All-American

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–September 10th–The “Season” has begun and authors are trampling through Northern California – Muslims and non-Muslims, knowledgeable about the Ummah and its people – hawking their books.  Jonathan Curriel, author of Al’America:  Travels Through Arab and Islamic America visited my city the week after Labor Day.  Curiel is no scholar, but was trained as a journalist.  Although employed by the San Francisco Chronicle, he was partially educated in and reported from the Middle East.

The book under discussion was published by The New Press in November of 2008, and details the historic influence of Arab and Muslim culture on America — from the time of Columbus to 9/11 — with the ramifications of the latter event.  This is a book that concentrates on the historical and Pop Cultural aspects of Islamic influence upon America, but it does a great service by exposing the underpinning of Islam at the Grassroots of North American culture.  The author too often degenerates into uncomfortable insensitivity to your reviewers’ target audience. 

Reading the press release composed for his tour, I notice a “slickness” that makes your reporter feel ill at ease. His publishers are not presenting J. Curriel humbly forcing his readers to concentrate on his credentials rather than his work!  Still, that did not prevent the book from translation into Arabic by Arab Scientific Publishers, the Beirut print house that, also, has exposed several important European and American writers to an Arabic-speaking audience.

In 2005, his Newspaper was honored by Columbia University (the dominant) U.S. J-School (of Journalism) in New York City for Jonathan Curiel’s exceptional articles on race and ethnicity!  Your Observer commentator — does not know about bragging rights — but he should be proud of this!  This is something that he attempts to bring to this study, but he is honest enough to note where he fails.

For him – even after September 11th 2001 – denying Islamic civilization is not being part of the American fabric is wrong.  “Muslims not only belong…but are part of [the American] culture in so many ways!”

In fact, Christopher Columbus reached out to the Muslim “Moors.”  The Admiral of the Ocean Seas was substantially influenced by the Arabs to the point he could not have reached the New World in 1492 without his North African designed sails.  While Arab culture was waning in Southwestern Europe by the late 16th Century (CE), Columbus’ voyages notably brought subtle Arab influences to the Spanish colonies and later the Portuguese colony in the Americas – including those parts in the United States that Washington (D.C.) seized in the Mexican-American and the Spanish-American War plus the Louisiana Purchase!

Although Madrid prohibited Muslims from the Americas, the Alamo now in Texas is a classic example of Arabic Architecture!  New Orleans was a city shunted back and forth between the Iberians and the French.  Finally, President Thomas Jefferson bought it from the Emperor Napoleon.  When the Spanish possessed that famous city, they imported Islamic ironwork for which the Metropolis near mouth of the Mississippi — plus the renowned Muslim-styled courtyards within the Big Easy — migrated from the Middle East via the Iberian Peninsula.   

The date palm was brought to the Western Hemisphere — including the California of yours truly — from the Middle East, also, via Hispania. 

In the United States, a Muslim slave actually wrote a book in Arabic while being held in South Carolina.  Until the Twentieth Century most American Muslims came from West Africa (since they were victims of that ugly Slave Trade).  Jonathan Curriel, as well as a few eminent musicologists, believe that the American “Blues” musical sub-structure comes from Islam’s call to prayer.  

No less than the extremely important American thinker of the Nineteenth Century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was profoundly influenced by Muslim culture.  Many important American intellectuals have been influenced by Islam, too, throughout the history of the American Republic (and even before –Thomas Jefferson, of course, comes to your reporter’s mind most quickly) up into the contemporary period.  There has been a long-standing cultural interaction between the Potomac and the Islamic nations according to Curriel. 

Of course, some of this interaction was not fully comprehensible to the Americans; and, thereby, can be considered in bad taste.  The Shriners and the Masons adopted pseudo-clothing accoutrement and symbols of the Muslims.  At its most forgiving was mere mimicry, but at its worst was insulting and in bad taste.  (Your scribe must point out that Jonathan Curriel did make these issues transparent, and did not cringe from describing it for what it was.)  Yet, since the immigration reforms under the late President Lyndon Johnson, highly prominent Muslim immigrants have been attracted to, and have joined the aforementioned organizations.  They have pressured these groups to give a form of Zakat and to make them even more service-oriented. 

The iconic Los Angeles rock(-n-roll) band of the 1960s, the Doors, were highly influenced by Arab music while the ultimate Rock star (of the 1950s), Elvis Presley, was a great admirer of Khalil Gibran, a Christian Lebanese immigrant to America.  His best known work was a sequence of inspirational essays, The Prophet.  They were pitifully greeted by the critics when they were published in 1923.  It definitely belongs to the opus of Arabic-language literature, but not Islamic literature.  Having read the book as a young man, when it was still a best-selling “underground” rage, your reviewer considered it to be  overly simplistic.  How much of it might be based on Mohammed (PUBH) is hard to say because of the elevated ambiguity of its poetic language.

Curriel maintained Presley somehow turned this book into his Bible.  Also, along religious lines, the Christian Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II had instructed that his casket placed on a Persian Carpet to demonstrate the unity of all religions.

Back to Pop Culture, the movie cycle and “cult” television series, Stars Wars borrowed motifs respectfully from the religion from Mecca.  Jonathan Curriel concluded, “Cultures go back and forth, and always borrow from each other,” continuing, “Muslims have contributed from the inception of the American nations,” and they are still highly visible and contributing members of our society.  Their contributions are no longer seen as insignificant within North American society.  

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I40)

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Astounding ‘Eid-ul-Fitr Celebrations as ISGH Organized Eid Prayers at GRBCC

Picture Q As per last week’s prediction by Pakistan Publications Inc., hundreds and thousands of Muslims thronged George R. Brown Convention Center (GRBCC). According to an estimate, more than 30,000 Muslims of all faces and facets of life responded this last Sunday, September 20, 2009, to the call of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) and attended ‘Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the GRBCC. The prayer hall overflowed, and thousands had to stay outside due to fire-code regulations’ and were accommodated in a subsequent prayer.

Pakistan Publications Inc. extends Heartiest Congratulations and Kudos to the ISGH for organizing such a mammoth gathering in the most efficient and effective manner.

The Special Supplications and Presence Slogans (called the Takbeerats of Eid-ul-Fitr Prayers) by the attendees thundered in the hall since before 8:00am., while thousands of impressively dressed people in traditional dresses of almost the whole world, like the Far-East Australasia; South Asia India – Bangladesh – Sri Lanka – Pakistan; Middle East; Africa; Europe; and the Americas; made their ways through every door and into the Hall.

The meaning of these is Takbeerats is as follows : “Allah is Great, Allah is Great: There is no one worthy of prayer but Allah, and Allah is Great; Allah is Great, All praise be to Allah, It is He Who Guides.”

These Takbeerats continued for about one-hour, when around 9:00am. Shaikh Omar Inshanally, Imam at the ISGH Main Center Masjid, stood up to lead the prayers, which includes Seven Extra Calls of Allah is Great (Allahu-Akbar in Arabic) during the First Phase (called Rakat) and Five Extra Calls of Allah is Great (Allahu-Akbar in Arabic) during the Second Phase (called Rakat) of the Prayers.

During these Two Phased Eid-ul-Fitr Prayers, Shaikh Omar Inshanally recited from the passages of Quran that convey Allah’s unfathomable love for believers; remind believers of the inevitability of an end of everyone’s earthly life & the ultimate destination in front of Allah; and that Allah forgives all sins of those who sincerely repent and uplift their morality. Without exception, those interviewed after the prayer said that they felt deeply moved, and complimented the Imam’s Recitation (called Qiraa’at in Arabic) – The choice of passages, fluency, voice control, and mellifluousness.

After the prayers, ISGH President Dr. Aziz Ahmad Siddiqi provided in a positive fashion the State of Affairs of ISGH and the Muslim Community in the Greater Houston Region. He cited several major developments that whoever will seek, will benefit many, regardless of ethnic background or country of origin. President also mentioned that this year the ISGH membership has experienced an unprecedented growth of more than 25 percent. It was nice that Dr. Siddiqi’s presentation was not long and contained linguistic beauty.

Houston Mayor Bill White also addressed the audience, noting the size and importance of the local Muslim community. Mr. White is seeking higher state office, and a positive impression on him could be to the advantage of Muslims. The Chairman of the ISGH ‘Ulema Committee, Shaikh Abdul ‘Aziz of the Brand Lane Masjid also graced the occasion.

After the prayers and addresses the crowd filled the air with mutual bright smiles, cordial ‘Eid greetings, and warm expressions of love and unity. This all made for a truly awe-inspiring ‘Eid-ul-Fitr celebration organized by the ISGH. For more information, one can visit www.isgh.org.

Farouk Shami to Run For Texas Governor

Picture R He is the famous Houston hair-care millionaire Farouk Shami (originally from Palestine), seriously considering a run for Governor as a Democrat. He has already appointed a Treasurer, but has not yet filed papers.

At his Annual Ramadan Dinner at the Arab Cultural Center (ACC) Houston, the 66 year old Shami asked hundreds gathered if he should run or not and he got a tremendous “Yes,” with everyone standing and clapping.

One may recall that Farouk Shami first got some attention in the political arena during 2006 governor’s race, when as his business partner; he supported the independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman.

Farouk Shami got much appreciation last month for his decision to move 5,000 jobs from Asian manufacturing plants in China to Texas over the next five years to manufacture his famous hair-care products of BioSilk and CHI brands. He invented ammonia-free hair color products, was the official hair care sponsor of the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants and has sales that top $1 billion a year.

Farouk Shami in an inspiring speech said that Texas needs a change and he through his entrepreneurial spirit will bring fresh ideas to increase the tax base, create new jobs of the future, brings dignified healthcare for all, and make Texas the best place to live in the USA.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I39)

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ISGH President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi at the Holocaust Museum

Picture P Holocaust Museum Houston invited the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi at the opening reception of the Photographic Exhibition called “Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust in Albania”. This Exhibition shows Heart-Melting Kindness and Righteous Determination of Muslim Heroes, who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The Exhibition started on July 17, 2009 and runs through to February 7, 2010.

After his welcoming remarks, Michael Goldberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holocaust Museum, requested ISGH President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi to speak to the invited guests. Dr. Siddiqi welcomed the opportunity to talk to the guests and acknowledged a strong presence of Muslims in the exhibit reception.

Dr. Aziz Siddiqi said that throughout the Islamic history Muslims have always provided protection to the oppressed. Whenever persecution was carried out against Jews whether it was in Spain, Albania or anywhere else, Muslims were in the forefront to save the lives of innocent Jews. He also cited other examples of Muslims helping Non-Muslims from persecution in other parts of the world. He said, “Muslims practice what they preach” and quoted the Ayah (Verse) of Quran: “……………….And whoever saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the entire people…………..” Holy Quran, Chapter 005 Verse 032.

This Photographic Exhibition “Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust Albania”, depicts about this European country with a Muslim majority, that succeeded where other European nations failed in dealing with Nazi Germany. Almost all Jews living within Albanian borders during the German occupation – those of Albanian origin and refugees alike – were saved. In a five-year project, Colorado-based photographer Norman Gershman set out to collect the names of righteous, non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. He discovered that some of the names were of Albanian Muslims. He then began a quest to meet and photograph the Albanian rescuers or their descendents. During his interviews, when he asked why they had rescued Jews, the resounding response was “Besa” the code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims. As Gershman later would explain, “There was no government conspiracy, no underground railroad, no organized resistance of any kind – only individual Albanians, acting alone, to save the lives of people whose lives were in immediate danger. My portraits of these people, and their stories, are meant to reflect their humanity, their dignity, their religious and moral convictions, and their quiet courage.”

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public. It is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline Street, Houston, Texas 77004. For more information about the Museum, visit www.hmh.org or call 713-942-8000.

The New Muslim Cool at ICNA Relief Iftar-&-Dinner

Picture O The Annual Iftar-&-Dinner organized by Islamic Circle of North America Relief (ICNA Relief) was held at Shahnai Restaurant Hillcroft, which was well attended.

Hamza Pérez, famously known as The New Muslim Cool, was the keynote presenter, who in a most emotional and motivational manner informed about the immense need and significance of humanitarian work at grassroots level in America, in which ICNA Relief is at the forefront. Present on the occasion were Ayub Badat, National Director of ICNA Relief; Haseeb Abdali, President of ICNA Houston; Saad Ansari, Director of ICNA Relief Texas; Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, President ISGH; Jaime Mujahid Fletcher, Founder & President of Islam in Spanish; Hashim Badat, Vice-President ISGH; Iqbal Badat Vice-President Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH); and many others. A slide show of all the nationwide projects of ICNA Relief was presented with remarks by Ayub Badat.

ICNA Relief is one of the largest humanitarian services organizations of the Muslims, working solely in USA. At present in Baton Rouge Louisiana and Houston-Galveston Texas, ICNA Relief has received federal grants to provide services to those, who got affected by Hurricane Ike.

The major human and social services work of ICNA Relief at the domestic level in USA is being done only through the assistance provided by the Muslim Community of USA. It includes Emergency Financial Assistance (rent & utility bills assistance; family support; hunger prevention; immigration support and funeral services), Women Temporary Shelter Homes; Domestic Disaster Relief; Medical Clinics; Educational programs; and so on.

For more information and contributions, one can visit: www.ICNARelief.ORg

Rooftop Films has screened Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s film New Muslim Cool, which chronicles the personal journey of Puerto-Rican American rapper Hamza Pérez. He ended life as a drug dealer 12 years ago, and started down a new path as a young Muslim. Now he’s moved to Pittsburgh’s tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family, and take his message of faith to other young people through his uncompromising music as part of the hip-hop duo M-Team. But when the FBI raided his mosque, Hamza confronted the realities of the Post-9/11 world.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I38)

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Qari Sharafat Ali & Hafiz Amjad Saeed Featured At Pakistan Center

Picture M Houston, Texas (Pakistan Chronicle Report): The First Annual Iftar-&-Dinner and Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers were organized this past weekend by Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD) at Pakistan Center located along Bissonnet at South Dairy Ashford.

For this program, famous Qari Sharaft from Baltimore and Hafiz Amjad Saeed from Atlanta came and made motivational presentations. Qari Sharafat Ali presented heartwarming recitation of Quran and during the Taraweeh Prayers, he moved people with recitation of Surah Ar Rahman. He also presented a couple of Nasheeds.

Program started with Quranic recitation by students of Hafiz Tauqer Shah of Houston. Program was open to public and around 150 people attended.

In his Motivational Presentation, Hafiz Amjad Saeed informed everyone about Helping Hand’s project, especially the $1/Day; or $365/Year; or $30/Month-For-12-Months Orphan Sponsorship Program, where Helping hand and its aligned organizations take care of the educational, health and food needs of an orphan for one year in one of the fifteen countries. About $10,000 were raised during this program, while almost $22,000 were already raised before the program through the efforts of volunteers of HHRD.

For more information about the programs of HHRD, one can visit www.HHRD.Org or 832-275-0786 / 1-214-707-8159.

Houston Police Department Seeks Outstanding High School Youth

Houston police are looking for several outstanding high school youth to take part in the department’s Youth Police Advisory Council (YPAC).
The students, 9th through 12th graders at Houston area schools, will take part in the yearlong program which emphasizes leadership, respect, education, community service and an exposure to life outside the inner city.

The high school students will serve on an advisory council to HPD Chief Harold Hurtt that will address such issues as peer-pressure, dating violence, gangs, drugs, as well as career goals and higher education.

The goal of the YPAC program, begun more than a decade ago, is to develop leadership skills among high school students. It stresses the need for participants to serve as leaders among their peers, act as liaisons between students and the City of Houston, and to take what they’ve learned and share it with their fellow students.

Students interested in participating in this year’s program should fill out and submit the attached application by October 02.  Anyone with questions about the program should contact Rhonda Conner, YPAC Director, at 713-308-3292 or E-Mail: RhondaR.Conner@CityOfHouston.Net

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I37)

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Largest Ever Gathering At Houston Mayoral Iftar-&-Dinner

Picture L “This is my last term as well as Council Member M. J. Khan’s last term. My Descendant Mayor and other Elected Officials should learn that when you move an event from outdoors to indoors, the number of people gets tripled.” These were the words of Mayor of Houston Honorable Bill White, as he welcomed hundreds of Houstonians of all faiths present at the traditional Annual Iftar-&-Dinner by the Mayor. Prominent among them were several present and former elected officials & various candidates vying for City Hall Positions in November 2009 Election; Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem & his wife; Congressman AL Green, Houston Police Chief Harold L. Hurtt; City of Houston Councilpersons Pam Holm, Peter Brown, Jolanda Jones & M. J. Khan; President, Vice President and General Secretary of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), who were one of the major organizers of the event, Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, Hashim Badat & Kamal Husain; President & Former President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston Khalid Khan & Ghulam Bombaywala; President of Council On American-Islamic Relation Houston Chapter (CAIR-Houston)  Dr. Tarek Hussein; Hafiz Mohammad Iqbal and many others.

Sumptuous Food was catered by Mezban and Demasis Restaurants and served in a well organized by volunteers of Aga Khan Ismailia Muslims Community. This year saw record number of people attending.

Dr. Aziz Siddiqi and Dr. Tarek Hussein Faraz Khan, talked about the lessons learnt from Ramadan, as the month brings God Consciousness’ and an ingredient of thankfulness in a person. As such we need to be thankful to God for all the Blessings. God has informed us in Quran that if we do not thank human beings for their services, God will not be happy.

Mayor White and Congressman AL Green lauded the Muslim community for their societal service. Due to forecast for inclement weather, Councilman M. J. Khan moved the event from the City Hall Reflecting Pool to George R. Brown Convention Center. “Weather is good out there, but inside it is cool and we will have a nice and spiritual evening together.” Informed Emcee for the Evening Khalid Khan, President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) and one of the candidates to replace termed-out M. J. Khan for District “F”.

For more information, one can reach Councilman M. J. Khan Office at 832.393.3002 or E-Mail: Rabia.Taslim@CityOfHouston.Net

You Cannot Use Cellular Phone In School Zone In Texas

With the schools back in session in the State of Texas, new traffic laws have been passed by the Texas Legislature that will take effect September first. Experts are saying that a lot of these laws are improvements; and they do also raise awareness for motorists out there, who just sometimes need to be reminded about wireless devices or buckling up.

The new laws prohibit cell phone use in school zones, and require everyone in the car to wear a seatbelt, not just those in the front seat. Tough new penalties on DWI offenders, who are caught with children in the car; first time offenders will automatically have their licenses suspended, and reinstatement fees are going up.

There are also new graduated licensing rules for young drivers’ ages 16 to 19-year-olds. Also starting September first, some younger kids will find themselves back in child safety seats. New medical research shows children under the age of eight – or under four-foot nine – still need special restraints in the car. Tickets for this offense can’t be issued till next summer.

Here are some of the things to see in the new traffic laws:

HB 537: Requires all occupants of a vehicle to be secured by a seatbelt; not just those seated in the front seat.

SB 61: Amends the statute regarding child passenger safety seats. Any child younger than 8-years old or less than four-foot nine-inches in height must be in an approved child safety seat.

HB 55: Makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone, unless a hands-free device is used.

HB 2730: Increases penalties for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. First time offenders will have their license automatically suspended. Reinstatement fees will double.

HB 2012: increases penalties on those driving with a suspended license and without insurance.

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I36)

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Qari Sharafat Ali & Hafiz Amjad Saeed Coming To Pak Center On 9/6/09

“Helping Hand For Relief And Development (HHRD)” is organizing an Iftar-&-Dinner and Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers at Pakistan Center on Sunday, September 06, 2009 (next day is national holiday). Program is open to public, but organizers have requested that if people can RSVP by calling 1-832-275-0786 or 1-214-707-8159, it will make life easier for them, as then they can appropriately arrange for food and other things.

HHRD is cordially inviting the community members, their families and friends to their Annual Ramadan Iftar-&-Dinner and Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers Program, to be held on Sunday, September 06th, 2009 @ 6:00pm. at the Pakistan Center located at 12600 Bissonnet (at South Dairy Ashford), Houston, Texas 77099. They have invited famous Qari Sharafat Ali from New York and Hafiz Amjad Saeed from Atlanta, who will InshaAllah enthrall everyone.

Helping Hand is requesting everyone to bring one or more Non-Perishable Food Items, which will be given to those in Need in our Houston Community.

Before Iftar-Mughrib-Prayers-&-Dinner, Community Youth and Qari Sharafat Ali will present heart-warming recitation of Quran; some Nasheeds & a Motivational Presentation about Helping Hand will be done.

After Iftar-Mughrib-Prayers-&-Dinner, arrangements have been made for Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers at the same place Pakistan Center.

After the Special Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers around 11:00pm., inspirational presentations by Islamic Scholars (to be determined) will be made on various subjects of public interest.

Again for more information and to RSVP for this inspirational event, one can call 1-832-275-0786 or 1-214-707-8159.

Healthcare System Can Bankrupt USA: US Rep. Al Green

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “If not reformed, the present healthcare system will bankrupt USA,” informed Congressman AL Green (D-TX) at a Press Conference in his Houston Congressional Office.

“Nationwide, health care costs consume about 20 percent of our gross domestic product. If we continue on our current path, health care costs will consume approximately 35 percent of our GDP by 2040, and the number of uninsured Americans will rise to 72 million, according to the Council of Economic Advisers. That would have catastrophic consequences:” Added the Hon. Al Green.

Congressman AL Green said he favors the Health Reforms suggested by President Obama, where if one does not health insurance, he or she will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for themselves and their families – coverage that will stay with them whether you move, change your job or lose your job. Secondly we will cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits. Thirdly, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. Lastly, these reforms will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable.

Even though we spend more than any other nation on health care, we aren’t healthier. Only three developed countries have higher infant mortality rates. Our nation ranks 24th in life expectancy among developed countries. More than one-third of Americans are obese.

These statistics are the signs of a system that is both unacceptable and unsustainable. They also show us the high cost of doing nothing. If we choose the status quo, more Americans will be uninsured, costs will continue to rise, and every American’s health care will be at risk.

For more information, one can contact the Office of Congressman AL Green at: 3003 South Loop West, Ste. 460, Houston, Texas 77054; Phone: 713-383-9234.

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Houstonian Corner V11-I35

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistan Center Annual Dinner: Councilman M J Khan Given Bombaywala And Mian “Life Time Achievement Awards”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “I am happy to be here in Pakistan Center and want to congratulate the whole community that now we all have a home of our own”: These were the sentiments of the City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan, as he handed out the highest award given by the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), “The Life Time Achievement Award”, to Former President Ghulam Mohammad Bombaywala and Mian Shabbir. All this happened during the annual dinner of PAGH on Friday, August 14th, 2009, which was attended by Consul General of Pakistan Aqil Nadeem, several Elected and Governmental Officials from the Homeland Security Department.

By the Grace of God, Pakistan Center is a huge place located in City of Houston District “F”, from where Masrur Javed Khan (past President of PAGH) got elected as the first Pakistani and Muslim City Councilman of Houston, but this past Friday was the first time M. J. came to this Center and everyone was most happy to see him and hoped this is not the only time.

Pakistan Center is the first of its kind in North America, was build in an old HEB Store, through the efforts done by the previous President of PAGH Ghulam Mohammad Bombayawala and his team. The huge Pakistan Center has several shops at the front end and huge party hall at the back, from where rental money is received, making the center self-sustaining. Center has nice offices, meeting rooms and library build for the administration of PAGH.

President of PAGH Khalid Khan had to leave for Pakistan to attend the 14th of August ceremonies over there being the Vice President of Peoples’ Party North America, but his wife and daughters filled up his spot pretty well by handing out flower bouquets to M. J. Khan and Mrs. Bombaywala.

Large numbers of attendees were entertained by famous comedians from Pakistan Kashif Khan and Pervez Siddiqui. Many people were listening to them for the first time and their jokes and presentation were quite fresh and most hilarious for everyone.

For more information on ongoing programs and projects for the community by PAGH, once can call 281-933-0786.

Bill King the Grand Marshall of the 1st Pakistan Day Parade in Downtown Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Hundreds of Pakistanis and their friends from other communities gathered in Downtown Houston for the historic first ever “Pakistan Day Parade Houston”, which was held on Sunday, August 16th, 2009.

It is said that inaugural Pakistan Day Parade in USA was held in New York, which was attended by around 100 persons. But this inaugural Houston parade saw seas of human beings coming together to fervently celebrate the day.

People from other cities and States had also come for the Parade. Some people like Dr. Aziz Siddiqi came on their open cars with their names and message of Pakistan Independence Day written on their vehicles. Several Pakistani students from University of Houston and Houston Community College System had their separate floats and vehicles with Pakistani Flags and paling traditional music of various areas of Pakistan. All these Youth were organized by social figures like Mariam Issa and Dr. Birjees Ashraf.

Former Mayor of Kemah Texas Bill King was the Grand Marshall of this first ever Pakistan Day Parade in Houston, as he led several hundred enthusiastic Youth from the Houston Community College System and the University of Houston. Accompanying them were the Founding Members Khalid Mahmood (Chairman) & Nadeem Naik (Secretary); and the Consul General of Pakistan Honorable Aqil Nadeem & City Councilman M. J. Khan.

Later on at the stairs of Tranquility Park, where the parade culminated, having started at 400 Rusk Street and went around Rusk, Milam and Walker; the national anthems of Pakistan and USA were presented and several speakers made enthusiastic speeches. They included Bill King, City Councilpersons M. J. Khan and Jolanda Jones, Consul General Aqil Nadeem, Islamic Society President Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, Khalid Mahmood, Nadeem Naik, Mariam Issa, Dr. Birjees Ashraf and others. Stage Programs were coordinated by Saleem and Zara Syed of Young Trang; Rehan Siddiqui of Hum Tum City Radio and Moin Pirzada of Radio Perdes.

Following the parade, speeches and recognition of sponsors like Mega Energy, a concert; lots of food; intermingling of families, friends & colleagues and Pakistanis and Non-Pakistanis happened.

The next parade will be held in Houston on March 28th, 2010. For more information, one can call 832-876-2392; or visit http://PakistanDayParadeHouston.com

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I34)

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Inspiring Graduation Party Of Aisha Khan: The Salutatorian From MCHS

Picture G A Grand Graduation Party was organized by the parents of Alsha Khan, daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan of Pakistan Chronicle / Pakistan Journal at Taj Hall.

Famous social, entrepreneurial and media personality of town Shamshad Wali, P.E. was the program coordinator of the event and motivated everyone present to excel in their field of expertise and education.

The evening was very inspiring, as brother and father of Alsha Khan gave accounts of her life and several of her class friends from various communities were present. Alsha gave a nice presentation to inspire everyone to excel in whatever one does in life and try to be among the top achievers.

On this occasion, Alsha Khan received Proclamations from the Congressional Office of Hon. AL Green and City Councilperson M. J. Khan, as well as Special Plaques from the hands of Khalid Khan President of the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) and Azam Akhtar & Ghulam Chisti of Karachi University Alumni.

Alsha Khan is moving forward in life with Biology as her Major in Pre-Med college studies at the University of Texas, with clear vision to become a Surgeon. She informed: “My motto in life is what I have learnt from Messenger Muhammad (PBUh) that seek education from cradle to grave. I am indebted especially to my parents and then to my relatives and friends, who have always encouraged me to excel. It is important for the Youth to listen to their parents as they have prudence and it is very fulfilling to achieve something and make our parents feel proud. It is indeed a happy feeling that all the hard work has paid off,” said a grateful Alsha Khan.

Mayde Creek High School (MCHS), a public high school located in unincorporated Harris County, Texas and is part of the Katy Independent School District, has produced several stars since its inception in 1984. One of them has been this year. Alsha Khan (18), daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan, is the 2009 Senior Class Salutatorian from MCHS with a GPA of 4.7368.

People may ask: What is a Salutatorian? Just as information; Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, was ranked Salutatorian at Whitney Young High School, Illinois, Class of 1981). This is actually an academic title given, in the United States and Canada, to the second highest graduate of the entire graduating class of an educational institution. This honor is traditionally based on grades along with grade point average (GPA), but consideration is also sometimes often given to other factors such as extracurricular activities. The title comes from the salutatorian’s traditional role as the first speaker at a graduation ceremony, delivering the salutatory. The general themes of a salutatory are usually always of growth, outlook toward the future, and thankfulness.

Alsha Khan has received Baylor Presidential Gold Scholarship ($44,000) and the Top Ten Percent Scholarship ($1,000). She has been excellent at all Math and Science subjects and is the President of Math / Science Academy. She is also Vice President of Muslim Student Union and Treasurer of the Key Club.

Alsha’s success lies in proper goal setting; have an appropriate game plan and dedication to achieve the goals and be part of both the studies and the society around her through volunteering. She is an active member of the mosque and immensely assists her dad with the newspaper publication (Pakistan Chronicle).

First Event Of The Helping Hand For Relief & Development In The D-FW Region

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Garland, Texas: At the beautiful Garland Special Events Center, one of the leading international humanitarian organizations Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD) arranged their first event in the D-FW area. Famous Scholar from India Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi and Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez from Michigan spoke at the program.

Due to not getting the final clearance from US State Department, famous Pakistani Nasheed Presenter Junaid Jamshed Khan could not attend the program, but sent a special recorded DVD Message and Nasheed for the attendees, which was quite moving and much appreciated by everyone.

Flagship project of HHRD is the Worldwide Orphan Support Program (OSP). About that, a special DVD Documentary was presented. Other HHRD projects include Health & Education Projects; Water For Life Projects; Emergency Recuperation Programs and much more. Recently HHRD Country Office in Pakistan received a Grant of $3.03 Million from the World Food Programme to distribute food to the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan. Also HHRD Pakistan has received a Grant of $130,000 from World Health Organization to establish Two Child-&-Mother Care Center in Pakistan.

Presently HHRD is involved in Recuperation and Rehabilitation of the IDPs in various areas of NWFP Pakistan.

Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi said world is waiting for someone to show them the path to harmony and serenity, which can be shown only by the Muslims, who have the divine medicine (which is not altered) from Creator of the Worlds God (Allah SWT): Only thing is that Muslims need to show this by action and not words.
Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez conducted a fundraiser, where about $28,000 were received. Everyone promised to introduce HHRD to others in the community and some administrators from the community organizations pledged further support for HHRD in years to come.

For more information on HHRD projects, one can visit www.HHUSA.Org

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Houstonian Corner (V11-I33)

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Unique Fundraising Done For The Oldest Masjid Of Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “We have lived among masses and understand the psyche of the society. We understand the real issues of people at grassroots level and have always been at the fore-front of serving the humanity by example and not mere words: This is what AL Islam has taught to remain be active. This event is exceptional and we are absolutely delighted to see Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, coming here in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community with no strings attached:” These were some of the sentiments of Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam of Houston, which was started in 1950s in a barber shop and later on became a full-fledged Masjid in 1978, is the oldest Masjid in the Houston area. Most of the initial funds for the Masjid came from the famous Boxing Champ Mohammad Ali.

“Muslims from the communities like Masjid AL Islam, are the ones’, who know the local language and culture. They can explain and present Islam to the Americans in much better manner than us, who have come from overseas and America is our adopted home. We can all learn from each other, but when it comes to conveying the message, the local Muslim Americans are the ones, who can do an effective job. As such we need to be at the forefront is making communities like Masjid AL Islam stronger,” said Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who is In-Charge of the recently formed Moon Sighting Committee of Houston.

Due to the efforts of Syed Shahid Ali Sunni & Associates, more than $140,000 were brought to the fundraising evening for Masjid AL Islam from their anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

Masjid AL Islam was rendered unusable as a result of Hurricane Ike. Ever since that time, several members of the congregation and administration of the Masjid have been working themselves to re-build some of the things at the Masjid. Now the real groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 12-Noon on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at the Masjid premises located at 6641 Bellfort Avenue; Houston; Texas 77087.

In order to have a smooth rebuilding of Majid AL Islam, a fundraiser was held at Shahnai Restaurant. Keynote speaker on the occasion was Imam Faheem Shuaibe of California, who in an inspiring and intellectual manner using various metaphors from AL-Quran, the science of inception, etc. explained the Finality of Messenger Mohammad (s). Allama Mukhtar Naeemi, Qari Abdul Ghani Ovaisi and several other distinctive personalities of the community were in attendance.

Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam informed that around $500,000 are needed for the re-construction project of which some have already been collected and about $200,000 were needed to be raised that evening. He said he is absolutely delighted that Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, have come out in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community, who have much to offer to the larger Muslim and Other Communities living around Houston, by social and spiritual support. He specially thanked Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who worked very hard to gather more than $140,000 for Masjid AL Islam from his anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

First Islamic Radio Program in Houston: Fifteen Years Have Passed

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Radio Light Of Islam airs every Sunday 10pm.-12am. on Frequency 1460AM and live worldwide at www.KBRZRadio.Com started some 15 years ago: To commemorate the occasion, Anchors of Radio Light Of Islam Maqsood Siddiqui and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui arranged a Community Dinner, where special awards were given to those youth, who have done memorization of Quran (the Huffas of Houston). Heart wrenching recitation of Quran by Qari Ahmad Siddiqui of Madrasae Islamiah was followed by Hamd and Naat presented by young children.

Several prominent speakers spoke on the occasion about the importance of Community Owned Media and ask people to financially support Radio Light of Islam, so that its hours are increased and more languages programming can be done on it like the Spanish. Those included Mufti Saleem, Imam Wazir Ali, Imam Yahya Gant, Imam Abu Mujahid (Spanish), Hafiz Nisar-ul-Haq, Hafiz Tauqir Shah and others.

For more information, one can call 832-298-7860.

Houstonian Corner (V11-I29)

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Sultans of Science: Yours’ To Rediscover At IDC Downtown Houston

Sultans of Science Exhibition At IDC (A)

The world famous Exhibition called “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered”, has opened on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 at the Islamic Da`wah Center (IDC), located at 201 Travis Street, Downtown Houston, Texas 77002. “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered” is a global touring exhibition celebrating the contributions of Muslim scholars in science and technology during the golden age of the Islamic world and the influence their inventions and contributions have had on our modern day society. The exhibition is very interactive, with sensory displays, and enticing designs and presentations.

With the summer break, the “Sultans of Science: 1000 Years of Islamic Science Rediscovered” Exhibition is especially beneficial for Youth to attend. Organized by Liberty Science Center and MTE Studios, the Exhibition will run from July 01 till September 07, 2009. Hours of Admission and Fees to the Exhibition are: Monday to Thursday 10am – 7pm; Friday Closed; Saturday 10am – 7pm; and Sunday 12pm – 5pm. Tickets online at http://islamicdawahcenter.org/ are $15 (Adults); $10 (Children) and at the IDC Box Office $20 (Adults); $10 (Children). All tickets are for single entry: Special Groups Field Trips and School Groups require Reservation.
A Pre-Opening Celebration event was held last Friday, where several influential local political, professional and social leaders were present. Ameer Abuhalimeh, Executive Director of IDC welcomed everybody and read the message of famous basketball player Hakeem Olajuwan, who is President and Founder of IDC (he is presently in Jordan). Keynote Remarks came from City of Houston Councilmember, the Honorable M J Khan and Mayoral Proclamation was given by Minnette B. Boesel, the Mayor’s Assistant for Cultural Affairs.

Consul Generals of Pakistan, India, Egypt and Great Britain were present. Everyone was mesmerized to see the depth of information in a most interactive manner provided to the attendees. “It is a must to attend exhibition for all Houstonians’ and Americans,” said the Former Honorary Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Joanne King Herring.

For further information, one can visit http://islamicdawahcenter.org/ or call 713-223-3311.

Hundreds Thronged Rice University for 4th Annual ICNA-MAS South Region Conference

bill white Fourth of July saw a Major Islamic Conference coming to Rice University Houston: This was the 4th Annual ICNA-MAS South Central Region Conference. Several hundred families came from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere to attend this one day event, whose theme was: “Serve Humanity for the Love of Divinity”. “Not only the theme was unique, but after attending various lectures and segments, I am convinced that all the speeches at the Conference had distinctive message and it was conveyed by all the speakers in a unique manner, which I have never felt at other Islamic Conferences. One needs to get the DVDs and CDs of this Conference for future reference and study,” said one of the regular attendee of the many Islamic Conferences in the Greater Houston Region.

Renowned scholars like Sheikh Nouman Ali Khan; Sheikh Abdool Rahman Khan; Imam Omar Suleiman; Imam Khalid Griggs; Imam Yousuf Estes; Dr. Zahid Bukhari; Dr. Muhammad Yunus; Dr. Mazhar Kazi; Sheikh Nisar-ul-Haq; Hafiz Tauqeer Shah; Sheikh Wazir Ali; Samid AL-Khatib; Reverand Kimberley; and many more, mesmerized the audiences with excellent presentations that had practical solutions to various issues facing communities nationwide in USA, as far as volunteering and assisting humanity is concerned.

“Window to Islam” Morning Session brought some Non-Muslims with Muslims and the Chapel besides Rice Memorial Ley Student Center was packed with people of all ages, as they understood the basics of Islam and learnt from Imam Yousuf Estes as to why he became Muslim. Other topics included “Islam: Not just a Middle Eastern Religion”; “The History of Relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims” and “Interfaith Panel Q-&-A”.

Special “Young Muslims Conference” in the afternoon drew many youth in the community to learn their very crucial role in the society, like “Lead Your Friends to Humanity for Your Lord”; “Islam: A Religion That Came on the Shoulders of Youth”; “Muslim Youth: Serving Humanity”; “Muslim Youth is Ready to Face Challenges”; and much more.

The main topics discussed in the Central Programs included “The Islamic Solutions to Contemporary Social Problems, like the Declining Family System”; “Dawah and Relief Go Hand in Hand”; and “Deliverance Through Service”.

Sumptuous food was served by Lazzezza Restaurant. For more information and getting Conference material, one can call Omer Syed, Secretary of ICNA Houston at 713-253-4599.

11-29

Kashif Weds Komal

July 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

TMO Stringer

kashif-komal

Detroit–June 4–Kashif, son of Mohammad Saleem and Kishwar, and Komal, daughter of Syed Nisar (Arif) Akhtar and Dr. Nilofar Syed, enjoyed a unique wedding on the Detroit River Princess boat, with over 1,000 people in attendance.  The boat journey and wedding reception lasted for about 2 and a half hours.

The reception hall on the first deck of the boat was decorated elegantly for the occasion.  The 3rd deck was reserved for children’s entertainment, including a “magic show.”  A large number of guests from outside of Michigan, including California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and from overseas (India and Pakistan) were in attendance.

After a brief introduction and speeches, a delicious dinner was served, and people journeyed up and down on the boat through four different levels.  On the fourth level a lovely Mushaira was in progress, in the unseasonably cool Michigan breeze that wafted across the Detroit river.

The guests were entertained as they attempted to pray Maghrib and a person called out “The boat is turning, wait a minute…” and all the guests were forced to adjust their positions.

In their eagerness to attend, people arrived at the waterfrong before the boat’s departure–this is somewhat unusual for the Indo-Pak community.

11-29

TX Muslim Candidate!

July 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By ILyas Hasan Choudry, MMNS

 

Houston, Texas: I attended a fundraiser for M. J. Khan way back in 2003. This was the first time he was vying to become the City of Houston Councilperson. Many including myself doubted and did all kinds of analysis that M J has little chance to win the elections in the 4th largest city of USA (Houston). Due to the blessing of prayers of hundreds; his personal hard work; his family’s absolute support; the funds he received from his friends and community persons; and team of shrewd advisors, he surprised several pessimists.

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M J Khan will be termed out as the City Councilman in December 2009. Before that in November 2009, elections to various offices will be held in Houston. M J Khan, who in 2007 got the “Outstanding American by Choice Award from the USCIS-U.S. Department of State”, has again shown his courageous character, by confidently entering into citywide election race to become the Controller of the 4th largest city of USA (Houston). The distinction for the Controller of Houston is that it is an independent position and his or her decisions are not influenced by the Mayor or City Council. The City of Houston has strong Mayoral Form of Government.  On behalf of the citizens of Houston, the City Controller is the person that brings the much needed check-&-balance to the Mayor and City Council (the executive and legislative branches) of City government.

The position of Controller of the City of Houston has a rich history of about 106 years. The Controller is the Chief Financial Officer of the 4th largest City of USA, making decisions that affect each and every citizen and businesses of the city. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the assets of the City are properly accounted for and expended in a manner consistent with applicable laws, policies, plans and procedures. To achieve this, the Controller conducts audits of different departments of the City. Controller processes and monitors more than $2.5-Billion Annual Budget.

As such a M J Khan win in November 2009 elections, will not be merely a personal triumph, but a landmark occasion for all the smaller communities of Houston, where they will proudly see someone most competent from diverse communes, making tough decisions for the betterment of all the Houstonians.

More information on his campaign (Theme: “Fiscal Responsibility for a Stronger Houston”), can be received by regularly visiting www.MJKhan.Com Contributions can be made to his campaign at the website by Citizens and Permanent Residents from anywhere in USA.

M J Campaign for Controller is Viable

Saturday, June 27, 2009, saw the Gala Fundraising Dinner of M J Khan for Controller Campaign at the impressive Westin Galleria Hotel. Reasonable numbers of people attended the fundraiser. Prominent among them were all the close members of M J Khan’s extended family; Former City of Houston Councilperson Gordon Quan and his wife; Counsel General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem and his wife; Director of Harris County Houston Sports Authority Board Haroon Shaikh; President of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Khalid Khan; Former President of PAGH Ghulam Bombaywala; President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Dr. Tariq Hussein; President of Shifa Foundation Dr. Moien Butt; Chairman Executive Board of Ibna Sina Foundation Nasruddin Rupani; Attorney Noaman Hussain; Attorney Neiyar Izfar; Former Houston President of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) Dr. Asaf Qadeer; Entrepreneurial Zakaria Family; Media and Campaign Coordinators Ghulam Chisti and Azam Akhtar; and several representatives of community media.

Program started with heart wrenching recitation of Quran by young Hafiz Anis-ul-Haq, who recited verses about unity among the community and importance of calling people towards all that is good, while advising people to avoid doing evil. Following Hafiz Anis-ul-Haq recital, Dr. Attiya Khan, wife of M J Khan thanked everyone for coming and requested to support M J Khan for Controller Campaign.

Dr. Neelofur Ahmad was emcee on the occasion, while Ghulam Bombaywala, Dr. Asaf Qadeer, Dr. Abdul Kader Fustok; Attorney Noaman Hussain; Dr. Moien Butt; Dr. Mubashir Chaudhry; Faisal Ameen; and others helped with the fundraiser. It was informed that at the first fundraiser in 2003 for the City Council Election, M J Khan raised $250,000 from our community and six years later, several communities living in District “F” of M J received many dollars in grants to improve the living standards of people: As such the funds of our community, used in the election of the right person to the office of City Council, resulted in the betterment of whole of Houston. This positive investment also brought more than $5-Million to the Pakistani, Muslim and South-Asian Communities in the fields of health and social wellbeing.

It was further informed that the name of M J is not only restricted to Houston, but his name is heard in the Congressional Hallways in Washington, D.C. and Legislative Corridors in Austin, Texas.

More than $103,000 was received at this fundraiser in cash and pledges. M J Khan Camping for Controller already had more than $300,000 in the coffers before the fundraiser. It is projected that it will cost each candidate $1-Million to run for this position. With over $400,000 raised five months before the election, M J Campaign is in a strong position.

Before that, the former city councilman Gordon Quan, while introducing Councilman M J Khan also talked about the challenges he is going to face: “This is a city and not federal government, where one can print millions of dollars to come out of financial crisis. Here one has to balance the budget, show fiscal responsibility and take tough decisions for the future of this great city of Houston, which we and our children proudly call home. M J came up with the catchphrase that District F is the forgotten district and that after getting elected; he will make it the known and best district. With his persistence and hard work, he has brought several positive improvements to District F and we all need to applaud him for the excellent work he has done. With these six years experiences, his strong academic background having done MBA from the prestigious Rice University and having run a business, M J is one of the strongest and most capable candidates for this position. He will be a pride for all communities in these trying economic times.”

M J Khan in his presentation thanked his Sister Yasmin Khan, Wife Dr. Attiya Khan, all extended family members, friends and well-wishers and said his earlier win with Blessing of God due to sincere supplications by everyone in the community and requested for continuing prayers. He said in 2003, people did not give him much chance to win: That motivated him to persistently work and he did not win once, but three times due to the Grace of God. He said putting sincere and complete efforts with clean heart is what is needed; results are in the hand of God.

“I have worked diligently to serve all Houstonians including our community as the City Councilman and will work even more meticulously, if given chance by all Houstonians, to serve them as their proficient Controller:” Said M J Khan.

11-28

ACLU Condemns Charity Closings

June 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Duke Helfand

The federal government’s crackdown on suspected terrorism financing since the 9/11 attacks has violated the rights of US Muslim charities and deterred Muslims from charitable giving, the ACLU said last Tuesday.

An expansion of laws and policies since 2001 has given the US Treasury in particular virtually unchecked authority to designate charities as terrorist organizations and freeze assets without adequate safeguards to protect against mistakes or abuse, the study concluded.

It said that such sweeping powers, combined with the FBI interviewing Muslim donors and putting mosques under surveillance, has created a climate of fear among Muslims. Donors have been reluctant to fulfill their religious obligation to give zakat, or charity, one of the “five pillars” of Islam, for fear of being arrested, deported, denied citizenship or prosecuted retroactively for donations made in good faith.

“Giving charity is a central part of being Muslim, so it weighs heavily on them that they cannot practice a key tenet of their faith,” said ACLU researcher Jennifer Turner, who based her findings on interviews with 120 Muslim community leaders, donors and former government officials.

In a statement, the Treasury Department, which is responsible for oversight of charitable activity, said it attempts to help the charitable community protect against terrorist abuses.

“We’re hopeful this ongoing communication will ensure all charitable groups, regardless of religious affiliation, have the ability to provide assistance where it’s needed most, without empowering terrorist organizations,” the agency said.

In his speech in Cairo this month, President Obama addressed the oversight of Muslim charities, saying the “rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”

Civil libertarians and Muslim advocates say the new administration has yet to actually address the problems. The ACLU said federal policies have led to closures of nine Muslim charities in Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon and other states.

The leaders of one former charity, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, were convicted in November of funneling more than $12 million to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The US designated Hamas a terrorist organization, making contributions to it illegal. Two founding members of Holy Land, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity, were each sentenced last month to 65 years in prison.

Still, Muslim advocates and the ACLU said the government has seized the assets of other charities without charging them with a crime, driving charitable giving underground and undermined diplomatic efforts in Muslim countries, they said.

“This is an issue that not only goes to religious giving, but we see this as critical to our continued integration and participation in American public life,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy and education organization based in San Francisco.

“To be engaged in public life, we need to feel comfortable supporting our community institutions,” she said.

11-27

Reality Check for Obama in Afghanistan

February 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

He’s facing pressure to increase US troop levels there. Has Washington learned nothing from the Soviet experience?

Courtesy Walter Rodgers

 

2009-02-18T122025Z_01_POP09_RTRMDNP_3_AFGHANISTAN

between the U.S. troop commander in the area and local tribal leaders near Khas Kunar refugee camp, Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan February 18, 2009.

REUTERS/Oleg Popov  

Oakton, Va. – History may not repeat itself, but all too often it recycles mistakes. In 1961, before the Vietnam War became full-fledged, former Gen. Douglas MacArthur warned President Kennedy not to fight a land war in Asia. Over the next 14 years, more than 58,000 Americans died as Washington ignored his advice and ramped up operations.

Today, the US is stuck in another land war in Asia: Afghanistan. The original mission was to capture Osama bin Laden, disable Al Qaeda, remove the Taliban, and keep the country from being a safe haven for terrorists. After seven years of fighting, hundreds of dead US soldiers and thousands more wounded, those objectives have not been met.

And now the US wants to double down, adding as many as 30,000 additional US troops there to get the job done.

Sharp lessons from the Soviets

It’s unfathomable that Washington learned so little from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which ended in an ignominious retreat followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union three years later. The Soviets lost 15,000 soldiers.

In the brief honeymoon after the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, US and Russian intellectuals and officials met to analyze the Afghan war and concluded it would have required 750,000 to 1 million Soviet troops to subdue Afghanistan. But Moscow never deployed more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at any one time. The Soviets discovered they could win battles but never hold more than a few cities in a country the size of Texas.

The United States now has 33,000 troops in Afghanistan. Even if President Obama agrees to double that amount, the effort will be wasted. Half a million US troops might not be enough. It wasn’t in Vietnam. Mr. Obama needs to recognize that hesitation to expand the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with will or cowardice and everything to do with wisdom.

The totalitarian Soviets lacked the political will to deploy three quarters of a million troops. Kremlin mossbacks knew even the docile Russian populace of the Communist era wouldn’t buy it. In 1979, when the ruling Politburo reluctantly decided to send in the troops, it was bitterly opposed by the chief of staff, Marshal of the Army Nikolai Ograkov. He flatly first told then-Defense Minister Dimitri Ustinov and later party leader Leonid Brezhnev that a war in Afghanistan would be a huge mistake. So controversial was the decision to commit Russian forces that only a handful of senior members of the ruling Politburo participated. In the end, those elders chose to go in, primarily because they feared the US was trying to destabilize Afghanistan and sew it into the West’s patchwork encirclement of the Soviet Union.

It took nine years before Moscow concluded that its war in Afghanistan was a mistake. After the cold war, Russia declassified documents on Afghanistan and the West learned that on more than a dozen occasions between March of 1979 and the December invasion, Brezhnev refused to intervene despite destabilization of the Soviet Union’s southern border.

As a correspondent based in Moscow in the 1980s, I made several trips into Afghanistan with the Soviets. When I returned to Moscow, my Russian office manager asked me what it was like there. Waxing enthusiastic, I told her, “It was magnificent, straight out of Kipling and the 19th century.” Her blue Slavic eyes narrowed. “No, Walt, you are wrong. Afghanistan is the 14th century.”

After 9/11, when hordes of reporters traveled to this mystical, medieval land, the recommended reading was historical fiction of the late George MacDonald Fraser’s first “Flashman” volume on the Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-1842. The entire retreating British column of upwards of 16,000 men, women, and children – save for one survivor – was wiped out by the forefathers of those who drove the Soviets out 150 years later. Obama would be well advised to read “Flashman” and realize how little Afghanistan has changed.

It would be delusional to expect any American expeditionary force to liberate and enlighten Afghans, freeing women from resurgent Taliban. There’s an adage familiar to all who worked there: “There only two times an Afghan woman leaves her home: when she gets married and when she dies.” Afghanistan is a land polka-dotted in graveyards beyond counting. UNICEF says 20 percent of all Afghan children die before their fifth birthday. The entire US Army will not be able to convert greedy warlords to modernity.

Afghanistan is a feudal quilt of tribes. It’s disingenuous to call it a country. It is a failed state, perhaps best babysat by its regional neighbors: Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and India.

Their individual interests and goals in Afghanistan may differ, but none is eager to have a rejuvenated Al Qaeda caliphate led by loose cannons such as Ayman al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden, whom they cannot control. If three regional superpowers – India, China, and Russia – opt to sit on the sidelines in their own neighborhood, what logic is there for American intervention from an ocean and continent away?

Even as they request more troops, US generals have acknowledged that an Iraq-style “surge” won’t work. “Afghanistan is not Iraq,” said Gen. David McKiernan, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. General McKiernan, who led ground forces in Iraq in 2003, has described Afghanistan as “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq.” Today, the Pentagon talks of achieving not victory or lasting democracy but merely progress against militants.

No good options left

There are no good options left after the Bush administration’s unnecessary war in Iraq. An increased American intervention in Afghanistan might have been more welcome six years ago. Now it is probably too late. Yet a total American withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave in its wake anarchy and bloodbath. An ugly Taliban triumph would ensue. The Taliban need to be contained, but not exclusively by the US, so Obama must persuade NATO and Afghanistan’s near neighbors to play a larger, perhaps dominant, role.

Pakistan can no longer labor under the ill usion that it can manipulate events from across the border. If the Pakistanis have learned anything since 9/11, it should be that Afghanistan’s growing destabilization increasingly threatens their own society. Imagine for a moment that the Obama administration were to announce a withdrawal from Afghanistan in six months. The regional powers who know their own neighborhood far better than Washington would quickly come up with a formula and the troops to stabilize the failed state. If there is no constituency among these neighbors to “fix” Afghanistan, then the US can no more go it alone than could the Russians.

The resurgent Taliban may be unstoppable. The Bush administration was warned of that four years ago but spent most of its resources instead in Iraq. Still, accommodation with the Taliban, who are brutal and medieval, is not the same as capitulation to bin Laden. Recall that in the late 1990s, the Taliban was initially reluctant to have an Arab-led Islamist jihad waged from Afghanistan. The past seven years of US bombing and war in the countryside have sharply reminded the Taliban that they were better off without bin Laden as a guest. The Sudanese were persuaded of that more than a decade ago.

The idea of creating a secular national army in Afghanistan to fend off the20Taliban is not only tardy but smacks of the usual American mind-set of throwing money and advisers at a problem. The Afghan tribes speak Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, and Turkmen with some Baluchi, Pashai, and Nuristani thrown in for good measure. Which language is the Afghan Army going to fight in?

The real challenge to a new Afghan Army, however, is that it is not aflame with the Islamic cohesiveness that fires the Taliban. Until it is, it will be little more than a collection of uninspired, unmotivated militiamen more interested in collecting a monthly American paycheck than in creating a unified nation out of the ashes of 30 years of war.

It is still not clear what Obama thinks other than that, unlike George W. Bush, he says Afghanistan is more central to the war on terror than Iraq. On that he is correct. Washington and Kabul just agreed to a strategic review of the war. Whatever option Obama chooses, he must not risk the same mistake the Soviets made in underestimating the energized power of the Islamic faith. An enlarged American footprint in Afghanistan runs the risk of repeating Russia’s fatal miscalculations. War, like politics, is the art of the possible.

Obama must remember that it is intolerable in the eyes of Muslims to be subjugated and occupied by non-Muslims, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan. Western military occupation didn’t work for the Crusaders in the Levant, for Napoleon in Egypt, or for the British in Iraq. Obama needs to be mindful of this as he decides whether to expand a war in southwest Asia, a historic graveyard of empires.

• Walter Rodgers is a former senior international correspondent for CNN.

Baitulmaal Fundraiser

April 10, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz , MMNS

The deteriorating conditions in Gaza – often described as the world’s largest outdoor prison– have shocked and outraged just and humane people throughout the world. With the attention of the world focused on Gaza, another organization has stepped forward to bring aid and alleviate the suffering there.

A banquet and fundraiser sponsored by Baitulmaal was held in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Garden Grove, Ca. this past Saturday night.

Titled: “Light A Candle for Gaza,” the well attended event raised more than $85,000 for the beleaguered people of Gaza who lack even the basics of life as they endure deprivation under the boot of the Israeli oppressors.

The event featured as keynote speaker Dr. Hatem Bazien of the University of California in Berkeley. A native Palestinian, he is currently an adjunct professor at Boalt Hall School of Law and a senior lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies there.

Afzar Noradeen was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Beginning with a reading of the Qu’ran by Moheb Daha, the evening also featured Hasan Mahmoud, an Imam from Jenin, Sheikh Mostafa Kamel and Osama Abuirshaid.

The audience listened intently as they were reminded of the ummah they were a part of. Quoting from the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), the speakers told the attendees that they were part of one body and – using an analogy of the human body – when one part of the body was in pain, the entire body was impacted.

“You do not look down on a fellow Muslim, and you do not let him down.”

Brother Abuirshaid told of individuals in Gaza and their suffering – of a pregnant mother of three who lost both legs in an Israeli bombing. Who, he asked rhetorically, will care for her children? He spoke of young children who live out of trash receptacles. He told of a 19 year old girl dying of kidney failure – a disease which could be controlled with medication easily available in the West.

Brother Abuirshaid spoke of individual Gazans and their suffering, giving them names as he did so. The audience gasped as these people became more than statistics.

“I feel as if I know them and suffer with them.” said one young woman in the audience.

Baitulmaal is an organization which strives to aid the poor, the sick and the helpless. Headquartered in Texas, Baitulmaal is a (501)(c)(3) charity. Members work toward preventing disease, improving the educational infrastructure and encourage hygiene in troubled areas of the world. Baitulmaal will be found wherever communities are in danger of dissolution and ruin; they serve communities racked both by war and by natural disaster. Baitulmaal has worked in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and in the United State where, to cite one example, the organization came to the aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A recent feature story in The Dallas Morning News in Baitulmaal’s home state described Baitulmaal and its alliance with a Christian organization. Sheikh Hasan Hajmohammad is the co-founder and now a senior consultant of Baitulmaal. Eric Williams is the CEO of a company that produces a religious talk show. They are working together in places far and wide.

Mindful of criticism from the non-Muslim community that might attend cooperation with Baitulmaal, Mr. Williams said: “With the heightened tension today between Muslims and Christians, I really wanted to…help solve the gap.”

From building a hospital in Jenin; to the rescue of earthquake victims in Pakistan; to providing blankets in the aftermath of a fire in Texas, Baitulmaal serves humanity.

To learn more about Baitulmaal, please access their web site at: www.baitulmaal.org. Or they may be accessed by postal service at: Post Office Box 166911, Irving, Texas, 75016. The telephone number of Baitulmaal is: (972) 257-2564.

10-16

Community News, North America (US & Canada)

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Curtain controversy in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL— The board of the Muslim Community Centre in Chicago has voted to let the organization’s president to work on a compromise on whether to replace a curtain hung to separate the men and women’s areas of the mosque.
The curtain was removed during renovations and since then has not been replaced. In an earlier meeting the board had voted 13-2 in favour of the “Not To Raise Curtain” resolution with two members abstaining.
Despite the vote Dr.Abdul Sattar, president of the MCC, said that a majority of the community wants the curtain divider and called for last Sunday’s meeting.
The new resolution calls on the president to take into consideration how women felt and to try to please everyone.

Minister praised for interfaith work

AUSTIN,TX—The Rev.Jim Mayfield, pastor of Tarrytown United Methodist Church, who retired recently was praised for his years of interfaith work. Imam Safdar Razi of the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association said Rev. Mayfield played an important role in supporting the local Muslim community in the wake of Sept.11 attacks.
Under Mayfield’s leadership, the organization gathered clerics from different religions to pray on the steps of the Texas Capitol and “helped the Muslim communities a lot by letting people understand that Muslims also condemn the acts of terror and terrorism,” Razi told the Statesman.

Muslims join immigrant rights rally

DES PLAINES,IL— Muslims joined hundreds others in a rally calling for immigration rights and reform in the Des Plaines suburb of Chicago.
“We come here to work. We don’t come here to do anything bad or — we come here to have a better future,” said Lizeth Rios to ABC News.
What they’re doing right now is shameful and they’re trying to take away people’s hope. But there are good people who are doing things like that. We re trying do things in a peaceful matter. God did not create any borders,” said Rita Gonzales, Latin Americans United.
The rally ended with a prayer for those who had died trying to cross the border.

Nazir Baig passes away

BALTIMORE, MD—Nazir Baig, prominent Baltimore area Muslim community leader, passed away this week. He was a board member of the Muslim Community Center of Maryland. He also served as the organization’s trustee and chairman for 5 years and as president for 10 years. His tenure saw tremendous growth in the organization. He actively took part in various community building activities. He worked as a town planner for the Montgomery County.

New mosque in San Luis Obispo

SAN LUIS OBISPO,CA—- The Islamic Center of the Central Coast is seeking a building permit to build a new mosque and community center on Walnut Street in San Luis Obispo. The new mosque will be bigger than the centre’s present one.
Architect Heidi Gibson said the mosque’s new location makes it a good fit among San Luis Obsipo’s cultural and spiritual centers.
“We have the mission downtown. We have the other downtown churches,” Gibson told the Tribune. “Now weíll have a mosque.”
The mosque has already received approval from the city’s commissions and it can take three months to a year before permits are granted and construction begins.

Eid ul Fitr poem wins Ray Bradbury award

CHICAGO, IL—Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem Eid-ul-Fitr, 1946 won the coveted Ray Bradbury Poetry Writing Contest surpassing 118 entries received from across the world. Mohyuddin, 27, teaches English teacher at Highland Park High School.
The poem is described as a wrenching, fictional ode to a little boy lost amid the prayers and politics of Pakistan.”
“[The poem] is about impending loss, a lot of violence, pain and suffering,” Mohyuddin told the Chicago Tribune.
Mohyuddin’s other entry, The Sadness, also attained a honourable mention in the contest.

Saudi culture shared at Valparaiso

VALPARAISO, IN— Saudi students at the Valparaiso University held a special program to inform the community about the Saudi culture including music, food, religion and life. Around hundred people attended the event sponsored by the International Studies Office of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Student advisor of the Saudi Culture Mission Dr.Faleh Al Hogbani told the student newspaper: “In the Saudi culture we encourage this kind of event and encourage students to spread the culture to the real people of America, not just in D.C.”
The attendees were treated to a multimedia presentation, demonstration of Azan and prayers and lectures. Dr.Nelly Van Doorn-Harder, Patheja professor of world religions and ethics at the university, discussed the history and significance of Saudi Arabia to the Muslim world.
“Saudi Arabia is a country that despite everything, upholds the true concept of Islam,” said Van Doorn-Harder, who has traveled all over the world to study religion.
There are 80 students from Saudi Arabia currently studying at Valparaiso University.

Egyptian student shares perspectives

MADISON, WI— Ahmed Ayad is computer science student working on his Phd at UW-Madison. He is one of of about 60 students from countries around the world who volunteer to share their experiences and perspectives with audiences on and off campus as part of the university’s International Reach program.
Ayad,31, says he wants to present a more realistic picture of Egyptian culture while speaking to a group of eighth graders at Waunakee Middle School. “I want them to come away with a closer-to-reality idea of what a place like Egypt looks like,” he told the State Journal.
The International Reach program was started in the 1990s by Lise Skofronick, a member of Madison Friends of International Students, and was later adopted by the university, said Merilee Sushoreba, student services coordinator, who coordinates the program’s on-campus component.
But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, International Reach was put on hiatus because of staff constraints and the need to focus on implementing new federal policies for students from other countries, said Stephanie Cowan, international student advisor, who coordinates the program’s off-campus component.
The program began making a comeback in 2004, and is now going strong after receiving a $5,000 grant from the university’s Kemper K. Knapp Bequest, which has paid for a student assistant this year to help with scheduling and other costs, such as materials and transportation.
Ayad, who came to UW-Madison in 2000, said people have a lot of misconceptions about the Middle East. “The most troubling to me is the misconception about religion,” he said.
While the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the current war in Iraq “have not helped,” Ayad said they also have sparked interest in the Muslim faith.
Though he keeps his presentations “as neutral as possible,” sticking to subjects such as history and culture, Ayad told his audience of eighth- graders, “You guys can ask me any question you want.”

Cricket Tour / Contest for DeLay’s Seat / Houston Local Cricket

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Never Forget the South Asian Quake, Says Pakistan Cricket Team

Islamic Relief Volunteers from the US, UK and Pakistan were already operating on the Azad Kashmir Line of Control when the huge earthquake struck the South Asian Region at 8:50 am Pakistan time, on October 8, 2005.
Many volunteers lost loved ones in the catastrophe, which was twenty times more damaging than Hurricane Katrina which had hit New Orleans just before, on August 25, 2005.
Former captains of the Pakistan Cricket Team, Rashid Latif and Moin Khan and record-holder, first-class c cricketer and coach Haris Ahmed Khan, joined hands with Islamic Relief and went deep into the Neelum Valley to work with their own bare hands to assist those in the region who have lost almost everything.
After what they saw, they determined it would take years to build the lives of the devastated people. Having witnessed many heart-wrenching and dreadful stories of poor people of the region, these three celebrities of Pakistan Cricket came for a long and tiring fundraising effort in North America, which took them to California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Ontario Canada.
During their stay in Texas, they came to Dallas and Houston. In Dallas, they raised more than $200,000, while in an unscheduled last-minute Houston event they were able to raise more than $15,000.
Rashid, Moin and Haris all said that these people may have lost everything and may even have lost their natural emotions or grief, but all of them have the rest of the world to assist them. Many people promised to help—most of those promises were fulfilled. For years to come, the need is so immense that even if we have given to them, we still need to go back to our wallets and pockets and keep giving for another five to eight years.
The cricketers praised the efforts of Islamic Relief and the disciplined manner in which they have taken up this huge task, with just 6% overhead.
For more information on this fundraising humanitarian trip, and for information on ongoing humanitarian projects, call Anwar Khan of Islamic Relief at 1-818-216-9723.

Mayor of Sugarland Wants to take Tom DeLay’s Seat

The popular mayor, David G. Wallace, of Sugarland Texas, wants to take the seat of Tom DeLay, whenever he will decide to vacate.
Toward this end, he is meeting several people in the communities in Texas and also planning to travel to New York and other places to raise funds.
Recently he met, at Lassani Restaurant, a bipartisan group representing Texas communities of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians.
He said that, having done his job to the best of his abilities at the local level, he now has aspirations to provide service to the people of America by being in the congress. He said although he is not well abreast about all foreign affairs issues, he is interacting with several communities to learn from them how they think about these problems of the world.
He said he is the advocate for low-interest rates to enhance the economy, and will work to build a better lifestyle for all Americans and to build fruitful measures for small businesses.

New Houston Pakistan/India Cricket Win-Loss Record: Tied at 4 and 4!

It was 1998 when the first annual Pakistan v. India Houston Players Cricket Match was played. Ever since then, every April third, these two traditional teams play against each other in a most disciplined, high-class and friendly manner.
The game has been played without a hitch except one year when it was cancelled for rain. Of the remaining years, the win-loss record is as follows: Pakistan has won four times and India three times; this year India won, making the record 4 and 4.
The match was played at the beautiful Harris County Tom-Bass Park. Pakistan scored 232, while India crossed the score when they had two wickets and few balls left to play.
Elegant left handed batsman Sushil made 115*, the first century of these traditional matches. Sushil was declared the Most Valuable Player of the Match. Majid of Pakistan was affirmed as the best bowler for his three quick wickets, which made the game even poised and most exciting at one stage. Captain Rafay of Pakistan for his 45 was given the best batsman award.
Those interested in playing cricket or wanting to know more about this game in Houston, please visit the website of the Houston Cricket League: http://www.houstoncricket. com/

Houstonian Corner for Volume 8, Issue 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

First-Ever Mawlid Procession in Downtown Houston
“This effort is being done to show intense love for our Beloved Messenger Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him): Also this peaceful walk through the blocks of downtown calls all the world especially our neighboring Americans of all backgrounds to appreciate by learning and knowing about the humanity-loving personality of Messenger Mohammad (s),” said one of the organizers of this first-of-its kind march in downtown Houston, which was held in the honor of the glorious Messenger Muhammad (s) during this blessed hijra month, Rabi-ul-Awwal.
Many Muslims came to the event, where the atmosphere was buzzing with nasheeds and with Islamic Poetry sung in both English and Urdu. Slogans of “Allah Is Great” and “Naray Risala” were showered on the holiest messenger Muhammad (s).
The peaceful parade started at Market Square in downtown Houston, went up about four to five blocks along Milam, and then circled around back to the starting area.
There under tents all the participants listened to stories related by imams of the many beautiful aspects of the life of Messenger Muhammad (s).
The Shahnai Restaurant provided free food to show their love for the most beloved Messenger for the occasion.
For more information on similar programs, please call 713-779-1304. –
MYBA All-Star Basketball Benefit!
Don’t Miss This Treat Next Time
By Coach
Jamaaluddin J. Al-Haidar
On Sunday, April 2nd, a small but vocal group of supporters and basketball fans filed into Northwest Houston’s spacious air-conditioned Del Mar coliseum in anticipation of an afternoon of excitement and entertainment as six Muslim All-Star basketball teams took to the court for three highly-competitive games. Indeed these were the fortunate ones for they were to be a part of making history as the Muslim Youth Basketball Association (MYBA) held its first-ever-in-Texas-of-its-kind youth and young adult basketball competition.
The afternoon started with congregational dhur prayers followed by the first game of the afternoon, between the Mecca and Medina squads at the 14-and-under age division. This game was followed by the Mecca and Medina squads 18-and-under players, and then the main event, the ever popular and exciting 19-and-older young adult division.
Over the course of two months, tryouts were held at sites on the North and South sides of the city. The six 8-man rosters included some of the best talent from across the many ISGH-affiliated masajid and centers, as well as from Masjid Al-Farouk, Madrassa Islamiah, the Islamic Education Center, and the Nigerian-American Muslim community.
MYBA Commissioner Jamaaluddin Al-Haidar was himself very involved in the talent selection process. “While we wanted to access the best basketball talent available, we went out of our way to build Mecca and Medina teams that would showcase our ethnic and cultural diversity while developing strong bonds of kinship between brothers who under most scenarios would not likely be teammates or even attend the same Masjid.”
At times, the coliseum sounded like a Rockets game at the Toyota Center. MC and play-by-play announcer Badar Alam set the stage as he introduced the starting lineups at the start of each game.
As players jogged out to center court one-by-one, acknowledging and tapping fists with the three uniformed licensed referee officials along the way, it was truly a wonderful sight to see two teams of Muslims wearing the names of these two historic Islamic cities. Team Mecca wore white jerseys with black trim, while the Medina squad wore black jerseys with white trim.
Despite disappointing ticket sales and gate receipts, MYBA Treasurer Aijaz Ahmed was optimistic about the future of these kinds of events in the local Muslim community. “This is just the beginning. This is something very new for our community. Those who were here at the event can now go back and tell others how well-organized the event was, how clean and comfortable the facility was, and certainly how exciting and competitive the games were. Insha`Allah, with more planning and marketing, the next one will be much bigger.”
The excitement on the faces of the many young children who were in attendance and the cheers from their parents as their adopted teams scored points was something new….something that hasn’t happened in a long time in this community…..something that MYBA hopes to make happen with regularity.
MYBA wishes to express its special gratitude for the efforts of dedicated volunteers and donors like Latif Bhegani, Nazeer Malik, Shabana Motors, and event sponsors, Jerusalem Halal Meats, Shahnai Restaurant and Payless/Affordable Auto Glass.
Proceeds from the event after expenses amounted to $1,200 and were presented to ICNA Relief for its Helping Hands Relief work in the earthquake-stricken regions of South Asia.
Plans are underway for a super tournament featuring Muslim teams from the Dallas Ft-Worth and Austin communities as well as our local Houston teams. The spring leagues as well as the annual MYBA Hoopfest summer-long basketball development camp, league, and tournament are currently under development as well.
Stay updated by joining the MYBA mailing list at www.mybausa.org. -

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