Muslim Spelling Bee

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

ScreenShot006Spelling Bees were made famous by the 2006 movie Aqeelah and the Bee, about a young girl from a bad neighborhood with a talent for spelling, who works hard, finds a teacher to prep her for spelling competitions, and becomes a champion speller.

Tausif Malik, a Chicago entrepreneur from India, perceived a need for a platform of competition in which children could engage from around the world, and chose spelling.  He has planned a 10-city national competition in spelling which he eventually hopes will become an international spelling competition open to Muslim students.

“Muslims are not aware of spelling bees because they are focused on” getting their children into engineering or medicine, he said in a recent interview with TMO.

The purpose, he says, of the program is “to get Muslim children into the mainstream.”  His competition will be held in each city at a Muslim private school, however it will be open to students from private schools, public schools, or home schools, children up to 14 years old.

Mr. Malik expects 500 children per city to compete in the competition, and as yet he has not announced the prizes.

The competition is scheduled to begin in March – May of 2012, it will be a weekend affair in each city.

The competition regions are to include Washington DC, New York City, New Jersey, Orange County California, Chicago, Tampa Florida, Atlanta Georgia, Phoenix Arizona, and Houston Texas.
The entry fee per student will be $50–each student will have to fill out an application and pay the $50 fee online or via check.  Once they are registered they will receive a word list, and then on a set day they will arrive at the testing location and take a written test (to screen the applicants and winnow the best of them) and then an oral competition.

Mr. Malik explains that there will be a cash prize, scholarships, college sponsorships, companies giving holiday gifts.

His scheme is to begin with a spelling bee but to expand into other areas, with science competitions, geography bees, math bees–”an Olympiad.”

“Muslims have lost education,” Mr. Malik argues.  “They are getting into stuff that is not worth it–Muslims were creators, innovators.”  Malik believes his program of competitions will move the Muslim community towards that.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Muslim spelling bee, please visit www.muslimspellingbee.com.

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Community News (Volume 13 Issue 36)

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Settlement reached at Lilburn Mosque

LILBURN,GA–A settlement has been reached between the city of Lilburn and the federal government over allegations that the city violated the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000” when it rejected the Dar-E-Abbas Shia Islamic Center’s requests for rezoning so they could expand a mosque.

Just last week the Lilburn City Council approved the expansion of the mosque.

It was the third time that the Dar-E-Abass Mosque tried to get a rezoning plan approved.

Neighbors said they didn’t want the expansion because it would bring more traffic and destroy their residential neighborhood.

The Muslim congregation wanted to expand from its current building to create a much larger facility.

Opponents believe the mosque’s owners are trying to skirt the city’s rules separating commercial and residential zoning. The attorney representing the mosque has said he believes the opposition is based on religious bias.

The dispute has resulted in a lawsuit and an investigation by the Department of Justice. Opponents insist religion is a non-factor.

As terms of the settlement, The city of Lilburn has agreed not to impose different zoning or building requirements on Dar-E-Abbas or other religious groups, and to publicize its nondiscrimination policies and practices.

The city also agreed that its leaders, managers, and certain other city employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA.

ICNA Relief distributes school supplies

BOSTON, MA–The current economic downturn has hit hard on families and those especially affected are the children. But ICNA Relief USA is lending a helping hand by giving away free school supplies across the country.  It is expected to donate 15,000 back packs this year in over thirty communities. Almost all of the give away events held at Islamic school.
The one organized in Boston, however, reached out to the local neighborhood. The group gave out about 100 backpacks.

Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, prayer leader at a local mosque, was happy with the turnout. “People see a little simple event like this and they figure it just flowered,’’ he said. “But things like this don’t happen on their own.’’

Islamic Science Rediscovered premiers in California

SAN JOSE, CA–Long overlooked or often misattributed, the remarkable contributions of Muslim scholars in science and technology have quietly floundered as no more than common footnotes of world history.

Visitors educated in the Western world will be surprised to learn of discoveries and inventions in the Muslim World which predate by years, sometimes centuries, discoveries thought to be developed in the West.

Designed to unearth the scientific know-how of an Islamic Golden Age that is all too strange and unfamiliar to Western culture, Islamic Science Rediscovered demystifies this grand civilization and introduces visitors to the vast influence of its discoveries and inventions on contemporary society. It is being held at the Tech Museum in San Jose.

Did the Wright brothers soar in the sky first? Was Leonardo da Vinci the first to describe “machines of the future”?

Centuries before Orville and Wilbur Wright took flight, Abbas ibn Farnas was soaring over the hilly Spanish countryside in a one-man glider – a thousand years before the famed Wright flight in North Carolina.

Al-Jazari busied himself laying the foundations of modern engineering and writing the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices in 1206, where he described fifty mechanical devices along with instructions on how to build them, more than 200 years before Leonardo da Vinci became revered for his technological ingenuity.

This global touring exhibition celebrates the contribution of Muslim scholars to science and technology during the Golden Age of the Islamic World (circa 8th to 18th centuries CE) and the influence of their discoveries and inventions on contemporary society.

Amazing ancient Islamic inventions are brought to life by more than 40 stations with interactive and sensory exhibits and videos to recreate the ingenuity.

Islamic Relief USA Prepares for Irene Response

WASHINGTON, D.C.–  As Americans on the East Coast braced for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, Islamic Relief USA staff and volunteers in the Washington, D.C. area were preparing for a potential emergency response to what is expected to be a powerful and damaging storm system.

Islamic Relief USA’s emergency aid workers have provided emergency assistance in the United States in the past, most recently this spring in Alabama after tornadoes leveled neighborhoods, killing hundreds of residents and leaving thousands homeless across seven states. Dozens of Islamic Relief USA volunteers and staff members quickly mobilized, traveling to Alabama to partner with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to assess damage, assist at shelters, and collect and distribute food, clothing, cleaning supplies hygiene kits and other necessities.

In another major response effort, in 2005, Islamic Relief USA dispatched emergency response teams to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Islamic Relief USA distributed food, cleaning kits, tents, sleeping bags, toys, clothes and hygiene kits to residents of Biloxi and Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La. Islamic Relief USA converted a mobile home into a health clinic serving residents of East Biloxi, and teams also worked with two local housing organizations to house victims of Hurricane Katrina and repaired homes in Jackson to provide an adequate housing for evacuees.

“Muslim Americans are interested in helping fellow Americans when disasters strike,” said Adnan Ansari, Vice President of Programs at Islamic Relief USA. “We always receive an overwhelming response from the community in times like these.  People want to help in any way, whether by volunteering to provide crisis care, conduct damage assessment or serve the residents in shelters, or through their checkbooks.” 

Ohio school cancels Muslim goodwill event

CINCINNATI,OH- Complaints and a request from the archbishop have led a Cincinnati Roman Catholic high school to drop plans for a Ramadan dinner to build goodwill with Muslims.

Kirsten MacDougal, president of Mother of Mercy school, says Archbishop Dennis Schnurr received “emotionally charged” emails, mostly from outside the area, and asked the girls’ school to cancel its Friday night plans. The event instead will be held at a church parish center.

Mosque asked to consider another park for ‘Eid

BOONTON,NJ–The mayor and the aldermen of Boonton have denied a second request from Jam-E-Masjid Islamic Center to apply for the use of Canalside park for Eid prayers. Instead they have asked them to use Tourne County Park.

“With Tourne Park, no one is there on a Tuesday,” Alderman Anthony Scozzafava said. “You’d have the whole place to yourself. You wouldn’t be disrupting traffic or business or anything.”

About 500-600 people are projected to participate in the Eid Prayer, the Islamic Center representative said. Some participants would work together to car pool or simply walk.

With such an large number of people, Boonton Police Chief Michael W. Beltran suggested that four or five officers would have to oversee traffic.

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Ramadan Drumroll

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kirk Semple

ramadan1_600

A few hours before dawn, when most New Yorkers are fast asleep, a middle-aged man rolls out of bed in Brooklyn, dons a billowy red outfit and matching turban, climbs into his Lincoln Town Car, drives 15 minutes, pulls out a big drum and — there on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood — starts to play.

Mohammad Boota plays in 20-second bursts outside Pakistani businesses in Brooklyn, as he did at Bismillah Food last month. He has learned that not everyone appreciates his services.

The man, Mohammad Boota, is a Ramadan drummer. Every morning during the holy month, which ends on Sept. 21, drummers stroll the streets of Muslim communities around the world, waking worshipers so they can eat a meal before the day’s fasting begins.

But New York City, renowned for welcoming all manner of cultural traditions, has limits to its hospitality. And so Mr. Boota, a Pakistani immigrant, has spent the past several years learning uncomfortable lessons about noise-complaint hot lines, American profanity and the particular crankiness of non-Muslims rousted from sleep at 3:30 a.m.

“Everywhere they complain,” he said. “People go, like, ‘What the hell? What you doing, man?’ They never know it’s Ramadan.”

Mr. Boota, 53, who immigrated in 1992 and earns his living as a limousine driver, began waking Brooklynites in 2002. At first he moved freely around the borough, picking a neighborhood to work each Ramadan morning.

Not everyone was thrilled, he said. People would throw open their windows and yell at him, or call the police, who, he said, advised him kindly to move along.

As the years went by, he and his barrel drum were effectively banned from one neighborhood after another. He now restricts himself to a short stretch of Coney Island Avenue where many Pakistanis live.

Fearing that even that limited turf may be threatened real estate for him, he has modified his approach even further — playing at well below his customary volume, for only about 15 to 20 seconds in each location, and only once every three or four days.

The complaints have stopped, he said. But as he reflected on his early years of drumming in the streets of New York — before he knew better — wistfulness seeped into his voice. He rattled off the places he used to play, however briefly: “Avenue C, Newkirk Avenue, Ditmas, Foster, Avenue H, I, J and Neptune Avenue.”

“You know,” he reluctantly concluded, “in the United States you can’t do anything without a permit.”

Mr. Boota wants to be a good American, and a good Muslim. “I don’t want to bother other communities’ people,” he said. “Just the Pakistani people.”

Several prominent Muslim organizations in New York said they knew of no other drummers who played on Ramadan mornings. But while the custom’s usefulness has been largely eclipsed by the invention of the alarm clock, it has hung on in many places. Indeed, Mr. Boota said he continues the practice, in spite of the challenges and resistance, as much to keep a tradition alive as to feed a cultural yen of his countrymen.
“They’re waiting for me,” he said.

The daily Ramadan fast runs from the start of dawn to dusk. So shortly after 3 one recent morning, Mr. Boota left his wife, Mumtaz, as she prepared a predawn meal in their Coney Island apartment. About 15 minutes later he pulled his Lincoln to a stop in front of Bismillah Food, a small Pakistani grocery store on Coney Island Avenue, near Foster Avenue. Several men were inside; taxicabs parked outside suggested their occupation.

In one fluid motion, Mr. Boota popped the trunk, cut the motor, leapt out, hoisted the drum’s strap over his shoulder, greeted the owner — “Salaam aleikum” — and, standing in the sidewalk penumbra of the shop’s fluorescent light, began playing.

The men came to the door. “He’s a very popular man here,” one of them said, nodding at Mr. Boota, who wore his usual performance attire: a traditional shalwar kameez, a loose two-piece outfit, elaborately embroidered with gold thread.

Mr. Boota wielded his two drumsticks in a galloping clangor that echoed off the facades of the darkened buildings.

After about 20 seconds, he ended his performance with a punctuative smack of the taut drum heads. There was an exchange of mumbled pleasantries in Arabic, the men moved back inside the store, and as quickly as he had arrived, Mr. Boota was behind the wheel of his car again, driving a block south to another Pakistani-owned business.

“It’s a great noise,” he said.

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