UnChristian & Unpatriotic

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. A S Nakadar, TMO CEO and Publisher

PglobeOn 11-11-11, the Ford Field in Detroit witnessed a highly publicized bigoted event.  The venue, Ford Field is where the Detroit Lions play and the area is near Dearborn that has a large Muslim population.

The organizer of this event was “TheCall” organization; a relatively unknown organization that has been in existence for about a decade. It claims to tackle issues such as economy, racial strife, same sex relationship, abortion and other such issues. But to many it appeared that the objective of this event was to gain cheap publicity by bashing Muslims and Islam. The organizers had said in their statements that they wanted to raise concerns against the growing Islamic popularity and Islamic renaissance in USA.

They heavily promoted their Detroit event on their website. According to “The Christian Post” they called it, “The Rising Tide of the Islamic Movement.” But after receiving complaints, perhaps, about the factuality and the phrase giving legitimacy to the prevailing situation, TheCall dropped the phrase from its web site.

The Pentecostal Minister, Engle, had announced that the program would start on Friday night (11-11-11) and would end the next day, Saturday morning. Their announcement also touted that they expected a crowd of more than 50,000. But most reports suggest the program was a flop in attendance. The stadium mostly remained empty and according to some reports the attendance was about less than tenth of their predicted number.

The reason given for the night vigil and night prayer, according to “The Christian Post”, quoting their minister Engler, “You got to pray all night long because it’s when the Muslims sleep.”

Looking at the thin attendance, he found out that Christians and others sleep during those hours too. 

Earlier this week and prior to the event, a group of Christian pastors gathered in Grand Circus Park, near the Ford Field venue, to denounce Lou Engle’s “The Call Detroit” rally at Ford Field as “un-Christian, “un-American,” and “idolatrous.”

This group counts Islam among the ills facing the nation. Some Muslims answered this by saying, “their heads needs to be examined” while others said, “I bet you they will say “Occupy Wall Street” movement is Muslim inspired;” others from the group said “I wish to bring to their attention the Muslim contribution to this great nation.” He went on to say: “More than 50% of the Muslims income bracket was over $50,000 as compared to nationwide average income of $47,000 and nearly 60% Muslims are college graduates as compared to 27% as a whole.”

The statement emphasized the great contributions Muslims have made in practically all fields, be it social, military, political, economic, medical, engineering, business, technology and you name it.

Most in the group agreed that we were here to strengthen the country. We want to see communities unified, and not divided. The action of “TheCall” group is divisive and needs to be condemned in strongest terms.

A true American would surely know that pluralism is the Achilles Heel of our society’s foundation.

Today our biggest concern and the concern of all of us should be the challenges that our pluralistic society and our country face.

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Community News (V13-I46)

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Davidson students hear lecture on Islam

DAVIDSON,NC– Middle and high school Students at Davidson Day  School in North Carolina learnt about modern day Islam last week. The guest speaker Ahmad Shakur is the founder and director for the Center for the African Diaspora in Charlotte and director of development for the Museum of Muslim Cultures.

He discussed misperceptions of Islam, its history, and how some modern day conflicts are based on that history. He also visited an Islamic history class at the school and in which the students for their final projects are researching how Islamic history is impacting modern global issues.

“Middle school students really thrive in an environment that allows them to think about the world around them,” Mr. Coddington,a teacher, told the Davidson News said. “It allows them to think about themselves, take an issue that is relevant to their lives, and gain an educated perspective.”

Fast-a-thon held at Southern Methodist

DALLAS,TX–The Muslim Students Association at Southern Methodist University held its annual fast-a-thon on Nov.3. The funds raised this year for orphans around the world.
MSA President Khurram Taufiq told the student newspaper that  Fast-a-Thon allows college students to make a difference.

“We as students oftentimes can’t do a whole lot of donating to charities,” Taufiq said. “But Islam teaches us to always give back to the community what we can, regardless of the amount.”
According to MSA reps the SMU MSA has raised close to $1.2 million for various charitable activities in the last eleven years.

Fire doesn’t stop Wichita mosque

WICHITA,KS–A fire which gutted a Wichita mosque couldn’t deter are Muslims from holding their prayers.

The Islamic Association Mosque held its friday prayers outside the burned facility.  Its caught fire last Monday morning and flames gutted the inside.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Federal agents are leading the investigation to determine if the fire was an accident or a hate crime.  The Islamic Association had received threatening letters prior to their building catching fire.

Purdue holds Islamic Awareness Week

The Muslim Students Association at Purdue University held its second annual Islamic Awareness Week by hosting a variety of activities last week and its theme was “Exploring the Muslim World.”

The Muslim Student Association was excited to see a large increase in visitors this year compared to last, with more than 1,250 people visiting throughout the week.

The event aimed to educate others about the fundamentals of the Muslim culture and Islam, as well as correct common misconceptions, which revolved around theology and fine details. The bazaar, located in Memorial Mall throughout last week, hosted a variety of booths displaying different aspects of Islamic culture including food samples, henna tattoos and boards explaining the basics of Islam.

Boston University gets footbaths for Muslim students

BOSTON,MA–Muslim students at Boston University don’t have to worry about spilling the water while they do wudu on campus. The university’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs has installed footbaths in its bathrooms, the BU Today reported.

Designed to accommodate Muslim students who must wash before prayer five times a day, the footbaths are available to everyone.

Elsie El Dayaa, CELOP’s operations manager, says the decision to add the footbaths fit nicely with the office’s planned remodel and its desire to meet the needs of its growing Muslim student population.

The number of Middle Eastern students enrolled at CELOP—many of them Muslim—has grown by 175 percent in the past four years and Middle Eastern students now comprise nearly 40 percent of the program’s total population, according to El Dayaa. That is due in large part to a significant increase in enrollment of Saudi Arabian students sent by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. Several other Muslim students come from Africa and Asia.

CELOP is so proud of its new facilities, El Dayaa says, that “now we’re known as the office that shows you its bathroom.”

The footbaths are a first for the University.

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Election Results Sadden All Three Michigan Candidates

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Farmington–November 9–Yesterday’s election tallies are in and unfortunately the three local Muslim candidates all lost their elections.

The three were Ahmar Iqbal, running for the Ann Arbor School Board, Amin Hashmi, running for the Troy City Council, and Abdul Latif Muhiuddin, running for the Plymouth-Canton School Board.
The three Muslim candidates were in widely divergent districts, with sparse voter turnout in an election which had no national or statewide elections–an election which determined the face of Michigan’s local politics but did not affect the exciting higher levels.

The minimal voter turnout meant that Burton’s Paula Zelenko would secure her seat as mayor in a hotly contested race with a well-known city councilman–and she would do so winning only 2,500 votes.  The mayor of Burton earns approximately $70,000 annually.

The same race saw a Flint mayor who won an election with only 9,000 votes.  The salary of the Flint mayor is about $91,000.

Iqbal won about 3,500 votes, earning fifth place out of six.  Muhiuddin won about 2,900 votes, placing 10th out of 15.  Amin Hashmi won about 1,400 votes, placing last in his election bid.

Iqbal wrote a very gracious concession letter which expressed his belief that 3,000 voters had chosen him “on merit,”  because he only shook hands with 500 voters and he won 3,500 votes.

Iqbal expressed that he had learned many lessons through the campaign, and had learned strategies, local politics, and about his own identity, and other important measurements of his own strength as required for a political campaign.

“The best is yet to come for all of us,” said Mr. Iqbal.

“Again, thank you for standing by me and I look forward to growing our relationship especially for important community causes.”

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On Losing Legal Legend Derrick Bell

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadia Ahmed

derrickbellOn October 5th, the law lost a monumental American, NYU Visiting Professor Derrick A. Bell. He was 80 years old when carcinoid cancer seized him. While news of his death may have been lost in the headlines because of the demise of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs the same day, Bell’s life deserves commemoration especially among Muslim Americans.

Bell was to social justice and constitutional law what Jobs was to Silicon Valley’s high tech industry and computer innovation. Bell was a rebel before the American Bar Association (ABA) ever began honoring recipients with the distinction of “Legal Rebel.” He was well-known for being the first African-American law professor with full tenure at Harvard Law School, but resigned in protest because of the lack of hiring of women of color. The New York Times reported that at a rally while a student at Harvard Law Barack Obama compared Professor Bell to the civil rights hero Rosa Parks.

At the beginning of his career, Thurgood Marshall recruited Bell to join the NAACP Legal Defense Fund after he left his position with U.S. Department of Justice because of his refusal to end his ties with the NAACP.  In 1966, Bell was named deputy director of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Afterwards, he would start teaching law. 

I had the great fortune of being able to meet Derrick Bell in 2001 as a result of a series of emails back and forth between us. I was supposed to be studying for the LSAT in the summer of 2001, instead I started reading Bell’s books which I saw sitting on the same shelf of the Seminole County Public Library’s Casselberry branch as the LSAT materials: Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protestor and Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism. For someone who is naturally reticent, I resort to writing as a preferred mode of communication. Bell had also taken the time to contribute to my 9/11 anthology, Unveiling the Real Terrorist Mind. He helped me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Looking back to 9/11, Muslims were scared and some even afraid to even leave their homes. Muslim leaders were issuing fatwas for women to remove their headscarves in public out of fear for their safety. I was more astounded and confused by the North American Muslim community’s reaction. This was not the first time our community had come under attack and it surely would not have been the last. For me, 9/11 was a time more than any other to reassert our identities as Muslims.

In Professor Bell, I found someone who had walked the walk. He was also one of the most spiritual persons I had ever known, who had a deep commitment to religious value, an anomaly in higher education, especially within the law.

Initially, when I heard of his death, I was saddened, but at the same time I felt reawakened and reenergized. I remembered one of those occasions when I had to the chance to sit in on his class. On the blistering cold afternoon of February 4, 2002, I trotted up to the NYU Law school building and was told that I could not enter the building because my name was not on the list of approved visitors for that day. From my days in journalism, I knew how to slip by security. I walked slowly toward the side exit door and when the guard was distracted by other visitors, I darted up the stairs to find the Secret Service central because unknown to me President Bill Clinton was giving a talk at NYU Law that afternoon. The speech had just concluded so I stood on the side of the hallway as President Clinton walked by and greeted students. When I finally got to Professor Bell’s class, I heard some of the students joking that they had “gotten their tuition’s worth” because they “got to meet President Clinton.” I laughed inside that I, too, had been able to meet the President without the exorbitant cost of paying NYU Law tuition.

When I was accepted to the University of Florida Levin College of Law a few months later and somewhat hesitant to attend, Professor Bell encouraged me by saying that the battlegrounds for social justice and civil rights are in the South, but warned me that the racism only worsens the further I progress in my life in the law. My law school days and the year or so after I was admitted to the Florida Bar were pure and utter whatever.

In 2007, Professor Bell had mailed me a copy of his book, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth.  And it is that book that serves as my blueprint for surmounting obstacles and advancing where life leads.

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Statement by the President on Hajj and Eid al-Adha

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

White House Press Release

Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy Eid al-Adha to Muslims worldwide and congratulate those performing Hajj. Thousands of Muslim Americans are among those who have joined one of the world’s largest and most diverse gatherings in making the pilgrimage to Mecca and nearby sites.

As Muslims celebrate this Eid, they will also commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son by distributing food to those less fortunate around the world.  They join the United States and the international community in relief efforts to assist those struggling to survive in the Horn of Africa and those recovering from the devastating earthquake in Turkey. 

The Eid and Hajj rituals are a reminder of the shared roots of the world’s Abrahamic faiths and the powerful role that faith plays in motivating communities to serve and stand with those in need.  On behalf of the American people, we extend our best wishes during this Hajj season.  Eid Mubarak and Hajj Mabrour.

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Saudi Hails Hajj Success

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims move around the Kaaba, seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on November 3, 2011.

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz hailed the “success” of this year’s hajj despite fears of “chaos” in the wake of the Arab Spring, as remaining pilgrims continued final rites on Wednesday.

“We thank God for the success of this year’s hajj, which was the best pilgrimage season to ever pass,” Nayef told the commanders of hajj security forces late on Tuesday.

“Some (pilgrims) were expected to exploit the international and regional changes taking place to cause chaos. But thank God this did not happen,” SPA quoted Nayef, who also holds the interior portfolio, as saying.

The hajj — the world’s largest annual gathering — this year coincided with the Arab Spring democracy protests that have swept many nations in the region and led so far to the unseating of three autocratic leaders, in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, as protests continue in Yemen and Syria.

“What’s going on in Syria is painful,” Syrian pilgrim Abu Imad told AFP. “I’m coming here for perform pilgrimage and to pray for myself and my children.”

According to the United Nations, more than 3,500 people have been killed, most of them civilians, in Syria’s uprising that began in March.

Saudi Arabia itself had been slightly touched by the unrest as Shiites held sporadic protests in its Eastern Province a few times over the past months.

But their movement was quickly contained by authorities in the conservative Sunni kingdom.

“We thank all the pilgrims for proving that they are Muslims who respect this (hajj) rite and for being cooperative,” the prince said.

Indonesian pilgrim Hamid Eddine also believes that “pilgrims must follow instructions to gain the rewards of hajj and to smoothly perform their pilgrimage.”

Saudi security forces have several times in the past confronted Iranian pilgrims holding anti-US and anti-Israeli protests.

In 1987, Saudi police efforts to stifle such a demonstration sparked clashes in which 402 people died, including 275 Iranians.

But no incidents were reported this year as Iranian pilgrims, put at around 97,000 — the maximum allowed for Iran under a Saudi system apportioning pilgrim quotas among the world’s biggest Muslim countries — held their protests inside their own camps on Saturday.

Already strained ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia became taut last month when the United States accused Iranian officials of having a hand in a thwarted plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Iran has strongly denied involvement and emphasized “good relations” with its Arab neighbor across the Gulf.

Most of this year’s three million Muslim pilgrims had left the holy city of Mecca after after a farewell circumambulation of the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque into which is set the Black Stone, Islam’s most sacred relic.

Others completed stoning of the devil on Wednesday — a ritual, which is carried out over three days in which pilgrims must stone the three pillars said to symbolize the devil.

In previous years, hundreds of people have been trampled to death in stampedes triggered by crowds trying to get close to the pillars to take their vengeance on the devil.

But this year, the stoning, like all other rituals, passed with no major incidents.

The ritual is an emulation of Ibrahim’s stoning of the devil at the three spots where he is said to have appeared trying to dissuade the biblical patriarch from obeying God’s order to sacrifice his son, Ishmael.

Saudi authorities have installed a multi-level walkway through the stone-throwing site in a bid to avoid the trampling that caused the deaths of 364 people in 2006, 251 in 2004 and 1,426 in 1990.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all those who are able to.

AFP

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Michigan Education Association (MEA) Endorses Abdul Muhiuddin (Muhi)

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

215007_108031785964365_108030909297786_38878_3037846_nOne up and coming Muslim may soon join the Plymouth-Canton school board.  Abdul Latif Muhiuddin, known to Muslims as “Muhi” and to the electorate as “Abdul Muhiuddin” is one of the 14 candidates remaining in the race for November 8th’s election to the board.

16 candidates began the race and 14 of them remain, vying for four seats on the school board, unpaid positions with three incumbents in the mix.

Muhiuddin won the MEA endorsement after appearing at a panel discussion where MEA staff interviewed the 16 candidates and asked them all the same questions.

Muhiuddin explains that only one of the incumbents in the race was endorsed by the MEA; the other two were not.

While this is a somewhat intimidating field, the candidate explained in an interview with TMO that “being endorsed by the Michigan Education Association I have a really good chance,” explaining that the MEA comprises unions of teachers, food services workers, cleaning services, bus drivers, “a large network, and with their support” absentee ballots were mailed out. 

About 2700 absentee ballots, Muhiuddin explains, have already been turned in, therefore his name likely is already among the frontrunners in the election.

Muhiuddin spoke to Ghalib Begg, another prominent Muslim who was elected to a local school board, and was advised by other Muslims as well.  “It was helpful in getting motivated and getting my strategy together.”

He emphasizes the strong skillsets that the Muslim community has to offer to the school board, especially tutoring services and bilingual services that Muslims could volunteer to offer to the school system.

Emphasizing his ability to contribute, Muhiuddin points to his past experience working with ISPU, which gave him to understand the alternative means of funding that are available that might support the Plymouth-Canton school system beyond the amount the system wins from the state. 

“We can supplement funding from the state budget, going to foundations, corporations (which have philanthropic sectors); we can apply for grants, whether for special ed or for vocational training or teacher resources to enhance existing resources.”  As evidence that this plan may work, Muhiuddin cites a recent donation by GM of $31 million to the United Way to support its educational efforts.
“I wanted to go let people know what my views on issues were, and why I wanted to get involved.  I received warm feedback, and some criticism as well.  I want to get involved in the local community.”

To learn more:  tinyurl.com/muhionlineresume; facebook.com/friendsformuhi; twitter.com/criendsformuhi. 855-411-MUHI.

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Wall Street and Islamophobia

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Oakland–October 31st–I lived in this curious city across from San Francisco for most of my thirty-one years here in the East Bay.  Unlike that City across the Bay, which is more of a dreamland where one goes when one is young, but Oakland is a gutsy –mainly Black – working class city.  It is, also, the third largest port on the West Coast.  Most of the Muslims here, too, are native born Afro-American converts with a considerable number of Eritrean refugees and a noticeable contingent Yemeni with Palestinian and other miscellaneous groupings.

What created Oakland in the Nineteenth Century was the fact that the trans-Continental railway ended here and its passengers would get off, and be put on ferries to the City on the Golden Gate.

Curiously, in the recent “Occupy Wall Street” Movement, more than New York or even the Western financial hub across San Francisco Bay, the seemingly provincial and small (400,000) peripheral urban space of Oakland has become a center of the battle against the financial collapse of “free” enterprise that the George W. Bush Administration accelerated through his anti-Islamic Colonial Wars.  As evil as that was, the administration of those Wars, were managed so incompetently that they failed to finance their martial adventures – contrary to the history of Foreign adventurism which usually leads to a stimulation of a national economy temporarily – in that the Bush Regime gave financially unsound tax-breaks to the upper 1% of the population – the economy shrank instead — as the national debt plummeted.  (Now, let it be noted, that I do not advocate preventative War in any way!)  

Many in the Muslim community here have suffered even more than the general citizenry.  Homes have been foreclosed, jobs have been lost and not regained, lifetime savings have slithered away, and, yes, despite residency in this land of plenty, there is even hunger.

Notwithstanding, President Barrack Hussein Obama’s attempted to prod a budget through Congress earlier this year that would begin to alleviate the suffering of the grand majority of Americans, which was obfuscated by the largely anti-Muslim “Tea Party.”  The latter have hindered relief to suffering American citizens / residents including those who attend the Mosques. 

Under Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was largely instituted as one of the Reconstruction Amendments, to prevent any future attempts to reverse the Thirteenth Amendment passed during the U.S. Civil War (1860s) to irradiate the deplorable institution of slavery, also, raises the question of what monetary powers Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment gives to the President.  “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…shall not be questioned…”  Therefore, it is argued that Section 4 gives the President unilateral authority to raise or ignore the national debt ceiling (like in a national such as World War II, the Great Depression or the current financial crisis).

President Obama made a grave error in not invoking Section 4, and regulating by decree last February, and, hopefully, when the budget comes up again, and (economic) Keynesian solutions are called for, the Administration will block the reactionaries of the Lower house, for, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, an upcoming worldwide economic collapse is brewing due to the Euro-zone National Debt Crisis and the “Tea Party” fiscal interference in the States.  Therefore, to avoid this, drastic measures are indicated.

To counter this, a populist movement has arisen in America in protest against the corruption of the American system deregulated over the past several decades by interspersed right-wing governments.  In a letter, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the only Muslim in Congress sarcastically writes, “…if you exercise your right to free speech against the excessive power and greed of Wall Street…they say you’re ‘dangerous’ and engaging in ‘class warfare.’”

The disproportionate importance of the Oakland demonstrations to the national movement is the reaction by incompetent elite who essentially stole an election by a conspiratorial manipulation of rank-choice voting.  (This minor city’s last two mayors had remarkable resumes – one a former Governor and the last a leading former Congressman.  It was expected that the last President Pro Temp of the California [State] Senate in Sacramento who represented Alameda County of which Oakland is the seat, who won a plurality of the first round vote, would be the next Mayor, but lost because three of the other candidates campaigned to have their supporters list two of the others as their second and third choices; thus, thwarting democracy with incompetency.  The result of which is that the current Mayor represents only one small ethnic element of the city; therefore, Muslims, who largely belong to the ethnic plurality, are denied political recognition here.)

Be that as it may, this Op-Ed is to state that the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement is related to Islamophobia because the same crisis that created hatred against Muslims in the States gave reign to the greed in America’s financial structure.  In a way, maybe Islam’s non-usury system has a lot to teach the West which, by the way, renounced a similar system in the Renaissance.

Some commentators have equated the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement to America’s version of the Arab “Spring.”  It is true that Islam and democracy can find a compatible form, but – like the case with Soviet Socialism – it may not be able to co-exist with American Capitalism as “written.”   I believe that the Koran and Hadith have much to teach the West in ways to reform its financial institutions and dealings.

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As I See it

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Azher Quader

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As the Muslim world wrestles with dictatorial rulers to remove them from power and establish popular democracies, allowing for greater freedoms and greater choices, here in America an aging Muslim community of first generation immigrants are facing their own struggles, as they try to transition power at their mosques. Next to the zoning battles no other issue excites the emotions of the mosque goers more than the issue of choosing its new leaders.

Here in Chicago arguably one of the most mature Muslim communities in the country, the transition of power within our mosques is increasingly threatened with conflict. At the Muslim Community Center (MCC), perhaps the oldest mosque in the country run by an elected board of directors, the electoral decisions had sometimes to be litigated and settled in a court of law. The path for succession is no less controversial in those centers where the transition of leadership is without election. There too the inevitability of the moment and the inadequacy of the system to meet the expectations of the majority is coming to light.

Is it then appropriate to pause and ponder on where we are and whither we are going?  Is it right to win an argument within a core group of supporters or in front of a judge and claim victory over the people? Is it right to amend the rules to protect the turf and believe we have secured our future?  Is it right to concoct a system where choice is removed to eradicate dissent?

If we are serious about building institutions of trust and leaving a legacy of goodwill, we cannot be happy with these small wins. If we are committed to passing on the baton to the young, we cannot be scared to let go the reigns of power in the twilight of our lives. If we are committed to serving the welfare of the people we cannot be worried about the preservation of our selves. If we are the vicegerents of Him who gave us the freedom to choose in life, we cannot deny to others the same freedoms including the freedom to choose their leaders. Neither institutions nor nations are strengthened when choices are controlled and freedoms are abridged.

A nomination process which delivers no choices is no better than the Egyptian model of Mubarak against which the people ultimately revolted.

It is time we took a harder look at the way we are setting up systems to assure not only the smooth transition of power within our mosques but  also maintain  the highest traditions of freedom and choice.

May Allah guide us to be humble and fearless in the pursuit of right.

Azer Quader is Executive Director of Community Builders Chicago. ww.mycommunitybuilders.com.

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Muslim Founds Wonderful Education Tool

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Press release

Suhail Khan has founded MyEducationKey, a comprehensive education website available for free.

To achieve Academic Excellence for the learning community throughout the world, MyEducationKey has launched an educational web portal for K-12 Grade School and University/College students/teachers/schools, where they can learn at their own pace from all video-based course content available to all for FREE.

MyEducationKey.com is a virtual educational web portal for completely FREE, world-class Online courses for K-12 grade school and University education students, self-learners, and teachers.

The high-quality video educational and learning content at MyEducationKey is aimed to help improve the quality of K-12 and University education, teaching and student learning experience at schools/colleges/universities, helping educators and self-learners alike.

Teachers can use this site to stream world-class high-quality instructional content in their classrooms, and leave themselves with the all-important task of concepts enhancement through discussions, practice & projects.

Students can use this site to preview/review course lectures/content as many times as wished before and after the content has been covered in the classroom.

Home-schoolers, and Self-Learners can use this site to learn new concepts at their own pace.

We believe this site will advance useful human knowledge, creativity, lifelong learning, and social welfare of educators, students, and self-learners.

MyEducationKey is a non-profit initiative with the goal of providing FREE education to ALL throughout the World.

MyEducationKey is based in Canton, Michigan (USA).

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Tariq Mehanna’s Prosecution a Larger Community Issue

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston, and as usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” are suspect in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual.

The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado’s terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known. For the two years that I knew him in Boston, I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq’s defense.

“Tariq was very involved in the Muslim community, masha’Allah; I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path.”

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won’t be the last. Regardless, that’s OK because, ‘Indeed, Allah defends those who believe…’ [Surat al-Hajj; v. 38]. And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to connect their efforts to smear the Roxbury Mosque with this man’s plight. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Jewish groups and the FBI in targeting this individual. If the David Project is not stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“‘When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc…’ So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Haute Muse

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

bonnie-wright-haute-muse-cover-twoThat’s the name of the recently launched, one and only, fashion magazine published in the Middle East. The creators of Haute Muse, which is based in Qatar, are Fatma and Noor Al-Thanis. The duo started off blogging about fashion and designer trends on the Internet. Before they knew it, both of their blogs had acquired a cult following. What was unique about the pair’s respective blog’s, “Fatma’s Haute Couturista” and “Noor’s Noorziestyle”, is that both included fashions from both the East and the West. Visitors were treated to the latest abaya creations to sweep through the Gulf region and the latest creations taking Hollywood by storm. According to the mission statement posted on the Haute Muse blog the pair reveal, “HauteMuse is aiming at bringing together all the young generations of fashion writers, photographers, designers, and stylists to bring a new unique look into fashion from a different angle than the usual perspective.”

Making the move to a glossy and stylish print publication was the savviest decision the business partners ever made. The best part about Haute Muse is that it recognizes the Middle Eastern traditions, which are absent from similar fashion magazines published in the West. Special features highlighting Islamic holidays and events is what makes the magazine so exceptional and appealing to both Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike. Homage is paid to established fashion designers in Europe and the US, such as Dolce and Gabbana and Calvin Klein. Local Qatari fashion designers and artists are also featured in the pages of Haute Muse. Qatari jewelry designer Noor Alfardan is just one of the countless artisans to be showcased within the pages of the magazine.

Proving that it has what it takes to compete with the larger than life fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Haute Muse will continue to offer celebrity photo spreads and exclusive interviews. In the second issue of the quarterly publication, Bonnie Wright (the actress who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movies) graced the cover. Celebrities, both local and international, are expected to grace the covers of Haute Muse as it continues its stratospheric ascent to becoming one of the most widely read fashion magazines in the world.

The future looks very bright for Fatma and Noor. The pair has just signed international distribution deals with some heavy contenders in the publishing industry. As for what comes next, the duo plan to expand their horizons by opening up an event planning and service company in Qatar called Haute Concierge which is being touted as “the first service of its kind in the Middle East”. The service aims to make just about anyone’s dreams come true. “Whether you’re coveting afternoon tea with your favorite designer or a customized Hermes handbag, our bespoke lifestyle management company can make your dreams a reality.”

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Community News (V13-I42)

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Camden street named in honor of Dr. Mustapha Khan

CAMDEN, NJ–Trinidad born Dr.Mustapha Khan was a popular medic in Camden who really struck a cord with the people in the area as a physician. He was honored last week when the street he used to walk down to his office was renamed Dr. Mustapha M. Khan Way in his honor.

Khan, who died in 2009 at 84, retired from his medical practice the previous year. He had spent 51 years practicing medicine in the city, taking all patients who came in and treating them even when he knew they might not be able to pay.

“He found his bliss, found his home in Camden, New Jersey, in this community,” said Khan’s son, Mustapha Jr. “He really savored being a man of the people, treating everyone who came through his doors.”

“Whether it was a little kid with a runny nose, a teenager with a behavioral problem or some adult who needed help changing a tire outside, anything he could do, he was willing to do,” recalled Khan’s son Rasheed. “He didn’t care about the reward, didn’t care about the money or accolades. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Over the years, Khan was offered chances to practice medicine with large health systems such as Cooper, West Jersey and Lourdes. He turned them all down to ensure that he could keep practicing medicine his way in Camden’s Parkside neighborhood and helping people in a city he didn’t want to abandon.

Khan also mentored children in the area and many of them are now themselves professionals in diverse fields.

Charolette Musilms, Christians hold interfaith meeting

CHAROLETTE,NC–Mecklenburg Ministries held its first interfaith prayer meeting, designed to promote greater understanding and common spiritual ground between Christians and Muslims.
The Ministries’ youth council, along with Park Road Baptist and the Muslim American Society  co-sponsored the event.

Imam John Ederer  explained Muslim traditions of prayer, then invited those on hand to take part in or observe the Islamic sunset prayer.

The Revs. Amy and Russ Dean, Park Road’s pastors, discussed Christian prayer, then lead vespers.

Talking and praying together, “will be a much more productive way to spend the evening than arguing over political divisions or pointing a long finger of derision at people because they are different than us,” Russ Dean said in a prepared statement.

Ramy Ahmed wins award at Technon Conference

AUSTIN,TX–Ramy Ahmed, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, won a Best Paper/Presentation award at the 2011 Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Technon Conference.

Ahmed and advisor Dr. Sebastian Hoyos won for their paper, “A 384-MHz Continuous-Time ΔƩ Modulator Using a Hybrid Feedback DAC Based on Spectral Shaping of Jitter Induced Errors,” in the analog/mixed-signal/RF circuit design session.

Ahmed’s award is among a select group of SRC-funded projects. Hoyos said Ahmed’s work has received excellent feedback in the past three years and has had SRC project reviews with one patent already filed by SRC member companies. They also have been invited to submit a full journal article for an IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I special issue coming up soon.

Ahmed received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in electronics and communications engineering from Cairo University (Egypt). He currently is working toward his Ph.D. in the Analog and Mixed-Signal Center, under Hoyos’ supervision. During the spring of 2008, Ahmed was an intern at Rice Nanoscale Systems Laboratory at Rice University, where he worked on non-autonomous chaotic oscillators and 60 GHz receivers. In 2011, Ahmed held a summer internship with the analog and mixed-signal group at QUALCOMM Inc. in San Diego, Calif.

Ahmed’s research interests include data converters and multistandard wireless receivers. He has co-authored more than 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences and has one patent filed under the SRC/GRC patent program. Since September 2009, Ahmed is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in America. He is a member of IEEE and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Anti-Muslim fliers spark debate in San Diego

SAN DIEGO,CA–A religious organization’s campaign that focuses on passing out anti-Muslim literature to students is being criticized in San Diego.

The group passes out the fliers on public property just outside of the high schools. They have gone to Clairemont High School and Kearny High School, as well as other schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The fliers say as Islam grows “Muslims become increasingly more aggressive” and “We must defend students from being recruited and radicalized into Islam.”

The fliers have sparked safety concerns for the Muslim community.

“We’re also concerned about the bullying that’s going on in public schools. So this is only going to spark the fire of ‘Islam-a-phobia,’ possible bullying of Muslim students,” said Edgar Hopida of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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AFMI on Women Empowerment

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah-Chicago

Oct 3rd 2011

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) successfully held its 21st annual national convention in Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed, the incoming AFMI president, and the chairperson Dr. Siraj Ahmed, Co-chair Hassan Kaleemuddin and various heads of other committees. Over 350 people attended the banquet session.

The theme of the convention was “Women Empowerment Through Education”.

Distinguished and knowledgeable speakers from across the nation who participated during the whole day sessions discussed various issues like “Current Status of Indian Muslim Women”, “Tools and Models for Empowering Women Through Education” followed by the session for “Strategic planning and Moving Forward in to Action”.

Mrs. Priya Dutt, Member of the Parliament, address the banquet session of the convention. She is also in charge of women section of the Indian National Congress and Congress party’s general Secretary. The other Chief Guest was the former Illinois senator, Mosley Braun. The theme of the convention being women empowerment, both the main speakers focused on their educational and economic empowerment through creating opportunities at all levels. Priya Dutt is the daughter of Late Sunil Dutt, a Bollywood icon and a former minister of youth affairs. She is involved in running a number of women empowerment centers in the slums of Bombay.

The AFMI convention enables people from Indian origin to find ways of cooperation on issues of concerns for Muslims of India. AFMI organizes an international convention in India in December to distribute medals to students who out excel others in education. Besides, AFMI also runs and supports a number of educational institutions in different parts of India. Relief and political education are two other areas that form the focus of AFMI activities in India. The organization was established in 1989 to provide a platform to Muslims of Indian origin living in the US.to contribute their human and material resources for the Muslims of India. This year’s convention saw the emergence of a youth leadership in the organization as they made significant presentation on educational and economic issues. Some of the presenters presented the conclusion of their research in the city of Hyderabad and other places where women are making significant efforts in bringing about changes in their sociopolitical conditions.  The emergence of a women leadership in India’s Muslim dominated areas is a fact that is being recognized by the community as was suggested by one of the speakers.

Mr. Ashfaq Qureshi, the current President of the organization said that the organization was focused on education and has adopted a motivational approach to help Muslims achieve the goal of 100 per cent literacy.

Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, the founder of the organization presented an overview of the organization’s projects in different part of the country that includes schools, hospitals, clinics, and relief centers besides the distribution of medals to the achievers of highest academic honors. Dr. Nakadar presented the graph of progress in the field of education asserting that the encouragement and recognition of highest achievers create an environment of healthy competition and inspires students to become high achievers.

Among those attended the convention were Dr. Khurshid Malik, a prominent Chicago physician involved in several developmental projects in India. Manzoor Ghori, of the Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Rashid Khan of American Indian Muslim Council, Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, prominent Muslim educationist, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Media professor at Western Illinois University, Macomb, Dr. Azhar Quader, a community activists and former President of the Chicago Area Council of Muslim organizations, and recipient of AFMI’s award of Excellence. Dr. A. Razzaque Ahmed, recipient of AFMI’s “Excellence” award and an internationally known dermatologist. The youths who made a mark and were keen to participate in AFMI activities were: Dr. Fareen Parvez (Boston), Dr. Tasneem Osmani (Chicago), Dr. Sana Uddin (South Bend-Indiana), Dr. Saad Mahmood (Boston) and many others.

This year’s AFMI international convention will take place in Ranchi on December 24 and 25, zonal conventions in UP is slated for Faizabad and Lucknow. MP zonal convention will take place in Burhanpur.

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The Other Muslim Soccer Star in Kansas City

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Compiled by Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Reporters_wcup_nigeria14Senegalese soccer player Birahim Diop welcomed a new Muslim teammate to Sporting Kansas this season with the arrival of heralded striker Soony Saad. But Diop himself has been in Major League Soccer (MLS) for three seasons now. He originally began his career in Senegal with US Rail de Thiès. In one year at the club he appeared in 25 matches scoring 15 goals. He then went on to ASC Jeanne d’Arc and scored 12 goals and added 7 assists in his one year at the club.

In 2001 Diop moved to the United States and joined the New York/New Jersey MetroStars reserve squad. He then impressed the coaching brass to move up to the senior squad appearing in 4 league matches in 2002. Following his stay in New York, Diop moved to Colombian side Deportivo Pereira, before being re-united once again with his former coach in New York Octavio Zambrano at CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol in Moldova. In his first season with CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol Diop appeared in 15 league matches and scored 3 goals playing as a holding midfielder. In 2008 Diop returned to the U.S. and played for FDR United in New York City’s amateur leagues, scoring 19 goals in 25 matches.

On March 17, 2010, Diop joined the Kansas City Wizards, as an addition to their midfield. Diop was reunited with coach Octavio Zambrano once again, as he was now an assistant coach for Kansas City. Diop scored his first two MLS goals on August 21, 2010 in a 4-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Diop than recorded the first hat trick of his career on October 23, 2010 in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Diop enjoyed his best year in Major League soccer in 2010 with the Kansas City Wizards appearing in 14 league matches and scoring 5 goals.

This season, the 22 year old midfielder has yet to score a goal in 18 games played with Kansas City. He has, however, started eight games, and has recorded an assist. At 6’3” and 175 pounds, Diop is an imposing figure in the Sporting Kansas City midfield. And as a result of his size he often plays as a striker. But with Soony Saad part of the strikeforce nowadays, he and Diop could have the makings of quite a scoring pair moving forward.

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Zaytuna Fundraiser at Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

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Bloomfield Hills–September 25–A new era has begun, quietly, in the past year, as the first Muslim university has begun its work on the West coast of the United States.

Zaytuna is important because traditional religious education in a legitimate format in the United States has thus far not been available.  The best way to achieve a religious education has been to travel outside of the United States to Muslim nations, and in fact many have done that, including some of those who now contribute to Zaytuna, such as Imam Zaid Shakir.

While there are other Muslim universities, Zaytuna is at a level above them in part because of its adherence to traditional Islamic knowledge, in part because of its cherishing of high quality in instruction, students, and in the manner of the running of the institution, and in part because of the quality of its relations with major American universities.  For example, Zaytuna students now carry UC Berkeley library cards because their university has a relationship with that prestigious university.

Zaytuna also maintains relations with the Graduate Theological Union, Princeton University, Imagine America, and the University Consortium (Claremont College).
The university is based in Berkeley California, and now provides a full bachelor’s program leading to a degree.  The first class of students matriculated during the last school year.
In support of Zaytuna’s effort to build into the future, it conducted a fundraiser at the Muslim Unity Center Sunday.

The fundraising banquet was attended by several hundred guests, who were provided a very good introduction to the activities of Zaytuna over the past year. 

Zaytuna has a full time staff of professors for its student population of 186, supplemented by frequent visits from prestigious professors.  Every week the university invites speakers, many of them Muslim and many of them the preeminent voices in their fields.

Of the 186 students at Zaytuna, 23 are from Michigan–105 are women, 84 are men.  The population is very diverse, which accurately reflects the demographics in this nation, with African American, Arab, Hispanic and South Asian populations all well  represented.

The 186 students came to Zaytuna with an average GPA of 3.6. 

A Zaytuna professor and spokesman explained that while Muslims may fear to send their students to Zaytuna because they might not build the careers there that their parents want for them, in fact such students will be the future leaders of the community, in education, business, graduate study, nonprofits, and in the professions of law and medicine, not to mention public service and community service.

He cited the need of American not-for-profits for Zaytuna’s graduates.  ISNA, CAIR, and the many other Muslim insitutions need people knowledgeable in Islam and well connected within the Muslim community to grow and develop our community. 

The professor cited the urgent need for education among all people, saying that the cost of education is absolutely minimal compared with the cost and opportunity cost of caring for people who for example in the worst case end up as inmates in prison.

“Our graduates are ready to be successful in the next world first, but also in this world.”

The students also endorse the university enthusiastically.  One student traveled from Ohio to Michigan, interrupting her studies for the LSAT to drive several hours to Michigan; she gushed at length about her gratitude to Zaytuna for what it had given her.

“This project is for all of us, not just California,” explained one of the professors at the Bloomfield event.

Zaytuna in fact is extremely cheap relative to other universities.  Tuition is only $11,000 per student per year, with generous financial aid available.  “Lack of funds will never prevent you from study at Zaytuna,” said the professor.

Compare this $11,000 tuition with the $52,000 per year for tuition alone (not room and board) at Stanford University.

Many if not most universities and colleges in the United States were started as religious institutions.  Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Earlham, Haverford, Cornell, Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, all started as religious institutions. 

In fact the building of universities reflected the broader trend that each community engaged in by building houses of worship, business communities, and hospitals.

Imam Zaid Shakir spoke at length at the event, emphasizing our familial relationship with one another, saying “believers are like bricks in a wall, they strengthen one another.”

“This institution is a source of pride in our community.”  He emphasized the importance of getting in on the possibility of donating now, at the ground floor, while the institution must still be hammered out of the metaphorical jungle.

We all as Muslims hope that there will be even better and even more prestitious universities built by our community in future years, but for now at least we can take pride in having one.

The event ended with a very effective fundraising effort which collected approximately $200,000 in donations and pledges–as this fundraiser reflects only a single episode in a broader nationwide fundraising campaign, we can expect that the fundraising effort will collect millions in only a short time–a worthy effort to support a traditional moderate Islamic institution.

The inaugural class at Zaytuna began in 2010, and expects to graduate in 2014.  The second school year began in 2011.  Zaytuna hopes to have bought its own campus by 2014 (currently it rents space for classes).

The university has deep funding needs; it will need tens of millions of dollars to establish self-sustaining faculty chairs, funding for scholarships and study materisals, and an annual fund.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of the fundraiser was the speech by an older doctor in the audience who came from Syria to the United States; he studied and worked to become a doctor, but while in Syria he had helped to physically build an institution which was to be a school for Muslims to attend from around the world, to learn about the traditional knowledge of Islam.  He would come home dirty from head to toe, to scoldings for being dirty.  “We were volunteers to move tiles, bricks.”

Little did he know that 20 years later a man we now know as Zaid Shakir would attend classes inside the very walls he helped to build with his hands; “20 years after that I met him.”

“Don’t underestimate what you do at any stage of your life.  I believe this is one of the best things I have done in my life.”

http://www.zaytuna.org/give/

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Muslim Groups: FBI Response to Islamophobia Scandal Not Good Enough

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The bureau has reached out to Muslim organizations in the wake of embarrassing revelations about its counterterrorism training materials. Critics say that’s not enough.

By Adam Serwer

After reports emerged last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism training included materials that depicted Muslims as inherently radical and violent, the bureau moved quickly to reach out to a number American Muslim groups in an effort to smooth over relations. FBI officials promised to take the problem seriously and vowed to conduct an internal review of the materials, which included assertions that mainstream American Muslims were sympathetic to terrorism and that the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be violent.

“There was acknowledgement that what happened is wrong and what happens needs to be addressed immediately,” says Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). “It was a good first step in rectifying this.”

But Ayoub and other Arab and Muslim leaders add that more still needs to be done to repair the damage caused by the FBI’s offensive training materials.

The problem, Muslim and Arab groups argue, is that this isn’t the first time they’ve complained about the FBI’s counterterrorism training. In August 2010, several organizations sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller after Islamophobic writer Robert Spencer, who believes “that there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists,” was invited to give two seminars to Virginia’s Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force in July. Spencer was also invited to give a presentation to the US Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, which is cohosted by the FBI in Norfolk.

The FBI didn’t take the outside groups’ complaints particularly seriously. In its response to the letter, the bureau defended Spencer’s appearance on the grounds that he was a “best-selling author.” A little over a year later, the FBI would try a similar tactic, dismissing the controversial elective training offered by FBI official William Gawthrop as an innocuous one-off. But Wired’s Spencer Ackerman soon revealed that recent FBI training materials depicted Muslims—not terrorists or extremists, but Muslims generally—as collectively bent on world domination.

The FBI’s previous efforts to dismiss the issue of anti-Muslim training materials, says Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, are one reason the FBI’s promised “internal review” won’t be enough. “We’re pleased that this very serious issue is finally receiving the attention of the FBI leadership, but we still believe that an internal FBI review is insufficient at this stage,” Khera says.

On a conference call with several Muslim and Arab organizations, the FBI took pains to note that several agents had registered complaints about Gawthrop’s training materials, and others had walked out of a session in disgust. But the FBI’s excuses left many on the conference call with more questions: If FBI officials had raised concerns about Gawthrop’s work, why was the issue not addressed immediately? A report  from an independent inspector general “is the only way to ensure that the FBI is [addressing the issue],” Khera adds.

The FBI missed opportunities by not taking the potential for cooperation with Muslim groups more seriously, other critics say. If FBI officials had asked for the Muslim American community’s input, they could have stopped the scandal before it happened. “Why did they not ask for the community’s advice on the [training material]? Why didn’t they use the resources at their disposal?” asks the ADC’s Ayoub. “There was no outreach done. That’s disappointing.”

The revelations about the training materials also damaged existing relationships, argues Mohamed Elibiary of the Freedom and Justice Foundation. “You really need very substantive community relationships and partnerships if you want to get to the point where you have community-based interventions and lessening of violent extremism and radicalization,” Elibiary says. “They need to be able to feel like they can call the FBI when there’s a problem with their kids.”

In the future, Elibiary warns, FBI headquarters has to follow the example of its best field offices and do more to reach out to Muslim communities beyond the DC area. “There’s a difference between engaging with the leadership in DC and the leadership across the country,” he says. “You need to engage with both. For what you say in DC to have an impact in Des Moines, you need to be talking to someone there.”

Adam Serwer is a reporter at the Washington, DC bureau of Mother Jones.

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New Initiatives: “The Muslim Element”

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviAs the times progress and technology develops, different and new ways are being found to accomplish age-old goals. From teaching children their A-B-C’s, to distance education, to social interaction—the amount of new and innovative means to accomplish these ends are innumerable. Everyone is looking for less traditional, and more creative ways to cater to society’s interests, in particular, those of the youth.

A group of youth from New Jersey has identified with and understood this phenomenon, and has undertaken the task of using newer, more creative technology to develop a positive sense of brotherhood between Muslim youth, as well as youth of other religious and cultural backgrounds. “The Muslim Element” (The Mu for short), as they call themselves, is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide products that express their religious as well as universal humanitarian beliefs. They are currently focused on providing clothing that embodies various messages, the goal being to positively affect the lives of youth by allowing them to connect to their religion through the use of a more creative and modern medium. The Mu garners no profit from their sales: every penny generated by the organization is used either for the creation of new products and t-shirts, or is given back to the community in the form of charitable donations or sponsorship of events at local Islamic centers.

Muslim_ElementThe Muslim Element has developed three products thus far, one of which being a “Freedom” t-shirt, sold in early 2011, when revolutions were sparking across the Islamic world. This shirt helped to get youth involved in promoting the idea of freedom and justice in a more innovative and creative manner than before. Even if they could not physically attend rallies to demand freedom for those innocents being oppressed in countries across the world, they could display their support of justice and truth to everyone they met through the clothing they wore.

Initiatives such as these are necessary for reaching out to new generations of youth. The Muslim Element supports the enlightenment of Muslims—especially the younger generation living in the West—and aims to show them through messages embodied in clothing that they should take pride in who they are and the beautiful messages of truth and justice, propagated by the religion they believe in. In this way, says their mission statement, they hope to help the youth to “remain vigilant in understanding their faith and their humanity, develop an awareness of relatable and current topics in the world, and actively propagate truths and dispel misconceptions about the beautiful religion of Islam.”

More information about this initiative, as well as vending information for your local center, can be found online at: www.facebook.com/TheMuslimElement

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Congressman’s Apology to Muslims

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By James Warren

Mike Quigley knows about cheap shots on ice. Now he’s an expert on being blindsided on the Internet and cable TV.

Quigley_Headshot

Congressman Mike Quigley, (D-5th-IL)

Mr. Quigley, a Democratic Chicago congressman, had a relatively light Saturday recently. He played ice hockey in the morning, did a beach cleanup with the Sierra Club and hit four block parties in the 32nd, 43rd and 44th Wards. Along the way he surfaced at a conference held by the American Islamic College. It was a quick in-and-out, with remarks to perhaps 100 attendees about the strengths of American pluralism, the sort he makes to many groups. They included:

“Forms of discrimination come in many forms, many shapes and many guises. You have my pledge to work with you to fight them, and I think that it is appropriate for me to apologize on behalf of this country for the discrimination you face.”

He then bicycled to the first block party. The Islamic College audience was apparently grateful but didn’t find his appearance especially notable as they returned to the business of their meeting.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, found the address nice and patriotic. “What we’d expect of a congressman,” he said.

Neither he, Mr. Quigley nor anybody else there was prepared for the response initiated in the conservative blogosphere, then intensified on radio and TV.

The congressman was attacked harshly, with at least one death threat on a Fox News site that by week’s end was still not taken down despite requests.

Andrew Breitbart, a conservative activist, blogged that Mr. Quigley made a “surprise appearance”  before “the primarily Muslim audience. He rambled on about the typical racism and discrimination that the liberal left is so convinced America is rampantly infected with.”

The appearance was not a surprise, even if not on the formal program.

But the nefarious implication was repeated on blogs and the Fox News Channel. Video links included the lines above but not related comments about the legacies of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Social media posts and hundreds of nasty calls, e-mails and faxes poured in to his offices, which deleted profane and violent posts and passed direct threats to law enforcement.

But the conservative echo chamber was in high dudgeon. Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host, decided that Mr. Quigley’s remarks were a story and thus conferred high-profile legitimacy to the bloggers’ vituperation on Tuesday. Mr. Quigley could not appear, but Mr. Rehab did, initially nonplused that the remarks were deemed newsworthy.

With “Questionable Apology” emblazoned on the screen, Mr. O’Reilly repeated the same two sentences Mr. Quigley had uttered and declared:

“Wow! What discrimination?”  Statistics don’t support claims of bias against Muslim Americans, he said.

Much data and polling contradicts him. As an unabashed Mr. Rehab told him, “You’d have to be living under a rock” to miss the overarching reality.

Mr. Rehab cited federal figures on rising workplace complaints of anti-Muslim discrimination and polls showing both that 39 percent of Americans would require Muslims to carry special identification and that one-third don’t think Muslims should be allowed to run for president.

“O.K., those stats bolster your argument,” Mr. O’Reilly conceded. “But in economic realms, Muslim Americans are doing well, pretty well,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to be anti-Muslim. Thank you for coming on here,” Mr. O’Reilly concluded brusquely, with Mr. Rehab having clearly failed to fulfill a role of self-righteous liberal piñata.

But Fox wasn’t done.

On Wednesday, its morning “Fox and Friends” show saw Mr. Quigley, 52, called a “silly old fool” by Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and advocate of aggressive military actions. He belittled Muslims with a series of mock apologies like “We should apologize for preventing them from beating their daughters to death for flirting.”

Eboo Patel, an Indian-born Muslim and former Rhodes Scholar who runs the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Corps, found the response offensive.

But he noted a Gallup poll finding that American Muslims remain very optimistic despite facing discrimination.

He mentioned that his nephew in Houston was hassled when, for religious reasons, he wouldn’t eat school pizza with pork.

Well, at least we occasionally try to curb school bullies. We clearly don’t when it comes to the bullies who can drive our public dialogue.

jwarren@chicagonewscoop.org

James Warren writes a column for the Chicago News Cooperative.

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Muslim Scientists and Thinkers–Obaid Siddiqui

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

obaid_siddiqiObaid Siddiqui was born in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, India.  He completed his Master in Biology from Aligarh Muslim University in 1953.  After teaching at Aligarh for a while he came to England and finished his PhD. from the University of Glasgow in in the year 1961 where he worked in the Department of Genetics.

Obaid Siddiqui was offered a post-doctoral position at the MIT to work with , Dr. Alan Garen, a well known man in genetics. He came to MIT worked there for a while and then they moved to the University of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the suppressors of “nonsense” mutations that led to the discovery of “nonsense” codons, the stop signals in the genetic code. In early seventies he moved to California to  work with Dr. Seymour Benzer of the California Institute of Technology. Their work led to  identification of several genes that control nerve conduction and synaptic transmission. Obaid and his associates’ pioneering work on neurogenetics of fruit fly, Drosophila, has opened up the prospects of an integrated genetic and neurobiological investigation of chemosensory perception.

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, invited him to start a molecular biology group at the institute . Obaid recruited top-class scientists and put the Institutes’s molecular biology group on world map of genetics. Later, with the support of government of India, he founded  National Center for Biological Sciences at Bangalore. The  aim  of this Center is basic research in the frontier areas of biology and currently it has many distinguished scientists working in various fields  with state-of-the-art facilities.

Prof. Siddiqi’s contributions have been widely recognized. He has been elected to several academies including all the National Academies in India, the Royal Society, London, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy, Trieste. He is a former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Prof. Siddiqi has held visiting professorships at Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caltech and Cambridge University. He was twice Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech and is a life member of the Clare Hall, Cambridge. The Aligarh Muslim University, the Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Hamdard, Kalyani University and IIT Kanpur have conferred upon him honorary degrees of D.Sc. He has received many prizes and awards, including the civil honors Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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