Experiencing The Islamic Past Of Spain By Iman Salam
Spain has been on the top of my list of places to visit in my lifetime, right after going for hajj. When I was 13, I wrote a research paper on Islamic architecture, and my love for Spain was born. Since then I have read and studied everything I could about the amazing Alhambra palace in Granada and the Grand Mosque in Cordoba. So when the opportunity was right, 17 years later, my loving husband purchased our tickets. Our trip was planned for spring break in April, and by weather statements, it was going to be a most enjoyable stay. We decided to make Seville our base and travel by car to all other cities. Seville is a beautiful city where cafes line the streets and coffee is plentiful. It’s easy to get around on foot, but you can also rent bikes that are located
all around town and easy to access. If you’re feeling romantic, a horse drawn carriage will take you around the major sites. With three kids in tow, there was no time for romance, so we walked! Our first stop was the Alcázar. Though it used to be a part of the Moorish Palace and mainly done in Moroccan style, bits of Renaissance style can be found throughout the rooms. The gardens are a beautiful mix of Moorish, Andalusian, and Christian traditions, a miniature Alhambra. From there, we headed across the street to the Cathedral of Seville, which was built after the conquest of the city’s former mosque. It’s known as one of the largest medieval and gothic cathedrals, for it’s size and area. Some of the original architecture of the mosque that once stood in its place can still be seen. Most famously one of the conversion is the Giralda bell tower, which was originally a minaret. We climbed to the top of the tower, which was originally built with ramps rather than steps to assist the muezzin, who would ride to the top on horseback. One
piece of advice about the city – explore its narrow streets and eat some tapas. Our next stop was to one of Spain’s major tourist attractions – the Alhambra palace in Granada. It is recommended that once you have booked your airline tickets to Spain, get tickets to Alhambra. This isn’t an amusement park, they only let in a certain amount of people a day and tickets sell out fast. It’s best to select a morning time, that way you have the whole day to ..... Continues on page 16 >>>
Furqaan Academy Raises $60,000 For New School (ALLEN, TX) With almost 200 in attendance, the inaugural fundraiser for the Furqaan Academy Collin County on July 31 successfully raised almost $60,000 for the new school. The fundraiser was organized to showcase the new Furqaan Academy Collin County (FACC) and its leadership. The fundraiser marked an important milestone for FACC, as this opportunity was used to showcase the school’s leadership, share the school’s vision with the DFW leadership and allow community members to support the project to share in the reward of starting the first full time Islamic school in the area
“We wanted to host a public event to introduce this newest and promising Islamic School to the DFW community,” said Wajahat Sayeed, the president and founder of Al Furqaan Foundation, a non-profit that strives to spread the message of the Qur’an everywhere, and the parent of the Furqaan Academy franchise. “Though a good number of our parents and community leaders were traveling in the summer, we were happy to see an attendance of almost 200 people.” A few of the fundraiser’s notable guests included Imam Dr. Zafar Anjum of Frisco, Imam Yaseen Sheikh of Plano, and keynote speaker Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, the founder of the Chicago-based IQRA and the executive
director of IQRA International Educational Foundation. Hussain Kedwai, chairperson of the FACC Steering Committee, started the program by welcoming the guests and sharing the vision, mission, and goals of the academy. Shaheen Madni, Noor Anwer, and Wadud Hassan, members of FACC’s management team spoke at the event to capture the vision and introduce the programs of their respective schools: the daycare, elementary and secondary schools. “We want them to be curious and involved, to express their feelings and ideas freely and constructively, to practice self-control and to learn how to compete with others,” said Madni.... Continues on Page 09 >>>
ﯔﯔMooz-lum movie review ﯔﯔTexas state fair is back ﯔﯔMeet the recipient of prestigious NASA fellowship ﯔﯔPunjammies offer second chance for women from red light districts ﯔﯔRestaurant review ﯔﯔHappy or not so excited about Eid-ulFitr on September 11th? Two sisters, two perspectives. ﯔﯔWhy our unity is at bay? ﯔﯔThree layers of mental development in children.
“Godless Harvard” Robert Canright’s insight. Look for it in October’s edition.
Dick Bowen’s Property Tax Proposal
“ Property taxes definitely hinder our economy, but the personal property tax is the most unfair tax since it is so unequally applied from business to business and county to county. The way to move the Texas economy to create more jobs is to make taxes more fair, easily understood, and lower.” Complete comment online at www.myCrescent.com.
SAMMY THE FISH AT GROUND ZERO, or WHY I WON’T COMPROMISE ON CORDOBA
“If you believe that compromising now is the right thing to do, then you must also, for consistency’s sake, believe that Rosa Parks shouldn’t have made such a fuss on that bus in Montgomery, Alabama, because doing so offended the sensibilities of white Southerners.” Complete article online by Yusuf Toropov.
Park 51 / ’Ground Zero Mosque’ - The Crux of the Matter
“The estimated cost of constructing the 13-story project is reported to be upwards of $100M. What better way to garner support from donors than to incite them into contributing monetarily to the project by choosing a site that would inevitably become controversial - politically or otherwise - leading ultimately to mainstream media attention. Ka-ching. Free advertising.” See the entire post online by Aisha Schwartz.
Are we doing enough for our youth?
“What are your thoughts on having a Youth Hotline? Other communities have them, why don’t we? As humans there is a desire and need to socialize with others. Have we provided a platform for our youth to voice themselves? Do they have an outlet? Imran Randhawa asks for your input on myCrescent.com.
Education Nightmare in the U.S.
“Cut taxes, especially for the rich, and destroy our schools... Since Reagan, we’ve seen college go from free or near free to crushingly expensive for working class kids. Is high school next?” -Thom Hartmann. Join the discussion posted by Hazrat Amin on the decaying school system.
GAINING IMMIGRATION STATUS THROUGH INVESTING By Noaman Azhar, Attorney at Law Azhar & Azhar, PLLC Foreign nationals looking to come to the US typically need someone to file a petition for them – either an employer or a family member. What happens, though, when there is no offer of employment and no family member in the US who can file a petition? In this situation, an investor visa can become an attractive option. There are two types of investor visas, an EB-5 Investor Visa and an E-2 Treaty Investor. An EB-5 Investor Visa is an immigrant visa, in other words, if it is approved, the applicant can eventually become a permanent resident. The minimum investment is $1 million, or $500,000 in certain underserved areas. In addition, the company that the applicant invests in must employ at least 10 full-time workers and produce a service or product that benefits the US economy. An E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa, so there is no possibility of permanent residency. However, the visa can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the investment continues. The first and most important factor to consider in an E-2 Investor Visa is whether the US has a treaty with the foreign national’s country of citizenship. The list of countries that qualify are found at Volume 9 of the Foreign Affairs Manual (§41.51). Assuming that a treaty exists, the applicant must ensure that the company is at least 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country, that the applicant will be coming to work in the company as a key employee (director, manager, executive, etc.), and
that the investment will eventually generate more than just marginal profits. The minimum investment for an E-2 Investor Visa is somewhat ambiguous. An E-2 Investor Visa requires a “substantial investment,” which can differ based on the specific industry. For example, $150,000 may be appropriate for an oil company to be successful, whereas only $50,000 may be enough for a restaurant. In some cases, employing US workers can overcome a relatively small investment. For example, this office has had an E-2 visa approved in which the applicant invested as little as $26,000. The embassy official who reviewed the application and approved it noted that the reason that they were willing to approve the visa was because the applicant had invested in a company that was employing more than 6 US workers. The US government encourages investment as a means by which to stimulate the economy. Therefore, the South Asian community, which has proven their success in entrepreneurship and various business matters, should take advantage of this opportunity. This office encourages those who believe they may qualify for an investor visa to seek the assistance of a competent immigration attorney. ......................................................................................... Noaman is an attorney at Azhar & Azhar, PLLC. The information provided in this article is not immigration advice and should not be interpreted as immigration advice. This article is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. As always, readers should consult with an experienced immigration attorney before making any immigration decisions on their case.
The State Fair is here
– make sure you make it down to the Fair Ground for some fried butter and ferris wheel rides By Linda Sexton Beginning Sept. 24, the annual Texas State Fair is starting up again Dallas. With 24 fun-filled days, the fair is a highlight in the Texas fall season. Held at the Fair Park, where it has been held since 1886, the fair is the largest in the country according to annual attendance. With such a huge event starting in Dallas, mark this on your family’s calendar. Many longtime Texas State Fair goers have made it a tradition to attend the first day of Fair. Beginning with the ceremonial parade at noon that winds through downtown and heads to the fair grounds, they attend favorite events through the day and meet again for the official opening, which is topped off with a light show. The Great State Fair of Texas is truly a family affair. Whether you’re new to this game or a dedicated Fair-goer, attend the first or last day, there is something for everyone. With an emphasis on education as well as fun, be prepared for world-class shows, exhibits, concerts and rides. State fairs have always been a part of promoting the unique agricultural industry at state and local levels, while showcasing prizewinning livestock and homemade food. And the Texas State Fair is one of this country’s finest. Events and attractions unique to the Texas State Fair can be found each year, with some standards mentioned here. If you bringing the family, remember most everything to see or do is free after the price of admission. Food is only one reason to attend the Texas State Fair, and it’s a good one. Each year participants compete for the Most Creative and Best Taste category, which in recent years has resulted in new fried delights – remember the fried butter from last year? With so many wonderful foods to taste in the air-conditioned Food Court, don’t forget the world famous Fletcher’s corny dog (which are probably made from pork, but you may want to ask if they have beef) or giant hot cinnamon buns. From the Midway to kitchen demonstrations, food is a major theme and has to be sampled. Big Tex is 52 feet of Texas cowboy, greeting fair goers since 1952 and always a favorite of children. Other than his big Texas welcome, one of his jobs is to broadcast main events throughout the day, reminding visitors what’s coming up next. Each time Big Tex talks, he’s live, never a recording. The State Fair Auto Show is the biggest new car and truck show in the southwest with the newest models being featured. The Music Hall at Fair Park is showing Shrek the Musical. It runs from Sept. 28 through Oct. 17 (closed Mondays). Buying a ticket to the musical allows you free admission to the fair on the day of the performance. College football at the Cotton Bowl. Always on Saturday, these games really bring in the crowds. The season begins with Grambling State University vs. Prairie View A&M University on Sept. 25. Oct. 2 is the University of Texas Longhorns vs. University of Oklahoma Sooners game, or The Red River Rivalry. This traditional competition is called TXOU weekend; transforming the city to a flood of burnt orange and red. Dallas may see as many “Okies” as Texans, filling restaurants and hotels for flag-waving party. On Oct. 9, Texas Tech Univeristy plays Baylor University in the final game of the season.
WE ARE HIRING AUSTIN | NORTH TEXAS The Lone Star Crescent, fastest growing Muslim community paper in the South is hiring for following positions. For consideration, submit a proper letter of intent / resume to ads@myCrescent.com. Please write title of the position you're applying for in the subject line of the email. Candidates who do not follow these submission guidelines will not be considered. No Calls. ﯔﯔOutside Promotions Assitant: An outgoing and energetic person to manage promotions at stores / events. Must be availabe to work afternoon - evening on Fridays & Saturdays and have a reliable transportation to drive to various locations within North Dallas. Computer and Internet saavy a must. $8.00 per hour -1099. ﯔﯔOffice Sales Assistant: Work from your home. Excellent phone and computer skills a must. Should have phone and internet access. Must be able to provide call activity data. $7.50 hourly plus commission on sales. ﯔﯔCOMMUNITY PUBLISHER: Thinking about starting a paper in your neighborhood, but don't have a good team and resources? As a Community Publisher your dream can come true. With as little as 2-pages section in The Lone Star Crescent, you can launch your neighborhood section in the paper or your organization's newsletter. Ad as many pages as you like. Prepayment required. Serious inquiries only. Published monthly by Melanz, LLC. EOE.
At the Women’s Museum, an Institute for the Future, a new exhibit can be seen. Dreams of Flight: A Journey Through Air and Space, Sept. 24 - Oct. 17, focuses on achievements and advancements made by women in the fields of aviation, space travel, astrophysics, and science. More than 70 attractions can be found on The Midway, where you’ll find The Texas Star, the tallest Ferris wheel in the southwest along with Texas SkyWay, an aerial track that stretches 1,800 feet across the fair, giving the ultimate bird’s-eye view. Both are fair favorites. The Midway also features the Kidway with scaled-down rides for smaller guests. Birds of the World showcases feathered friends from around the globe and includes a singing showstopper. Four shows daily. Celebrity Kitchen can be found in the Creative Arts building, where celebrity chefs demonstrate all kinds of recipes during daily shows. Check out the Creative Arts, where ribbon-winners in more than 1,100 categories, including canning, quilts, photography, and crafts can be found. Contest kitchens feature daily competitions and cooking demos. At the Livestock barns, exhibitors at the Youth Livestock Auction of Champions compete. Shows and sales offer an array of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goats, poultry and exotic breeds. The Chevrolet Main Stage is an outdoor festival that is free to fair-goers. This season’s lineup can always be found at bigtex.com, and should be checked for last minute changes. This year’s scheduled performances include Josh Abbott Band on Saturday, Oct. 9 and Laura Bell Bundy on Saturday, Oct. 16. Seating is available on nearby grassy areas, low walls and steps, or bring your own.
With all of these activities, and many more that weren’t discussed, the State Fair is a must for all Texans, and it is a fun way to spend a day with your family and friends.
Publisher Melanz, LLC. P.O. Box 851764 Richardson, TX 75085 Editor Marium Mohiuddin marium@myCrescent.com (512) 657-7819 Layout & Graphics Hazrat Amin Business / marketing Inquiries Tel: (214) 843-1593 E: ads@myCrescent.com
TICKETS & INFO General Admission: $15 Kids under 48” tall: $11 Seniors 60 and over: $11 Children 2 and under: Free Seniors 60 and over: Free every Thursday (Sept. 30, Oct. 7 & Oct. 14) Early bird specials and season passes can be found on the Texas State Fair’s official website www://bigtex. com. Check out this website for daily calendar, food finder site, just about everything there is to know about the Texas State Fair, along with directions and a Fairground guide. Parking is a consideration, costing $10 if you park on the Fair Grounds. Valet is offered for $25. DART’s Green Line now stops at the Fair entrance. Possibly the best deal after a full day of seeing everything there is to see.
Ad Sales Consultant Rachel Rendish Cell: (903) 355-4579 EDITORIAL LETTERS / INQUIRIES / WRITING OPPORTUNITIES marium@myCrescent.com EVENTS: calendar@myCrescent.com CONTRIBUTORS
Kena Sosa, Zubair Fattani -PhD, Sakina Al-Amin, Ron Stern, Naeem Randhawa, Maryum Shaheed, Sonia Laflamme, Anum Hussain, Ruqayyah Khalifa, Komal Khan, Sonia Laflamme, Omar Usman, “Hazrat” Amin, Hassan Usmani, Jamal Saqib, Yasmin Turk, Robert Canright, Dr. Keisha Shaheed, Moazzam Ahmed The Lone Star Crescent is published monthly by Melanz, LLC. We welcome and encourage readers’ feedback and opinions. All materials, articles, photos, comments or samples submitted to the The Lone Star Crescent and/or via www. myCrescent.com will become property of the publisher and may be published at our discretion. The publisher paper takes no responsibility of claims made by advertisers, financial, legal, family and/ or educational advise in its content. Readers must check and inquire themselves. Join free online at www.myCrescent.com.
Prestigious NASA Fellowship For
nesreen Al-Smadi By Kena Sosa When her last child entered kindergarten, putting all three in school, and a husband working full-time, Nesreen Al-Smadi decided this was her time to strike and returned to school. Pairing her love for math and science, Al-Smadi decided to pursue a master’s degree in bioengineering; however, little did she know that these decisions would lead her to outer space. Al-Smadi grew up in Jordan, and in 1998, she came to the United States with her husband to the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex to raise their family. When her three children entered school, Al-Smadi decided to pursue her master’s degree at the University of Texas at Arlington, but it required her to pull off a juggling act – family life and studies. She took classes during the day while her children were in school so that she was available for her them when they were home. With everything coming together and her mind set on school, Al-Smadi chose a field of study that allowed her to use her work to help others; bioengineering would allow her to research cardiovascular diseases and cancer with hopes to advance their treatment. Al-Smadi then set her sights even higher and applied for the NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Fellowship. Even
Al-Smadi is striving to find a way to delay muscle loss and facilitate astronauts’ recuperation upon their return to Earth though she knew she was one in a long line of applicants, Al-Smadi was awarded the prestigious fellowship. She said she thinks she was chosen because her proposal was related to issues astronauts face today
– losing muscle mass (atrophy) while in space. This muscle atrophy is problematic when astronauts return. Through experimental simulations and other engineering techniques, Al-Smadi is striving to find a
way to delay this muscle loss and facilitate astronauts’ recuperation upon their return to Earth. Though the Fellowship will be monetarily helpful, its reputation will give Al-Smadi a heads up in her field. She said UTA has taught her well, and “through my years in college, the person I admired the most is Dr. Behbehani. Dr Behbehani is so humble, and he will go the extra mile to convey his knowledge. He is always there to help and maintain academic integrity in every step of his work.” Khosrow Behbehani, PhD, is a professor and the chairperson of the bioengineering department at UTA. Al-Smadi said she currently is applying for admission to the doctorate program in bioengineering at UTA which will begin in spring 2011. With the NASA fellowship under her belt, Al-Smadi said she hopes to one day win the Nobel Prize, maybe for curing cancer. With a supportive husband by her side, Al-Smadi said continuing her studies have exceled. She said that by doing so, it has made her an even better role model for her children. She said both her immediate family here and the rest of her family in Jordan are proud of her work, and she said she feels she also owes her success to them. “My parents played a huge role in my achievement. Ever since I was in elementary school, education was everything for them,” Al-Smadi said. ....................................................................... The Lone Star Crescent encourages education at all levels, scholarship, research, and leadership. Know anyone who excels in education? Share with us at dallas@myCrescent.com or call (214) 843-1593.
Briefs Muslim Day at Six Flags
In celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has booked Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington on Sept. 12, for Muslim Family Day 2010. Along with seven other locations, North Texas Muslims will be able to enjoy the Texas Giant and The Batman Ride, as well as eating as much funnel cake as possible (Ramadan will be over). For the past 10 years, Muslim Family Day slowly has established itself as a staple in the American Muslim community, attracting more than 100,000 in the past two years alone. The first Muslim Family Day, held in 2000 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, was organized by Tariq Amanullah. Amanullah worked on the 96th floor of World Trade Center, Tower 2, and was a victim of the attacks on 9/11. Through its different endeavors, ICNA strives to honor his memory of building bridges between communities. “We hope the religious season will be spiritually enhancing for Muslims around the world and across the US. We also extend congratulations to our Jewish friends, who will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah the same weekend of Eid Al-Fitr,” said Naeem Baig, Vice President for Public Affairs. ICNA is national organization that is committed to social services and interfaith activities. Further information on Muslim Family Day can be found at MuslimFamilyDay. com. ...................................................................................................................................................
FunAsia hosts Chand Raat Mela
With Eid ul-Fitr around the corner, many celebrations come hand-in-hand with the holiday, including chand raat. Celebrated the night before, chand raat allows people to gather to view and celebrate the sighting of the new moon. This year, FunAsia and Silver Club are hosting a free Chand Raat Mela on Thursday, Sept. 9, at the FunAsiA Richardson parking lot. The event boasts a concert with mega star and booths. More than 12,000 people are expected to attend. Please call Mohammed Virani at (214) 418-3163 or Rafiq Merchant at (214) 763-0082 for more details. ...................................................................................................................................................
IANT Quaranic Academy establishes scholarship fund
The Islamic Associations of North Texas (IANT) along with Salis Jibran’s family are seeking the support of the community as they try to establish a scholarship fund for three students who intend on attending IANT Quranic Academy (IQA). Earlier this year on Feb. 12, Jibran, a senior at Plano Senior High School was killed after he sustained a fatal head injury from a car accident. Jibran was a hafiz and attended IQA. The scholarship has been created to remember his work and passion and give the privilege of knowledge to another student. ...................................................................................................................................................
Day of Dignity and TMWF asked for fruits delivered
Be it apples, mangos, or cantaloupes, the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation wanted your whole, uncut, fresh fruit to donate to the less privileged of Dallas for the Day of Dignity on Aug. 28. With great success, TMWF, which had teamed up with Islamic Relief USA for this event, was able to collect 1,800 pieces of fruit, which were served at Masjid Al Islam in South Dallas. The annual Day of Dignity is an effort to serve thousands of homeless and underserved people in 22 cities. After eight years of organizing the event only during the month of Ramadan, Islamic Relief lengthened the Day of Dignity 2010 effort to 10 weekends and expanded it to 21 cities. This year the event begins on June 19 in South Dakota and the last event will be in December. “Day of Dignity is a great reminder to all of everyone, especially the youth, about the struggle of our neighbors,” said Seyed Mowlana, veteran Washington, D.C. coordinator. “We serve people who are just like us--the only difference is that they may not have a proper roof over their heads.” ...................................................................................................................................................
north dallas Main Eid ul-Fitr prayers will be at the Dallas Convention Center
Eid ul-Fitr prayers will be at the Dallas Convention Center in Hall F on 650 S. Griffin St. in Dallas on Friday, Sept. 10. Organized by the Islamic Association of North Texas and the Dallas Central Mosque, attendees are asked to arrive before 8 a.m., as the prayers will start at 9:30 a.m. To save time with parking issues, organizers are suggesting the use of DART rail, which will drop people off under the convention center. If you are going by moon sighting, please check with your masjid on the date, time, and location of eid prayers. ...................................................................................................................................................
Massachusetts masjid raises $40,000 for Pakistan relief
Article: The Wayland Masjid in Massachusetts’ fundraiser to provide relief for the flood victims of Pakistani raised more than $40,000. In conjunction with three other organizations – Pakistan Flood Relief Group (PFRG), Pakistan Association of Greater Boston, and Association of Pakistani Physicians of New England, the event was attended by 250 people and besides speakers it also included two screens that depicted the current conditions in Pakistan. Fareena Sultan, a professor from Northeastern University, gave a presentation with updated figures on the death toll and the number of people affected. As of press time, one-fifth of the country has been devestated with more than 1,400 dead, and the United Nations said it has received less than half of the $460 million it needs for relief efforts. The other speaker of the night was Dr. Nadeem Afridi, a physician from the Boston area who provided hands-on relief assistance in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. Dr. Afridi’s was able to inform the audience about the current situation as well and what help was still needed because his wife is in Pakistan. The organizers said they are hoping for another event, not to just raise money, but to provide awareness to the non-Pakistani community about the tragedy. “We think this is a start,” said Adnan Pathan, a member of PFRG. “We’re promoting one dollar a night event, when you come for taraweeh bring one dollar with you every night and we’ll send that money out to Pakistan.” Submit your community / organization briefs to dallas@myCrescent.com
From Page 01 >>> the director of the FACC Daycare. “To meet these goals and beliefs with respect to the child’s intellectual development, our approach encourages the problem-solving ability. Reading, writing, math, Arabic, Islamic studies, science, and social studies are important parts of the program and are always based on the level and interests of the individual child.” Hassan, the secondary school and Special Programs manager, is charged with planning for the middle and high school grades. “The middle and high school age is a delicate time – maintaining the highest quality instruction and resources to keep the students engaged while also training them to develop their character and faith to fully appreciate and respect the education they are receiving is the key to their success,” Hassan said during his speech at the event. The FACC grew out of a need to have an Islamic school in Collin County. When the Islamic Association of Collin County chose to discontinue the elementary school in the 2010-2011 school year, Collin County families searched for a full-time Islamic school for their children. In stepped Al-Furqaan Foundation, which was able to start FACC to fill the needed service of
full-time Islamic education to the under-served Collin County community. The academy is building a full-time Hifz and Islamic school offer quality instruction on the core subjects while integrating Qur’an and Arabic studies to embed the understanding and real appreciation of the Qu’ran in the minds of the students. The FACC is the first full-time Islamic school to offer a full range of educational services including a daycare, which started in early August for children age 0 month to 5 years, and an elementary school in the upcoming school year. The elementary school, which opened it’s doors on Aug. 23, currently offers kindergarten through 5th grade classes. The FACC is committed to adding one grade every year to build up to 12th grade class by the 2017-2018 school year. The members of the Collin County community are the pioneers in establishing prestigious Islamic Institutions such as the Islamic Association of Collin County, Islamic Association of Allen, East Plano Islamic Center and Islamic Center of Frisco; now it has an opportunity to become a pioneer in establishing the first full-time Islamic school in Collin County and reap the rewards for all its offerings in the future.
FurQaan aCademy CollIn CounTy 1227 W. mCdermoTT dr. allen, TX 75013
Punjammies Helping Women Rebuild Lives After Red Light Districts
By Marium F. Mohiuddin In 2004, “Born into Brothels” won the Academy Award for best documentary feature, and it shed a lit on an issue that we, sadly, already knew existed – the endless prostitution cycles in India. Though the problem is not limited to that county, the documentary followed seven children whose mothers worked in Sonagachi, Kolkata’s red light district. Giving the children cameras, the documentary got an exclusive, and innocent, look at their lives. Six years later, others are striving to rectify this huge problem – one such organization being the International Princess Project (IPP). IPP helps women trapped in the world of prostiitution by rebuilding their lives and empowering them to live free. Through several projects, IPP partners with other organizations to provide direct support to those women in need.
This is a big step forward for women who have “escaped form this life of horror,” and are left with few choices One such initiative is the Punjammies project. This project moves women who have been rescued or freed from a life of forced prostitution into an after-care facility where they are given an opportunity to learn a marketable skill and become a part of thriving business. The woman make pajama pants and T-shirts for sale, with most of the proceeds returning back to them because most of the sale efforts are done by volunteers. Made from colorful, intricatelypatterned, lightweight cotton, the Punjammies are made with an Indian design. Alicia Parchar, a sales associate who three years ago moved to Dallas from California, said she became interested in the Punjammies after seeing a booth set up at her church. From there she signed on to be Punjammies volunteer and has helped set up tables for other showings, and recently began hosting Punjammie parties to showcase the products and educated at-
tendees about the injustice these women are facing. “I have been getting a great response from the Dallas community,” Parchar said, adding that many women have asked her to come and how at their churches or yoga studios. “This is a great project because it is run by volunteers, with the money going directly to the women.” Karla Schilling, a sales representative and a McKinney resident, attended one of Parchar’s parties and said “[The Punjammies] are really cute, and when I saw them, I wanted to buy them instantly.” Schilling not only bought some of the pajama bottoms, but also some of the T-shirts, which she describes as being light and comfortable. According the Punjammies website, each Punjammie sold creates a fair-trade wage, a deposit into a savings account, financial support for holistic care, and the capacity building for more women to enter the after-care center. This is a big step forward for women who have “escaped form this life of horror,” and are left with few choices. Aside from emotional and psychological trauma, women formerly working as prostitutes cannot easily register for school, return to the safety and security of their families, or apply for jobs. This leaves an after-care center as one of the only ways for them to rebuild their lives. Besides providing these women with work, aftercare involves quality medical care, emotional safety, education and the tools to create a new way of life. Parchar said she and her husband are globally-minded individuals who enjoy traveling, but she feel this project has helped her tap into a deeper concern she has always had which is preventig injustice and helping those who have faced it overcome. “Through a simple purchase, you can make an impact and a difference.” For more information about Punjammies by the International Princess™ Project, visit their website at punjammies.com
With Charm & Plenty of Flavors Cafe istanbul can easily handle large Crowds By marIum F. moHIuddIn Hoping to support a local restaurant and wishing to eat something besides American cuisine, my friend chose Cafe Istanbul for his birthday dinner. With more than 10 people assembled, the party was nervous that a restaurant couldn’t handle such a big party, but we were wrong. Not only did Cafe Istanbul handle our finicky ordering, but the wait staff did so with grace and humor. Tucked in a corner of Inwood Village, Cafe Istanbul’s menu successfully blends the flavors of more than 30 cultures and nations, but stands as the only Turkish/Anatole restaurant in the region. The small restaurant, which has just expanded to Shops at Legacy, boasts a large menu that tries to cover dishes from Greece to Asia to the Middle East. Decorated in the typical traditional fare from murals depicting the landscapes of Turkey to small beads of Nazar Boncugu, Turkish Evil Eye Bead Amulets, the quaint restaurant authentifies the experience through its decorations and ambiance. There is also a vine-covered patio out front for dining. Cafe Istanbul is the continuation of Chef Erol Girgin’s dream, who once owned Mangal, a gourmet restaurant that sat 1,500 on a patio spot in Ankara, Turkey. When Girgin moved to Dallas in 1995, he opened the Inwood restaurant. Though the menu incorporates many dishes and may seem overwhelming, the knowledgeable staff was able to
guide us through. The first thing we ordered was hummus, but meze might be a better choice as it allows diners to pick any of the following four starters: dolmas, hummus, babaganush, patlican salatasi, or tabuleh. The hummus was finely made, but not as creamy as some of the diners were hoping for. Another disappointment was the bread which was flat and uninteresting. Though Cafe Istanbul prides itself in making two types of breads – levened and unleavened, they were lacking the texture and fluffiness we were accustomed to, and were hoping for. Pide, which is a round flat wheat bread, is an example of their unleavened bread, and it used as a crust for lahmacun ve pideler, Turkish pizza. For the main course, most of our party went with kebabs, be it Ezmeli Kebab, ground lamb meat, or Islim Kebap, lamb shank cooked slowly; everyone was satisfied with their choices. The meat was wellcooked, well-seasoned, and came in large proportions. The menu also featured some chef specials, which I unfortunately took a stab at. Though the dish of cooked ground beef served over eggplant puree sounded enticing, the puree was too salty and took away from the dish. That being said, my friend’s chef special order of chicken stuffed with pistachios an cheese was moist and delectable. I think I stole more off his
plate than ate from my own. Though our party skipped on desert, an earlier visit there with another birthday group allowed me to taste their Turkish pastries. When it comes to baklava, I am finicky about texture, sweetness, and staleness. Unfortunately, Cafe Istanbul didn’t live up to high expectations. Along with serving a wide variety of alcohol beverages, belly dancers perform on Friday and Saturday night at the Cafe Istanbul at Inwood Village location. Keep this in mind if it’s not something you may be comfortable with. If you head to Cafe Istanbul, even with a large party, choose wisely, though most of the menu items will be fantastic
with large proportions to satisfy your appetite.
Inwood village 5450 West lovers lane dallas, TX 75209-4297 (214) 902-091 Shops at legacy 7300 lone Star drive # 160 C Plano, TX 75024 (972) 398-2020 www.cafe-istanbul.net
If You Demand It, ‘Mooz-lum’ Will Come By Sakina Al-Amin What do the following movies have in common: “Transformers,” “Whip It,” and “Mooz-lum”? Well, all three films feature star-studded actors and were shot in the state of Michigan. What makes the “MOOZ-lum” movie stand out from the others is that it is directed by and specifically targeted toward American Muslims. “MOOZ-lum” is the brainchild of Qasim Basir, a graduate of Wayne State University and a budding director. It is a semi-autobiographical account of his Islamic upbringing and experience as a Muslim college student during the 9/11 tragedy and aftermath. With the aid of his family members, Basir put his film studies major to work in 2007 when Link TV announced their One Nation, Many Voices Filmmaker Competition. He created a short drama
called “Glimpse,” submitted the video to be judged, and won the contest for that genre. Eventually this victory led Basir to be approached by one of the judges who wanted to know if he was interested in extending the short video into a feature-length film. The rest, as they say in showbiz, is history. The impressed judge from the Muslim filmmaker competition was no other than Danny Glover. It was through Basir and his interaction in the year after the contest that he was able to land Glover, one of the most respected names in Hollywood, to be in the film. Along with Glover, Nia Long and Evan Ross, son of pop music icon Diana Ross, are also headlining in the movie. During an interview with radio personality Michael Eric Dyson, Basir explained the reasoning behind wanting to create this movie: “I imagine that being
“I imagine that being Muslim now is very similar to being African American in the ‘40s-’50s, or Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. There’s this feeling of being the other; there’s a blanket description of Muslims based on a very small minority, and it’s not fair.” Muslim now is very similar to being African American in the ‘40s-’50s, or Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. There’s this feeling of being the other; there’s a blanket description of Muslims based on a very small minority, and it’s not fair.” He goes on to elaborate on the chosen title of the movie, implying that it is a pun and an analogy because, “the mispronunciation of the word has to do with the misunderstanding of the people who say it.” Basir’s intention is not to be a speaker for American Muslims via “MOOZ-lum,” rather he is merely telling a story through film. The young director acknowledges, “people practice their faiths in different ways. I am not a representative of all Muslims.” Nor, going by the sincerity heard in his voice, does he want to be. Although “MOOZ-lum” boasts big celebrity names, the film may not be visiting a theater near you because it is up to the masses to create the demand for the film to be shown in their local cities. Basir and the “MOOZ-lum” production team have taken to Facebook to spread the word and rally forces for this purpose. The “MOOZ-lum: The Movie” fanpage already has more than
55, 000 followers, and the movie trailer itself has garnered more than 100,000 views on Youtube in just two weeks. Still, mere clicks of a mouse are likely not enough to force thousands of theaters to feature “MOOZ-lum.” This is why the production team has created a profile for the movie on Eventful.com. Muslims who really want to see the film in their communities will need to “Demand It!” on the site, entering their city zip code and age. Once enough individuals do just that, theaters will have no choice but to give the people what they want. As it stands now, only Chicago and New York have demonstrated sufficient desire and demand to have “MOOZ-lum” featured. Will your community be an integral part of bringing a first-of-its-kind Muslim movie to the masses? Does a film such as “MOOZ-lum” deserve to see the light of day? Would your non-Muslim associates benefit from seeing Muslims in a relatable and positive light? That answer rests in the hands, actually, the actions, of American Muslims.
16 From Page 01 >>> linger among the palace. Alhambra was a three-hour drive from Seville, and most of that drive was spent enjoying the amazing countryside. Alhambra palace is by far one of the world’s most renowned sites for Islamic Architecture. When you visit the palace, you will be met with walls that reach the sky, keeping this beauty hidden. Be patient, once you enter get past the walls, you’ll find what you’ve been searching for. It is both intoxicating and enchanting; it will take your breath away. You will marvel at the exquisite intricacy of your surroundings and as a Muslim, be proud that the palace still stands today. Take your time when visiting Alhambra; the experience is not to be rushed, and you will want to sit and appreciate it. Granada is a pleasant city with
people who do not hesitate to help tourists. Be sure to stock up on shopping; Granada has the best prices. The spice markets are not to be missed. Second piece of advice, a trip to Spain is not complete until you’ve had some churros with hot chocolate and enjoyed the best ice cream in town at Los Italianos ice cream parlor. Our trip’s last stop was to Cordoba where we were able to see the majestic Great Mosque of Cordoba. Built in the 8th century, the mosque lived on for three more centuries, as a place of paramount importance among Muslims in Spain. The first encounter with the mosque is its giant arches, which reach out as far as the eye can see. Eight hundred and fifty-six arches to be exact. It has been said, “the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description.” After witnessing it’s grandeur, you can understand why one would be at a loss for words. Walking through the arches you couldn’t help but feel the spirit of those who came before, and if you listen closely you might be able to hear the whisperings of the muezzins call to prayer. Our next stop in Cordoba was the
Archeological Museum of Cordoba, which contains artifacts from the pre-historic age to the Islamic empire. It was informative, and the kids loved how interactive it was. Third piece of advice, once outside of the museum, sit under the shade and refresh with a bowl of cool gazpacho soup in one of the many cafes. Spain was an amazing trip and one that everyone should try and schedule and do. So much pride was put into making the mosques and palaces; they are so beautiful and they reminded me of only one thing – “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.”
Eid May Fall On Sept. 11 We Shouldn’t Be Scared To Celebrate
What’s Keeping Our Unity At Bay?
Dr. Keisha Shaheed
implication being, we shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate because somehow we are guilty by association. We as American Muslims shouldn’t stand for this. We bear no responsibility for those heinous acts. We suffered along with, and in many cases more than, every other American during that heartrending time. And Muslims the world over have been suffering ever since. We owe no apologies, we accept no guilt. We are happy to educate, but refuse to kowtow to ignorant masses regarding a religious observance that is sacred. Some will argue that a backlash will be inevitable. We must not let external factors dictate our reality or our behavior. As it has happens for 14 centuries past, so again this year, Eid ul-Fitr is on the 1st day of Shawwal, the 10th month on the Islamic lunar calendar. May we have a blessed month of Ramadan and a joyous Eid. .......................................................................
By Hassan Usmani
Dr. Keisha Shaheed is a Pediatrician licensed in Texas and New Mexico
Is today Shawwal 1, 1431 or Sept 11, 2010? That may seem like a stupid question to ask. But as it turns out, this year, those dates might happen to coincide. And the core of the debate over whether there is some insensitivity in Muslims celebrating one of their two most Holy days on Sept. 11, is related directly to that seminal question. What day is it? The Islamic, Muslim or Hijri calendar consists of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. Being a purely lunar calendar, it is not synchronized with the seasons. With an annual drift of 11 or 12 days, the seasonal relation is repeated approximately each 33 Islamic years. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is ushered in based on the lunar calendar as well. I don’t think there would ever be debate over whether it is appropriate to sound the Shofar and celebrate being written into the book of life, if that day happened to coincide with a solar calendar day where a historic tragedy occurred. In addition to the lack of understanding of the calendar, there seems to be a more troubling aspect to this debate. There appears to be a collective guilt being placed on more than 1 billion Muslims for what took place 9 years ago in this country. The
Eid ul-Fitr Will Be A Bitter Sweet Day By Maryum Shaheed The most days we ever get in a given year is 366. Three out of four years we only get 365. In less than 400 days, every single event we’ve ever experienced has taken place. All 6.2 billion of our birthdays fall on one of the 366 days. Everyone’s wedding anniversaries, graduations, births, deaths, baptisms, spirit walks, burials, worst break-ups, best days ever, declarations of peace, declarations of war, triumphant mountain climbs, military invasions, Olympic medal wins, World Series victories, religious ceremonies, wedding proposals, tragic car accidents, cancer remissions, moon walks, and terrorist attacks fall within just 366 days. Aug. 8 is my brother’s birthday. It’s also the day, 5 years ago, when the only grandfather we’d ever known passed away. August 8, 2005 was hard on all of us, but definitely hardest on my brother. Now, each year his birthday comes and there is a bit of a cloud over it. We celebrate with him and tease him about how old he’s getting. We also remember my grandfather. We remember the tall, imposing man who always had a little extra cash, some candy, and a smile for us. We tell our favorite stories about him and repeat the stories he told us about growing up in Arkansas, about serving in World War II, and about raising his three boys after our grandmother passed away. It’s a bittersweet day to be sure, but we do our best to savor the sweetest and smile through the bitterness. It’s difficult, but we do it as much for my grandfather as for my brother. We figure the best way to remember him is by living joyously and well; by not dwelling in past sorrows, but celebrating the life we’ve been granted and the hope that
each new day brings. This year America’s third most popular religious holiday, Eid ul-Fitr, may fall on Sept. 11. When I realized that, I felt a little heartsick. I don’t know how I can celebrate on Sept. 11. I still remember where I was and what I was doing on the day we were attacked. I remember my co-workers and me watching the break room television in stunned silence. I remember feeling the tears stream down my face before I even realized I was crying. I remember the first time I went back to New York City after the attacks. I wouldn’t let myself go to Ground Zero, knowing the site would be emotionally overwhelming. Now, nine years later, Sept. 11, 2010, may be a day of celebration for millions of Americans along with more than 1 billion people worldwide. As I prepare myself for the bittersweet joy of Eid day, I think of my brother. Every year for the rest of his life, his birthday will be the anniversary of his grandfather’s death – every year. Just this one year, I can do what he will have to do for the next 50 years. I can honor and remember those who we’ve lost, while celebrating what remains – the hope of the days and years to come. ....................................................................... Maryum Shaheed is an EFL teacher from North Texas. She has spent the past several years travelling, working, and living abroad. Her travels have taken her to more than a dozen countries on four continents. She now resides in Central Flordia.
Pick any place that is serving iftar, whether it’s an iftar party at someone’s home or a communal feast at the masjid, and you’ll see Muslims breaking their fast with joy, laughter, and even frustration, because there is always someone holding out on the samosas or kibbi. You find all sorts of people with different backgrounds, degrees, cultural affiliations, and ethnicities sitting together and eating at the masjid. What is so special about this month of Ramadan that for a short period of time we can actually exhibit some elementary form of unity? Wanting to answer this question, I did some personal reflection and some research. Though this is an analysis at the most basic level, I believe that because our minds are so preoccupied with hunger most of us don’t have time to meddle in arguments or to dispute futile issues. We simply want to eat, and thus, after 13 or more
By “Hazrat” Amin “Let’s have some fun,” he said with a smile so big, I could see his wisdom tooth. I sat there thinking about the list of my projects as long as the mighty Mississippi River. “Didn’t he just come back from work?” I thought as I finished my Caramel Latte Frappuccino. “You should hang out with your kids,” I suggested, but I am not sure if he was capable of listening to advice. He works hard, and fun keeps him motivated. Hanging out with Ahsan at Starbucks, and venting about work and life was enough fun, now what more does he want? We became friends less than a year ago, but it feels like we have been buddies forever. He has that relaxed and careless personality that makes you feel that things are all right and you should live like there is no tomorrow. “You’ve been working so hard bro, let’s have a blast tonight.” He was already texting me from his car, so we could go somewhere and chill. Next stop … the AMC at Firewheel in Garland. I got home at 1:30 a.m., “took care” of Isha prayers as fast as I possibly could. I dragged myself out of the bed two hours after Fajr, thanks to a loud argument between my kids over a straw. “If I had slept early, waking up would have been more fun,” I murmured before heading out to manage the crisis of the straw! I arrived few minutes late to the meeting on school improvement. I had already planned to call in a sore throat and just take notes. The meeting agenda was to make education “appealing and creative” for students. “We are in the age of gaming and apps,” Ms. Khan said. “The new learning tools provide a gaming experience to keep kids interested in learning,” Dr. Ahmed’s face lit up as he injected his two cents. “Learning will be so much fun,” added Ms. Patel, she was great at finishing other people’s thought. In fact, she was so good at it, that people start to think that every great idea is her idea. I smiled, admiring her skills of never failing to take credit for other people’s work, but did she just say fun and learning? I had this strange feeling that something is really wrong with this picture. Education should increase the level of intellect in the society. Here I am sitting with experts, who want to “dumbify” education to meet pop culture. Yes, I know “dumbify”
hours of fasting, food seems to bring us all together no matter how “different” we are. Additionally, unity is a word that has gained popularity rather recently, specifically post 9/11. I’ve found that the topic unity wasn’t the most discussed topic prior to 9/11. The topic simply didn’t matter that much back then. Muslims in the west just existed. Most of us went with our lives without ever being questioned about what Islam was, who we were, what we stood for, and what we were doing when we weren’t at work contributing to the fabric of society. Then, 9/11 occurred and as the spotlight shined on us, we were caught scratching our heels. All of a sudden the world wanted to know who we were and what we were doing! As we scrambled to defend ourselves and explain to the perplexed audience, who was being fed more fallacies than truth, we realized just how important unity was and how much... Continues on page 18 >>>
is not a word, but isn’t it fun to use it here? When the U.S. is lagging behind almost every industrialized nation in math, science, and reading, our solution is to add more fun to make it easier to learn. And while we are at it, let’s also replace grading system with smiley icons so kids don’t get a headache understanding their grades. As an icing on the cake, let’s not hurt their feelings and spoil their fun if they fail. Just tell them “you did great” with a wink icon! We will have an army of lazy, dumb, and naive children taking on competition from China, India, Russia, Brazil, and Europe. I bet it will be a lot more fun, if we just let those nations run the country – it’s just too much work to develop icons, apps, and games for legislation and policy making. How about this? At least until the social, political, economic, massive trade deficit, corruption, health, and violent crises around the world are over, we should, maybe, re-evaluate the meaning of fun. As I understand, fun is an activity or series of activities requiring minimum intellectual engagement, maximum self-pleasure, neither any productivity, nor any tangible benefits. What if, temporarily, we redefine fun as endeavors that help out individuals and society? I don’t want to be too radical or sound crazy, but what if, temporarily of course, fun is about acts that benefits others? It could be cool and fun to excel in intellect, research, and learning. Using the brain to solve and learn sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? But in the meeting, I did not say a word, just nodded, I remembered smiling few times. I did not even call in the sore throat excuse because I was speechless at the intellectual insanity. Ms. Patel took the liberty of incorporating my earlier proposal to fund the fun and learning project. Ironically, I kept thinking of a fun way to illustrate that proposed “upgrades” are not necessary and may do the opposite of what they are trying to achieve. They definitely do not make us competitive. It’s not fun, being out of ideas! I kept pounding the tip of my pen on the pad as I work on a perfect statement in my mind. Suddenly the phone vibrated as my wife’s text arrived. “Aaya and Kamil are coming over with kids. Can you bring some snacks and a movie for the kids. It’s gonna be fun.”
Helping Children With Three Layers Of Mind Development By Moazzam Ahmed In the first chapter of “The Psychology of Living”, Virginia Dunstone talks about how our minds develop. I see a parallel in this to the three types of nafs our Shuyukh talk about in purification of the heart: nafs-ulammara, nafs-ul-lawama and nafs-ul-mutmainna. This information is key in raising children and organizing youth groups (Any MYNA organizers reading this?). Dunstone says that our minds develop in three phases that correlate to three layers: ﯔﯔFirst layer/phase is where we learn to fulfill our basic needs: survival, food, shelter etc. (animal instincts). ﯔﯔSecond layer of the mind governs pleasure, pain, and understanding of the physical world. This is the layer where we learn to filter out certain information and keep other information. ﯔﯔThe third layer is where abstract thinking occurs, the place of unlimited possibilities and expanded thinking. This is also the higher self that breaks loose of our animal instincts etc. This layer also helps us develop empathy and compassion for self and others. When a child is conceived, he/she begins to make up his view of the World even when he/she is in the womb. This is why our shuyukh encourage for us to talk
to the baby before it’s born, not to watch or interact with negative images, movies etc., and for parents to increase compassion towards each other. A slight tangent worth mentioning at this point is what a renowned Muslim naturopath recently said: what the mother eats or drinks during pregnancy is key for the nourishment and development of the baby. He recommended that mothers NOT fast during the month of Ramadan if they are pregnant or nursing. He said that fetus’ get certain nourishment through the mother that would not be there if she were fasting. By the time the child is 12 months old, he/she develops his sensory-motor system. Dunstone says that the child grows more in this aspect if he/she is kept out of play pens and walkers and swings. So it is better for them to crawl on the floor on their own and expand on their own and learn more than they would in constrained objects. Then, until age 6, it is crucial that the child develops his/her imagination. This is the part that if encouraged correctly, can lead to a stronger second layer of the brain. She also says that unassembled toys such as blocks, crayons, putty etc. are better for this age so the child can learn to make his/her own objects rather than play with pre-made things, which limits the expansion of the brain and the development of the third layer.
At age 15, children notice a sense of urgency inside them: they notice that something tremendous is about to happen to them and they start looking within to form ideals and at the same time, get this, they start looking for role models. Fathers, uncles, aunts, mothers, sisters, friends of older siblings etc. etc. anyone who is a genuine character with values and heart. Yup, you heard that right – heart! Youth age 15 look for people with values and a heart, not a cool car or a nice job or a high IQ (although I’m sure intelligence is up there, too). If they find someone like this, they have tremendous potential to expand their mind and reach their potential; they engage with the third level of their brain. But if they don’t find anyone, their hearts close up and they turn to the second level and so they turn to celebrities and superficial sports heroes and popularity contests etc. etc. This also goes with the teaching of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), to befriend our kids when they turn 14 (first 7 years is nurturing, second 7 is playing with them and third 7 is being there for them as friends). Dunstone says that the lack of genuine heroes in the U.S. society is responsible for 95 percent Americans falling back to the second layer of their brain. I wonder what that percentage is for the Muslims. This seems like a good model for parents and youth group organizers to look
into. Let’s help our kids develop the three layers of their mind and then make sure we’re there for them ourselves at least when they turn 14/15 so they have the potential to attain nafs-ul-mutmainna inshaAllah. ....................................................................... Moazzam Ahmed enters the leadership and change management field with 14 years of IT industry experience as a Solutions Architect and Process effectiveness engineer. Ahmed has worked with various non-profits including Islamic Relief, ISNA, and the local masajid as development coordinator, steering committee chair, and strategy consultant for more than 10 years. He is founder and director of www.Muslim-calendar.com, an initiative to help the Muslim community improve on event organizing processes. Ahmed has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is currently enrolled at Seattle University in an organization development master’s program. He aims to work with the Muslim community in discovering and addressing issues around empowerment, effective learning and growth. Ahmed lives in Seattle with his wife and 2 children.
From page 17 >>> our Ummah lacked it. So post 9/11, we began to see these tsunami-sized waves of lectures, workshops, and conferences revolving around the theme of unity. Scholars explained how important unity is to our survival, and how we needed to ascertain our situation and then work towards a unified Muslim Ummah. Yet, here we are nine years after, still baffled, un-united, and separated by the evils that we chose to live by. However, there is hope. I think we can attain unity through a different approach. I am no scholar, but I believe sometimes it is effective to approach a solution by working backwards. For the most part, we have been trying to achieve unity by trying to understand the Qur’an verses and hadiths that mention the dire need for unity. Sadly enough, it hasn’t gotten us far. I figured it might be helpful to work backwards trying to outline the factors that prevents us from being united and then working against these characteristics individually. With the help of an intelligent and sincere friend who shared his sociology background with me, a rudimentary measure of how to work towards unity at the individual level was developed. I realized that at every khutbah that addressed unity, we were advised by our knowledgeable khateebs that we needed to love our brother for the sake of Allah SWT. Though that statement is entirely correct, human beings need things to be broken down for them. Therefore, we came up with three basic variables that prevented unity, and they are as follows: racism, personal biases, and religious differences. These three variables can brew hate in such a manner that for most of us, fascism is the desired course of action when it comes to dealing with your brothers and sisters. I personally didn’t understand the personal meaning of racism until it was defined by Imam Zaid Shakir. At the “Pearls of Quran” retreat in Washington, D.C.,
during Fall 2009, Shakir explained how the first racist was Iblees and then related that to how being racist was a sin. When Iblees was commanded to bow down to Adam, Iblees refused. Iblees complained that Adam was only made out of clay and was a mortal, where as he was immortal and made out of fire. Iblees based his decision on the external characteristics of Adam. He did not know how pious or devout Adam was, but because he was made of clay, Iblees was clearly superior. This is racism in its basic level that the external characteristics of one’s exterior outweigh another. In essence racism is a simple categorization tool that is used to separate people based on race, skin, or cultural differences. So, because Ibless was the first racist, his action made racism a sin, as it is unanimously agreed that Iblees doe not help us gain good deeds, rather, sins are his specialty. Consequently you see blunt racism at the Masjid level. The black muslims that are part of the Nation of Islam are considered apostates when the majority of us don’t even know that they are Sunni Muslims now! The Pakistani/Indians are always enduring some political struggle against the Arabs, and if things don’t work out, the Arabs just go and build another masjid, and vice versa. We see many Arabs promoting Arab supremacy because Islam was born in Arabia. No one ever thinks that basing a decision on racist incentives is a sin. Calling someone a stereotypical/derogatory term based on race is a sin. Racism divides and cuts our community apart faster than a hot knife slicing through butter. Iblees wins the battle against unity every day with this simple tool called racism. Our general biases on issues are also one way we prevent unity. Indian and Pakistani Muslims, practically the same thing, use nationalism as a tool to separate and build distinct identities. It is considered shameful that Sudanese and Yemenis are Arabs, and there are people who will go far enough to disqualify them of their cultural ethnicity. These are just a few cultural
biases we tend to hold; beware that there are so many more. Why do we find people of different socioeconomic backgrounds unwilling to socialize and work together for the greater good? We base intelligence on how well Allah SWT blesses people’s bank accounts. We put our full efforts into any stereotype or bias we can conjure up to detach us from those we think are inferior to us. Again, these biases are used as a tool to elevate one’s status above another making others feel inferior. The last variable that holds us back from attaining unity are the religious differences between Muslims. Nowadays, being a Muslim doesn’t hold any weight. You are a Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, Bora Muslim, etc. The word Muslim has just become a suffix. It matters now whether you follow one of the mainstream schools or one of the minority or regionally induced schools of thought. In 2004, the King of Jordan held an extremely progressive convention inviting famous scholars from all around the world to answer three questions. The question that pertains to this article that was answered at the convention was “What is a Muslim?” The answer can be found at the following website” www.ammanmessage.com. I highly recommend anyone reading this article to visit the site. They specifically recognized the validity of all 8 mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi’a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic theology (Ash’arism); of Islamic mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who is a Muslim. To make it even more difficult on us, they forbade takfir (the practice of declaring someone an unbeliever, a grave sin indeed) between Muslims. These answers have much more detail to them and can be found on the site. Nevertheless, for practical purposes, a Muslim is Muslim. There is no reason to try to elevate one group’s status above another, because only Allah knows who is pious and who is not. It is also our not our job to declare individuals or communities as apostates. Finally, to overcome these char-
acteristics is not easy, because for many of us, they are inherent in us. It takes sincere effort and an intention that is aligned to pleasing Allah SWT. We should consciously try to avoid racism and biases and continuously ask Allah for endurance in this task and protection from Iblees’ potent influence. All these efforts start at the individual level. You may be the one in a group that stops and reminds your brothers or sisters that harsh words or actions against others based on biases is not only unfair, but also wrong. We need to remember that when we exclude one or more groups, we are also alienating ourselves from them. You may be the victim of racism or biases, but if you stay strong and avoid retaliation, you may be the light that antagonist needs to change his outlook on things. I remind myself first and foremost, and then you, that we are all accountable and responsible for our actions. We cannot blame our upbringing or social backgrounds for the wrongs we have committed against our own Muslims brothers and sisters. I also apologize if my candid honesty upset anyone, because that was not my intent. Lastly, if we wish to see a united Muslim Ummah in the future, than the peace and love has to start within each and every one of us. ....................................................................... Hassan Usmani graduated from Texas A&M University in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in Science in Economics. Originally from Houston, he is currently residing in Cleveland, OH, and studying medicine at Case Western Reserve University. He is also involved with Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) and writes articles for Livestrong.com