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ISSUE 1 “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you” (76:9) Ramadan 1437/June 2016

THE BARAKAH TIMES “We are living in paradoxical times.”

452 North Street Rochester, NY 14605 (585) 325-2621

"The purpose of Barakah Muslim Charity Inc. is to provide social services to the broader community of upstate New York, serving both Muslims and nonMuslims, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, or creed. We will fulfill our objectives by providing community services including, but not limited to, food, clothing, and financial assistance to underprivileged families.”

While our country holds tremendous wealth, poverty abounds. This poverty affects both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and is often concentrated in our urban centers. The concentration of poverty in particular areas can lead those living in more prosperous areas to believe that all is well in our society. This illusion is one factor that has held the Muslim community back from establishing the institutions necessary to assist those in need. At Barakah Muslim Charity we are striving to fulfill our obligations to our Lord and to the broader society. We understand that poverty affects millions of Americans, and that Islam provides specific prescriptions for addressing the problem. Further, we understand that the needs of the broader Rochester community are great, and we are trying our best to help fulfill those needs. We also understand that as Muslims we must strive to show those in the broader society the true values and ethics of our noble religion. In a time where anti-Muslim vitriol and divisive rhetoric have become all too common, what better way to do so than demonstrate the importance that Islam gives to charity and service to others. Since the inception of Barakah Muslim Charity our services have expanded greatly. We currently offer a food pantry, a coat drive, a backpack drive, Ramadan gift baskets, Millati Islam, and general counseling services. With your help we can expand our services and continue to help those in need. As you look over this newsletter ask yourself how you can play a role at Barakah Muslim Charity. You can help in many ways: make dua for us, make a donation, volunteer your time, or do a combination of the three. Any contribution that you make will be greatly appreciated by our staff, and surely will be rewarded by Allah. For more information about Barakah Muslim Charity you can visit our website at Donations can be made directly on the webpage via PayPal. You can also like our Facebook page. May Allah bless you and help us all to serve Him and serve humanity. Your Brother In Islam, Irshad Altheimer, Ph.D. President of Barakah Muslim Charity


ISSUE 1 “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you” (76:9) Ramadan 1437/June 2016

Barakah Food Pantry Located at 452 North Street, our Food Pantry has offered families food since 2013. As part of Rochester’s very first Muslim family service organization, our food pantry helps provide approximately 500 families with healthy, nutritious meals each month. Packages include canned goods, frozen and fresh food which is generously provided thanks to donations from the local community. In addition to the food pantry Barakah Muslim Charity runs an herb and vegetable garden where local residents can plant and grow their own herbs, fruits and vegetables. The Food Pantry is an integral part of our growing organization that provides help not only to the Muslim Community, but the entire Rochester area.


ISSUE 1 “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you” (76:9) Ramadan 1437/June 2016

An Introduction to Millati Islami (The Path to Peace) By: Mikael Abdul Kariem, Founder of Barakah Millati Islami, Rochester, NY For many years the Muslim Umma has turned a blind eye to substance abuse addiction among the Umma. Many look at addiction as a moral sin, when in fact; science has proven that addiction is a disease. A disease is defined as an illness with a specific set of symptoms. The symptoms of addiction are obsessive thinking, compulsive behaviors, and self-centeredness. Addiction is not limited to alcohol and drugs. Many are addicted to food, gambling, nicotine, shopping, sex and a host of other compulsive behaviors. After attending many years at Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous where the venues involve mingling with the opposite sex, using foul language and using the phrase “a God of your understanding”, my wife and myself, sought through prayer and meditation to Allah a recovery group that was Qur’an and Sunnah based and that helped us to remember Allah who has blessed us to be clean and sober from Salat to Salat. Although those 12 Step Programs can be helpful, they do not remind us of Allah ta a’la. In October 2013 through research we found Millati Islami. Millati Islami was founded by Brother Zaid Imani, (may Allah forgive his sins and grant him Jannah). We at Millati Islami have sought to integrate Al Islam and the 12 Step approach to recovery into a simultaneous program. Narcotics Anonymous was founded out of a need to be non-specific with regard to drugs. Millati Islami was founded out of a need to be religiously specific with regard to spiritual principles. We at Millati Islami are not burdened with Recovery on a day to day basis; we recover instead from Salat to Salat. Millati Islami has grown into several groups throughout the U.S. There are groups in California, Nevada, Texas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Harlem, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Boston and others. In October 2015 we started the Barakah Millati Islami of Rochester, NY. We provide a fellowship environment that is Islamically guided, non-judgmental, and focused on Muslims striving towards recovery from active addictions. The approach is a modified traditional 12 Step program that specifies Islam as the spiritual path to peace and well-being. We create a supportive, group environment to build on each other’s experience, strengths and hopes. The members of Barakah Millati Islami are recovering brothers learning to live without drugs and alcohol. Through the fellowship of Millati Islami, we learn to live useful lives, with hearts and minds, united under one God "Allah ta a’la, we become attuned to the welfare of others. The Prophet Muhammad, salallahu alaihi wa salam, has taught us to “want for our brothers what we want for ourselves”. Our Umma must break through the denial of this issue and begin to address this fallen human condition. Barakah Millati Islami is facilitated by me, Mikael Abdul Kariem and Imam Shamsuddin Abdul Hakim. We have many years of experience in the field of addiction and are credentialed counselors still working in the field of addiction. Our 12 Steps are backed by the Qur’an and Sunnah. We look to Allah, subhanahu wa ta a’la, to guide us on Millati Islami. We know that our greatest reliance is always upon Allah ta a’la, as He gives us the fellowship and relations that we crave. “Fa inna ma’al usri yusra” With every hardship is ease. Barakah Millati Islami meets every Saturday at Barakah Muslim Charity; 452 North St, Rochester, NY 14605 at 6pm. Every Sunday and Wednesday at 9pm we have a Millati Islami conference call for recovering Muslim’s all around the U.S. sharing their experiences, strengths and hopes with regards to their personal addiction. If you, a relative or friend, are struggling with addiction, please feel free to contact me Kariem: 585 739-4509 or Imam Shamsuddin: 585 305-6905. All calls are confidential and the meetings are anonymous.


ISSUE 1 “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you” (76:9) Ramadan1437/June 2016

How long have you been coming to Barakah and what are some of the activities you have been involved in? I have been attending Barakah Muslim Charity for the past year and a half. Some of my more recent involvement has been the Health Outreach Program with my wife Hannah Bayram. Together we have developed a program to perform basic health awareness and blood pressure screenings. We are working with Phyllis D. Jackson BS RN from Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency to collect data from the blood pressure screenings to help improve basic health awareness in the neighborhood. I have also been involved with the Ramadan Gift Baskets and the Saturday Food Giveaway. How would you describe your interaction with the clients?

Introducing: Stergios Zissis I was born and raised here in Rochester NY. I have been an active member of the Islamic Center of Rochester since 2013 when I embraced Islam. I hold a Bachelors and Masters in Architecture, along with a Bachelors in Nursing. I currently work as an Oncology nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital’s Wilmot Cancer Center. Some of my community involvement include: Health Outreach Program Coordinator/Volunteer at Barakah Muslim Charity, Monroe County Jails inmate Mentor, Hillside Children’s Center Youth Mentor, Refugees Helping Refugees Volunteer. I am also a new Muslims advocate. I help new Muslims through coordinating dialogue groups and providing support systems for the transitioning new Muslims. Through the Western New York Youth Muslim Basketball League (WNYYMBL) I have been coaching the high school youth basketball team.

The interactions with the clients attending Barakah has been a heart-warming, humbling, and rewarding experience. It truly has been a great experience to not only interact with the clients but to see the benefits Barakah is providing to the neighborhood and community (both Muslim and non-Muslim). The individuals who attend the services provided at Barakah show appreciation for everyone’s effort not only verbally but physically and emotionally. How has volunteering at Barakah impacted your life? Through volunteering at Barakah I have learned to simplify my life and give to those in need of the fundamentals and daily essentials to sustain our lives. Initiating the Health Outreach Program, my wife and I are able to give back to the community outside of the hospital setting and help individuals with the knowledge and practice of medicine. I have learned that we need to be more willing to step out of our comfort zones and take into consideration the phrase “Walk a mile in my shoes” to better understand serving more than ourselves; serving the greater good. What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering for Barakah? All the staff members are a blast to work with. Be yourself, have a smile and be ready to experience the fulfillments of helping others within our Rochester community.


ISSUE 1 “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you� (76:9) Ramadan1437/June 2016

BARAKAH INSPIRES REFUGEE YOUTH On May 18th, Barakah Muslim Charity held a joint event with Rochester City School District's MAC Academy, a state-sponsored program for new refugee youth. The students and Barakah solicited donations, publicized and worked the event. The students gained valuable job skills and a chance to practice English as well as use their native languages with clients who came and Barakah gave the community an opportunity to give and receive much-needed essential clothing and housewares. The students received many donations for themselves and their families and many asked to return to volunteer again. COMING SOON: GARDEN MINI-SWEEP Blessing Ummah Garden is located at 146 Hudson Ave., NE Quadrant in the City of Rochester. The mission is to grow fresh, healthy produce for our local food pantry. Another goal is to share knowledge on sustainability to grow your own food! What a beautiful asset to our neighborhoods!


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