Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz

June 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Almas Kiran Shamim

khuda_hafiz by Pepsi

I am a Muslim and I am an Indian. I was born and brought up in this country, speaking Urdu/Hindi and using terms like ‘Namaaz’ and ‘Roza’. I have no desire to suddenly change my language because ‘some’ people find it inappropriate. I absolutely hate the de-Indianization of Indian Muslims, saying, for example, “Ramadan Kareem” instead of “Ramzaan Mubarak”, and “salaat” instead of “namaaz.”
Today, someone told me that ‘Khuda hafiz’ is not the correct word to be used, and we should rather say ‘Allah hafiz’. The reason given was that “Parsis also use Khuda hafiz”. I have heard the same ridiculous notion earlier as well. I am very sure that a lot of people reading this also have similar views. In any case, I make it clear to anyone and everyone reading this post, that I, Almas, will not stop saying ‘Khuda hafiz’.

Firstly, for the benefit of the readers, ‘Khuda’ is a word incorporated into Urdu from Persian (like many other Urdu words). If you do a thorough search, you will find that the word ‘Khuda’ has a very elaborate meaning – from ‘the powerful one’ to ‘the one to whom sacrifices are offered’. To keep it simple, we shall use the commonest meaning for which the term ‘Khuda’ is used, i.e., ‘God’.

When I say Khuda, I mean my God, my Creator, the One to whom I shall return. When I say Khuda, I mean my Allah. However, obviously, not everyone in the world speaks Urdu, and not everyone in the world calls Allah ‘Khuda.’ Just like not everyone in the world speaks English, not everyone in the world would call Allah ‘God’. However, I am not ‘everyone in the world’, and I do call my God ‘Khuda’. It doesn’t matter to me who uses this word for what other purposes. There are people who say that ‘Khuda’ should not be used because a lot of other people use this term for their God.

Urdu is a language, so is Persian, and anyone who speaks in this language can use ‘Khuda’ for his God. A Christian from Pakistan can use ‘Khuda’, a Zoroastrian from Iran can use ‘Khuda’. This, by no means, implies that a Muslim from either Pakistan or Iran cannot use ‘Khuda’.

When you say that ‘Khuda’ can also mean the Christian God or the Parsi God or even the Sikh or Hindu God, you are actually trying to say that there IS a Christian God, a Parsi God, a Sikh God, a Hindu God besides a Muslim God Allah.

Tell me, is this what you believe in?

Does this make you a Muslim?

Tell me, what is the most important thing to be a Muslim?

The belief in one God.

Allah.

La ilaha illallah.

There is no God but Allah.

So, when anyone says ‘God’, what should come to your mind?

Allah, because who is Allah but Allah?

There is one God who created us all, who provides for us all, whether we be Muslim or Hindu or Parsi or whatever. Then what exactly do you mean when you say that ‘so and so people also call their God ‘Khuda’?

Do you realize that a Christian Arab also uses the word ‘Allah’ but for him Allah is the father of Jesus. So, now, shouldn’t I stop using the term ‘Allah’ too? Do you realize that when Huzur (Salallaho alaihe wasallam) became a Prophet, Arabs belonging to the Jahiliya also worshipped Allah, only that they also worshipped Uzza, Lat, and Manat? So, doesn’t this also mean that I should stop using ‘Allah’?

A lot of Non-Muslims believe that Allah is some ‘other’ God, i.e, a God other than their own God. So, doesn’t ‘Allah’ too conjure images other than what we, as Muslims, know ‘Allah’ means? Now, if ‘Allah’ despite being used by other sects means Allah then I am sure ‘Khuda’ too can mean ‘Allah’ for me.

When a Christian says ‘Khuda hafiz’, he might be leaving you in the protection of God the Father. However, when I, or any other Muslim, say ‘Khuda hafiz’, we are leaving you in the protection of Al-Ilah – The God.

There are definitely reasons why you can tell me to use ‘Allah hafiz’ instead of ‘Khuda hafiz’. The best being that Allah calls Himself Allah in the Qur’an. Also, that saying the ‘word’ Allah itself brings blessings and that it binds the Ummati in a common thread. If you give me these reasons I will agree with you. However, if you give me the stupid reason that a Parsi also calls God ‘khuda’ than you are going to get a piece of my mind.

Besides, Allah created us all differently – there are Muslims with golden hair and blue eyes, Muslims with black skin and curly hair and Muslims with brown skin and black eyes. We eat different food, speak different languages and have different cultures. We are united in our belief and our belief doesn’t include us becoming Arabs. No, I don’t mean that ‘Allah’ is for Arabs alone. What I mean is that this sudden need among Indian Muslims to switch over from ‘namaaz’ to ‘salaah’ and the like, and also a sudden defilement of ‘Khuda hafiz’, have all arisen (I believe) from that same misconception that Muslim and Arab is synonymous.

It is NOT.

I live in Kerala (at present) and the Muslims here use the term ‘Niskkaram’ or ‘Namaskkaram’ for ‘Namaaz’ / ‘Salaah’. Yet, I don’t find huge forums on the Internet debating the usage of the term. Nor do I find Keralite Muslims with any sense of shame in their usage of a word that is well known to have Hindu origins (if I can call them that) to refer to the second pillar of Islam. Yet, ‘namaaz’, ‘roza’, and ‘khuda’ are so vehemently opposed. The only explanation that I can find for this absurd phenomenon is the huge population of Hindi/Urdu Muslims.

Keralite Muslims form a small population and their ‘terms’ are not so apparent to the larger Muslim world, nor are they a threat. Urdu/Hindi Muslims are a huge group of people and since we have become part of a global community the Urdu/ Hindi Muslim ‘terms’ have somehow stood as competitors to their ‘Arabic’ counterparts.

With an increasing Western Muslim population, due to an unprecedented rise in reversions, Arabic in its chaste form is being embraced as the sole language of Islam.

In such a scenario, naturally, the older Indian/Pakistani Muslims who use Urdu/Hindi in its various forms, present the single largest ‘alienation’. Thus, there is this need to extol the usage of ‘Arabic’ terms, or rather deprecate the usage of Urdu/Hindi terms that the larger Muslim World cannot understand.

I feel that this is ridiculous. Trust me, my God can understand all the languages he created. He really does. The need to de-Indianize us (Urdu/Hindi Muslims) stems from the belief that how can anything Muslim be non-Arab? It is very similar to the Urdu/Hindi Muslim belief that how can anything Muslim be non-Urdu/Hindi (within India)?

Since most Muslims in India know one or the other form of Urdu/Hindi, even if their mother tongue is something totally different (for example, Tamil), there is a common belief that all Indian Muslims speak Urdu. This is not true. I know Keralite Muslims who don’t know the ‘alif’ of Urdu and yet they are beautiful Muslims.

We need to realize that the pulse of the Ummati, the golden thread that binds us as Muslims, is our belief and not our language. We need to understand that ‘your God and my God and his God and her God and that God and this God and their God’ is for people who believe that there can possibly be more than one God.

What makes us Muslims is our proclamation: “There is One God.”

Now, whether I call him God, or ‘Rabb’ or ‘Khuda’ or ‘Bhagwaan’ or ‘Maalik’ or ‘Parwar dighaar’, is not of as much importance as that I call Him and Him alone.

There is only One who can possibly be God

Him – Al-Ilah – The God

Wahadahu la shareek

Allahu Akbar.

Almas is a medical student in Kerala and blogs at http://almasshamim.blogspot.com/

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Renewal of Yourself First

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

The tenets of the religion of Al-Islam emphasize constant renewal in our lives.  If we could just do something once and be done with it, our practice of the religion would cease to exist.  For instance, we are directed to fast every year in Ramadan.  This is because one time just won’t do it.  We will forget and/or lapse into other activities to divert our attention from the remembrance of ALLAH, so He orders us to fast each year.

There are many other signs from ALLAH for us to reflect on.  We breathe, eat and drink everyday to replenish our bodies.  If we did not…well you know the answer to that.  There is also constant renewal in education.  Our brains need activity to grow and be useful.

Similarly, our relationships must also be constantly renewed.  How many of us have heard the expression “What you did to get her, you must also do to keep her?”
But before we get to that; before reaching out to our spouses, we must reach out to ourselves.  In order to spread cheer to our families, spouses, and others, it must first come from a cheerful body and mind.  How is this accomplished?

Each day upon rising we must begin to renew ourselves by recognizing the great masterful work of art ALLAH formed when He created you.  You must look in the mirror and say to yourself how good you look.  Arm your mind with positive thoughts and keep the evil ones (Shatan) from convincing you that you are otherwise.

After recognition of your greatness, resolve to be grateful to ALLAH by taking care of this great creation – you.  Make sure you bathe and keep yourself clean.  Shampoo your hair and use conditioner to enhance its appearance and health.  Try to eat sensibly to reduce stress on your body.  Exercise at least moderately to keep your temple in the best shape.

Above all, try to live as uneventful a life as possible.  We learn in science that the brain responds to stress by secreting a hormone called cortisol.  This chemical balances the stress levels in your body and helps you to cope with the ups and downs of your life.  We know everybody has stress but it’s smart to keep it to a minimum because too much secretion of this cortisol is harmful to your body.  It causes excess plaque build-up in the blood vessels and contributes to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and many other ailments.  These are things that could be prevented by living a moderate life as dictated by your Creator, Almighty ALLAH.

So when you concentrate on this constant renewal of yourself, it will make you grateful and put you in the best possible position to reach out to others.  We will be able to love and see the benefit and beauty of our spouse and help them see the benefit and beauty of themselves.  This is very important because then everybody wins and ALLAH is pleased because you are carrying out His desires for creating you in the first place.  And if ALLAH is pleased with you, you can ask for no better reward.

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Eid Mubarak from Pres. Obama

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The President released the following statement to mark the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid-ul-Fitr:

“As Muslims in the United States and around the world complete the month of Ramadan and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, Michelle and I would like to extend our personal greetings on this joyous occasion. Eid is a time to celebrate the completion of 30 days and nights of devotion. But even on this festive occasion, Muslims remember those less fortunate, including those impacted by poverty, hunger, conflict, and disease. Throughout the month, Muslim communities collect and distribute zakat-ul-fitr so that all Muslims are able to participate in this day of celebration. As I said in Cairo, my Administration is working to ensure that Muslims are able to fulfill their charitable obligations not just during Ramadan, but throughout the year. On behalf of the American people, we congratulate Muslims in the United States and around the world on this blessed day. Eid Mubarak.” 

Over the past month, the President and several government Agencies participated in events to mark Ramadan – the President continued the tradition of hosting an Iftar here at the White House while the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted the first in their history. The Corporation for National and Community Service spearheaded “Interfaith Service Week” as part of the President and First Lady’s Summer of Service initiative and many other groups and individuals came together to make this month a time of giving and reaching out to our neighbors in need.

The President and the First Lady extend their personal greetings on this special day. May you be well throughout the year.

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Ramadan Drumroll

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kirk Semple

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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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The First Fast

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Usman Ather

Once upon a Ramadan day when it was time to pray
I walked by my refrigerator and had hunger pains
While I ignored the potatoes, I suddenly noticed some tomatoes
Rows and rows of nuts and grains
I felt the blood slowing in my veins
Oh the hunger, just  patience remains

Again I remember, that Ramadan in December
It seemed as if the only thing in the world was food
I wanted to eat, vegetables, nuts, especially meat
Stomping my feet, across the street, this hunger ruined my mood
Little children are eating in front of me. How rude!
Oh the hunger, I desire food

Then came the time for Zuhr
The four, four, two, took forever
It was only Zuhr and I was thinking of Iftar. Why did it have to be so far?
I didn’t have a car, so I walked home on the tar and thought taking a nap would be clever
Shaitan advised me to sneak some food. Nay I say. Not now not ever!
Oh the hunger, only for His pleasure is this endeavor

I awoke from my slumber, with a craving for a cucumber
I finished Salat-ul-Asr, God be praised
Before Iftar I sliced an orange, the juice splashed onto my door hinge
Me and the team went to Krispy Kreme to get some donuts. Glazed.
But for now I envied every cattle that grazed
Oh the hunger, I’m completely phased

It was but an hour left for me to wait, until then, safe was my plate
The clock’s second hand froze, or have my eyes lied
I stare and stare. Yet, the second hand remains right there
My head was hurting, my throat was dried, this anomaly of time left me mystified
My sister laughs, “The clock’s battery died!”
Oh the hunger, I almost cried

I felt like a car impounded, but to my delight, the Athan had sounded
To food, my mouth was an open door
Food and drink, down my throat would sink
I ate and ate until the Ramadan weight gain mystery was a myth no more
A sated beast was I, lying there on the floor
This hunger tormented me, Nevermore

The Ramadan Soaps

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent

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The Holy Month of Ramadan heralds in a veritable wave of traditions, which are quite often tied to heritage and culture. This can be in the clothes worn during the month, or the food that graces the Iftar table. While most traditions in Ramadan are religious in nature, others are not.

Even before the crescent moon of Ramadan was sighted in Saudi Arabia, advertising placards for the newest Arabic soap operas began sprouting up in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and several other Middle Eastern countries. For many Muslim viewers, it simply would not be Ramadan without having a salacious soap opera to watch during and after the daily fast is broken. And for corporations who payroll the soap operas, Ramadan is a golden opportunity to generate some much needed revenue.

Make no mistake, the Arabic soap operas have nothing to do with the principles of Islam, such as prayer or fasting, but rather focus on the evils of society that are perpetrated by misguided souls. In one recent drama that aired in Kuwait this past week, a wealthy businessman chases his single secretary at work all day professing his love for her and asking for her hand in marriage. Meanwhile, his wife is at home tending to the housework and stumbles upon a diamond bracelet he has purchased for his secretary. The drama switches to another married couple that seems happy enough. However, a male suitor promises to win the heart of the wife and if she won’t agree he vows to destroy her life, which he does in the next scene. He places a call to her husband who in turn throws her out of the home, to her despair.

The prevalence of Arabic soap operas during Ramadan have had a detrimental effect on worship. Increased acts of worship and welcoming guests in the nights or visiting the homes of others take a backseat to catching the next installment of the serial. Last year alone it was estimated that at least 64 new soap operas appeared on Saudi television, around the clock during Ramadan. The soaps were stacked upon the hour so that viewers could tune in at any time of the day. Coveted ad space was stuck in between each plot as it developed–with commercials hawking everything from soap to cooking oil. In fact, it is the ad space that fuels the soaps, as viewers view each commercial as they wait for the plot to thicken.

Before, most Muslims in the Middle East would gather in the nights of Ramadan to worship or to discuss matters related to the deen. After all, the region is the cradle of Islam and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (s). However, these days many Muslims gather to watch soap operas together, gossip about what happened in the current installment or speculate what will happen in the one to come.

It is encouraging to note that not all Middle Eastern countries streamline a barrage of juicy soap operas during the Holy Month. In Turkey, the television programming is geared towards Islamic history, living the deen of Islam and Q&A shows where callers can call in to have their questions about Islam answered live on air by a reputable sheikh. Locally produced and aired music channels in Turkey also pull their programming during Ramadan in favor of airing Islamic nasheeds.

Storytelling is an age-old tradition. However, Ramadan is a golden gift that should be seized by every Muslim that is willing and able to receive the blessings that come with it. Being glued to the TV and rapturously eating up all the human folly portrayed there definitely tarnishes the reality of  what Ramadan is all about.

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Community News (V11-I37)

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Razi Imam, CEO, Landslide Technologies, Inc.

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Razi Imam, is the CEO and president of Landslide Technologies. His company builds software to codify the sales process. His is a classic rags to riches story. His father worked as a laborer in Kuwait and his career prospects appeared dim. But he persisted and got a job at the Kuwait University library. There he taught himself programming by reading computer manuals.

He later went back to Pakistan and studied at the Karachi University majoring in Physics, Mathematics, and Statistics. A self starter he wrote programming code by hand to create a search program for the yellow pages of Karachi. His success lead to a job at Wang.

He moved to the US and thrived starting up successful tech businesses before launching landslide.

The basic principles that Imam imparts to his daughters are the importance of a solid education, good communication skills, and a willingness to work hard. “The beauty of the United States is that you can work hard and have success. In other places, you can work hard but be frustrated because the opportunities aren’t there.”

New Jersey mosque to organize national prayer meet

ELIZABETH, NJ–The Darul Islam mosque in New Jersey is organizing a national day of prayers and Islamic unity on Capitol Hill on September 25, 2009. Organizers hope that more than 50,000 worshippers will participate.

About 400 people are expected from Darul Islam mosque, which is raising money from donors to help pay the cost of the event, expected to surpass $200,000.
The event will be open to the public. However, there will be no political speeches or placards.

Muslim students accommodated for Ramadan

COLUMBUS, MO–Muslim students at Missouri State University feel relieved after the Campus Dining Services has extended dining hall hours and included more breakfast items on takeout menus.

“Campus Dining Services has accommodated Muslim students during Ramadan in the past by working with the students on an individual basis,” CDS Director Julaine Kiehn told the Campus newspaper.

Kiehn said this year, more options will be available to students on the whole instead of individually.

Muslim Student Organization spokeswoman Nabihah Maqbool said the accommodations were a “huge step forward.”

“We’ve been working with dining services, and they’ve been so helpful since we’ve brought it up as a concern,” Maqbool said.

Muslim students launch Ramadan food drive

SALT LAKE CITY, UT–Muslim students at Utah universities have launched a campaign to collect 2,000 non perishable food items in the month of Ramadan. They will then be distributed to needy families of all faiths in the city.

“By encouraging and participating in community service, we hope to not only achieve our goal of providing the most basic of necessities to the vulnerable, but also demonstrate the emerging, positive influence of Muslims in American communities,”  wrote one organizer of the event on her blog.

Supporters of the cause, including the Muslim Student Association at the U., come from various backgrounds, religions and ethnicities.

To learn more visit: muslimsunitedagainsthunger.blogspot.com.

Planet Ozone to stock Halal products

TAMPA, FL–Planet Ozone, one of Florida’s first “green commercial building, officially opened yesterday. Among many of its unique features is the availability of Halal food products. The project is a dream project of Mohammed Hussein.

In what he plans to be a 24-hour cafe and takeout restaurant, Hussein and his wife will cook Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes. Italian dishes will be prepared by an Italian chef. Customers also will be able to buy freshly made natural juices from the juice bar.

“We want to price it in the $6 range and have large portions of protein, as well as carbohydrates and vegetables, so you’re getting good quality,” Hussein told the newspaper when the store was first announced. “That’s what we are focusing on: price and quality.”

Instead of beer, the large bank of coolers in the grocery area will be stocked with natural and organic juices, produce and natural meats that meet strict Halal dietary guidelines, said the report.

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Abundant Faith, Shrinking Space

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mosques Turn to Synagogues, Ballrooms to Accommodate Growing Membership

By William Wan, Washington Post

They stream in through the doors every Friday — a sea of Muslims pouring into a synagogue in Reston.

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Muslims facing a lack of worship space lease a Jewish synagogue in Reston, Virginia, prompting an unexpected cultural exchange.

The men roll out long prayer rugs on the synagogue floor. An imam stands up front and praises Allah. And as the faithful begin whispering their prayers in flowing Arabic, their landlord, a rabbi, walks by to check whether they need anything.

This unlikely arrangement between a burgeoning Muslim congregation and a suburban synagogue is what happens when you combine the region’s rapidly growing Muslim population with a serious shortage of worship space.

As area mosques prepare for the start of Ramadan this weekend, many are simply bursting at the seams. Every available inch — even in lobbies and hallways — is being used. Parking is impossible. Traffic afterward is worse than postgame gridlock at FedEx Field.

Nobody knows how many Muslims are in America — estimates range from 2.35 million to 7 million — but researchers say the population is growing rapidly, driven by conversions, immigration and the tendency for Muslims to have larger families. One study by Trinity College in Connecticut shows the percentage nationwide having doubled since 1990. In the Washington area, the increase might be even sharper, local Muslim leaders say.

A building boom has brought new mosques to suburbs such as Manassas and Ellicott City, but many have been full from the moment they opened. So, desperate for room, Muslim communities have started renting hotel ballrooms, office space and, yes, even synagogues to handle the overflow.

“We say our prayers, and a few hours later they meet for Sabbath and they say their prayers,” said Rizwan Jaka, a leader at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque in Sterling, which added services at two synagogues last year. “People may think it’s strange or odd, but we are simply grateful for the space.”

The extra room will prove crucial this weekend with the beginning of Ramadan — a month of fasting that often draws hundreds to mosques in addition to regular members. Anticipating the throngs, many mosques have hired off-duty police and rallied volunteers to handle the traffic.

“Just like you have Easter Christians, Hanukkah Jews, we have what we call Ramadan Muslims. They just come out of the woodwork on the holy days,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church.

Last year at the height of Ramadan, Abdul-Malik had to turn many away to avoid violating occupancy rules, which limit his mosque to 2,000 worshipers. When asked how many he expects this year, the imam chooses his words carefully: “I’d rather not say because of the fire marshal.”

“The prophet Isaiah said our houses would be houses of prayer for all people,” said Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk. “Now, I don’t know if Isaiah could have imagined us hosting Ramadan in the synagogue, but the basic idea is there.”

It turned out to be relatively easy. Their new Muslims friends didn’t need much: wide-open space, carpet to cushion the floor and a place for their shoes. The synagogue’s social hall suited them perfectly.

The arrangement has led to the unexpected benefit of cultural exchange. There have been pulpit swaps, with the imam and rabbi preaching to each other’s congregation and interfaith visits as well.

David Fram, 72, who sings in the synagogue’s choir, was recently invited to the Sterling mosque for daily prayers. It was an amazing, if somewhat awkward, experience. “I didn’t know quite what to do; there was a lot of bending and kneeling in their prayers,” he said.

Standing quietly in the back of the prayer hall, Fram decided to simply bow his head in reverence. He ate lunch (“some kind of spicy meat and rice”) afterward. And a few weeks later, he found himself at Barnes & Noble buying a Koran, out of curiosity.

“It’s not like the U.N. here. We’re not looking to draft some final settlement agreement between Israel and Palestine,” Nosanchuk said. “But we’re learning from each other, and we’re trying to give them the space they need and make them feel at home.”

ADAMS and other congregations are unlikely to solve their space problems anytime soon because of the long lag time usually required for new mosques. Because the Koran prohibits borrowing money at interest, congregations don’t use bank loans for construction. Instead, they fundraise over many years and then pay in cash.

The process can be excruciating.

It took Muslims in Prince William County 10 years before they accumulated enough money for a new home. While they waited, they crammed into a one-story house off Route 234. Each week, they somehow fit 50 cars into a space meant for 20. When services got too full, people knelt outside and prayed on the grass.

Women working minimum-wage jobs donated their family’s jewelry to the new-mosque fund. When construction finally began in 2004, families often drove out to the site just to watch and dream about a future of plentiful parking and prayer space.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Almost as soon as the new mosque, Dar Al-Noor, opened three years ago during Ramadan, the building was packed with 1,200 people. So this year throughout Ramadan, members will continue praying and fundraising for further expansion, said the community’s president, Mohammad Mehboob.

“We are a community with many people but not so much money,” Mehboob said. “But Allah has always provided for us. It’s amazing we have this mosque now, and, inshallah, we will continue to build and grow.”

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Southeast Michigan (V11-I36)

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Bloomfield Unity Montessori and Daycare

Farmington–August 25–Ms. Ayesha Ali, co-principal of the Bloomfield Unity Montessori and Daycare took some time to talk with TMO about her school this week.
This Montessori school is in fact not a direct competitor with most of the other Islamic day schools that TMO has interviewed in the past years, as it is a preschool–in fact it is a feeder for the other Islamic schools, like Huda and others.

The Bloomfield Montessori school has about 30 students, and is based inside the BMUC mosque.  The Montessori program focuses on children up to six years old, and has accepted children as young as 8 weeks.

Inspired by the success of the Tawheed Center’s hifz program, which has really become the gold standard for local mosque’s religious instruction, Ms. Ali explained to TMO that the Bloomfield Montessori preschool will offer a hifz program patterned on Tawheed’s–with reliance on Calvert’s home school curriculum, and reliance on Shaykh Ahmad, a trained qari–to instruct the children in tajweed and memorization.

The hifz program at Bloomfield will be for 1st and 2nd grade students.  Ms. Ali explained that “three or four” students have enrolled in the hifz program so far, and that the class will be capped at ten.  The hifz program will cost $600 per month.  The regular Montessori program is $700 per month.  Preschool is $550 per month, and the school is available to parents for the entire year if they want.

Local Mosques and Ramadan

Farmington–August 26–FCNA calculations this year coincided with the Saudi ruling regarding the beginning of Ramadan, leaving most Southeast Michigan Sunni mosques on the same note with regard to the beginning and perhaps also the ending of Ramadan.

FCNA, the Fiqh Council of North America, which calculates based on the physical visibility of the moon in Mecca, determined that the Ramadan moon, which entered early Thursday morning, would not be visible after sunset in Saudi on Thursday therefore the Ramadan month was said to begin Saturday.

The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia in somewhat of a surprise announcement on Thursday said also that fasting would begin Saturday.

Other nations fasting Saturday included Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei–the majority of Sunni nations.  Four nations however began fasting Friday, including Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, and Libya. 

Shi’a followers of the Lebanese marja Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah also began fasting Friday, relying also on calculations.  However, followers of other Shi’a maraja began fasting Saturday.

Local Michigan mosques mainly began fasting Saturday, however with varying reasoning.  The Tawheed Center of Farmington, the Muslim Center of Detroit, and Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center all began Saturday based on following the recommendations of FCNA.

The Flint Islamic Center, MCA of Ann Arbor, and the Grand Blanc Islamic Center began Saturday as well, but for the reason that Saudi Arabia had announced it would begin fasting on Saturday.

MCWS, the Canton mosque, also following FCNA.  ‘Isha and tarawih at MCWS will begin at 10 for the first 10 days, then 9:45 for the second 10 days, and 9:30 for the final 10 days.

Dr. Saleem of the Flint Islamic Center on Corunna explained that ‘Eid will also be based on the Saudi ‘Eid.  ‘Isha and tarawih at FIC will be at 10pm for the first 2 weeks and at 9:30pm for the final 2 weeks.

Flint is having a community dinner every Saturday night, with about 500 people, Dr. Saleem explained to TMO. 

After Ramadan many of the local mosques likely including Flint, intend to participate in the mass ‘Eid celebration at the Rock Financial Showplace, continuing last year’s beginning of the tradition.

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Community News (V11-I36)

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Airmen & families celebrate Ramadan

By 1st Lt. Joe Kreidel

18th Wing Public Affairs

8/24/2009 – KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  — “It’s like planning for Christmas while everyone else is going about their business,” said Tech. Sgt. Angela Errahimi, a combat communications chief with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, about preparing for Ramadan here. This same sense of dislocation is no doubt shared by many military members celebrating Ramadan in places like Okinawa where Islam is by far a minority religion.

Ramadan, which began Aug. 22, is a 30-day fast during which devout Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sex from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is the preeminent ritual in a faith that gives particular importance to its ritual observances.

“Islam was something I was looking for – the mosque was so quiet and peaceful,” said Sergeant Errahimi of her conversion six years ago. After meeting her now-husband, who is from Morocco, she studied at a mosque for one year prior to making her “shahada” or witness of faith.

It was Islam’s structure and emphasis on community that first appealed to Staff Sgt. Marvin Morris, an X-ray technician and the assistant NCOIC of radiology at the 18th Medical Operations Squadron. He called the daily regimen of five scheduled prayers “the military version of prayer.”

“The first few days of fasting are hard,” said Sergeant Morris. At Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where he was previously stationed, several non-Muslim friends attempted to join him in the fast; one friend made it one whole day. For Sergeant Morris, it’s in large part the hardship of fasting that makes Ramadan so special: “That’s what it’s about. It’s a cleansing process, a chance to focus inward and renew your commitment to Allah.”

The day’s perseverance is rewarded come sunset, as “Iftar” – the evening meal at which each day’s fast is broken – tends to be an extravagant affair. For a week leading up to Ramadan, Sergeant Errahimi and her husband, who have four children at home, prepared various dishes and pastries so as to have a stockpile once Ramadan actually began. Food preparation, too, is more difficult and requires more planning in Okinawa than in Washington, D.C., where the Errahimis lived previously. “Halal” meats are especially hard to come by.

Ramadan will conclude Sept. 19 with “Eid,” a major festival that traditionally involves a special public prayer, feasting, gift-giving, and visiting with family and friends. This communal, festive aspect of Ramadan may be somewhat lacking for Sgt. Morris this year, as he’s new to the island and hasn’t yet made many friends amongst the on-island Muslim community, miniscule compared to the one in northern California.

In 2007, Sergeant Morris celebrated Ramadan at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. While there he worked the night shift, convenient because it allowed him to sleep during the day when he couldn’t eat or drink. On multiple occasions he was able take “Iftar” with a group of Egyptian Muslims working in Afghanistan. “I loved it,” he said, “It’s a different culture, but we’re connected by our shared faith. It’s like a family away from family.”

NC Mosque hit by hate crime

TAYLOR, NC– A mosque in Taylors has been victim of a hate crime. The words ‘Death to Muslims’ were carved in a concrete outside the Islamic Center.

The anti-religious message was written sometime in the early morning hours last Saturday.  For members like Miriam Abbad, it’s hard to see.  She’s worshipped for 10 years at the center.  “When they say death to Muslims, that means me, my young children, my husband, my whole family.  What did we do wrong to deserve such mean words to come out?”

The FBI is investigating the case.

Delaware Muslim prof. network

A new service-based organization has formed with the goal of inviting Muslims to participate in activities that benefit the community.

The Muslim Professionals of Delaware began last month and is working on its first project, a drive to collect school supplies for disadvantaged children.

Group founders Semab Chaudhry and Ahmed Sharkawy, said they want to work with interfaith groups to help the needy, foster greater cultural understanding and hold career and college development workshops.

Anyone interested in joining or working with the group can visit www.mpod.us.com or e-mail info@mpod.us.com.

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Saudi Arabia to Fast Saturday, August 22, 2009 (A.H. 1430)

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Saudi Press Agency issued a pronouncement by the Saudi Royal Court, saying the Saudi Supreme Court announced that Saturday will be the first day of Ramadan 1430 H.

The royal court said the Supreme Court made the announcement after a special meeting this evening in Taif.

 

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Ramadan 1430, New Moon

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

new moon--not the Ramadan moon

The new moon for Ramadan 1430 comes in, according to www.nevis.columbia.edu, on Thursday August 20th, at 5:02 AM EST.  Therefore the Ramadan moon has already been born and whether one begins fasting depends on what method of determining the beginning of Ramadan one accepts, or which mosque or school of thought one follows, or for Shi’a it depends on which marja they follow.

By FCNA/ ISNA calculations, this new moon is impossible to spot in Mecca after sunset on Thursday, therefore although the new moon is in it is deemed by the reasoning of the Fiqh Council to bring in Ramadan the following evening.  Therefore FCNA will begin fasting on Saturday, tarawih prayers on Friday.  Many American mosques follow the influential ISNA / FCNA calculations. 

Other mosques follow ICNA, which has a different means of calculation.  Hamza Yusuf and Zaytuna insist on local physical sightings of the moon.  Many American mosques follow specific countries, without adhering to what other local mosques are doing. 

Saudi Arabia will fast Saturday, tarawih prayers beginning Friday. 

In the coming days insha`Allah we will report on when different communities began their fasting.

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ISNA/FCNA Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr Announcement

July 23, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

ISNA Special Announcement

CrescentMoonOcean

First day of Ramadan will be Saturday, August 22, 2009 and Eid ul-Fitr on Sunday, September 20, 2009, inshaAllah.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.”

Qur’an 2: 183

The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’ia method for determining the beginning of lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and the moon must set after sunset in Makkah.

On the basis of this method the dates of Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr for the year 1430 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Saturday, August 22, 2009.

1st of Shawwal will be on Sunday, September 20, 2009.

Ramadan 1430 AH: The astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:01 Universal Time (1:01 pm Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on August 20 is at 6:47 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is at 6:46 pm local time (1 minute before sunset). Therefore the following day Friday, Au gust 21, 2009 is not the 1st day of Ramadan. First day of Ramadan is Saturday, August 22, insha’Allah. First Tarawih prayer will be on Friday night.

Eid ul-Fitr 1430 AH: The astronomical New Moon is on Friday, September 18, 2009, at 18:44 Universal Time (9:44 pm Makkah time). On Saturday, September 19, 2009, sunset at Makkah is 6:20 pm local time, while moonset is at 6:36 pm local time. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid ul-Fitr is Sunday, September 20, insha’Allah.

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