Arab American Muslims, Christians–Relief to Haiti

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Arab Detroit, Ameera David

DEARBORN,Mich.–Just a day after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the death toll was already estimated at over 1,000 people. Today, only a week later, that toll is thought to stand at 200,000—a number inclining with each passing hour.

Now, in the wake of such a disaster, a host of global organizations are contributing to relief. Joining those ranks are Arab American Muslims and Christians, who from a national to local level are stepping up to the plate and helping in unprecedented ways.

Immediately following the incident, Islamic charity Zakat mobilized as many as 50 volunteers to distribute high-need commodities. The charity, founded and directed by Khalid Demir, has pledged over $50,000 dollars in hygiene products, medical supplies, and hot cooked meals.

Demir himself just returned from a trip to Haiti in hopes of better facilitating the relief but was troubled by the amount of people who still hadn’t received any medical attention or food. “With severely overcrowded streets, there is chaos. These are people who haven’t eaten in over a week” he says.

Other Muslim organizations such as Helping Hands (based largely in Detroit) and Islamic Relief of USA have also dived in to help— both by sending in representatives to assess the calamity as well as by pledging over $1 million dollars in goods and services.

Helping Hands is currently negotiating the start of an efficient medical base clinic in Port-au-Prince. There, they will equip the center with sizeable medical provisions while also contracting quality physicians from the US and abroad into Haiti for treatment.

Umbrella organizations representing America’s Arab Christian population have also taken a stand in supporting the Haitian earthquake survivors.

Arab Melkite and Maronite Catholic Eparchies have opened special collections in their respective churches which will go directly to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an organization with a $25 million commitment to relief.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), representative of America’s 300 plus Arabic Orthodox churches, will provide over $170,000 in relief.

Thus far, they have airlifted water purification equipment to accommodate 10,000 people as well as enough tents to lodge 500 families. Not to mention opening a campaign for donors to both finance and assemble “Hygiene Kits” complete with soap, towels, toothbrushes, and band aids.

Amal Morcos, IOCC Communications Director, is pleased to be afforded this opportunity to help. She says, “Faith based organizations play a very important role in humanitarian aid. They should uphold certain values in representing the religion and its followers— demonstrating that they care about all people regardless of their faith.”

Also showing compassion is the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, an umbrella organization which encompasses hundreds of Arab owned restaurants and stores in and around the metro-Detroit area.

The association, founded by Syrian American Edward Deeb, hopes to rally member businesses to contribute monetarily as well as with food products, with the goal of giving $2 million or more in aid.

“They don’t have enough food, enough water, or enough medical supplies. There are 1.5 million people, and they need our help” says Deeb.

While donations are surfacing mostly though large, pre-established organizations, there are also many individual Arab Americans finding creative ways to help.

Just this week, Lebanese American, Reem Sater, has initiated a fundraiser which will support Architecture for Humanity, an organization that works on reconstruction and the building of a sustainable infrastructure that can withstand earthquakes in the future.

Almost immediately after the earthquake hit, Sater thought of ways to activate the younger generation, “I didn’t see anyone from our age group organizing any relief efforts, and I felt like we had a responsibility just as anyone else to assist those in need.”

Taking place at a Ferndale lounge, each $20 donation made to the relief organization will include a drink of the person’s choice. The event promises to attract more than 200 guests and raise $5,000 in proceeds.

With recurring aftershock earthquakes and new problems developing, Haiti holds an uncertain future; however, while the true devastation remains to be seen, Arab Americans are stepping in, actively responding with open hearts and little hesitation.

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Secrets of Qur`an: Dr. Mohammad Ramzi

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

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Bloomfield–January 20–BMUC hosts Friday night events at which different personalities have the opportunity to explain their businesses that relate to the community, or to explore religious issues, or to give lessons to the community.

Dr. Mohammad Ramzi is a pillar of Michigan’s Muslim community–a prominent doctor like so many from the Muslim community, Dr. Ramzi is also a professor at Wayne State University who in 2008 won a prestigious $1.3 million grant to seek a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Ramzi is no stranger to the Muslim community, as a prominent and dynamic fundraiser, he has collected literally millions on behalf of local Muslim organizations. 

Dr. Ramzi also studies Islam, and it was in furtherance of this study that he taught at a meeting last Friday night at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center.  The doctor explored several different scientific aspects of the Holy Qur`an, echoing the previous work of Dr. Maurice Bucaille, a French doctor (1920 – 1998), the previous family physician of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and a convert to Islam.  In his book The Bible, The Qur`an and Science, Bucaille had explored many of the scientific revelations of Qur`an, impossible to see physically and unknown to the most modern science of the era into which the Qur`an was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s).

Dr. Ramzi explored several verses including An-Noor:40, which discusses light in the ocean; he said that no person could physically explore the ocean in 632 AD, and yet Qur`an accurately describes light in the depths of the ocean.

He described Ar-Rum:  48, in which the formation of clouds and rain are described, saying that winds blow across water, forming small clouds which aggregate into large clouds–Dr. Ramzi explained this is also the finding of modern science.

Also Dr. Ramzi explored An-Naba:14-16, which describes mu’sirat (translated clouds) but which in Arabic he said means huge clouds of a type which he argued are not seen at all in Arabia but which are seen above rain forests in Africa and South America.

The doctor also explored the verses showing the scientific fact of divisions existing between salt water and fresh water where rivers meet oceans, and also the divisions between different bodies of salt water where they come into contact–he explained that only recently has modern science arrived at the truths given in Holy Qur`an 1400 years ago.

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AFMI’s Educational Mission: A Success

January 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

(A Press Note with photographs and a few comments of AFMI delegates)

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Delegates of American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) wrapped up their India-visit last week (January 10) on a satisfactory note. AFMI has been engaged for more than two decades in promoting literacy among Indian Muslims by establishing and/or aiding the existing educational institutions. As a part of its aim to achieve 100 percent literacy rate, the AFMI delegates hold an international convention every year in a different city of the country. This is followed by zonal conventions in several areas. Since the early 1990s, the AFMI has awarded medals (gold, silver & bronze), certificates and cash prizes to students having scored high percentage in Class 10th and 12th board examinations. While recipients of the awards are selected from across the country for the international convention, the zonal convention includes students of that particular zone.

Expressing satisfaction with increase in literacy rate of Indian Muslims, its key founder member, Dr. A.S. Nakadar said: “AFMI has made a difference.” Literacy among Muslims has increased by 60%, with 2008 being witness to greater upward trend than earlier, he said. He drew attention to increasing number of Muslim students scoring above 90%. Besides, Nakadar pointed to Muslim applicants to “higher educational institutions being higher than before.” He supported this point by referring to 50% quota in Muslim-minority educational institutions being now filled by Muslim students, which “earlier was not the case.” Nakadar, a retired cardiologist in Detroit, Michigan, visits India regularly to pursue AFMI’s literacy mission.

A key recipient of AFMI’s aid is Mijwan Welfare Society run by actor Shabana Azmi in the town called Mijwan (Uttar Pradesh), from where her father- renowned poet late Kaifi Azmi hailed. Azmi showed AFMI delegates the areas in which the students of this institution are engaged in. She expressed the need to further expand this organization with possible aid from AFMI, which is under consideration. The AFMI delegates were here last Thursday (January 8). AFMI delegates addressed the Zonal Educational Conference at Shibli National Inter-College, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh the same afternoon.

The two-day international convention was held (January 2-3) at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Among Indian dignitaries who addressed AFMI’s 18th annual convention were Union Minister of State for Corporate and Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Salman Khursheed, Justice MSA Siddiqui, Chairman National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Mayor of Indore Krishna Murari Moghe and others. It was the first international conference to be held in Indore this century. It was also the first one, where people from diverse political backgrounds, spoke only on importance of enhancing the literary rate of India’s largest minority community- the Muslims.

The Indore convention was followed by a tour of several towns and villages of Uttar Pradesh, with Amroha being the first to be visited by AFMI delegates (January 5). They addressed the Zonal Educational Conference at the institution run by Hakeem Sirajuddin Hashmi. AFMI delegates addressed a similar conference at Hira Public School at Hanswar (January 6).

Summing up his opinion, AFMI President Dr. Iqbal Ahmed expressed that though “Indian Muslims have developed the awareness about importance of education,” “poverty remains a major hindrance in achieving education.” He cited instances of people who had approached him in Indore about their children having secured admission to B. Tech but were dropped as their loan application was rejected by banks. “Rich segments of Muslims, Wakf boards and other Muslim groups must come forward and share the responsibility,” he said. Ahmed is a medical doctor (gastro-enetrology) in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Shakir Mukhi, also a medical doctor (New York) said that AFMI delegates were “impressed” by increase in involvement of Muslims in pursuing higher education. Describing AFMI awards for bright students as providing the needed “incentive” to students to move forward, he said that AFMI plans to come forward with more incentives to help students and educational institutions pursue higher goals.    

Reflecting on AFMI’s achievements in UP alone, Ali Quraishi said: “We strengthened about 25 schools and built two new ones. It is not easy to complete this job.” Nevertheless, expressing confidence, he said: “AFMI’s aim is to promote education among Muslims so that no child is left behind. Our aim is to specially educate female students to help educate a whole family.” Quraishi, runs a business in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has built a number of educational institutions in Pune, Mumbai and elsewhere.

Psychiatrist Dr. Razia Ahmed (Cleveland, Ohio) said: “I am proud of AFMI which has definitely contributed to increasing awareness of importance of education among the Muslim community.” Laying emphasis on the need of involvement of other organizations to help in progress of Indian Muslims, she said: “I wish everyone joins us (AFMI) for this cause.”

During their India-visit, the AFMI delegates also met several leaders, including Ahmed Patel (Congress). They voiced their concern about “plight” of Muslim community in Gujarat. In a letter addressed to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, AFMI stated: “The Muslim community in Gujarat feels that opportunities that ideally should be available to all communities are denied to it because of its religious identity. Obstacles are created in its way to establish new educational institutions. State grant is not available to deserving institutions and meritorious students are discriminated in scholarship. In fact, the state government has failed to disburse the full Federal scholarship and grant money to deserving students which they were promised.” The letter also states: “The delegates of AFMI strongly feel that implementation of Mishra Commission as well as Sachar Commission” reports “would pave the way for ensuring rights of minorities in Gujarat in all walks of life.”

The signatories to the letter addressed to Congress chief include the AFMI delegates visiting India. These include Dr A.S. Nakadar (AFMI-Trustee), Dr. Aslam Abdullah (Trustee), Dr. Iqbal Ahmed (AFMI President), Dr. Shakir Mukhi (former AFMI President), Sheikh Muhammed Quraishi (former President) and AFMI members from various parts of USA and Canada. These are: Rizwana Quraishi (New Mexico), Dr. Razia Ahmed (Ohio), Dr. Khalid Khan (Nevada), Dr. Abdul Aziz (Florida), Dr. S. Ashraf (Washington DC), Dr. W. Baig (Ohio), Dr. Shahida Akhtar (Florida0, Dr Abdur Razzak (Massachusetts) and Mr & Mrs Gahffar Shaikh from Canada.

AFMI’s next international convention is scheduled to be held this December in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

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1st Annual IONA Islam Conference

January 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Warren–January 2–IONA held its first annual Islam conference this past Saturday evening at IONA. 

Two speakers were invited to the event, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, and Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Muslim activist from Oakland California.

They both spoke on secularism and American democracy, Dawud Walif focusing on how American democracy and history includes elements of Islam, and Ali focusing instead on distinctions and points of conflict between the Islamic and Western worlds and world views.

Both focused on Islam as a non-religion, which may be a thesis that most people would disagree with.  The underlying argument is that Muslims must be involved in political life, because Islam is a “deen” which both speakers translated ast “way of life,” rather than as “religion.”

As a first such event from IONA, it was interesting that the underlying message echoed the previous speech at the center by a non-Muslim proponent of the thesis that Islam is not a religion, rather a kind of political awakening movement, Prof. Robert Shedinger (who spoke there on October 24th of 2009, reported on in TMO V11-I45).  Shedinger argues that Jesus was Muslim, as a corollary to his argument that Islam is not a religion. 

Shedinger’s companion argument is that the effort to define Islam as a religion rather than a way of life was imposed by non-Muslims in an effort to stem the efforts of Muslims to be politically involved, for example in combating colonialism.

It is surprising that the radical idea of Islam’s being just another worldly movement is gaining among Muslims, but apparently the IONA conference documents the spread of this idea.

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Southeast Michigan Community Events

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

IONA Conference:

The modern western world has adopted and advocates the system of secularism or the concept of separation of Church and State. Is Islam compatible with such a system? Is one’s Ibadah complete by adhering to the pillars of Islam? What does the word Deen imply? The conference is organized to answer such questions and elaborate on the concept of deen in our faith.

Featured speakers: Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan; Amir Abdul Malik Ali, Islamic Activist, Oakland California; Mustapha Elturk, Ameer of IONA.
Saturday Januray 2, 2010, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM; at IONA Masjid; 28630 Ryan Rd (S. of 12 Mile Rd.); Warren, MI 48092; Admission: FREE.

Pizza. (586) 558-6900, outreach@ionaonline.org.

BMUC Free Dinner on January 2nd, 2010

Dinner:  The Bloomfield Hills Muslim Unity Center will be holding a complimentary Dinner for the community on Saturday January 2nd, 2010 at 7:00 P.M.
Bring your family and enjoy the company of other Muslim Unity Center Families.

To reserve your spot, please call the office at 248 857 9200 Monday-Friday 10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

Pre-registration is required.

BMUC Girls Group New Session January 8th, 2010

Youth Group–The New Girls Group Session registration is now open.

The Session will run from January 8th- March 12th at $100/child.

For more information &/or registration please contact Mie El Bohy or Besmah Asbahi.

You can also register at the Office.

BMUC Hojjaj Party January 10th, 2010

Hajj–If you know anybody who went to Hajj this year please contact the Unity  Center office at 248 857 9200 with his or her name & contact information so that we can invite them to the Hojjaj party.

The Hajj party will be held on January 10th.  Light appetizers and dessert will be served.

BMUC Spring Omrah Trip

* The week of April 5th, 2009
* Details will follow soon.
* For reservation, please call Br. Fadi at: 248 561 1291.

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Muslims, in Concert with Jews, Perform Acts of Kindness on Christmas Holiday

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Adapted from an Associated Press article by TMO

Detroit–December 25–Many Jews consider Christmas Day an opportunity to serve their community while Christian neighbors celebrate their holiday. This year, what’s also known as Mitzvah Day in southeast Michigan is getting an added boost from Muslims.

For the first time, about 40 Muslims joined 900 Jews for what they call their largest annual day of volunteering. Leaders say it’s a small but significant step in defusing tensions and promoting good will between the religions — particularly on a day that is sacred to Christianity, the third Abrahamic faith.

Mitzvah Day, a nearly 20-year tradition in the Detroit area also practiced in other communities, is so named because Mitzvah means “commandment” in Hebrew and is colloquially translated as a good deed.

The new partnership stemmed from a recent meeting between members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit — which said it was unaware of any similar Mitzvah Day alliances.

The Jewish groups organize Mitzvah Day, which consists of volunteers helping 48 local social service agencies with tasks such as feeding the hungry and delivering toys to children in need.

Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, said he was seeking a public way for the two faith communities to “build bridges of understanding and cooperation,” which led to joining the Mitzvah Day effort.

“These guys are really organized,” he explained to TMO, saying really there was no need for Muslim organizations to try to put together their own event when the event has already been sustained over a long period of time by the Jewish organizations.

“The general public is what we need to give the message to, our entire community,” he said.

Not only are most Muslims and Jews available to serve on Christmas Day, but leaders also recognized a shared commitment to community service. Charity in Judaism is known as “tzedakah.” Actually this Hebrew word is pronounced the same as sadaqa, which is an analogous Islamic term of doing charity.

“It’s an interesting parallel,” said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “Both of our faiths predispose us to engaging in this sort of thing.”

Muslim and Jewish volunteers will work together at the Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac, about 25 miles north of Detroit.

“We felt it was a perfect activity for people to be getting together like this because you work side by side with one or two other people as you’re moving the boxes,” Cohen said. “The grass-roots connection builds relationships on a personal level.”

Cohen said the local bonds are important given global animosities. He said Muslims and Jews here “have serious differences about what happens in the Middle East,” but that shouldn’t be the only dynamic defining their relationship.

Begg added the two faiths can set an example in the Detroit area, which has historically large Jewish and Muslim populations.

“Whatever happens in the Middle East, we have no control over it,” Begg said. “But here, our kids go to the same school, we work together. … We need to focus on building an inclusive community.”

Mitzvah Day is planned months in advance, so the number of Muslim participants is modest to start, but both groups expect it will grow. Next year proves challenging for Jewish volunteers because Christmas falls on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Details have yet to be worked out, though Cohen and others are considering moving Mitzvah Day. That would give Muslims the opportunity to try a solo run on Christmas, join Jewish groups on another day, or both.

Both Mr. Begg and Mitzvah Day organizers explained that next year it will be impossible for the Jewish organizations to do Mitzvah Day on Christmas Day because it falls on their Sabbath, Saturday, therefore 2010 might be an opportunity for CIOM and area mosques to do a similar event on their own.

The Muslim volunteers this year came mainly from two mosques, the Islamic Center of America, whose Eide Alawan has for decades been involved in community and interfaith outreach work, and Canton’s MCWS mosque, from which about 20 volunteers came.

“The bottom line is we really want to do it together,” Begg said.

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Muslim City Councilmen Elected in Hamtramck

December 31, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Two new Muslim faces have joined Hamtramck City Council on November 3, making the city council 50 percent Muslim.

According to the Detroit Free Press the number reflects the most Muslims, “in a municipality in the United States.”

Kazi Miah, 30, won with 1652 votes, the highest votes. Mohammed Kamrul Hassan, 42, received 1390 votes, 40 more than he expected. 

Hassan said he did not campaign a lot during the general election as he was working 12-hour shifts and did not take any days off from his job as a manufacturing expert at Faurecia Automotive Seating Inc.

“I had confidence. I knew I was going to get 875 votes in the primary, and 1350 votes would get me a seat,” Hassan said.

Hassan ran for city council after seeing discrimination to immigrant populations by police officers and city officials.

“I have been seeing the city administration and corruption and discrimination from police officers, how they talk when immigrant people go to the city hall,” said Hassan.

He said the city is not going in the right direction, and has changed since his move to Hamtramck in 1994.

Hassan moved from New York to Michigan to pursue his education. He holds a Bachelors of Science, with honors, and Masters in Mathematics from the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh.

Miah, a 10-year-resident of Hamtramck, works at National City Bank in Hamtramck. He ran for office to make local government more citizen-oriented, and to encourage the youth to run for public office.

Miah holds various board positions around Hamtramck, and is the founder of Bangladeshi American Youth Action. The youth group is focused on advancing in education, engaging in community service and having recreational activities for youth.

Miah said serving city council is his way of giving back. He said he was inspired to run for government by Sayu Bhojwani, founder of a similar youth group in New York.

Hassan said taxes, budget utilization and cutting salaries are on the top of his list.

He said everywhere in the world people are cutting salaries.

“I’d like to cut salaries to survive,” he said.

Miah said the city will face tough times ahead with economy.

“This city has been in a deep end before, as far as financial stability, but we can get out of it,” he said.

Hassan said spending money better and reassessing the budget will help the city.

Miah said his priorities include being a voice for the Census. Immigrant populations are often reluctant to fill out the forms, fearing the government will come after them. He wants to stop that trend.

The Census is correlated to taxes, government funds, and public safety, as police officers are assigned based on city populations, he said.

“We have 20,000 Muslims, Bengalis, Yemenis. The Census doesn’t tell us that,” Miah said.

He said higher numbers will make politicians pay attention.

Miah’s website, www.voteforkazi.com, has a poll, asking for public opinions on local matters. He said he wants to be as accessible as possible, following the Obama campaign, where he served as Captain of the Voter Registration Drive.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from Hamtramck. I’m trying to add to the richness this city has,” Miah said.

“If we fail, we’ll be failing as a whole.”

Hassan said he is proud to be a Muslim city councilman.

“Some people questioned me because I was Muslim. This is not a Yemeni city, a Bangladeshi city, or a Polish city. This is the city of Hamtramck.”

He said the city is his first priority, but he will not go against his religion.

“I’m going to respect my religion 100 percent,” Hassan said.

He said Islam is the religion of peace. It’s always going to be good decisions for politics.

“Our prophet Muhammad (s) got respect from all religions. He helped everybody. I’m going to treat everyone equally.”

Miah said Islam taught us to be good to your neighbors, not only Muslim neighbors. He said he wants to be a voice for everyone.

“Throughout the election no one asked me what religion I was. I sincerely believe citizens of Hamtramck just want to be taken care of,” Miah said.

Miah and Hassan are Bangadleshi Muslim Americans. They are married with two children.

Both said they are looking forward to working with the new council.

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Islamic Iphone Apps

December 27, 2009 by · 15 Comments 

By Jeremy Blaney, Michigan State University, UPIU.com

osx_prayertimes iquran ArabtallerPro2_2
Prayer times Iphone Qur`an Arabic language support

EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 11 (UPI) — If you want to read a verse from Qur`an, there’s an app for that. If you want to be reminded of the five daily prayers, there’s an app for that. And if you need to know what direction to face when it’s time to pray, there’s an app for that.

There’s a computer application for just about anything and some Muslims are taking full advantage of such technological innovations to practice their faith.

“I’ve downloaded a few of the Islamic applications for my iPod touch,” said Nada Zohdy, a senior at Michigan State University.

One application consolidates Islamic prayers into a central location that can, once downloaded, be accessed with or without wireless connectivity. It includes, for example, prayers that are said before entering or after leaving a mosque.

“These prayers aren’t mandatory,” said Zohdy, who refers to her iPod to recite prayers in her car before and after Friday prayers. “They’re like extra things that you can do. Because of the iPod touch, I was able to do things I wouldn’t typically do.”

Apple says developers have created more than 100,000 apps covering 20 categories for iPhone and iPod touch users in 77 countries. The query “Islam” or “Muslim” returns dozens of applications that vary in cost and purpose.

“I have the Qur`an application,” said Khasim Jafri, president of the Muslim Students Association at Michigan State University. “I use it more for reference, like if I’m trying to look up a certain verse or just want to read a short chapter.

“If you have downtime, maybe you should be doing something worthwhile. Now, something worthwhile is available at your fingertips.”

Other technologies are also helping Muslims follow the rituals of their religion. Mounzer Kassab, an associate professor in the department of neurology at Michigan State University, travels with a customizable clock that sounds when it is time to perform each of the five daily prayers that are obligatory in Islam.

“You put in the city code,” he said, “and it will automatically do the call to prayer, five times a day. It has solved a lot of problems while traveling.”

Followers of other religions have also discovered conveniences offered by technology. In May, the Roman Catholic Church launched Pope2You.net, a portal that provides access to several applications, including ones for Facebook and the iPhone and iPod touch.

“It’s a good communication tool, education tool, and evangelization tool,” said the Rev. Mark Inglot, a pastor in East Lansing, Mich. “The Internet has connected people in a way that they’ve never been connected before, and we’re embracing that technology.”

Inglot admitted, however, that the technological shift required some adjustments in attitudes. Inglot has a Catholic prayer application on his BlackBerry to help guide his recitation of the Divine Office, daily prayers that are obligatory for priests.

“My first thought was, ‘Does this take away from the sanctity?’” Inglot said. “Instead of holding this prayer, you’re holding your BlackBerry, but we just have to get used to it. And as we use technology for this purpose, we’re sanctifying that medium. It is another way that God can work in our lives.”

Zohdy shared Inglot’s initial unease about the medium delivering the religious message.

“When I read the Qur`an online,” she said, “it feels a little less genuine. It still is different from the experience of holding the Qur`an.”

Another potential problem with mixing technology and religion, Zohdy said, involves distractions.

“Maybe part of it has to do with the fact that when I’m on the computer, I’m doing several things at once,” she said. “If I’m reading the Qur`an online, I might not stay as easily focused as if I were holding the Qur`an in my hands.”

Some Muslims, however, see technological advancement as a threat to rituals. Kassab cited the holy month of Ramadan for one example. Muslims traditionally look for the new moon to verify that Ramadan has ended. But if clouds cover the moon, tradition dictates that Ramadan is not over and fasting must continue for an extra day.

“A lot of authorities are calling for astrological calculations, which are extremely accurate,” Kassab said. “But some don’t see a need for change. Some say they are going to follow tradition. You’re always going to find someone who is resistant to technology.”

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Muslims and Jews Volunteer Together in Southeast Michigan

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Adapted by TMO Stringer from Press Release

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) is coordinating with Detroit’s Jewish community this holiday season in a “Mitzvah Day” of doing good deeds on December 25. 

Mitzvah Day, explains CIOM Chairman Ghalib Begg, is “very organized” so CIOM chose to join hands with the Jewish community rather than setting up a competing venture to do good works during Christmas. 

Mr. Begg explained to TMO that there has been a miraculous level of commitment by Muslims, explaining that already 50 Muslims have volunteered to participate, including 20 from the MCWS mosque and many from the Ford Road ICA in Dearborn as well.

Mitzvah Day is presented to the community by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. 

“Make someone happy” is the theme for Mitzvah Day 2009, where as many as 900 Jewish volunteers — joined for the first time with Muslim volunteers — are expected to take part in “mitzvahs” (good deeds), aiding 48 Detroit area social service agencies on Christmas Day.  Many grandparents, parents and children will volunteer together as families, in the spirit of giving back to the community.  This Mitzvah Day participants will also take part in a non-perishable food drive, bringing donations with them as they report to volunteer duty on December 25.  The event chairs are Micki Grossman and Stephanie Rosenbaum.

Volunteers will begin their day at the Jimmy Prentis Morris Jewish Community Center on the A. Alfred Taubman Campus, located at 15110 10 Mile Rd. in Oak Park.   Following a light breakfast and brief orientation, they will depart for their volunteer projects.  The teams will fan out to 74 pre-assigned volunteer sites throughout metro Detroit.  Project times vary, but they run between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Families with children, as well as teens, young adults and seniors, will donate a few hours of their time to participate in a variety of activities, including visits to older adults in nursing care facilities, preparing and serving holiday meals, and delivering toys and gifts to families in need.

For more information about Mitzvah Day, call the Jewish Community Relations Council, 248-642-5393. or Ghalib Begg at (586) 808-2864.

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Students Report on Islam in Unique Course

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Alexandra Carter, UPIU.com

img_3376_large_square geri zeldes

Left:  Students speak with Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes after the “Reporting on Islam” class at Michigan State University; Right:  Professor Zeldes distributes graded story revisions for the “Reporting on Islam” course.

Photos by Alexandra Carter

 

EAST LANSING, Mich., Dec. 11 (UPI) — A new course at Michigan State University teaches students how to deal with the complexities of reporting on Islam in a post-Sept. 11 world.

This semester, students wrote about holiday celebrations and about how Muslim students feel about American university life. They also analyzed news reports on Islam from around the world in the new, “Reporting on Islam” course at Michigan State University.

“[The course] definitely made me uncomfortable at times, but honestly, that is how I know it was worthwhile,” said Dan Redford, a student. “It helped me experience a part of the world and this country that I never had before.”

Students uploaded the stories they wrote and the photos they took to UPIU.com, a service of United Press International for university students. Professor Geri Alumit Zeldes said that she wanted the class to submit its stories to UPIU to “have an outlet, other than me, to share their stories.”

Of the 14 registered students in the course, half had at least one of their stories published online through UPIU. Student Andrew Norman’s story on Islamic punk music was featured in blog in The San Francisco Sentinel and Wall Street Journal.

Student Brian J. Bowe said that using Web tools such as Skype to talk to people in other countries helped “shrink the world,” an exciting aspect of the course.

“Those classroom interactions with people in places like Iraq, Iran and India enriched the experience for me,” Bowe said. “One of the problems in media portrayals of Islam is that we’re frequently talking about Muslims, but not to Muslims. Using technology, we were able to bridge cultures and have very profound dialogues.”

Students also talked to Muslims who live in Michigan as sources for some articles.

“I found our visit to [the Islamic Center of East Lansing] highly beneficial. I would have been timid about going there alone,” said student Jennifer Hoewe. “Since I was joined by my classmates and welcomed by those who attended the mosque, I felt comfortable enough to go again by myself later in the semester as part of an article I wrote.”

The new class comes as students across the United States are showing more interest in Islam and in academic topics affiliated with the faith. Three of the students in “Reporting on Islam” studied Arabic, two of them through the university’s Arabic department, which had roughly 150 students enrolled in classes this fall.

Several of the students in “Reporting on Islam” also are in the Muslim Studies specialization program, which was created by Professor Mohammed Ayoob after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The reporting course was just one of many offered this semester under this specialization, along with classes in arts and humanities, public affairs, religion, political science, anthropology and sociology.

“Reporting on Islam” is a good first step for many students to continue learning about the topic, said Zahkia Smith, a student.

“I think what’s most important coming out of this class is that the very best way to know how to report on Islam is to get involved and actually step into the Muslim community,” Smith said. “The class gives you the right tools. The completion of the class is the signal to dig further.”

“Reporting on Islam” is a pilot course offered jointly through Michigan State’s School of Journalism and its Muslim Studies program. It was started with a grant from the Social Science Research Council, a national non-profit group. In addition, the course is part of the Islam, Muslims, and Journalism Education program, a project on the Internet funded by the same grant that has a goal to generate accurate and balanced reporting.

Similar courses have been taught at other American university campuses, Zeldes said. For example, Marda Dunsky, instructor of Islamic World Studies at DePaul University, teaches the “Reporting the Arab and Muslim World” course.

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Rashida Tlaib Fundraiser

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

West Bloomfield–December 6–As the only Muslim woman ever to have been elected to the Michigan legislature, Rashida Tlaib has a natural base of support outside of her district in Southwest Detroit, the 12th congressional district, and she met with a few of those supporters this past weekend at a house in West Bloomfield.

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Citing the need to get her campaign organization in full swing before other Democratic challengers emerge, she kicked off her campaign season at the home of Dr. Safwan Badr, and about 20 well-heeled Muslims from many communities of Michigan were present to show support for the legislator and attorney who rose from humble beginnings to a level of power never before reached by a Muslim woman in Michigan.

Rep. Tlaib has a very quick mind and a clear grasp of the personalities and issues in Lansing, and this was clear from her easy and fluent answers to questions on various issues such as the upcoming governor’s race in Michigan, in which she announced that likely Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon would contest against other likely candidates such as current Michigan secretary of state Terry Lynn Land and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Rep. Tlaib described her intentions to build a campaign staff, and went into detail about the demographics of her own district, describing it as roughly one third black, one third white, and one third hispanic, with a small percentage of Yemenis. 

Her mere presence in Lansing’s legislature is of benefit to Muslims in Michigan, just by the fact of her example, as a Muslim woman who makes salat and is “not even hiding who I am.” 

Influential people from the community were in attendance, such as for example Ghalib Begg, who has maintained close ties across all of Michigan’s ranks of politicians.  Professor Saeed Khan of Wayne State was also there.

Rep. Tlaib can use your financial support and would welcome volunteers. Contact rashida4rep@yahoo.com, 313-297-8800.

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Southeast Michigan (V11-I49)

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

eid carnival 2009 Detroit ‘Eid Carnival 2009/1430

Sunday, November 29, 2009 (The 3rd day of Eid al-Adha)

12:00pm-6:00pm at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi

(46100 Grand River, Novi, MI 48374)

For more information contact: carnival.eid@gmail.com or your local community leaders

The new website will be launching very soon at http://www.eidcarnivaldetroit.com

Limited Tickets: Register in advance at www.eidcarnival.com (on line registration begins 11/13)

Tickets: $10/person or $40/family (includes 2 parents + their children) for admission, parking, and unlimited rides

‘Oudhiya Program

Many local mosques are participating in the Michigan Oudhia/Qurbani,  a collaborative program among major Islamic centers in Detroit area. The meat will be donated locally to needy families and to soup kitchen in Southeast Michigan.

To participate in this local program you can:

- Donate on line by loging into www.muslimunitycenter.org  and clicking  the Buy now link

- Mail your check to the unity center ASAP and write in the memo section write “Michigan Oudhia)

-Pay by Credit card at the Muslim Unity Center’s office or by calling 248 857 9200.

Bloomfield Unity Center ‘Eid Prayers (Friday 11/27)

Eid Program:

8:15:First Eid prayer

9:45: Second Eid Prayer

10:30 Eid Breakfast and kids program

1:40 Jumaah Prayer(the first Jumaah prayer will be cancelled the day of Eid)

IONA ‘Eid Prayers

IONA is following FCNA on the issue of ‘Eidul Adha, and FCNA in turn is following Saudi Arabia’s announced days for hajj as determinants of when ‘Eidul Adha falls. 

This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research.

‘Eidul Adha at IONA will be at 8 AM at IONA center

· In order to lessen congestion in the parking lots, we ask you to car pool. Once IONA’s parking lot is full, it will be closed and you will be directed to park at King Plaza’s BACK parking lot. Additional parking is at the Professional Medical Building (behind King’s Plaza by 12 Mile Rd.) Please use the back end of their parking lot.

· Please park in the designated parking areas only. Please do not park illegally. Parking on people’s driveways or streets is not allowed.

- Absolutely no praying outside the building.

·  No food will be served after the Eid prayer. Please DO NOT bring food of any kind nor any drinks to the center.

· We ask you to keep your children with you at all times.

“We look forward to your cooperation. Have a blessed and happy Eid.”

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Military Muslims: What Now?

November 12, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

2009-11-08T171028Z_192441419_GM1E5B902TX01_RTRMADP_3_TEXAS-SHOOTING When Major Nidal Hasan went on a murderous rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas, the entire nation snapped to rapt attention and said, “Here we go again.  Those crazy Muslims are at it again.”

Immediately after the story hit the airways the usual apologies from Muslim organizations and individuals started pouring in.  “We Muslims do not condone the actions of Major Hasan.  “This is not Islam.”  “Islam means peace,” etc etc etc.

I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring about the grief being felt by the family and other loved ones of the slain.  Of course, we abhor the actions of any deranged person who without warning, and seemingly without any justification or provocation, takes innocent human lives.  This person was obviously not in a rational state of mind, and plainly his actions had absolutely nothing to do with his religion, or lack of it.  I believe the world knows this but the anti-Islamic fever sweeping the world, fed by the other media, will keep people’s rational thoughts from surfacing.

Some news accounts make reference to the Islamic signs that major Hasan had on some of his property.   The news media interviewed some people who made statements like “I heard him speaking Muslim talk.” (He could have been saying as-salaam-alaikum).  It is an obvious attempt to discredit anything with any ties to Islam.  And by making note of his artifacts, they are saying that having these things in his possession automatically makes him a dangerous “Islamic Radical.”

But actually it is no stranger than a Catholic crazy man having a rosary, or a Buddhist crazy man with his statue of Buddha, or a Jewish crazy man with copy of the Torah and a yarmulke on his head.  It does not matter what his religion is.  If you’re crazy, you’re just crazy.

But on the other hand there are numerous Muslim soldiers and veterans who have annual observances to mark Veterans Day in this country.  But for the most part, they are not reported.  I realize that good, positive events that enhance humanity are not as sensational as a shooting rampage by a crazy person. But they are nevertheless so very important because with the automatic sensational reporting of negative events getting all the attention, it takes extra effort to put some balance in the reporting.

For several months the Dawah Team at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan, under the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, has been planning a salute to all veterans from any branch of service and any dates of service.  The event will be a luncheon held at Masjid Wali Muhammad from 11AM – 1PM.

Brother Lawrence Ziyad, a veteran of the Viet Nam war and one of the coordinators of the event, says the program will be one heavy with reverence for ALLAH, and patriotism for the United States government.  It will begin with prayer followed by the National Anthem and Lift Every Voice and Sing, popularly known as the Black National Anthem.  Also, as part of the opening and closing of the luncheon, they will salute the American flag.

These Muslim brothers, maybe more than many other people, are keenly aware of the ills of this country.  Most are descendants of slaves that suffered what is arguably the worst treatment of any human beings in the history of mankind.  Still they recognize the beauty and importance, and the privilege of being Americans, and are grateful for being so. This picture of Muslim patriotism is rarely seen in the media.

Another group, the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA) is a nationwide service organization comprised of former members of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The group is officially recognized by the United States government along with other veteran groups such as the veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legions, Polish American Veterans, Jewish Veterans, Italian Veterans and other Veteran organizations.  The Muslim-American group is made up primarily of Muslims of African American descent since most Muslims that immigrated here from other countries, came here past military age.  The group, comprised of five posts in various cities is headed by National Commander Saleem G. Abdul-Mateen.

What major media cared to report that the MAVA Commanders recently met on Capitol Hill in Washington to meet with Muslim American Congressman Andre Carson to present ways to help assist young veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  What media (other than the Muslim Observer) cared to report that the MAVA Post #1 received a community service award from CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionalism for its untiring efforts in making life better for those who sacrificed and served this country unselfishly.

Congressman Carson was so impressed with the group that he invited them to establish a forum for dealing with veteran affairs and open up a dialogue for addressing these issues.  MAVA has already created programs to assist returning servicemen and women.  “Our aim is is to interact locally and nationally with organizations and institutions that have exhibited care and concern for these service members,” said member Saleem Abdul Mateen.

Another fine example of Muslim American patriotism is in the person of Chaplain Lt. Colonel Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad.  Chaplain Muhammad is another Muslim American in the community of Imam Warith Denn Mohammed.  I have personally watched his rise in the military and admired his character, and balanced approach to different situations.

These fine Muslims are just a few examples of the great majority of Muslims in this country.  They love their religion, they love their country, and they love being fine and caring representatives of both.

Let us remember the victims, and their families in our prayers.  And let us strive to be good Muslims and good Americans.  Ameen.   

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Mich Woman Imprisoned by Israel following settler takeover of Palestinian home

November 12, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

alethonews.blogspot.com

Imprisoned American citizen and Michigan resident Ahlam Mohsen to be deported to the US after being arrested in a Palestinian home taken over by Israeli settlers in Occupied East Jerusalem.

Ahlam was a guest of the al-Kurd family when on the morning of 3 November 2009 Israeli settlers burst in and seized part of the building. Contrary to eyewitness accounts, the police claim the 21-year-old attacked them.

>From the Givon prison in Ramle where Ms. Mohsen is currently awaiting deportation she reported that: “The Israeli police were violently pushing an elderly Palestinian woman. So I stepped in front of them. They told me to move and when I refused they started forcefully pushing me. Then they grabbed me and carried me into a police van. While I was waiting at the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the police officers kept telling each other that I was a `dirty Arab’ and introducing me as ‘Osama Bin Laden’s sister’. One of them, threatened to `break my head’. None of the other non-violent demonstrators were targeted; the way they treated me, it’s obvious that I was arrested because I’m of Arab descent.”

The 40 settlers, accompanied by private armed security and Israeli police forces, entered a section of the home, threw out the family’s belongings and locked themselves in.

The take-over came after an appeal submitted by the family’s lawyer was rejected by the District Court. In their appeal, the Palestinian family was challenging an earlier court decision that deemed a section of the house illegal and ordered that the keys be given to settlers. The settlers proceeded to enter the house, while the court did not grant them the right to enter the property.

The al-Kurd home was built in 1956. An addition to the house was built 10 years ago, but the family was not allowed to inhabit the section because the municipality refused to grant them a building permit. Visibly unequal laws are used to make it possible for settlers to move into a home where it was declared illegal for Palestinian residents to inhabit. The Israeli authorities exercise their abilities to demolish and evict Palestinian residents, while ignoring building violations from the Israeli population in East Jerusalem.

The al-Kurds have become the fourth Sheikh Jarrah family whose house has been occupied by settlers in the last year. So far, 60 people have been left homeless. In total, 28 families living in the Karm Al- Ja’ouni neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, located directly north of the Old City, face imminent eviction from their homes.

Ahlam is imprisoned in the Givon prison in Ramle.

She is available for interviews.

Video: edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2009/11/03/hancocks.fight.for.jerusalem.cnn

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“Building a Foundation” UM Ann Arbor MSA Seminar

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

Muslim Students’ Association of University of Michigan Ann Arbor will hold a seminar on “ BUILDING A FOUNDATION “that will discuss FULFILLING OUR RIGHTS TOWARDS EACH OTHER. 

The Renowned speakers USTADH USAMA CANON and HAFIDH KAMRAN RIAZ will discuss our role in a contemporary society.

The seminar will be held at the University of Michigan  – South Lecture Hall , Medical Science Building 2., On November 13 – 15, 2009. The registration fee Online for $30 and $35 late registration – at the door.

Register Online: http://www.muslims.studentorgs.umich.edu. More info: Farhana Arif – fnarif@umich.edu or Musaab Salloum – musaab@umich.edu.

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Muslim Organizations Issue Statements Re. the Shooting of Imam Luqman Abdullah

November 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Farmington—November 4—The shooting of Imam Luqman A. Abdullah by the FBI sparked controversy, partly because it stirred up memories of America’s past persecution of African American leaders, partly because of the demeaning circumstances, and partly because news reports relating to the shooting have cast far reaching and highly unlikely aspersions on Imam Luqman.

The shooting spurred local and national Muslim organizations to issue alarmed press releases, the common theme of which was that they condemn any illegal activities if Imam Luqman was involved, but ask that news reports refrain from alleging any terrorist conspiracy absent any such evidence. Another theme echoed in several was the demand for an independent investigation into the events of the day.

The facts alleged by the reports do not conflict with one another, although only the MPAC statement actually explores the then-known facts of the incident.  On Wednesday 10/28 the FBI raided 3 Dearborn warehouses, to arrest Imam Luqman and 11 associates on many federal criminal charges.  At the end of the raid, Imam Luqman was dead, shot apparently 18 times.

The American Muslim Taskforce (AMT), Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), Muslim Public Affairs Coalition (MPAC), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Imams’ Committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM), ISNA, and Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, all made statements regarding the incident.

The American Muslim Taskforce  (an umbrella group including AMA, AMP, CAIR, ICNA, MANA, MAS-Freedom, MSA National, MUNA, and UMA) demanded an investigation and demanded that the government “stop injecting religion into this case,” apparently operating on the belief that the government may have had a valid criminal case against Imam Luqman but no terrorism case and that his religion was extraneous to the events that took place.

The Imams Committee of Michigan’s powerful CIOM unity group (representing most of Southeast Michigan’s mosques including Sunni mosques and Shi’a mosques) met with the director of Michigan’s FBI office (Mr. Andrew Arena, who had previously expressed satisfaction with his agents’ handling of the case) to discuss what happened.  They asked for clarification of what happened, without demanding a full investigation.  They also emphasized that religion should not be brought into the case.

ISNA, America’s largest and politically the strongest Muslim community organization, also made a statement saying it “is distrubed by the recent shootout.”  “The details of the incident are still sketchy,” read the statement, “but the way the incident is presented as a terrorism case when the actual charges involve criminal conduct, including alleged fraud and theft.” 

ISNA joined the chorus asking for a full investigation of the incident also, while also expressing support fot the “vital work carried out by law enforcement agencies” and spoke against resisting arrest, saying “[t]he only morally and legally acceptable way to challenge the actions of law enforcement agents is by working through the justice system and the court of law.”

MANA (which Imam Luqman was a part of) issued a statement which opened more directly the issues involved in the case, saying “Reference to ‘the Ummah’ as a ‘nation-wide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African Americans’ is an offensive mis-characterization.”

Further, the MANA statement said that “to those who have worked with Imam Luqman A. Abdullah, allegations of illegal activity, resisting arrest, and ‘offensive jihad against the American government’ are shocking and inconsistent.”

MPAC’s statement had one wise piece of advice, “With so much left unknown in the developing case, MPAC is warning government agencies and media outlets of the alarming exploitation of this isolated incident that is stigmatizing Muslim American communities around the country.”

MPAC’s primary concern appeared to be avoiding national backlash against Muslims based on the Imam Luqman shooting and resulting media coverage.

More facts have come to light since the organizations’ statements were made, including that Imam Luqman apparently resisted arrest and shot an FBI dog that was loosed to attack him before going down in a hail of FBI bullets.  Several senior Muslim community workers have explained that as Imam Luqman lay dying from 18 gunshot wounds, he was handcuffed to a stretcher and left to die while the FBI dog was medically evacuated by helicopter. 

News reports around the incident portrayed Imam Luqman as a violent anti-government jihadist bent on a government takeover, but foiled by FBI action. 

However the best report about the incident was in fact the one by this newspaper’s Imam Abdullah El-Amin, who traced a convincing story about FBI provocateurs luring Imam Luqman into dealing in stolen merchandise and then springing the trap before he could escape, perhaps even orchestrating his reaction and demise.

Unfortunately the national theme in investigations of Muslims has largely been one of government provocateurs luring down-and-out Muslim men into situations they don’t fully comprehend and which appear to be fully funded, planned, and coordinated from inside the FBI.  Then the poor stooges are arrested in midnight raids by SWAT teams in body armor and paraded before camera crews as dangerous al-Qaeda terrorists. And the poor slobs are carted away through years of trials which often as not end in their being released.

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ISPU Banquet Grosses $250,000

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Neda Farooqi, MMNS

ISPU annual dinner accentuates issues facing American Muslims; raises $250,000.

“It is not the building that makes us big, it is us, you and I, that make us big,” said Imam Hassan al-Qazwini, referring to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, annual fundraising dinner in the banquet hall of the largest mosque in North America on October 24, 2009. “May Allah bless you all.”

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) is a nonprofit think tank organization, originated in Michigan that researches and evaluates US and foreign policy.

“ISPU’s mission is to focus on education, research, and analysis with an emphasis on issues effecting the Muslim community,” said Dr. Nauman Imami, Director of the Glaucoma Service at the Henry Ford Health System and member of ISPU Board of Directors.

Imami drew an analogy between Google and ISPU. “Google does one thing and it does it very well. It answers any questions posed to it.” According to searchenginejournal.com, Google ranks as the number one search site in the United States.

Imami explained that a public policy is created when there is a defined problem, a perceived solution, and political alignment.

Imami posed the question: “How are Muslims in America portrayed?” ISPU’s research has impacted many media products, such as the Newsweek cover story titled, “Islam In America,” published on July 30, 2007. Other networks such as CNN, BBC, and The Economist compile studies and data from ISPU. Media outlets such as Christian Science Monitor and the Associated Press have referenced several ISPU reports.

“ISPU provides solutions based on evidence and data for American Muslims,” said Imami.

“ISPU focuses on topics that are important to the community. Your concerns, your families, and domestic & foreign policy,” said Farid Senzai, assistant professor in the political science department at Santa Clara University and Director of Research at ISPU.

ISPU released several policy briefs on foreign topics ranging from the Arab/Israeli conflict to the predicaments taking place in Pakistan.  ISPU also examines domestic issues such as divorce in the American Muslim community, Muslim youth and ratification, and health clinics in the US.

ISPU has recently published a brief, “Death by Culture,” that centers on domestic abuse. This publication exhibits violence that circulated around the Rihanna/Chris Brown case and Bridges TV case, whose founder decapitated his wife in their television studio.

Senzai informed the audience that ISPU policy briefs have a high impact on US & foreign relations. “Four distinctive ISPU reports on Pakistan translated into very direct impact in Washington,” said Senzai. ISPU has also worked on topics of US & Iran relations, hosting a conference that invited scholars from Iran delegations and Egypt Sate Department Delegations. He was also invited to go to Egypt after the release of ISPU’s publications on US and foreign policy. 

A massive, two-year study on Muslim divorce is yet to be released, soon available to the public. 

Apart from fundraising, ISPU recognizes scholars and philanthropists annually for their research and significant impact. The 2009 ISPU Scholar Award was presented to Dr. Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan. “I shouldn’t be getting an award for speaking the truth,” said Cole, upon receiving the award. Dr. Anjum Shariff, a radiologist in St. Louis, was the recipient of the Distinguished Award for Philanthropy. His work entails helping refugee children attending struggling public schools and tutors high school students. Anjum Shariff has also formulated a program for students to shadow physicians at his workplace.

Soon after dinner and the award ceremony, keynote speaker, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf was invited on stage.

“It is nice to see chandeliers in the masjid, MashAllah, instead of lights flickering,” said Hamza Yusuf. Hamza Yusuf Hanson is an Islamic scholar who teaches at the Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California.

Yusuf reminded the crowd that Islam is not a monolith. “There is only one Islam,” he said. “But, there are multiple versions. Islam has many adjectives.”

The religion of Islam consists of different types of Muslims ranging from classical, traditional, Salafi, Sufi, Hanafi, Malaki and many more eclectic backgrounds. “The first and strongest strengths of Islam is Unity among diversity,” said Yusuf. “When you try to box people in narrow definitions, you are not acknowledging the depth of human beings.”

Yusuf also focuses on the difficulties that loom amongst Muslim Americans. “We are not recognizing that unity is not uniformity. That is the real problem of our community.”

Yusuf also spoke about western Muslim family and financial life.

“American Muslims have high levels of educations, with the average Muslim bringing in $70,000 [annually.]”

The Pew Research Center managed more than 55,000 interviews that were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu. This information allowed the Pew to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims, which assessed Muslim backgrounds, educational levels, and views on the western world. “We have potential to reinvigorate,” said Yusuf.

“What is driving us as a community? Where are we going?” Yusuf informs the crowd that the community has a lack of professionalism and strategy. “This is the purpose of think tanks like ISPU- to provide strategy and professionalism.”

Lastly, Yusuf directs the audience to avoid getting constricted in plots and conspiracies. Muslims know more about the conspiracies of September 11 than they do about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (s). “The Prophet never complained or played the victim card. The question is what are you doing, not what are they doing.”

Yusuf advises the 750 attendees to stick to the truth. “Truth is such an extraordinary rare,” he said. In addition, he recommends that American Muslims should not be judgmental and need to take advantage of the opportunities placed for them. “We have our own nutcases. We don’t like to be judged, so don’t judge others.”

“I don’t care what the enemy did to us, cause we wont be asked about that. What we will be asked about is how we responded,” concluded Yusuf.

Among local residents, dignitaries, such as Charlene Elder, the first Arab-American female judge on Michigan’s Third Circuit Court and Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko were in attendance.

The guests were given the opportunity to meet the speakers and take part in the book signing with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Dr. Juan Cole, and Dr. Farid Senzai.
The event raised $250,000, reaching ISPU’s goal Saturday night. ISPU tackles social challenges with the support of donations. To learn more about ISPU and its upcoming events, please visit www.ispu.org.

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Community News (V11-I45)

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kentucky Christians, Muslims unite to knock out crime

LOUISVILLE–Muslim and Christian leaders in Louisville and Lexington are putting up a united front against crime in the two cities.

The group held a meeting on Tuesday night aimed at “stopping the killing and accept responsibility.”

One minister said that starts with every resident accepting responsibility for the condition of the community and working together to make a positive impact.

He said it’s important to hold everyone accountable including politicians and average citizens.

The group hopes to start a plan called “manhood training,” which seeks to reach out to drug dealers and gang members.

Decision on Naperville mosque delayed

NAPERVILLE, IL–The DuPage County Board has delayed its decision on the Irshad Learning Center for two weeks. The latter had requested for a conditional use permit on unincorporated land.

The mosque project has been delayed ever since was placed before the county last year. It was turned down twice by the Zoning Board of Appeal. It was then approved in a unanimous decision by the board’s development committee last week.

According to committee chairman Tony Michelassi, District 5 representative from Aurora, the legal counsel wants any permit issued by the county to specify that the center would be allowed to use only the structures that already exist on the three-acre parcel. Without that limitation spelled out, the center could add on as it wishes.

The County Board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 on the third floor of the Jack T. Knuepfer Administration Building, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton.

Lodi parents concerned about food choices

LODI, CA –Parents of children at Lodi’s Heritage Primary Elementary have voiced their concerns over the menu choices at the school. They have asked the school authorities to allow them to accompany their children to the state-operated pre-school program so that they can help their children avoid haram foods.

The parent’s request was made to the Lodi Unified school board meeting.

According to Lodi News 12 percent of the school’s population is Muslim. At present the school doesn’t have any halal meat options on its menu.

The school authorities say that they are working on resolving this issue as soon as possible.

Journalist Alison Weir visits University of Michigan-Flint

FLINT, MI–Journalist Alison Weir, who is also the creator of ifAmericansknew.org, gave a presentation on the plight of Palestinians at the University of Michigan-Flint campus. The event was hosted by the Muslim Students Association, reported the Michigan Times.

“MSA’s focus in this event was to educate students about the Palestine-Israel conflict as well as the media’s skewed approach to the issue,” said Leila Tarakji, senior honors biology and English major and president of MSA. “We encourage our members as well as all students on campus to be aware of injustices that take place both domestically and internationally. We also urge students to seek more information and draw their own conclusions as opposed to absorbing the media without reservation.”

If AmericansKnew.org is advertised as an educational tool for people who want to go beyond the headlines.

California Muslims join rally against Neo-Nazis

ANAHEIM, CA–The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), along with members of the Riverside Muslim community, joined a rally on Saturday against neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest undocumented day laborers.

The organizers of the counter-protest said more than 600 members of diverse faiths and backgrounds joined the rally to speak out against the hatred and bigotry espoused by the neo-Nazis.

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, who attended the rally with his children, said:

“It’s important for all Americans — whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Asian,, African-American, or other — to strongly and vehemently speak out against the hatred and bigotry of those who seek to dehumanize others.

“I brought my teenage children with me to the counter-protest to make sure they never take for granted the sacrifices of early civil rights activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Cesar Chavez.

“With the continued economic downturn, anti-immigrant and racist groups are increasingly promoting anti-immigrant sentiment by unfairly blaming immigrants — documented or otherwise — for ‘stealing’ American jobs.

“CAIR-LA rejects such scapegoating and calls for immigration reforms that preserve the dignity and respect of immigrants and their families.

11-45

Ladies’ Qur`an Class By Fatimah Murad

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bloomfield Unity Center

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

1430 ‘Eid al Fitr, Sept. 20 2009

Ramadan moon Note–Most mosques in the Michigan area began fasting either according to the ruling of FCNA (the Fiqh Council of North America, in association with ISNA) or following Saudi Arabia. 

Some people began fasting Friday rather than Saturday, for example people in Turkey and Albania began fasting Friday, and many Lebanese Shi’a began fastin Friday. 

Nevertheless, likely nearly all local mosques will be celebrating ‘Eid on Sunday. 

The Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center is also among those mosques, and they have announced ‘eid will be Sunday the 20th.

Expecting overcrowding, the BMUC has arranged a shuttle back and forth from 9am – 2pm from overflow parking at the Forest Lake Country Club at 1401 Club Dr. (close to BMUC).

BMUC will hold two ‘eid prayers, at 8 and at 10.  There will be an ‘eid breakfast after the second prayer service at 11AM, $10 per person for members and $12/person for non members, $15 at the door, with children 5 years and under free.

‘Eid Mubarak!

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