All-Female Health Seminars for Minorities in Michigan

December 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Nargis Rahman, TMO

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The audience listens to the 2nd lecture in a series at the the women’s health seminar on breast and cervical cancer.     

Photo by Subha Hanif

Hamtramck, Michigan– Bangladeshi Americans for Social Empowerment, a non-profit group in Michigan, will host a health seminar in Hamtramck on osteoporosis in January for minority women.

Project Coordinator, Subha Hanif of Rochester Hills said, the seminars are a continuation of a project started in October for Bangladeshi women. Women from Hamtramck, Detroit, Warren and Sterling Heights in Michigan were invited.

Many of these women are uninsured or do not have a regular doctor, said Hanif, based on women who attended these seminars. The seminars are available to other minority women who may fall into the same categories. Hanif said, “It’s not helping in any way if people are not coming.”

Two seminars have been held in Hamtramck, at Jalalabad (above Aladdin Sweets & Café), which has the largest population of Bangladeshi Americans in Michigan, roughly three percent of the city’s total population.

Participant Razia Begum of Detroit said she liked the program. Everyone benefitted from the program by learning about free health care, she said.

Hanif, an undergraduate biology major at Oakland University, who is a Bangladeshi American said she understands the needs and limitations of women from this culture. Women are traditionally shy, “overshadowed” by men, and unlikely to ask important questions regarding their health.

The seminars are female-oriented, including the doctors, to form a comfortable no-men environment, said Hanif. “In a room where men are not allowed, women have embraced the freedom [to ask questions].”

Doctors from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine spoke at the seminars, which ranged from taking care of your health, to learning how to detect breast and pelvic cancer. Hanif translated in Bangla.

Begum said she looks forward to the next program. “I want to go in January to learn about tooth pain and bone problems.”

Participants can talk one-on-one with doctors after the seminars; something which Hanif said is not always available at free clinics that have limited time slots for patients.

Hanif’s passion to help others comes from her Muslim faith, parental encouragement, interest in public health, and community service. My parents allowed American assimilation, while retaining the Bangladeshi culture, she said. “We were only allowed to speak Bangla at home, which has motivated me to help Bangladeshis.”

She hopes minority women – who are insured or uninsured – bring their mothers, daughters and neighbors to bond and learn together. “The goal is to make women better agents in taking care of their health and the family’s,” said Hanif.

BASE provides laptops, handouts and materials for the program. Hanif’s dad, Abu Hanif, is on the board of directors.

Flyers will be passed out to businesses in Hamtramck before January’s program.

For more information, contact Subha Hanif by phone at 248-707-9521 or email shanif@oakland.edu .

Pictures: Subha Hanif

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1,000 Participants Attend Norman Finkelstein Lecture in UK

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Over a thousand people attended the Norman Finkelstein’s lecture in central London on November 11th.  Participants were of different backgrounds, ages and professions and mostly university students.  The event is part of a UK tour carried out by Finkelstein, which comes within Palestine awareness week, organized by the Palestinian Return Centre and other organizations.

The event started around 7pm witnessed long queues of people and was a complete sell out. Dozens were not able to take part due to lack of space.

Norman Finkelstein’s lecture illustrated about the developments of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He criticized Israel for its procrastination and manipulation regarding the peace process, accusing its leadership of being the key obstacle to peace.

Furthermore, he blamed Israel for the constant tensions taking place in the region. Also, he criticized Israel for its war against the civilians in Gaza and Lebanon where thousands died and were injured.
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) consider this talk and tour as the most important and successful ever event carried in the UK as thousands of people participated. The tour helped to familiarize students and beginners with the conflict.

“We are keen to spread the word about Palestine in the UK. Universities and students are our key target–to teach them about the injustice facing Palestinians. Working with student unions and groups help reaching that goal. Also, such events can support the Right of Return as people become more aware of the plight facing Palestinians.” Said a PRC spokesman.

The tour of Mr. Finkelstein was successful despite the attempts of Pro-Israeli groups to smear and ruin it. Such groups caused the Manchester event  to be moved from the university to Friends House hall in the city. Manchester University was pressured to move the events following pressure by the Israel lobby.

The Jewish Chronicle, a leading Jewish and Pro-Israeli newspaper in the UK featured the tour on its front page, accusing Mr. Finkelstein of being an anti-Semite because he criticizes the barbaric behaviour of Israel.  The paper claimed there is a pro-Palestinian activism that is sweeping across British universities.

The awareness week included events in Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and London.

The PRC, in the meantime, announced that it has started to prepare a speaking tour for Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who witnessed Israeli attacks against Gaza civilians in 2009.  Gilbert will speak at the Imperial College, UCL, Manchester and Edinburgh Universities.  These events are part of the 3rd Palestine Memorial Week mid Jan 2012.

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Helping Detroit… Tree by Tree

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jumana Abusalah

Jumana AbusalahDetroit is slowly but surely changing for the better. There are many sites and organizations that have been created for the sole purpose of bettering Detroit. One such organization is titled “The Greening of Detroit”. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and guide others to create a ‘greener’ Detroit through planting and environmental educational programs.  They work to benefit Detroit socially, economically, and environmentally.

On Sunday November 6th, Wayne State University’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) teamed up with The Greening of Detroit to plant trees along Dingeman Park. The group of volunteers was large and we succeeded in planting many trees. It was  a very fun experience, yet it was very inspirational. A person does not really think that a tree can make a difference, but after working hard digging and planting for hours, we looked at the end result and realized that that planting a single tree does make a difference! The entire street, once empty and vacant, was transformed into a beautiful landscape with colorful fall leaves and maple trees. 

Waking up the next day with aches and pains never felt better! Feeling that we did something to help the community and please Allah at the same time, left the entire MSA satisfied and eager for more. This experience inspired many students to care about their community and made them realize that when we work together, we can achieve great things!

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Zaytuna Fundraiser at Bloomfield’s Muslim Unity Center

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

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Bloomfield Hills–September 25–A new era has begun, quietly, in the past year, as the first Muslim university has begun its work on the West coast of the United States.

Zaytuna is important because traditional religious education in a legitimate format in the United States has thus far not been available.  The best way to achieve a religious education has been to travel outside of the United States to Muslim nations, and in fact many have done that, including some of those who now contribute to Zaytuna, such as Imam Zaid Shakir.

While there are other Muslim universities, Zaytuna is at a level above them in part because of its adherence to traditional Islamic knowledge, in part because of its cherishing of high quality in instruction, students, and in the manner of the running of the institution, and in part because of the quality of its relations with major American universities.  For example, Zaytuna students now carry UC Berkeley library cards because their university has a relationship with that prestigious university.

Zaytuna also maintains relations with the Graduate Theological Union, Princeton University, Imagine America, and the University Consortium (Claremont College).
The university is based in Berkeley California, and now provides a full bachelor’s program leading to a degree.  The first class of students matriculated during the last school year.
In support of Zaytuna’s effort to build into the future, it conducted a fundraiser at the Muslim Unity Center Sunday.

The fundraising banquet was attended by several hundred guests, who were provided a very good introduction to the activities of Zaytuna over the past year. 

Zaytuna has a full time staff of professors for its student population of 186, supplemented by frequent visits from prestigious professors.  Every week the university invites speakers, many of them Muslim and many of them the preeminent voices in their fields.

Of the 186 students at Zaytuna, 23 are from Michigan–105 are women, 84 are men.  The population is very diverse, which accurately reflects the demographics in this nation, with African American, Arab, Hispanic and South Asian populations all well  represented.

The 186 students came to Zaytuna with an average GPA of 3.6. 

A Zaytuna professor and spokesman explained that while Muslims may fear to send their students to Zaytuna because they might not build the careers there that their parents want for them, in fact such students will be the future leaders of the community, in education, business, graduate study, nonprofits, and in the professions of law and medicine, not to mention public service and community service.

He cited the need of American not-for-profits for Zaytuna’s graduates.  ISNA, CAIR, and the many other Muslim insitutions need people knowledgeable in Islam and well connected within the Muslim community to grow and develop our community. 

The professor cited the urgent need for education among all people, saying that the cost of education is absolutely minimal compared with the cost and opportunity cost of caring for people who for example in the worst case end up as inmates in prison.

“Our graduates are ready to be successful in the next world first, but also in this world.”

The students also endorse the university enthusiastically.  One student traveled from Ohio to Michigan, interrupting her studies for the LSAT to drive several hours to Michigan; she gushed at length about her gratitude to Zaytuna for what it had given her.

“This project is for all of us, not just California,” explained one of the professors at the Bloomfield event.

Zaytuna in fact is extremely cheap relative to other universities.  Tuition is only $11,000 per student per year, with generous financial aid available.  “Lack of funds will never prevent you from study at Zaytuna,” said the professor.

Compare this $11,000 tuition with the $52,000 per year for tuition alone (not room and board) at Stanford University.

Many if not most universities and colleges in the United States were started as religious institutions.  Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Earlham, Haverford, Cornell, Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, all started as religious institutions. 

In fact the building of universities reflected the broader trend that each community engaged in by building houses of worship, business communities, and hospitals.

Imam Zaid Shakir spoke at length at the event, emphasizing our familial relationship with one another, saying “believers are like bricks in a wall, they strengthen one another.”

“This institution is a source of pride in our community.”  He emphasized the importance of getting in on the possibility of donating now, at the ground floor, while the institution must still be hammered out of the metaphorical jungle.

We all as Muslims hope that there will be even better and even more prestitious universities built by our community in future years, but for now at least we can take pride in having one.

The event ended with a very effective fundraising effort which collected approximately $200,000 in donations and pledges–as this fundraiser reflects only a single episode in a broader nationwide fundraising campaign, we can expect that the fundraising effort will collect millions in only a short time–a worthy effort to support a traditional moderate Islamic institution.

The inaugural class at Zaytuna began in 2010, and expects to graduate in 2014.  The second school year began in 2011.  Zaytuna hopes to have bought its own campus by 2014 (currently it rents space for classes).

The university has deep funding needs; it will need tens of millions of dollars to establish self-sustaining faculty chairs, funding for scholarships and study materisals, and an annual fund.

Perhaps the most moving aspect of the fundraiser was the speech by an older doctor in the audience who came from Syria to the United States; he studied and worked to become a doctor, but while in Syria he had helped to physically build an institution which was to be a school for Muslims to attend from around the world, to learn about the traditional knowledge of Islam.  He would come home dirty from head to toe, to scoldings for being dirty.  “We were volunteers to move tiles, bricks.”

Little did he know that 20 years later a man we now know as Zaid Shakir would attend classes inside the very walls he helped to build with his hands; “20 years after that I met him.”

“Don’t underestimate what you do at any stage of your life.  I believe this is one of the best things I have done in my life.”

http://www.zaytuna.org/give/

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The Father of Invention

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mohannad Al-Haj Ali

APPLE/

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds an iPad in this January 27, 2010 file photo. Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, the company announced August 24, 2011.    

REUTERS/Kimberly White

Steve Jobs is routinely voted one of the most influential and powerful people in the world.WHEN the world awoke to the iPod revolution and the innovations that followed such as the iPhone and the iPad, it turned its attention to the creative mind behind them, the founder and chief executive of Apple, Steve Jobs, and his life story as the adopted child of a modest American family.

The Observer newspaper in Britain, Fortune magazine in the US, and other media outlets published lengthy articles on his life in which his biological father of Syrian origin, Abdul Fattah “John” Jandali, emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s to pursue his university studies.

The western media did not give great mention to Jandali other than to say he was an outstanding professor of political science, that he married his girlfriend (Steve’s mother) and by whom he also had a daughter, and that he slipped from view following his separation from his wife.

An American historian, however, has now stirred controversy over the role of genes and their superiority over nurture in the case of Steve Jobs, by describing Jandali in a detailed critical article published briefly on the Internet before it was suddenly removed, as “the father of invention”, given that Jandali’s daughter Mona (Simpson) – Steve’s sister – is also one of the most famous contemporary American novelists and a professor at the renowned University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

The 79-year-old Jandali has deliberately kept his distance from the media.What is known about him lacks detail, and is both one-sided and a source of curiosity at the same time. Here is his story as Jandali himself told it to Al-Hayat.

Jandali in Syria

Abdul Fattah Jandali was born in 1931 to a traditional family in Homs, Syria. His father did not reach university, but was a self-made millionaire who owned “several entire villages”, according to his son. His father held complete authority over his children, authority not shared by his traditional and “obedient” wife.

“My father was a self-made millionaire who owned extensive areas of land which included entire villages,” Jandali said. “He had a strong personality and, in contrast to other parents in our country, my father did not reveal his feelings towards us, but I knew that he loved me because he loved his children and wanted them to get the best university education possible to live a life of better opportunities than he had, because he didn’t have an education. My mother was a traditional Muslim woman who took care of the house and me and my four sisters, but she was conservative, obedient, and a housewife. She didn’t have as important a part in our upbringing and education as my father. Women from my generation had a secondary role in the family structure, and the male was in control.”

The American University

Jandali did not stay long in Syria. “I left for Beirut when I was 18 to study at the American University, and I spent the best years of my life there,” he said.

He was a pan-Arabism activist, and his star soon began to shine. He headed an intellectual and literary society which had a nationalist bent and counted among its members symbols of the Arab nationalists’ movements such as George Habash, Constantine Zareeq, Shafiq Al-Hout and others.

“I was an activist in the student nationalist movement at that time,” he said. “We demonstrated for the independence of Algeria and spent three days in prison. I wasn’t a member of any particular party but I was a supporter of Arab unity and Arab independence. The three and a half years I spent at the American University in Beirut were the best days of my life. The university campus was fantastic and I made lots of friends, some of whom I am still in contact with. I had excellent professors, and it’s where I first got interested in law and political science.”

The university’s Campus Gate magazine published in its 2007 spring issue an article by Tousef Shabal in which he says: “The Al-Urwa Al-Wuthqa Association was founded in 1918 and dedicated to cultural and political activities. Between 1951 and 1954 the society was headed by Abdul Fattah Jandali, the now deceased Eli Bouri, Thabit Mahayni and Maurice Tabari. The decision to disband the society was taken after the events of March 1954…” a reference to the violent demonstrations that took place on the university campus against the Baghdad Pact.

According to Shabal, the society consisted of “diverse political groups such as Arab nationalists and communists, and competition for the managing positions was red hot, but in the end went in favor of the Arab nationalists.”

When Jandali graduated from the American University in Beirut, Syria was going through troubled political and economic times, according to Jandali, and although he wanted to study law at Damascus University and become a lawyer, his father did not agree, saying that there were “too many lawyers in Syria”.

He continued: “Then I decided to continue my higher studies in economy and political sciences at the United States where a relative of mine, Najm Al-Deen Al-Rifa’i, was working as a delegate of Syria to the United Nations in New York. I studied for a year at Columbia University and then went to Wisconsin University where I obtained grants that enabled me to earn my master’s and doctorate. I was interested in studying the philosophy of law and analysis of law and political sciences, and I focused in my studies at the American University on international law and the economy.”

The birth of Steve and Mona

While studying in Wisconsin, Jandali met Joanne Carole Sciebele by whom he had a boy while they were both still students, but Sciebele’s father was conservative and wouldn’t agree to them getting married, so she gave her baby boy – Steve Jobs – up for adoption.

Initially, a lawyer and his wife approached, but did not proceed with adoption when they found out the child was a boy and not a girl as they wanted. Another couple came forward, neither of whom had gone through university education, and adopted the newborn baby after agreeing to the mother’s condition that the child be given a university education later in life.

Abdul Fattah (who added “John” to his name) returned and married Sciebele, and they had a daughter and named her Mona, but he then traveled to Syria – part of the United Arab Republic at the time – intending to enter the diplomatic corps.

The United Arab Republic

“I had two basic paths open to me after graduating,” Jandali said. “Either go back to my home country and work with the Syrian government, or stay in the United States and in university education, and that is what I did for a while. I went back to Syria when I got my doctorate, and I thought I’d be able to find work in the government, but that didn’t happen. I worked as a manager at a refinery plant in my hometown of Homs for a year, during which Syria was part of the United Arab Republic and run by the Egyptians. Egyptian engineers, for example, ran the Ministry of Energy in Syria, and the situation wasn’t right for me, so I went back to the United States to rejoin education there.”

According to Jandali, his wife decided to break up with him while he was away in Syria, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his academic work.

“I enjoyed university education very much, it was a rewarding profession, but unfortunately during the sixties and seventies in the United States the pay was very poor for academics, and in general they did not enjoy great respect due to the prevailing belief that professors only taught because they couldn’t do anything else. That is stupid and wrong, of course. I was an assistant professor at Michigan University then at Nevada University. I purchased a restaurant and became interested in making money, and I gave up academic work to run the business. After the restaurant I was a manager at companies and organizations in Las Vegas, and then I opened two restaurants in Reno and joined the organization that I manage today.”

Jandali describes himself as an “idealist”. “Any job I want to do, I try my utmost to see it through completely or not do it at all. Academically, I was very successful. In business management, after a couple of difficult years, I improved. For example, now I run the organization I work in. Success in the world of business requires you to be interested in your assistants and staff and to have a clear vision.”

80 years: No to retirement

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In the tumult following Steve Jobs’ resignation, the media have been digging up interviews with Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is a Syrian-born vice president of a casino in Reno.

Jandali is that rare case of a person continuing work beyond the age of retirement, and it is something he is proud of.

“Next March I’ll be in my eighties, but to look at me you’d think I was only in my sixties because I’ve taken care of myself, looked after my health, and I love work. I think retirement is the worst of western societies’ institutions. When people retire they become detached, grow old and stop looking after themselves. Enthusiasm for life dies out and energy levels drop, and they effectively kill themselves, even though they’re still alive. I’m not planning to retire even if I leave my position here after a year or two. I’ll dedicate myself to writing, I might write a book or two. My daughter is a very successful novelist with five books, and I plan to move on from my work, and I’m thinking of writing about the Arab World, perhaps a historical narrative with analysis for the future.”

But even so, Jandali has not been to Syria for over 35 years. “Not because I don’t want to, but because of the worry which affects an emigrant when he wants to go back to his home country after so many years, and over what might await him there. I’m thinking of visiting Lebanon and Abu Dhabi next summer to see relatives,” he said.

He doesn’t hide his nostalgia. “I miss my family in Syria. When I left, my closest relatives were still alive. I miss my culture and society and the tight social bonds between relatives as well as the standard of living. Here in the United States there is technological advancement and abundant opportunities for growth and work, but it’s not life itself, and while one appreciates the individual freedoms in western societies, there are times when you really feel that you are alone, that you don’t have the moral family support that you have in the east. I’m not talking about one’s mother or father, but the wider family, relatives, that entity that makes you feel you are part of it, that’s what I miss most about my home country. Of course I miss the social life and wonderful food, but the most important thing is the outstanding cultural attributes which in general you don’t find in the West.

“If I had the chance to go back in time, I wouldn’t leave Syria or Lebanon at all. I would stay in my home country my whole life. I don’t say that out of emotion but out of common sense. I think I’ve wasted my energies and talents in the wrong place and in the wrong society. But that’s just theoretical talk, and what’s happened has happened.” So what remains of his Syrian identity and Arabic culture after nearly 60 years in America?

“I’m a non-practicing Muslim and I haven’t been on the Haj, but I believe in Islam in doctrine and culture, and I believe in the family. I have never experienced any problem or discrimination in the United States because of my religion or race. Other than my accent which might sometimes suggest that I’m from another country, I have completely integrated in society here. I advise young Arabs coming here, however, to get a university degree and not prolong their stay, as there are lots of opportunities in the Arab World today, particularly in the Gulf. The good minds of the Arab world must stay there, as they might be able to help their countries there more than they can here.

Father of invention

Responding to his being called the “father of invention”, Jandali says: “My daughter Mona is a famous writer, and my biological son is Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple. The reason he was put up for adoption was because my girlfriend’s father was extremely conservative and wouldn’t let her marry me, and she decided to give him up for adoption. Steve is my biological son, but I didn’t bring him up, and he has a family that adopted him. So if it’s said that I’m the ‘father of invention’, then that’s because my biological son is a genius and my daughter a brilliant writer. I thank God for my success in life, but I’m no inventor.

“I think that if my son Steve had been brought up with a Syrian name he would have achieved the same success. He has a brilliant mind. And he didn’t finish his university studies. That’s why I think he would have succeeded whatever his background. I don’t have a close relationship with him. I send him a message on his birthday, but neither of us has made overtures to come closer to the other. I tend to think that if he wants to spend time with me he knows where I am and how to get hold of me.

“I also bear the responsibility for being away from my daughter when she was four years old, as her mother divorced me when I went to Syria, but we got back in touch after 10 years. We lost touch again when her mother moved and I didn’t know where she was, but since 10 years ago we’ve been in constant contact and I see her three times a year. I organized a trip for her last year to visit Syria and Lebanon and she went with a relative from Florida. I always take the side of the mother because the son will always be happiest with his mother.

I’m proud of my son and his accomplishments, and of my work. Of course I made mistakes, and if I could go back in time I would have put some things right. I would have been closer to my son, but all’s well that ends well. Steve Jobs is one of the most successful people in America, and Mona is a successful academic and novelist.”

On the likelihood of Steve Jobs being regarded as an “American-Arab”, Jandali says: “I don’t think he pays much attention to these gene-related things. People know that he has Syrian origins and that his father is Syrian, that’s all well-known. But he doesn’t pay attention to these things. He has his own distinctive personality and he’s highly-strung. People who are geniuses can do what they want.”

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Mostafa El-Sayed

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

el-sayedMostafa  El-Sayed was born in the year 1933  at Zifta, Egypt. He graduated  with bachelor of  science degree from  Ein Shams University, Cairo,  and completed PhD. in chemistry at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida in1958. He held Research Associate  positions at Harvard, Yale and the California Institute of Technology. He was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at Los Angeles,  where he worked till 1994.  At present he is the Julius Brown Chair and Regents Professor and Director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Mostafa El-Sayed  have contributed to many areas of physical and materials chemistry research, including the development of new techniques such as magnetophoto selection, picosecond Raman spectroscopy and phosphorescence microwave double resonance spectroscopy. Using spectroscopic techniques, they have been able to answer fundamental questions regarding ultrafast dynamical processes involving molecules, solids and photobiological systems. His work earned him a 2007 US. National Medal of Science award in Chemistry for his seminal and creative contributions to our understanding of the electronic and optical properties of nano-materials and to their applications in nano-catalysis and nano-medicine. His work has opened a brand new method to understand nanoparticles which can be used in nano-technology. 

Dr. Mostafa El-Sayed’s group were the first to synthesize metallic nanoparticles of different shape. It would be quite profitable if one can determine the type of reactions each shape would catalyze. Selectivity in catalysis saves a great deal of energy and money in reducing the need for exhaustive and expensive separation costs. Different nanocrystal shapes have different facets and so it can be used for different  catalytic functions. The El-Sayed’s group is also studying different techniques to stabilize the nanocrystal shapes, which can be used for a particular catalytic effect.  

Mostafa  El-Sayed is an internationally renowned nanoscience researcher whose work in the synthesis and study of the properties of nanomaterials of different shape may have applications in the treatment of cancer. He has a spectroscopy rule named after him, the El-Sayed rule. He has over 300 publications in the areas of spectroscopy and molecular dynamics. He uses short pulsed lasers to understand relaxation, transport and conversion of energy in molecules, in solids and in photosynthetic systems. He supervised the research of 50 PhD. students, 30 postdoctoral fellows and 15 visiting professors. Among his other many honors are the 2009 Ahmed Zewail Prize in Molecular Science.

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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Dr. Abdul Razzaque Ahmed Receives Lifetime Achievement Award From the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

Pan Arab CeremonyDubai, UAE–On 19th of April 2011, the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists honoured Dr. Abdul Razzaque Ahmed of Boston, Massachusetts with a “Lifetime Achievement Award”.  The Award was given at a joint meeting of the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists and Dubai Derm 2011 held at the International Convention Center in Dubai.  The patron of the Meeting was HRH Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who presided over the session.  In announcing the Award, Dr. Omar Al Sheikh of Riyadh, KSA, Secretary General, stated; 

“In recognition of his 35 years of dedication and commitment to treating patients with severe autoimmune blistering diseases and for the discovery of new and novel therapies to treatment them.  In addition, in recognition of his numerous landmark and milestone contributions enhancing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of their pathogenesis, the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists present this Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Abdul Razzaque Ahmed.”

The Pan Arab League of Dermatologists has been in existence since 1979.  It consists of 23 Arab countries which have a cumulative population of over 8700 dermatologist that constitute the League.  It meets every three years in a different Arab country.  This is the first time in is 33 years of existence that it has bestowed such an Award. 

The objectives of the League are:

•    To hold conferences and educate its members with knowledge of the latest advances and discoveries in the science and practice of medical and surgical dermatology.
•    To promote the specialty, scientifically and professionally the League provides an avenue to advance collaboration between individual members and member countries. 
•    To foster the development of infrastructure in the academic institutions within member countries by aiding in the formulation of curricula, faculty recruitment and exchange, and sharing resources to create a learning environment that is challenging for young physicians to become competent dermatologists. 
•    To strongly support the translation of manuscripts, books, and other written educational resources into Arabic to advance scientific research and the utilization of information technology. 
•    To ultimately be the voice of dermatology in the Arab world by uniting Arab dermatologists under one umbrella.

Dr. Ahmed is originally from a small town called Wani in the District Yavatmal in Maharashtra in Central India.  He studied medicine at the internationally-renowned All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.  Shortly thereafter he went to the United States where he trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, in Dermatology at the University of Buffalo, and in Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of California at Los Angeles.  Dr. Ahmed was on the Faculty of Medicine at UCLA for six years before moving to Harvard University in Boston.  He began molecular research and earned a Doctorate of Science degree from the Harvard University Faculty of Medicine, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Thereafter, Dr. Ahmed continued his laboratory research for 20 years on the campus of the Harvard Medical School with funding provided by the National Institute of Health.  He also opened the first “Center for Blistering Diseases” in the U.S.  The Center provides an all-inclusive, holistic approach to treating every aspect of a patient’s life.  Dr. Ahmed established a model for the treatment of these autoimmune, potentially fatal diseases.  This model has been emulated in other cities with significant success.

Dr. Ahmed is one among a handful of blistering disease specialists in the world.  He has published original scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in various books, and edited five  monographs.  He has lectured in the U.S. and worldwide throughout Asia, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East.  Blistering diseases patients come to him from all over the U.S. and several countries overseas.  He is unique because he is an excellent clinician, an imaginative and creative scientist, and an effective teacher with an infectious enthusiasm and the ability to make young physicians become interested and excited in what they study and learn.  He has received several prestigious awards in the U.S. and many other countries.  It is important to note that he also received two Citations for his research and its global impact; one from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the other from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Argeo Paul Cellucci. 

Dr. Ahmed treats patients with autoimmune, potentially fatal blistering diseases that affect the skin, mouth, throat, nose, eyes, voice box, swallowing tub, genitalia, and rectum.  The blisters break easily, leaving raw and open sores that are open to infection.  These sores stick to the clothes and bedsheets.  Patients are sick, toxic, and have difficulty coping with their daily lives, often afraid to be seen by society in general.  These diseases are rare.  For example, pemphigus occurs in one patient in a 250,000 population; cicatricial pemphigoid with a potential for causing blindness occurs in one in 1 million population, and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita occurs in one in 3 million people.  Most physicians do not know how to handle these patients and refer them to Dr. Ahmed for medical management.  His patients see him as a savior and “God sent”.  His treatments have saved numerous lives and prevented blindness in numerous others. 

When receiving the Pan Arab Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Ahmed thanked the patients who gave him their trust and the opportunity to make the discoveries he has made over the years.  He thanked his teachers, mentors, colleagues, and many students, for their dedication and assistance.  He focused on his research towards the discovery of the genes that predispose individuals to these diseases and their value and importance to all future research in this field.  He spoke about his discovery of two molecules involved in the process that allows these diseases to happen (target antigens).  He ended by discussing the discovery of two treatments (intravenous immunoglobulin and Rituximab) that can save patient lives and give them not only hope but offer the patients an opportunity to live normal lives. 

While many investigators are chasing “cures” for common diseases like cancer, heart attacks, and stroke, or wanting to find ways to lose weight, grow hair, and eliminate wrinkles, Dr. Ahmed has silent but perseveringly and relentlessly worked on these “orphan diseases” so that those unfortunate patients on the sidelines of the medical world may have hope and a chance to survive.  The Pan Arab League of Dermatologists has done the world, and especially the patients with pemphigus and pemphigoid, a great service by recognizing a physician truly worthy of such recognition. 

Direct inquiries to email address:  centerforblisteringdiseases@msn.com

13-21

Pushing Freedom

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”. 

~Abraham Lincoln

freedomThe word “freedom” is one that is being heard more and more often in the Middle East whether it is in the media or brought up in simple conversation.  Countries like Egypt and Tunisia have already tasted the sweet tang of freedom in recent months. Other countries, like Bahrain and Libya, are still waiting to savor even a morsel of freedom in their countries. While certain parts of the Middle East have yet to provide full throttle freedom for its denizens there is one country that has been a beacon of light for a primary liberty, freedom of speech, in the Middle East for many years.

The State of Kuwait has topped the annual Freedom House “Freedom of the Press Survey” for several years running and has been heralded as having one of the most free media sectors in the region. However, this year, Kuwait was toppled from first position by Israel and further pushed down a notch by Lebanon to take third position.

It’s not surprising that Kuwait lost the top spot given that the past several months have seen quite an amount of political turmoil in the country with some media outlets not only reporting the news but also becoming part of it. At least one television station was ransacked in the pasts several months and one writer jailed over public statements they made which were deemed to be inflammatory.

Members of the public in Kuwait have also been prone to having their freedom of speech impugned as of late. This past January a Kuwait-based blogger was sued by an international eatery over writing a negative food review. Fortunately, the blogger proved victorious as the case was thrown out of court.  However, this past week a group of Kuwait University students found themselves simmering in a pot of “hot water” over comments made about one of their teachers on the social-networking site Facebook.

According to the teacher, who chose to press charges, the students posted derogatory comments about her teaching methods on a personal page. Other students chimed in about their experiences and it snowballed from there. Authorities investigated the incident and the case was seemingly closed until the teacher demanded punitive measures from the university’s governing panel. All of the students, some of which are set to graduate in the coming month, involved in posting the comments online face expulsion. In a counterclaim, a spokesman for the student union known as ‘The Democratic Circle’ has retorted, “Freedom of speech is a fundamental right granted by the Constitution. The fact that a university instructor does not respect this premise signifies the existence of a larger issue and jeopardizes the university’s reputation as an educational institute.”

Only time will tell if Kuwait can regain its status as the exemplar for free speech in the region. But one thing is for sure, censorship and transgressions against freedom of speech are both meals best served up cold. 

13-21

Omar Samhan: A Big Fish Seeks a Bigger Pond

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

omar-samhan Omar Samhan has always been a man amongst boys. At 6 foot 11 inches, he sticks out even on a college campus. But, as a basketball star for St. Mary’s University, he sticks out even more. And as a Muslim-American now in the national spotlight, there is no ignoring him.

Samhan grew up in San Ramon, CA, only minutes from the St. Mary’s campus. He is the son of an Egyptian father and an Irish mother. And he is also a Muslim student at a Catholic university, not to mention a basketball player with heritage from a country where soccer rules all sports. The paradoxes abound with Omar (not the least of which is his pre-game ritual of listening to the music of teeny-bopper Taylor Swift, as reported to Sports Illustrated!).

But when it comes to his game, everything is straightforward. Draftexpress.com writes, “Few players at the college level boast Samhan’s combination of touch and post instincts.” NBADraft.net describes him as “…A late bloomer that has shown steady development throughout his college career.” The other teams in the NCAA Tournament found this out first hand, as he put up 29 points and 32 points respectively, against higher-seeded Richmond and Villanova. And he’s no slouch on the defensive end either, as he was voted the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Omar Samhan will spend the next few weeks helping NBA scouts figure out his pro potential. But Omar, a graduating senior, seems to have already figured out how to accomplish what his fellow Arab-American, radio personality Casey Kasem always preached, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”

12-19

Deji Karim Begins NFL Journey

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

deji-karim Abdul Deji Karim had spent over two days waiting for the phone to ring. The running back from Southern Illinois University was awaiting his selection in the National Football League Draft, and the call finally came in the 6th round of the selection process. Karim was selected on April 24th by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hope to have him spell their star running back Maurice Jones-Drew and return kicks.

Karim, ironically, went to high school with the player that was the very first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Oklahoma University quarterback Sam Bradford. But Karim’s college football accomplishments at a smaller school proved more difficult to display to scouts. In fact, he was not even invited to the NFL’s national scouting combine in February. So, he instead secured an invitation to perform an individual workout for scouts on the campus of Northwestern University in Chicago. That is where he dazzled scouts with workout numbers that were in the top 5 of all running backs in the draft.

Now Deji Karim awaits mini-camp later this month, followed by training camp this summer. He may be a kitten amongst Jaguars for now, but he will continue to seek out every opportunity to roar.

12-19

Bottled Water Sales Banned at Ottawa Campus

May 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Emily Chung, CBC News

Thirsty students won’t be able to buy bottled water from vending machines, food outlets or stores at the University of Ottawa starting Sept. 1.

That is when a ban on the sale of bottled water goes into effect across campus, the university announced Wednesday, the eve of Earth Day.

Pierre De Gagné, assistant director of engineering and sustainable development at the University of Ottawa’s infrastructure department, said the move is intended to encourage students to drink free, healthy tap water and reduce plastic bottle waste.

Michèle Lamarche, vice-president of student affairs at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said the move was largely driven by students, who have been working with the university to bring in the ban for more than a year.

Contract issues

Initially, she said, the university was concerned about upgrades to water fountains that would need to be made, as well as contracts with food services and vending machine companies that sell bottled water.

Many food outlets on campus didn’t even have water fountains nearby, she said.

Bottled water bans

In 2009, the University of Winnipeg, Memorial University in St. John’s, and Brandon University in Manitoba all announced they were banning bottled water sales on campus.

The University of Ottawa says it is the first university in Ontario to do so. Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., announced earlier in April that it will phase in a bottled water sale ban as it renegotiates food and vending machine contracts over the next few years.

Twenty universities in Ontario participated in Bottled Water-Free Day on March 11.

“Why have a water fountain outside when they can get people to buy the water bottle inside?” she asked.

De Gagné said he was surprised how quickly the university’s food services staff managed to renegotiate with their suppliers to drop bottled water.

“It all happened through a lot of good will, I guess, and a lot of long-range thinking.”

He did not know the details of the renegotiated deals.

In preparation for the ban, the university said, it has spent more than $100,000 since 2008 to improve the availability of tap water by:

* Adding goose necks to about 75 water fountains to make it easier to fill reusable bottles.
* Installing new fountains near food service outlets.
* Upgrading existing fountains with features including wheelchair accessibility, stronger pressure and better refrigeration.

Lamarche said the student federation is also doing its part by giving away hundreds of reusable bottles. It will also be selling the reusable bottles at the student-run convenience store for around the same price as a regular disposable bottle of water. And it will be installing a bank of water fountains with goose necks in the store itself.

Maps, signage on the way

Both the student federation and the university are working on maps and signage similar to washroom signage to indicate where water fountains are located. Neither Lamarche nor De Gagné thought students thought the ban would encourage thirsty students to choose pop instead of water.

“It won’t reside anymore in the same machine as pop, but it won’t be far away,” De Gagné said.

Lamarche said drinking water issues are very personal for her because she is an archeology student who spends her summers working in the Middle East. There, drinking water isn’t readily available, she said.

“The more we buy bottled water in North America, the more we say it’s OK to charge people for something that should be free or really really cheap,” she said. “And then governments say why do we have to worry about water infrastructure if they can buy water?”

12-18

Muslim Observer Writer Takes Part in Conference

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

The Muslim Observer’s Dr. Geoffrey Cook took part in a conference sponsored by the South Asia Studies Association this past weekend. The two day event was titled: “South Asia and the West: Entwined, Entangled, and Engaged” and took place on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.
Dr, Veena Howard of the University of Oregon was the other presenter. Professor Dean McHenry of the Claremont Graduate school was the moderator.

Both scholars spoke on India’s M K Gandhi, his philosophy and his teachings and influence. Dr. Howard was the first speaker.

Dr. Howard’s specialities are comparative religion and Hindu thought. She is associated with the University of Oregon and Lane Community College in Eugene. She has delivered papers at other symposia including the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the Darma Association of North America.

She began by describing the eclectic sources of the philosophy of M K Gandhi. Yet, the philosophy he espoused and taught was his own. His passive resistance or satyagraha can be easily misunderstood if examined through the filter of Western values. Here it would imply a do nothing approach even in the face of injustice and oppression. Quite the contrary, Gandhi mobilized the masses including groups within India that were normally marginalized. He did this with “soul force”

His call to vows of chastity, simplicity and fearlessness resounded within the religious traditions of his country. They empowered rather than deprived his followers.He believed that Truth was the only perfect description of God.

“The soul is supreme”, said Gandhi and compared the soul to a to a superior steel sword. He appealed to the Indian collective and urged the people to pit their strength against evil through inner force.

Dr. Cook told his audience that Gandhi was as concerned with the welfare of Muslims in India as he was with Hindus. He wrote about Palestine from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. He also favored a caliphate in Turkey.

Gandhi’s opposition was not to Jews living in Palestine. He believed that friendship between Jews and Arab Muslims was possible – indeed the perfect solution -, and history would seem to support it. He opposed the assertion by Zionists of sovereign rights and the imposition of governance by them. His opposition was to Zionism as a political branch of Judaism and supported only by a small percentage of Jews. Making allowances for the time in which he lived, his bias was toward a one state solution (though the term was not in popular use then).

Dr. Cook spoke of his meeting with Dr. Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur for the (Israeli) Occupied Territories. Dr. Falk was denied entry into Israel despite his standing. He favors a one state solution for the Israeli conflict, a point which Dr. Cook disputes. Dr. Cook suggested to Dr. Falk that he read Gandhi’s central essay

Dr, Cook described M K Gandhi as having a mind that was “a curious mixture of the practical and the impractical”. He developed his methodologies on non violence in South Africa. His commitment to truth and to justice would permeate his thoughts and his proposals.

Gandhi sympathized with Jews, but his devotion to truth and justice would not permit him to sanction Zionist entry into Palestine under “British bayonets”. He regarded Palestine as a British possession in the same way that his own country of India was a British possession.

Dr. Cook spoke of how much different the world might be today had we listened to Gandhi; how much freer from the conflicts that seem to be endless, in South East Asia and in the oPt particularly.

A question and answer session followed the two presentations.

12-16

Dr. Syed Tanveer Rab, Cardiologist

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Dr Syed Tanveer Rab Hybrid revascularization is a combination of coronary artery bypass surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention. Physicians at Emory University have been performing these procedures off-pump in a minimally invasive fashion, without breaking open the test. Their hybrid approach has been hailed as a best of both worlds strategy.

Among the physicians at Emory who have been developing and polishing this technique is Dr. Syed Tanveer Rab. He received his Medical degree in 1979 from the University of Karachi Pakistan. Between 1980 and 1983 he trained in the United Kingdom at Hammersmith Hospital, London, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle and the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. Between 1983 and 1986 he completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. He trained at Emory University between 1986-1990 in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology. Between 1991-1998 he developed an extensive system of satellite cardiology clinics in North Georgia and in 1998 joined the Emory faculty. He is Board Certified in Medicine, Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology and is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and Society of Coronary Angiography and Interventions.

12-12

Sec of State Hillary Clinton Praises the Late Imam Tantawi

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

From US Dept. of State Website

“I was saddened today to learn of the passing of Grand Imam Mohamed Sayyid Tantawi, the head of al-Azhar University in Cairo.

“Imam Tantawi was a highly respected cleric and the leader of one of the most important institutions of Islamic learning in the world. As President Obama said in Cairo last summer, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning for over a thousand years, and it continues to play a dynamic role today. Imam Tantawi was an important voice for dialogue among religions and communities. Under his leadership, the university co-hosted the President’s speech laying out a vision for a “New Beginning” between the United States and Muslim communities around the world. And Americans will always remember Imam Tantawi for his condemnations of violence after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when he said: “It’s not courage in any way to kill an innocent person.”

“We offer our condolences to the Imam’s family and friends today, as well as his many students in Egypt and in Muslim communities throughout the world.”

12-12

Masarrat Ali Runs as Texas Democrat

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

masarrat ali(1) Son of a poor tailor is Democratic candidate in Texas elections

An Indian-American is standing in American state-level elections. No big deal, it’s happened before. The elections are in Texas. Not much of a big deal either. Texas has politicians from immigrant families.

Now consider this: The Indian-American is Masarrat Ali, a biotechnologist-entrepreneur and a first-generation immigrant, son of a tailor from the village of Jhansi, UP, the eldest of nine siblings, all who got their first schooling in a run-down establishment that used to be part of Rani of Jhanshi’s kotwali. When you add to this the fact that Ali is the first Indian-American and the first Muslim to get a party ticket in Texan elections, then his case becomes special.

Masarrat Ali is the Democratic candidate for District No. 122 (in San Antonio) for the Texan House of Representatives (the lower house). San Antonio is no backwater—the second largest city in Texas and the seventh largest in the US. Ali’s rival for the Democratic ticket for District No. 122 was Art A. Hall. But on January 15, Hall dropped out and endorsed Ali’s candidature. The elections are in November and Ali has a tough job. District 122 in San Antonio, Texas has been held by Republicans for 18 years. Texas is a Republican-leaning state and Ali is a newcomer to politics. But, as Ali says, “If Obama could happen, why not Massarat? His (Obama’s) victory has given hope to all minorities.”

Win or lose, though, Ali’s is already a remarkable story.

It started in Jhansi, in the Bundelkhand region of UP, then as now, a place development has passed by. Ali was born to a tailor, Haji Maqbool Ali. Ali Senior says he used to stitch suits for “commissioners, collectors and ministers”. But the money wasn’t enough for his large family of nine children, of whom Masarrat was the eldest. They lived in a narrow lane crowded with old houses. The neighbourhood is called Gandhigarh Tapra. “It was a typical mohalla with little sense of education. It was full of eighth-class fails. The highest qualification there was high-school-fail,” Masarrat said.

The lane is still the same. But Ali’s house has changed — a well-constructed, three-storey building, marble floors, modular kitchen and modern furniture. “The house got renovated just a couple of months back,” said Ali’s mother Rasheedan Ali.

The school Masarrat attended—the Urdu-medium Wakf Board-run Islamia primary school —is just a stone’s throw from his house. “During my days, it had no chairs, no electricity, no bathrooms and just two-three teachers who never cared,” Ali recollects.

Today, it’s almost the same — a decrepit building whose plaster is peeling off and whose wall has ‘I love you’ scribbled on it at many places and posters of local politicians pasted on it. The school is on a single floor and the building that houses it was a kotwali during the time of Rani Laxmi Bai, according to Ali’s younger brother Zaheer , a local businessman. “When Masarrat was a kid, there was no power supply for homes in Jhansi,” the father recalled. “He would study with a lantern. Though he loved studying, he had no career ambition. When you are busy just trying to survive, there’s little time to think about lofty things such as ambition,” Ali recollects.

But the father—who also attended the Islamia school and didn’t study further —made sure that his children at least aspired to get an education that would make them fit for white-collar jobs. So, he didn’t let them mingle with other children in the neighbourhood; they had enough siblings to play with at home. “Without his efforts, I would have been lost in the galis of Jhansi today,” says Masarrat. But the father takes no credit. “Sab Allah Miyan ka diya hua hai. It’s god’s gift,” he said.

Ali’s education progressed from the Islamia school to the Hindi-medium Government Intermediate College and then Aligarh Muslim University. Everything Masarrat did after graduation, Masters in Biochemistry from Aligarh in 1977, PhD from the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, in 1981, post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Paris, France (where he was research assistant professor till 1984), the Louisiana State Medical University in New Orleans and Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (together, he spent 10 years there) was on scholarship.

The tailor’s eldest son set the example for his younger sons — one is an MBA, the other is an IT professional and a couple others are graduates and running local businesses in Jhansi such as a pharmaceutical distributorship and a ladies’ clothes store. His daughters are either high-schoolers or intermediate-pass, which according to Ali, is “a great achievement” as women in his family had previously never attended school.

Masarrat Ali traded academics for entrepreneurship after he moved to his current residence, San Antonio, in 1993. That year, while he was doing his research on breast cancer at the University of Texas Health Science Center, his thesis supervisor, also an Indian, told him that research published only in papers or journals was “meaninglss”. That prompted Ali to do a “crazy” thing. He quit his comfortable job as an assistant professor, and started the Alpha Diagnostics International (ADI). ADI sells biotechnology laboratory equipment. Ali says it’s a success. ADI has a centre in San Antonio and one in Shanghai. How much is he worth? Ali won’t get into specifics.

And how did politics happen? Always a Democrat voter, in 2004, Ali was among those who founded the Texas Muslim Democrat Caucus, a body that, Ali says, voices Muslim political concerns within the Democrat party and also works to get Texan Muslims to register as voters. Masarrat is currently the Caucus’s vice-president. His ambition is to convert the caucus into a national affair and it has now been rechristened as American Muslim Democrat Caucus. San Antonio has 30,000 Muslims and Texas, about 5 lakhs.

Convincing Muslims in Texas to be politically active is tough, Ali says. Muslims from India are more willing, he says. Those from the Middle-East are the most reluctant. Two years ago, Ali was elected Precinct Chair for District 122, which required grassroots working like getting in touch with the voters and organizing them. The candidacy followed from that. Ali’s father, who visits his son in Texas every year, doesn’t have any particular views about his son’s political goals. But Ali Senior says, he “likes the Americans he met”. “My beard, my kurta-pajama, my topi don’t seem to be a problem when I am there,” he says.

12-9

Community News (V12-I9)

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Duke’s Muslim chaplain to give opening prayers at US house

4E90 DURHAM –- Duke University’s Muslim chaplain, Abdullah T. Antepli, will deliver the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m. March 3.

Antepli is serving as guest chaplain at the invitation of U.S. Rep. David Price.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be asked to give this opening prayer. It is a great honor for me and for Duke University,” Antepli said in a news release. “It’s wonderful that Congress, through their invitation, is acknowledging Duke’s commitment to diversity and a pluralistic society.”

Antepli, who joined Duke in July 2008, is one of only a handful of full-time Muslim chaplains at U.S. colleges and universities. He is the founder and executive board member of the Muslim Chaplains Association and a member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Duke Divinity School and Duke Islamic Studies Center, where he teaches courses on Islam.

The guest chaplain program is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain of the House of Representatives. Guest chaplains must be recommended by current members of Congress, and each member is allowed to recommend only one religious leader per session. Opening the House of Representatives in prayer is a tradition that began in 1789 with the first Continental Congress.

Columbia MSA discusses Sunni-Shia unity

NEW YORK, NY–The Muslim Student Association of Columbia University held a lecture by Imam Ammar Nakshawani on the importance of uniting Sunni and Shia Muslims.

“There needs to be dialogue in order to bridge the gap,” Nakshawani said in his lecture on Thursday. The word “dialogue,” he added, stems from the Greek word “dia,” which means “to see through the lens of another person.” “For so many years, when Shiites and Sunnis tried to bridge the gap, the Shiite would look through his lens. The Sunni would look through his.”

In his address, Nakshawani asked the audience to put aside political and theological differences between Sunnis and Shiites and focus on the group’s shared fundamental beliefs, such as the oneness of Allah, Muhammad’s (s) role as the prophet of Allah, and the five pillars of Islam.

“Take off your lenses and see through the eyes of someone else,” Nakshawani said.

He criticized he speeches of Sunni and Shiite clerics who use negative phrases, such as “atheist sinners” and “infidels,” to incite hatred of the other sects.

Muslim cemetery proposed in Connecticut

CANTERBURY,CT–The Connecticut Council of Masajid is planning to establish a Muslim cemetery in Canterbury. They have identified a 11 acre site which was recently toured by the area residents and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.

Abdul Hamid, president of Council of Masajid, has been in Connecticut since 1966 and lives in Hampton. He said he has always found a friendly mix of people in the state.

“This is an opportunity to get to know people,’’ he said of the walk through the woods.

The group has an option to purchase the Canterbury property for $300,000 from Daniel M. Cymkow. According to the wetlands application, a 12- to 15-foot wide driveway would wind through the land. The first and second phases of the cemetery would be four acres each, and the third phase would be 17 acres. The land would not be clear cut, Hamid said.

If a wetlands permit is approved, the group would still need a special exception permit from the Planning & Zoning Commission.

First Halal Meals on Wheels Program Introduced in US

DETROIT, MI–The Arabic Community Center for Economic and Social Services has launched what is the first Halal  Meals on Wheels program in the US. The program delivers hot Halal meals to seniors who require care and was launched last month in Dearborn.

Amne Darwish Talab of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services told the Detroit News that  there has been a need for this type of service for a long time.

“There are a lot of people who don’t have the same living conditions as they did before this economic crisis,” said Talab, ACCESS’s social services. “A lot of seniors have no family or no kids or their kids are in another state.”

The program currently has about 20 recipients and is expected to grow.

Muslim students help the homeless in Orlando

ORLANDO, FL–The Muslim Student Association at the University of Central Florida has launched a program which not only provides food for the homeless but also gives then clean , new socks.

Project Downtown is a part of MSA National that was started by students in Miami who wanted to give the homeless more than food, the Central Florida Future reported.

The project is founded on the idea that people should not only give food but also whatever modest, unconditional gifts they can offer, according to Project Downtown’s Web site.

Huma Khan, a mechanical engineering major and the Director of Project Downtown, Orlando, said that the sock donation was one way to give more to the community.

“It’s just a random thing we picked out that homeless people do need,” she said. “Socks, underwear, stuff like that. Just little things that we look over that people in the streets actually do need and that they appreciate a lot more than we do.”

Khan added that the members of Project Downtown, Orlando give the homeless someone to talk to.

“Us being here kind of just gives them something to look forward to,” she said. “I build relationships with people. I know who they are, I know them by face…if you have a good conversation with someone one week, it’ll kind of make your day a little bit better and you’ll look forward to speaking to that person again.”

12-9

Community News (V12-I7)

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ivy Muslim students conference held

Muslim students from top universities gathered at Yale last weekend for the first Muslim Ivy conference. About 120 delegates from each Ivy League school attended, with 30 delegates from Yale.

The conference was the brainchild of Omer Bajwa, the Coordinator of Muslim Life on campus. The Yale MSA worked in conjunction with the University Chaplain’s Office to organize the event.

The conference began Saturday with a Dhuhr prayers and addresses by Bajwa, Tariq Mahmoud ’11 president of the Yale Muslim Students Association, and University Chaplain Sharon Kugler. Throughout that day and the next, students attended panels and small group discussions on topics including post-graduate experiences, gender dynamics, campus activism, community activism and life as a Muslim-American.

Hamid said that because this conference was largely organized by the Yale chapter of MSA, he thinks more inter-Ivy League collaboration would greatly improve future events.

The Yale MSA, which has around 200 members, kicked off Islamic Awareness Month at Yale with a meet and greet with members and guests on Friday.

Mosques offer reward for leads in Muslim man’s death

CHESTER, PA– Philadelphia area mosques are offering a $5,000 reward for information that they hope will lead police to the killer of a local Muslim man.
Abulaash Ansari, 57, a much respected community member, was shot and killed on Dec. 12.

Chester police say that the investigation is ongoing and that there is a person of interest.

“There were some domestic issues that took place prior to the shooting,” said Darren Alston, deputy chief of police. “We can’t say for sure whether that is connected or not.”

Ansari was a familiar face in Chester. A native of Ahmadabad, India, he moved to the United States about 20 years ago with his four children.

An electrician, he often worked for free on projects at his mosque.

Discrimination lawsuit against Illinois college dismissed

BENTON,IL– A federal judge has dismissed  a lawsuit against a southern Illinois college by an administrator who claimed he was passed over for the school’s presidency because he’s an Iraq native and Muslim.

U.S. District Judge David Herndon dismissed Salah Shakir’s lawsuit against Rend Lake College on Monday in Benton.

Herndon ruled that Shakir lacks evidence supporting his contention that he was discriminated against. He was the college’s vice president of information technology, but he wasn’t hired to fill a vacancy in the college’s presidency.

Free dinner-lecture on Islam at Western

KALAMAZOO–Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah will discuss similarities among the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths during the semiannual installment of a free dinner-lecture series sponsored by the Muslim Students Association of Western Michigan University.

In addition to the keynote address, “One God, Many Names: Muslims, Christians and Jews all Call Upon the Same God,” the evening includes a multicultural dinner and multiethnic exhibition. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom.

The dinner-lecture is open to the public free of charge, but reservations are required. They must be made online at www.rso.wmich.edu/msa by Wednesday, Feb. 17. The popular event typically attracts capacity attendance, and those wishing to attend are encouraged to register early. A waiting list will be maintained for late registrants.

The Muslim Students Association, in collaboration with the Arab Student Association, sponsors the dinner-lecture series once each fall and spring semester.

For more information, visit WMU’s Muslim Student Associationonline, or contact Samira Shammas at rso_msa@wmich.edu.

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Community News (V12-I6)

February 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Farad Ali: Durham City Councilman

DURHAM, NC–Farad Ali serves on the council of city of Durham in North Carolina and is a rising star in the city`s politics.  A life long advocate for the city Ali has been pushing for accountability and integrity in the council.

Having attended Githens Junior High School and graduating from Jordan High School, Ali is a product of the Durham public school system. He remained in the area, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in finance, from the School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to obtain a Masters in Business Administration from Campbell University.

His professional career began in the banking industry, Mr. Ali worked for over ten years as a successful community, commercial and corporate banker in the private sector.

Currently an executive at a nonprofit, Farad Ali works within an organization focused on addressing issues related to responsible community economic and minority business development. During his career, he has served on numerous local boards and advisory committees. He has served as a speaker and advisor for state and national financial and economic development programs. Mr. Ali has been intensively involved in programs to foster community development.

BYU publishes Ibn Sina translation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT–Ibn Sina, the great Muslim philosopher and scientist, is being reintroduced to the modern world through translations of his works by the Brigham Young University.

A section of Avicenna’s work from “The Healing” called “The Physics” was translated by Jon McGinnis, an associate professor in the department of philosophy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The resulting two volumes, titled “Avicenna: The Physics of ‘The Healing,’” are now available as part of BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.

BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has published 16 works — including Islamic works, Eastern Christian texts and a series of works by Jewish rabbi Moses Maimonides. “Physics” is the seventh volume in the Islamic Translation Series of this initiative.

Hundreds come for Halal food course

TORONTO–In a sign of growing concerns over Halal foods hundreds of Muslim youth in the Toronto area turned out for a weekend course titled ‘Precious Provisions: Fiqh of Food and Clothing,’ taught by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. Providing a comparative analysis of the rulings on food according to the various Islamic legal schools he said that a majority agrees that the food should be properly slaughtered and that the name of Allah (swt) be recited on the animal or bird.

Throwing light on the various controversies on the topic in North America he went on to demonstrate that the permissibility of the meat of the people of the book is not unconditional. He said it is permissible only if the Islamic conditions of dhabh are met.

He said that the importance of tasmiyah evident from the fact that it is even required for hunted animals, so how about non-hunted? He said that only school, the Maliki, consider the mentioning of Allah’s name is Mustahab. The majority opinion either considers it to be obligatory to mention Allah’s name in all circumstances or obligatory but forgiven if accidentally forgotten.

Shaykh Qadhi also discussed the reliability of the books which contain lists of halal and haram products. He said the utility of such books is limited as they are not written by Islamic scholars and adopt a a mechanical attitude in classifying products as Halal or Haram. This results in classifying things like water and milk in the prohibited category. He said that the just a presence of a particular doubtful or prohibited product on the ingredient list doesn’t make a product Haram but one has to look at its quantity and state.

He urged the Muslim communities to organize locally and develop a system to monitor and certify halal stores.  He also said that Muslims should respect divergent opinions and discuss things in an amicable manner.

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Fazal Khan, Health Law Expert

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

fazal khan health law expert

Dr. Fazal Khan joined the University of Georgia School of Law in the fall of 2006 as an assistant professor specializing in health law.  Khan teaches Health Law & Policy, Bioethics, Public Health Law and International Products Liability. 

His current research focuses on several themes:  reform of the US healthcare system, the effect of globalization on healthcare and the challenge of regulating emerging biotechnologies.  Representative articles and presentations include proposals on administrative regulations to protect against epigenetic harms (and endocrine disruptors) in consumer products; ethical regulations on human drug trials in developing countries; rethinking public health laws post-9/11 to ensure adequate protection of civil liberties and effective emergency response; the potential dissonance between personal health records and electronic medical records; and ethical safeguards that would allow organ donation from anencephalic infants.  Khan has presented papers at the University of Illinois, SEALS conference, Georgia State University and the Health Law Scholar’s Workshop at St. Louis University.  At the University of Georgia, he has given many academic presentations at the College of Public Health, the Center for International Trade and Security, the Department of Cellular Biology, the Department of Genetics, the School of Social Work and the School of Law, among others.

Khan has considerable experience in both legal and medical fields and has been interviewed and called on as an expert by both television and print media on topics ranging from national healthcare reform, assisted suicide laws and mandatory vaccination policies.  As a litigation associate for the law firm of Jenner & Block, he conducted a bioethics investigation for a major academic hospital’s transplant program, drafted an appellate amicus brief on the epidemiology of Agent Orange exposure and represented hospitals, physicians and pharmaceutical companies in various other legal matters. In addition, he developed a mock trial on scientific evidence for the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence and assisted in the development of the Federal Judicial Center’s Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence.

He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Chicago, where he was a National Merit Scholar. As part of the University of Illinois’ Medical Scholars program, he graduated magna cum laude from law school in 2000 and earned his M.D. in 2003. He served on the editorial board of the University of Illinois Law Review and was a Richardson Scholar at the College of Medicine.

Khan is proud to be active in his local community of Athens, Ga.  He serves as a board member for AIDS Athens, has given several public “town hall” presentations on healthcare reform all over Northeast Georgia and is a strong supporter of local artists and musicians. 

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Clinton Ends US Visa Ban on Tariq Ramadan

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

ramadan-709854 The United States has lifted a ban on Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan entering the country.

Ramadan has had his US visa revoked several times since 2004 when he was due to take up a university teaching post. He was banned from the US over alleged ties to terrorism.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders enabling the re-entry of Ramadan and Adam Habib, a professor at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, once they obtained required admittance documents, department spokesman Darby Holladay said on Wednesday.

He said Clinton “has chosen to exercise her exemption authority” for the pair’s benefit. “Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the US government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Holladay said.

Both professors, who are frequently invited to the US to lecture, were critics of the war in Iraq.

Government lawyers have said Ramadan was barred because he gave money to a Swiss-based charity, the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), between 1998 and 2002. Washington listed ASP as a banned group in 2003, saying it supported terrorism and had contributed funds to the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

“The decision brings to an end a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation,” Ramadan said in a statement.

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