MARCH/APRIL 2015/1436 | $4.00 | WWW.ISNA.NET
VANGUARD OF ISLAMIC SCHOOLING | GIRLS EDUCATION IN AMERICAN ISLAMIC SCHOOLS | SERVING EDUCATION AND EDUCATORS
Building the New Knowledge Economy in Muslim Countries Are Islamic Schools Encouraging Parental Engagement? Increasing the Effectiveness of Weekend Islamic Schools
VOL. 44 NO. 2 MARCH/APRIL 2015 visit isna online at: WWW.ISNA.NET
28 Building the New Knowledge Economy in Muslim Countries 32 Serving Education and Educators 34 Are Islamic Schools Encouraging Parental Engagement? 37 Clara Muhammad: A Pioneer of Muslim Schools 38 Vanguard of Islamic Schooling Increasing the Effectiveness of 42 Weekend Islamic Schools
26 Let’s Not Fall for the Terrorists’ Trap (Again)
ISLAM IN AMERICA
50 Addressing Sexual Offense in Our Community 54 On Sexual Harassment: Silence is Not Golden
POLITICS AND SOCIETY
56 The Hashtag Hoopla
58 Dr. Maher Hathout
56 ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
6 8 12 59 60
DEPARTMENTS Editorial ISNA Matters Community Matters Reviews Food for the Spirit
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Gamal Abdelaziz, A-Ztype Copyeditor: Madihah Krishnamurthy. The views expressed in Islamic Horizons are not necessarily the views of its editors nor of the Islamic Society of North America. Islamic Horizons does not accept unsolicitated articles or submissions. All references to the Quran made are from The Holy Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana, Brentwood, MD.
Strivers in their Own Class
his issue of Islamic Horizons includes an account of the weekend schools that form the bedrock of the Muslim American community empowering future generations. SoundVision estimates that the weekend Islamic school is the place where the largest number of Muslim children in America learn about Islam. It adds that there are about half a million students in these schools as compared to about 15,000 in full-time Islamic schools. The author, Tasneema Ghazi, wears many hats when it comes to pioneering Islamic education. She is the co-founder, with her husband, the inimitable Abidullah Ghazi, of IQRA International Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that creates Islamic studies textbooks and educational materials, primarily for children. There are many who strived and are striving to enrich the future generation with a sound education for the head and the heart. There are glowing examples like Dr. Abdul-Sahib Hashim, an active and energetic Iraqi pediatrician who started his Islamic activities at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. Every Sunday, he drove 262 miles round-trip from Cumberland, Maryland, to 2551 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., to help his children obtain an Islamic education. That was the only choice available in the region then. It was here that he saw the need and developed textbooks for Islamic schools. Others may have made lesser commutes but examples abound of Muslim parents investing their hard-earned weekends and communities giving time and support to ensure that they transmit the gift of faith to the next generation. It was a real jihad. From 1968 to 1985, Hashim wrote 20 books forming the series of “Islamic Books for Beginners,” which were initially printed in MSA’s own printing press. These were the standard textbooks used in most weekend schools — the early
Islamic school textbooks originated in North America. The press was another pioneering effort headed by two engineers, the late Abdul-Mateen Chida and Mohammad Fazil Khan. It is through the efforts of such dedicated people that Islamic education continues to flourish, offering Muslim parents an option that is a wish of many faith communities. Ever since it’s founding, the MSA (now MSA-National) has focused on education — raising generations of American/ Canadian Muslims. The focus since 1965 has shifted from going “back home” to being Muslims within the social fabric of the American/Canadian society. ISNA Elementary School in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was a pioneer full-time Islamic school in North America, founded in 1983. In 1989, ISNA published a booklet, “In-Depth Study of Full-Time Islamic Schools in North America: Results and Data Analysis,” that reported there were 50 such schools. With a major focus on infrastructure, such as building mosques, full-time schools also received due attention. Karen Keyworth, co-founder and executive director of the Islamic Schools League of America, said her organization serves roughly 270 fulltime Islamic schools in the U.S. ISNA has been in the forefront of supporting Islamic schools and educators. The ISNA Education Forum was launched 16 years ago, and has grown stronger. Since its start in 2010, the West Coast ISNA Education Forum also has been growing. The countless volunteers who became teachers and administrators need to be kept in mind. The community owes them for the work they have done and what they are doing as even today every community cannot afford to run a full-time Islamic school. Despite the challenges, the toil and tears have and continue to bear results. Everyone involved with founding, running and teaching at weekend schools deserves our gratitude.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
PUBLISHER The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) PRE SID ENT Azhar Azeez SECRE TA RY GENER A L Hazem Bata EDITO R Omer Bin Abdullah D EPA RTMENT S EDITO R Aisha Kishta EDITO RIA L BOA RD Sohaib Sultan (Chair), Julie Belz, Iqbal Unus, Ingrid Mattson, Hazem Bata, Edgar Hopida. ISL A MIC H O RIZO NS is a bimonthly publication of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Copyright @2015 All rights reserved Reproduction, in whole or in part, of this material in mechanical or electronic form without written permission is strictly prohibited. Islamic Horizons magazine is available electronically on ProQuest’s Ethnic NewsWatch, LexisNexis, and EBSCO Discovery Service, and is indexed by Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. Please see your librarian for access. The name “Islamic Horizons” is protected through trademark registration ISSN 8756‑2367 P O STM A STER Send address changes to Islamic Horizons, P.O. Box 38 Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 SUB S CRIP TIO NS Annual, domestic – $24 Canada – US$30 Overseas airmail – US$60 TO SUB S CRIBE Contact Islamic Horizons at (317) 839‑8157 / (317) 839‑1811 Fax (317) 839‑1840 E-mail: email@example.com A DV ERTISIN G For rates contact Islamic Horizons at (703) 742‑8108, firstname.lastname@example.org, ww.isna.net Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 0666300 C O RRE SP O ND EN CE Send all correspondence and/or Letters to the Editor at: Islamic Horizons P.O. Box 38 • Plainfield, IN 46168‑0038 Email: email@example.com
ISNA PRESIDENT AT THE WHITE HOUSE
SNA president Azhar Azeez joined 13 other Muslim American leaders at the White House, Feb. 4, at the invitation of President Barack Obama to discuss a range of domestic and foreign policy issues. Azeez suggested that Obama visit an Islamic center and an Islamic organization’s event in the U.S. before his term expires. He joined other invitees in drawing Obama’s attention to the rising Islamophobia in the U.S. being fueled by some politicians and organizations, and asked him to use his influence to reset the national conversation on hate against Muslims and other religious minority communities. Azeez presented the November/December 2014 and January/February 2015 issues of Islamic Horizons to Obama. The hour-long meeting marks the first time Obama has held a roundtable discussion with the Muslim American community. Also present were Obama’s Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. The meeting was followed by 45 minutes of additional discussions with Jarrett and Rhodes. A White House news release of the meeting stated that the president thanked the participants for their work in a variety of fields and for coming together to offer views on issues of importance to their communities, noting that his regular interactions with different faith communities provided him with valuable insights and feedback. Among the topics of discussion were the community’s efforts and partnerships with the Obama Administration on a range of domestic issues such as the Affordable Care Act, issues of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination, the 21st Century Policing Task Force, and the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. Obama reiterated his Administration’s commitment to safeguarding civil rights through hate crimes prosecutions and civil enforcement actions.
University of Southern California professor Sherman Jackson said Muslim Americans are part of the broader American society, and that Islam and Muslims have a great deal to contribute and have contributed to
American civic life. Muslim community leaders highlighted the palpable rise in antiMuslim bigotry and hate crimes across the nation. Obama was handed a sample list
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
of highly qualified Muslim Americans and asked to consider them for appointments, including the federal judiciary. Muslim leaders asked Obama to work with his new Attorney General to modify and strengthen profiling guidance to ban racial, religious and ethnic profiling in all its forms, including at the border and in the national security context. He was also asked to require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funds to adopt anti-profiling policies and anti-bias training throughout their officer ranks. Attendees included Imam Mohamed Magid from All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Arshia Wajid, founder and president of American Muslim Health Professionals, Arab American Institute, Hoda Elshishtawy, the national policy analyst for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Farhan Latif, chief operating officer and director of policy impact, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab-American Institute, Palestinian-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, Rahat Hussain, director of legal and policy affairs, Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a graduate assistant with Indiana State University’s women’s basketball team.
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ISNA MATTERS ISNA PARTICIPATES IN PALESTINE MISSION A broad-based 15-member delegation of Jews, Christians and Muslims, led by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, took a weeklong pilgrimage to the Holy Land to engage in a series of high-level political and religious meetings in Israel and the Palestinian Territories Jan. 19-26. The delegation met with former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres and current Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to hear a wide range of perspectives on peace, religion and politics and to share views about the role the three Abrahamic faiths must play in helping shape a better world. Delegation members heard deep concerns, frustrations, and strong sentiments of distrust in the midst of a stalled peace process. They also met with leaders of grassroots initiatives that bring together Israelis and Palestinians to hear and learn from one another’s narratives, and to build a peaceful society in which everyone can prosper. Along with Schori, a former oceanographer, the group’s co-leaders were Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), and Sayyid Syeed, national director of ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances. The delegation included ISNA President Azhar Azeez, Mohamed Elsanousi, director of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, Washington, DC Office, and Muhammad Shafiq, director of the Hickey Center for interfaith studies and dialogue at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Syeed said there is no other solution “but to come up with an end to the present stalemate. It weighs heavily on everyone living in the Holy Land. We will continue to press our people and our government to resume the efforts for negotiations between the parties and help to build mutual trust and confidence. Faith leaders and congregations will continue to pray for success and do whatever we can to support these efforts.” The visit was planned in response to Resolution B019, passed by the Episcopal Church’s 2012 General Convention, seeking positive investment and engagement in the region and delegates recommended the presiding bishop develop an interfaith 8
Azhar Azeez meets with Prime Minister Hamdallah
model pilgrimage that experiences multiple narratives. The resolution reiterated the church’s longstanding commitment to a negotiated two-state solution “in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable and secure state for the Palestinian people.” ISNA and JCPA also endorse that vision of lasting peace in the Holy Land through an agreed two-state solution. Hamdallah said he doubts whether the Palestinians could reach an agreement with the government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the meeting with Hamdallah, Syeed said people of faith in the U.S. and around the world were hopeful when U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry helped restart peace negotiations in 2013, but added, they were troubled when those talks broke down a year later. “This is a unique alliance — Muslims, Christians, Jews together, having the same vision, having the same commitment, and expressing our solidarity,” Syeed said. In other high-level political meetings, the delegation met with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro; U.S. Consul General Michael Ratney; Ruth Calderon, an academic and a member of the Knesset, the Israeli government’s parliament; and Kholoud Al-Faqih, judge of the Sharia Court of Ramallah and the first female sharia judge in the Palestinian Territories. The group traveled to Gush Etzion where the leadership of Roots comprises Palestinian leaders from adjoining villages with Israeli settlers, who despite disagreement on some core issues, believe it is imperative for the communities to put aside political retrenchment, divisive actions and rhetoric to make an eventual peace agreement take hold. In Tel Aviv, the group met with EcoPeace Middle East, which brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists through cooperative efforts. The initiative has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the demise of the Jordan River, which is drying up and has been polluted with untreated sewage over the past 50 years.
PRAYER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director, ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances participated in the Light for Lima event held in front of the White House Dec. 7, 2014. A strong international agreement is a key part of the fight against climate change. Last December, representatives of the world’s governments met in Lima, Peru to build towards such an agreement in 2015. #LightForLima, a global series of vigils was held on the evening of December 7, 2014 in the middle of the Lima meetings. Syeed recited 55:6-10 from the Quran, and supplicated, “God Almighty, we stand in solidarity with thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters around the world seeking Your support and praying for our representatives, decision makers in Lima. God inspire them, guide them to make right decisions,give them the courage to do what is critical for the health,safety, security of your creation, avoiding the harm that we human beings have inflicted on your creation by disrupting the balance. “God, strengthen our resolve to stand against all transgression that upsets the complex balance and help us to live our personal lives and make our collective decisions with responsibility and sensitivity to be your worthy trustees on this mother earth.”
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
HOUSTON MUSLIMS HOST ISNA PRESIDENT
ISNA president Azhar Azeez addressed a luncheon hosted by the Majlis-as-Shura of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (I.S.G.H) in his honor Jan. 10. The meeting was presided over by the newly elected ISGH president Masroor Javed Khan, who has served as
two terms as a Houston city councilman. Also present were several past ISGH presidents: Farooq Malik, Hashim Badat, Mohammed Badr, Aziz Siddiqui, Syed Gomah, and Syed Siddiqui. Other leaders present at this meeting included Ibrahim Badat, Salman Jalali, Humayun Mehmood, Khaled Kazi, and Fouad Cochinwala. The two organizations discussed different issues related to Islam and Muslims in North America and also discussed collaborating with each other to serve the Greater Houston Muslim community. Azeez shared ISNA’s vision with the Houston Muslim leadership, and highlighted the various initiatives and projects undertaken by ISNA. He spoke about
FAITH LEADERS REJECT EXTREMISM
The Religion for Peace (RfP) convened its International Executive Committee meeting on “Rejecting Violent Religious Extremism and Advancing Shared Well-being” with ISNA leadership in attendance Dec. 12-13, 2014, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Group leaders rejected every form of violent religious extremism, noting that they were “false religious ideologies of hatred, not peace.” RfP and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies Abu Dhabi committed to using the Abu Dhabi Statement and a related Action Plan adopted as guides for on-the-ground multi-religious action. Executive committee members expressed their confidence that the RfP movement will become a critically important and effective agent in combating violent religious extremism. Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, is a member of the RfP executive committee. Participants were welcomed by UAE
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who expressed his strong support for collaboration between RfP and the Forum. The meeting was hosted by RfP comoderator Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah in his capacity as the president of the Forum. RfP co-moderator Cardinal John Onaiyekan joined him in moderating the meeting, which was well attended by RfP co-presidents and honorary presidents.
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ISNA’s accomplishments and requested their input on all important matters especially the challenges faced by the Muslim community in North America. ISGH is one of the oldest community organization, and and the largest affiliate of ISNA. Both organizations have been collaborating and working together for the past several decades. The ISNA president thanked the ISGH leadership for their support and appealed to continue to be an ISNA affiliate. The 2015 ISNA South Central Conference held in Houston March 7 was supported and co-sponsored by ISGH and Risala Foundation. Zeyn Patel, a former national office bearer of MSA spearheaded this year’s organizing committee with the support of a several volunteers from the Houston area.
Also attending the meeting as special guests were Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Faisal bin Muammar, secretary general of KAICIID (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue); Cecilia Naddeo, representing Jean-Paul Laborde, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee; His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; Father Miguel Ayuso Guixot, representing Cardinal JeanLouis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council of Inter-religious Dialogue; His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom; Fr. Fadi Daou, CEO of Adyan; J. Mark Brinkmoeller (by video) of USAID, and Mohamed Elsanousi, director of External Relations, Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.
PROMOTING HEALTHY MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES ISNA hosted the first of a series of family webinars Dec. 1, 2014, “Muslim Family: Building Homes of Tranquility,” led by Imam Mohamed Magid, a former ISNA president, and Salma Elkadi Abuigederi, a licensed professional counselor. The webinar covered spousal responsibilities and rights that permeate the Islamic objective for preserva-
tion of family life, and examined the social and religious implications of marriage. The discussion expanded upon the concept of the institution of marriage as a pillar of community life, as well as the need for spiritual integrity between spouses. The webinar concluded with a Q&A session. The video is available on ISNA’s website.
LEADERS UNITE FOR PEACE
MYNA ORGANIZES RETREAT
ISNA president Azhar Azeez (front, second from left) and Sayyid M. Syeed (third from left) attended the Muslim-Christian Coalition in Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, focused on protecting the rights of minorities in Arab countries. The meeting also was attended by representatives from ISNA, CAIR, MPAC, ADAMS, ADC, and members of the clergy representing various Christian denominations.
ISNA President Azhar Azeez and Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, participated in the U.S. Muslim & Christian Coalition’s Second Roundtable, which focused on the protection of Christians and religious minorities in the Arab world Jan. 14 in Washington, D.C. The MCC represents a diverse range of Muslim and Christian leaders, churches, mosques, Islamic centers, and organizations, along with other community members. The coalition’s First Roundtable Discussion, which served as the official
launch to this critical initiative was held in November 2014. The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), a coalition member and whose president, Sir Rateb Rabie, serves as coalition chairman, has been dedicated for more than 16 years to preserving the Palestinian Christian presence, and ensuring peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land. HCEF has worked within mainstream American Christian communities to dispel negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims.
ISNA WELCOMES FUND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Fahad Tasleem joined the ISNA Development Foundation (IDF) as Fund Development Manager. He brings to ISNA a strong background in Muslim nonprofits. Before joining ISNA, Tasleem played a multifaceted role as an instructor, entrepreneur, lecturer and student. He is the founder and lead instructor at the DC Seminary’s “Islam for Working Professionals Program” along with being an adjunct professor at various other universities and colleges. He also was an instructor at the Islamic Learning Foundation and has recently joined the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) North America. 10
His areas of interest include Islamic theology, entrepreneurship and Quranic studies. He studied Arabic at Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Michigan State University. He also has a master's degree in business taxation from the University of Southern California. In 2007, Tasleem founded Dawah Corps – an organization with a mission to ignite, for Muslims living in the West, a passion for Islamic outreach. His expertise in the realm of dawah stems from a number of years of experience with the various outreach efforts of MSAs, Islamic
Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) organized its Winter National Retreat at Flat Rock River YMCA Camp in Saint Paul, Indiana, Dec. 22-27, 2014, offering the campers memories for a lifetime. The lectures, workshops and discussions were based around the central theme of “Take a Selfie”, which encouraged campers to reflect on their lives, character, and actions. Campers led group khatirahs, discussed sensitive but necessary issues, and participated in other sessions meant to relate directly to today’s Muslim youth. More lighthearted activities like archery, a scavenger hunt, a bonfire and soccer cemented the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. The retreat was organized almost completely by a committee made up of youth ages 14 to 16 years, with the guidance and support of advisors Sarah Shaikh and Iyad Alnachef. Twenty four outstanding counselors served as mentors and role models, and arrived two days early for a training course. Speakers in attendance included Jawad Shah, Habeeb Quadri, Sadia Khatri, Amina Darwish and Saad Omar. Each shared a unique perspective on the theme of reflection and benefited campers with their knowledge and insight. One of the highlights of the event came at the very end, when counselors and campers came together to showcase projects they had been working on all week, including humorous skits, spoken word pieces, and other talentfilled presentations.
centers and Islamic organizations across North America. Tasleem has also served as a khateeb and lecturer for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. “I am excited about jumping on board with an organization with such deep and positive roots in the American Muslim milieu,” he said. “ISNA has, inshaAllah, a bright and major future to play in the role of Muslims in America and it is an honor to be part of that.”
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
ISNA WELCOMES NEW PROGRAM COORDINATOR The Washington, D.C.-based ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances (IOICA) has welcomed Nadia Hassan, its new program coordinator. Hassan brings to IOICA a strong background in community service, advocacy and activism. Prior to joining ISNA, Hassan organized the Villa Park Peace Coalition after the right-wing Republican Party’s heinous protest that shocked the city of Yorba Linda and left a looming sense of fear and social disorientation among Orange County residents. With the support of the Muslim and the interfaith community, she mobilized more than 500 people to a peaceful, silent counter-protest outside of the Villa Park city hall. She founded the Villa Park Peace Coalition to counteract hate in Orange County. Hassan’s personal experience with Islamophobia has allowed her to redirect her talents toward writing, education, public speaking, and empowering women. Hassan’s activism gained media attention, which has allowed her to share her stories and experiences with major media outlets. She is deeply grounded in her faith and believes that God creates all men and women equally and that all of humanity deserves to live with honor and dignity. Hassan is committed to building bridges within her community by pursuit of finding new commonalities between her fellow neighbors, friends and colleagues. Her latest labor of love, inspired by TED prize winner Karen Armstrong’s “Charter of Compassion,” is working with local authorities to transform cities into “cities of compassion”. It is through this that people of faith, seek and hope to change the world, one city at a time. “I look forward to being of service to humanity through a deeper engagement within the Muslim community and various interfaith groups in order to have a greater impact and a positive influence on the communities in which we serve,” says Hassan. “I hope to impart action-oriented and purposeful solutions to some of the world’s most perplexing problems that will give rise to renewed, compassionate attitudes ‘to love for others, what you love for yourself ’.” In her public life, she mentors Muslim youth, advocates for underserved women and victims of domestic violence and firmly speaks out against bigotry, injustice and religious intolerance. Hassan is currently serving as a Girl Scout Troop leader under the Girl Scouts Council of the nation’s capital.
U.S. FAITH LEADERS CONDEMN CIA TORTURE PROGRAM The more than 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report was made public Dec. 9, 2014 — nearly six years since the Senate began investigating the CIA’s treatment of detainees, two years after the committee voted to adopt its torture report, and eight months after that committee held a bipartisan vote favoring releasing its findings. Several prominent faith leaders from across the country, representing a spectrum of religious traditions, condemned the use of torture, urging it be ended. ISNA is one of the founding organizations of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “The revelations about the use of torture have been a source of torture to many of us,” said Sayyid Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances. “We had taken pride in the fact that we have left behind many societies where it was a norm and that we had chosen to be part of a nation that prided itself on its belief in human dignity and human rights.” NRCAT is committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 300 religious organizations have joined.
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ISNA SEEKS SUPPORT FOR THE DISABLED The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), of which ISNA is a founding member, and other national religious and religiously affiliated organizations in a December 2014 letter urged the United States Senate to support passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. IDAC, a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, is a nonpartisan coalition of 33 national religious organizations. It seeks to mobilize the religious community to speak out and act on disability policy issues with Congress, the president and administration, and society. IDAC members’ core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. The faith leaders “ardently support passage of the ABLE Act because it will enable individuals with disabilities and their families to save for their future just like every other American. The ABLE Act would amend section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code to establish ABLE accounts to fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community-based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. “The ABLE Act will enable secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of the designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant benefits provided through private insurance, a beneficiary’s employment, SSI, Medicaid, or other sources. Currently, barriers to employment, independent living, and ultimately, economic self-sufficiency exist because individuals with disabilities often must rely on services through Medicaid and income supports through SSI. To qualify for these safety net programs, individuals are significantly limited in the amount of assets they can maintain.” Since its introduction, the ABLE Act to date has garnered 74 cosponsors in the Senate and 380 in the House of Representatives. It is championed by a bipartisan, bicameral set of lawmakers, including Sens. Robert Casey, Jr., a Pennsylvania Democrat, and Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican; and U.S. Reps. Ander Crenshaw, a Florida Republican, Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, and Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican.
COMMUNITY MATTERS Carson is First Muslim on House Intelligence Committee U.S. Rep. André Carson, an Indiana Democrat, is the first Muslim to sit on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence after being named by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. The committee is charged with oversight of the United States intelligence community, which includes the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and more than a dozen other elements of the United States government, as well as the Military Intelligence Program. “I am honored to be selected to serve on this distinguished committee at a time when our country continues to face great challenges at home and abroad,” Carson said in a news release. “This committee plays a
critical role in the fight against terrorism and the protection of our national security. As a member, I am committed to keeping Hoosiers and all Americans safe, standing up for their privacy, and ensuring our intelligence agencies are operating effectively.” Carson, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, brings a variety of skills and personal experience to this
assignment. Before coming to Congress, he worked as a law enforcement officer. Later, Carson worked in intelligence and counterterrorism for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “As the only member of Congress to have served in a Department of Homeland Security Fusion Center, Congressman Carson’s historic appointment brings new perspectives, practical experience, strong leadership, and proven dedication to fighting terrorism and protecting our country,” Pelosi said. Carson told the Indianapolis Star, Jan. 16, that serving in Congress and on the intelligence committee is significant as it helps show the different faces of Islam at a time when “Islamophobia has reached an apex of sorts.”
Notre Dame has First Endowed Islamic Studies Professorship The University of Notre Dame announced Jan. 21 its first endowed professorship in Islamic studies, established with a $3 million gift from alumna Susan Scribner Mirza of Greenwich, Connecticut. The Mirza Family Professorship of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies also is the first endowed chair in Notre Dame’s new Keough School of Global Affairs, opening in fall 2017 and established through a gift from Donald and Marilyn Keough. “This gift from the Mirza family will enable us to build upon our longstanding commitment to interfaith understanding, dialogue and peace,” Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins said. Keough Dean R. Scott Appleby called the gift “transformative.” “As one of the leading interpreters of religion, Notre Dame has now positioned itself to bring to Islam the level of respect, scrutiny and engagement we typically afford to Christianity,” Appleby said. “I cannot imagine a more appropriate or exciting way to signal the Keough School’s commitment to address the pressing need to get religion right — in diplomacy, foreign relations, public 12
Rev. John Jenkins
policy and, most of all, in our universities and classrooms. I am deeply grateful to Sue Mirza for her decision to establish this chair and thereby to help Notre Dame realize its bold aspiration to place the understanding of religion in the service of peace and justice.” Mirza, a member of the advisory council
for Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, made the gift to continue her late husband, Muzzafar “Muzzi” Mirza’s legacy. “I can think of no greater tribute to him than establishing a permanent catalyst for understanding and bridgebuilding between cultures and religions,” she said. “And I am thrilled to be able to do so through an endowed professorship in Islamic thought and Muslim societies. I look forward to partnering with Dean Appleby and others to advance the goals of the Keough School of Notre Dame and, ideally, a far more universal goal of crosscultural peace and justice.” Mirza, along with her siblings, also established the University’s Howard A. Scribner Jr. Scholarship in memory of their father, a Notre Dame alumnus, and supported the John Darby Memorial Fellowship and the Sorin Society. She is co-founder of the Greenwich Leadership Council of the international organization, Save the Children, and serves on the board of trustees of The King School and on the Cancer Advisory Council of Columbia University Medical Center.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
Virginia Muslims Host Representatives
The civic engagement team of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) held its 2015 Virginia State Delegates and Senators Town Hall meeting Jan. 9 to help its community connect with elected state representatives before the start of the Virginia legislative session. Democratic state Sens. Barbara Favola, Jennifer Wexton, and Janet Howell, Democratic delegates Ken Plum, Vivian Watts, Alfonso Lopez, and Mark L. Keam, Republican delegates Tag Greason, Tom Rust, and David Ramadan, and more than 300 community members attended the meeting. Many of the elected representatives emphasized that their priorities are similar to those of the Muslim American community and urged attendees and their family and friends to contact their elected officials to give feedback. Attendees placed stickers on the three issues they saw as the highest priority, including immigration, domestic violence,
transportation, Islamophobia, poverty, and education. ADAMS President Syed Moktadir thanked officials “for coming out to our community to hear the ideas we would like to share that we think can benefit our country.” He also appreciated the ADAMS Civic Engagement Group for “not only for putting on this program, but for creating a grassroots movement to educate our community at a deeper level.” Ibrahim Moiz, lawyer and active community member who was the legislative assistant to delegate David Poisson in the 2009 Virginia General Assembly session, moderated the program. Presenters were Hassan Ahmad, immigration and criminal defense attorney; Ambreen Ahmad, executive director of Faith Social Services & Victims Advocate, and Abdul Rashid Abdullah, scouting leader and U.S. Army veteran, who spoke on poverty and domestic violence; Sarah Cochran,
Muslims Help Detroit Residents Pay Water Bills Islamic Relief USA and the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) have jointly donated $100,000 to the Detroit Water Fund and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency to help Detroit resi-
dents with making water bill payments, the Associated Press reported. Beginning last spring, the city has been shutting off water for residents with overdue balances — a move the United Nations deemed a human rights violation. More than 31,300 residents have had their water turned off since January 2013, the AP reported. Islamic Relief USA and the MMCC agreed to give $50,000 each in funds earmarked for residents with pastdue accounts with the water department, The Detroit News reported.
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civic, media, communications professional, speaking on transportation; Dr. Ashgar Noor, information technology executive, speaking on law enforcement; Dr. Amaarah DeCuir, educator; and Rizwan Jaka, ADAMS board chairman and interfaith chair, speaking on religious freedom, Islamophobia, and interfaith cooperation. The delegates and senators offered closing remarks on the issues raised and means of cooperation.
ISNA-Canada Elects New Officers
The elected ISNA–Canada Board (Majlis-As-Shura) held its first meeting Jan. 4 and assigned the officer positions of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The officers are: president, Syed Imtiaz Ahmad, emeritus professor of computer science at the University of Windsor, Ontario; vice president, Dr. Mohamed Bekkari, a clinical and school psychologist registered in Ontario; secretary/treasurer, Pervez Nasim, chairman & CEO of Ansar Co-operative Housing Corporation and Ansar Financial Group of Companies; members, Dr. Katherine Bullock, lecturer in the department of political science at University of Toronto at Mississauga, board member of The Tessellate Institute and North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies, and president of Compass Books; Ahmed Shakir Vahed, secretary of Talim ul Islam, Toronto, and Croatian Islamic Centre, and trustee and founding member of Jama Masjid, Mississauga, Ontario; Moinuddin Ahmed Kermani, professor at John Molson School of Business in Concordia University, Montreal; and Khadija Saidi, founder and executive director of Women in Dawah.
Double Honor for Asma Hanif in 2014
Asma Hanif’s work with Muslimat Al-Nisaa has been acknowledged by two nationally recognized organizations, The Baltimore Ravens and Dunkin’ Donuts. The Baltimore Ravens, with 72,000 people watching, invited Asma Hanif onto the field Nov. 30, 2014, when the team hosted the San Diego Chargers, as one of the three 2014 Community Quarterbacks. Hanif was cited for her commitment and dedication as founder and executive director of Muslimat Al-Nisaa. Funded by NFL Charities and the Ravens Foundation, Inc., the award recognizes individuals who exhibit leadership, dedication and commitment to bettering their local
communities. Honorees received tickets for themselves and their guest, Ravens memorabilia and merchandise, and a $3,500 grant each to better their nonprofit organizations. Yet another award came on Dec. 10, 2014, when Dunkin’ Donuts recognized Hanif as a 2014 Dunkin’ Donuts Greater Baltimore
Region Community Hero for her service to the community. The selection was based on nominations of individuals who have gone above and beyond to make an impact, improve and inspire the local community. Since its inception in 1987, Muslimat Al-Nisaa has offered a holistic approach to serving Baltimore’s marginalized communities. It provides health, education, shelter and other social services to the underserved population in general, and to Muslim women and children in particular. As a result of her work as an advanced nurse practitioner, Hanif witnessed religious discrimination while treating sexual assault and domestic violence cases involving Muslim women in Baltimore. In 2007, she began opening her home to help these women and their children. Her home has been converted into a shelter and has grown over the past seven years to include job training and educational programs for shelter residents, feeding the homeless on the streets through the “Chili Bowl Sunday” program, and providing free physicals to Special Olympics participants. Hanif also serves on the Maryland Governor’s Domestic Violence Community Initiative. In January 2014, she was invited to speak at the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s “Protecting Our Diversity” forum on violence and hate crimes.
SoCal Muslims Seek DHS Answers Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, has asked Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson what guidelines his department has prepared to identify and monitor “religious extremism” and “suspicious Muzammil Siddiqi behavior.” Homeland Security is deploying the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiative in the greater Los Angeles area. In his Dec. 1, 2014, letter, Siddiqi asked what safeguards are in place “to ensure the constitutional protections for religious and political expressions.” And, if there was a judicial or civilian oversight mechanism to ensure that the program operates within the constitutional limitations. If yes, what is it; and if not, why not? Siddiqi reiterated that concerns and the subsequent anxieties about the program are not theoretical, but real. “They stem out 14
of the recent experiences of our imams (clergy) and lay leaders, mosques and community organizations who were subjected to unwarranted surveillance and intense harassment by various federal law enforcement agencies,” he said. He said that having expeJeh Johnson rienced “agent provocateurs,” the communities are understandably sensitive to any program that may foster an environment for people to spy and/or inform on one another. He stressed that no community must be held accountable for the misdeeds of a few individuals within it. The acts of a few ignorant and mentally unstable Muslims must not lead to hysteria and irrationality, subjecting entire communities to programs that may be more harmful than helpful, he said. “We reiterate once again our belief that harm to one is harm to all, and that we are committed to uphold this universal principle at all times,” Siddiqi said.
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Duke Community Supports Muslims After a week of controversy, the first Duke University public adhan was called on Jan. 16 with several hundred supporters on hand to reaffirm the place Muslims and all religious faiths have on campus. The adhan was called in the quadrangle in front of Duke Chapel, a change from the initial announcement that it would be delivered from the chapel tower. The event attracted Duke faculty, staff and students, as well as community members of all faiths from Durham, North Carolina. Before the adhan, sophomore Richard Phillips and student cellist Matthew Bunyi led the crowd in singing “Stand By Me,” while others held signs declaring their support of campus Muslims, according to a Duke Today Jan. 16 report. Despite several calls on social media to disrupt the service, there were no observable protests. “The message is Duke is continuing to warmly embrace the campus Muslim community and expressions of different religious faith,” the Rev. Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, told reporters before the adhan. “We
will continue to show a generous hospitality on campus.” The adhan, and its English translation by a member of the Muslim Student Association, was called from inside the chapel, where Muslim Friday prayers have been offered for years. A small speaker on the chapel steps broadcast the adhan. Roughly 700 of the 15,000 Duke students identify themselves as Muslims. Imam Adeel Zeb, the campus Muslim chaplain and director of the Center for Muslim Life, spoke to reporters of the initial disappointment over the controversy. “At the same time, we can also be proud that Duke has presented the campus Muslim
community with a Muslim life that is far more comprehensive than at many other universities in the United States,” he added. Duke has been a leader in promoting Muslim life in university education and was one of the first research universities to appoint a Muslim student chaplain in 2008. The Center for Muslim Life was formed a year later. Friday prayers have been held on campus for many years, first in a Divinity School room and more recently in the Duke Chapel basement. Fierce opposition to the initial decision came from several sources, including from people and groups with little or no connection to the university. Duke leaders also received thoughtful concerns from within the campus community that pushed administrators to find a compromise solution. The issue attracted international media attention. Numerous reporters attended the calling of the adhan, including American television networks, the New York Times and international media organizations. The controversy occurred on the eve of the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration.
Saturna Capital Named Best Islamic Asset Manager
Saturna Capital Corporation, investment manager to the no-load Amana Funds, has been named “Best Islamic Asset Management Company in the Americas” by Islamic Finance News, sponsor of the IFN Islamic Investor Awards 2014. The IFN Islamic Investor Awards honor key players driving forward the fast-growing, worldwide sharia compliant funds industry. Saturna Capital is a pioneer of Islamic investing and the investment adviser for more than 25 years to the no-load Amana Funds, the world’s largest Islamic equity funds open to the public. Saturna’s Islamic investment process, refined over two decades, employs a proprietary grading system developed by Saturna that screens and monitors a database of more than 10,000 securities monthly to meet Islamic requirements. “At Saturna, we follow a principled and disciplined investment management process,” said Jane Carten, president of Saturna Capital. Saturna received a similar award in 2011 as a result of IFN’s Asset Management Poll of more than 200 leading wealth management firms and individuals in the Islamic investment industry. Islamic Finance News is a publication of REDmoney, a publishing and event company focusing on the global Islamic finance industry. The IFN Islamic Investor Awards are submission based. Winners are selected by an independent panel of experienced judges designated by IFN.
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Muzammil Siddiqi Meets with Pope Francis
Pope Francis led the third Christian and Muslim Summit held at the Vatican Dec. 3, 2014, which was described as a way to strengthen ties and understanding between both religions.
The summit resolved to pursue shared interests in both faiths for world peace, visit conflict areas to mitigate misunderstandings and foster better understanding and peace, and work together to help the youth of the
Islamic Relief Support MLK Day of Service
Midmar Dispels Doubts
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19, Islamic Relief USA staff members and volunteers participated in the National Day of Service through diverse activities in several states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. In Washington, D.C., they partnered with America’s Islamic Heritage Museum for an interfaith service action in the Anacostia Historic District. Local residents visited the museum where they were greeted by staff and volunteers who provided them packages of dairy products and fresh produce, such as tomatoes, lettuce, and bananas. Hot meals also were served to homeless community members or those staying in night shelters during winter months. IR-USA volunteers prepared food packs, which were distributed to the Central Union Mission homeless shelter, also in the nation’s capital. Volunteers also supported two environmental projects: making wildflower seed balls at the Redeemer Lutheran Church in McLean, Virginia, for later planting to maintain the region’s diverse ecosystems; and cleaning up the Sligo Creek Parkway in Maryland.
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world get connected with the real message of Islam and Christianity. The pope greeted attendees, including Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California who represented the United States. Siddiqi, former ISNA president, also is chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America and a member of the ISNA Majlis-Ash-Shura. He is a member of the steering committee for the fourth Christian and Muslim Summit, which will be held in Tehran. In his conversation with the pope, Siddiqi extended an early welcome to the pontiff ’s visit to Philadelphia, and suggested he consider allocating some time to meet with Muslim Americans. Delegates from Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan met with the pope. Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan also exchanged a few words with the pope. “This helps us strengthen our fraternity,” the pope said. “Thank you for all the work you do. For this work that helps us understand one another better. For promoting peace. For dialogue.”
Officials at Midamar have dispelled the federal government’s allegations that the company sold millions of dollars in meat that did not follow halal practices, as promised in its labeling and advertising, to countries outside the United States. Midamar claims it is “a halal food company in its essence and practice.” Company officials own there was a U.S. Department of Agriculture administrative infraction in 2010 regarding facility numbers, but never a halal issue. “Since 2010, Midamar has been fully compliant with USDA export regulations. This administrative labeling infraction is being misconstrued and sensationalized by the media as a deliberate attempt by the company to commit halal fraud,” according to a statement released by the company.
Midmar officials also rejected the allegation that the company participates in “captive bolt stunning” where the cattle is rendered “senseless and dead” before slaughtering. However, in some ritual religious slaughter plants, it is common practice to stun the cattle immediately after the cattle has been hand slaughtered. Officials said that is the form of stunning conducted at the Minnesota plant, which was visited by halal verifying authorities and customers had full knowledge of this slaughter method. Midmar is among a few Muslim-owned halal food companies in the U.S. that export abroad. The company asserts that “Halal is the identity of the Midamar brand, and it would be counterproductive and immoral on its part to knowingly sell halal meat that is not halal.”
The 40th ICNA-MAS annual Convention will be held May 23-25 in Baltimore, Maryland, under the theme is “Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam)”. Furthermore, they resolve to make 2015 “The Year of Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam)”. “We want to provide the information for our fellow Americans to understand Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) universal message of peace and love and his role in building the foundations of a movement devoted to truth and social justice. The Prophet has inspired humanity for the last 14 centuries with his message of faith in One God and his caring and compassion for all human beings. In this convention we aim to address how Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) instituted universal principles of human dignity, justice, fairness, consultation, tolerance and forgiveness, equality of individuals regardless of race or ethnicity, and peaceful co-existence among the nations and peoples of the world. It is because of these and the countless other high-minded principles of Islam that Muhammad began with a small band of followers in seventh century Arabia and that group has now grown to a global community of 1.8 billion, a fourth of the world’s population. Influencing their lives from prayer to politics, instructions on personal hygiene to the need to think and reflect in order to recognize the Signs of God everywhere, this one man continues to uplift and give purpose to the lives of millions. His message is fully relevant and needed in our world today with all its conflict and suffering,” according to an ICNA-MAS news release. (www.icnaconvention.org) Some 1,500 people from throughout the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area flocked to support Dar-us-Salaam school at its 20th anniversary dinner Dec. 14, 2014. The theme was “Perseverance: Reaching New Heights Together.” The
guest speaker was Farouq Alzouman, a Saudi mountaineer who reached the top of Mount Everest and became the first person to give the adhan there and hold the Quran from the highest point on earth. He shared the story of his climb with photos, and the lessons learned. ISNA Vice President Altaf Husain helped the community raise more than $200,000 to continue Dar-us-Salaam’s work.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DAR-US-SALAAM
Chicago Muslim attorney Anthony Simpkins was installed as 1st Subcircuit judge by the Illinois Supreme Court Dec. 15, 2014. Simpkins is a past president and current board member of the Muslim Bar Association. He was deputy commissioner for developer services at the Chicago Department of Housing, where he oversaw a $600 million portfolio of existing, public financed, affordable housing projects. He received his juris doctor degree and master of arts degree in political science in 1994 from Loyola University Chicago Law School, where he is an alumni mentor for the Black Law Student Association and its past president. He also is a former executive board member and past chairman of the social service and media relations committees for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, an umbrella group of Chicago area mosques, Islamic schools, and organizations. Simpkins has authored a number of articles for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, an academic publication of DePaul University and the University of Arkansas, and a past member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board for Taylor Business Institute. Simpkins also is an executive board member of the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest African-American bar association in the country, co-chair of the CCBA Judicial Evaluation Committee, and also a member of the Chicago Bar Association. Simpkins and his wife, Tamaria McCannSimpkins, have four children. The couple regularly volunteers with several community-based organizations, including the Inner-city Muslim Action Network, of which their eldest son, Tariq, is among the first youth board members, ChicagoCares, the
Crib Collective, Inc., of which Simpkins is a past board member, the InterFaith Youth Core, and the Hyde Park Food Pantry.
School officials presented Alzouman with the “Bilal Ibn Rabah Inspiration Award” for giving the adhan on the top of Mount Everest.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic RelationsOklahoma, received the 2014 human rights award from the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance on Human Rights Day Dec. 10, 2014, at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The practice of honoring human rights activists began many years ago with the former Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, established during the 1960s. After the legislature abolished the commission, a coalition of organizations came together to continue the tradition of recognizing leading Oklahomans who, by words and example, help define the meaning of human rights. The Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association supports this historic program. Soltani said his mission is “to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
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leadership, spiritual care, and chaplaincy work in a contemporary, North American setting. It is the first such program offered by a Muslim institution of higher education in the United States.
Imam Jamaal Diwan, 31, who served as resident scholar at the Islamic Center of Irvine, was recognized by the Orange County Register as one of the 100 most influential leaders working to make a difference in Orange County in 2014. The newspaper recognized Diwan for this honor because during Ramadan 2014, the mosque hosted nearly 500 people for iftar each night. The mosque also held a Friday night youth group during which Diwan met with high school and college students. He led the daily spiritual activities of a congregation of about 2,500 people weekly. The Al-Azhar graduate stepped down from his post Jan. 1 as he and his wife, Muslema Purmul, “embark on personal projects to better serve our community and society as a whole. A part of that is spending more time reading, writing and teaching.”
Chicago-based American Islamic College (AIC) was awarded degree granting authority for its third degree program, Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies, by the Illinois Board of Higher Education on Dec. 2, 2014. AIC is accepting applications for the new degree program that begins in fall 2015. This program, among the few graduate programs in Islamic Chaplaincy in North America, breaks new ground by being the first full-fledged divinity program in Islamic studies. It features a rigorous course of study containing all of the theological, pastoral, legal, psychological, and experiential components deemed necessary for the training of men and women seeking to serve in the demanding fields of Islamic religious
Rep. Ellison (c.) celebrates with students
Al-Amal School, an AdvancED (NCA) accredited private Islamic school from prekindergarten through 12th grade located in the suburbs of Fridley, Minnesota, celebrated its 20th anniversary. Commemorative events started Nov. 15, 2014, with a recognition of community leaders, imams, founders, past and current board members, and alumni. Principal Zahra Williams presented the school’s history. Zafar Siddiqui spoke about how Al-Amal’s success is, in fact, the Minnesota Muslim community’s success. Al-Amal alums Layla Salim and Azhar Abusebur spoke about the school’s positive impact on their lives. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, and Fridley Mayor Scott Lund lauded Al-Amal’s success. IQRA International Educational Foundation Executive Director Safaa Zarzour in his keynote speech stressed the important role of Islamic schools and the value they provide for the Muslim community, and the establishment and support of Islamic schools as a priority. Fridley City Councilwoman Dolores Verichak also was in attendance. Al-Amal National Honor Society members Rasheeda Baga (Al-Amal alum) and Sumera Islam were recognized for organizing and coordinating the event. New England’s oldest mosque, the Islamic Center of New England, celebrated its 50th anniversary Nov. 22, 2014. Since opening in 1964, the Quincy, Massachusetts, mosque has grown rapidly to keep up with the growing Muslim population. It started with seven Quincy Point founding families — Abrahams, Allies, Ameens, Derbeses, El-Deebs, Hassans and Omars — and has expanded to more than 1,000 member families from all over the South Shore and Greater Boston area. The original members hailed from one country
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— Lebanon — while today’s congregation represents 36 nationalities. What started with a modest $50,000 building in Quincy Point has blossomed into two mosques in Quincy and Sharon. Both house a school. The community is raising funds for a proposed $1.5 million expansion of the Quincy mosque and a more than $6 million expansion of the Sharon mosque. The projects would include bigger prayer rooms, more classrooms and other improvements. The Islamic Center also has had its share of setbacks: arson fires in 1990 and 2003 caused significant damage to the Quincy mosque.
Even after death, the late Babar and Haris Suleman continue to give to the education of the needy in Pakistan. The father-son duo perished while flying around the world to raise money for underprivileged children in Pakistan. The campaign has collected $3.1 million, reported NBC News Dec. 2, 2014. They had reportedly raised more than $1 million when their single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza went down near Pago Pago, the American Samoa Islands, on July 24, 2014. Had they completed the journey, Haris would have set the record for youngest pilot in command to circumnavigate the earth. The Sulemans’ 30-day trip began in Indianapolis in June 2014, and was to include roughly two dozen cities as they traveled east across the globe. Before this project was launched, Haris was an active volunteer at the U.S. chapter of the The Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit building and supporting schools for underprivileged children in Pakistan. With the additional money, which includes about $2.4 million raised through a single donor, plans now call for building two campuses in Pakistan — one in the family’s hometown of Okara and the other just outside Islamabad. The donations also will pay for staff, materials and maintenance. Haris was posthumously conferred the 19
COMMUNITY MATTERS Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) by the Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain.
Ameena Matthews, who was awarded by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago as a Top Muslim Achiever of 2014, was diagnosed in January 2014 with multiple myeloma — a form of cancer that presently has no cure. Multiple myeloma is a disease that can be fatal in about five years, doctors say. Matthews is more than a community activist. She is a fighter for peace on Chicago’s streets. Matthews steps in between potentially deadly conflicts to prevent shootings. Her work became known after being featured in the documentary, “The Interrupters,” a film that follows Chicago’s streetconflict resolvers like herself. Matthews is currently unemployed and without health insurance coverage. Her medication costs about $10,000 for a 21-day supply. Community members have created a GoFundMe page that so far has raised more than $100,000 toward Matthews’ medical bills. Matthews is saving up for a critical treatment — a high dose of chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant. For more information, visit http://www.gofundme. com/Protector. The Azzad Wise Capital Fund (NASDAQ: WISEX), the first U.S. halal, socially responsible, fixed-income mutual fund received a five-star overall rating out of 435 shortterm bond funds as of Dec. 31, 2014, from Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar, Inc. The rating was awarded on the basis of the fund’s risk-adjusted return, which was in the top decile for the three-year period in the short-term bond fund category. The fund’s investment advisor, Azzad Asset Management, made the announcement early in January. The Azzad Wise Capital Fund won a Lipper Fund Award for Best Global Sukuk Fund for the one-year period ending Dec. 31, 2013. That same month, Azzad announced its selection of Federated Investment Management Company as the fund’s new sub-advisor. 20
Since 2010, the Azzad Wise Capital Fund has proven to be an important diversification and income-generating tool for investors who also seek to benefit developing economies through global community investing. The fund does not deal with debt instruments created from interest-based lending, instead sharing in the gains through equity partnerships, which include Islamic bank deposits and Sukuk.
The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Stuart School of Business recognized Professor Zia Hassan with the Zia Hassan Professorship, said the IIT Dean Harvey Kahalas. Hassan helped establish the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park, Illinois, in 1974 and has served as its board chair for the past 40 years. Hassan, who obtained his master of science degree (1958) and doctorate (1965) from the university, retired in May 2014 after 54 years at IIT. He served as instructor, assistant, and then associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering; department chair and associate professor in the Department of Management Science; and professor of management science, associate dean, and dean of IIT Stuart. As dean, he managed a faculty and staff of 40 people and an $8 million budget. He oversaw the launch of IIT Stuart’s master of science programs. Hassan earned Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation for Stuart in 1999, a distinction earned by less than 5 percent of the world’s business schools. In 2002, Hassan stepped down as dean and became director of IIT Stuart’s doctorate program. Throughout his tenure, Hassan has supervised 16 dissertations and mentored countless students in their academic, research, and professional endeavors. Hassan, who has served as a graduate school representative to the IIT Alumni Association, was named to the board of examiners
for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, and received the IIT Alumni Medal in 2008, the highest honor bestowed by the IIT Alumni Association. To donate, visit: give.iit.edu/hassanlegacy The Supreme Court ruled Jan. 20 in favor of the religious freedom claims of Gregory Holt, also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad, a prisoner in Arkansas who wanted to grow a beard in accordance with his Muslim faith but was blocked by the department of corrections’ policy that forbids beards except for diagnosed dermatological problems. In a unanimous opinion of the ninemember court written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court said the prison policy in this case violated a federal statute designed to protect the prisoners’ religious exercise. Alito wrote the policy “as applied to this case, violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which prohibits a state or local government from taking any action that substantially burdens the religious exercise of an institutionalized person unless the government demonstrates that the action constitutes the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest.” Correction officials had argued that the policy was put in place to protect other inmates and deter individuals from attempting to hide contraband. Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom who served as co-counsel in the case, said the Supreme Court declared that government officials cannot impose arbitrary restrictions on religious liberty just because they think government knows best. However, Alito made clear that existing law still “affords prison officials ample ability to maintain security.” In 2010, Holt was convicted of firstdegree battering and sentenced to life. Five years earlier he had pleaded guilty to threatening to kidnap and harm the daughters of President George W. Bush. In a handwritten petition, Holt asked that the justices take up his case because the “no beard grooming” policy violated his rights to “practice Islam as he believes it is supposed to be practiced by wearing the beard.” Holt, who converted to Islam while in prison, said he was a devoted Salafi Muslim. “Having a beard is not a commandment in Islam,” said Sayyid M. Syeed, national
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director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, who was invited to give his opinion in Oct. 2014. But the key issue is that Holt believes it is a religious requirement, he said. If Holt is denied his right, it would be easier to deny other prisoners their religious rights. A win for Holt “advances our commitment in America for religious liberty,” Syeed said.
The St. Anthony city council voted Dec 24, 2014, to allow the Abu-Huraira Islamic Center after the federal government sued the small Minneapolis suburb in August 2014, contending that it violated federal law in 2012 by rejecting the proposed center. In June 2012, the St. Anthony city council rejected Abu Huraira’s proposal concluding that a religious and cultural center was incompatible with the light industrial zoning. The council’s 4-1 vote went against a city planning commission recommendation to approve the 15,000-square-foot center in the basement of the former Medtronic headquarters. The agreement also indicates that elected officials, managers and certain city employees will participate in educational training about the requirements of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the 2000 law under which St. Anthony was sued.
Abdullah al-Kidd, a Muslim American who was moved to three federal prisons in three states during the 16 days he was detained without charge after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will get $385,000 compensation and a letter of regret from the U.S. government and an FBI agent, the American Civil Liberties Union said on Jan. 16. The ACLU, which sued on al-Kidd’s behalf in the decade-long case, hoped the settlement would serve as a deterrent.
Al-Kidd was detained in 2003 as a “material witness,” a designation widely used in the U.S. after Sept. 11 to ensure suspects were available to testify in terrorism cases. Al-Kidd was never charged with any crime, nor called to testify in the trial of a student accused of visa fraud that later resulted in a not guilty verdict. “The government acknowledges that your arrest and detention as a witness was a difficult experience for you and regrets any hardship or disruption to your life that may have resulted from your arrest and detention,” according to the official letter sent to al-Kidd. The city council of Kennesaw, a community 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, voted unanimously Dec. 15, 2014, to allow Suffa Dawat Center to open in a local shopping center, reversing an earlier decision. The city was not willing to risk a lawsuit being filed on the basis of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. On Dec. 1, the council voted 4-1 to deny an application for the mosque, which would accommodate 80 people, saying that zoning regulations did not allow a place of worship in that particular shopping center. The site in Kennesaw is about 11 miles from one mosque and about nine miles from another. South Nepean Muslim Community, Nepean, Ontario, Canada, held its first Friday prayer in a new mosque on Dec. 19, 2014. More than 1,000 people, including community members and families, leaders, imams, media, elected officials, and educators attended a formal opening Jan. 4. The 16,000-square-foot mosque — a $7 million Canadian project launched in 1999 — has capacity for 750 congregants, a community hall that accommodates up to 400 people, a library, classrooms, and indoor youth sports facility, including a fitness area for men and women. “This marks a new chapter for our 80,000 Ottawa-Gatineau Muslim community, in particular for 10,000 Muslims in Barrhaven,” said Dr. Emdad Khan, mosque president. SNMC also runs the Al-Huda School, which besides other programs offers language courses in Bangla, Urdu, Dari, Somali, and Arabic. Dr. Hafiz ur-Rehman was named among “America’s Top Pediatricians” for 2014 by the Consumers Research Coun-
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cil of America, a designation based on patients’ input. He has received this award for a number of years consecutively. He also was recognized by the International Association of Pediatricians as “The Most Compassionate Doctor” and received the “Patients Choice” award. A past president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) and past chairman of its board of regents, Rehman also served as chairman of IMANA Relief and continues as a member of that committee. Rehman is a past president of Masjid Darul Quran — The Muslim Center of Long Island and current board member. He has been a past president of the Islamic Association of Long Island — the Selden Mosque. Rehman is a member of the Suffolk County Interfaith Anti-Bias Task Force and the Town of Islip Anti-Bias Task Force. He is a member of the Bay Shore Interfaith Council, and an honorary board member of the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He was a recipient of the Suffolk County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Service Award, and the Suffolk County Community College’s Salute to Excellence Community Service Award. Rehman also was appointed to the American Muslim Advisory Board to the county executive, and the public advisory board to the Suffolk County police commissioner. Rehman serves as a board member of FOF Relief and Education with relief activities in Asia and Africa. He is also is on the board of the Muslim Foundation of America.
On Jan. 2, Jaylani Hussein took over as executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, where previously he served as outreach director. Hussein has been active with various community organizations, including the Islamic Cultural Center of Minnesota board, Wilder Foundation advisory board, 21
COMMUNITY MATTERS Muslim Youth of Minnesota advisory board, Islamic Resource Group speakers bureau, and ARAHA board. He traveled to the Horn of Africa twice on behalf of ARAHA to open a regional field office and oversee large-scale humanitarian projects during the Somali famine of 2011. Hussein, whose family emigrated from Somalia to Minnesota in 1993, is trilingual (English, Somali, Arabic). He holds degrees from St. Cloud State University and North Dakota State University. CAIR’s Minnesota chapter, the state’s only Muslim civil rights and legal advocacy organization, has grown tremendously since its founding in 2007. The official statewide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Jan. 19, was largely about honoring local heroes who are making communities better. The distinguished services honorees included Lori Saroya, founder of CAIR-MN. The fifth Hassan Hathout Legacy Foundation fifth through eighth grade essay contest “How to Grow a Loving Heart” has further expanded on the national level to include numerous states. Top contestants for each grade are: fifth grade, first place, Aleena Bhatti, New Horizon School, Pasadena; second place, Nadia Ghanem, New Horizon School Westside; sixth grade, first place, Yasmin Elzanaty, New Horizon School, Pasadena; second place, Zayd Shinaishin, New Horizon School, Irvine; seventh grade, first place, Adam Tizani, New Horizon School, Pasadena; second place, Hoda AbouEich, Oregon Islamic Academy; eighth grade, first place, Maryam Moghul, Madina Academy, Connecticut; second place, Aliza Arya, New Horizon School, Pasadena.
Sheikh Kifah Mustapha is now the imam of the Orland Park Prayer Center. The suburban Chicago center includes a Quran academy. The popular imam has been 22
a fundraiser for the entire community and several mosques and organizations have benefited from his help. He also serves as chairman of the Illinois Council of Imams and Scholars, and president of the Shura of Islamic Family Counselors of America. He is a member on the advisory boards of the Mission and Spiritual Care for Advocate Health Group in Illinois, the Council for The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation, and the American Islamic College in Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Maryam Ahmad as assistant state’s attorney Dec. 1, 2014. Her appointment will run through Dec. 6, 2016. Ahmad has been licensed in Illinois since 2000. She also has served as an assistant public defender and as sexual harassment officer for the City of Chicago. While in law school, Ahmad worked as special assistant to the president on diversity at DePaul University. She previously was dean of multicultural affairs at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) has been awarded accreditation as a Continuing Medical Education provider by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Furthering medical education for its membership and health care providers has been a strategic goal and part of IMANA’s mission as a healthcare organization.
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a national education and advocacy organization headquartered in Palos Hills, Illinois, opened its Washington, D.C., office Feb. 9, located near the White House, Capitol Hill and the National Press Club. Kristin Szremski, national director of media and communications, heads the office. Working together with Washington, D.C.-based national board member, Osama Abu Irhsaid, Szremski is concentrating on national media work, coalition-building and supporting leg-
islative education efforts. AMP will continue to work in broad coalitions, and hopes to strengthen relationships with other national organizations by having an official presence in Washington D.C. Volunteers of the Muslim Soup Kitchen Project prepared and served about 150 Christmas dinners Dec. 25, 2014, at the Unity House’s Front Door in Troy, New York, to regular diners so Unity House staff members could have the holiday off. On every last Saturday of the month, the Muslim Soup Kitchen volunteers serve at different facilities across the Tri-City area. Imam Farid Ansari of the Muslim American Da’wah Center of Rhode Island was among six religious leaders to offer invocation at the inauguration of Gina Raimondo, the state’s first elected woman governor, Jan. 6. Maryland’s Frederick County Public Schools board on Dec. 16, 2014, adopted a 2015-2016 calendar that includes the Eidal-Adha holiday. In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Global Education Campaign’s founder, Munir Ahmad, sent condolences to the Newtown, Connecticut, community. Despite receiving more than a million such letters, volunteers remembered this kindness, and shortly after the school massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan, a Newton community member asked if he might help deliver a banner from Newtown residents to the Army Public School community in Peshawar. The Global Education Campaign delivered the beautiful banner there.
CORRIGENDUM The article “Protecting Children from Abuse,” published in the IH Jan-Feb 2015 issue, was authored by Engy Abdelkader and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
52 ANNUAL ISNA CONVENTION ND
September 4 – 7, 2015
Contact: Phone: (317) 838-8129 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Web: www.isna.net
WEST COAST EDUCATION FORUM
Continuing Islamic Education Islamic educators benefit from ISNA West Coast Education Forum.
Nagwa Amin, principal at the Institute of Knowledge in Diamond Bar, California, told Islamic Horizons. Amal Taher, an Islamic studies teacher at New Dimensions Academy in Pomona, California, said “We remembered what it was like to be on the other side of the classroom, and we got to learn from some of the best in our community. InshaAllah, it will help motivate and prepare us to improve so we can best prepare our next generation for the challenges they will face.”
Hazem Bata (2nd l.) presents an award to Omar and Azmeralda Alfi.
BY ZEYAD MAASARANI
slamic school educators and administrators assembled in Anaheim, California, Jan. 16-17, at ISNA’s fourth annual West Coast Education Forum (WCEF). Attendees had the opportunity to contribute, participate in lively discussions, hear experts from different backgrounds share insights and help them reflect on common challenges and possible solutions. Discussions centered on this year’s theme, “Teaching the Heart,” which underscored the premise that one must forge an emotional connection with students to cast a meaningful influence on their character and life trajectory. “Students don’t remember your class, they remember you,” said Osman Khan, vice principal at Granada Islamic School in Santa Clara, California. In his workshop titled, “Teaching the Heart Creates Relevance and Benefits in Classroom Management,”Khan urged educators to invest time and effort in building rapport with their students. He was one of many professionals and experts in attendance, including educator and author Habeeb Quadri, clinical psychologist Dr. Mohamed Sadiq, special education expert Omaira Alam, academic leadership specialist Azra Ali, and nationally certified school psychologist David Streight.
PLENARY SESSION IQRA International Educational Foundation 24
CEO Safaa Zarzour moderated the opening session, “Internalizing Values - Are We Really Reaching Their Heart?” Panelists Sadeq Al-Hasan, Alam, Mohammad Sadiq, and Streight explored some of the possible solutions which can bolster Islamic schools’ ability to instill Islamic values in their students. Al-Hasan, co-founder of the K-12 Al-Arqam Islamic School in Sacramento, California, discussed character development as a proactive, determined process, as opposed to something that happens by accident. Streight, drawing on his background in school psychology, highlighted the difference between character education and character information. Addressing the importance of teaching from the heart as a prerequisite to teaching to the heart, Alam explained that teachers need to have passion and deep-seeded motivation to truly impact students. Sadiq illustrated the importance of knowing where one’s heart is — and only from there can one aim to teach the heart. Many attendees appreciated the opportunity to hear from experts, while sharing and learning from other educators. “We are assessing and probably going to apply many of the things we learned today,”
After the plenary session, the two-day forum offered four tracks for attendees: Arabic language, religious studies and character building, curriculum and instruction, and board administration. “We got to learn real-life lessons about important things that can really make a difference in students’ lives,” said Zeina El-Kassem, an Islamic studies teacher at Minaret Academy Saturday School. The Arabic language track included sessions on “Building Language Foundation,” led by experienced Arabic language teacher Thouraya Boubetra, and “Integrating Technology in the Arabic Classroom,” led by Lina Kholaki, a certified Arabic teacher and textbook curriculum designer. Many of the sessions included interactive discussions. “Our goal was to facilitate collective growth,” said Boubetra, who chaired the committee entrusted with developing the Arabic language track’s workshops. “We all have the same challenges in terms of shortness of resources and limited time with students. If we just share already what we know and what we’ve done, that exchange is a big improvement,” Boubetra explained. The religious studies and character building track included a session on “Transforming Islamic Studies and Quran into the Most Beloved Classes in School,” led by Tamer Osman, director of Islamic studies at Universal School, who explained how his institution made Quran and Islamic studies its top two most-liked subjects, with engaging approaches to learning. The track also included the workshop:
ATTENDEES APPRECIATED THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR FROM EXPERTS, WHILE SHARING AND LEARNING FROM OTHER EDUCATORS. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
“The Inner Journey of Muslim Youth in from weekend Islamic school administrators school where I serve … I’m talking about the North America: Protecting the Identity and teachers to full-time administrators and children of the entire community.” and the Faith of our Youth.” Dr. Moham- teachers — where the needs and concerns med Sadiq drew upon cases from his clini- are really different in some regards.” HONORS & AWARDS cal psychology experience to illustrate how “When you get a group of Islamic educa- ISNA recognized Omar and Azmeralda Alfi influential a teacher can be and how teachers tors together, you can’t help but be inspired,” with the Community Hero Award for their can connect with students’ hearts. said Muhammad Aftab Diwan, superinten- “pioneering efforts and valuable contributions The curriculum and instruction track dent at Islamic School of Irving, Texas. “We to the fields of Islamic education and interincluded the workshop: “Listen! Students see how far we’ve come, and how far we faith relations.” The Alfis founded a national are Talking to Us in Their Assessments,” by still have to go as a community. We have to political advocacy organization, numerous internationally-known speaker Bobb Dar- come together, and that, in essence, is what Islamic schools, Islamic education foundanell who shared various perspectives on happened here.” tions, interfaith groups, in addition to touchstandardized testing approaches and how ing countless peoples’ lives on a personal level. teachers can learn from students’ results. CELEBRATION BANQUET U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Technology and how it can augment On Jan. 16, forum participants were joined Democrat, offered her congratulations to learning influenced many of the discus- by special guests and local community lead- the Alfis through her Congressional Comsions across the four tracks. munity Liaison Rida Hamida. The board administration “It’s not (a) lifetime achievetrack workshop, “Mobile App ment (award), this is like four Development to Empower Edulifetimes,” Sanchez wrote in a cators,” was led by Tahir Aziz, Congressional resolution. who demonstrated the use of ISNA leaders and banquet MIT App Inventor to develop attendees also remembered mobile applications to aid the the late Islamic and interfaith classroom learning process. hero, Maher Hathout, with Omaira Alam and Seema Jihad Turk reading a poem in Imam, associate professor of his honor. elementary and middle-level After dinner, Minaret Acadteacher education at National emy and City of Knowledge Louis University, led the workstudents presented an Arabic shop “Teaching from the Heart: nasheed, and nasheed singerWhat Makes a Great School Education Leadership specialist Azra Ali explains a group activity to songwriter, composer and proparticipants in her workshop titled “Cooperative Learning Protocols in Leader.” Alam encouraged cur- Islamic Studies Classes.” ducer Bassem Rashidi also gave riculum designers to go beyond a performance. The ISNA Education Forum Essay Conactivities that ask students to simply com- ers in a celebration banquet that offered time prehend the Quran and Islamic tenets — for reflection, dining, honors, and festivities. test first place winner Sia Bhalla, a fifth she wanted them to be able to understand “You are all pioneers,” WCEF Com- grader at City of Knowledge Islamic School it more critically; to be able to apply it, and mittee Chair Necva Ozgur told attendees. in Pomona, read her essay to attendees in comprehend the true Islam. “Without you, we wouldn’t even dream to the banquet hall. Alam also encouraged attendees to incor- have our schools. You are raising our next “My Islamic school teaches me how porate technology into their classrooms. “We generations.” important it is to have good friends and not have to be relevant to the students,” she said. “The most beloved actions [to Allah] are to judge people based on how they look…. Imam demonstrated approaches for what is repeated regularly, even if it is small,” and to pick friends based on their characadministrators to partner with teachers and ISNA Secretary General Hazem Bata told ter,” read Bhalla, who practices a faith other help them recognize strengths and identify the audience. “What you do is a regular and than Islam. “I am not Muslim, but I love my areas of improvement. “We support teachers consistent contribution to our community.” Islamic school because it helps me build a by reflecting with them,” she said. ISNA Executive Council Member Imam sound heart.” “Dr. Seema and Ms. Omaira’s presenta- Tahir Anwar, the keynote speaker, said Allah “I am not Muslim, but I love my Islamic tion addresses a critical need in our commu- has bestowed educators and community school because it helps me build a sound nity of expanding the definition and role of leaders with a great, distinct honor. “It’s a heart,” essay contest award winner Sia Bhalla school leaders,” said Fawad Yacoob, Minaret great responsibility,” he said. “It’s not just said reading her essay at the Jan. 17 award Academy vice principal. going to work and making a paycheck … it’s banquet. “The forum is excellent and I would cer- about a concern. It’s an amanah… render Zeyad Maasarani, a strategic communications professional tainly recommend it to educators,” Shaza back the trusts to whom they belong, Allah based in Southern California, has interest in multimedia journalism, direct-response marketing, and corporate comKhan, teacher at the Austin Peace Academy, subhanahu wa taala says. Our children are munications. told Islamic Horizons. “It’s remarkable how our trust. When I say children, I’m not necesDeana Helmy, who speaks on identity and relationship they are able to provide something of benefit sarily talking about my biological children. issues, has a master of arts degree in counseling with an to such a wide constituency of educators, I’m not talking about my children at the high emphasis in marriage and family therapy.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
Let’s Not Fall for the Terrorists’ Trap (Again) BY JOHN L. ESPOSITO & DALIA MOGAHED
he slaughter of French journalists and French Jews and Muslims by terrorists is unconscionable and has rightly provoked outrage. All life is sacred and the loss of any life at the hands of killers like those who carried out the shootings in Paris should provoke moral outrage. At the same time, some have asked why the international community and international media are paying so much attention to the tragic attack in Paris within days of the Paris shooting, but only passing attention to Boko Haram’s massacre of 2,000 people, 61 killed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen and 164 school children murdered by the Taliban in a bomb attack. Is it the identity of the victims that explains our selective empathy? While this might partially explain it, something more is at play. Perhaps the Paris attacks hit a deep nerve in the Western psyche beyond the death toll because it was more than an attack on a business. It was an attack on the most sacred core of European identity: liberty and freedom of speech. Why did the terrorists do what they did? They, or at least their operational masters, knew that targeting a Western sacred symbol would provoke an explosive response. Human beings, whether religious or secular, rely on civic and sacred symbols as markers of their identity. They are also at their worst, feel most threatened and outraged, when their sacred symbols are violated. The terrorists behind the attacks were banking on that. They aimed to achieve exactly the response we saw: the ability of a few of terrorists to outrage and terrorize a nation and spread that hysteria beyond its borders. The U.S., Great Britain and many other countries immediately announced increased security, while France’s premiere declared war against “radical Islam.” From the terrorists’ point of view their goal was achieved: a global war along cultural and religious lines was reignited, and they were its first “martyrs.” These attacks, like many before them and
regrettably in the future, aim to provoke this response in an asymmetric war where an individual or group of individuals can terrorize a nation, grab global attention and headlines, provoke anti-Islam and anti-Muslim hate speech and hate crimes, and attacks on mosques in France and elsewhere. The first 48 hours following the attacks saw printing and reprinting of illustrated anti-Muslim racial slurs, Islamophobic media hysteria,
accompanied by 15 separate anti-Muslim attacks across France alone. But are we beholden to follow this script? Terrorism stripped of symbolism is violent crime by murders — without “martyrs,” without the rhetoric and romance of ancient religious or civilizational rivalries. The perpetrators would then be remembered, if at all, as common criminals and murderers, and not be allowed to don the mantle of Islam and the “defender of oppressed Muslims.” Had the attackers been white Christians, would we have attached so much symbolism to their actions? Though Anders Breivik, who killed 77 mostly children, in Oslo in 2011, and offered a lengthy hatefilled ideological manifesto to explain his actions, took more lives, his action did not
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
trigger a global war. He was seen as a disturbed individual. No one declared a war on “anti-immigrant right wing ideology.” No one suggested banning political parties closely aligned with his rhetoric. No one put forth the notion that the specific names of prominent American Islamophobes cited in his manifesto as his philosophical clerics should be called to answer for the murderous venom they had so clearly inspired. He was dismissed as a madman — one of “us,” who had gone astray. Yet, we handed the Paris shooters what they craved. By targeting secular sacred symbols, they aimed to trigger a “clash of civilizations.” The attackers, reportedly sent by Al-Qaeda or ISIS, represent organizations with dismal Muslim public support. But like other fringe ideological movements,
they seek to represent a large community that mostly rejects both their philosophy and tactics. Provoking Western societies to overact and behave at their worst is meant to provoke Muslim societies to do the same and therefore widen the psychological space for extremist ideology. What if instead, we isolated the criminals as criminals rather than anointing them as representatives of a faith community of more than a billion people? What if their actions were stripped of their symbolism and seen as crimes by terrorists deliberately aimed at provoking hatred and division that we, as free people, would not fall for? What if public statements poked a finger in the eyes of the terrorists by reasserting French commitment to all its citizens full membership in the Republic rather than
hand the terrorists their desired victory by alienating Muslims as a whole? German Chancellor Angela Merkel set a good example for her colleagues. A day after walking arm-in-arm with French President Francois Hollande in the massive march in Paris she said in a public statement: Islam “belongs to Germany," in a clear repudiation of anti-immigration protesters gathering in Dresden and other cities (Jan. 12.) Free speech, the sacred value we are so zealously defending after the tragic attacks in Paris, is all about choice, agency and reason. We must employ these values in our response to those who wish to trap us in their divisive narrative.
University professor and professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, John L. Esposito is founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is author of “The Future of Islam” and co-author with Dalia Mogahed of “Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” Dalia Mogahed is director of research at The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and former executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission of the authors. Originally published in The Huffington Post, January 14, 2015
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Building the New Kn Economy in Muslim Qualified Muslim American educators to development in Muslim countries.
ISLAMIC HORIZONSâ€ƒ MARCH/APRIL 2015
nowledge Countries T
BY FAWZIA MAI TUNG
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
wenty years ago, few Muslim parents would have been receptive of their children choosing to become an Islamic school teacher, instead of pursuing a scientific field of study. Today, teaching might actually be a wise choice. A new trend emerged as Islamic schools multiplied and matured and Muslim American educators grew in professionalism and seniority. A brain drain that started as a trickle has swelled into a flood of Islamic school teachers from North America pouring into various Muslim majority countries. The highly qualified, certified and experienced American educator has become a key to education reform programs of many Middle Eastern countries. For decades, Western educators have had a presence in the Middle East, mostly at international schools, hired overseas or locally. Today, the landscape has changed. English medium kindergarten through 12th grade schools have proliferated, and sometimes local schools have added an English medium section geared toward an international degree. One example is Amman, Jordan Islamic Educational College (or Kulliyah al-‘Ilmiya al-Islamiyah; IEC) — the alma mater of King Abdullah and his father, Hussein. Founded in 1947, the college’s classes were taught in Arabic and its graduating seniors aimed at taking the Tawjihi national university entrance examination. In 2001, the college added a British section geared toward preparation for the Cambridge, United Kingdom-run International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). By 2009, IEC added an American section for pre-kindergarten through third grade that would ultimately lead to the SAT college admission exam.
Ezzia Gheith, the American program’s second grade homeroom teacher and a computer engineer from New York City, taught computer science at Al-Noor Islamic School in Brooklyn and algebra at a Virginia public school. She moved with her family to Jordan and a position opened up at IEC which her children attended. IEC is just one example of Jordan’s move toward a 21st century education. In 2003, the country launched the multimillion dollar Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) and the Education Reform for Knowledge Economy (ERfKE). The latter’s success focusing on expansion of early childhood education, teacher training, incorporation of technology, and implementation of new educational methods, paved the way for phase II of ERfKE. Fatima Adnan Abuzir, an English coordinator/teacher and math teacher, witnessed firsthand this new trend of education in Jordan. Abuzir had taught in U.S. public schools and an Islamic school (Universal School, Bridgeview, Illinois). She moved to Amman with her Jordanian husband so she and her children could learn Arabic. Soon she found herself teaching English as a Second Language to first graders at Radwan School in Khalda, Amman. She later began teaching science and math in first through third grades, and then was tapped to be the English coordinator for grades four through seven. Since then, 30
Abuzir has been constantly headhunted for positions as an English coordinator or math teacher. She worked in the IGCSEbased Bunat Al Ghad school in Jubeiha, then at the SAT and IGCSE-based School of Life in Dabouq. Teaching jobs are available in full-time schools and language centers, whether they be private organizations or part of a larger institution, such as the University of Jordan’s Language Center, which prepares students for college entrance exams including TOEFL (U.S.) and IELTS (United Kingdom). In the wealthier, oil-producing countries, the monetary incentive is a stronger draw. Even if the salary equals that in the United States, foreign workers are entitled to tax exemptions on annual earnings below $80,000. This, combined with perks, such as free housing accommodation and annual return airline tickets, is enough to draw many to the region. Notably in 2002, Qatar launched the K-12 Education for a New Era, creating publicly funded yet privately operated “independent schools” similar to charter schools in the United States. Early reports show, although still short of the new government standards, these schools have more student-centered classrooms and higher student achievement in English, Arabic, math and science. All public schools are now undergoing a gradual conversion to independent schools. As for higher education, the Qatari government’s now well-known Education City grouped together satellites of Georgetown, Northwestern, Cornell, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon universities alongside its own Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. This spurred recruitment of Western-certified educators not only to Qatar, but also the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. Some of these teachers start with a renewable annual contract, while others opt to remain longer and join the growth spurt. The 2006 education reform initiative, one of the keystones of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, aims at achieving a sustainable knowledge-based economy. The Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) introduced several innovative steps, such as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) through which consultancy firms bid for rights to advise schools. The initial results were widespread teacher professional development, including English training. By 2009, ADEC launched a 10-year strategic plan, starting
with the New School Model. One of its goals is to have all public and private school students perform above international average. Its most revolutionary shift since 2009, math and science were taught, not in Arabic, but in English by English Medium Teachers (EMTs) hired from Western countries. Recruitment agencies, such as Teach Away, worked with ADEC to recruit at the kindergarten and elementary school level. By 2011, ADEC laid-off 1,400 local teachers. Highly qualified, certified educators with experience in Islamic schools were prefered due to their familiarity with Islam and its associated cultures. Rayeann Noyes, a Muslim educator from Arizona, took a year off from U.S. public and Islamic schools to experience the life of an expatriate teacher in the UAE. Others opt for the long haul. Jahneeta Dyer, who taught at Clara Mohammed School in Atlanta and at various public schools, is now in her second year teaching English to second grade girls with ADEC. Bayyinah Muhammad, another
U.S.-B EDUCATO NOT ONLY M MARK AS TEA ALSO AT A HIG AS PRINCIPA FOUNDERS TANK AD
A teacher training workshop held by the nonprofit WMES in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Pakistan.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
teacher in the UAE, estimated fellow American educators, usually in their 30s and 40s, to number in the hundreds. U.S.-based educators have not only made their mark as teachers, but also at a higher level, as principals, school founders and think tank advisors. Angelia Moona Fain, principal at The First Academy in Ajmain, UAE, is wellknown in the U.S. Islamic school circles for her work with Nabil Saadoun on the “Learning Islam Teacher Guide” published by the Islamic Services Foundation and for her work as principal of Al-Iman School in Raleigh, North Carolina. She brought to the school the American Common Core standards and the integration of Islamic studies from U.S. Islamic schools. Razi Education, a global education consulting firm, is working with ADEC in the planning and implementation of effective national education reform. It recruited veteran educators Nadeem Memon and Matthew Moes (co-founder and former principal of
BASED RS HAVE MADE THEIR ACHERS, BUT GHER LEVEL, ALS, SCHOOL AND THINK DVISORS.
Good Tree Academy in Dallas), respectively education advisor and board member of the Islamic Schools League of America, to serve as consultants and help shape the educational policies that will govern UAE schools. Moes said the job not only provides professional growth, but also allows him to contribute more productively to global education. ADEC also hired experienced Westerntrained educators, such as Loretta Riggs, a former teacher, principal, curriculum coach and board member at various Cleveland and Pittsburgh public and Islamic schools from 2004-2011. She now serves as senior pedagogy specialist, in-charge of English medium subjects. She said her experience in Islamic and public schools was valuable. Most transplanted educators agree that while the monetary incentive did factor in, the experience of living and working in a Muslim country was a strong motivation. Many educators sought their position, drawn at times by family ties, while a few were actively headhunted. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a rare few opted to help education in cashstrapped Muslim countries. They donated or raised funds, and volunteered with altruistic energy, viewing their work as an investment in the next generation of Muslims, and especially in the hereafter. Sommieh Flower, formerly principal of Huda School and Montessori in Franklin, Michigan, and of Crescent Academy International in Canton, Michigan, is widely known for her work with Dawud Tawhidi’s Tarbiyah program. She now works as a lecturer in Northern Borders University in Arar, Saudi Arabia. However, her real work lies in Chatha Bakhtawar, a village near Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, where she heads Sitara, a school and teachers’ institute she established in 2011. Once Flower understood why she would see so many children on the roads collecting plastic bottles or cutting dry grass, she raised funds to open Sitara with desks and two school rooms catering to 20 children. Today, the school provides kindergarten through eighth grade education to more than 200 children. Funded entirely through donations, the school’s needs grew. Flower sought employment in Saudi Arabia to continue sustaining the school. A.K., who asked to remain anonymous, similarly saw the muted cry for help in underserved, outlying areas in Pakistan. Armed with faith and energy, three years ago she set up a nonprofit organization aimed at pro-
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
viding resources to schools. A $50 monthly contribution can add two classrooms and two teachers to a one-room school. Gathering a small force of educated volunteers, she sought free professional help from the U.S. to “train the trainers” over Google Hangout sessions in focused, efficient English and math pedagogical methods. The dozen or so volunteers then spread out to various provinces, and within a couple of months trained teachers in more than 200 rural schools. As the movement grew, she started partnering with the Pakistani ministry of education, linking professional educators from the U.S. directly with public school teachers, providing on-air training. “Improving school attendance,” she told Islamic Horizons, “is more than improving the quality of education.” Many students used to faint during class because of hunger. One third of teachers were unable to attend a professional development series of workshops because the transportation alone would eat up their month’s salary. Despite setbacks and hurdles, her work now has touched more than 1,000 schools. Today’s budding educators must gather experience in various types of educational settings, public and private, online and brickand-mortar schools, and get the appropriate qualifications and certifications to have a chance at becoming tomorrow’s pioneering reformer somewhere in the Muslim world.
Dr. Fawzia Mai Tung, founder of Tung Education Resources, is a board member of Islamic Schools League of America.
Serving Education and Educators
Are Islamic schools’ faculty and administrators benefiting from available resources and enriching them? BY KAREN KEYWORTH & SHAZA KHAN
he Islamic Schools League of America (ISLA) works to serve the roughly 270 Islamic schools in the United States. Started in 1998 by three parents and an educator, the organization has grown steadily over the years. ISLA works in partnership with educators, organizations, and universities help improve the quality of Islamic education and its growth and development. It does this primarily by establishing networks, providing resources, disseminating knowledge, nurturing leadership, and carrying out critical and foundational research on Islamic education and full-time schools. How does ISLA do its work? It has an informative website, www.theisla.org, where schools can advertise job openings, obtain and publish research related to Islamic edu-
cation, and look for resources. ISLA hosts a free listserv (Islamic Educators Communication Network) that focuses on educational issues. More than 640 members exchange information daily on this forum. It’s an invaluable service to schools allowing educators to ask questions and receive answers from other experienced Muslim educators. ISLA ensures critical thinking and tolerance are underpinnings of all listserv exchanges and its work with educators and schools. ISLA also works with researchers in universities and think tanks. This ensures that when research is carried out, it is inclusive of Islamic schools. Establishing professional and collegial relationships with religious education researchers is critical for balance in their research. It increases professionalism as researchers can deal with facts and not myths or misconceptions.
Furthermore, ISLA works with organizations that promote private schooling in the U.S., and with the government, providing accurate and important statistical information. ISLA strives to provide Islamic schools a voice at the national table. ISLA also works closely with educators in Islamic schools by hosting small conferences aimed at their leadership. The topics have covered school accreditation, Islamic curricula from a child-centered perspective, establishing professional learning communities and networks, and character education. ISLA hosted its latest annual leadership conference and retreat Dec. 12-14, 2014, in New Braunfels, Texas. School leaders from U.S. and Canada gathered together to discover how their schools could “Nurture the Natural in Children’s Learning.” Participants included roughly 35 principals, vice principals, and department chairs from full-time Islamic schools servicing anywhere from 100 to 800 students. The planning and executing sessions were informative and interactive. The annual retreat remains purposefully intimate, while focusing on issues targeted toward school leadership. It provides an opportunity for these leaders to gather in a natural setting to reflect inward, and outward. It offers a refuge from the everyday shuffle of a school leader’s work and an opportunity for reflection, renewal, and rejuvenation. Fawzia Fazily, principal at Al-Rahmah school in Baltimore, Maryland, who attended the retreat for the second year, reflected on the unique manner in which it caters to Islamic school principals’ needs. “I very much enjoy the intimate structure of the program, the opportunity to network, get ideas from people who do the same work, and share what we do in our schools,” she said. “It gives an opportunity to make us, as principals, feel that we are not alone — providing us with resources and people to go to when needed.” This year, presentations, workshops, and nature walks all focused on how to nurture and facilitate the innate and God-given abilities in students — something inherent in their fitrah (natural instinct). The commencing session by resident scholar, Sheikh Islam Mossad from Austin, Texas, reminded participants to be mindful of their own relationship with God. The Quran, he noted, advises: “So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to]
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THE ANNUAL ISLAMIC SCHOOLS LEAGUE OF AMERICA RETREAT REMAINS PURPOSEFULLY INTIMATE, WHILE FOCUSING ON ISSUES TARGETED TOWARD SCHOOL LEADERSHIP. the fitrah of God upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of God. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. [Adhere to it], turning in repentance to Him, and fear Him and establish prayer and do not be of those who associate others with God” (30:30-31). Mossad reminded participants that they must be mindful of their internal state at all times. After all, how can educators hope to nurture the highest potential of students, if they neglect their responsibility to themselves, their relatives, and their Lord? As demonstrated by Mossad, the educators’ internal state has an immediate and palpable impact on students, and therefore must be considered if educators are serious about nurturing their students’ fitrah. Other sessions focused on educational
theory and practice based on “whole child education” to develop each student to his or her fullest capacity. Seema Imam, Patricia Salahuddin, Fawzia Tung, and Kathy Jamil each presented on topics related to this theme. Participants also worked together to discuss, brainstorm, and strategize ways to implement what they learned. At the end of the retreat, school leaders worked together to create individualized action plans that they could begin implementing in their schools. They walked away with a concrete product that could be used to improve holistic developmental outcomes for their students.
Karen Keyworth is co-founder and executive director of the Islamic Schools League of America. Shaza Khan, a teacher and educational consultant at Austin Peace Academy in Austin, Texas, is lead editor and curriculum developer at Noorart KG-5 Islamic Studies Curriculum. She also is an ISLA board member.
AHMAD SAKR RETIREMENT FUND Dr. Ahmad Sakr, teacher, counselor and guide has dedicated his entire life in serving the Muslim American community. His words of wisdom, books, trace of his knowledge, and role as a father figure to many keeps him in our vivid memories. Dr. Sakr suffers from Parkinson's disease. The disease has gotten worse to a point that he cannot physically move around at all. His health situation, prevents him for working. He has neither a source of sustainable income nor a retirement fund. Contributions are welcome to help arrange a retirement fund for him. All proceeds will deposited in the account of Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, headed by Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi. http://www.shuracouncil.org/ To contribute, make checks* payable to “Islamic Shura Council of Southern California” and mail to 7231 Garden Grove Blvd., Suite H, Garden Grove, CA 92841. * Please write “Dr. Sakr Fund” in the memo section on the check so that your donation is properly recorded.
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SALAM Seeks Director of Religious & Social Services SALAM — Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims — (www.salamcenter.org) seeks a director of religious and social services to meet the religious, spiritual, and social needs of its multiethnic community. Responsibilities primarily include leading prayers, giving khaterah, coordinating Friday Family Night Program, youth activities, scheduling Friday khutab, coordinating Ramadan and Eid programs, religious counseling, and other assigned related religious duties as mutually agreed. Qualifications include a college degree from an accredited university in Islamic studies, sharia, or Islamic jurisprudence, experience in dealing with religious affairs, mastery of the English language, strong knowledge of written and spoken Arabic, good recitation of the Quran, ability to motivate young Muslims and relate to their aspirations, ability to reach out and be involved in interfaith activities within the context of living as a Muslim in the United States. Applicants must communicate in English effectively. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Salary and fringe benefits are competitive, commensurate with qualifications and experience. Qualified candidates should send letter of interest, a detailed resume, a recent photo, and three letters of recommendation, with at least one from recent employer if any, to: Chairperson, SALAM Board of Trustees 4545 College Oak Dr. Sacramento, CA 95841-4515
Are Islamic Schools Encouraging Parental Engagement? Are parents and Islamic schools focusing on partnering for better education of future generations? BY ZOOBIA W. CHAUDHRY
ducation and character building (tarbiyah) of children are core values of Islam. Any education, not encompassing tarbiyah, may be lacking its spirit. Muslims are expected to achieve excellence in this world, and more so in the Hereafter. Does the education available to our children fulfill
this promise? Is it being reduced to deliver a lot of information and lacks the ability to transform their lives? The post-Colonial era industrial model of education equipped the recipients to be successful in this life. But did it prepare them to be better Muslims and contributing members of society/community? How can we
contribute toward shaping our children’s Muslim American identity or should we let nature take it’s course and be satisfied with the outcome? The community’s essential role in the growth and development of its young people is reflected in the popular adage, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Since the concept of community is integral to Islam, Muslim communities in the United States started
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THE COMMUNITY’S ESSENTIAL ROLE IN THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF ITS YOUNG PEOPLE IS REFLECTED IN THE POPULAR ADAGE, “IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD.”
building educational institutes more than quarter of a century ago to instill strong Islamic identity in their children. A good account is available in “The Rise of Islamic Schools in the United States” by K. Clauss, S. Ahmed, M. Salvaterra (The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, Volume 18(1), 2013, article 12). Over the last few decades, Islamic schools in the U.S. made tremendous progress. A 2011 Institute for Social Policy and Understanding report noted that there is a growing trend of Islamic schools seeking accreditation. Overall, there is a positive trend of rising academic standards, measured by graduates enrolling in the nation’s prestigious institutions and by making strides toward winning local competitions (see Pioneering Islamic Schools; Chaudhry ZW; IH, March/April 2014). Increasingly, Islamic schools are hiring
qualified teachers, and 50 percent hire teachers of other faiths when lacking qualified Muslim candidates. The lack of resourceful and professionally trained Arabic and Islamic studies teachers continues to be a challenge for these institutions. Seventy-five percent of Islamic schools have independent or autonomous boards seeking to form a governing body focusing on specific educational problems. Many schools don’t have specific policies on parent participation, teacher attrition rate, and parent satisfaction surveys. It is highly dependent on the school leadership how much the school emphasizes parental involvement in academic programs, formulation of school policies, and governance strategies. The usual understanding of parent involvement is limited to volunteering, (mostly by mothers), assistance in the classroom, chaperoning students and fundraising. Today, that old model has been replaced with a much more inclusive approach which dictates that school-family-community partnerships should include mothers and fathers, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents, other relatives and caregivers, business leaders and community groups. Dr. Joyce Epstein in “School and Family Partnerships Encyclopedia of Education Research”(Epstein, J. L. and K. Salinas 1992, sixth edition, New York: Macmillan) describes six types of involvement — parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and collaborating with the community — that offer a broad range of school, family, and community activities to engage all parties and help meet student needs. Parent involvement improves student outcomes. The Landmark Coleman Report (1966) documented the impact of families and schools on educational achievement. Coleman’s findings have been replicated over the years in the U.S. and around the world. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement
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study examined the differences between the highest- and lowest-achieving schools in mathematics and science in 39 countries. In the U.S., 64 percent of the differences in achievement from one school to another were attributable to “home” variables, including “parental support for academic achievement” and “socioeconomic status.” In California, since 1987, more than 375,000 immigrant parents have participated in the Parent Institute for Quality Education program to increase their knowledge and skills and support their children’s academic achievement and enrollment in higher education institutions. Since then, such programs have expanded to other cities in Arizona, Texas, and Minnesota. A recent study documented that children of Hispanic parents who completed the San Diego parent institute program achieved a 93 percent high school graduation rate and 79.2 percent of students enrolled in college or university. Despite such strong evidence, parents, school and community leaders still view schools and student learning as the educators’ sole responsibility. While educators take their professional responsibilities seriously, they also recognize that they cannot do it alone. They need and depend on parent and community support. Consider the amount of time children spend at school versus at home, it becomes clear that students may only spend 17 percent of their waking hours in schools over the period of their school life (K-12). This calculation is based on figures available in the 2010 paper “Parent Involvement: Nine Truths You Must Know Now” by John H. Wherry, president of The Parent Institute. What happens before and after school can be as important as what happens during the school day. D. C. Berliner in “Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform” (New York: Teachers College Record, 2005) says that even the most promising reforms can be “reversed by family, negated by neigh35
(C) OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA
borhoods, and might well be subverted or It is imperative to identify these barriminimized by what happens to children ers in earlier grades. Scarce data exists on outside of school.” Muslim immigrants; it is not clear how many Similar to public and other private schools collect this information upfront to schools, a dichotomy in parental behavior strategize a plan to be more inclusive of such exists in Islamic schools. There are parents parents whose first language is not English, who are educated and aspire to have higher so they can understand the school’s polieducational standards for their children, but cies and procedures and help their children they struggle to understand how they can achieve higher academic standards. Fawzia partner with their school to have a positive Fazily’s doctoral dissertation, “The Percepimpact on their child’s education. On the tion of Refugee Parents and Teachers Regardother hand, school administrators and teach- ing Refugee Children’s Education: A Parent ers feel that parents don’t understand their Involvement Study” (St. John Fisher College, challenges and show little respect to them. So Rochester, New York), addresses the issue of instead of establishing a partnership and cre- perceived barriers of involvement by refuating a sense of teamwork to enhance the educational environment, both operate in an environment of mistrust. This often is a result of lack of communication and is one of the major issues in Islamic schools today. In a recent survey conducted of current Islamic school teachers, lack of opportunities for professional growth, poor compensation/benefits plan, and lack of respect by parents are elements they would like changed about their school. There are also issues that arise from Muslim communities bringing their cultural baggage to a new learning environment compared to what they have experienced themselves growing up. There are parents who believe dropping off their children in an Islamic school more or less fulfills their responsibility. These challenges and barriers in communication between school officials and parents are further complicated by the diverse cultural norms that exist within the Muslim communities. These challenges are rarely President Obama gets his heartbeat checked while visiting a classroom at Powell Elementary School in identified and often less likely handled at Washington, D.C., March 4. the level of institutions. With the amazing cultural diversity gee immigrant parents in Rochester Public within Muslim communities, there is no cul- School. Her work inspired her to introduce tural sensitivity training for administrators, a parent institute when she became principal teachers, parents or students. According to of an Islamic school. The institute is designed an Islamic school elementary teacher, when to help parents understand their role in the she identified such a family in her class, she education of their children. It provides a felt palpable frustration during the parent- forum for the parents and the school to share teacher meeting. She decided to partner with information, strategies and ideas that they other Arabic speaking teachers and started need to know and will help them contribute to coach the parents on how they can help toward students’ success. It provides parents their child at home to meet their goals. Since the opportunity to network, hear each other’s then, the student’s progress has been amaz- concerns and ideas. It helps the school dising. The family admitted they never had this cuss information essential to student success kind of help with their older child who is in-person with parents and get immediate still suffering to meet his educational goals feedback, eliminate ambiguity and misunin the higher grades. derstanding between home and school. 36
Parent involvement in education tends to decline as children go onto higher grades, with a dramatic drop once students reach middle school. Ironically, as the child goes on to higher grades the complexity of issues increase due to the emergence of identity, self-concept, understanding of gender roles, and hormonal imbalances. S. R. Sirin and M. Fine in their book, “Muslim American Youth: Understanding Hyphenated Identities through Multiple Methods “ (New York University Press, 2008), discuss the identity crisis currently facing young Muslims. Their study, which recorded the responses of more than 200 first- and second-generation immigrant Muslim Americans, found that most of the respondents lived “on the hyphen,” struggling to retain their religious culture in a secular society. Parents who lack a proper understanding of child development and psychology often look for their lost child in the body of their adolescent enigma. They are often left to scramble and navigate their way complicating the situation further for the young adults. With children having free and often unsupervised access to Internet and social media, they do not have to go to anyone for advice. Some random, out of context advice from social media can contribute toward shaping their personality. In many Islamic schools where there are still issues with turf identification among boards, administration, parentteacher organizations, parents and community, poor governance and lack of a strategic plan, we may be ignoring an important aspect that can help our children achieve academic excellence. School leadership can benefit much if parents and community at large are treated as partners and not clients. By replacing attitudes — lack of accountability and transparency — that contribute toward mistrust, it is essential that the school community, parents and educators have a common mission and vision. By building valuable partnerships among stakeholders, such as parents, community, and local businesses, as well as with the broader community of Muslim civil rights organizations, Islamic educational organizations, and Islamic educational institutes, it facilitates achieving a common goal of empowering parents to raise the next generation of American Muslims.
Dr. Zoobia W. Chaudhry is a parent and a volunteer at Al-Rahmah School in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Clara Muhammad: A Pioneer of Muslim Schools
Can Muslim Americans learn from such inspiring examples to blaze new paths befitting their beliefs?
BY PATRICIA SALAHUDDIN
hroughout history, women have played a major role in helping humanity. They have consistently advocated for women, children and family rights — rights granted by God to all. The right to be properly educated also is among those rights granted by God. Fair access to educational opportunities for all children always has been and continues to be a topic of debate in society — a debate Clara Evans Muhammad argued and won on behalf of her children, and other Muslim children in America. During the early 1930s, the conditions for educating African American children were deplorable. More often than not, the “educational experience” took place in one-room schoolhouses with poor lighting, ventilation, heating/cooling, unhygienic conditions, and few, if any, supplies. Besides the physical conditions, the mental and psychological torture was much worse. For African American children, the message was clear: “you are a second-class citizen and you do not deserve better.” A woman of faith and strong determination, Muhammad wanted a better education
for her and the other Muslim children of Nation of Islam (NOI) members. In a courageous act in 1935, she withdrew her children from public school and arranged to have them taught at home. To understand the magnitude of her actions, one would have to appreciate the context in which this took place. This was at the height of the reign of Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan and other terror groups. It was an era of lynching and not unusual to see African American men strung from trees. It also wasn’t unusual to hear the word boy or the “N” word used for a person of
AS A MOTHER AND A BELIEVER, SHE UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATING CHILDREN IN A MORAL ENVIRONMENT THAT WILL NURTURE THE CHILD’S SPIRIT, SOUL, AND MIND.
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color, or unusual to sentence an African American for crimes without proof. Society was not a safe place for African Americans who were perceived to have a will or mind of their own, who did not follow the “rules,” spoken or unspoken. Muhammad, a mother of eight, knew her children would not receive the type of education from the public school system that would teach them to be proud men and women. Public schools in the 1930s would not teach them the truth about their heritage. And most of all, they would not teach her children Islam. Although facing the threat of imprisonment for violating local truancy laws, Muhammad, born 34 years after emancipation, removed her children from the public school system. She began teaching them at home. It is said that when the law enforcement officers came knocking, Muhammad told them, “I would rather die than send my children to (be mis-educated by the) public school system.” It was with this mindset that Muhammad started homeschooling for Muslim children. Her contributions and accomplishment on behalf of those people seeking to establish religious educational institutions, especially for Muslims, cannot be overstated. Out of homeschooling evolved the University of Islam, established by Elijah and Clara Muhammad, for educating Muslim children. The University of Islam school system — comprising nearly 50 schools nationwide — was among the largest organized efforts to teach Muslim children in America. In 1980, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed renamed these schools after his mother, the original founder of Sister Clara Muhammad Schools. As a mother and a believer, Muhammad understood the importance of educating children in a moral environment that will nurture the child’s spirit, soul, and mind. She knew the importance of providing moral teachings through every aspect of the child’s education and development. She was a visionary, a leader and a mother. While conditions are different today, Muslim educators and parents owe a debt to Muhammad’s tenacious spirit in pioneering Muslim homeschooling and starting the first religious school for Muslim children. Her life and sacrifices teach that unwavering love and trust in God will grant the believer success.
Patricia Salahuddin has taught middle and high school students in public and Islamic schools, is president and a founding member of Muslim Teachers Association, and is a member of national boards of the Council of Islamic Schools of North America and Islamic Schools League of America.
Vanguard of Islamic Schooling How weekend Islamic schools matter to Muslim life in North America. BY TASNEEMA GHAZI
uslims, just like any other religious and ethnic minority in the West, face the daunting task of preserving their identity as a religious minority and instilling their values, beliefs, cultures and languages in the younger generation. According to a 2009 Gallup poll, Muslims are the “most racially diverse group in the United States.” This diversity gives a richness of cultural and linguistic experiences to the young members of the community. However, it also complicates any unified, consistent effort to face the challenges of education and community development.
PRE-COLUMBIAN ERA The history of Muslim presence in the United States, according to some accounts, goes as far back as “at least five centuries before Columbus,” wrote Dr. Yousuf Mroueh in his book, “Pre-Columbian Muslims in America.” Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University in his book, “Saga America” (Three Rivers Press, 1983), gives evidence of the arrival of Muslims from North and West Africa long before Columbus. He discovered the existence of Muslim schools at Valley of Fire, Allan Springs (Nevada), Mesa Verde (Colorado), Mimbres Valley (New Mexico) and Tipper Canon (Indiana), dating back to 700-800 CE. Fell found texts, diagrams and charts engraved on the rocks representing the traces of a system of education for elementary and secondary classes. Religion was included among the subjects taught during that time.
THE BEGINNING OF SLAVE TRADE FROM AFRICA (1530-1865) More than 10 million Africans were picked up by force by slave traders and brought 38
to America to be sold to work on plantations, wrote Fareed H. Numan in “American Muslim History, A Chronological Observation” in Islam 101 (1992). A majority of slaves were from West Africa, and about 30 percent of them were Muslims. As documented by Y. Progler in “Ben Ali and His Arabic Diary” (Muslim and Arab Perspectives Vol.11:1960; 2004) and Sylviane Anna Diouf in “Servants of Allah: African Muslims enslaved in Americas” (1998; 2003 rev.), some of the Muslim slaves’ efforts to help build Muslim identity in the younger generations were creative but could not sustain the repressions of slavery. “Black Muslims drew on their organization and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most wellknown slave uprisings. Though Islam did not survive in the Americas in its orthodox form, its marks can be found in certain religions, traditions, and artistic creations of people of African descent.” African American slaves and their children were denied their civil rights due to the slave trade until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in December 1865. Muslim slaves were not allowed to educate their children about Islam. Late 19th and early 20th centuries saw Muslim migration from the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Muslims from Bosnia were one of the early immigrant groups to establish Islamic organizations in the United States. In 1906, they estab-
lished the “Benevolent Society of Illinois” to preserve their religious and national traditions. Many chapters of the society opened chapters in other cities around the country as well, wrote Paul D.Numrich in “Facing Northeast in a Midwestern Metropolis: The Growth of Islam and the Challenge of the Ummatic Ideal in Chicago,” (The Auburn Project on the History of Religion and Urban America, 1875--present, Auburn Theological Seminary, New York). The first mosque of the Bosnian Muslim community opened on Halsted Street in Chicago in 1957. Arrangements for children’s religious education were made and Chicago’s first Islamic weekend school opened. In 1970, the organization’s name was changed to Bosnian American Cultural Association and the mosque moved to suburban Northbrook, Illinois. The mosque is still in the same location today with a successful and well-attended weekend Islamic school. “Albanian Muslims in Biddeford, Maine, established a mosque in 1915. However, there
MUSLIM EDUCATORS AND LEADERS HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER TO ESTABLISH UNIFIED STANDARDS FOR ALL WEEKEND ISLAMIC SCHOOLS, AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING OF TEACHERS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, PARENTS AND BOARD MEMBERS. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
is no record of any kind of Islamic instruction for children as most of these Muslims were mainly bachelors working at Pepperell textile mills,” notes the “Biddeford Maine Project: First Mosque In America” — a project
involving Maine College of Art students and residents of Biddeford attempting to create public recognition of the first known mosque in North America. “In 1922 the Polish speaking Tatar Muslims built a mosque in Brooklyn, New York, which is still in use,” notes Diana Ech (“The Pluralism Project: America’s Many Religions”). While there is no direct reference to a weekend school organized in the mosque, there is a mention of one Niaz Maksoudouff (1947), a car salesman from Ufa, Kazan, who wrote a small, 57-page English language manual to teach the basics of prayer, life of the Prophet Muhammad (Seerah) and Islamic ethics (akhlaq) titled “The Fundamental of Islam in English” for the young children of the community, noted Mohammed A. Al-Ahari in “Islamic Education in the United States before the Full-Time Islamic Schools: The Islamic Weekend School” (academia.edu.). Maksoudouff transliterated all Arabic passages to the English alphabet since few read the Arabic script. Al-Ahari also found that in 1954, Imam Kamil Avdic arrived from Cairo, Egypt, and helped establish a community
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center, a newsletter, and a weekend school for the Bosnian community. In 1958, he wrote the first curriculum and textbook titled “An Outline of Islam” for weekend Islamic schools which would eventually be used in Toledo, Ohio, Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Michigan City, Michigan. This curriculum taught about the five pillars of Islam, the sources of Islamic doctrine, Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad, Islamic ethics and community service. The only attempts at textbooks earlier were among the Polish Tatars in Brooklyn and a text titled “Islam and the Arabian Prophet” (1937) by George Ibrahim Khairallah — a leader in New York who helped establish the mosque in Toledo, Ohio, in the late 1940s. In 1929 Syrian and Lebanese Muslim immigrants to the United States built a small mosque in Ross, North Dakota. As narrated by Hassan Abdallah, 80, then one of the oldest living member of the small community, “Men would pray, the women would sit to the side, us kids would go out and wrestle,” cites the Voice of America News (“North Dakota is Home for First U.S. Mosque,” Oct. 30, 2009). This indicates that there was no
arrangement for children’s religious instruction in that mosque at that time. In 1934, the Lebanese Muslim community of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, erected the first building especially designed as a mosque. It is named Mother Mosque. A weekend Islamic school was established in the mosque premises to educate the children of the community. As the community grew, space in the mosque was limited and a new building was built in 1970. The weekend Islamic school moved to the new facility. Mrs. Azmeh, the Islamic school teacher and active community member, reports that the school has grown in size. It has more organized curriculum and engaging programs for the children. In 1933, The Nation of Islam was established by the mystical figure Wallace Ford (Fard Muhammad) who disappeared in 1933. He was succeeded by Elijah Poole (Elijah Muhammad). Elijah, with his wife Clara Evans Muhammad, established fulltime schools called University of Islam. However, a supplementary training for young men called the Fruit of Islam was established in 1933. The course does not mention any teaching of Islamic beliefs or the Quran. A girls’ wing of the Fruit of Islam was established at the same time under the name “Muslim Girls Training.” The curriculum of MGT included religious instructions. The West Coast’s oldest mosque, the Muslim Mosque of Sacramento, was established in 1947 by Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. The mosque website mentions a thriving Islamic school for children, though when it was established is unclear. In 1954, a group of families from Palestine established the Mosque Foundation 40
in Bridgeview, Illinois. They opened the first girls full-time school, Al-Aqsa school in 1982. The Mosque Foundation building hosts Al-Hadi Weekend School with a current enrollment of more than 700 children. Islamic Foundation Sunday School (IFSS), established in 1974, has been in operation for more than 40 years. It is one of the earliest weekend schools established in North America by few eminent Islamic scholars and academicians from the Chicago area. The school has been averaging an enrollment of more than 500 students every year, supported by a faculty of 30 teachers, 30 teaching assistants and 10 administrative staff. In 1957, the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., was built by Mohammed Issa Abu Al-Hawa (1879-1982), an immigrant from Jerusalem, with the help of the local diplomatic community. Along the way, he changed his name to Abraham Joseph Hawa (later misspelled by immigration officials as Howar). The Islamic Center has one of the earliest, well-organized Islamic schools. Dr. Abdul-Sahib Hashim, a physician working in Cumberland, Maryland, became the first superintendent of the school in 1966. He produced the first complete program of Islamic studies for children, which included 12 books covering different areas of Islam — Quran, Seerah, Ibadaat and Islamic history. The Islamic Center of Southern California also was established in 1957 in Los Angeles. According to some oral accounts, the center has been offering Islamic classes for children since its establishment. While a few other oral accounts proffer a later date for the establishment of an organized weekend school.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 opened the doors of immigration to people living in Asian and African countries. The immigrant communities took upon themselves to establish mosques, Islamic centers and weekend schools. The weekend Islamic school movement started in late 1960s and 1970s. As Muslims from various parts of the world began to move to the Unites States and settle in different cities, they began to assemble for prayers, initially on university campuses, in storefronts, rented halls and even in churches. Their concern was the religious education of their children in the secular United States. Following the model of Christian and Jewish religious communities, they began to hold classes for their children on Sundays. In 1969, Abidullah Ghazi and Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, with some of their colleagues at Harvard University, established the first Islamic school on the university campus with 15 children. They pioneered the efforts of developing a complete, systematic curriculum of Islamic studies (Quranic studies, Arabic language, Seerah, Hadith, ‘aqidah, fiqh, akhlaq and Islamic history) for all Muslim children who will not be attending full-time madrasas. For more than two decades (1970-1990), most weekend and even full-time Islamic
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ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
schools have been using IQRA’ International Educational Foundation’s curriculum and entire educational program. The weekend school movement gained more momentum during the 1980s and 1990s, and even into the 21st century. Most weekend schools are attached to a mosque or an Islamic center. There are some weekend schools organized by individuals or small group of parents. According to the 2012 survey conducted by Ihsan Bagby of the University of Kentucky, in cooperation with researchers from Hartford Seminary, titled “The American Mosques 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosques. Attitudes of Mosque Leaders,” there are 2,106 mosques in the United States. It also was discovered that the number of mosques has increased tremendously, with more than 900 new centers being established since 2000. SoundVision estimates that the weekend Islamic school is the place where the largest number of Muslim children in America learn about Islam. There are about half a million students in these schools compared to about 15,000 in full-time Islamic schools.
It is estimated that most of these mosques have a weekend school attached to them. Some large centers/mosques in major cities like Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Houston and Los Angeles have more than one weekend school. The common goal for these weekend schools is embodied in the mission statement of the Muslim Community Center Sunday School in Silver Spring, Maryland: “... to develop and preserve the Islamic character of our youth by establishing their knowledge and love of the Quran and Sunnah; strengthening their hearts with iman and taqwa; and inspiring them to apply this knowledge to their daily lives.” More than 250 students are enrolled in the weekend school with more than 40 teachers and teacher’s assistants to guide them. The school follows the Montgomery County school calendar and is a yearlong program serving students ranging from kindergarten through high school. There also is a movement of weekend Arabic schools where intensive Arabic and Quranic recitation, tajweed and tafseer is taught to children.
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The curriculum of most weekend schools consists of Quranic memorization, tajweed and explanation; Seerah and Hadith; aqidah and fiqh and Islamic history. However, there are no common standards shared by all schools, which makes the curriculum chaotic. The lack of fully trained teachers and principals is another issue for weekend Islamic schools. Abdikadir Ibrahim, who has taught in the Islamic Civic Society of America in Minneapolis’ Salahudin weekend Islamic school for 10 years, wrote in 2010 that the public school schedule has 1,730 hours for the entire school year. By comparison, students spend 3½ hours per day in weekend Islamic school — equal to 280 hours for the year. It is a challenge to impart knowledge in such a short timespan. Muslim educators and leaders have to work together to establish unified standards for all weekend Islamic schools, and professional training of teachers and school administrators, parents and board members.
Tasneema Ghazi is executive director, IQRA International Educational Foundation, Skokie, Illinois.
Increasing the Effectiveness of Weekend Islamic Schools HAMED GHAZALI
slamic weekend schools have been serving Muslim Americans since the 1950s. Except a few, most schools are struggling to improve their performance and to retain students. An informal survey of one such school in operation for more than a decade found that several students were unable to read from the Quran after five years of being there. The problem is common to many weekend schools. The author developed a textbook to teach Quranic Arabic vocabulary and grammar. In discussing the first page of the vocabulary list taken from part 30 of the Quran, the class of about 32 middle schoolers was asked the meaning of the word ( قلsay), which is found 332 times in the Quran. Every Muslim should be familiar with it since it is the beginning word in the last three Surahs after the بسم الله. Surprisingly, most of them did not know the meaning. The next word on the list was ( أعوذI seek protection), and again, most of them did not know the meaning. Despite making it easier for them by saying that it is the same word that is in the statement أعوذ بالله ( من الشيطان الرجيمI seek Allah’s protection from the cursed Satan), assuming that everyone knew what this means since Muslims say it almost every time they read the Quran. However, only a few knew its meaning. It’s important to collect such anecdotal data, examine and improve the way we teach students in Islamic school. There are strategies that can help with effectively teaching the core subjects: Quran, Arabic and Islamic studies. ❶ How does teaching Islamic school for a few hours once weekly affect curriculum design? What are their priorities? How are their goals different from those of full-time Islamic schools? ❷ When designing instruction and curriculum, how do you factor in that weekend school attendance is often irregular? ❸ How does students coming against their will, often forced by their parents, affect curriculum design and instruction? How do
you make students interested in learning? Considering middle and high schoolers are the most difficult in this regard, how to make them interested learners? ❹ Some say weekend Islamic school is not effective. Despite years there, students can’t even read the Quran, or aren’t showing improvement in character. While that seems true for several weekend schools, there are exceptions. How can you improve teaching, ensure students learn what they are supposed to learn, and measure success objectively? ❺ Compared to full-time schools, week-
end Islamic school students seem to have a lot of discipline problems. Does this apply to all ages? What methods should be used to modify students’ behavior? What are the most effective classroom discipline strategies? ❻ How do you get parents more engaged with their children’s studies? How does this affect curricular and instructional methods? ❼ Most weekend Islamic school teachers are volunteers. Students may have a different teacher every week. If this is true for your school, how can you solve this problem?
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
❽ How do you train such teachers who may be inexperienced? What courses should they take or materials should they read for professional development? ❾ Some teachers themselves may lack “Tarbiyah” (Islamic education and upbringing). What are the main components of Tarbiyah? How to teach these components? ❿ Nothing seems to work with weekend school students. Here are some Quranic Tarbiyah tools:
TARGETED GOALS Defining and understanding goals helps increase the effectiveness of weekend schools. Weekend and full-time Islamic schools are different, but ultimately, their goals are similar. The weekend school’s goals should be targeted and tailored and not comprehensive and general. Since the amount of information a Muslim needs to learn is vast, the curriculum should be carefully selected
IT’S IMPORTANT TO COLLECT SUCH ANECDOTAL DATA, EXAMINE AND IMPROVE THE WAY WE TEACH STUDENTS IN ISLAMIC SCHOOL. to provide the most important information. If you are going to feed the child from the ocean of information with a teaspoon with only a few hours a week, you have to prioritize what they should learn first. You have to lay down the foundation and leave some of the non-foundational information for the future, which they can acquire on their own when they grow up. The most important things a child should learn in weekend Islamic school are the basic skills that enable them to read the Quran and
write simple Arabic words and sentences, while also learning foundational information about the tenets of the faith (aqidah) and the sharia. For example, an assignment for middle schoolers could be to design a brochure describing the minimum requirements that make one Muslim. The pillars of iman represent the minimum aqidah a Muslim should have, and the pillars of Islam represent the minimum amount of practice or sharia the Muslim should perform. When asked about the most important thing in your life, the child should answer: tawheed (aqidah or belief in the Oneness of Allah), salah (prayer) and kindness to parents. Special focus should be given to details of perfecting the salah. We can add to that dua‘ (supplication).
FOCUS ON END GOALS Another element of design should be the focus on end goals. Some say weekend Islamic school does not teach enough about morals and character. It is important to do what is called in education “backward design,” where you define the end product and you go backward step-by-step to see what is needed to achieve that goal. For example, if one of the end goals is to have children memorize and practice the top three important things in the life of a Muslim, one has to define first what these three priorities are and then learn how to practice them. These are: ❶ Belief in Allah (and other pillars of aqidah) ❷ Kindness to parents, and salah ❸ Character These were the main priorities of the Makkan surahs, which constitute about three quarters of the Quran (86 out of a total 114 chapters). To make a backward design here means starting with these three components, letting students know these are the top three priorities in their lives, then showing them how to practice them. Perhaps, the most difficult one is developing character, toward which the curriculum should be focused. Special emphasis should be given to character in the morning assembly and during ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
COVER STORY Islamic studies class. Elements of the Muslim character, such as honesty, modesty, and patience, should be discussed in detail.
became a sadaqa jariya (continuous charity) for them.
BUILDING INDEPENDENT LEARNERS
It is important to build a system to monitor success in achieving the aforementioned goals, especially mastering reading of the Quran and Arabic writing. Following a data-driven system for your school is highly recommended.. ❶ Establish a baseline for each student in recognizing the Arabic alphabet, blending the letters together, ability to read simple words, ability to read from any place in the Quran, ability to read with tajweed, and Arabic writing skill. Phonics should also be tested and any letters not pronounced correctly should be noted. This should establish a baseline to measure future progress. This data should be collected for all students and entered into a spreadsheet. It should also include the surahs each student has memorized. This baseline is for Arabic and Quran. For Islamic studies, a narrative explaining where each student is in terms of knowledge and practice is recommended. ❷ Students in each class should be divided into three groups: beginners, intermediate, and advanced. They should be taught separately. Use a color code system for each level: red for beginners, yellow for intermediate, and green for advanced. Individualized education plans should be written for each child to move from red to yellow, and yellow to green. Once, they attain the green level, progress should be counted based on memorization and understanding of the Quran. ❸ Administer a mid-year test to gauge progress toward achievement of goals. Compare results to the baseline set at the beginning of the year. ❹ Modify the plan, if needed, based on the results. ❺ Test again at year end and compare to mid-year results. Document results for next year.
EVALUATING SUCCESS IN WEEKEND SCHOOL
It’s important for students to be able to work independently. Thus, one of the goals should be to have students work independently after two years of training on how to read the Quran correctly with proper tajweed (elocution). They should be monitored to see how fast they are moving toward becoming independent learners. Students should be able to read and write after two years in the school; and to read with Tajweed and know the names of these rules after three years of study.
DESIGN OF WEEKLY UNITS Since student attendance is intermittent, each unit should be designed as an independent or stand-alone unit that is taught in one day. No prerequisites should be required to attend this unit. It should not build on previous units, and all required information should be included. Thus, each week’s study should be independent from the previous weeks. These units should be carefully selected to target the chosen priorities.
DELIVERY METHOD (INSTRUCTION) Students should be active and not passive learners. The delivery method should be motivational and engaging. Teachers should avoid lecturing at students, especially middle and high schoolers. Focus should be on mastering the skills rather than knowing the information. For example, in the Quran class, the emphasis should be on mastering the correct way of reading the Quran and phonics, not on memorization. This does not mean that memorization is ignored, but it shouldn’t be the first priority. If there are time constraints, teaching the correct way of reading the Quran should come first. Students can memorize on their own or with their parents’ help, but they will not be able to 44
master the skill of tajweed or phonics on their own. Projects and hands-on activities should be a priority for middle and high schoolers. For example, when the objective was learning about how to behave in a civilized manner according to the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammed (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), no lecture was given, instead students worked on a project to produce a brochure titled “How a Civilized Muslim Acts.” They were instructed and provided with the resources and there was a follow up on their progress in about four weeks. The students produced a nice-colored brochure that far exceeded expectations. At the end of the year, they were asked to dress up and give a PowerPoint presentation for their parents at the graduation party. Whenever they caused discipline problems, they were referred to what they wrote in their brochure. This project motivated the students and made them feel they could contribute something useful to their community. The brochure was distributed to others and
Hamed Ghazali, a professor at Alhuda University, is director/ principal of the Houston Quran Academy, and consultant/ superintendent of several Islamic schools.
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ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF GREATER HOUSTON SEEKS CONTROLLER Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) is a non-profit, religious organization established since 1969, now embracing 19 full-fledged Islamic Centers (Masajid), six full-time Islamic Schools SUMMARY: The Controller will lead all day-to-day finance operations of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, including functional responsibility over accounting, accounts payable, payroll and grants/fundraising administration. The Controller will ensure that correct systems and procedures are in place to support effective program implementation and conduct flawless audits. This position will serve as the principal liaison to the external auditor. The Controller will work closely with department heads and finance board, not only to educate them regarding finance and accounting procedures, but to explore how the finance function can support program operations. The Controller will advise management regarding revenue enhancement and cost containment strategies. The Controller will prepare, analyze and interpret periodic financial reports for management information and control. This position will also oversee the budget preparation process and assist with budget presentations to Board committees and interested outside parties. ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: ● Must be able to help advance the mission and values of the organization. ● Lead all day-to-day finance operations with functional responsibility over accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and gift/grants/fundraising administration. ● Oversee all accounts, ledgers and reporting systems ensuring compliance with GAAP standards, regulatory requirements and rules for non-profits. ● Monitor internal controls and safeguards for receipt of revenues, costs, payables, program budgets and actual expenditures. Recommend improvements. ● Coordinate budgeting, budget management and cost controls. Recommend benchmarks for measuring the financial and operating performance of departments. ● Prepare financial statements. ● Monitor and analyze monthly operating results against budget. Interpret financial data and recommend changes to improve systems, financial performance and reporting. ● Present financial information to senior management and Finance Committee in a timely manner. ● Manage and track performance of invested assets in keeping with policies and investment guidelines. ● Manage preparation of annual report of actual revenues, transfers and expenses. ● Work with management and Finance Committee to develop five and ten year business plans. ● Prepare financial analysis for contract negotiations, project/exhibit investment decisions and excess funds investment. ● Coordinate all audit activity. Ensure compliance with local, state and federal financial reporting requirements. ● Supervise accounting staff and oversee daily operations of finance department. ● Work on special projects as needed i.e. accounting system selection and implementation, etc. ● Develop accounting and finance policies and procedures.
SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: ● Manage the overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of the Accounting/Finance Department. Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization policies and applicable laws. QUALIFICATIONS: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. ● Personal qualities of integrity and credibility. ● Must enjoy working with a team and on an individual basis. ● Must be able to use the utmost discretion in all presentations/ correspondence and communication for staff, Board of Directors and Executive Director. ● Solid experience in the non-profit environment coordinating audit activities; managing, reporting, forecasting, budget development and profitability analysis, accounts payable, general ledger, payroll, restricted/designated funds and accounting for investments. ● A track record in grants management as it relates to compliance and reporting of government corporate and foundation grants is essential. ● Hands-on knowledge of accounting software systems, non-profit accounting software systems and other report generating software. ● Work requires professional written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills. ● Ability to motivate teams to produce quality materials within tight timeframes and simultaneously manage several projects. ● Ability to participate in and facilitate group meetings. MATH ABILITY: ● Knowledge of finance, accounting, budgeting, and cost control principles including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. ● Ability to analyze financial data and prepare financial reports, statements and projections. ● Working knowledge of short and long term budgeting and forecasting, rolling budgets, and service-line profitability analysis. EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE: A Bachelor Degree (B.A. or B.S.) from a four-year college or university in Accounting; Master’s preferred. Six or more years of advanced level experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Must have solid systems skills and proficient with various accounting systems including Quickbooks. CPA qualification is required. ● Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience ● Health Insurance provided Interested applicants please send resume to: email@example.com
THE 2014 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WAS AWARDED TO KAILASH SATYARTHI AND MALALA YUSUFZAI FOR THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST THE SUPPRESSION OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AND FOR THE RIGHT OF ALL CHILDREN TO EDUCATION.
Women and the Commitment to Girls Education in American Islamic Schools Do Muslim Americans appreciate the contribution of women in promoting Islamic education? BY MATTHEW MOES
hile acknowledged, but too often taken for granted, education not only increases an individual’s economic opportunity, it also is personally enriching, opening doors for people to live deeper, more fulfilling lives regardless of their circumstances. Beyond this, education must be more seriously pursued as a key strategy toward world peace. 46
As Robert Fulghum pointed out in his poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” basics such as sharing, playing fair, not hitting, and cleaning up after oneself are lessons we learn to apply throughout life. It is amazing to imagine what our world would look like if our global leaders were to apply the same standards in politics. Conversely, it demonstrates just how threatening education can be to people who
do not like to play by the rules. Imagine what would happen if young people everywhere were better equipped to use critical thinking and problem solving to address local issues, while suppressing the influence of bullies through their commitment to such basic ideals. Malala Yousafzay's story is special because it lets us indulge this vision of empowered youth persevering for what is right.
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Participants at the 2014 ISLA Leadership Retreat (overwhelmingly female).
“Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education. The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” the Nobel Committee wrote. The Nobel Committee also regarded as significant that Yousafzay is Muslim. The familiar narrative is that religious extremists used violence against her because their beliefs are against the education of girls. However as Muslims, Yousafzay and her father, Ziauddin, have consistently emphasized that they are committed to the principle of educating girls. “The story of a woman is a story of injustice, inequality, violence and exploitation. This plight of millions of women could be changed, if women and men think differently...if they can break a few norms of family and society, if they can abolish the discriminatory laws of the systems in their states that go against basic human rights of the women,” Ziauddin Yousafzai said in a 2014 TED Talk. The solution: getting women and men to think differently. In a word — education. The obstacles: societal norms and discriminatory laws, not religion. What do Muslims do in a context where societal norms and discriminatory laws against women already have changed? It is inspiring to think of the impact Muslim women have had on the development of education in this country, precisely because of their faith commitment, and
that specifically in Islamic schools girls have risen to the forefront as achievers in every domain. The first graduating classes of Islamic high schools have seen a majority of female students who typically go on to the best universities in the country. Islamic schools depend on the talents of a majority of highly educated female teachers and school leaders. Many Islamic schools were founded by women who often served as principals. Women have been pioneers in developing curriculum and instructional materials for Islamic schools, and the most prominent educational support organizations have been established by women. These women are motivated by their commitment to Islam and the premium that Islam places on the pursuit of knowledge for men and women alike. It is important to acknowledge that these successes would not be possible if the struggle for equal opportunities in education had not already been engaged in this country. It is certainly not a challenge endemic to Muslim societies. Empowering women is an ongoing universal issue. Historically, in the United States, males and females lived in gender-based spheres. This carried over into education as well. Elite men were educated in the classics and
women were educated to the extent that it might make them suitable companions for men and competent wives and mothers. As adults, men and women had separate spheres in society, and thus, educating women for any role beyond her traditional place in the home with her family would have been seen as superfluous. Furthermore, it was considered damaging to a woman’s delicate nature to be exposed to the academic rigor of men’s subjects, wrote Kim Tolley, professor in the School of Education at Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, California, (2003 “The Science Education of American Girls: A Historical Perspective,” New York: Routledge). In the past, separate spheres were considered needed to protect boys from being encroached upon by girls. While elementary public schools in the United States were historically co-ed due to economic concerns, secondary public schools only existed for boys until girls were integrated at the turn of the 20th century. Immediately educators became alarmed at the sudden “boy problem” of rising dropout rates and academic disinterest among working class boys and ascribed it to what they called “woman peril.” Among the fathers of public education, G. Stanley Hall of Clark University and Dr. Edward Clarke of Harvard warned that coeducation emasculated boys due to the daily influence of keeping company with female students and teachers. Furthermore, they stressed that rigorous academic activity would redirect blood flow from the ovaries of female students to the brain and leave women with “monstrous brains and puny bodies … flowing thought and constipated bowels.” As such specious concerns persisted, a gender specific curriculum was implemented in co-ed schools that reinforced separate spheres for men and women.
Darul Arqam North high school students visit Yale.
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COVER STORY Interestingly, such “male” or “female” subjects did not always remain the same as modern curriculum evolved. Despite progress, even today it is generally believed that males are predisposed to do better in math and science, while females excel in language arts and communications. Yet, if one examines the substance of male education in the mid-1800s, there was clearly an emphasis on literature and language, while for girls, the emphasis was on science. “While the sciences maintained a marginal presence in boys’ academies, they were highly visible in girls’ schools,” Tolley wrote. At the turn of the 20th century, in a move to improve female access to colleges and universities, girls’ schools increased their attention on the classics and de-emphasized science. It was not until the Cold War that science got its impetus in the great race for arms and space technology, and thus became a “male” subject. Though required for boys and girls in public schools, the cultural perception of science seems to have deterred girls. “Today educators seeking to advance the sciences and mathematics among girls attempt an array of interventions,” Tolley wrote. “Among these are curricula and instructional methods believed to address inherent or culturally developed differences between men and women. Such efforts may be laudable, but this study suggests that the assumptions on which they are founded are misplaced. Girls’ interest and achievement in science and mathematics appear to have been historically mediated by economic, social, and cultural forces rather than determined by inherent biological traits or abilities.” Tolley also noted many of the instructional methods purported to be more engaging to females, such as cooperative learning were also not employed during the 19th century when girls excelled at science. Instead recitation, lecture, and demonstration were the main modes of instruction in female and male academies. Even after the women’s rights movement helped correct these curricular inequalities during the latter part of the 1900s, major challenges to co-ed schools’ efficacy for girls came again in the 1980s and 1990s. David and Dr. Myra Pollack Sadker — Myra (1943-95) pioneered much of the research documenting gender bias in American schools — focused on social interaction in the classroom and found 48
WOMEN HAVE BEEN PIONEERS IN DEVELOPING CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS FOR ISLAMIC SCHOOLS, AND THE MOST PROMINENT EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED BY WOMEN. girls again to be suffering from unequal treatment. David Sadker, a Tucson, Arizonabased author and lecturer on eliminating gender bias in schools, wrote in “Myra and Me” (Equity and Excellence in Education, vol 33, no.1, April 2000): “Teachers praised boys more, punished them more, helped them more. Although girls continued to get better report card grades (partially, we suspected as a reward for their more docile, less threatening behavior), boys received a more intense educational experience, as well as better scores on high stakes tests like the SATs and the GREs.” Despite the persistence of any lingering concerns, equal rights for girls education has worked overall. Girls now outnumber boys in every extra-curricular activity, except sports. Females enter college at higher rates than men and account for nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s and master of arts degrees, wrote Anne Fisher in “Boys vs. girls: What’s behind the college grad gender gap?” (Fortune, March 27, 2013). Girls are succeeding because over the past 40 years they have been
Universal Academy of Florida (Tampa) two students who completed the memorization of the Quran this year with their principal.
granted access to an unprecedented level of social equality that had previously only been available to men. While chauvinistic assumptions about gender differences were, at one time, generally accepted among the mainstream American middle class, now it is generally proven that women are not only as capable intellectually as men, but also have added value to society through their participation and contributions in the public sphere. And it is within this context that we witness the dedicated commitment of Muslim women toward establishing equal access to education within recently formed Islamic institutions in the United States. Islamic schools are largely the product of the past 30 years, although weekend religious schools go back further and the Clara Muhammad school system, which grew out of the Nation of Islam movement, dates back to the 1930s. The mission of Islamic schools in the United States has been similar to other private religious schools — providing an academic education supplemented by religious instruction in a religious environment. While Islamic injunctions on modesty have resulted in varying degrees of separation between boys and girls in these schools, it certainly has not had an adverse effect on female achievement. For example, schools may or may not separate students by class due to size and financial constraints, but they typically do separate students within classes, especially in upper grades, by way of seating arrangements. There also are a few all-girl schools, such as Qalam Collegiate Academy in Richardson, Texas, or schools that restrict male enrollment above a certain age, such as Aqsa School in Bridgeview, Illinois. If there are any schools exclusively for boys, they are not widely known. In a typical co-ed Islamic school, females usually outnumber males in enrollment, while high school graduating classes are overwhelmingly female,
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especially in their formative years. While in Quranic recitation through traditional some may attribute these demographics to studies and has taught Quran recitation at a certain amount of over-protectiveness, it Harvard and Fawakih. She received a Fulhas not impeded success. bright Scholarship in 2012. For example, Universal Academy of Islamic schools depend largely on Florida in Tampa inducted several female female teachers and administrators, many students into the National Honor Society of whom serve as founding principals. while celebrating the esteemed achievement Karen Keyworth was a founding principal of two female students who memorized the of the Greater Lansing Islamic School in entire Quran this year. This type of success East Lansing, Michigan. In 1998, she partin academic and traditional religious sub- nered with business professional Judith jects are representative of trends around Amri to form the Islamic Schools League the country. of America (ISLA; see “Sharing Teaching”, Girls tend to dominate in state and national competitions. Girls at Rising Star Academy in Union City, New Jersey, recently took home the majority of the school’s 14 medals won at this year’s New Jersey Institute of Technology Science Olympiad. Nur-ul-Iman High School’s (Monmouth, New Jersey) 10-girl team has placed third for the past two years at the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s annual Mock Trial Competition. Six middle school Rising Star Academy, New Jersey – 2015 NJIT Science Olympiad medal winner girls at Nur Islamic School of Louisville advanced to the regional competition after winning their district’s Governor’s Cup in Kentucky in January. Two girls from City of Knowledge Islamic School in Pamona, California, won awards for essays at the 2015 ISNA West Coast Education Forum. Two girls from IANT Quranic Academy in Richardson, Texas, won first place ISLA Board Members (names are tagged; not shown: in Thanksgiving Square’s National Karen Keyworth, Matthew Moes and Sergil Naviwala). 2014 Expressions Contest. And six of eight winners of this year’s Hassan Islamic Horizons, May/June 2014, p26.). Hathout Legacy Foundation Essay Contest ISLA began as a virtual organization by were girls from five different Islamic schools establishing the Islamic Educators Comfrom around the country. munication Network, an email listserv that As most Islamic schools offer college pre- serves as a network connecting hundreds of paratory programs, the majority of female Muslim educators across North America. graduates matriculate to local colleges and Other projects in research and professional universities while many go on to attend some development opportunities seek to further of the nation’s most prestigious institutions. the growth and quality of Islamic schools in After Tasmiah Khan graduated from Uni- the United States. The vast majority of ISLA’s versal School in Bridgeview, Illinois, she board members and education advisers also attained a degree from Wesleyan University. are women, all of whom are connected to While a student at Wesleyan, she founded establishing, leading, and supporting Islamic Brighter Dawns, a non-profit organization schools in varying ways. committed to resolving health issues in slum One of ISLA’s key supporters is the Founcommunities in Bangladesh. Islamic School dation for Advancement and Development of Kansas City graduate Mariam Papa earned of Education and Learning, founded by Dr. her doctorate in pharmacy from the Uni- Freda Shamma, who received the 2010 ISNA versity of Kansas. She also earned a license Lifetime Achievement Award for more than ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
40 years of service to Islamic education and curriculum development. In 2013, she published a 360-page “Treasury of Muslim Literature” (Amana). Other recipients of the ISNA Lifetime Achievement Award include Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, who co-founded IQRA International Education Foundation producing the first and most widespread Arabic and Islamic curriculum materials in North America, and Dr. Azmeralda Alfi, who founded the Bureau of Islamic and Arabic Education, which also develops curricular materials widely used on the West Coast. The 2012 ISNA Achievement Award went to Necva Ozgur, who served as the founding principal of New Horizons School Pasadena, California. After leading the school to National Blue Ribbon Recognition and Accreditation status, she founded Muslim Educators’ Resource, Information & Training, a professional support organization aimed at developing an Islamic accreditation option for schools. She was instrumental in achieving this goal as a board member with the Council of Islamic Schools in North America by participating in the development of a historic partnership with AdvancED for joint accreditation. Roughly, half of CISNA’s board comprises women who have served in various leadership roles in Islamic schools. The contribution of women and the commitment to girls education in the American Muslim community goes far beyond these examples. These achievements were made possible because of educators’ deep commitment to the Islamic faith and the value of education for men and women. Among the clearest sources of such inspiration is the Quranic verse 33:35: “For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise — for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward.”
Matthew Moes is a board member with the Islamic Schools League of America and a consultant for Razi Education.
ISLAM IN AMERICA
SEXUAL OFFENSE IS A DIFFICULT TOPIC TO ADDRESS, AND IT TAKES MUCH COURAGE TO ADMIT WHEN IT TOUCHES OUR LIVES. BUT PERHAPS BY STANDING UP TO CHALLENGE THE CYCLE OF IT, WE CAN SAVE SOULS AND PREVENT SUFFERING.
Addressing Sexual Offense in Our Community
Are Muslim Americans sufficiently informed about dealing with issues involving sexual offenses? BY SUSAN LABADI
exual offense victims can be any age. They are forced without consent, tricked, or coerced into activities or witnessing activities that violate their bodies and psyches. These may be described as sexual assault, rape, molestation, sexual abuse, incest, or exhibitionism. Sometimes victims submit and don’t resist advances to sexual acts because they are afraid to lose a friendship, relationship, or they fear physical harm. These situations are not acceptable as consensual because the other person holds more power, and in any circumstance, Islam prohibits sexual offense. The offender could be any gender and may even be a close and respected individual in a position of authority. Often sexual crime offenders offer excuses, such as anger, need for proving themselves, frustrated by rejection, depres-
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advised, “Ask your heart regarding it. Piety is that which contents the soul and comforts the heart; and sin is that which causes doubt and perturbs the heart, even if people pronounce it lawful and give you verdicts on such matters again and again” (Ahmad and Ad-Darmi; Riyadus-Saliheen, Imam An-Nawawi Chapter 68, p. 193, No. 591). We should be wary what society may convince us to be benign and even permissible. Sometimes we tend to listen to our heart and are tricked by the whispers that seem to justify actions, but let the following Quranic advice (7:200) be a defense: “If a suggestion from Satan assail thy (mind), seek refuge with God; for He heareth and knoweth (all things).” When properly guided, we know right from wrong, but at times the pull from societal norms may seem to conflict with what is right. Yet, God has given us intelligent minds too because our hearts can be swayed, beguiled by Satan, and we must use common sense and understand the dynamics of reciprocity. Would we want for ourselves what is suffered by others, especially from elements in our own power? The fact that freedom may make the haram accessible does not release us from understanding the need to protect ourselves from wrongdoing.
FREEDOM BALANCED WITH SELF CONTROL
sion, or that they have come from environments that use violence to solve problems and deal with anger. Offenders also have reported they may have seen pornography or video content that suggests such behaviors are acceptable. Whatever the rationale, the perpetrator is caught in a cycle of erroneous thinking that results in guilt and shame and tends to repeat the pattern as the person is out of control of their sensibilities — oblivious to the harm caused to others who are younger or weaker, or to their own conscience.
FREEDOM VERSUS PROTECTION Islam gives ample guidance and values selfcontrol. Wabisah bin Ma’bad reported that he approached Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who asked, “Have you come to inquire about piety?” After receiving his affirmative reply, the Prophet ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
FROM THE TIME CHILDREN ARE SMALL, THEY SHOULD KNOW THAT THEIR BODIES ARE SACRED AND THAT NO ONE SHOULD VIOLATE THEM.
Raising families was never easy, but nowhere in the world does it seem to be safe any longer. From the time children are small, they should know that their bodies are sacred and that no one should violate them. Lauren Book, upon realizing that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable through education, started Lauren’s Kids (laurenskids. org). An Islamic school in Florida had her teach a lesson to kindergarten and first grade students about good and not good secrets without explicitly mentioning sexual abuse.
STATISTICS AND PREVENTION Experts agree many incidents of child sexual abuse go unreported. Studies by David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show: • One in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of sexual abuse • Over the course of their lifetime, 28 percent of youth in the United States 14 to 17 years old had been sexually abused • Children are most vulnerable between the ages of 7 and 13 years 51
ISLAM IN AMERICA A 2003 Justice Department National Institute of Justice (NIJ) report found that three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well. Eighty-four percent of sexual assaults on children under the age of 12 happen within the residence. We can inculcate habits in our families though that benefit everyone and minimize risks. Children should be taught that they should socialize within groups, not isolated from the crowd at family gatherings, and that they should speak freely with their parents, if they feel that something is not right, comfortable, or safe with another person in the family. If they are secure in themselves and understand that it is wrong, then they will know it is right to speak up about those feelings. We must have a conversation with all our children letting them know that they have the right to decline if cousins, friends or other immediate family members expect actions which don’t seem appropriate. Telling them that the bedroom door should always be open, unless they are changing clothes or have a good reason, is wise. Debrief and ask your children about what they did when the adults were busy, is also a strategy to know what is happening in your child’s relationships. As children develop into teens and adults, there are some preventative rules to learn and discuss within the family. Many are common sense like don’t be with the wrong crowd and try to keep a mahram with you — but never in isolation; if you are at a social gathering, take care that someone did not put drugs or alcohol in food and drinks; never get in a car with strangers; always be somewhere safe at nightfall; be conscious that your clothing does not attract trouble; keep emergency supplies in the car if stalled; have a back-up power supply for the cell phone; in home and office, secure and lock exterior doors, but keep interior doors open and accessible so as not to be alone with another person.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SCHOOLS AND PROFESSIONALS Even though incidents are most likely to happen within the home setting, schools have a legal obligation to report any credible suspicion of violence or sexual abuse that may affect students. School personnel are put in a difficult position between respecting families’ reputations, privacy issues, and bonds of trust while advocating for the stu52
Resources http://cachouston.org/child-sexual-abuse-facts/ http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexualabuse-statistics https://www.childwelfare.gov/responding/mandated.cfm http://heartwomenandgirls.org/2014/12/08/community-resources/ http://www.altmuslimah.com/2014/12/act4survivors/ http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/H72-21-87-1995E.pdf http://www.mcgrathinc.com/SexualAbuse.html http://www.safeschools.com/courses/topics/Sexual%20Misconduct%20Staff%20 to%20Student%207-21-11.pdf
dents’ rights and protection. State laws make certain professions mandatory reporters. Among them are social workers, clergy, medical and mental health professionals, teachers and childcare providers, and they are held liable to refer cases to child protective service agencies. Before reporting was mandated, there was resistance in the community because of fear that children would be separated from their homes and result in severe public scrutiny of Muslim families. Since then, however, the paramount concern for the victims, along with potential penalty for neglecting to report, has prompted schools to train their teachers in warning signs and to work successfully with protective agencies and the legal system. Today, children remain in the home and therapy is initiated in groups for victims and perpetrators. Children learn to
reestablish appropriate relationships with adults, find that they are not alone in their circumstances, and not to blame themselves.
WHAT CAN OUR COMMUNITY DO? If we know of a wrong, we must do all we can by speaking against it. When there is a crime, we must address it and help begin the process of healing by establishing safety and security for victims, as well as to offering understanding, patience, encouragement, and emotional support to affected families. To not do so is a sin of omission that may earn God’s displeasure. Listen to the heart, and use the head to heal wounds, protect, and defend those who have been wronged.
Susan Labadi is project coordinator of the American Halal Association, president of Genius School, Inc., and VP of ActionNet Trade, Inc.
Imam Position Available
The Raleigh Masjid (www.raleighmasjid.org) is the largest mosque in Raleigh, NC with over 2000 regular congregants. We’re seeking an Imam with the following qualifications: • Degree in Islamic Studies or related Sharia area from an accredited university • Excellent Qur’anic recitation skills and strong memorized command of a significant portion of the Qur’an • Strong communication, organizational, interpersonal and leadership skills • Adequate knowledge of Fiqh to teach and counsel the community on matters of Fiqh in the four main schools of thought • Adequate knowledge of the Seerah of the Prophet (PBUH) • Fluent in English & Arabic - spoken and written • A strong understanding of Islamic etiquettes, manners, and appropriate behavior • A complete understanding of challenges and hardships Muslim youth face in the US • US work authorization For more details please visit: www.raleighmasjid.org/imamposition. Salary is commensurate with qualification and experience. To apply please submit your resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
ISLAM IN AMERICA
On Sexual Harassment: SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN
The biggest concern for social workers is that the victim, whether male or female, be believed, given support and not blamed. BY NAAZISH YARKHAN
“IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE, IT IS HARASSMENT”
ast December, Muslims in Chicago learned of allegations of sexual assault by an imam and religious leader with one of the biggest legacies. They witnessed the tremendous courage it takes for a victim to challenge sexual harassment at a mosque. While there was an outpouring of support for the survivor, what also became obvious was the misplaced victim-blaming that often prevents Muslim women and men from seeking help, lodging a criminal case or registering complaints against the perpetrator. The victim and her supporters were up against the revered public figure and alleged perpetrator’s legions of admirers. Still, other survivors have been seeking help by emailing email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abdul Malik Mujahid
“We need to hold this institution accountable and not let them bury this case,” said Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sound Vision president and imam. “This case has also unearthed a flurry of whispers about sexual abuse by a few other ‘imams’ in Chicago. Sexual abuse, harassment, and assault are all crimes, not just under Islam, but under the laws of the land. Common among such cases is: avoiding a criminal police report, suppressing the information, and selective and abusive use of Islamic teachings to achieve the first two. Further, these alleged criminals are often at large, moving from community to community.” Glendale Heights, Illinois-based Darul Qasim, an Islamic institution lead by Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia, states: “Muslims and Islam categorically condemn sexual crimes, both in the moral sense and the legal sense. In the moral sense, if Muslims are either witnesses or have concrete knowledge of such crimes, they must speak out against them. Muslims have a moral obligation to believe that sexual crimes and sins and behavior that leads toward them are reprehensible. In the legal sense, Muslims must find and employ a process that delivers justice to the victims of sexual crimes. Wherever any act is regarded as a sexual crime, Muslims must follow the judicial process of the land in which they reside.” 54
“Sexual harassment is more common than you think, even in the Muslim community,” said Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who introduced legislation in November 2014 proposing stronger sexual harassment laws, including better confidentiality for victims and a lengthier period to register complaints. Tlaib herself lodged a complaint in 2007 against civil rights activist Imad Hamad, director of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Detroit, for sexual harassment when she worked for him in 1999 as a 22 year old. She was one of several female employees who had the courage to complain. “Sometimes women don’t know if it’s harassment,” she said. “We tell ourselves we are secure because we are working with a
Mohammed Amin Kholwadia
fellow Muslim brother. Ask yourself, ‘how does it make me feel? If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it is harassment. If you feel that discomfort, follow your gut. Don’t rationalize. Don’t think, ‘Oh he’s older, he wouldn’t do that’. Some of these perverts will even say you remind them of their daughter.” Sexual harassment may include touching but it is not limited to touching. It could be the predator saying things to the victim, leaving porn out in the victim’s presence, emailing inappropriate things, Tlaib added. “Sometimes the things you are hearing are so shocking and so unexpected that you say, ‘is this really happening to me?’ We can’t believe someone would be so inappropriate and sexual towards us,” she said. “It’s about manipulation and control. These men know they can get away because girls in the Muslim community face such stigma (when confronting abuse).” Even if women fear job loss or other repercussions, she said, sexual harassment and assault must be reported, and the sooner, the better. In an October 2013 press release, ADC first contended there was “inconclusive evidence of sexual harassment.” It told Islamic Horizons, “Mr. Imad Hamad is no longer working with; or affiliated ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND WORKSHOPS ON SEXUAL ASSAULT PREVENTION AND AWARENESS AT ALL MUSLIM INSTITUTIONS, INCLUDING SUMMER CAMPS, ARE VITAL. with ADC. Everything in hindsight is 20/20. Over the course of the past year, under new leadership, ADC has implemented internal mechanisms to address such issues should they arise. ADC has adopted a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy, as well as whistleblower protections aimed at protecting those that come forward.”
BELIEVE SURVIVORS WHEN THEY DISCLOSE ABUSE The biggest concern for social workers is that the victim, whether male or female, be believed, given support and not blamed. Nadiah Mohajir, co-founder of HEART Women and Girls (Health Education Advocacy Research and Training), said sexual violence is a reality in all communities and is not limited to only one racial, ethnic, religious or socioeconomic community. “It takes an incredible amount of courage for a victim to report rape and sexual violence,” she said. “A majority of sexual assaults — approximately 63 percent — are never reported to law enforcement. Moreover, when disclosing, victims face many barriers, including media scrutiny, retaliation against themselves and their families, and re-traumatization.” Itedal Shalabi, director of Bridgeview, Illinois-based Arab American Family Services (AAFS; arabamericanfamilyservices.org), said victims are often afraid to step forward for fear of reprisal. “In the Muslim community, instead of acknowledging the inherent courage it takes to speak out and potentially protect other future victims, there are often attempts to shut victims up,” she said. “Often times, the whole family’s honor is placed on the victim’s shoulder, instead of the victim being supported and encouraged to press charges. While we are a collective community, we will be accountable to Allah. As human beings and as Muslims we need to assist those who are weak and seek justice against oppressors. We need to ask ourselves, ‘what is Allah’s expectation of us?’” “Given all the trauma they have endured, they need someone to say, ‘I believe you.’ A lot of victims who are not believed go through PTSD,” she added. AAFS has a 24-hour hotline in Arabic and English for victims to call.
THE PREDATORS IN OUR MIDST
Parents often teach children about stranger danger, but it’s more likely that the predator is someone the child and parent know and trust, someone with access to the child. “It’s no different for adults facing sexual assault and harassment,” Shalabi said. This breach of trust can occur between family members, a boss and employee, colleagues, a religious head and a community member, a student and teacher. No relationship is immune. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
“A majority of time the predator is a person who has power and authority over the victim,” Shalabi said. “It is someone who we look at with trust. That’s what shocks both the victim when it happens, and others when they hear the allegations.” Rizwan Kadir, a Chicago community activist, said women, and girls are often, unjustly told to get over it because their families don’t know how to react. “Parents need education as to how to handle such situations, before they even occur,” he said. “We need to ensure she knows she didn’t do anything wrong and hasn’t become less of a person because of this. Next, the victim needs to be directed to proper professional counseling. People often don’t trust non-Muslim counselors saying they won’t understand our cultural expectations. That’s why it’s extremely important that there be Muslim advocates.”
SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN “The vast majority of predators are male, but when a woman is the aggressor, and it happens even in our community, it’s wrongly considered ‘unmanly’ to talk about it,” Kadir said. “Boys, too, need to be able to ask for help, and be believed.” Whether male or female, if victims don’t seek help, chances are the trauma will resurface. While men and boys are victims of sexual harassment, they can become indirect victims too, Kadir said. “In a case I’m familiar with, the female victim was reluctant to seek therapy,” he said. “The woman had been abused and this surfaced as intimacy issues. It took the husband 15 plus years to realize what was going on....” Shalabi said there is also denial about marital rape. “We see close to 300 women a year for domestic violence,” she said. “Sixty to 70 percent of them have experienced marital sexual violence. I have heard women say, ‘If I don’t sleep with my husband, the angels will curse me.’ Islamically, you can say no to your husband, but how many women know that? That is part of what we discuss when educating clients.”
ZERO TOLERANCE Mujahid said at least five Chicago masjids have battled leadership disputes in court. “Why, then, would we rather mediate a sex crime instead of encouraging victims to report it to the police?” he said. “The American justice system, despite its problems, is the only recourse we have as citizens. It can protect the community better from criminals.” Whether it’s victims, or mandated reporters, such as school teachers and principals, Mujahid outlines some of the benefits of reporting sexual assault and harassment. “In this case, the remaining ulema will be free of suspicion since alleged criminals will be reported to police,” he said. “Overall, parents will become vigilant about people in authority, the victim’s identity will be protected by law, and criminals will know that zero tolerance is in effect. The threat of being exposed, and in the news, will potentially deter future crimes.” Educational programs and workshops on sexual assault prevention and awareness at all Muslim institutions, including summer camps, are vital. While facilitating those workshops is on the agenda for HEART Women and Girls, survivors can reach out to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, for help.
Naazish YarKhan is a college essay coach and internationally published writer.
POLITICS AND SOCIETY
The Hashtag Hoopla Are Muslim Americans effectively employing hashtags to attain sociopolitical and community goals? BY KIRAN ANSARI
t used to be called a pound sign or a number sign and used so occasionally that it looked like it was meant to complete the symmetry of a phone keypad more than anything else. Little did we know in a few short years this little “#” symbol would become a regular part of our online lives. Meet the hashtag. No, not a hash brown or a luggage tag, but a tiny symbol that has the power to help people find you and your thoughts and helps you join others in important conversations. If you were a North American Muslim online in 2014 you must have heard of #SupportGaza, #BlackLivesMatter, #BringBackOurGirls, #NotInMyName, #MuslimApologies, #PeshawarAttacks and #IllRideWithYou. While statistics show that there are globally more hashtags about sports and celebrities, the hashtags that stay in your mind longer are often those associated with social causes. When a police officer shot and killed an African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter corralled conversation about discrimination and racial profiling. When an Australian saw
a Muslim woman take off her headscarf on public transport fearing backlash after the hostage situation in Sydney, she followed up and the #illridewithyou hashtag went viral.
WHEN HASHTAGS MAKE SOCIAL SENSE Hashtags can make a real difference in some cases. For instance, Ayman Mohyeldin of NBC was pulled out of the Gaza Strip after he reported about the Palestinian boys being killed by the Israeli Defense Force while playing soccer on a beach. Almost immediately the #LetAymanReport hashtag went ablaze on social media and NBC reversed its decision and sent him back to continue reporting from Gaza.
Similarly, ABC Family pulled the plug on their new show “Alice in Arabia” (about a white, American teenager kidnapped and forced to live in Saudi Arabia) after they were inundated with hashtags and comments on social media calling it racist and stereotypical. But just as quickly as some hashtags stir emotions, they can disappear equally rapidly from the cyber scene. There were 40,000 #illridewithyou tweets in just two hours and more than 170,000 worldwide. But while it was the number one tweet in the world on Dec. 15, 2014, there wasn’t enough data that it even existed less than a month later. Eman Hassaballa Aly, digital strategist at the Health Media Collaboratory in the Chicago area, views hashtags as a fence around a conversation like a weekly Twitter #mediachat. She said while #illridewithyou was powerful because it was organic and sent a strong message, hashtags can change sentiment online, not change the world. “If the work online isn’t tied to the work offline, then it won’t have the same impact,” Aly said. Some feel the hashtag hullabaloo is churning out a generation of “slacktivists” that think they have done their part by punching in a symbol on their keyboard. “Connect the digital efforts to the efforts on the ground, and the real difference will happen,” Aly said. Azfar Iftikhar agrees. As the only brown, bearded Muslim man in his office on Sept. 11, 2001, his coworkers offered to ride the train home with him from work. “That is making a real difference,” Iftikhar said. “Typing that I will ride with you may look cool today, but those two co-workers actually rode with me long before this hashtag hoopla.” He said actions, face-to-face conversations and personal connections make the real difference, not a battle of tweets and tags online.
HASHTAGS AREN’T JUST FOR CREATING AWARENESS ABOUT SOCIAL CAUSES. THOUSANDS OF BUSINESSES, BIG AND SMALL, ARE USING THEM TO BOOST SALES AND ENGAGE THE ONLINE CONSUMER. ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
WHEN HASHTAGS MAKE BUSINESS SENSE
Eight Tips on How to Hashtag • Allow people that support your cause or buy your products to find you with some clever hashtags by following these tips: • “Take time to research good hashtags,” Taher suggests. “A good hashtag is a fine balance between overused and never used.” • Don’t use very long hashtags. People either don’t read them or they take up coveted space in the 140-character Twitterverse.
Hashtags aren’t just for creating awareness about social causes. Thousands of businesses, big and small, are using them to boost sales and engage the online consumer. Corporate giants like Verizon, Nabisco and Home Depot are just a few examples of companies leveraging hashtags to connect with consumers. Toronto artisan Hafsa Taher loves using hashtags to help people find her handmade greeting cards and crafts on Etsy and Instagram. “A customer or an artist might be searching for ‘Ebru’ (paper marbling) on Instagram,” Taher said. “They can search the hashtag and get inspired by the work of many artists with one click. Hashtagging is very effective, if used correctly.”
• Consider different spellings — like color vs. colour for businesses like Taher’s with customers in different countries. • Watch your hashtag. Beware of online trolls that deliberately follow hashtags to take crucial topics on a tangent. • Never spam a trending hashtag by attracting people to your business or cause when it is not related to the hashtag. It hurts your credibility big time.
She also suggests using hashtags on “categories of items sold.” For instance, she tags her personalized mugs as “HafsaCreatesMugs” so when a buyer on Instagram sees one design, they can look at all related photos with just one tap. This has helped her find other Muslim women artists and crafters and develop a “we’re all in this together” attitude. TV producer Shonda Rhimes talked about hashtags in her 2014 commencement speech at Dartmouth. “Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them... But a hashtag is not a movement.” She suggested that instead of sitting behind a screen, graduates choose a cause and volunteer their time on a weekly basis. “A hashtag does not make you Dr. King,” Rhimes said.
Kiran Ansari lives with her family in Elgin, Illinois. She has been a contributor to Islamic Horizons since 2002.
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• Businesses can even trademark a hashtag and seek legal counsel if that hashtag is being used by competitors to mislead consumers. • “Yes #hashtags #can #be #overused,” said Aly. “Most experts say that three’s a crowd when it comes to hashtags. They need to be short, sweet and to the point.” • Use hashtags consistently on different social media platforms. Someone who might be active on Facebook may not see your tweet.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
Dr. Maher Hathout 1936 – 2015
Pioneer and Visionary
r. Maher Hathout, a leader, poet, physician, and family man who made an indelible impression on everyone he met, died Jan. 3, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Egypt-born Hathout was an activist and a thinker dedicated to the cause of freedom and Islam since childhood. Hathout believed being a faithful Muslim was entirely compatible with being a proud American, and that Muslim Americans would contribute to America by practicing the Islamic values of mercy, equity and justice.
After moving to Los Angeles from Buffalo, New York, Hathout immersed himself in volunteering at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) as chairman and spokesman. He worked with the ICSC founders to launch a series of pioneering projects and organizations, including the first co-ed Muslim Youth Group, the Islamic Information Service that produced a nationally televised weekly program on Islam, The Minaret magazine, the New Horizon School system, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). In 1988, Hathout co-founded MPAC and served as its senior advisor thereafter. These organizations are examples of Hathout’s dedication to institution-building in the Muslim American community and to fostering a strong Muslim American identity among youth. Despite working as a full-time 58
cardiologist, he made his thinking and working for Islam a lifetime endeavor. Throughout his life, Hathout spoke out to clarify Islam as a religion of coexistence, reason and moderation. In 2013, he authored the “Declaration Against Extremism” and gave a speech about “Extremism: Between Wrong Policy and Corrupt Ideology” during MPAC’s 2014 convention. “We are grateful for all that Dr. Maher Hathout did for the Muslim communities and also to better the human society. May Allah reward him abundantly,” said Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. Hathout also was among the pioneers of interfaith engagement within the Muslim American community, helping found the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East with the Rev. George Regas and
Rabbi Leonard Beerman in 1991. Hathout was a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations, served on the board of directors of the Interfaith Alliance and Claremont Lincoln University, and as chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. Over the years, Hathout was invited repeatedly to Capitol Hill and the state department to address a variety of topics: “Islam and U.S. Policy,” “Islamic Democracy,” “Emerging Trends in Islamic Movements,” and “The Future of the Middle East.” He also was the first Muslim invited to give the invocation prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2000. He authored several books, including “Jihad vs. Terrorism,” “In Pursuit of Justice: The Jurisprudence of Human Rights in Islam,” and “Islam 2.0: Conversations for Muslim Generations.” Hathout received many awards, including the George Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Lifetime Service Award, ISNA’s Community Hero Award (presented during the ISNA West Coast Education Forum 2014), the South Coast Interfaith Council Award for his lifelong commitment to interfaith work, and the Los Angeles County John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations. He is survived by his wife, Ragaa Hathout, children, Gasser and Samer, and his grandchildren, Heba, Laith, Dean and McKenna.
COLORADO MUSLIM SOCIETY (Masjid Abu-Bakr) is seeking to hire a
FULL TIME IMAM
Required qualifications are: • Bachelor degree in Islamic studies; Masters and/or PhD are highly preferable. • Hifzul-Quran with the rules of Tajweed. • Five years of experience as an Imam. Benefits: Great compensation and free housing. Please e-mail your Resume’ and cover letter to: email@example.com
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
REVIEWS NEW RELEASES
Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy Jonathan A.C. Brown 2014. Pp. 400. HB $29.99 Oneworld Publications: London, U.K.
Two Arabic Travel Books: Accounts of China and India and Mission to the Volga 2014. Pp. 320. HB. $35 by Abu Zayd al-Sirafi (Tim Mackintosh-Smith, translator) & Ahmad Ibn Fadlan (James Montgomery, translator) New York University Press: Library of Arabic Literature, New York, New York The volume offers two samples of Arabic travel writing from the same era but chronicling wildly divergent experiences. Accounts of China and India is a compilation of Abu Zayd al-Sirafi’s reports and anecdotes on the lands and peoples of the Indian Ocean, from the Somali headlands to China and Korea. In Mission to the Volga, Ahmad Ibn Fadlan relates the trials and tribulations of an embassy of diplomats and missionaries sent by Caliph al-Muqtadir to deliver political and religious instruction to the recently converted King of the Bulghars. These stories illuminate a world of diversity during the heyday of the Abbasid period.
ew things provoke controversy in the modern world like Islam. There is alarm over jihad, underage marriage and the threat of amputation or stoning under sharia law. Sometimes rumor, sometimes based in fact and often misunderstood, the tenets of Islamic law and dogma were not set in the religion’s founding moments. They were developed over centuries by the clerical class of Muslim scholars. Misquoting Muhammad traces how and why such controversies developed, offering an inside view into how key and controversial aspects of Islam took shape. From the protests of the Arab Spring to Istanbul at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and from the ochre red walls of Delhi’s great mosques to the trade routes of Islam’s Indian Ocean world, Jonathan Brown lays out how Muslim intellectuals have sought to balance reason and revelation, weigh science and religion, and negotiate the truths of scripture amid shifting values.
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence Karen Armstrong 2014. Pp. 528. HB. $30 Knopf, New York, New York
rom the renowned and bestselling author of “A History of God,” a sweeping exploration of religion and the history of human violence. For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in America. Some analysts have cited as cause a postSept. 11 perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness — something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present. While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or the Christian Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith — not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism — in its totality over time. At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong’s sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Armstrong makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS MARCH/APRIL 2015
Striving for Allah: Purification and Resistance among Fundamentalist Muslims in the Netherlands Fiore Geelhoed pp. 282. PB. $61 Eleven International Publishing, The Hague, The Netherlands In this book drawn on her award-winning doctoral dissertation, Fiore Geelhoed finds that Dutch Muslim fundamentalists are not as “other” as is commonly assumed. She argues that Islamic fundamentalism among the Dutch and other Western Muslims is, to a large extent, a Western phenomenon, and hence a truly glocal phenomenon. How To Be A Happy Muslim Insha’ Allah: Rise Above Your Problems and Choose Inner Peace and Joy with Ideas from the Quran, Sunnah, Counseling and Health Fields Sheima Salam Sumer 2014. Pp. 104. PB. $14.95 FB Publishing A trained counselor, Sheima Sumer strives to guide readers to achieving inner peace and joy by combining Islamic teachings with mental and physical health concepts. She seeks to help readers to think and feel positive across situations, be in a constant state of gratitude to God, and ultimately become their own best friend, taking charge of their lives and feelings. Handbook of Research on Higher Education in the MENA Region: Policy and Practice Neeta Baporikar (Author, Editor) 2014. Pp. 527. HB. $315 IGI Global, Hershey, Pennsylvania A lineup of education experts examine the need for change in the area of post-secondary education and innovation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. A resource on how higher education is influencing the region’s prosperity and progress. Emerging Research on Islamic Marketing and Tourism in the Global Economy Hatem El-Gohary (Author, Editor), Riyad Eid (Editor) 2014. Pp. 332. HB. $205 IGI Global, Hershey, Pennsylvania Islamic marketing is a new concept for most marketing practitioners. A group of authors, focusing on current trends and tools, comprehensive interviews, questionnaires, and emerging research in 11 chapters, offer perspectives on the influence of Islam on consumer behavior, the travel industry, product development, and the promotion of goods and services.
FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT
Not in Muhammad’s Name BY MADIHAH KRISHNAMURTHY
nd We have not sent you (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to the worlds.” (Quran, 21:107) Every nation has its heroes. For us, as Muslims, the epitome of someone with the highest moral character and manners beyond reproach is Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam). The Prophet is the ideal role model and a walking embodiment of the Quran. He is the standard to which we aspire, and in whose footsteps we strive to follow in everything we do. God Himself described the Prophet in the Quran saying: “You are of tremendous moral character.” Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is perhaps the most emulated of all the prophets. We try to eat, drink, walk, sleep, clip our nails, and even style our hair like him, and attempt to follow the Prophet’s example in every action, whether small or big . In authentic hadith narrations, the Prophet said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people.” He also said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself.” And to Umar ibn Khattab (radiAllahu anhu), he said: “O Umar, your faith will never be complete until you love me more than yourself.”
Abu Sufyan, one of the leaders of the Quraish tribe in Mecca and a staunch opponent of the Prophet before accepting Islam and becoming a Companion, asked Zayd ibn Datheenah before the Quraish executed him: “do you prefer Muhammad took your place and you were with your family.” Zayd replied: “I don’t wish to be here (at the execution place), and that a thorn poked Muhammad where he is now.” Abu Sufyan later said: “I have never seen a man so much loved by his followers as do Muhammad’s Companions with Muhammad” (Seerat Ibn Hisham). It would be a natural reaction then for Muslims, when someone insults the best and most beloved of creation, to be outraged. By that same token, it would seem only logical to examine what the Prophet himself did when faced with insults, attacks, and persecution. The Seerah is filled with examples of the Prophet’s impeccable manners, high moral character, mercy, and measured response to such situations. The Jan. 7 murders of 12 people, including a Muslim police officer, at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris — in the name of avenging the Prophet for satirical cartoons published by the weekly newspaper — have been widely and vehemently condemned as anti-Islamic. It is far from the example set by the Prophet himself in dealing with attempts to defame him. As Muslims, our actions ought to be
guided by principles not passion, wisdom not aggression, reflection not recklessness. Therefore, when someone insults our beloved Prophet, what should we do? The Prophet placed tremendous emphasis on forgiveness. In a sound narration by Aisha (radiAllahu anha), she once asked the Prophet what was the hardest day he had ever experienced. He replied that it was during his visit to Ta’if, when he was ridiculed and chased out with stones injuring him to the point where he collapsed. He told her that afterward: “The angel of the mountains called me, greeted me and said: ‘O Muhammad, God listened to what your people had said to you. I am the angel of the mountains, and my Lord has sent me to you so that you may give me your orders. If you wish, I will bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca to crush them in between.’” The Prophet responded: “I rather hope that God will raise from among their descendants people as will worship God the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him in worship” (Sahih Bukhari). The Prophet chose to forgive those who ridiculed him, with the hope that their children might be rightly guided — which they ultimately were. In another authentic hadith narration in Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet did not even rebuke a Bedouin man who urinated in the
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Please help “Food for the Spirit” better meet your needs by completing a 2-minute survey at: www.isna.net/foodforthespiritsurvey Prophet’s mosque in Medina. Though the Companions were incensed by the man’s action, the Prophet told them to let the man finish without interruption. The Prophet then gently counseled the man not to disrespect a place of worship and earned the man’s respect. The Prophet had been called names, been stoned, endured assassination attempts, yet he never avenged himself. He forgave everything, except when someone transgressed God’s decrees. Forgiveness also is emphasized in the Quran. “Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant” (Quran, 7:199). When this verse was revealed, the Prophet asked the Angel Gabriel (alayhis salaam) the meaning. Gabriel responded that he did not know, but asked God and then told the Prophet: “reach out to whoever cuts ties with you, help whoever didn’t help you in the time of need, and forgive whoever harmed you.” The Prophet invited us to good character, and to be good neighbors. His behavior transformed people from acting like savages to becoming civilized. Beyond restraint and forgiveness, whenever Muslims are faced with calamities, God reminds us in the Quran to be steadfast in prayer and to give zakat as illustrated by these verses in Surah Al-Baqara: “(Oh Muslims) Quite a number of the people of the Book wish they could turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the truth hath become manifest unto them; but forgive and overlook ’til God accomplish His purpose; for God hath power over all things. (2:109) And be steadfast in prayer and give in Zakat: and whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with God; for God sees well all that ye do. (2:110) And they say: ‘None shall enter paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.’ Those are their (vain) desires. Say: ‘Produce your proof if ye are truthful. (2:111) Nay-
whoever submits his whole self to God and is a doer of good—he will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:112) On the surface, these verses might seem disconnected. Why would God juxtapose a discussion about prayer, zakat, and doing what is good with verses about antagonism toward the Muslim community? In the first verse, God is showing the antagonism of his contemporaries. He then orders us to forgive any ill feeling toward them, and immediately after orders us to perform salat and give zakat. When the Jews and Christians each claimed that only they would go to heaven, God responds by telling them to bring proof. God is commanding believers to answer false claims through prayer and charity. He also is calling Muslims to action, while reminding us that He is aware of everything we do. It’s a clear sign that the best response to trials is fixing one’s personal relationship with God through performing salat, and with the community through the giving of zakat. And that prayer, charity, and good deeds are the best ways to respond to hatred, counter evil and open hearts. These actions ultimately will transform our own character and affect the people around us and our surroundings. That is how the Prophet responded to trials and calamities. To defend the Prophet’s character, we should strive harder to live as he did, spread his message, implement his teachings, invite people to the Quran, and implement the verse — spreading good to ourselves and to others. As the Prophet said in his final sermon: “Remember one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone…I leave behind me two things, the Quran and the Sunnah; and if you follow these you will never go astray.”
Madihah Krishnamurthy is a veteran newspaper journalist. This piece was compiled in collaboration with Sheikh Rachid Belbachir, resident scholar for the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, and with input from S. J. Ross.
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