Community News (V13-I31)

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

New Mosque in Staten Island

STATEN ISLAND,NY–The Muslim American Society is opening a new location on Staten Island.

The mosque and community center will be housed at the site of a former Hindu temple on Burgher Avenue in Dongan Hills.

Renovations are underway, and the center is not open to the public as of yet reports NY1.

St. Louis’s Imam Ansari Passes Away

ST.LOUIS,MO–Samuel Ansari, a much beloved leader of the St.Louis Muslim community, passed away on July 24, after suffering a heart attack. He was 62. He owned a bakery and served as a volunteer imam at the Al Muminun Mosque.

Mr. Ansari was born Samuel Hicks on Nov. 20, 1948, in Huntingdon, Tenn., and moved to St. Louis as a child. He graduated from Vashon High School and did a stint in the Army in the 1960s that took him to Alaska. When he came home, he was disillusioned with the United States. Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, a social movement of black Muslims, appealed to him.

“When I heard him say the white man is the devil, it hit home,” Mr. Ansari told the Post-Dispatch in 2006. “We wanted white Americans to feel what we felt.”

But after Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, Mr. Ansari followed the leadership of Muhammad’s son, W. Deen Mohammed, who focused on the universal teachings of Islam, not separatism.

Imam Ansari had worked hard to build bridges between the immigrant and the African-American Muslim community of the city. He was also active in interfaith efforts.

DOJ Asked to Probe Michigan Bias

DETROIT,MI–The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether local planning officials in that state are violating the religious rights of Muslims by denying a permit to build a school on property they own.

On June 16, the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) went before the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission for land usage approval on a newly-purchased property to be used for educational and religious purposes. The planning commission voted on a preliminary procedural motion to deny MIA’s request after concerns of disruption of neighborhood harmony were raised and derogatory comments were made about the religious practices of Muslims. (A final vote will be taken at a commission meeting on August 4.)

Ali Mushtaq Wins Piano Competition

WASHINGTON D.C.–Ali Mushtaq, a statistical contractor and an amateur pianist, came first at the ninth annual Washington International Piano Artists Competition.  The competition is open to amateur pianists 31 years of age or older. The event had competitors from around the world and was hosted by the French Embassy.

Arts Midwest Launches International Program to Bridge American and Muslim Cultures

Arts Midwest, the non-profit Regional Arts Organization (RAO) serving America’s upper Midwest, announces the launch of Caravanserai: A place where cultures meeT, a groundbreaking artistic and cultural exchange program supported by the nation’s RAOs. Caravanserai is funded by a one million dollar grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) Building Bridges program.

“The name Caravanserai was carefully selected for this program,” says David Fraher, Executive Director of Arts Midwest. “Historically, in the east and middle-east, stopping places for caravans were called caravanserais. Safe places to come together and exchange stories. The name evokes that imagery of travelers in a safe haven, a place where cultures meet.”

Betsy Fader of DDFIA says Caravanserai is a natural fit for their Building Bridges grants program. “Caravanserai beautifully illustrates our mission to promote the use of art and culture to improve Americans’ understanding and appreciation of Muslim Societies. We believe this pilot program of music and film will start many conversations and open many doors to understanding.”

Nearly two years in the making, Caravanserai begins with a pilot program in five US communities comprising performing arts and film programs featuring art and artists from Muslim cultures. The pilot program focuses on Pakistan. Future programming will feature other geographic regions and artistic disciplines and will travel to more US cities.

After receiving applications from across the country, Arts Midwest selected the following communities to present Caravanserai:

•    The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire; Littleton, NH
•    Artswego SUNY Oswego; Oswego, NY
•    FirstWorks; Providence, RI
•    Monmouth University; West Long Branch, NJ
•    The Myrna Loy Center; Helena, MT

Each organization will host three arts experiences in their community, including music residency tours featuring traditional and contemporary Pakistani musicians and a film residency, featuring a Pakistani filmmaker. Residency activities will include educational workshops, public performances, film screenings, and localized community outreach.
Curated by artistic director Zeyba Rahman, Caravanserai features a roster of outstanding contemporary Pakistani artists.

•    Arif Lohar – Folk singer
•    Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin – Qawali singers
•    Sanam Marvi – Folk and Sufi singer
•    Ustad Tari Khan – US-based tabla master
•    Ayesha Khan – Filmmaker, “Made in Pakistan”

13-31

My Flag, My Deen, My Life!

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Qasim ibn Ali Khan

flag at homeAs I drive down the streets of my neighborhood on any given United States federal holiday, I acknowledge the homes and tree lawns  displaying the American flags, whose owners proudly flaunt their perception of patriotism.   “Old Glory”, they call it…the historical Stars and Stripes… a concept by General George Washington, Colonel Ross, and Robert Morris, who recruited Philadelphia seamstress Mrs. Betsy Ross to apply her talents to stitch.  In the years since that morning in 1777, and stars were added to correspond with the addition of each new state to the union, the sentiment surrounding the flag increased, giving birth to songs, and the nearly sacred Pledge of Allegiance.

During my Christian life as well as deep into my Islamic life, I too enjoyed showing my “American pride” by displaying the American flag on my house, automobile, and clothing.  I would stand, placing my hand over my heart to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, assuming I was making a statement by slightly adjusting the recitation to say, “….and one nation, under Allah….”.  I would use my inherited melodic baritone voice to impress audiences with the National Anthem, accepting all of their compliments with pride.  I recall even once trying to convince boxing promoter Don King to contract me to sing The Star Spangled Banner at a Mike Tyson fight. (By the way, he refused, telling me that I wasn’t famous enough.) Yes, even as a devout Muslim, I was about as typically American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

In the meantime, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, (RA), inspired by his father’s (RA) vision, also designed a flag, originally calling it the “New Flag for the Nation of Islam”, but more importantly, making a statement of devotion to the book that is the epitome of the oneness of Allah and loyalty to His final Messenger (SWS)….The Qur’an Kareem.  It would be an original flag…something the Muslims could truly call their own.  It would be a flag amazingly not stigmatized by the media’s warped portrayal of Islam by a handful of radical Muslims who wave flags bearing the Arabic inscriptions of “No God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”, while contradicting the spirit of Al-Islam with unjustified violence, corruption, and other haraam (forbidden) acts.

For many years after the introduction of the flag designed by Imam Mohammed (RA), I proudly displayed it alongside the American flag, almost as if they were equal.  For many years I considered myself an “American Muslim”, insinuating that I am an American who happens to be a Muslim.  Since then I have arrived to the realization that much more importantly,  I must be a “Muslim American”….that I am a Muslim who happens to be an American, because my Islamicity must come first. 

Only out of sincere respect for what it means to others, do I show respect for the American flag…and stand for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, however without  saluting or placing my hand on my heart.   I say only out of respect for what it means to others, because to me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America….the good, the honest, the law abiding citizens who fear The Creator of us all.  To me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America who cry at the news of suffering of complete strangers…or the good people of America who wish the bad people would either change or go away…or the good people of America who pray daily for the trillion dollar wars around the world to stop….or the good people of America who are tired of spending billions of dollars annually on security systems for their homes, cars, and businesses….the good people of America who  have to stand by struggling to take care of their families while legislators with almost unlimited expense accounts take our tax dollars to give themselves raises.   No, brothers and sisters, to me, the American flag does not represent the good people of America, instead it seems to represent an unjust and contradictory government that although it is of the people and by the people…it is not for the people.  When I see the American flag, with all the respect that I show it, I don’t think about the American people any more than I think about the people who designed it.

Proudly displayed on the front of my home from dawn until sunset is an Islamic flag, designed by Imam W. D. Mohammed, yet admittedly that display is not a salute to him, nor do I think of him when I look at my flag.  To me, the Islamic flag I display is a salute to the inscription emblazoned in bright gold letters, surrounded by a green silhouette of the Qur’an Kareem, casting a glowing ray onto a crimson background…it is a flag that represents everything that I live and work for…La illaha ilAllah, Muhammadur Rasulullah, There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!  Although this is the testimony that was introduced to me by Imam W.D. Mohammed (RA), yet whose interpretation of patriotism I may not completely agree with….when I raise that flag….when I gaze upon its flowing beauty in the wind, gracing the front of my dwelling place that I have made into a place of worship, I only think about Allah t’Ala and His Messenger (SWS).  This wonderful design, that I display, that I salute, that I pledge allegiance to in the same language that is bound upon it, that represents everything that I am about… this Shahada-tain, to this Muslim American patriot, is my flag, my deen, my life.

www.shadesofwhite.us

13-29

Raphael B. Johnson, Candidate for Detroit City Council

September 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

raphael b johnson Farmington–September 23–This upcoming Detroit city election is historic because of the candidacies of four Muslim candidates, including Imam El-Amin, Raphael B. Johson, Mohamed Okdie, and Reggie Reg Davis.

Despite the loss of Imam El-Amin in the primary, three of those candidates have soldiered on into the general election, and I had the chance to interview one of them, Raphael B. Johnson.

“I believe there is no god but Allah,” began Mr. Johnson.  “Our odds are high–I believe faith without work is like a ship without water–we are putting in the necessary work to make sure victory is ours.  We are knocking on doors, visiting churches, reacing out into all the neighborhoods not likely to vote.  We are doing everything.”

Asked if he has run for any office before, he shows his quick wit–joking, “I’ve only run for my life.”

Mr. Johnson worships at Muhammad’s Mosque Number 1, a Nation of Islam mosque, in Detroit.

Asked why he is running, Mr. Johnson explains, “because I owe the city of Detroit, because as a young person I took an innocent life… in Detroit.  Our leadership has failed us time and time again.  Our leadership should be the example of the change to see in the people.  If the leadership did not change in themselves, they can’t change the city.

“I have nothing to hide–Islam is what changed me.  Islam comes when all else has failed.”

For Detroit, “nothing has worked, we have tried everything”  — except Islam.

11-40