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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Huda Clinic Fundraiser

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Detroit–October 8–One of the best ways to help the Muslim community is to provide useful services to the surrounding communities.  And so the Huda clinic has been providing free health care to Detroit since 2004.

An audience of about 300 watched as several speakers including two congressman spoke at a Huda Fundraiser Saturday. 

Mitchell Shamsuddin spoke early in the event, speaking about the blood sweat and tears that had gone into building Huda.  Imam El-Amin of the Detroit Muslim Center welcomed everyone to the mosque which has served as a home for Huda.

There was a promotional video for Huda, showing people who had received free healthcare at the facility, including non-Muslims living close to Huda who praised the friendly and helpful medical services provided at Huda, with only a short wait-time to see a doctor.

Rep. Hanson Clarke and Rep. John Dingell were in attendance. Both of the congressmen expressed their appreciation for the great work of Huda.  John Dingell said “thanks to the volunteer doctors, donors, and staff.  Thanks to you all and Huda.”  Dingell went on to speak about the importance of healthcare in the US, pointing out the great strides towards healthcare that has been fought for and built, since 2008.  “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” he said.

“Your mission is a superb success, and vital, and its importance is increasing as the economy suffers.”

Hanson Clarke was very emotional at the sight of the hundreds of people in the audience, representing all of the Muslim communities in America. The three major communities are African American, South Asian, and Arab, and all three groups were not only present but are actively participating in Huda’s work, serving as doctors and other volunteers, and management.

Rep. Clarke advocated early healthcare rather than last minute help in the emergency room. 

He spoke very strongly against the past attacks on the Muslim community from, for example, Peter King. “How DARE they unfairly target Islam?”  Clarke spoke very angrily about the conflation of the hunt for terror with prejudiced and biased rhetorical attacks on all Muslims.

Dr. Jukaku Tayeb said that at Huda the Muslim community is trying to “do our responsibility.” He quoted Qur`an as emphasizing the importance of giving to others without reminding them or giving them pain after helping them.

“This is a purification of ourselves and of our wealth,” he said.  Also the work of Huda provided an opportunity to bring diverse communities together, including within the Muslim community, but also Huda serves as a bridge to other communities.

He pointed out the contributions of Huda’s directors, especially Eide Alawan, and of all of the volunteers and volunteer physicians–some of whom come to Huda regularly every week as if they are being paid, although they are not.

He expressed his hope that Huda would be open full time in the future.

Rami Nashashibi spoke,  praising Huda as one of the fruits of Warith Deen Mohammad’s work, and Dr. Abed El-Mannan Alo also spoke.

www.hudaclinic.org

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Qur`an for Cambodian Muslims!

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

100,000 copies of Qur’an for Cambodian Muslims in next 5 years

Phnom Penh, July 31 – The World Qur’an Endowment Program organized by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) with the cooperation of Restu Foundation will print 100,000 copies of the Qur’an with translation in the Khmer language for distribution to Muslims in Cambodia in the next five years.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the effort was to fulfill the need of the Muslim community in Cambodia and to ensure that each Muslim family would have at least one copy of the Qur’an, ABNA reported.

“There are about 500,000 Muslims in Cambodia and there is only one Qur’an for every six families. So, we hope generous Malaysians can assist Cambodian Muslims through this program so that each family will have at least one Qur’an,” he told Malaysian journalists.

Ahmad Zahid had earlier handed over 10,200 copies of donated Qur’an to the president of the Cambodian Islamic Community Development Foundation Othsman Hassan and Cambodia mufti Kamaruddion Yusof at Chrouk Romeat Mosque in Kampung Chhnang and Amar bin Yazid Mosque at KM9, to be distributed to Muslims.

The minister said the program aimed to print and distribute 20,000 copies of the Qur’an annually over a period of five years and this was expected to commence from the month of Ramadan next year.
“Translation of the Qur’an into the Khmer language has been completed and we are only waiting for sufficient funds to print the copies of Qur’an,” he said.

Earlier, speaking before 1,500 Cambodian Muslims at Chrouk Romeat Mosque, Ahmad Zahid said the 10,200 copies of Qur’an given away today showed the concern of the Malaysian government and people towards Muslims in Cambodia.

Kamaruddin said he was touched and thankful for the gift of the Qur’an, adding that the Cambodian Muslim community depended on outside help for copies of the Holy Book.
“We hope there will be enough Qur’an for us in future,” he added.

At the two presentation ceremonies, Ahmad Zahid also handed over 500 Muqaddam booklets and 1,000 prayer rugs for use by the Cambodian Muslims.

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Commemorating 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Detroit Area Muslims Observe Anniversary

By Adil James, TMO

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Farmington–September 11th–The 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent scrutiny on the Muslim community has lasted until this date 10 years after the event.

Muslims have attempted to rebuild ties and bridges of mutual trust and understanding on this 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy through a multitude of different events.

Imams spoke at a CIOM event in Dearborn on the morning of the anniversary, and before the anniversary came, there was a huge food distribution done in Flint, also in the name of rebuilding connections.  Muslims across the nation, individually and through their organizations, also attempted to show their mercy and compassion for 9/11 victims by offering prayers and words of solace to the 9/11 families. 

In this issue of The Muslim Observer, we have attempted to collect some reports from around the country of Muslim events to honor the memory of the tragic events of 9/11.  The following Michigan events are not an exhaustive list of 9/11 commemorations, but a few good examples.

Flint

The Flint event distributed food to “about 1,000 families,” according to Iman Meyer-Hoffman, interfaith director of the As-Siddiq Mosque, from which food was distributed this past Thursday at 5:00PM.  

Each family recipient had to show a distinct i.d. in order to receive food, and the 1,000 family representatives who picked up food at the mosque came in about 300 carloads, showing Michigan’s desperate economic position after years of recession and layoffs.

The Flint Islamic Center in coordination with the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan arranged the event.  Ms. Meyer-Hoffman said of the event that “the two mosques felt it was important for the community to work together.”

Flint Islamic Center coordinators for the event were Bilal Ali, Mohammed Aslam, and Macksood Aftab.  They publicized the event extremely well, and planned it well also–occurring several days before almost all 9-11 celebrations it successfully attracted a great deal of attention and put Muslims in a very good light by helping them to serve the real needs of the larger community.

The immense enthusiasm of Mr. Aftab in building media knowledge about the event and advertising the event to local non-Muslims helped to make it a success.

“We are doing this because we are part of this community and this country. Most Muslims are peaceful people who care about others,” said Meyer-Hoffman.

PWAM Acts of Kindness

The Pakistani Women’s Association of Michigan was one of the other organizations to hold an event to commemorate 9/11.

The organization, in association with CIOM and other organizations, took advantage of the event to discuss past contributions, including helping out at Interfaith Health Fair and Soup Kitchen at the Muslim Center Detroit, as well as active involvement in the annual CIOM Unity Dinner.

Here, PWAM partnered with CIOM, ACCESS, the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the City of Detroit, United Way, WISDOM, J-Serve and Focus: HOPE, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Arts & Scraps, and Detroit’s Cities of Service “Believe in Detroit” Campaign to participate in the “Acts Of Kindness, Transforming 9/11” which had been called for by President Obama to counteract the incredibly negative and divisive event which took place ten years ago.

Hundreds of volunteers participated in projects such as park beautification, vacant lot clean-up, food packaging, sorting art supplies for local schools, and writing thank you cards to U.S. troops serving abroad. As they worked side by side, their energy and dedication helped transform 9/11 into a day of learning about each other’s interests, families, and faith traditions. After the projects were completed, there was a structured dialogue series designed to increase tolerance and understanding, with the goal of promoting a sense of unity, peace, community-building, and mutual understanding.

Dearborn

In Dearborn the morning of 9/11 was marked by a well-coordinated event at which several prominent local imams had the opportunity to speak about 9/11 and its broader meaning to Muslims after 10 years have elapsed. 

This event was held at the prominent Islamic Center of America (ICA), said to be the largest mosque in America–a huge mosque on Ford Road in Dearborn that unfortunately has served as a lightning rod for criticism of the Muslim community.

The CIOM statement about the ICA event stated that “The tragedy … will never be forgotten… The date brings back painful memories.  American Muslims…. wish for our fellow Americans to begin a renewed era of understanding, tolerance, freedom and justice for all.”

One of the prime movers for this event was Ghalib Begg of CIOM, known for his leadership and and hard work, and for his political and interfaith connections.

Some of the prominent imams present were Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam Qazwini of the ICA, Imam El-Turk of IONA, Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center in Detroit, Imam Aly Lela of IAGD,  Shaykh Ali Sulayman Ali of MCWS, Imam Kilyani, Imam Al-Azom, and Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan.

Imam Elahi said at the ICA that the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted a crime, against Americans but also against Islam, agains the teachings of Islam–over 90 nationalities were among the victims, including many Muslims.  “We as Muslims joined to show solidarity with the victims.”

The tenth anniversary, he said, was a day of prayer for the victims, to show national unity, to build dialogue and interfaith cooperation, to build towards “a better America, with justice, peace, and working together.”

He said of 9/11 that it could have been a much worse event, and that the calm and involvement of Muslim and non-Muslim community leaders in the aftermath had managed the event to avoid it being worse for all concerned.

Following the ICA event there were other commemorations attended by prominent Muslim speakers all over the Detroit area and literally all day long, so that the scheduling for the events shortened the ICA event; similar events were held at mosques, churches, and synagogues.

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Still Painful, September 11 Has Few Rewards for Hollywood

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – It was a disastrous attack that played out live on television 10 years ago, riveting a horrified nation for days.

But the thought-provoking films and TV shows that followed, depicting the fiery attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, have mostly been shunned by American audiences who favored escapist movies and almost-reality TV while wars raged in Iraq and Afghanistan in the decade that followed.

Culture watchers and media pundits say audiences are not yet ready to relive a memory that remains painful, and some experts note that this particular chapter of American history is still unfinished.
“Films about 9/11 run the risk of being exploitational because they deal with such an epic tragedy and they don’t have a resolution. One of the things Hollywood wants is a happy ending, and you are not going to get it,” said Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of “Film and Television after 9/11” and a professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Ten years on, the trauma of September 11 and the ongoing war against terrorism have left their mark on pop culture in subtle yet omnipresent ways. And perhaps surprisingly, Muslims have escaped the widespread demonization on screen that many feared when followers of Osama bin Laden crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
“After 9/11, I was terrified of the direction this country was going to go toward Muslims,” said Kamran Pasha, one of the few Muslim screenwriters in Hollywood.
“But in many ways, Hollywood is showing more sophistication and empathy toward the Muslim community than I think a lot of people in America are,” Pasha said.

BOX OFFICE FLOPS

Just two mainstream movies, “United 93” and “World Trade Center”, attempted to recreate the events of 9/11, both with strongly patriotic overtones. But the 2006 films together took in less than $250 million at global box offices — about the same as “Avatar” grossed on its opening weekend in 2009.

Stories dealing directly or indirectly with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fared even worse, despite sometimes boasting A-list stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Matt Damon and Reese Witherspoon.

Whether telling of heartbreak among troops and their families (“Brothers”, “Stop-Loss”), conspiracies and cover-ups (“Body of Lies”, “Rendition”) or politics (“Lions for Lambs”), Americans stayed away in droves. “Over There”, the first TV series to depict an ongoing war, was axed in 2005 after just four months.

“I don’t think audiences have wanted to relive one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s recent history. At least, not so soon,” said Claudia Puig, film critic for USA Today.

Even 2010 best picture Oscar winner “The Hurt Locker”, about a bomb disposal team in Iraq, brought in only $49 million at box offices worldwide — a decent sum for a low-budget picture but nowhere near blockbuster status.

Instead, one of Hollywood’s favorite genres, comic book flicks, soared with audiences in movies like “Iron Man”, “X-Men” and “Spider-Man”.

Television, with its quicker production times and lower budgets, was first off the mark on 9/11 with White House series “The West Wing” providing the perfect showcase in October 2001 for a discussion on terrorism, religion, race and intolerance.

Although created before September 11, counter terrorist agent Jack Bauer arrived in 2001 in TV thriller “24”. The series quickly embodied America’s post-September 11 state of mind, particularly in Bauer’s hard-hitting methods to get the bad guy and the show’s initially negative depiction of Muslims.

Yet “24” ended in 2010 with Bauer praying on his deathbed with a Muslim Imam. Pasha called that “a quantum leap from where the show started.”

WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS?

Screen villains have become more rounded and more diverse than pre-2001, when Arabs were already Hollywood’s go-to bad guys after the Middle Eastern plane hijackings of the 1980s.

Lawrence Wright, screenwriter for the 1998 movie “The Siege” about a radical Islamic group attack on New York, said that after September 11 “the world became a lot more complicated. It was indelicate to attack Muslims.”

Pasha said the 2005-06 Showtime TV drama “Sleeper Cell,” which he co-produced, was a “pivotal change” in the depiction of the Muslim community. It featured a Muslim American undercover agent who infiltrates a terrorist cell whose members include a white European woman, a gay Muslim and a Latino man.

“It tried to show the perspective of the al Qaeda guys, showing them as human beings and what could make them do these terrible things,” Pasha said.

Puig said Hollywood is now adapting its viewpoint, with villains in several recent movies being Russian or South American. “Some of that may be due to profiling concerns or political correctness, but it also reflects an expanded outlook on the terrorism genre in films,” she said.

Television also is moving forward.

New York firefighter drama “Rescue Me” began in 2004 and became the only long-running TV series to deal with the human toll of the attacks. The series ends on Sept 7, in what its co-creator and star Denis Leary calls a fitting conclusion.

Upcoming Showtime drama “Homeland” is a political thriller about a U.S. soldier who is suspected of having been turned militant by his captors in Iraq.

“Things have become deeper and more complex. And the heart of this show is really psychological — how America is dealing with the 10-year period post 9/11,” said “Homeland” executive producer Alex Gansa.

Yet, there remains at least one final look back. TV networks will revisit September 11 with numerous news specials and documentaries to mark the 10th anniversary.

Dixon doubts many Americans will be tuning in, even given the killing at U.S. hands in May of Osama bin Laden.

“I don’t think (the TV specials) are going to do well,” he said. “I lived through it once. I really don’t need to live through it again, because there is no happy ending in sight.”

(Additional reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and David Storey)

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Community News (V13-I37)

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Quinn names members to Muslim American Advisory Council

CHICAGO, IL–Illinois  Governor Pat Quinn, last week,  named members to serve on the Muslim American Advisory Council, which will help ensure Muslim American participation in state government. Governor Quinn announced the new council during “Eid,” the close of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Illinois is a diverse state, which is one of our greatest strengths,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more than 400,000 Muslims and 300 mosques within our borders, representing various racial and ethnic sects of Islam. I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for input in how we address issues such as education, public safety and jobs, because the strategies may need to differ based on the history, culture and needs of different communities.”

The Muslim American Advisory Council will advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. Additionally, the council will recommend strategies to better integrate Muslims in Illinois socially, educationally, culturally and economically. The council will facilitate relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, and identify ways to more effectively disseminate information and outreach to Muslim Americans regarding state programs and services.
The council will advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims. It will bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues. It will also strengthen communication between the state and Muslim leadership and the general community.

Samreen Khan, senior policy advisor and liaison to Asians and Muslims for the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, and Kareem Irfan, president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, have been named as co-chairs of the council.

S.E. Idaho Muslims plan to build mosque

Southeastern Idaho’s Muslim population has swelled beyond numbers that can be accommodated in the current mosque, a small home near downtown Pocatello, the Idaho State Journal reports.
As a result, religious leaders from the region are trying to raise some $200,000 to erect a new facility that’s capable of holding about 300 people.

Still, local leaders said it’s been tough to raise the cash for a building and accompanying parking space.

Approximately, 150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.

Justice Dept. & Henrico Reach Settlement For Mosque Lawsuit

HENRICO,VA–The Justice Department recently  announced a settlement with Henrico County, Va., resolving allegations that the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied the application of a Muslim organization to rezone property to construct a mosque. The settlement, which must still be approved by a federal district judge in Richmond, resolves a lawsuit between the United States and the county of Henrico.

“Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and that right includes the ability to assemble and build places of worship without facing discrimination,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the county of Henrico has agreed to take steps to ensure that all people exercising this basic American right will not encounter discrimination during the zoning and land use process.”

“The law – not stereotypes or bias – should dictate whether a worship facility can be built in a community.” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “No one should be discriminated against based on their religion, and this agreement will ensure that religious freedom is upheld in Henrico County.”

The case arose from the county’s denial of a 2008 application from a Muslim organization for construction of a mosque. The government’s complaint, which was filed with the court along with a consent decree resolving the lawsuit, alleged that the county’s denial of the rezoning application was based on the religious bias of county officials and to appease members of the public who, because of religious bias, opposed the construction of a mosque. The complaint further alleged that the county treated the Muslim organization differently than non-Muslim religious groups that regularly have been granted similar rezoning requests.

As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to treat the mosque and all religious groups equally and to publicize its non-discrimination policies and practices. The county also agreed that its leaders and various county employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA. In addition, the county will report periodically to the Justice Department.

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‘Eidul Fitr 1432, Delran, NJ

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi, TMO

BLACK_AND_WHITE_Aqeela_NaqviThis year, the Eid celebration at Bait-ul-Qayem center in Delran, NJ was a gathering made complete with an array of appetizing barbeque, dizzying amounts of cotton candy, refreshing snow cones, and a moon bounce that was never empty of laughing children. About 200 members of the local community got together to pray Eid namaaz and to thank Allah (swt) for granting the Muslim ummah the opportunity to experience another blessed Month of Ramadan. The Imam of the congregation, Maulana Syed Tilmiz Hasnain Rizvi, recited the khutba, reminding the congregation that the day of Eid is not only a day for celebration, but is also a day for self-reflection—we must ask ourselves on this blessed day, has there been any change in ourselves at the end of this month that has brought us closer to achieving the pleasure of Allah (swt)? He quoted Imam Ali (peace be upon him) saying, “Every day in which you do not disobey Allah (swt) is a day of Eid.”

Aside from the laughter and the games and the food, there was a deeper thread that could be felt weaving its way through the congregation—a thread pulsing with the radiance of unity and brotherhood, and most of all, a sense of indomitable spirit. The Muslim community found itself congratulating each other on achieving a level of self-discipline to stay away from all things disliked by Allah (swt) during this month. There was a sense of hope, that if this manner of controlling one’s desires for the sake of Allah (swt) could be accomplished for thirty days, then so too could it be accomplished in all the days in the future, Insha’Allah.

It was a gathering of wayfarers, all having traveled different distances on the same journey towards attaining nearness to Allah (swt), pausing for a moment to bid farewell to the Holy Month that had become so much like a dear and respected friend and companion; whose departure was a separation of the aggrieved and lamented, and whose arrival the following year will be awaited with desirous hearts, restless souls, and eager preparation in the months between.

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The Face of Hate: Visible Now

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

We are not born to hate or kill others. We are taught to hate and kill others. Sometimes this hatred is in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of country, sometimes it is for money and sometimes it is a combination of all these four. What is now emerging clearly is that there is a small group of Jewish intellectuals and activists who under the secret advise of hawkish Israelis have been engaged in a high level Islam bashing and Muslim demonizing for almost a decade in the United States. They have promoted hatred against Muslims and they can create conditions to justify the killings of Muslims in America and elsewhere. There purpose is to marginalize the Muslim community so that it may not play any effective role in any aspect of American life. Their goal is to create conditions leading to the almost lynching of Muslims. Their grudge against Muslim American comes from their love to the state of Israel. The irony is that they are using the American resources to promote their agenda. They have found an ally in the form of white conservative Christian evangelical supremacists who consider Muslims infidels and pagans.
The information here is from a highly credible research project. The report raises several questions about the credibility of Jewish organizations and leadership. It is an irony that despite overwhelming evidence of the involvement of some Jewish activists in trying to demonize Muslims intentionally and make their religion a target of hatred, the mainstream Jewish organizations and Christians groups have refused to condemn the hate mongers.

Here are the synopsis of the report that clearly demonstrates that the anti-Sharia bill in Michigan and other states is the result of a conspiracy against Islam hatched by some Jewish activists with the help of Christian evangelical resources.

The conspiracy is open. We must expose the hate mongers and question Christian and Jewish organizations to take a stand on these issues. In the interfaith forums these issues deserve to be discussed and brought out. We must be able to demonstrate clearly that the spreading of hate and misinformation against Islam and Muslims primarily started with five key people and their organizations, and it is sustained and funded by a few key foundations with Christian conservative roots, says an in-depth investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The tightly networked group of misinformation experts were able to guide efforts that now have reached millions of Americans through advocates, media panelists and grassroots organizations.

The five misinformation experts are:

• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
• Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

These individuals have generated the materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media on a regular basis.

The funding organizations have given over 40 million dollars during the last 10 years. They are:

Donors Capital Fund; Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation;
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; Newton and Rochelle Becker
Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust;
Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund

The misinformation experts have traveled the country and worked with or testified before state legislatures calling for a ban on the nonexisting threat of Sharia law in America and have proclaimed that the vast majority of mosques in America harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers.

David Yerushalmi’s “model legislation” banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills in South Carolina, Texas, and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools have been picked up nationwide. The misinformation movement is active in more than 23 states.

Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and existing groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum are usually the groups that promote the ideas of misinformation experts whose work has often been cited many times by (among others) confessed Norway terrorist Anders Breivik.

Those whose rhetoric against Islam and Muslims has become known include among the the religious right:

Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Ralph Reed, and Franklin Graham; among the grassroots organizations

Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pamela Geller’s, Stop Islamization of America Eagle Forum, Tennessee Freedom Coalition, State Tea Party movements, American Family Association; among the media, Fox News Channel, David Horowitz, Freedom Center Pamela Geller and Atlas Shrugs, Washington Times, The National Review, Christian Broadcast Network, Clarion Fund, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mike Savage, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Bryan Fischer and among politicians, Rep. Peter King, Rep. Sue Myrick, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Renee Elmers, Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Those who validate their arguments include: Nonie Darwish, Former Muslims United and Arabs for Israel, Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Walid Phares, Future Terrorism Project
Walid Shoebat, Former purported terrorist turned apocalyptic Christian.

Now we know who the hate mongers are and who the misinformants are, we should not keep quiet. We must raise the issue in every forum that we have to ensure that conspirators are further exposed for ever.

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Getting Forgiveness for Abuse

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO

I’d like to start with the reminder of our beginning – our creation as Adam, ALLAH’S Kahlifa of creation – whom He created to be a perfect submitter,  created him from water (moral consciousness), and endowed him with the light of intelligence to utilize the material and spiritual creation to enhance himself and everything else under ALLAH.

It is no secret that the Muslim community is loaded with cases of spousal abuse and many of us (men and women) think we are doomed to be bad or predisposed to accept abusive behavior from our spouse or others.  Many men (and some women) inflict abuse because they have been conditioned to be abusive since they were children.  Perhaps theirs were abusive to their mothers and they witnessed this growing up.

Science has said that by the time we are six or seven years old, our personal mentality is pretty much shaped.  Your mindset is basically what you will be for the rest of your life.

So some men whose brains were ingrained with this type of thinking grow to be abusive to their spouses as well.

And similarly, some women who witnessed an abusive relationship between their parents take on the same mentality.  They grow to accept it and see it as normal, and it becomes a part of them.  Both are wrong.

This is part of the life experiences (wombs) that ALLAH mentions in 4:1 of the Qur’an.  Every experience that ALLAH allows to happen to you, or allow you to witness, is designed to make you stronger and test your faith.  You should not feel that this is your lot in life and you are doomed to that existence.  Quite the contrary,  this can be a boost in your human strength.

ALLAH says He will forgive you (for giving abuse and accepting it) if you repent and don’t keep doing it and making excuses for it. (This is very important).

As human beings, ALLAH has given us the uncanny ability to control our own minds and the dispositions and mentality that comes out of our minds.  La illaha illala truly means nothing is above the human being (Adam) except The Creator.  We control our minds by thinking positively on the dictates of ALLAH and submitting to them.  This pushes out the negative and allows strong iman (faith in ALLAH and His Message) to reign in us allowing us to lead peaceful and productive lives.

So, like the scientists say, if your mind has been affected by witnessing negative abusive behavior, you will probably have these feelings for the rest of your life.  But they do not have to control you.  This is where ALLAH comes in and gives you insight and strength.

First you realize these negative feelings are wrong and are a tool of the devil.  ALLAH did not create you to be abusive to any of His creation.  Nor did He create you to accept abuse.  You are better than that.  You are Adam.  Those devil-inspired feelings are supposed to bow to you…not vice versa. 

And remember, those who inflict abuse are guilty and committing great sin.  And similarly, those who accept abuse are guilty.  Both are lowering themselves beneath the lofty station ALLAH has placed them on. It’s as if you are denying the Favors of ALLAH.  Keep the faith.  Remain strong.  Remember ALLAH often and the victory is yours.

“And those who, having done an act of indecency, or wronged their own souls, should remember ALLAH and ask for forgiveness for their sins;  and who can forgive sins except ALLAH?  And are never stubborn in continuing (and excusing) the wrong they have done.  For them, the reward is is forgiveness from The Lord and gardens with rivers flowing underneath as an eternal dwelling; how excellent a reward this is for those who work and strive for good”.  3:135-136 Qur’an

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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Houstonian Corner (Volume 13 Issue 34)

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Landmark Radio Light Of Islam Enters Into The 18th Year

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Houston is considered as the Mecca of Community Media Outlets, with many Weekly Newspapers; Daily & Weekly Radio Shows. One of the longest running Radio Program is Light Of Islam (www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com)

Community entrepreneur Maqsood Siddiqui has been conducting this show, since August 14th, 1994. It comes on Houston Radio Frequency 1460AM every Friday between 1pm.-2pm. and every Monday between 9pm.-12am. and can also be heard worldwide at www.LightOfIslamRadio.Com

A special program was done this past Monday night to commemorate the entering into the 18th year of Light of Islam. Several community personalities were present including former Islamic Society of Greater Houston President Dr. Moein Butt, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati, PCC-USA Officer Bearer Abdur Rauf, and many others.
Everyone appreciated the hard work and perseverance of Maqsood Siddiqui for continuing to provide this community service for 17 years.

Maqsood Siddiqui informed: “We started this program because radio had become very popular media among the community, especially those from India-Pakistan-Bangladesh; and to provide voice to the Muslim community to learn our religion and for the preservation of the Muslim identity of our future generations. We have evolved to also provide other services like Hajj package, Matrimonial Services especially for those in late 30s and early 40s, Counseling Services, etc. Our most popular segments have been opportunity for the young ones to come live on air and read from the Quran or presenting Hamd-o-Naat; understanding of Islam by scholars like Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal of Madrasae Islamiah, Late Imam Mohammad Naseem, and many others from throughout the world.”
Special cake was cut on the occasion, and everyone was offered snacks and tea. For more information, one can reach Maqsood Siddiqui at 1-832-298-7860.

Calls for Unity at Houston Consulate Pakistan Day Celebrations

“Mudslinging in the community should finish. If we aspire to secure a progressing and peaceful Pakistan, we need to start here in Houston, through our mature, civil and responsible behavior,” these were the approximate words of Amir Shah of The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN), as he was one of the many speakers, who spoke at the traditional flag hoisting ceremony at the Houston Pakistani Consulate on the occasion of independence day of Pakistan August 14th.

Emcee of the event was Faisal Amin, Honorary Investment Advisor to the Government of Pakistan. He read the message of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Faisal Amin talked about the fact that this year, he has spent more days in Pakistan than USA and have seen very closely all the huge challenges, the government of Pakistan is facing and trying to resolve.

Others who spoke, included the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem (also read President Zardari’s statement), President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Taslim Siddiqui, President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) P. J. Swati (talked about enhancing trade links with Pakistan and working on economy to bring Pakistan out of gloom), and President of Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) Saeed Sheikh (talked about importance of law & order in Karachi for the sake of Pakistan).

Interesting thing about the message of Presdient Zardari was that he mentioned about People’s Party, while as the head of state, he needs to talk mainly about the country Pakistan.

“It is nice to see some young ones here among us. Parents need to inspire their children to become journalists, attorneys, and lawyers, other than doctors & engineers, to able to serve the community, USA, Pakistan, and get personal professionals satisfaction of doing something worthwhile,” said Aqil Nadeem, the Consul general of Pakistan.

This traditional Pakistan Day 14th August Flag Hoisting Ceremony was held at the Houston Pakistani Consulate with much fervor and enthusiasm. Despite Ramadan and heat advisory, appreciable number of people attended. It was heartening to see a bunch of youth that had come with Mrs. Mahmood, who has the privilege of once holding Pakistani flag with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

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Imam Salie: Preparing Islamic Chair at UD Mercy

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Imam SalieFarmington–August 10–Imam Achmat Salie, who championed an effort to establish an Islamic studies school at Oakland University, is now in the planning process of establishing a similar program at the University of Detroit–Mercy, a Catholic private university in Detroit.

Imam Salie is trying to establish a Chair at UD Mercy for Islamic Studies, and he explains the purpose of creating a chair is “to create a permanent place–if not, every year you have to beg for money, and spend so much time.  Once there is a chair, the money is there for life.  In 10 or 20 years, if I am gone, someone else fills that place.”

He says the chair of Islamic studies would help the Muslim community by fueling mutual understanding across religious lines and even within the Muslim community by providing bridges across the gaps of Shi’a-Sunni and other doctrinal disagreements.  “This will be a cosmopolitan approach to Islam, not an orientalist approach–an insider view, different from the skeptical and suspicious outsider view.  But this will still be objective, there will be analysis, it won’t be superficial.  Muslims speaking for themselves.  Founded by Muslims, with an Islamic ethos, with an accurate portrayal of Islam.”

The Oakland University program eventually failed under fiscal pressures.  And the learning process that Mr. Salie went through from Oakland University definitely shows in his approach to UD Mercy.  First, he chose UD Mercy in part because it is private rather than public.  

“With the recession, a lot of uncertainty in universities, public universities… [T]his is a private university, and there is more stability,” explains Salie.

He has also addressed the fundamental gap in funding that sidelined the Oakland University program.  Imam Salie has now secured “matching funding” from the IIIT, a well-funded Muslim not-for-profit based in Washington DC.

There are many Muslim graduates, Salie says, of UD Mercy’s various schools, practising dentists and lawyers, and he asks that they choose now to give back. 

“Education, like journalism, provides a safe environment, a great way to promote understanding.  Previous communities went through education to create understanding.  Catholic and Jewish communities promoted understanding of themselves by being present at educational institutions.”

The utility of the program, Salie argues, would be that it would provide exposure of Catholics to Islam, to alleviate the sometimes tense relations between the communities.  The program would also provide means for Muslims to speak across sectarian boundaries to one another.

Salie looks forward to this program because he has found “broad appeal” and acceptance at a very high level from the school and from the infrastructure of the Catholic church in Detroit, namely Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. 

Even more importantly within the Catholic church, the pope has also expressed support for maintaining good relations with Muslims.

“The pope has wonderful relations with Turkey.  There are delegations from the Vatican to Turkey.  But at the lowest level, this type of enlightenment doesn’t necessarily filter down.” 

Imam Salie points to distrust and animosity directed against Muslims from rank-and-file Catholics, including prominent Catholics like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

“One out of four Christians is Catholic,” Salie explains.  “We should not take the Catholic position for granted–they are not all at the same level as the good people at the top.”  Therefore he says it is important to reach out to the Catholic community.

Also, Salie’s experience with Islamic Studies at Oakland University taught him that sometimes the most attentive students are not those you might expect. 

Sometimes practicing Muslims attend, merely hoping for “an easy A, but the quality of their work is very bad.”  Salie cites one atheist student who devoured the material in the Islamic Studies course and then wanted to teach other atheists about Islam.  “Muslims are fooling themselves if they are expecting an easy A.”

Salie’s Islamic Studies classes are a way to reach Muslims who no longer practice.  “I have had students from everywhere, Bosnians, Albanians, Pakistanis… totally disconnected from the religion.”  The Islamic Studies courses are sometimes for these young people a safe way of reacquainting themselves with Islam.

Muslims wanting to participate are welcomed by Salie.  “One way is through donations…. Some people offer money, some offer expertise.”  Salie invites the various communities of Muslims to participate by offering their knowledge of their own practice of Islam, or of their own national community.  Salie emphasizes that specific communities of Muslims will be spoken for by that community, rather than having an intolerant view of any branch of Muslims imposed by an outsider to that community.

Salie is trying to establish an endowment at the university.  “For the first year, we need at least $200,000 to get started. That will be used up the first year.  If we get an endowment, it takes one year to mature, and then with that endowment money in, we don’t need much in donations.”

Imam Salie aims to collect $2,000,000 in donations, which will be matched by IIIT, amounting to $4,000,000 which will be an adequate endowment to build a self-sustaining Islamic Studies program at UD Mercy.

To contribute, please contact salieac@udmercy.edu.  Or call 248-659-2109.

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TMO Foundation Awards

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Celebrating Young Muslim Journalists’ Accomplishments

By TMO Staff

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TMO Foundation awardees who were able to attend the August Awards Banquet; l-r:  Noor Hani Salem, Ayesha Jamali, and Asra Najam.

Troy–August 7–Affluent Muslim students are sometimes pushed towards the field of medicine before they know what a career is, much less what they want. And while this profession brings honor to families and individuals, it leaves the community in need of talented and intelligent people in other fields.

Journalism is such a field, and the need for Muslim journalists was the focus of a banquet held by the TMO Foundation at the MET hotel in Troy on Sunday.

About 250 people attended the award ceremony, iftar and fundraiser, including among many other prominent community members, US Congressman Hansen Clarke (D-13-MI), Michigan legislator Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12), the prominent journalist Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News, important members of the Muslim community, Dr. Jawad Shah and Dr. AbdalMajid Katranji.

The TMO Foundation is a not-for-profit, founded in 2009 by Dr. AS Nakadar, who also is the president and publisher of The Muslim Observer.  The TMO Foundation’s stated aim is to “serve American Muslims through research, scholarships, and journalism.”  Dr. Nakadar of the foundation explained that TMO awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships in 2010, and more in 2011, by means of scholarship essay competitions on subjects relating to the Muslim community in the United States and its need for journalists.

The banquet on Sunday had as MC Dr. Shahid Tahir, and the other speakers at the event included Dr. Saqib Nakadar, Mrs. Sadaf Ali, Dr. AS Nakadar, Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, Mr. Imran Ahmad, and the previously mentioned prominent community members.  Several of the night’s award-winners also spoke at the event.

The overarching theme from all of the speakers was that Muslims must speak out through journalism, to defend the Muslim community against the aggressive anti-Muslim rhetoric that spills from non-Muslims.

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks to the TMO Foundation audience Rep. Hansen Clarke and Dr. AS Nakadar address the banquet audience
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Rep. Hansen Clarke presents an award to Jumana Abusalah; Dr. Shahid Tahir is standing to the right. Detroit News reporter Gregg Krupa speaks to the banquet audience (Imam Aly Lela in foreground).

The evening began with recitation of Qur`an, specifically verses from Surat Imran including the verse to hold fast to the rope of God together.

Dr. Saqib Nakadar in his speech said that the publicity for Muslims has been bad recently, and that a part of the function of the TMO Foundation was to bring it back to good publicity again.

Dr. Shahid Tahir, the MC, also gave brief introductory remarks, including an admonition to encourage kids to go into areas other than medicine.

Mrs. Sadaf Ali, a PhD candidate at Wayne State University, introduced the TMO Foundation Writer’s Workshop program which she will head, and introduced the TMO Foundation internship program and Faiz Khan’s Voice of Pakistan internship program, and she announced the winners of the TMO Foundation essay contest.

Ayesha Jamali, the second place essay contest winner, spoke briefly, thanking the TMO Foundation and everyone who helped put the banquet together.

Aqeela Naqvi, the first place winner, sent a video explaining that we should “propagate the truth about Islam.”  She quoted the verse that Allah has made us nations and tribes from one man and one woman, and that we should know one another–Naqvi argued that therefore it would be our strength to embrace our diversity.

Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News was one of the keynote speakers at the event, and he gave a speech on the theme that Muslims must stand up and speak, not only on issues related to our countries of origin or to our religion, but in sports, or any other area we are interested in.

The central story of Mr. Krupa’s speech was a description of a visit he made to the New York Times after 9/11, where he walked down a huge corridor filled with tributes to that preeminent newspaper’s Pulitzer prize winners–at the end of that long corridor he met with the editorial staff of the paper and learned that to their knowledge, and to their consternation, there was not a single Muslim reporter at the paper.

Mr. Krupa emphasized that this fact spoke of a tremendous lack of knowledge about Islam and Muslims, 3 blocks from ground zero at the best newspaper in the country.

He spoke also of his own background working through the civil rights movement towards greater inclusion of African Americans.

Perhaps the most depressing part of Mr. Krupa’s speech was his brief mention of how he had become incapable of continuing as a religion reporter at the Detroit News because of the intolerance of his own editors regarding his writing, and their assigning minimal importance to his efforts to write about religious issues. 

Thus Mr. Krupa shifted to the sports department of the Detroit News.

He emphasized that other faiths before Muslims had to confront gross American prejudices in order to create a niche in this country. Mr. Krupa argued that “more parents will have to content themselves” with children who lower themselves to be journalists instead of doctors, and argued that what is needed in this country is real dialogue, and mutual acceptance.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke at the event of her admiration that all of the winners were women, and emphasized that many non-Muslim journalists write nonsense about Islam, which is then picked up by other non-Muslim journalists who repeat it, and she emphasized the importance for non-Muslim journalists to reach out and talk to the other side.

Dr. Nakadar said that the first commandment of Allah, transmitted through the Angel Jibril (as) to Prophet (s) was “Iqra,” or read.  This is important for two reasons. First, this initial commandment of “iqra” began a 23 year period of revelation and in fact communication, the communication from Allah (swt) through the angel Gabriel (as) to Prophet Muhammad (s); second, the first word of the 23 year period of communication was a commandment to read—thus he argues that communication and iqra (education) are the two most important fundamental aspects of the beginning of Islam. Those who have understood the value of communication and education are flourishing today, while Muslims who have ignored these intial commandments have suffered.

Without a voice, Dr. Nakadar argued, there is no power in politics because political outcomes are predetermined by the tone of the news that reaches people before they vote, or before they act in politics.

“We need to create a new generation of journalists” to address national issues within the framework of Islam.

Dr. Jawad Shah gave another keynote speech, arguing that journalists must give deep thought to their articles before printing them, and that Muslim journalists if true to the ideal he advocated would be able to bring a level of profoundness to their reporting far beyond the superficial coverage he complained of from non-Muslim journalists.

Dr. Katranji followed this impressive list of speakers with an impassioned fundraising effort, which was very successful, gaining thousands of dollars to fund the TMO Foundation’s efforts through the next year.

Dr. Nakadar wanted to thank Mr. Ali Qureshi (New Mexico), Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed (Florida), Dr. M Amirana (Nevada), Mrs. Samia Mustafa (Virginia), Dr. Mazhar Malik (New York), and many others for their support and past contributions.

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CIOM Event September 18th

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer, based on press release by Ghalib Begg

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM), is based on a united Muslim community involved in the larger community through service and relationships with our neighbors, interfaith groups, government and media. Civic engagement is a critical component. The CIOM’s annual Unity Banquet is being held at the Detroit Institute of Arts on September 18th, as suggested by our young leaders, is much in tune with helping mainstream our community. Institutionalizing the work of CIOM is critical and it needs your help and participation — physical, financial, moral and your prayers.

“Our faith teaches optimism in this life and in the hereafter. We are an ummah content with its surroundings with ‘sabr’, building a better society wherever we live, in spite of challenges we may face.”

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Another Angle on the Moon

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Despite ISNA’s endorsement of the moon calculations performed by the Fiqh Council of North America, the debate in the Muslim community over the necessity of physically sighting the moon continues, and an interesting contribution to that debate has been made by Mr. Nabeel Tarabishy, of Goodsamt, LLC.  Mr. Tarabishy spoke Saturday night at the Islamic Cultural Association before a small gathering on the subject “The Moon and the Islamic Calendar.”

Mr. Tarabishy’s speech delved into background issues concerning the astronomy of moon sighting, and then described his own approach to the issue in relation to the ongoing debate.
He began by exploring the Qur`anic Ayas concerning seeking knowledge, pointing out the important issue that Allah in Holy Qur`an said that the intercalation of the months that had been done by the pagan Arabs before Islam was not just wrong, not just kufr, but was “excessive kufr,” thus showing the importance to Allah of our seeking to understand and abide by the underlying structure of the universe determined the Almighty.  “We can’t change the facts of the universe according to our desire, we must accept facts, and truth,” he said.

Allah Himself divided the year into 12 months, the week into 7 days.

Tarabishy also pointed out that no world civilization has existed without a calendar, and he explored the history of the Christian Julian and Gregorian calendars.  He explained that the lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year, and he spoke about the intercalation done by the Jewish and Chinese calendars–which he explained is done in a “less chaotic” fashion than was done by the pagan Arabs before Islam.

Then Tarabishy explored the physical dimensions of the lunar and solar progression through the seasons and months and years, and described the physical positions of those three astronomical bodies over the year.

Then he introduced his argument that the Islamic calendar–as a window to our history and culture and more–should be made as predictable as the solar calendar, arguing that it should be possible to plan travel to coincide with any specific day of the Islamic year, thus calculations will be necessary.  He listed extremely prominent Muslim theologians who he said had endorsed calculation, including most notably Imam Shafi’i.

His chief requirements of such a calculation-based Islamic calendar were that “false positives” and “false negatives” contradictory to the physical sightings of the moon should be avoided or excluded.

To learn more, please visit  his website, goodsamt.com.

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Over $150K Raised to Support Group’s Civil Rights Work

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

0703_john_espositoOn Saturday July 30, 2011, hundreds of community members, interfaith leaders, activists and public officials turned out for the nearly sold-out CAIR Texas Annual Banquet.

Some 400 people heard Muslim scholar Dr. John Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, and founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service offer the keynote address.

Corey Saylor, CAIR Government Affairs Director gave an update of the many challenges facing the Muslim community, and how CAIR is addressing those issues nationally.

Rais Bhuiyan, one of the first hate crime victims post September 11, 2001, shared with attendees his near death experience and his journey of healing leading to compassion and mercy for his assailant, Mark Stroman, who was executed July 20th, despite Rais’ attempts to use lawsuits to intervene.

The banquets raised over $150,000 in contributions to support CAIR’s civil rights work.

CAIR Texas Executive Director Mustafaa Carroll states “We are grateful to God first and foremost, and to our community for its broad and unending support.”

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An Historic Achievement by MPAC

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

With the proliferation of Islamophobia in the United States and the spike in hate crimes directed at the Muslim community, organizations to counter these phenomena and to project the truth while at the same time working within the Muslim community for empowerment, are essential if we are to survive as a democracy.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has stepped up to the bat in these arenas. Last week well deserved formal recognition took place in the form of a telephone call from President Barrack Obama to Haris Tarin. Mr. Tarin directs MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office.

During the course of the conversation the President recognized Mr. Tarin’s work with the Muslim community and through that community to the United States. Specifically, he praised Mr. Tarin’s work with Muslim youth, with interfaith clergy and lay persons, and for empowering the contributions of Muslims through civic engagement.

Mr. Tarin replied by telling the President that MPAC has a deep commitment to this nation and to Islam as do other Muslim institutions.

The telephone call is a testament to the success of MPAC in countering Islamophobia and in working within the Muslim community and reaching outward to other communities to establish roots that make Islam an integral part of the American fabric.

Mr. Tarin was raised and educated in Southern California. He is pursing an advanced degree at Georgetown University where he is studying at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Mr. Tarin, in his capacity as Executive Director, intersects with many government agencies and has addressed numerous conferences and symposia. He is a “go to” person for media outlets.

MPAC was established in 1986. Its vision was and continues to be to establish a vibrant Muslim community and to enrich with Islamic virtues the American society it is a part of. MPAC promotes the leadership of young Muslims, and it is a resource and partner to various government agencies.

Its awards and the programs it has formulated are many. Herewith a few: In partnership with the Progressive Jewish Alliance, MPAC formed New Ground, a group dedicated to Muslim-Jewish understanding; MPAC became a consultant to a television series “Aliens in America”; MPAC Senior Advisor, Dr Maher Hathout, received the John Allen Bugs Award from the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, and MPAC, after a decade  of work, persuaded the Bush administration to desist from use of the term “jihad” in its official communications.

To find out more about the Muslim Public Affairs Council, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org. Mr. Tarin’s work may also be accessed at that web site.

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Delusion in Detroit

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

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Seated, left to right:  Steve Downs, Abayomi Azikiwe, Dawud Walid.  Behind podium:  Moderator Debbie Johnson

Detroit–July 17–There are several problems facing the Muslim community in the United States.  One problem is that Muslims are sometimes targeted by the FBI and other law enforcement bureaus, framed for plots they are not even intelligent enough to hatch themselves, and then arrested and prosecuted for conspiracy to commit crimes they never understood–sometimes they are goaded by troublemakers, wolves in sheeps’ clothing, paid by the FBI in proportion to the crimes they are able to get Muslims to commit.

Another, much worse problem, is that inside the Muslim community we give excuses and podiums to the apologists for Muslim terrorists and troublemakers–who are inherently dangerous to the Muslim community by virtue of their commitment to goals antithetical to the teachings of Islam. 

And so this past weekend in Detroit about 100 people gathered at The Shrine of the Black Madonna to complain about government “preemptive prosecution.” However, there was the problem that the meeting supported some Muslims who had suffered prosecution for very real offenses.

Not least among those is Tarek Mehanna, a pharmacy graduate who apparently travelled around the world (to Yemen) to seek training to fight against Americans, and who planned to kill numerous innocent civilians at a local mall, and went so far as to conspire to commit this attack.  You may say “innocent until proven guilty” but first read the complaint, 32 pages of damning evidence, with countless detailed samples of Mehanna’s assiduous efforts to commit terrorism, complete with evidence from two of his coconspirators who backed out of his plot and turned states’ evidence, and also audio-taped conversations in which Mehanna planned terrorist acts.

Tarek’s brother Tamer spoke in support of him this weekend in Detroit, however Tamer’s speech almost amounted to further evidence against his brother, as he spoke for about 15 minutes, railing against the existence in the Muslim community of “snitches.” The use of the term “snitch” already implies that his brother is guilty–as usually a snitch is someone who reveals what was intended to be a secret.  The implication is that Tarek had committed conspiracy, wanted to keep it secret, and Tamer is angry because the “snitches” revealed the secret.

But thank God they did.  Better for Tarek to rot in jail, frustrated in his intention to blot out the lives of innocent civilians.

If all Tamer Mehanna can say for 15 minutes is that snitches are bad, he begs the question whether his brother is fully guilty, and also whether he himself is supportive of his brother’s alleged crimes. 
But most of the people discussed at the meeting Saturday appeared far more innocent than Tarek Mehanna. Behind  the speakers was a board on which were posted the names of about 100 people termed victims of preemptive prosecution. 

Present at the meeting were many activists on behalf of many of those “preemptively prosecuted,” and the most effective presentation was a video about Sami Al-Arian, which advocated his innocence, and expressed the capricious nature of the US prosecution of his case–where when Al-Arian was acquitted of all charges they rearrested him and continued to detain him.

This event was slightly misguided in the ways mentioned above, but the point still stands that the US government has overplayed its hand in the war on terror, by brutally pursuing many who are in fact innocent, and by deliberately detaining them beyond the point at which it becomes obvious that they are innocent.

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ISNA Convention Chicago

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Top Moments From 48th Annual ISNA Convention

ISNA Press Release

ISNA07042011

The 48th annual ISNA convention has come and gone, and thousands of attendees from across North America were able to learn, laugh and reflect. From July 1-4 in Chicago, convention-goers learned from some of the most influential Muslim icons in the West, on topics ranging from social pluralism to racism and classism to Islamophobia, and more.

Whether attendees were taking part in the ISNA, MSA, or MYNA programs, sessions followed the main convention theme: “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony,” in an effort to illustrate how the merits of integration and social harmony in America are in line with Islamic spirituality and inspire community members to respond proactively to discrimination with patience and initiatives to promote tolerance.

The four-day convention-the largest Muslim convention in North America-had many great moments, lessons and events. Too many to count, in fact. But here are the Top 11 highlights of the 48th ISNA convention:

1. Hathout, Mattson, Esposito and Shakir on Social Harmony. 

At the Friday night main session, “Islam, Pluralism, and Social Harmony,” speakers Maher Hathout, former ISNA president Ingrid Mattson, John Esposito and Imam Zaid Shakir addressed the importance of a peaceful, pluralistic society, and the social movement needed today. Their reflections on the topic set the tone for the rest of the weekend, illustrating the main theme of social harmony.

Mattson urged others to have a positive attitude toward religious diversity.

“Allah [swt] in the Quran tells us that it is His will that there should be religious  diversity in the world,” Mattson said. “This is Allah’s choice. … He could have chosen it to be a different kind of world.”
Imam Zaid Shakir said he believed what is needed now is a social movement within the Muslim community.

“Our community has proven that we can live with other people,” Shakir said. “Our challenge [now] is to build a social movement to enhance values in our own community and then just share those values with others. Our movement should be of grace and rehabilitation to show that we have something to offer this country.”

2. Tackling the “difficult” topics head on.

There are those topics that, perhaps in our local masjid community, are often shied away from, brushed under the rug, or aren’t given the proper attention or depth of discussion needed. The majority of the sessions this weekend were chosen by ISNA members, so many were not the run-of-the-mill topics, but were instead those that are often “uncomfortable” but extremely necessary today to bring to the forefront.

Convention-goers attended sessions from topics ranging from substance abuse and addiction to Muslim women in the military, to how to respond to Islamophobia and anti-Sharia sentiment, to the need for many of our mosques to be more inclusive.

3. All the Muslims. 

Let’s face it: ISNA is the largest Muslim convention of its kind in all of North America. And seeing thousands upon thousands of Muslims from all over the country flock to one place in an effort to learn more about their faith, network, reflect, and learn how to be a more active citizen or a better Muslim, is awe-inspiring.

“As a first time ISNA-er, the number of Muslims from all over for one weekend is what is amazing to me,” Zaynah Qutubuddin said.

Another perk to being the biggest Muslim convention? ISNA-goers are able to see old friends.

“Probably one of the best things about my weekend was seeing the faces of people I haven’t seen in nine years or so,” one convention-goer said.

“I got to spend time with friends from D.C., Chicago, Boston and California, all at once. I never would have been able to see them otherwise, and I look forward to seeing them at the ISNA convention every year,” said Dalia Othman, of Detroit.

4. Learning more about the faith.

The contemporary sessions of the weekend were remarkable, but some convention-goers are also looking for a revitalization of their faith, to learn more about Islam and be inspired. One of the breakout lessons that left a strong impression with attendees was the MSA session, “Inner Whispers: Defeating Satan’s Playbook” with speaker Wisam Sharieff, who addressed ways to fight temptation and strengthen one’s bond with God instead.

“One thing he said that just completely opened my eyes was how we should start any form of speaking with either alhamdallah, subhanallah, or la illaha ila Allah,” said Khalid AbdelJalil, of Villa Park, Ill. “[Sharieff] said by starting with that, it could stop us from things like getting into arguments or gossiping. It was tips like that that I think are going to make a big difference in my day-to-day.”
For some, sessions like this were a reminder of the importance of spiritual learning, and how the convention is a chance to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time.

“It truly reminded me of why I came to ISNA and reminded me of how special I am to be a Muslim, alhamdallah,” sai Lama Musa, of Chicago.

5. Entertainment Night.

Native Deen, Muslim country singer Kareem Salama, poet Mona Haydar, and musician Najam Sheraz headlined Entertainment Night on Sunday evening. The crowd got to sing along to their favorite Native Deen songs, and old and new fans of Kareem Salama’s music were able to finally see the artist in a rare Chicago appearance.

“When Native Deen got on stage, I felt like I was a little kid again,” said Haneen Waheed, from Indiana. “They’re an exciting, thrilling, amazing and talented group, mashallah. They really got the crowd going-I had a blast.”

She also caught Kareem Salama’s performance for the first time. “He was like a rock star country singer!”

6. Sheriff Leroy D. Baca & Keith Ellison.

Baca’s testimony at the controversial hearing led by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) was key in highlighting the baseless singling out of Muslims, and turned him into a veritable hero to the Muslim American community. His appearance at ISNA’s “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony: Building Bridges Through Caring” session showed attendees his support for the Muslim community, as well as other faith communities.

“We will defend all religions at all times,” Baca told attendees.

Following Baca was congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who closed the session with a rousing speech asking the Muslim Americans to be active in the arenas of social and economic justice.
“Get ready to help your country, help your country revive the economy, help your country say liberty and justice for all to include all and help your country to relate to the rest of the world,” Ellison said. “All these strengths are on your table, all these things demand your attention. But I believe you can do it if you put your mind to it.”

7. Islamic Film Festival.

Whether you’ve been dying to watch “Mooz-lum,” “I am Here,” or “The Deen Show,” it was all available for screenings at the Islamic Film Festival that showcased some of the latest and most critically-acclaimed films by and about Muslims.

The big weekend crowd-pleaser was the documentary “Fordson,” about the Fordson High football team and what happens when Muslims play football. It also helped that the “stars” of the film were there for the screening. Film creators talked about the making the film and gave the audience a “behind the scenes” look, team members took photos with fans, and the team coach threw a football around with kids at the bazaar.

“I kept fighting with myself-I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to a lecture or sneak back to the film festival and watch another movie,” said Samira Mohommad, of Chicago. “’Fordson’ was great, gave a really strong patriotic message, especially on fourth of July weekend!”

8. Health Fair.

At a time when more than 46 million Americans lack health insurance, the free health screenings at the convention health fair were a welcome offer, and had an almost constant stream of traffic all weekend.

Along with health screenings, testing for blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and even dental health screenings were available on site. There was also a blood drive from the Red Cross, and a bone marrow donor registration-in memory of 15-year-old Bilal Mallik, who passed away earlier this year after a brief battle with Leukemia.

“I registered to be a bone marrow donor,” said Omar Yunus, of San Francisco. “Just took a swab of the inside of my cheek-the whole thing took about five minutes. This is a good thing they’re doing.”

9. Love for the orphans.

Dozens of people signed up to be an orphan sponsor, seeking to clothe, shelter and nourish orphans from all corners of the world through Islamic Relief’s orphan sponsorship program. And when Imam Shakir, along with speakers Elena Melona and Wafa Bennani, discussed orphan adoption in Islam in the session “Each of Us is a Flower: Adoption in the Muslim Community,” the room was so jam-packed that attendees were standing in any space that was available-the phrase, “this may be a safety violation” was uttered more than once-demonstrating the eagerness with which many ISNA-goers sought to learn about adoption and how they can reach out and care for orphans.

“If we don’t provide nurturing environments for both our biological children and those children who are orphans, then we are going to provide a social situation that is going to provide a lot more haraam,” Imam Shakir said. “There are social consequences that accrue when we don’t look care for our orphans.”

10. Zumba! Fitness.

This year’s convention had many new and fun activities, including the return of the ever popular basketball tournament, but none more anticipated than the all-ages “Soul Improvements: Sisters Fitness Extravaganza,” where attendees (sisters only!) were able to enjoy a food tasting and an exciting Zumba routine, while also learning about healthy living in Islam.

Zaynah Qutubuddin of Boston, a newcomer to the convention, said, “I absolutely loved it. It was my first time doing Zumba and I had a lot of fun. I also appreciated the tie-in to Islam and general health.”

11. Bazaar, Bazaar, Bazaar.

It’s always fun to see what stops vendors pull out to attract ISNA-goers. From free t-shirts and electronic tasbeeh counters to live-and oh-so-adorable-baby chicks, to a chance to win a free cruise, you can always guarantee a good time at the bazaar (and get to go home with a respectable amount of free swag!).

Many booths even featured surprise appearances; bazaar shoppers could take get their Kareem Salama CD signed by the artist himself, take a photo with the football players from the critically-acclaimed film “Fordson,” talk with imams Yaser Birjas and Yasir Qadi at Al-Maghrib Institute’s booth, or meet NFL players-brothers Hamza and Husain Abdullah.

“Kareem Salama signed my CD, that was a definite highlight for me,” one young convention attendee said. “I love his music, so different from other Islamic music, with its own unique message.”

“I got to hold a baby chick,” gushed another attendee, Tamara Saleh, of Washington D.C., said. “The chicks at the Crescent Chicken booth were my favorite.”

Article courtesy of ISNA volunteer and freelance journalist Meha Ahmad. Photos courtesy of ISNA volunteers and photographers Nushmia Khan, Osama Alian, and Mariam Saifan.

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Community News (V13-I28)

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Islamic school opens near New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS,LA–The Islamic School of Greater New Orleanswas officially  opened this week in Kenner. “Everyone is so excited,” Director Ahmad Siddiqui told the Times-Picayune. “We have been dreaming for this day for a long time. We bought this land in 1997, and we were supposed to start in 2002 and 2003. After Hurricane Katrina, our donations were down and we were trying to secure enough funds to complete construction.”

The new site at 2420 Illinois Ave. sits on more than five acres of land. The building is 15,000 square feet and boasts 12 classrooms, science and computer laboratories, a library, teacher’s lounge, assembly area, conference room, and offices for administration and support staff.

It can accommodate more than 250 students from pre-kindergarten to seventh grade, Siddiqui said.

A gymnasium and multipurpose hall with more than 10,000 square feet also were added. The attached building will house student activity as well as community functions.

“This building is for the entire community and the kids,” Siddiqui said. “This is a great place for everyone to get together and enjoy different occasions.”

The inauguration ceremony attracted more than 500 people. Among the dignitaries were the Mayor, police chief, council woman, and a judge from the Circuit Court.

Atlanta Muslims send message of peace

ATLANTA,GA–Members of metro Atlanta’s Muslim community spent part of the Fourth of July holiday spreading a message of peace and unity, WSBTC reported.

Organizers of a small gathering at the Bethak Banquet Hall in Duluth said they want to move beyond recent controversy surrounding the proposals to expand and build mosques in Lilburn and Alpharetta.

But Monday’s event wasn’t about politics, but patriotism.

“I’m here to say the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Gwinnett teen Suha Rashied. She was among a group of children who lead the gathering with a salute to the American flag.

The families who gathered Monday said the show of patriotism was more important than any fireworks.

“We wanted to remind everybody, yes, we are your fellow Americans and we are sending a message of peace and harmony,” said organizer Shamina Voora.

Voora said Monday’s celebration of the nation’s Independence Day is a first in metro Atlanta, a chance for local Muslim to send a message of peace. That was echoed by civil rights leader and Baptist minister the Rev. Gerald Durley.

“When we communicate, we eradicate the ignorance. When we eradicate the ignorance, we eradicate the fear,” said Durley.

Drs. Abdullah Daar and Ali-Khan’s research recognized with $10,000 prize

TORONTO,CANADA–Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2000, there has been debate in biomedical literature about the use of race and ethnicity in genetic research potentially resulting in racial/ethnic stereotyping. Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan examined the 2005 Admixture Mapping study, which looked for risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in African Americans and European Americans, a disease that is extremely rare in Sub-Sahara Africans, common in populations of European desent, and of intermediate frequency in African Americans.

Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan examined the ethical and social issues raised by the Admixture Mapping project and used these to draw up a series of recommendations and points for policy makers and researchers to consider when undertaking population-based genomics studies.

“We are extremely pleased to be awarded this prize by OGI and have our work recognized,” commented Dr. Abdallah S. Daar, Senior Scientist and Director of Ethics and Commercialization, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, and Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. “Working to encourage public understanding of genetic diversity, which goes beyond simplistic racial or ethnic stereotypes, is crucial to extract the maximum benefit from newly emerging genetic knowledge. We very much hope that our paper may function as a key reference document for those working in this field.”

The paper, titled Admixture mapping: from paradigms of race and ethnicity to population history, published in August 2010 in the HUGO Journal, examined the social and ethical issues, the benefits and the risks of Admixture Mapping, and more generally, of population-based genomic methods. Over the course of the study, Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan conducted interviews with researchers at the forefront of genomics and bioethics, including representatives from the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and members of the African American MS community.

“The findings examine issues that are also directly relevant to the development, testing and marketing of drugs aimed at specific population segments,” commented Dr. Sarah Ali-Khan, who was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in genomics and bioethics at MRC at the time of the study. “Our work provides practical guidelines to mitigate and negotiate potential pitfalls around fears of discrimination in genetic studies, and therefore may facilitate better population-based studies and assist in moving beyond racial and ethnic stereotyping.”

Dr. Mark Poznansky, President and CEO, OGI, said: “It is fitting that the potential of population-based studies be recognized. Such studies hold the promise to yield important biomedical knowledge, which may otherwise be hindered by fears of discrimination. We may all be 99.9% the same in our genetic make-up, but the 0.1% really makes all the difference, and we need to recognize this if we are to move towards fulfilling the possibilities of personalized medicine.”

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