one of the greatest illustrated manuscripts in the world,” says Tim Stanley, senior curator for the Middle East at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Khalili, who holds both U.S. and U.K. passports, offered to lend his Islamic collection to the British nation in 1992 if the government provided a museum to house it. Khalili says he stipulated that the loan would become a gift after 15 years if the collection was exhibited to his satisfaction; if not, he could take it back.

Outsider in London

“The offer to the British government was a really terrible one,” says Anna Somers Cocks, editor-in-chief of the London- based monthly Art Newspaper, because of this risk. After months with no response, Khalili abandoned the plan. Still lacking a permanent home, most of his artworks are stored in warehouses in London and Geneva.

Michael Franses, a U.K.-based retired dealer in rare carpets who’s known Khalili since the 1970s, says this rebuff reflected Khalili’s outsider status in his adopted country.

“The British establishment was very closed,” Franses says. “I don’t think people trusted him because he was Iranian and strange and different.”

That setback is a distant memory as Khalili strides through the Hermitage, musing on how far he’s come since leaving Iran. His artworks have been showcased by 40 museums, including the Victoria & Albert and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Khalili also prides himself on the honors he has won for his philanthropy. An observant Jew who says he avoids discussions of politics, Khalili co-founded the Maimonides Foundation in 1995 to foster dialogue between Jews and Muslims through sports, cultural events and education. He also endowed a research center for Middle Eastern culture at the University of Oxford.

In recognition of Khalili’s interfaith work, Pope Benedict XVI anointed him last year as a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester.
“I’m self-made. I’ve done it all on my own,” says Khalili, whose 14-page resume is headlined: “Scholar, Benefactor and Collector.”

Khalili sees no contradiction in being Jewish and owning an Islamic collection.

“I fell in love with it because it was the most beautiful and diverse art,” he says.

In 2005, at the launch party for Khalili’s book The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture, Iran’s then- ambassador to London, Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli, hailed him as “an ambassador for the culture of Islam.”

First Treasure

Khalili’s journey to the top of the art world began in Iran on Dec. 18, 1945. The fourth of five children, he grew up in Tehran. His mother counseled divorced women. His father — like his father before him — visited homes to acquire artworks he could sell for a few dollars profit.

As a child, Khalili tagged along when his father traded art, once joining him at the home of a former education minister with a collection of pen boxes. The 12-year-old yeshiva student was enraptured by a lacquer pen box painted with 800 men and horses, each one different. Khalili recalls that when he rhapsodized about the box, the owner’s eyes filled with tears.

“He turned round to my dad and said, ‘I’m not selling this to you. I’m giving this to your son,’” Khalili says. He still has the pen box in his Islamic collection. “So the first piece I didn’t buy; I was given,” he says.

Art Mentor

After high school, Khalili did national service, training as an army medic. At 22, he left Iran for New York, where he worked at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant while studying at Queens College, part of New York’s public education system. One evening, as Khalili sipped cream to soothe an ulcer, the restaurant manager scolded him for taking it without permission. Khalili threw his waiter’s jacket at his boss and decided he’d trade art to pay his school fees.

At an auction of Russian enamels months later, Khalili noticed the main bidder was Alan Hartman, whose family ran a Manhattan antiques store. Khalili borrowed several enamels from Hartman on consignment. He says he sold them that evening for a $26,000 profit to Iranian collectors he knew on Long Island, where many wealthy Iranians were settling. (Khalili’s four siblings have since moved there.)

Hartman, now 80, says he wanted to help because Khalili was a Jewish immigrant struggling to build a new life. “We felt sorry for him,” he says.

“Alan and I did a hell of a lot after that,” Khalili says. “In two years, I was a millionaire.”

Friends say it was typical of Khalili that he’d launched himself by charming a stranger into lending him art.

“He has a way of winning people over,” says Sotheby’s Gibbs.

Tactile Billionaire

In person, Khalili exudes warmth: Meeting someone for the first time, he’s liable to introduce himself with a hug. He stands close to people, resting his hand on their arm, shoulder or back.

Before graduating from Queens in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences, Khalili was already amassing his own collection.

“I used to buy a group of objects — let’s say, 10 objects for $100,000 — keep 3 or 4 of the best aside and sell the rest for $250,000,” he says. “I used my knowledge to create money to finance my dream.”

In 1978, Khalili married Marion Easton, an Englishwoman he’d met while buying jewelry from her in a London antique store, and they settled in the U.K. capital. They have three sons: Daniel, 28, a jewelry designer, and twins Benjamin and Raphael, 25, who invest family money in startups such as PlayPit Games Ltd., an online entertainment company.

Decoy Shop

In addition to dealing art, Khalili says he began in the late 1970s to buy commercial properties in the U.K., France, Portugal and Spain.

“As he made money with property, he put it into art,” says Franses, the retired carpet dealer. “He was only ever interested in the art.”

Khalili approached him whenever he had cash to spare, buying such rarities as two 16th-century rugs that Franses says would now cost 2 million pounds each.

Khalili deployed misdirection to his advantage when he opened an Islamic art store in London in 1978. For three years, Khalili says he used the shop as a ruse to obtain dealers’ prices.

“I never sold anything there; I used that place as a decoy and bought unbelievable stuff,” he says.

“His timing was impeccable,” says Penhallurick. Islamic art was such a backwater that dedicated Islamic auctions didn’t begin until the 1970s. Khalili — whose main rivals at the time included the Kuwaiti royal family and the David Collection, owned by a Danish foundation — says many pieces he acquired then would now cost 10 to 50 times more.

Beautiful and Overlooked

“Anything that is beautiful and was overlooked, I bought,” says Khalili, who received a Ph.D. in Islamic lacquer at the University of London in 1988.

By the mid-1980s, Khalili says, his purchases were partly funded by venture capital investments that he declines to name. He says he made 30 times his money off shares he had bought in the late 1970s in a company developing technology to treat tumors. In 1987, he says he pocketed $15 million from the sale of a private company that made indigestion pills.

Khalili says he stopped trading art around 1980 and bankrolled his collecting primarily with profits from property. In a typical deal, he says, he paid 32.5 million pounds in 1992 for Cameron Toll, an Edinburgh shopping mall, selling it two years later for 55 million pounds as the market revived. Public records show Khalili has owned various private property companies.

Property Development

His main vehicle, Favermead Ltd., was incorporated in the U.K. in 1992 and sold 97 million pounds of property in 1995 alone, according to the company’s financial statements.

“Business is the least of my pride,” Khalili says. “Compared to collecting, it’s a piece of cake.”

Still, he currently owns a 60,000-square-foot (5,574- square-meter) business park in Exeter, England; a 32,000-square- foot building in Mayfair; and a site in central London where he plans to build a 320,000-square-foot, 13-story office tower when the real estate market recovers.

“If he starts building in the next 12 months, it’ll be very good timing as there’s very little available in the market,” says Gerald Ronson, CEO of London-based developer Heron International, which also bid for the central London site.

Mayfair Mansion

One personal property venture proved more problematic.

In 1993, Khalili began combining two buildings in Kensington that once housed the Russian and Egyptian embassies into a 55,000-square-foot home. Khalili says he spent 90 million pounds on the house, including 45 million pounds on the refurbishment. He employed 400 craftsmen for 4 years, installing 3,200 square meters of marble, a Turkish bath and underground parking for 20 cars. Marion Khalili says she refused to move in, deeming the house too palatial.

In 2001, Khalili unloaded the property for 50 million pounds to Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, who sold it to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal for 57 million pounds in 2004, according to public records. Khalili now lives instead in a seven-story Edwardian mansion in Mayfair.

These days, Khalili says, his buying of Islamic art has slowed. With competition intensifying, he’s turned his attention elsewhere. One afternoon in late February, he reveals that he’s already begun his sixth collection. This time, Khalili says, he’s acquired an existing trove of nearly 200 pieces, to which he’ll add more treasures.

And the collection’s theme?

“I’m not telling you,” Khalili says with a smile. With that, he draws a veil on the next chapter in the improbable story of the Iranian yeshiva student who became the world’s leading private collector of Islamic art.

–Editors: David Ellis, Jonathan Neumann

Community News (V12-I3)

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Dupage County denies permit for Islamic facility

WHEATON, IL (News Agencies)–The Irshad Learning Center, an Islamic educational institute, suffered a setback after it was denied permission to build a facility near Naperville. The DuPage County board voted 10-7 this Tuesday to deny a conditional-use permit. The board members said they were concerned about operation of the facility in a residential neighborhood and the accompanying problems.

They suggested it was time the board re-examine a special zoning proposal for religious institutions.

Officials from Irshad were upset by the decision and suggested legal actions against the county could be on the horizon.

Mahmood Ghassemi, chairman of the center’s board of trustees, said he didn’t feel the county decision was in keeping with the rule of law.

Muslim cabbie returns $21,000 left in taxi

NEW YORK, NY–A New York City Muslim cab driver is being praised for returning $21,000 left behind a tourist from Europe.
Italian Felicia Lettieri, 72, left her purse in a Manhattan taxi on Christmas Eve. It contained travelling money for her and six relatives.

Police told them not to get their hopes up about finding it.

But the cabbie, Mohammad “Mukal” Asadujjaman, drove about 50 miles, to a Long Island address he found in the purse. No-one was home, so he left his phone number and later returned with the money.

The 28-year-old driver, from Bangladesh, said that as an observant Muslim he could not accept a reward offered by the grateful passenger.

Free Admission To Ali Center On Champ’s Birthday

LOUISVILLE, KY–Muhammad Ali turns 68 years old on Jan. 17.To celebrate this occasion, the Muhammad Ali Center invites the community to tour the center’s award-winning exhibits for free and to participate in the day’s activities. The Center is also expanding its Sunday hours for this festive occasion; doors will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

Leading off the special events for the day will be a short program at 1 p.m. in the Ali Center’s Main Lobby. At 2:30 p.m., in the Auditorium, will be a showing of “Facing Ali,” an Academy Award contender this year for Best Documentary. Producer Derik Murray will be in attendance to introduce the film and answer questions about the production of this compelling film.

Other special activities for the day include a trivia contest, prizes, drawings, light refreshments, and an opportunity for kids to design birthday cards for Ali. Special Muhammad birthday merchandise will be available to purchase in the center’s retail store.

This event will also kick off a year of significant historical events for Ali: the 50th anniversary of his first professional fight (in Louisville) and his 1960 Olympic Gold Medal received in Rome.

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Compassion Changed Robber’s Life

December 10, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Evan Buxbaum, CNN

Mohammad Sohail
Long Island Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail

December 3, 2009 http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/03/convenience.store.compassion/index.html

Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail says he recited an Islamic oath over the would-be robber after he broke into sobs.

New York (CNN) — Six months ago, a Long Island convenience store owner turned a would-be robbery into an act of compassion. On Wednesday, the shoplifter made amends with a $50 bill and a thank you letter for saving him from a life of crime.

The story began in May 2009, when Mohammad Sohail of Shirley, New York, was closing his Shirley Express convenience store one night. Security camera footage from that evening shows a man wielding a baseball bat barging into the store and demanding money.

Sohail had a rifle ready and quickly aimed it directly in the robber’s face, forcing the man to drop the bat and lay on the ground. Unbeknownst to the man, Sohail never loads his gun.

According to Sohail, the man immediately started to plead with him, tearfully saying, “I’m sorry, I have no food. I have no money. My whole family is hungry. Don’t call the police. Don’t shoot me.”

“When I see him starting crying [those] things, I really feel bad for him,” said Sohail. “I say, oh man, this is something different.”

Sohail made the man pledge never to rob anybody ever again, then gave the man $40 and a loaf bread. Sohail, who is from Pakistan, said the man then wanted to be a Muslim like him, so he recited an Islamic oath and gave the would-be robber the name Nawaz Sharif Zardari.

Sohail went to get some milk, but when he returned the man had fled with the money and food.

Both Mohammad Sohail and Suffolk County Police have no idea who the man is. After the May incident, Sohail explained that he will “absolutely not” be pressing charges, though police are still investigating the case.

Over the past six months, Sohail’s story of sympathy and kindness has inspired many across the country.

The Shirley Express store has received numerous letters of admiration. “No person has ever moved my spirit the way you did. From your biggest admirer,” one letter says. “Great men are capable of great acts. You are a great American,” another reads.

He has also received several checks with such messages for “a couple hundred dollars” in total, says Sohail. He has made a point to give this money “to the people” by offering free bagels, rolls and coffee in his store every night after 9 o’clock.

But the envelope that arrived on Wednesday came as a surprise. Postmarked November 11 without a return address, it enclosed a $50 bill and a note apparently from the would-be robber.

The typed letter begins, “You change My Life (sic),” and goes on to say that the man is sorry for his actions six months ago.

“At the time I had No money No food on my table No Job, and nothing for my family. I know that it was wrong, but I had know (sic) choice. I needed to feed My family. When You had That gun to my head I was 100% that I was going to die,” reads the letter.

The letter says Sohail’s acts inspired him to become a “True Muslim” and that his life has changed dramatically.

“I’m very happy that somebody got to change his life,” Sohail said. “If he is a maybe criminal, maybe is not anymore. So now he is a good person in this community and I’m very glad for that. He’s staying out of trouble, he’s not in a jail, he’s taking care of his family.”

But the letter-writer said he actually did convert, “decided to become a true Muslim,” and turned his life around after Sohail, 47, spared his life.

The letter was signed in type: “Your Muslim Brother.”

“That’s the same guy I gave $40 to,” said Sohail, 62, displaying the typewritten letter at his Shirley Express deli yesterday. There was no return address. It was mailed on Long Island the week before Thanksgiving.

“I’m really thrilled,” said Sohail. “I’m very happy for that guy, because he is now doing good for the community.

“He has a job and he is a good person. I really feel great. Thank God he’s doing good. He’s got a new baby and he’s not in jail,” said Sohail.

11-51

AMU Alumni Celebrate Sir Syed Day in New York

November 25, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Shaheer Khan

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Zakir Ali Khan Receiving the Award.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was born on October 17, 1817. Sir Syed, the famous 19th century scholar, historian and social reformer spent most of his time on promotion of social, economic and educational conditions of Indian Muslims.

Sir Syed’s untiring and painstaking efforts over a long period of time bore fruit when he was able to establish the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College in 1875, which subsequently developed into Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. The institute was founded with the primary objective of removing the educational backwardness of the Muslim community. In this task Sir Syed sought cooperation of all the communities and the institute was open to all, irrespective of caste creed and religion. For Sir Syed Ahmed Khan it was impossible to conceive the growth and progress of India without simultaneous development of communities in harmony, brotherhood and cooperation. Today AMU symbolizes on the one hand the secular ideals of the Republic of India and on the other the aspirations of more than 150 million Muslims in India.

The AMU alumni are spread in large numbers in all over the world. On Sir Syed’s 192nd birth anniversary-on October 17- hundreds of thousands of students, alumni, and well wishers of AMU around the world celebrated the founder’s day popularly known as ‘Sir Syed Day’.

The AMU Old Boys’ Association in New York also celebrated the day at Akbar Restaurant in Long Island, New York.

The evening started with light refreshments. The formal program started off with the recitation of some verses from the Holy Qur’an by Ms. Naila Ali. Mr. Faiq Siddiqi and Well known TV personality in New York was emcee for the program.

Secretary of the association, Mr. Muzaffar Habib presented the annual report and thanked the volunteers and sponsors. He stressed the need to keep the Aligarh tradition alive and spoke about what needs to be done to achieve association’s goals. He presented a plaque to Mr. and Mrs. Riaz Alvi for their services to the association.

Ex-president of the association Dr. Masood Haider presented the obituaries of Dr. Abdul Bari and Haneef Akhgar Malihabadi, popular poet of USA, who passed away this year. Mrs. Bari was presented a plaque to recognize the contributions of her late husband to the association.

On the occasion, Mr. Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan was also honored with “Life Time Achievement Award” for his outstanding services to the continuation of the spirit of the Aligarh Movement and to the cause of higher education in Pakistan. The prize carried cash amount of Rs. 1, 00,000 and Citation.

Born in 1926 at Rampur (UP) Zakir Ali Khan did his B.Sc. in 1945 and B.Sc. Engineering in 1948 from the Aligarh Muslim University. He is one of the founders of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi. He has served as the general secretary of the Aligarh Old Boy’s Association, Karachi for almost 4 decades and has edited the Association’s monthly magazine ‘Tehzeeb’ for many years.

The author of number of books Zakir Ali Khan was awarded the first ‘ International Award for Literature’ instituted by the Aligarh Muslim University, at last year’s world alumni summit at Aligarh.

The keynote address of Zakir Ali Khan was equally inspiring. He shared Aligarh anecdotes and wisdom that just had to be appreciated and emphasized on team work which resulted in the establishment of Sir Syed University. Mr. Khan said that the best tribute to Sir Syed is to take his educational movement forward.

Mr. Zakir Ali Khan expressed his gratitude for the award and he donated the whole prize money to the welfare of AMU students.

The first part of the program ended with the traditional singing of the Tarana of AMU which was presented by a group.

The second part of the program was dedicated for an interesting Mushaira wherein some famous poets from India and Pakistan including Tahir Faraz (India), Abbas Tabish (Pakistan), Meraj Faizabadi (India), Waseem Barelvi (India), Zamin Jafri (Canada), Saleem Kausar (Pakistan), and Manzar Bhopali (India) were invited who enthralled the audiences for almost four hours.

A new website (www.aligarhmovement.com) on Sir Syed and his mission “Aligarh Movement” was launched by one of the flag bearer of Aligarh Movement, Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan.

The proceedings started with a brief introduction of the website and its developer, Mr. Afzal Usmani by this scribe.

Mr. Afzal Usmani spoke on the need of a website where introductory information and Sir Syed, Aligarh movement and prominent Aligarians is easily accessible. He said that the new website would fill the vacuum and would inspire others to work in this direction.

While inaugurating the website, Mohammad Zakir Ali Khan expressed the need of such website which can fulfill the void in cyberspace to carry on the mission of Sir Syed and Aligarh Movement. This is an era of information Technology and people look for information on internet because it is easy and accessible from anywhere on a click of a button. He congratulated Mr. Afzal Usmani, the brain behind this website and his team and extended his support to make this website as a reference portal for all the information of Aligarh Movement to carry on mission of Sir Syed.

Prof. Waseem Barelvi, famous Urdu poet also spoke on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts for making the material on Sir Syed, his associates, and Aligarh movement available at one place.

Afzal Usmani requested everyone to share any information which they consider will be relevant for the website.

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Community News (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistani American doctors urged to develop homeland

NEW YORK, NY–Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon Saturday urged medical doctors of Pakistani descent to make their full contribution to American economic and political life as well as play their part in the development of their motherland, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani descent of North America (APPNA), he lauded the services rendered by Pakistani-American doctors, and hoped that their fast-growing organization would emerge as a major force in the country.

The dinner, held in Uniondale on the Long Island, a New York suburb, was largely attended by APPNA members from all over the United States. Also present were U.S. Congressman Ed Town and Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi.

The newly-elected President of APPNA’s New York Chapter Dr. Asif  Rehman welcomed the guests and enumerated the association’s support- activities in Pakistan, especially during the 2005 devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan and in easing the suffering of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Swat.

In his remarks, Ambassador Haroon traced the development of U.S.-Pak relations from their inception, saying Pakistan had always given diplomatic, political and strategic support to the the United States without any quid pro quo.

He especially referred to the support provided by Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But he regretted that Pakistan was forgotton when the Soviets were forced to pullout of Afghanistan.

“Still, we have remained good friends of the United States,” the ambassador added.

Lilburn mosque plan denied

GWINNETT, GA–The Lilburn City Council voted down a plan last Wednesday night that would have allowed for a major expansion of a local mosque.

The mosque is on Lawrenceville Highway at Hood Road.

Residents argued the development would go against zoning laws designed to protect neighborhoods.

“It doesn’t matter what it was going to be, it didn’t belong in that area. It wasn’t zoned for that,” said Ilene Stongin-Garry, who’s against the expansion.
Attorney for the mosque said denying the project is a violation of the congregation’s first amendment right.

“They want to expand as other churches, as other religious institutions have been able to expand in your community. To deny them this right in unlawful,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

Dillard vows to fight on, he’s going to take the case to federal court.

Arabic classes in more high schools in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL–The Chicago public schools will expand its Arabic-language program to three more high schools, thanks to a three-year federal grant of 888,000 U.S. dollars announced earlier this month.   Already, Arabic is offered at three Chicago high schools and is also offered at seven Chicago elementary schools and about 2,000 students take Arabic in Chicago’s schools, according to official sources.

The new federal grant will fund the expansion to three additional high schools in Chicago that have yet to be identified, the sources said.

The expansion will be enhanced by the use of technology-based instruction using the safari-blackboard virtual technology that will allow a teacher at one school to simultaneously offer a virtual class at another school as well. The teacher will change schools every two weeks so students will have personal interaction with a teacher.

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Community News (V11-I47)

November 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Islamic Ctr of Long Island expansion

LONG ISLAND,NY–This is one case of continuing expansion. The Islamic Center of Long Island was formed in 1982. Ever since then it has evolved from a small brick home to its current  home of 10, 000 square foot of facilities including a mosque, library, classroom, and administrative office. Last month it announced that it is again expanding to meet the needs of its growing congregants.

According to West Bury Times the ICLI is seeking to build a a three story, 19,000 square addition to the existing structure. It has purchases four adjoining homes and construct a parking area. It will add 87 parking spots as compared with the current 35. But it is still short of 221 spots as required by the by-laws. Therefore the center has filed an application with the zoning board to receive a parking variance.

A hearing on the application is expected to be held on Nov.16.

Investigation into imam’s death ends

YERMO,CA– The San Bernardino County Sherriff’s Department has stated that its investigation into the mysterious death of a local Muslim in a house fire hasn’t produced any results and that the case is being now shelved. They have been unable to find any clues or suspects.

Ali Mohammed died on June 27 while visiting a property that his family had moved out of when suddenly the building was enveloped in flames.

Investigators had earlier claimed that the fire was human-caused and not a result of faulty equipment.

The same property was repeatedly the target of vandalism and hate attacks. 

Police investigate break-in at mosque

DURHAM, NC–Durham police are investigating a break-in at the Masjid Ibad Ar-Rahman mosque, 3034 Fayetteville St.

Mosque leaders found windows and doors broken early on the morning of Nov. 2. They said two flat-screen monitors, a printer and a computer were stolen.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Durham police Investigator K. D. Emanuel at 919-560-4415, ext. 29306, or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.

Lackawanna halal facility opposed

LACKAWANNA, NEW YORK–Angry protestors vent their voices at the Lackawanna City Council last Tuesday night to protest a plan for a halal slaughterhouse in the area. The protestors and those in the council supporting them appeared to be ill informed on the halal method.

“I did research the Halal method and I’m not happy with what I read,” said First Ward Councilmember Andrea Haxton, according to WNED.

It was not readily apparent what kind of research she did.

City Council members told the citizens they had nothing to do with approval of the meat facility and can’t stop it even if they are opposed.

“It has not and will not come in front of city council because we have, unfortunately, no role in this,” said Councilmember Geoffrey Szymanski.

The slaughterhouse is expected to open within a few months.

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