Detroit Community — Rebuilding Neighborhoods and a New Mosque

Second Annual National Arab American Service Day a Resounding Success

Detroit—May 20—ACCESS, in coordination with Motor City Blight Busters and numerous sponsors, held an energetic “Arab American Service Day” this past weekend to spur redevelopment of Detroit and to open lines of cooperation and communication with other ethnic organizations.

This year at least 14 different cities from San Francisco to Lackawanna had programs designed to be a part of Arab American Service Day.

Last year was the first annual Arab American Service Day, which held synchronized service days across the nation—the Detroit portion of the event involved park and public school cleanup efforts in Mexicantown. This year, ACCESS changed the focus to cooperation with the African American community, helping a blighted neighborhood but this time focusing on helping a single family instead of helping institutions.

250 volunteers got up early Saturday morning and travelled to northern Detroit to rebuild a battered neighborhood as a part of this Service Day. The event involved the demolition and carting away of three burned-out buildings—broken into bits of debris by bulldozers before the volunteers began to work—the creation of a mural, and some help to a family that was building a new house in the midst of the destroyed buildings.

The event was well coordinated, starting at 9 a.m. at Motor City Blight Buster’s headquarters and then moving after registration and a brief orientation and pep talk to the target neighborhood, which was only a few blocks away. Participants received T-shirts and keychains commemmorating the event. Youths received 7 hours towards their mandatory community service requirements.

The unpleasant atmosphere of the blighted neighborhood was shown by an ongoing police investigation which was occurring only a block away from the target neighborhood—a dozen anxious onlookers watched as a police man spoke from next to his cruiser.

This year’s Service Day was done in coordination with Motor City Blight Busters (MCBB), headed by John J. George, an extremely dynamic and charismatic man who has dedicated himself to revitalizing Detroit neighborhoods by demolishing and removing burned-out and unused buildings. Mr. George began his work 18 years ago, in the words of one of his coworkers, volunteer crew leader Zachary Hurd, by working out of the back of a car with shovels and picks to tear down a crackhouse.

Now Mr. George and those who work beside him like Mr. Hurd have built Motor City Blight Busters (MCBB) into a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation which conducts the same work on a much larger scale.

Mr. George is deeply motivated by his religious faith as a Catholic. He exclaimed during the event that “the Lord is shining down on us today!” He says that the purpose of his work is to remove the bad energy from neighborhoods and replace it with good energy, and intends his work to be in imitation of Jesus’ (as) work, who was a carpenter. He says that when you give, you receive back ten-fold, but that what comes back to you comes in a different form.

MCBB maintains a website ( and a program for car donations and house donations, and claims to have built hundreds of new homes, demolished hundreds of gutted homes, and renovated hundreds of homes as well. He explains that his organization has partnered with several other organizations in the past, including Habitat for Humanity.
Mr. George explains that when he first came to the Service Day target neighborhood a few days earlier, the street had been completely flooded with a standing pool of water, there were three burned out shells of buildings directly next to the new building that Mr.
Dr. Adnan Hammad, the Director of Community Health and Research of ACCESS, said that “this is a beautiful project,” with different communities coming together, and that in fact all of us are in the same boat. He said that as communities grow larger and larger, it is increasingly important for them to network and work together.

About 50 young women in hijab participated in the event—truly it was a wonderful sight to see such young and pious women working purely to help others and working together with perhaps all the races of man represented and working together in cooperation and friendship.
The site of focus on Saturday was a blighted neighborhood just south of the intersection of Grand River and Telegraph roads.
Judging from the smiles, cooperation and laughter of all in attendance, and judging based on the focussed work the volunteers did, ACCESS was correct to reorient the project—this engendered a deep and sincere sense of affection between all of the many diverse workers and beneficiaries of the program.

Many large organizations participated in Saturday’s event, including among others Loew’s, Home Depot, Life for Relief and Development, ACCESS, Motor City Blight Busters, volunteers from the University of Michigan Dearborn and Eastern Michigan University. Also present were two representatives (Lois Nembhard and Amy Hetrick) of the Corps for National and Community Service, who fund the Americorps program which helps newly graduated volunteers to repay $4,725 of their student debts—ACCESS has about 25 Americorps volunteers, who earn at most a $10,600 stipend for a year of work.

Muslim organizations who participated included YMA (Young Muslims of America), which is associated with the Islamic Center of America on Ford Road.

ACCESS contact people for the event were Jamie Kim and Arwa Algharazi, who did a great job communicating with the media. Also present were several very high level staffers of ACCESS, including Taleb Salhab, the National Outreach Director, and Hannan Deep, ACCESS’s Director of Communications.

Everyone who attended was proud to be present and showed so much happiness to be able to participate in such a positive occasion.

GBIC’s Grand Opening a Success

Grand Blanc—May 20—The Grand Blanc Islamic Center, located at 1479 Bladwin Road (close to the Genesys Medical Center between Grand Blanc and Fenton roads on Baldwin Rd), held a large, very well-organized and successful grand opening this Saturday.

Roughly 400 people (about half non-Muslim) were present for the gathering, which provided an open invitation to Flint-area Muslims and non-Muslims. In attendance were several of Southeast Michigan’s prominent imams (including Imam Moosa of the Bloomfield Unity Center, Imam Ali of the Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs (MCWS—the Canton mosque), and Shaykh Ahmad (hafiz) Mabrouk of the Bloomfield Unity Center).

Fluid Visions, owned by Mr. Jameel Syed, coordinated all of the logistics for the event, generating news interest and stories (even reaching to local ABC television news) and inviting reporters from the ethnic and mainstream media to attend. The dapper twenty-something Mr. Syed, who claims GBIC imam al-Galaeini as his teacher, conducted an extremely polished event; with his fast words, smooth shave, mirror sunglasses, cologne and blue suit, he looked as much like a hollywood agent as a mosque’s representative. Mr. Syed also tried to buck the trend of centuries of Muslim tradition by insisting that every step of the grand opening happen on time, which in fact he managed to do with some success after cajoling Imam al-Galaeni and others to adhere to the schedule.

In describing the event and the mosque itself, Mr. Syed and GBIC board-member Dr. Hesham Gayar emphasized several important points. They emphasized first—in response to rumored disquiet among the Flint Islamic Center’s (FIC) leadership over the new local masjid—that the GBIC is not intended to compete with the Flint Islamic Center on Corunna road—as evidence they noted that two GBIC board members also serve on the board of the FIC (Dr. Gayar and Dr. Ahmed Hannan). They argued, also, that the two mosques share resources—GBIC members send their children to school at the Genesee Academy of the FIC and use the FIC’s generous space and gymnasium/auditorium. The FIC and GBIC communities maintain good relations, as is also evidenced by Imam Galaeini’s prominent attendance at recent events at the FIC, and by his offering classes at the FIC.

Dr. Gayar explained quite compellingly that most doctors work at several hospitals, so while working at Genesys they can attend prayers at GBIC, and while they are at Hurley or McLaren they can attend prayers at the FIC.

The grand opening organizers also wanted to emphasize to Muslim communities interested in building mosques that they had been able to establish the GBIC facilities without debt or interest. Such an achievement is in part a reflection of the demographics of the mosque itself, which is largely composed of established practising first-generation physicians from Syria, Egypt, and the subcontinent, and also a reflection of the relatively modest (if attractive) proportions of the mosque itself.

Mr. Syed explained that the Muslim population of Grand Blanc is burgeoning, and said it was difficult for some Grand Blanc Muslims to journey all the way to the FIC for prayers, so there had been compelling pressure to establish a new local masjid.

Mr. Syed, wisely, invited many local officials to the grand opening, including several legislators, the local mayor, chief of police, fire department officials, the president of the University of Michigan, Flint, and other educators and several clergy members from area churches. Many clergy members in fact did come to the event, as did Michigan Senator Deb Cherry and the Grand Blanc Chief of Police, Dave Stan, who quietly and sincerely offered his help in case the mosque is disturbed by anyone.

Companies that sponsored the opening included the Islamic Association of North America (IANA) and Riyaz Ahmad, who donated books for free (including translations of the Qur`an for the non-Muslim visitors). Some vendors provided discounted services, including Fluid Visions, and Badawest. Four Seasons Landscaping also helped in preparing the mosque grounds for the event. The event was paid for almost entirely by members of the board of directors of the masjid.

After everyone had registered at the front entrance and put on his/her name tag, the speaking portion of the event began inside the mosque at 3 p.m.

Dr. Jandisi spoke first, generously welcoming everyone to the event and in a nice metaphor explaining that Muslims are like the lovable Shrek, who when unknown to people seems dangerous and is attacked by local villagers, but when known is loved by those around him. Dr. Jandisi emphasized that all those present should take advantage of the opportunity to meet one another, and said the success of the grand opening would lie in whether non-Muslims in attendance were able to walk away with phone numbers and points of contact within the Muslim community.

Dr. Sayid Shukairy was the keynote speaker at the event. He, like Mr. Jameel Syed, claims Imam al-Galaeini as his teacher. In his carefully prepared speech he dove into statistics about Muslim immigration to America and explained that mosques exist as places for communal prayer. Echoing the speech of Dr. Jandisi, Mr. Shukairy said a mosque is like a spiritual light house, and he mentioned mosques which provide community services like soup kitchens, schools, and health care services.

The grand opening’s speakers explained that the mosque was open to the non-Muslims in attendance, and encouraged them to make contact and exchange phone numbers with Muslims, and to direct their questions to the imam of the mosque, Imam al-Galaeni.

Next there was a huge banquet, held under a white tent outside the mosque and catered by Badawest, perhaps the best Middle Eastern restaurant in Flint—the non-Muslim guests were graciously implored to eat first as a sign of welcome.



Medicos’ Anti-Reservation Stir

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

NEW DELHI—In protest against central government’s proposal to introduce 27 percent reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) in higher educational institutions, over the past fortnight, medical students and doctors have agitated strongly. They have taken to streets twice in the capital city, courting mass arrest when stopped from heading towards Prime Minister’s Office on May 12the and organizing a massive rally on May 20the. In addition, apart from striking work, wearing black badges, doctors as well as students have gone on hunger strike. The protestors have also turned to people for their support by indulging in a door-to-door campaign and using their mobile communication SMS to make the society alert of their stand against reservation. The rest of the country, including parts of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other areas have also been witness to students and doctors striking work and taking to streets. There have also been sporadic incidents of clashes between pro-quota groups, the police and the anti-reservation protestors.

With there already being 22.5 percent reservation for low class students in government-run higher educational institutions, additional 27 percent reservation for OBCs will increase total percentage of reservation to 50 percent. Under the banner, “Youth for Equality,” several thousand protestors marched silently in central Delhi from Maulana Azad Medical College to Jantar Mantar on May 20the. Participants in the rally, called “Dilli Chalo” (Go to Delhi), included medical students from Delhi and outside, their parents, medical faculty, lawyers, chartered accountants, engineers and students from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia and several schools. Refraining from slogan shouting, the protestors conveyed their message carrying placards with messages like: “Reserve vs Deserve” and “1947: Freedom from British, 2006: Freedom from Caste Politics.”

There is little doubt that the government is caught in a difficult spot. It is trying to control the controversy by expressing that there will be a phased implementation of the reservation and seats for general category shall not be affected. At the same time, the government has repeatedly asserted that it will not go back on its “commitment” on reservations for OBCs. While Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh expressed that he was willing to talk to protestors to resolve the issue, he categorically asserted that he would ensure implementation of the reservation proposal. Singh told the Parliament (May 16the): “I want to assure the House and everybody that the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government and I, as a servant of this government, will see that the 93rd Amendment of the Constitution giving reservation to SCs/STs (scheduled castes/scheduled tribes) and OBCs (other backward classes) in private and unaided institutions is implemented.”

Subsequently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed a ministerial committee, headed by Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee to look into issue. In its report, submitted to the Prime Minister on Saturday (May 20the), the committee came out with three suggestions. These include reservations in educational institutions, which are still to be built; increase number of seats in a phased manner in existing institutions, so that general category students are not affected and extend the reservation to economically weaker sections. Later, on Saturday night, the Prime Minister appealed to the striking medicos to have faith in governmentís sincerity and call off their agitation. There would be an “amicable” settlement to the reservation-issue, he tried assuring all sections of the student community. He repeated his appeal this Monday (May 22nd), after a round of discussions between center and striking medicos failed to yield any result.

Even the premier’s appeal failed to convince medicos, who decided to continue with their agitation. They were also not deterred by authorities’ decision to terminate their services. “We have decided to continue with the strike. But we are ready to negotiate,” a resident doctor of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said. However, they decided not to persist with their demand for a total rollback of the proposed 27 per cent quota for reservation. They remained insistent on a total review of the reservation policy. “We want a committee of experts to look into the entire reservation policy, who should get the benefit, how long it should be continued and who all are the other backward classes,” a protestor said. Regarding governmentís assurance on enhancing the seats, the Vice President of AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association, Subroto Mandal said: “We want an assurance that unless the number of seats are increased with proper infrastructure, there should not be an increase in the quota from the current level.”

Besides, it may not be possible for each and every institute of higher education to instantly enhance seats to accommodate reservation quota. Several institutions, including Delhi University and Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) have said that it would not be possible for them to increase seats for several years.

Displaying their dissatisfaction with the government stand, two members of the Sam Pitroda-led National Knowledge Commission, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Andre Beteille have resigned. Criticizing the reservation proposal as incompatible with the freedom and diversity of institutions (of higher education), Mehta said that it violated the cardinal principles of a knowledge-based society. In his resignation letter, Beteille said that caste quotas are not required by the Constitution and any such policy would be unwise.

Caught in a fix, Prime Minister discussed the issue at the highest level with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (May 22nd). Singh has also begun discussing the issue with various political leaders. Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat has suggested that reservations should be extended to needy sections of other categories also and the “creamy layers” among scheduled castes/tribes and OBCs should be excluded. In Karat’s opinion, prior to implementation of the OBC reservation, there should be a public debate on the issue.


North American Community News (Vol 8 Iss 22)

NOI mosque demands closure of liquor store

EAST ST.LOUIS—- East St.Louis is latest scene of conflict between immigrant liquor store owners and black Muslim owners who want their closure. Members of Nation of Islam’s Mosque No.28B last week protest outside the liquor store which is too close the mosque.

The liquor store is located within 100 feet of the mosque and mosque members say that giving a liquor license to it by the city was a violation of the ordinance. The Express Market which has been open for a year is owned by Saberta Barta who claims himself to be a “Muslim.”

Interim City Manager Robert Betts was at the scene of the protest, reported the Belleville Democrat. He said he would speak with Mayor Carl Officer and see whether the city made an error in issuing a liquor license to Barta. If so, he said, “We have to take corrective action.” Betts said the liquor license at the business is due to expire June 30.

Meeting the Dietary Needs of Muslim Soldiers

Dietary requirements of Muslim and Jewish military personnel is no longer being overlooked, says a report by the Medill News Service. My Own Meals Inc. and J&M Food Products Co. are the U.S. military’s sole suppliers of prepackaged meals that meet Muslim and Jewish dietary standards.

Produced and packaged under the careful eye of Jewish and Muslim inspectors, the kosher and halal Meals Ready to Eat have only been available in the military since the mid-1990s.

Jewish or Muslim personnel make up 0.5 percent of the U.S. military, according to Mary Anne Jackson, president of My Own Meals.

“While the numbers aren’t necessarily big, the demand is changing,” she said. “A new market niche is emerging.”

Halal meals are manufactured under the supervision of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. “Halal follows the religious requirements of Islam,” said Joseph D’Onofrio, president of J&M Food Products. “The slaughter of animals is done by Muslims and they supervise the production of the meals.”

Before the supply of kosher and halal meals, observant Jews and Muslims in the military ate canned tuna fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, and peanut butter.

“They weren’t receiving enough nutrients, when left to their own devices,” Jackson said.

Building bridges between FBI and the community

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ— The Egyptian-American Group and the FBI organized a meet-and-greet last weekend to build bridges between the area Arab community and the agency. The event, held at the Giant’s practice facility, attracted about forty young Arab-Americans. According to press reports they had informal chats about Internet safety and crime-scene investigations, a guided tour of an FBI helicopter and ball playing.
Leslie Wiser, agent in charge of the Newark office, said such bridge building exercises are necessary.

“Most people like us when they get to meet us,” Wiser said, smiling. Then, more seriously, he added, “These are good folks who are invested in America. If we don’t have people like this helping us, we won’t win the war on terror.”

The EgyptianAmerican group said that as Muslims they are willing to defend their country. At the same time they want to teach their children not to be scared of the badge.

Howard Dean meets with Muslim American Leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Wednesday, May 17, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean met with a diverse group of Muslim leaders to talk about the Democratic agenda for change along with efforts to reach out to members of the religious community early on in the election process.

Muslim leaders joined Chairman Dean in an informal discussion in which they talked about civil liberties, the Patriot Act, immigration, poverty, engagement of Muslim Americans in the political process, ways the DNC can best reach out to the community and other issues important to Muslim Americans. This meeting was part of a larger outreach by the DNC’s Faith in Action Initiative, a mission to involve state parties and religious leaders from around the country in an ongoing dialogue about their shared values within the Democratic Party.
Chairman Dean issued the following statement:

“With millions of Muslims in America, Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country. Muslims mirror the diverse melting pot that is America, including peoples of many regional, ethnic and racial backgrounds. They are deeply patriotic, and they make invaluable contributions to our society.

“It is my hope that this meeting will be the first in a series of on-going discussions with leaders of the Muslim American community. We had a productive discussion about a wide range of subjects and opened a healthy dialogue on our shared values, including the protection of religious freedom and civil liberties. No American should be subjected to discrimination because of his or her race, ethnic background or religious beliefs. It is our obligation as Democrats and as Americans to speak out against such discrimination, whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. Likewise, as part of Democrats’ national outreach efforts, it is no longer enough to say that Muslim Americans should have a place at the table; more importantly, we must have diversity on our tickets.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the leaders of the Muslim American community to advance our shared values and goals for America.”

Interfaith leaders call for commitment to earth

DAVIS, CA— Speakers at the third Care for God’s Creation conference called on the people to re-commit to Earth. The event drew people from all over the country. Imam M.A.Azeez spoke on the importance of trees and environment in Islam.

“From the Islamic perspective, tampering with the environment is a direct challenge to the authority of God,” he said. “Our mission as God’s trustees is to preserve the environment.”
Tree activist Julia Butterfly Hill was the featured speaker.

Chicago IMAN expanding

CHICAGO, IL—- For ten years the Inner-City Muslim Action Network has been providing essential social and community services to residents of Southwest Side of Chicago. To meet its increasing needs the organization is creating a new administrative facility and health clinic.
Leaders of the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that supports commercial and residential growth in Marquette Manor and Chicago Lawn, bought the former bank building to help an entity succeed in the area instead of having the site sit empty and boarded up, reported the Southwest News-Herald.

GSDC is currently working on a lease agreement with IMAN.

“This move is going to allow us to expand the services we can offer the community,” said Rami Nashashibi, executive director.

In the 3,500-square foot building, visitors will see a computer lab, health clinic, multipurpose room and administrative offices.

There will also be tutoring and computer classes given by voluntary leaders from various fields, as well as health programs for the community.

Indian scholar to speak in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL— Renowned scholar from India Dr.Hasanuddin Ahmed will speak at the Schaumburg Township District Library on Sunday, May 28the 2006. The event will start at 12 noon and will also feature a speech on history by Dr.Muhammed Muzafferuddin Farooqui.
Halal Gets Increased Exposure

In the past months several news reports on the Halal food industry have been published in the mainstream North American press. The lifestyle section of Toronto Sun published an article by reporter David Schmeichel explaining the concept of Halal. Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association of Canada, said, “ Islamic dietary restrictions are based on the premise that health and life come first. It’s explained in the Qur’an (Islam’s sacred book) … anything that is harmful to the human body or a threat to human life is forbidden.”

The Redlands Daily Facts newspaper of California published an article with the title ‘Muslim diet is strict, healthy and delicious. Columnist Gregory Elder wrote, “Whatever else we might say about Islam, the Muslim diet is certainly healthful and the cuisine wonderful.”

A news report published by the Newhouse News Service and published in several newspapers around the United States focused on how the fast food chains are tapping the halal market. It featured a Subway restaurant in New Jersey which serves Halal food. The owner of the restaurant said her sales have gone up ever since she began serving halal. A & W Root Beer Restaurant and other mainstream restaurants have also reportedly introduced halal menus.

Houston Community (Vol 8 Iss 22)

Bar-B-Q with Sheikh: Unique Way of Inviting People towards Good

Mosques, where Muslims pray, in history, have been centers of community activity. That included learning and healthy clean recreation. One of the newest mosques of Houston is the beautiful Jama Masjid located at 6550 Tarneff Drive near US 59 and Hillcroft in Southwest Houston.

In order to create a community activity and raise much-needed funds for the ongoing operation of the mosque, the Administration together with one of the most beloved Islamic scholars of Houston, Sheikh Zoubir Bouchikhi of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, came up with the idea of a community barbecue preceded by a presentation on the basics of Islam by the sheikh.
Most of the people came with their families: Everybody had a good and spiritual time, contributed well towards the masjid, and enjoyed a nice dinner.

For more information on different activities at Jama Masjid, call 713-772-4665.

City May Hit Tax Cap

Houston City to Make a Modest Tax Cut This Fall

A voter-approved 2004 proposition, supported by Mayor Bill White, limits the amount by which Houston can increase tax collections each year to the combined growth of inflation and population. This year, White says the city is coming close to the projected cap.

City Finance Director Judy Johnson says the numbers won’t be confirmed until next month. White has said its unlikely he’ll take money out of city cash reserves to reduce the tax rate.
On another note, the Houston Independent School District will no longer collect taxes, and that will save the district some $750,000. Houstonians will still pay school taxes, of course, but Harris County will now do the collecting—County Tax Assessor Collector Paul Bettencourt says county tax bills and school tax bills will now be mailed together.

Houston Police Department’s Annual “Day of Prayer”

Representatives of Islamic Community Not Present

Representatives of the Islamic Community of Houston were invited to the Houston Police Department (HPD) Ministers against Crimes Annual “Day of Prayer” in front of HPD Headquarters at 1200 Travis Street.

Unfortunately no representative of the Muslim Community showed up.

Chief Harold L. Hurtt, along with the HPD Ministers against Crime and Houston Area Ministers from various denominations, participated in a brief prayer session to show support for the safety of Houston law enforcement. They belonged to Christian, Jewish and Hindu faiths. Other citizens and clergy members of all faiths were also in attendance.

The “Day of Prayer” is intended to increase the public’s awareness of the difficult and dangerous job police officers have in our society and to remind police officers that the public supports their efforts. The gathering of clergy, citizens and police officers further reinforces the partnership that exists between the community and HPD. The observance, as well as others scheduled during National Police Week, honor law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

For more information about “Prayer Day” and other HPD Community Meetings, contact Mike Martinez of the HPD’s Public Affairs/Community Outreach Unit at (713) 308-3283.

Replacing Tom DeLay

A group of three Fort Bend County officials will be deciding, who will replace Tom DeLay as the Republican candidate in November. The County Republican Party sent out a survey to 18,000 primary elections GOP voters to find out who they wanted as a replacement. Only 1,325 voters replied.

The maximum number of votes, 640, went to the Sugarland Mayor, while Tom Campbell, who ran against Tom DeLay in the Republican Primaries, got 216 votes and was 3rd on the list. State Representative Charlie Howard, with 292 votes, came in 2nd place.

Another of Tom DeLay’s opponent in the primaries, Pat Baig, came in at 8the, while M.J. Khan was placed at 10the spot although he had made an official announcement that he did not want to run for the office. Congressman Tom DeLay himself came in 19the place.

Mr. Gary Gillen, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Fort Bend County said of the results and the process: “Thank you to all, who participated in our straw poll, and a great many thanks to those volunteers who stayed late into the night to help count the results.”

The disclaimer issued by the Republican Party of Fort Bend County Executive Committee says: “This survey was conducted early in the process of selecting a nominee. Many candidates whose names appear on this survey are no longer candidates for the nomination for Congressional District 22. Many other candidates have come forward since this survey process was initiated, and did not appear on the survey; therefore the results of this survey are inconclusive.”

Immigration Debate Heating Up at Houston City Hall

At issue is whether the city should fund day-labor sites where workers can connect with area businesses seeking help. Curtis Collier, president of U.S. Border Watch, says his group has proof such sites encourage illegal immigration. Collier says the group has tested the hiring process, and more than 87 percent of those seeking work at the sites could not produce a social security card or green card.

Cindy Kimmey with the East End Management District says, however, that the city needs to control laborers on the streets looking for short-term work. Kimmey says if they’re going to be in the U.S., she’d like for them to have the benefit of workers’ rights, some job training, and access to employers.

A City Council vote on money for the proposed labor site is set soon—stay tuned for that.


The Magic Check

By Bob Wood

Suddenly, domestic, and foreign stock markets have become rather volatile, not an altogether unexpected event for self respecting Bears like me. As usual, this up-tick in volatility finds many in the financial media asking whether this change signifies just a normal bout of profit taking and another wonderful opportunity to load up on stocks with newly lowered prices — or something more ominous. Neither do I know, though the Bulls will surely offer opinions that support buying stocks as they fall. Actually, I think the entire discussion is pointless, and, maybe, so should you. I will, to use a currently popular phrase, “stay the course” I have chosen.

Well, maybe that sounds rather stupid, doesn’t it? I might want to think about it a little longer. OK, that’s long enough!

I still think I am right. But I can almost hear howls from investors everywhere at how wrong this looks. We all know that a rising tide lifts all boats, while an ebbing tide lowers them. So if the markets face persistent selling, as in this past week (May 14), all stocks will fall with the tide, won’t they?

Well, that’s a good point. Even bearish investors look forward to the day when we can buy cheap stocks selling at discounts to future earnings and dividend payouts. In the absence of such wonderful buying opportunities, investors must do unnatural things, such as waiting patiently — in cash. Or, even better, they could go in search of great investment ideas, though finding opportunities in foreign markets or offbeat asset classes like commodities takes real work.

But as markets around the world have become much more inter-related, due to globalization and the emergence of China as another large buyer of exports, the ebbing tide of U.S. stocks becomes something of a global phenomenon, as well. And traditional diversification methods are suffering more than ever.

So what’s a patient investor to do in these changing times, called ‘’the most difficult in modern times’’ by fellow realist, Richard Russell? Perhaps a good suggestion might be to think more like the most successful investor of our time, Warren Buffett, and divorce yourself from the old-world way of investing — anything from pre-2000, that is!

And what I suggest should offer reasonable comfort in trying times when stock markets around the world suffer drops with potential to be stronger and deeper than any seen previously. (Might this situation result from the sheer tonnage of hot money in the hands of today’s hedge funds managers—28-year-olds obsessed with quarterly performance numbers?)

My best advice is to stop thinking like an investor and start thinking like a business person. After all, what is a stock but a share in a business whose future profits you hope to enjoy? Now, as alarming as that might sound if you get your information from CNBC promoters, it really is what buying into the stock markets meant in the distant past.

Small business owners make up a large portion of those who became wealthy over time, a result of hard work and perseverance. But many only see the end results, the lifestyle achieved by someone with long experience as a business owner and now enjoying passive income from a lifetime of work. And we all want something like that, right? The ability to watch our bank accounts rise smoothly over time and then receive a nice monthly check to supplement other retirement income?

And we’d be glad to offer sums of cash now to build that passive income source later, wouldn’t we? And that process lies at the heart of what investing should be, though it is in direct opposition to what promoters at brokers and banks say about investing. They want to facilitate the exchange of cash now for income streams later. The promoters want to help you strike it rich now by making smart bets that send your new stock buys to their target prices in short order.

The fact that this method has seldom, if ever, worked in the past seems to mean nothing. Playing the greed instinct seems to pass from generation to generation. But it’s easy to separate yourself from what has never worked to what has almost always worked. Trust me: if you want to improve your investing performance, don’t talk to a broker! Instead, ask a successful small business owner for help.

One thing you can count on when working with a successful business owner is a powerful respect for the value of a dollar, such as it is any more! And better than anyone, the business owner understands how to earn and accumulate enough for an investment fund. And most importantly, trading your hard earned cash for an uncertain and risky set of assets is best done with an eye on what you can reliably expect in terms of pay back over time.

In times like this, the “Magic Check” concept illustrates a tool I always use when honing in on a possible stock buy. It helps a lot to keep me in the right frame of mind, not unlike what the famed Buffett says when asked how he chooses one investment over another.

But it’s crucial to understand one thing, and this is rarely part of any conversation heard on CNBC. When a promoter offers a free “top pick” like Microsoft, the first thing I think is, “Is that really the very best idea you have now, out of thousands of available options — from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, gem quality diamonds or cash?”

And in the case of Microsoft, for instance, how do I know I will be repaid in terms sufficient to justify this exchange of my hard earned cash? Is there a consistent payout of dividends, a sharing in profits disbursed to me over time — or am I just waiting and hoping that, someday, I can sell my shares to another investor at a higher price? Well, if you’re counting on that last hope, you’re not investing. You are gambling!

Another point that must be central to your thinking when buying a stock is whether you would buy the entire company and take it private, if you had enough money. After all, if you wouldn’t commit all your money to this one idea, why would you buy even one share? I sure wouldn’t, and I’m sure that Buffett, or any other worthy business person, wouldn’t either.

So while the markets are going nuts, up, down and up again, and sometimes down in nasty ways that keep you awake at night, what to do? For me, the Magic Check concept solves much and allows me to sit patiently, while others panic and make bad decisions.

Here’s how it works. Your broker or a TV promoter offers a stock like Microsoft as his top pick, since, he says, it is selling at a discount to valuations for the past five years and has another new operating system due out next year, which will spur new computer buying. Here’s where you ask yourself this one question: If you could, would you buy the whole company and take it private, forever to enjoy the earnings and income generated by the company, offset, of course, by the risks of being one of several in the same business?

Just as your friend, the successful business person would do, if considering purchase of rental property or any other type of investment, simply make the same kind of assessment. What’s in it for me? What are the risks, and is this really the best thing I can do with my money? Is this really the best thing available — out of the thousands of options I have? Can I see myself owning this company — and will I get a fair return?

In the case of Microsoft, the answer to these questions is a loud ‘’No’’! First of all, how much risk should an investor take to get a first-year 5% return on his investment? The current P/E for Microsoft is close to 20, meaning that you pay $20 for each dollar of earnings, yielding a smooth 5% return in year one.

Would your business owner friend make a deal like that? Would the risks of owning a company besieged by competition (say freeware from Linux) sound smart? Does a single digit growth rate justify those risks against that first year yield? I don’t know about you, but for a 5% yield, I’d buy a C.D. from my local bank and go sit on the beach, knowing that I will get the same return — plus all of my initial investment back at the end of the term.

If I’m going to risk my hard-earned savings, now sitting secure in the bank and potentially invested in an income producing asset like a bond or utility stock, I expect to hear a better offer. And if someone makes such an offer, theoretically, I would want to buy a lot of it. In fact, I would be willing to buy the whole thing and take it private. I could write the amount on my Magic Check to secure the asset as my own, paying the backer of my check, over time, from earnings in my new company. And my worries about the stock market’s going up or down would vanish. What I would care about is what’s going on in my company, and its market price will forever be determined by how well it’s run and how well it provides profits to me, the owner.

And while the most commonly touted stocks, like Microsoft, fail this test miserably, other options are always available to consider. One such option that I have been buying in recent weeks is KHD Humboldt Wedag (KHDH). Now, of course, if I hear that any reader bought shares in this company, based only on this article, I will find out who you are and call you at 3 a.m. every day for a month, asking over and over why you would buy a stock based on what “some guy said” — and nothing more in the way of due diligence! Read this paragraph again please.

Anyway, this company passes the Magic Check test nicely indeed. I could write my check for the company’s market cap, so it would probably cost about $350 million to buy the whole company — or every share. Since the company has a cash hoard of about $230 million, I’d get a nice rebate after taking my place in the big chair in the fanciest office. So my net investment is only about $120 million.

The company has no worrisome debt burden and made a little less than $3 million in the most recent quarter, down from about $5 million in the same quarter last year. So if we can expect normalized earnings this year, say something in the middle or $16 million range, that looks rather good, considering my net purchase price, doesn’t it?

And since the company is in the business of selling high tech equipment to cement and coal mining industries in India and China, how do my prospects look in terms of future demand? Pretty good, I’d say, and I like that potential future competitors would have to make very large investments to compete with me. With Microsoft, a couple of really smart kids at a tech school anywhere in the world can compete with almost no up-front investment. All those kids need is the right venture capitalist to get them off and running.

So for a company like KHDH, I could instantly write my Magic Check for the required amount, take the company private and allow current managers to do what they do best—in the tradition of Mr. Buffett. And I would go through the same exercise for every other investment on the long side of my managed portfolios, whether it’s ConocoPhilips, Anglo American, CVRD or any of the others on my short list. Would you agree?

Have a great week



Letter to the Editor

Dear Sirs,

I am disappinted in your article aboutThe HUDA Clinic and The Detroit Muslim Mission soup kitchen/pantry. I am the chairman of the HUDA Clnic and the executive director of The Detroit Muslim Mission.

The article was not researched enough, but we thank you for the coverage.

The article did not give the adress or correst phone number of the clinic. It did not give the correct name of The Muslim Center (Mosque & Community Center) or The Detroit Muslim Mission, a non-profit organization, which operates the projects out of The Muslim Center. Nor does the article name the principles involved. The article interviewed staff who only have a limited understanding of the projects.

I guess any PR is good.


Mitchell Shamsud-Din

Mr. Shamsud-Din:

Thank you for writing us.

Your cooperation and that of other well-connected and knowledgeable Muslims is essential to our work, so please stay in touch with us to establish lines of communication and insha`Allah that will be reflected in better-quality and better-informed articles. We make do with minimal staffing and equipment, so we have to rely on input from community representatives. Some communities maintain excellent interfaces and lines of communication with us (sometimes even hiring people specifically for dealing with us). We need cooperation and friendly relations with all Muslim communities in order to do good work.

We want to appeal to all Muslims, and your cooperation is vital to this, so please work with us in the future if possible.

The Muslim Observer

For the record, The Muslim Center (Mosque & Community Center), where the HUDA clinic and the Saturday soup kitchen are based, is at 1605 W. Davison Road, in southwest Detroit. The HUDA clinic website is, and its phone number is 313-867-6770.


The Da Vinci Code and Muslims

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

Should Muslims support Catholics demanding a ban on the Da Vinci Code movie? Or should they stay neutral? Well, some Muslim leaders in India and Canada have already issued religious decrees seeking a ban on the movie. In fact, a few Muslim leaders from Bombay went even further, threatening violent demonstrations if the movie was released.

What is the Da Vinci code and why should one take it seriously even though it is a book of fiction? The issue at hand is not the literary style and the descriptive narratives or the mystery it weaves around its characters, it is the distortion of some of the historical facts around the character of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him – ), which is at the center of the controversy. The book and the movie deal with a number of issues related with faith, history and culture. They definitely erode the foundations of faith for both Protestants and Catholics as they present Jesus (as) in a manner incomprehensible to most Christians.

From the perspective of Muslims, some of the assumptions reinforce their own religious views on Jesus (as), while others are contrary to Islamic beliefs.

For instance, on four issues, the Da Vinci Code essentially presents a view point similar to that one finds in the Qur`an and in Muslim history. The book and the movie assert that Jesus (as) was not viewed as God until the fourth century. Muslim historians concur with that assertion. The movie highlights the role of the Emperor Constantine in projecting Jesus as God, and Muslims agree with that. The movie suggests that the Roman emperor unified Christians using belief in the divinity of Jesus, and forced a version of the New Testament upon them that suited this ideology.

As Muslims our view is slightly different. They argue that it was the split within the Church that caused this issue to dominate the Christian scene and priests rather than politicians influenced the decision of the Roman emperor. The final point on which both Muslim and the author of the book agree is that the message of Jesus was distorted to suit the will of Emperor of Rome and his supporters.

However, when the movie talks about the character of Prophet Jesus, Muslim viewpoint does not agree with the views of the author. Muslims support Christians claim that the movie distorts the figure of Prophet Jesus . The movie shows that Jesus and Mary Magdelene married secretly. Muslims do not agree with this assertion and believe that even if he did it would not diminish his character. The movie further says that the two had a daughter whose name was Sarah and whose progeny still survives in Europe. Muslims reject this claim as well.

The argument is simple. Those who are revered by billions of people all over the world can not be subject to fictional distortions. Religious figures should be spared from harsh criticism by those who rely only on selected and subjective sources.

The movie also asserts that the Catholic church is involved in murders and assassinations of those who knew of this secret and wanted to expose it. Obviously, it is an assertion that exists in the imagination of the author. The second issue is that the Church is aware of the truth and is deliberately trying to cover it up. Both assumptions are based on fiction and both are meant to create more confusion.

The film and the book supporters present the first amendment in support of their work. In their zeal of freedom of speech they fail to recognize that freedom does not give them a license to assassinate the character of religious icons. The movie is promoting fictional falsehood about the character of Jesus (as).

We hope that the true nature and mission of Jesus will bring the essence of the Lord of all Creation into our lives.


Making Your Heart Compassionate

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

“None of you truly believes until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
“There is a morsel of flesh where if it be whole, the entire body is whole: and if it be diseased, the entire body is diseased. Surely it is the heart.”
Hadith of Prophet (s)

The above “symbolic heart” clearly shows that our goodness should guide our intellect. If you are smart as a whip, but have no morals, you are no good to society. And if you don’t wish goodness on your brother or sister, your belief comes into question. Those words have a deep and profound meaning as they relate to the way the sons and daughters of Adam (human beings) are supposed to behave. Prophet Isa ibn Maryam (as) said the same thing in the Injeel, “Love your brother as yourself.”

When we are embarking upon an action on another human being, the first question we should ask ourselves is “How would I want to be treated in this same circumstance?” The way to get the best answer is to first have a purification of your heart. You must start with a clean heart and with the best of intentions.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of the heart in guiding the rest of our existence on a peaceful, progressive journey. Intelligence is second—the heart is first. The heart is what allows us to “talk” to each other in a non-verbal way. Our hearts communicate with truths that cannot be denied.

So how do we insure that our hearts maintain a level of compassion and love?

1. First, make an appointment with the Almighty, ALLAH. When we are spiritually ailing, ALLAH is ready and willing to help us. He has promised to renew us when we ask and submit our wills to His will.

2. We must examine our hearts frequently. We must keep a check on our intentions. It is possible to feel that we are living normal, healthy lives when in reality we have physical problems we are unaware of. Similarly with our spiritual well being. We should regularly examine the state of our own hearts in relation to others and our Creator. Think, “When was the last time I recognized someone in need? How did I react? How do I react when someone is hurting and in need?”

3. We must keep positive habits. Change yourself first instead of trying to change others. You can do this in simple ways: greeting your neighbors with a smile, look people in the eye, listen carefully when they speak. Instead of turning inward, make a conscious decision to look outward. Consistently imagine yourself in others’ shoes, and you will soon learn to be compassionate.

4. Keep yourself physically healthy. If your heart is in good shape physically, you will be able to concentrate on spiritual aspects. You will be able to practice generosity and discover the joy of giving. Instead of waiting for those in need to come to you, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to search for them. Find new ways to help. Seek out service programs at the masjid that you are interested in. One of those programs just might be what you need to give your heart a needed workout—and the masjid will also benefit by positive growth.

This way we can enhance what ALLAH has provided us with and improve the world. There is hope for weary, apathetic hearts. Make your intentions pure and act on that purity. It will elevate you as well as your brother. If you want it for yourself—make sure he gets it too.

As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin

Mahathir Victim of His Own Media Repression?

By Farish A Noor, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

What goes around comes around: The narrative of the lives of politicians are often the same, sharing similar structural features that can be read like the predictable text of a story book. More often than not they come to power promising a wave of reforms, but soon enough discover—as if by shock—that democracy is more complicated when one has to work within its parameters and that a healthy opposition can also be a stubling block to one’s ambitions. The sad fate of so many politicians in Asia is that they begin with such promise and end up reneging on all of them. Even more ironic is the final chapter of their lives when the sins and mistakes of the past come to haunt them, and the final dish of humble pie is the only plate left on the table.

In Southeast Asia today we see many such cases: Thailands Thaksin Shinawatra came to power promising economic reforms and the strengthening of his country, only to be kicked out of office by the same tide of peoples power that brought him in in the first place. The Philippines Ferdinand Marcos came to power as a fervent nationalist, only to end up being flown out of his palace at Malacanyang on the back of an american helicopter. Indonesias Soeharto hailed himself as the builder of his nation but upon his political demise in 1998 left behind a country divided and bankrupt. The once powerful strongman of ASEAN is now sickly and weak, slowing pining away with internal bleeding and unable to string a sentence together.

In Malaysia we have the sorry tale of Mahathir Mohamad, who was seen by millions as the saviour of the nation when he came to power in 1981. It is undeniable that he was then the most popular leader in Malaysia, the darling blue eyed boy of the rising Malay middle classes who wanted to break into the corridors of power and seize the state from the clammy clutches of an antiquated aristocratic elite. In this respect at least Mahathir had
succeeded, and his rise to power marked the opening of the rise of the self-made Malays who apparently had broken from their feudal past.

Two decades on however the Mahathir years have come under closer scrutiny and are being questioned by many. During the first few years of his rule Mahathir was seen as the great reformer, the innovator and even the democrat. Mahathirs experiment with democracy led to the opening up of the press and the emergence of a civil society culture that was at least fairly autonomous from the state.

But Mahathir, like many of his peers in the region, soon came to feel that democracy was more a hindrance rather than an asset, and the predictable round of u-turns and volte-faces soon followed. Following the political crisis of 1987 which nearly led to race riots in the country, Malaysia’s brief flirtation with democracy came to an end. The police crackdown of 1987 led to the arrest of more than a hundred politicans, intellectuals, activists and members of the lay public, as well as the closure of newspapers. Since than Malaysia was in the hands of a singular individual whose control of the executive wing of government was near total.

Following the economic crisis of 1997-98, Malaysias economic bubble burst and the economic miracle was shown to be nothing more than a febrile tissue of lies. The Malaysian economy, like that of Thailand and Indonesias, was built on foreign investment and indiscriminate credit expansion fuelled more by idle spectulation rather than real concrete developments. The myth had died, but it was Mahathir who took the blame: After all, after taking so much credit for everything that went right in the 1980s and 1990s, it was only fair that he would be blamed for the failures as well.

Following his resignation in 2003, Mahathir bowed out of the picture and many analysts were truly amazed by the mans objective distance from politics. He was no Lee Kuan Yew, whose presence was keenly felt in the corridors of power in singapore. Mahathir vowed not to return to politics and to spend his years on the international conference circuit and writing his memoirs instead.

But of late the man seems to have made a comeback when he felt that some of the things he had struggled for so much were being betrayed by the new administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The straw that broke the former Prime Ministers back was the decision of the Malaysian government to scrap the plan for a bridge to Singapore, ostensibly on the grounds that the project was unrealisable and economically unproductive. Mahathirs reaction was blunt and to the point: Singapore has no right to influence Malaysias own development policy.

Now it appears that Mahathir has come back into the fray, but with no voice of his own. Two decades of Mahathirs rule meant that practically all avenues of the media are now under direct or indirect governmental control, and being former Prime Minister does not allow one to have the same access as before. Mahathir is now forced to make his case on the internet of all places, having his unedited letters put on websites once associated with the opposition he himself so vehemently opposed. His interview this week with the on-line Malaysian daily marks the final u-turn that has brought the man back to where he was.

Claiming that there is no press freedom in Malaysia and that he has been denied his right to speak, one can only ask the most obvious of questions: If Malaysia today is less free a country than it was in the 1970s, who was it that curtailed the rights and freedom of speech in the first place, if not Mahathir himself?


Prophet Jesus (as) and The Da Vinci Code

By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

May 22, 2006

(Say ye: We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma`il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam).


Behold! the angels said: O Mary! Allah giveth Thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.)

`Ali `Imran:45

We believe in all the prophets and messengers of Allah. We respect and honor all of them without any discrimination. We believe that all prophets preached the message of tawheed and all of them invited human beings to worship Allah alone and to live righteous lives.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not the only prophet of God, but he was the last and best prophet of God. Prophet Muhammad (s) was not the first to teach Islam; all prophets submitted to God (Muslims) and followed the way of submission to God (Islam). We believe that Jesus (as) was one of the great prophets of God.

In the Qur`an, Jesus (as) is called `Isa. He is also known as Al-Masih (the messiah) and Ibn Maryam (son of Mary). He has many other honorable names and titles in the Qur`an. He is a highly respected religious figure. Every Muslim believes in him, honors him, and loves him. His mother Mary (as) is also highly respected, loved, and honored. There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim men all over the world who feel proud and blessed to have the name `Isa, and there are thousands of Muslim women who feel honored and blessed to be called Maryam.

There is a big controversy going on all over the world at this time about Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. This novel is a big thriller, and until now, more than 45 million copies have been sold. Today, a movie based on this novel will be released. Many Christians, especially Catholics, are outraged with this novel. In several countries, Christians are protesting and asking their governments to ban this novel and its movie. Some bishops and cardinals referred to the Danish cartoons against Prophet Muhammad (s) and said that if Muslims were angry with a few cartoons, we should be even more angry with this book. Some Muslims and non-Muslims are asking for our reactions to this book.

We as Muslims do not want to be known as people who react only when something wrong is done to the blessed name of our Prophet Muhammad (s). We stand for the respect of all religious figures of all religions. Furthermore, Jesus (as) is also a blessed prophet for us. We believe in him and honor him. We also have something to say about this novel and movie.
The Da Vinci Code is a novel, a fiction. It has not presented facts about Jesus’ life in a serious and respectful manner.

There are two things that I would like to say about The Da Vinci Code. One is positive and the other is negative. The positive thing is that it says that for the first four centuries, Jesus was known only as a prophet of God, and not God. At the Council of Nicea around the year 325 CE, the Emperor Constantine and some bishops changed the true teachings of Jesus.

The Da Vinci Code also says that Jesus (peace be upon him) married one of his female disciples, Mary Magdalen, and had children, and that his descendants still exist today. Although the Qur`an does not say anything overtly about Jesus’s (as) marriage, his wife, or his children (like the New Testament), there is nothing wrong, from the Islamic point of view, if he were married and had children. Allah says in the Qur`an:

We did send Messengers before thee, and appointed for them wives and children: and it was never the part of a Messenger to bring a Sign except as Allah permitted (or commanded). For each period is a Book (revealed)

Hud 13:38.

Some Christians consider this story about Jesus to be blasphemous. According to them, to say that Jesus was married means that he is not God. Although they say that God had a son, they say that Jesus could not have had a son. However, as Muslims, we say that just because Jesus (as) wasn’t married doesn’t make him God. Prophet Yahya (as), who was Jesus’ contemporary, was not married, yet no one considered him to be divine.

Celibacy does not make any person divine. If Jesus (as) were married, then this does not take away his honor because there were many prophets who came before and after him who were married and had offspring. It is interesting to see a number of books produced today by Christian writers that also say that Jesus was not crucified and that he never claimed to be the Son of God. This is what the Qur`an said a long time ago.

Muslims can use this opportunity to inform others about Islamic position about Jesus (as).
There is, however, a negative side of The Da Vinci Code, that we as Muslims should criticize. The Da Vinci Code is a novel, a work of fiction. It does not present facts about Jesus’s (as) life in a serious and respectful manner. It has fictionalized his life and story, and in this sense it has downgraded this great messenger of Allah.

The author of The Da Vinci Code took some historical facts and then spun a mystery story to thrill and chill his readers. Allah’s prophets and messengers should not be treated in this manner. They are entitled to receive utmost honor and respect from us. It is for this reason that Islam forbids making pictures of Allah’s prophets and messengers and also forbids creating fictitious stories and movies about them. Islam teaches us that we should present the prophets’ life stories with great care, respect, and the utmost authenticity., because the wrong words about such a holy person as a prophet are in the fire.

The Prophet (s) said,

“Convey from me even if it is one verse. Speak about Bani Israel without any hesitation; but whosoever tells a lie about me, let him prepare his place in Hell”

Bukhari 3202

We hope that more and more truth will come out about the life and teachings of Jesus (as). We totally reject those who abuse his person through fiction and falsehood. We as Muslims should use this opportunity to inform others about the Islamic position regarding Jesus (as). Ameen.

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the president of the Fiqh Council of North America.


Troubled AIPAC Excluded from Congresswoman’s Offices

Banned by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4th)

The letter below was sent by Representative Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, to the executive director of AIPAC. The bill mentioned, H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, would place so many restraints on aid to the Palestinian people, and so many restrictions on the administration’s ability to deal with the Palestinians, that even the State Department has opposed it. AIPAC has strongly backed it. The Senate version of the bill, S. 2237, would allow the administration far more flexibility. On April 6, the House International Relations Committee passed H.R. 4681 by a vote of 36 to 2; McCollum was one of the two nays. As of May 11, AIPAC has yet to respond to her demand for an apology.

-Michael Massing

Letter: April 10, 2006

To: Mr. Howard Kohr, Executive Director, American Israel Public Affairs Committee; 440 First Street, NW; Suite 600; Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. Kohr:

During my nineteen years serving in elected office, including the past five years as a Member of Congress, never has my name and reputation been maligned or smeared as it was last week by a representative of AIPAC. Last Friday, during a call with my chief of staff, an AIPAC representative from Minnesota who has frequently lobbied me on behalf of your organization stated, “on behalf of herself, the Jewish community, AIPAC, and the voters of the Fourth District, Congresswoman McCollum’s support for terrorists will not be tolerated.”

Ironically, this individual, who does not even live in my congressional district, feels free to speak for my constituents.

This response may have been the result of extreme emotion or irrational passion, but regardless, it is a hateful attack that is vile and offensive to me and the families I represent. I call on AIPAC to immediately condemn this un-American attack and disavow any attempt to use this type of threat and intimidation to stifle legitimate policy differences. I will not stand to be labeled or threatened in a manner that questions my patriotism or my oath of office.

Last week, I did vote against H.R. 4681 during mark-up of the bill in the House International Relations Committee. As a Member of Congress sworn to uphold the Constitution, and ensure the security of the US and represent the values and beliefs of the constituents who I serve, it was my view that H.R. 4681 goes beyond the State Department’s current policies toward Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and potentially undermines the US position vis-a-vis the coordinated international pressure on Hamas. The language contained in S. 2237 accurately reflects my position.

Keeping diplomatic pressure on Hamas to renounce terrorism, recognize the State of Israel, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, and honor past agreements and treaty obligations, while preventing a humanitarian crisis among the Palestinian people, are all policy goals already strongly supported by myself, the Bush administration, Congress and the American people. But, if the purpose of H.R. 4681 was to send another strong message to Hamas and the Palestinian people, as Congress already has sent with the passage of S. Con. Res. 79, then I disagree with the vehicle for that message. In my opinion, Congress should be articulating clear support for the Secretary of State’s present course of action; not creating a new law which likely diminishes the diplomatic tools needed to advance US policy goals with regard to the Palestinian people, potentially cuts US funding to the United Nations, and largely restates current law while creating on-going and burdensome unfunded reporting requirements.

As you well know, in Congress we do not shy away from condemning the vile words of despots and dictators who use anti-Semitism as a weapon to incite hatred, fear and violence. AIPAC should not have a lower standard for persons affiliated and representing its organization when they label a Member of Congress who thinks for herself and always puts the interest of our nation and people first a supporter of terrorists.

You and your colleagues at AIPAC have the right to disagree with my position on any piece of legislation, but for an AIPAC representative to say that I would ever vote to support Middle East terrorists over the interests of my country will never be tolerated by me or the families I serve. This incident rises to a level in which a formal, written apology is required.

Mr. Kohr, I am a supporter of a strong US-Israeli relationship and my voting record speaks for itself. This will not change. But until I receive a formal, written apology from your organization I must inform you that AIPAC representatives are not welcome in my offices or for meetings with my staff.

Betty McCollum
Member of Congress
4th District, Minnesota
Washington, D.C.


President Musharraf Plans to Stay in Power

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS

The President of Pakistan is planning on staying in power for some time longer. The current assembly is going to elect the president for another term.

Senator S.M Zafar of the ruling party says that this is a “completely legal and justified re-election.” He says that the assembly can elect the president from September 2007 to January 2008. He also said that there is nothing wrong with President wanting to be re-elected by the assembly.

Peoples Party Parliamentarian chairman Makhdoom Ameen Faheem has said that since the government is used to unfair elections it will be virtually impossible for them to work out any fair system of government election. He emphasized that for an impartial and fair government it is important to put a temporary government in power. After that, fair elections should take place, which should be overlooked by a neutral election committee. He also said that the Charter of Democracy is a big Breakthrough in the beginnings for placement of a fair government. He said that they have asked the leaders of all four provinces to spread awareness about the Charter of Democracy.

The Charter of Democracy was signed between Former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif on May 15the 2006. The Charter says that the well-being of the country cannot be accomplished with military rule. It states that the only way to govern is by the public of Pakistan governing themselves via elections, and that this will build true stability in the country.

The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), will work on a strategy to counter the President’s reelection by the existing assembly. Munir Ahmad Khan, the spokesperson for ARD, said that this move by the President is un-constitutional and they will design a counter move to deal with this situation. “There is no constitutional, legal and moral justification for the present assemblies to re-elect Musharraf for another term. How can an assembly, itself elected for a five-year term, elect a person as president for nine years?” he added. He said according to the constitution an assembly could elect a president only in case a president is dead or impeached or resigns for some other reason.

None of these situations applies over here. If this system starts it will be abused in the future as well and it will open a “Pandora’s box.” The course of action will be decided on July 2nd 2006 when the ARD meets in London.


Muslim Premiers Call for Increased Dialogue

By Siraj Wahab, Special to Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, 22 May 2006—The prime ministers of four Muslim countries have called on the Muslim world to improve communication with each other and to groups within their own countries.

The prime ministers of Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia and Lebanon conveyed their message yesterday in the session entitled “Enhancing Dialogue, Strengthening Cooperation” at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Lebanese Prime Minster Fouad Siniora called on regional governments to embrace dialogue as a means of improving society and as a solution to ongoing conflicts.

Addressing the conference Siniora said, “Extremism makes news,” and stressed that “shared education” as a type of dialogue was a concept that needed to be adopted.

In his speech Nazif said that the media had a share of the blame in maintaining a problem of widespread ignorance of Islam and described the Islamic Worldís poor engagement with world media as a “failure in our system.”

In his message to the forum, Erdogan called on regional leaders to engage in more dialogue with Syria and made a point of Turkey’s moves toward creating a culture of dialogue with all of its neighbors.

Erdogan further called on a rigorous approach to dialogue. He said, “It is not simply talking—but a methodical way of communicating. We need to look at it as a mechanism and we need to know what it is we need to discuss.”

All four prime ministers concluded that the solution to the regionís difficult issues, from Palestine to the role of women in Islam, was dialogue.

The high-powered and lively session was chaired by Al Jazeera International anchor Riz Khan.


Board of Advisors

  • Dr. A.S. Nakadar – M.D.
  • Dr. Aslam Abdullah – Ph.D.
  • Dr. Fathi Osman – Ph.D.
  • Professor Liyakat A. Takim
  • Dr. Muneer Fareed – Ph.D.
  • Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
  • Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang – Ph.D.

South Florida News as of 5/17/06

Nurul Islam Academy to host annual community Day-Camp throughout Summer

The Nurul Islam Academy in Cooper City in Southern Broward County will be hosting a Summer camp with a range of activities for campers ages 3-13 in three, three-week sessions throughout the summer.

Organizers say the camp is designed to involve students in productive activities in a safe and secure Islamic environment while giving them the opportunity to have fun, relax, and develop friendships. Attendees’ partake also learn life-lessons through filed trips, computer activities, arts and crafts, etc.

The first summer camp session will take place from May 29-June 16, the second from June 19-July 7, and the third from July 10-July 28. The camp takes place at the Nurul Islam school facilities and field-trip sites from 8 Am-3:15 PM daily and camp fees are $300 per session. One-time, daily registration fees of $25 per day are also accepted.

The academy is housed in school buildings and portables surrounding the Nurul Islam Masjid, the cities oldest West-Indian-majority community, though mosque attendance is very diverse, and one of the area’s largest and leading Islamic schools

Darul Uloom to reopen Pre-K and Kindergarten Program in Aug 2006
Fun Day Bar-B-Q marks end of weekend classes

After an earlier discontinuation of full-time school programs at the Darul Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines, the institute is now planning on reopening its Pre-K and Kindergarten programs in August 2006. Staff shifts and fluctuating participation levels had lead to the end of the earlier program. The school will rejoin the ranks of three other, larger full-time school efforts in Broward County. For more information on the new classes call 954-963-9514.

Darul Uloom also held a “Students End of School Year Fun Day and Bar-B-Que” on the afternoon of Sunday, May 21. Dozens were in attendance at the event, which got participants sodas, snacks, candies and games all for a $5.00 entry fee.

Other recent events at Darul Uloom included the center’s monthly family night event on Friday, May 5.

These events were reported in ‘Al-Hikmat,’ a simply produced newsletter-style monthly publication of about 30-pages consistently published by Darul Uloom’s head, Maulana Shafayat Mohammed since 1983.

Featuring a low-tech yet decidedly sensationalistic style of delivering its message—with a touch of Caribbean flavor–Al-Hikmat features Darul Uloom news, local Muslim community event announcements, advertisements, some brief news-bits on Muslim matters from around the world, and editorials and views on Islamic matters written or approved by Shafayat. It’s all usually packaged under a loudly disclaimed and sensationally controversial sounding headline on each issue’s differently colored cover. The otherwise innocuous black-and-white publication has been a moderate success for Shafayat, sustaining itself and now distributed in 19 cities around the country and to mosques around the city.

IFSF Holds Fundraising Dinner to complete Mosque Construction along I-75
The Islamic Foundation of South Florida and the SISB held a fundraising dinner for their ongoing construction project on Saturday, May 20 at their existing facility in Sunrise.

The construction project has been well under way since last year and mosque leaders hope to soon be seeing the new building open for prayers. The pre-fabricated building for the new mosque is on site (pictured last issue), ready to be assembled in a short period of time. The parking lots will soon be completed and ready for use, say leaders.

“We need to make the final payment of $175,000 to the contractor within a few weeks to maintain the pace of construction to completion,” said organizers on a flier before the event. The guest speaker at the event was Abder Raoof Alkhawaldeh of Texas. Tickets were $10 each.

Word was not received on how much out of the $175K price-tag was raised at the event, updates will come soon. When completed the expansive mosque will be one of the area’s largest, right along the busy I-75 Expressway.

Muslim Cemetery organizers hold update meeting

The Muslim Cemetery of South Florida held an Update meeting on May 16 at the Islamic Foundation of South Florida (also known as the School of Islamic Studies of Broward).

The leaders of the organization updated community members on the progress of the mosque over dinner at the event. They say the years-long process toward construction of the new cemetery is now in full progress.

The group’s leading “Shura Council” is composed mostly of long-time local Pakistani Memon community members, including Ghulam Dandia, Yunus Ismail—who is also actively involved at the SISB, Aziz Abid, Amin Patel and Zakaria Billoo. A number of its leaders are also leaders in local Tablighi Jamat efforts.

Miami Herald Religion Writer promotes book on Muslim Women at Boca Barnes & Noble

Miami Herald religion Donna Gehrke-White sat to discus and sign copies of her new book, the ‘Faces Behind the Veil’ at Barnes & Noble in Boca Raton On the afternoon of May 7. The book looks at extraordinary Muslim women in America and includes an interview ith Dr. Amena Haq, a member of the local interfaith group JAM (Jews and Muslims & All). White has covered local religious communities around the country and for the Herald for the past few years.

AMANA appeals avoid community event conflicts

On April 29th, Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout of the local Muslim organization AMANA (American Muslim Association of North America) put out an appeal to other local Muslim organizations and community members. In it he calls for other groups to let AMANA delegate activities between the centers.

In the article, entitled “Clash of Programs – Let Us Work Together,” Zakkout stated:

“I wish we have some kind of delegation between all Islamic Centers in S. Florida.

“I recommend that before you decide on a date for your future events to contact your brothers at AMANA.

“AMANA is working closely with all Islamic centers in South Florida for the past 10 years and can delegate between Islamic centers to bring all communities together in one location, one event.

“Let us work together to benefit all our community members in S. FL and to bring maximum benefit to our Muslim Centers.”

A middle-aged Arab-American activist who has been in the community for years, Zakkout is also on a number of local County civic community volunteer boards. His AMANA has seen a resurgence of activities including a community festival in Broward last month.

Long-time Muslim educator organizes Spring Break Camp

Naima Ghany, a veteran of numerous youth and local Islamic educational efforts, helped organize a youth spring break camp at the Darul Uloom Institute on April 7-11. Dozens of youth were in attendance at the event, which went well, according to participants.

A mother of two, Ghany now works as a public teacher in Broward County at Perry Middle School, but still finds time to help out at a number of Islamic centers.

Her work in the Muslim community since the 1980s has included efforts on just about level with almost every Muslim youth group, Islamic weekend and full-time school in the area. Of Trinidadi descent, Ghany’s mother, Una Khan, and father, Neville Khan, were also early active in the South Florida Muslim community.

Local leader’s views highlighted in Sun-Sentinel

Successful local engineer Waseem Quadri, of Pembroke Pines, head of the construction committee at the School of Islamic Studies of Broward, had two letters published in the editorial section of the South Florida ‘Sun-Sentinel’ in April in response to what he called anti-Muslim bigotry being prominently displayed in American in the aftermath of the Danish cartoon controversy earlier this year.

In one of the letters, Quadri, a father of four who is originally from Hyderabad, India but has been in South Florida since the 1980s, pointed to what he calls bigoted anti-Islam statements by ideologues such as Pat Robertson.

“I think the leaders of our country and all people of conscience should repudiate these remarks that translate into acts of bias, discrimination and even violence against Muslims,” Quadri wrote in one of his letters. “The constant and largely unchallenged, drumbeat of anti-Muslim rhetoric is poisoning the public’s attitude toward ordinary Muslims.”

Former Youth turns local Islamic speaker

Former area-youth-turned-local-Islamic-speaker Fadi Yousef Kablawi is now teaching regular Islamic classes at a number of conservative local Islamic centers representing a number of local Muslim ethnicities.

On Tuesdays Kablawi teaches a fiqh/Islamic jurisprudence class between the sunset and evening prayers at African-American majority Masjid Al-Iman in Sunrise. On Thursdays he teaches a hadith/traditions of the Prophet class explaining the well-known Book of Forty Hadiths of by Imam Nawawi after the evening prayer at the Arab-majority Masjid Shamsuddin in North Miami Beach. And on Fridays, Kablawi teaches a class on aqida/fundamental Islamic creed/articles of belief from 7 PM till the evening prayer at the West-Indian majority Masjid Al-Ihsaan in Kendall.

Kablawi became involved local Islamic activities while a student at FIU, left the area for Islamic studies and then returned to become a local speaker in recent years.

West Indian Masjid leaders holds weekly weekend radio shows

The Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen hosts an Islamic Radio Show each Saturday morning at 9 AM – 9:30 AM on AM 980. the show is hosted by Al Mustapha. The Mosque is still also seeking a full-time imam fluent in English and Arabic with good Quran recitation. Leaders say that a “fair salary” will be offered. For more information contact Br. Khalil at 954-757-5713, or the mosque at 954-575-3872.

Darul Uloom leader Maulana Shafayat Mohammed also organizes a radio show every Sunday on Radio WAVS 1170 AM under the auspices of his Al-Hikmat, from 7:30 AM – 8 AM entitled “Saut-ul-hikmat” or “The voice of Wisdom.”