The Reality of Black Friday

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Suleiman Salem, TMO Foundation

Mask? Check.

Bullet-proof vest? Check.

Goggles? Check.

That completes my 2012 Black Friday shopping check-list. Apparently, shopping on Black Friday is no longer simply waiting in line, finding an item on sale, and purchasing it. According to various reports from all around the nation, there were at least ten major incidents this Black Friday. And for what? To save a few dollars.

A Walmart in California wins the first place prize for “most excruciatingly painful to watch”. Literally. A woman in her thirties couldn’t wait in line behind 20 others for an Xbox gaming console, so she derived a cunning scheme – premeditatedly – to give herself a competitive advantage. Her plan? Pepper spray the 20 lesser beings ahead of her, procure the Xbox, and leave the store without being hassled. What actually ensued was chaotic; earsplitting screams, blazing eyes, agonizing coughs, and a near-stampede. The woman then realized what a pathetic mistake she had made and hastily rushed out of the store. According to police reports, she didn’t end up purchasing the Xbox that was only $50 discounted.

Pepper-spray aside, there were brawls in many stores, gunshots fired in others, pandemonium over a $2 waffle-maker, and a few robberies, hence the checklist for personal safety. Nevertheless, the people are not completely at fault. Acknowledge that mankind will forever comprise of unintelligent, reckless, babbling shoppers. If Black Friday was not over-exaggerated and hyped up by every store and newspaper, online or in print, the masses wouldn’t be uncontrolled. Furthermore, many people don’t realize that they’re actually being ripped off by prices that have been raised before being slashed for Black Friday. To top that off, most of these deals were available throughout the year, when deal-hunters, including myself, were raiding the World Wide Web in search of the best deals, many of which topped Black Friday discounts.

From an Islamic perspective, there is nothing wrong with wanting to purchase discounted items. There is, however, something majorly wrong with someone who camps out for hours and spends all night saving money, but throughout the rest of the year doesn’t bother giving such priority to acts of worship. We may all look like devout, pious worshipers in front of our communities, but ultimately, all one needs is a reality check: am I giving my Lord, the Creator and Sustainer, the same priority I’m giving a sales frenzy?  Or am I neglecting even the most rudimentary acts of worship? After all, our material wealth is temporary and will one day cease to exist. Our good deeds, however, last an eternity.

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Girl Sues to Wear Hijab at Abercrombie

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Abercrombie_logo7

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Muslim woman alleged in a lawsuit filed this week that U.S. retailer Abercrombie & Fitch forbade her from wearing her head scarf while working at a northern California clothing store owned by the company.

Hani Khan filed her federal lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, with support from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

The suit accuses Abercrombie of violating Khan’s civil rights by discriminating against her on the basis of religion when she worked at the San Francisco Bay area store Hollister Co., which is owned by Abercrombie.

Khan alleges that when she was hired in October 2009, she was told she could wear her head scarf, or hijab, as long as it matched the company’s official colors.

But four months later, a pair of managers asked her to remove the hijab while working, and when Khan refused she was suspended and then terminated, according to the lawsuit.

A representative for Abercrombie did not return calls.

Khan’s lawsuit echoes similar complaints brought against Abercrombie in the past by black, Latino and other minority workers and applicants who alleged the company had a “look policy’’ that discriminated against them.

In 2004, Abercrombie reached a $40 million settlement in a federal class action lawsuit by the minority plaintiffs, and the company agreed to take steps to improve its hiring and recruitment of minority workers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) joined in that previous legal action against Abercrombie, and this week the agency supported Khan by filing a federal lawsuit against the retailer that also accused Abercrombie of violating her civil rights.

“Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I have felt let down,’’ Khan said in a statement.

Attorneys’ attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement in Khan’s case broke down in January, according to the Council on America-Islamic Relations. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Peter Bohan)

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Compassion Changed Robber’s Life

December 10, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Evan Buxbaum, CNN

Mohammad Sohail
Long Island Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail

December 3, 2009 http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/03/convenience.store.compassion/index.html

Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail says he recited an Islamic oath over the would-be robber after he broke into sobs.

New York (CNN) — Six months ago, a Long Island convenience store owner turned a would-be robbery into an act of compassion. On Wednesday, the shoplifter made amends with a $50 bill and a thank you letter for saving him from a life of crime.

The story began in May 2009, when Mohammad Sohail of Shirley, New York, was closing his Shirley Express convenience store one night. Security camera footage from that evening shows a man wielding a baseball bat barging into the store and demanding money.

Sohail had a rifle ready and quickly aimed it directly in the robber’s face, forcing the man to drop the bat and lay on the ground. Unbeknownst to the man, Sohail never loads his gun.

According to Sohail, the man immediately started to plead with him, tearfully saying, “I’m sorry, I have no food. I have no money. My whole family is hungry. Don’t call the police. Don’t shoot me.”

“When I see him starting crying [those] things, I really feel bad for him,” said Sohail. “I say, oh man, this is something different.”

Sohail made the man pledge never to rob anybody ever again, then gave the man $40 and a loaf bread. Sohail, who is from Pakistan, said the man then wanted to be a Muslim like him, so he recited an Islamic oath and gave the would-be robber the name Nawaz Sharif Zardari.

Sohail went to get some milk, but when he returned the man had fled with the money and food.

Both Mohammad Sohail and Suffolk County Police have no idea who the man is. After the May incident, Sohail explained that he will “absolutely not” be pressing charges, though police are still investigating the case.

Over the past six months, Sohail’s story of sympathy and kindness has inspired many across the country.

The Shirley Express store has received numerous letters of admiration. “No person has ever moved my spirit the way you did. From your biggest admirer,” one letter says. “Great men are capable of great acts. You are a great American,” another reads.

He has also received several checks with such messages for “a couple hundred dollars” in total, says Sohail. He has made a point to give this money “to the people” by offering free bagels, rolls and coffee in his store every night after 9 o’clock.

But the envelope that arrived on Wednesday came as a surprise. Postmarked November 11 without a return address, it enclosed a $50 bill and a note apparently from the would-be robber.

The typed letter begins, “You change My Life (sic),” and goes on to say that the man is sorry for his actions six months ago.

“At the time I had No money No food on my table No Job, and nothing for my family. I know that it was wrong, but I had know (sic) choice. I needed to feed My family. When You had That gun to my head I was 100% that I was going to die,” reads the letter.

The letter says Sohail’s acts inspired him to become a “True Muslim” and that his life has changed dramatically.

“I’m very happy that somebody got to change his life,” Sohail said. “If he is a maybe criminal, maybe is not anymore. So now he is a good person in this community and I’m very glad for that. He’s staying out of trouble, he’s not in a jail, he’s taking care of his family.”

But the letter-writer said he actually did convert, “decided to become a true Muslim,” and turned his life around after Sohail, 47, spared his life.

The letter was signed in type: “Your Muslim Brother.”

“That’s the same guy I gave $40 to,” said Sohail, 62, displaying the typewritten letter at his Shirley Express deli yesterday. There was no return address. It was mailed on Long Island the week before Thanksgiving.

“I’m really thrilled,” said Sohail. “I’m very happy for that guy, because he is now doing good for the community.

“He has a job and he is a good person. I really feel great. Thank God he’s doing good. He’s got a new baby and he’s not in jail,” said Sohail.

11-51

Houstonian Corner (V11-I51)

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

HPD Convenience Store Safety Video Unveiled At Mezban Restaurant

SACC & ACC Collaborated

Houston, Texas (11-11-2009): The Houston Police Department’s (HPD) Assistant Chiefs John Trevino and John Chen, were present at Mezban Restaurant, with the office bearers of their partners the South Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) and the Asian Chamber of Commerce (ACC), in announcing the distribution of a convenience store safety video, which is produced by HPD and that has been translated into multiple languages as part of the city ordinance on convenience stores. Languages include Urdu, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese and Korean. The Urdu Voice-Over has been done by famous radio host of the recent past from Sangeet Radio Talat Rehman and her husband Rafeeque Rehman. During the luncheon press briefing, the Indian Chamber of Commerce offered to translate the video into Hindi and Gujrati languages.

Rogene Calvert, President Board of Directors of ACC, welcomed everybody and thanked Sohail Feroze of Mezban Restaurant for providing the food for the occasion.

HPD Chief John Trevino informed that there has been dramatic reduction in the convenience stores crime over the years and one of the reasons is proper training of the store owners and their employees. This DVD in various languages will help the employees at various stores to learn the basic precautions and know-how about handling hazardous situations. Other than this video, starting January 2010, HPD has divided the city into 4 quadrants and will be giving hands-on training to all the businesses of Houston throughout the year.

Munira Panjwani-Zahid, Shaukat Zakaria, Soofia Aleem, Muneer Ibrahim, Ghulam Bombaywala, Shoaib Bombaywala, and others were present on behalf of SACC.

This Store Safety DVD was originally developed in 2001 after a rash of violent robberies and killings of convenience store personnel. Under the leadership of former Houston City Council Member Gordon Quan and produced by the Houston Police Department, the video was created and distributed to educate store personnel on safety tips and practices. Anheuser Busch and Silver Eagle Distributing provided a grant to translate the video into Asian languages. With the help of the HPD production staff, the South Asian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Chamber of Commerce and native speaking volunteers in the four languages, the project was recently concluded.

Copies of the DVD will be available for distribution at the press conference. HPD will also distribute copies through its Convenience Store Registration Program in which convenience stores are required by ordinance to comply with various safety measures, including using the DVD information with their staff.

Additional copies will be available through the Chambers of Commerce, for which one can call 832-660-2952 or 713-782-7222.

Youth Showed Initiative during ISGH Elections

Houston, Texas (12-08-2009): Shabab UL-Haq E-Newsletter taken out by Muslim Youth of the Greater Houston Region, called the “Crescent Youth”; this time as the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) came up, conducted interviews of all the candidates for various positions.

According to Kamal Husain, General Secretary of ISGH: “I sincerely commend the youth for voicing their concerns in matters relating to our society. I am impressed with their clarity and their professionalism in the way these issues are presented. I will be honored to sit with anyone interested in brainstorming ideas that will help to resolve at least some of these issues within the next six months. Please advice your willingness and I will make the time, Insha Allah.”

Although those who have won in the present elections, have been those, who have been serving the Muslim Community for a long time in various positions, but this initiative by Crescent Youth means that soon the leadership of ISGH will be going in the hands of Youth of the community and there is need to properly nurture them.

Unofficial ISGH Election results read like this:

Elected

Farouq Malik -Vice-President;
Aftab Silat – Treasurer;
Fuad Cochinwala – South Zone Director;
Mohammad Yusuf – NorthWest Zone Director;
Ziauddin Yousuf – South-East Zone Director;
Irfan Ibrahim – Associate Director Masjid At Taqwa – Synott Road;
Ibrahim Badat – Associate Director Masjid Bilal – Adel Road;
Dr. Majid Amine – Associate Director Masjid As-Salam – Champions