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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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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Two Hands, One Meal, One Smile

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Hajra Khatri

 

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Ten thousand meals, ten thousand smiles. The Muslim Youth of Greater Detroit (MYGD) gathered good-hearted volunteers and their two hands to participate in a food packaging day. Kids Against Hunger is a national organization on a mission to feed starving children in the US and around the world. MYGD teamed up with Kids Against Hunger for the first time on April 23rd. Around 110 volunteers of different faiths partook in this event. The day started with a feeling of excitement and ended with a sense of pride.  Volunteers from all over the area were given the chance to suit up and package food. Plastic gloves pulled on and hair covered up, volunteers were placed at stations. Each station had a specific task, vital for the formation of the bag. The first station volunteer rationed vitamin-fortified crushed soy into the food bags. The next three volunteers scooped dehydrated vegetables, chicken-flavored vegetarian powder, and white rice respectively into the bags. The bags were then passed onto volunteers who ensured the mass of the bags were 350 grams each. The bags were tightly sealed to guarantee a shelf life of three to five years. Bags were then packaged into boxes, ready to be sent out to local cities, and even countries like Japan and Pakistan. Ten thousand meals were packaged on that day by adults, teenagers, and even young children!  Feeha Hasan, an active teen in the Muslim community, praised Kids Against Hunger and MYGD for teaming up for this event. After participating in this event, she said, “Kids Against Hunger was a really fun and memorable experience. It was my first year and I plan on volunteering next year. Not only did this day teach me that many people die from hunger, but also that it is our duty to help the people who are in need. It was a great idea to have interfaith groups along with the Muslim community. I enjoyed working with others!”  Many youngsters like Hasan participated in this event for the very first time. By the grace of Allah (SWT), the event was a success! MYGD would like to thank those from the IAGD community who sponsored this event! This event would not have been made possible without the generous contributions. InshAllah, MYGD hopes to team up with Kids Against Hunger next year for another successful event. Our two hands can make a difference in the world. Our two hands can make meals which lead to smiles from children all around the world. It takes our two hands and our hearts to make a difference. MYGD thanks those who made a difference.

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South Florida Vol 8 Iss 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

New Youth Group seeks to Mobilize Youth with first Boys Basketball Tournament

As of press time, organizers at the newly formed Florida Association of Young Muslims (FAYM) said that spots were almost gone for their First Annual Brothers Basketball Tournament to be held this coming weekend on April 30, from 9 AM-6 PM at the weston Regional Park at 20200 Saddle Club Rd in Broward County.
The tournament will be divided into two divisions with Seniors ages 15 and over in one category, and Juniors, ages 10-15, in another. The registration fee is $200 per team with a maximum of 12 Players per team. Participants can register of get more information on the tournament at www.faym.org, and questions can be sent to basketball@faym.org.
A recent addition to the South Florida Muslim youth scene, FAYM is the brainchild of a number of youth in the Broward area who attend the Darul Uloom Islamic center including self-published young Muslim poet and rapper Raa’id Khan.
But the group is not centered around any one local Islamic center, it’s focus, instead, is general community youth work “to mobilize Muslim youths from the Palm Beach to Key West”, which its members say has been seriously lacking in recent years.
“We have spent the last eight years trying to cater for the youths within the present masjid system,” reads a statement on the group’s website. “It has failed. This is due to the fact that the masjids are not set up to primarily focus on youths. It is not their first or even second priority. Masjids have a broader agenda to cater for the whole community. Youths are just a small part of this agenda and thus do not get the requisite priority.
“Thus in most masjids very little or no funds are allocated for youths and very little opportunity exists for them. If our youth are our most valuable resource, then we need to have some way of making them the priority and providing them all the opportunities and training they need. FAYM is set up to do this in the absence of any other alternative.”
FAYM follows in the footsteps of local chapters of national Muslim groups MYNA (the Muslim Youth of North America) and YM (Young Muslims), both of which still have a number of events throughout the year, but on a much smaller scale than in their heydays of the 1990s. Still prominent examples include a MYNA-Miami basketball tournament that still goes on annually. The number of local MSA’s has also grown in recent years, with inter-MSA basketball tournaments also present.
As for interactions with these other groups, the FAYM website says the new group’s outlook is simple: “If a youth group exists within another masjid, then FAYM will consider them a partner. They in essence are doing some of the work that FAYM would have had to do. Thus FAYM will support their effort and help them as much as possible.”
FAYM also organized a youth camp this past February, their first event.

Subhani speaks at FIU Islamic Awareness Week
Week focuses on Diversity, Women

After a number of low key years, The Muslim Students Association at Florida International University (FIU) held their annual Islamic Awareness Week earlier this month, featuring a number of lectures, presentations and events from April 3-6 at the local public university. The theme for this year’s week was “Diversity in Islam,” and speakers for the events ranged from the local to the national, men to women, and a diverse ethnic range.
Women’s issues were prevalent during the week, including the kick off event, a lecture entitled “Women in Islam” by local doctor and Muslim community leader, Dr. Aisha Subhani on Monday, April 3.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Cartoonist, Muslim leader, Law professor discuss Islam, Cartoons and Free Speech at UM Panel

The No Place For Hate Committee, a HOPE program at the University of Miami recently presented ‘Outrageous Cartoons’ a panel discussion on the issues of free speech, Islam, community values and political cartoons the UM School of Law student lounge on Wednesday, March 29.
The event featured participation from Jim Morin, Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist for the Miami Herald, Patrick Gudirdge, a UM constitutional law professor, and Moeiz Tapia, the UM computer engineering professor who serves as advisor for the university’s two Islamic student groups and often presents Muslim community perspectives at various university events.
Organized described the event as a dynamic and thought provoking discussion on the subject.
The event was organized in the aftermath of the recent Danish political cartoon controversy. In the build up to the event, Tamer El-Attar, a Muslim research assistant with the school’s Industrial Engineering Department said that for the school’s hundreds strong Muslim student population, the event was an “opportunity to raise more understanding to our situation.”
The non-Muslim community has to see that have to see “Violence was never in our teachings, and was never practiced by prophet Mohammed,” (s) said El-Attar. “The Nobel prophet is definitely a person that we cant accept any humiliation against, even in the name of the so called Freedom of speech.”
In the build up to the vent, El-Attar circulated an article by Imam Zaid Shakir of the Zaytuna Institute of California entitled “The Ethical Standard of the Prophet Muhammad” (s) on the issue and suggested making copies and distributing the article at the event for informational purposes.
The article can be found here: http://www.zaytuna.org/articleDetails.asp?articleID=93