An Intellectual Affair…

By Tariq Choudry-Florida

It was in the summer of 2007, some academics, professionals and community members met to review the prevalent misconcepts about educational status of Muslims in the US and to assess academic performance of the next generation of Muslims in the US. The starting point of discussion was the 2006 survey conducted by CAIR (American Muslim Voters, A demographic Profile and Survey of Attitudes) which amongst other things, stated that 62% of Muslims in the US had at least a bachelors degree. However, it was felt that this assessment may be true for the 1st generation of American Muslim’s, who for the most part, had obtained their first degrees overseas and had migrated to the US in pursuit of higher education or economic goals. All were in agreement; the same assessment can not be categorically made about the 2nd generation of Muslim Americans as well as the Afro American Muslims, who form the bulk of the Muslim presence in the US. There was preponderance of anecdotal evidence suggesting that for every one, 2nd generation academically high achieving Muslim student; there were at least another 19 who were not meeting their full academic potentials.

If this evidence was correct, all participants to these discussions agreed, that there will be serious consequences for the Muslims presence, not only nationally, but also globally. Lacking credible academic achievements, in a challenging and highly competitive economic ambient, such as now a days, the next generation of Muslims will end up being either underemployed or even unemployed, with serious social and economic repercussions not only for the society at large, for the Muslim community, the family but most importantly, for the individuals themselves.  This scenario, if it was to materialize, would result in dangerous marginalization of Muslim presence in the US, economically, socially and politically.  Lack of parental awareness and apathy, majority of whom were educated overseas and without direct exposure to the US’s educational system, lack of students awareness and motivation, lack of community focus and sensitivity towards excellence in education and above all, lack of awareness of the significance of achieving higher standards in education were all seen as the root causes of this dismal performance of the young Muslim Americans.

This group of Muslim Academics, professionals and the community leaders felt reminded by the blessed Qur’an, in  Surah Raa’d ( V. 11), where in Allah (SWT) tells the believers,

“Verily, never will Allah change the   condition of a people until they change it  themselves”

So rather then burying their heads like the proverbial ostrich i.e. leave the things as they are, or to recognize the problem, but being too busy with other ‘good’ things in life, this group of academics, professionals and community members decided to consult and organize other like-minded community members, those who care to understand the nature and extent of the problem Strategize and devise practical solutions.

This effort led to the formation of Excellence in Education Initiative (EEI) in Central Florida in spring of 2008.  EEI organized its 1st Annual “Recognizing and Rewarding” reception to honor and to motivate the graduating Muslim High School seniors (Class of 2008) on behalf of the Muslim Community of Central Florida which was a success. Graduating seniors were given general recognition and cash rewards and there were also recognition and higher rewards for super achievers, students who were declared as Valedictorians, or those who achieved the highest SAT scores, or the highest accumulative GPA,  or the most improved GPA from junior year to senior year.  EEI also announced the launching of their 2nd component of the program i.e. SAT Workshop and Chemistry tutoring, starting in Oct 2008, at the end of Ramadhan.

To continue this noble  and in many ways, ground breaking initiative for the Muslim Communities across North America, EEI will be holding the 2nd Annual “Recognition and Rewarding” reception for the Class of 2009, on 7th June, 2009 at  the University of Central Florida (UCF).  This event will also provide recognition and rewards to the high school students who participated in the EEI organized SAT I workshop and the Chemistry tutorials

The fundraiser for this event was held on 16th April, 2009 at the Muslim Academy of Greater Orlando (MAGO). The occasion was held to raise funds for the event and to raise awareness among parents, community members and student body to encourage and participate in the program.

Although it was a successful event in which many parents were present and showed their support, however, not as many general body members of the community at large participated, which remains a matter of deep concern.   The whole idea of EEI is to prepare Muslim students for the highly competitive and important SAT examination which holds the key to a student’s future and defines the path towards success and failure.

The members of EEI are highly educated, genuinely dedicated professionals and academia deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the community’s growing next generation.  As was stated by Br. Asif Javed, representing the general feeling of the EEI members, theirs is labor of love, where the EEI team of academics and professionals, devote immense amount of their personal time and financial resources voluntarily to enable our next generation to successfully compete in a highly competitive educational world. Academic success of the next generation of Muslim Americans will be the defining moment of the Muslims presence in the US for generations to come. If the next generation of Muslims grow up to be highly motivated, committed and confident Muslims, coupled with attainment of highest possible academic and professional standards, the Muslim Americans will be able to play their role mandated by Allah (SWT) Himself, in the blessed Quran, i.e. to be the leaders of the nations.

In his opening remarks at the Fundraiser, Br. Asif Javed, representing the EEI board, noted, “if we are to maintain a position wherein Muslims can have social, economical and political impacts on the larger society in the US, our next generation must be given all the tools, encouragement and motivations towards academic success, then as a community, we must invest in and support programs such as the EEI program and we must not turn away from it”.  He continued to note, other ethnic and minority groups have devoted enormous time, resources and have produced quality teaching environment for their next generations and have furnished them with tools and techniques needed to compete and succeed in academic challenges.  Dr. Nakadar, the visiting host, also stressed the facts about learning and importance of higher education.  He also encouraged parents to participate in these types of activities and encouraged others to participate vehemently to promote this worthy cause.&nb sp; All children’s are alike and their should be no distinction whether someone’s children attend the EEI supplemental tutoring or not is beside the point.  The purpose must be to keep this program of high value at the top of everyone’s agenda because of its sheer intent and strategic objectives, which are worthy of devotion and promotion by all sincere Muslims.

Content and narration edited and approved by Br. Asif Javed, Florida.

11-23

Biden in Lebanon–Is Obama Next

By Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, The Canadian Charger

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) reviews a U.S made tank with Lebanese Defence Minister Elias al-Murr during a ceremony to review U.S. Military weapons donated to the Lebanese army at Beirut international airport May 22, 2009.                    

REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi

On May 22, Vice-President Joseph Biden arrived in Lebanon for a seven-hour visit just two weeks before the parliamentary elections on June 7.

On that same day, The Canadian Charger published my editorial “Hezbollah Lebanon’s Next Government? Very likely!” in which I showed that the rank of a U.S. envoy to a developing country is directly proportional to the urgency of sabotaging that country’s popular will. Biden is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit that country in more than 25 years, so this visit is of the utmost urgency!

The possibility of a national coalition of political parties, including Hezbollah, replacing the pro-U.S. government is indeed real, so the U.S. is trying to blackmail Lebanese voters into not voting for Hezbollah candidates. As Biden said: “We will evaluate the shape of our assistance programs based on the shape of the new government.”

The U.S. has committed some $400 million in military and security assistance to Lebanon since 2006 as a result of Israel’s aggression, but an opposition victory would put an end to it. For what it’s worth, this aid is next to useless because the U.S. makes sure that the Lebanese army is not capable of defending against an Israeli attack.

Because Biden cannot publicly state that he’s been sent to meddle in Lebanon’s elections, he offered up this lie for public consumption: “I do not come here to back any particular party or any particular person. I came to back certain principles [like Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.]”

The trouble with Biden is that, like all U.S. politicians, he thinks that the leaders and people of developing countries are less intelligent than Americans.

The government lies to both, but somehow it thinks the people of developing countries are more likely to believe them. These people may be poor, but they aren’t stupid. As I noted in my coincidental editorial:

“Following Israel’s war with Lebanon in the summer of 2006, there was an 18- month political deadlock in nominating a president. Without a president, fears of a return to civil war were real. At the time, I happened to be having dinner with some Lebanese journalists, and I said to them:

‘Every time when I thought your leaders are about to reach an agreement, they fail and go back to square one. I am disappointed. I know many Lebanese. They are smart and are politically savvy. What is going on?’ Their answer was clear:

‘The U.S. sends its envoy as soon as the different parties are close to a solution to sabotage it. The closer the different parties are to a solution the higher the rank of that envoy.’”

If these Lebanese journalists were right in their analysis and given the fact that the U.S. had sent the Secretary of State to Lebanon, then the U.S. strongly feels that the current opposition including Hezbollah will become the majority and form the next government.

All that’s left is for Obama to show up before or after his visit to Egypt on June 4 to send a last message to the Lebanese voters: “The U.S. respects your democratic rights but vote for those who we would like.”

Would he show up in Lebanon three days before the election? Bet on it!

Dr Mohamed Elmasry is Professor Emeritus of Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo; Founder, The Canadian Islamic Congress; and member, editorial board, The Canadian Charger. He can be reached at elmasry@thecanadiancharger.com

11-23

Bogus Bomb Plot

By Robert Dreyfuss

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Assistant Imam Hamin Rashada speaks to reporters outside the Masjid Al Ikhlas mosque in Newburgh, New York, May 21, 2009, where bomb plot suspects had reportedly attended.

REUTERS/Mike Segar 

By the now, it’s maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it’s revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne’er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur.

I’ve seen this movie before.

In this case, the alleged perps — Onta Williams, James Cromitie, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen — were losers, ex-cons, drug addicts. Al Qaeda they’re not. Without the assistance of the agent who entrapped them, they would never have dreamed of committing political violence, nor would they have had the slightest idea about where to acquire plastic explosives or a Stinger missile. That didn’t stop prosecutors from acting as if they’d captured Osama bin Laden himself. Noted the Los Angeles Times:

Prosecutors called it the latest in a string of homegrown terrorism plots hatched after Sept. 11.

“It’s hard to envision a more chilling plot,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Eric Snyder said in court Thursday. He described all four suspects as “eager to bring death to Jews.”

Actually, it’s hard to imagine a stupider, less competent, and less important plot. The four losers were ensnared by a creepy FBI agent who hung around the mosque in upstate New York until he found what he was looking for. Here’s the New York Times account:

Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad, the imam at the mosque where the authorities say the confidential informant first encountered the men, said none of the men were active in the mosque. …

Mr. Cromitie was there last June, and he met a stranger.

He had no way of knowing that the stranger’s path to the mosque began in 2002, when he was arrested on federal charges of identity theft. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, and became a confidential informant for the F.B.I. He began showing up at the mosque in Newburgh around 2007, Mr. Muhammad said.

The stranger’s behavior aroused the imam’s suspicions. He invited other worshipers to meals, and spoke of violence and jihad, so the imam said he steered clear of him.

“There was just something fishy about him,” Mr. Muhammad said. Members “believed he was a government agent.”

Mr. Muhammad said members of his congregation told him the man he believed was the informant offered at least one of them a substantial amount of money to join his “team.”

So a creepy thug buttonholes people at a mosque, foaming at the mouth about violence and jihad? This is law enforcement? Just imagine if someone did this at a local church, or some synagogue. And the imam says the people “believed he was a government agent.”

Preying on these losers, none of whom were apparently actual Muslims, the “confidential informant” orchestrated the acquisition of a disabled Stinger missile to shoot down military planes and cooked up a wild scheme about attacking a Jewish center in the Bronx.

It gets even more pathetic:

The only one of the four suspects who appears to have aroused any suspicion was Payen, a Haitian native who attended the Newburgh mosque. Assistant imam Hamid Rashada said his dishevelment and odd behavior disturbed some members, said the assistant imam, Hamid Rashada.

When Payen appeared in court, defense attorney Marilyn Reader described him as “intellectually challenged” and on medication for schizophrenia. The Associated Press said that when he was asked if he understood the proceedings, Payen replied: “Sort of.”

Despite the pompous statements from Mayor Bloomberg of New York and other politicians, including Representative Peter King, the whole story is bogus. The four losers may have been inclined to violence, and they may have harbored a virulent strain of anti-Semitism. But it seems that the informant whipped up their violent tendencies and their hatred of Jews, cooked up the plot, incited them, arranged their purchase of weapons, and then had them busted. To ensure that it made headlines, the creepy informant claimed to be representing a Pakistani extremist group, Jaish-e Muhammad, a bona fide terrorist organization. He wasn’t, of course.

It is disgusting and outrageous that the FBI is sending provocateurs into mosques.

The headlines reinforce the very fear that Dick Cheney is trying to stir up. The story strengthens the narrative that the “homeland” is under attack. It’s not. As I’ve written repeatedly, since 9/11 not a single American has even been punched in the nose by an angry Muslim, as far as I can tell. Plot after plot — the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge! bombing the New York Subways! taking down the Sears Tower! bombing the Prudential building in Newark! — proved to be utter nonsense.

11-23

Saudi’s Miss Beautiful …Morals

By Donna Abu-Nasr, AP

30178464-saudi-women RIYADH: Sukaina al-Zayer is an unlikely beauty queen hopeful. She covers her face and body in black robes and an Islamic veil, so no one can tell what she looks like. She also admits she’s a little on the plump side.

But at Saudi Arabia’s only beauty pageant, the judges don’t care about a perfect figure or face. What they’re looking for in the quest for “Miss Beautiful Morals” is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents.

“The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants’ commitment to Islamic morals… It’s an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman’s body and looks,” said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

“The winner won’t necessarily be pretty,” she added. “We care about the beauty of the soul and the morals.”

So after the pageant opens Saturday, the nearly 200 contestants will spend the next 10 weeks attending classes and being quizzed on themes including “Discovering your inner strength,” “The making of leaders” and “Mom, paradise is at your feet”—a saying attributed to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad to underline that respect for parents is among the faith’s most important tenets.

Pageant hopefuls will also spend a day at a country house with their mothers, where they will be observed by female judges and graded on how they interact with their mothers, al-Mubarak said. Since the pageant is not televised and no men are involved, contestants can take off the veils and black figure-hiding abayas they always wear in public.

The Miss Beautiful Morals pageant is the latest example of conservative Muslims co-opting Western-style formats to spread their message in the face of the onslaught of foreign influences flooding the region through the Internet and satellite television.

A newly created Islamic music channel owned by an Egyptian businessman aired an “American Idol”-style contest for religious-themed singers this month. And several Muslim preachers have become talk-show celebrities by adopting an informal, almost Oprah-like television style, in contrast to the solemn clerics who traditionally appear in the media.

Saudi Miss Beautiful Morals

Now in its second year, the number of pageant contestants has nearly tripled from the 75 women who participated in 2008. The pageant is open to women between 15 and 25. The winner and two runners up will be announced in July, with the queen taking home $2,600 and other prizes. The runners up get $1,300 each.

Last year’s winner, Zahra al-Shurafa, said the contest gives an incentive to young women and teens to show more consideration toward their parents.

“I tell this year’s contestants that winning is not important,” said al-Shurafa, a 21-year-old English major. “What is important is obeying your parents.”

There are few beauty pageants in the largely conservative Arab world. The most dazzling is in Lebanon, the region’s most liberal country, where contestants appear on TV in one-piece swimsuits and glamorous evening gowns and answer questions that test their confidence and general knowledge.

There are no such displays in ultra-strict Saudi Arabia, where until Miss Beautiful Morals was inaugurated last year, the only pageants were for goats, sheep, camels and other animals, aimed at encouraging livestock breeding.

This year’s event kicks off Saturday in the mainly Shiite Muslim town of Safwa, and mostly draws local Shiite contestants. But it’s open to anyone—and this year, 15 Sunni Muslims are participating, al-Mubarak said. “This is a beautiful thing,” she added.

There have long been tensions between the two sects in the kingdom. Hard-liners in the Sunni majority consider Shiites infidels, and the Shiites often complain of discrimination and greater levels of poverty.

Al-Zayer, a 24-year-old international management student, said she signed up because she is the “spitting image” of her mother. “I’m proud of my devotion to my parents,” she said.

What does she think of Lebanon’s beauty contests?

“It’s a matter of cultural differences,” she said. “In Saudi Arabia, they are Islamically unacceptable.”

Awsaf al-Mislim, another contestant, said if she does not win the crown, she will have won something more important.

“I will be proud to show everyone that I competed with the others over my devotion to my parents,” the 24-year-old said.

11-23

The Kuwaiti Quartet

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

610xggg Political crisis has marred the growth and development of Kuwait for the past few years as political upheaval has been the order of the day. The entire government has resigned no less than five times and the democratically elected parliament has been dissolved thrice in only a matter of years with the most recent dissolution coming just a few months ago. Even before candidates hung up their campaign posters or voters could go to the polls, there was an air of change floating around in Kuwait. Citizens have long tired of the bickering between the Emiri elected cabinet and the members of parliament chosen by the public. There were more ‘grillings’, where MP’s make accusations against another MP, than parliamentary decisions to pull Kuwait out of the current economic crisis it is wallowing in and put it back on track with its’ neighboring Arab rivals.

It has been a mere four years since women were granted suffrage rights and the right to run for parliamentary elections in Kuwait. Female candidates failed to win seats in the past two parliamentary elections. But this past week, history turned one giant page when a total of 4 female candidates won seats in the newly formed Kuwaiti Parliament. A total of 210 candidates, 16 of which were female, vyed for a coveted seat in the 50 member strong Parliament. “Frustration with the past two parliaments pushed voters to seek change. And here it comes in the form of this sweeping victory for women,” Massouma al-Mubarak told reporters following her victory.

Quite notably all four newly elected female MP’s were educated in the USA and hold Doctorates in their specific fields. Massouma Al Mubarak is a political science professor and was Kuwait’s first female Emiri appointed Cabinet minister. Rola Dashti is an economist and activist for women’s rights. She was at the forefront of the battle to win voting rights for Kuwaiti women since it began. Salwa al Jasser is an Education professor and Aseel al Awhadi is a Philosophy professor.

Supporters of the female candidates set off fireworks and feted them in a barrage of wild cheers and congratulatory celebrations rivaling even the poshest of Hollywood after parties.  However, there are several male MP’s who are unhappy with having to share parliament with women. Islamic fundamentalists have made statements to the local media that women do not belong in politics and have insisted that all of the female MP’s wear the Islamic hijab whenever Parliament is in session. Only two out of the four newly elected females MP’s observe the Islamic headscarf.

It remains to be seen if the Kuwaiti Quartet will be able to change the political scene in Kuwait, which has always operated on a crisis-by-crisis basis. Kuwaiti political analysts expect the power struggle between MP’s in the Parliament to continue regardless of gender. If this week is any indication, the Kuwaiti Quartet is already facing an uphill battle in their bid to makeover Kuwaiti politics. MP Massouma Al Mubarak was accused of trying to push through more female politicians into the Cabinet and the Kuwait Quartet were also accused of trying to form their own bloc to stand united against the male members of Parliament.

The State of Kuwait is often referred to as a ‘half democracy’ since only the Emir controls the Cabinet while the public chooses Parliamentarians.  Kuwaiti activists have long petitioned for the formation of political parties and for Kuwait to be a true democracy where the public has the right to choose all elected officials.

11-23

Pay to Play

By Bob Wood, MMNS

Last week, an acquaintance of mine, one who’s fairly well versed on the financial markets, asked me why the fundamentals of our economy aren’t being considered by investors who seem bent on piling their money into a rising stock market. I told him that as far as I could tell, the state of our economy doesn’t seem to be much of a concern to the ones doing the buying. So how can you use that information to appropriately allocate your savings in the markets?

Perhaps a better question to ask is whether you should consider that point or not. Let’s face it, when investors ignore the basic tenets of investing success, it’s no longer investing; it’s gambling. The dynamic that we’re seeing at work is scarcely discussed in classic investment texts. Today’s investors are simply betting on which stocks will rise the most, a replay of the 2003 “beta trade” when shares that exhibited the most violent price swings were the most sought-after.

This has nothing to do with investing for the long run as advocated by famed investor Warren Buffett. You can throw out all of those old Peter Lynch books, too. Today’s market environment bears little resemblance to those quaint old days when basic investing fundamentals were considered meaningful.

I’m sure you know which important fundamental considerations the old school investors emphasized when deciding which risky assets to purchase for their portfolios. For most of us, valuation would obviously top the list. After all, it’s what you initially pay for an investment that determines how much, if anything, you’ll make over time.

Oddly, today’s investors appear oblivious to the historically high average price-to-earnings ratios posted for the major averages. In my latest copy of Barron’s, which is read by most investors, the P/E for the S&P 500 is listed at 122, and the Dow is selling at 41 times earnings. Does that look cheap to you?

Of course, the people promoting stocks and mutual funds tell us to ignore those numbers since they represent trailing earnings, including lots of bad stuff like massive balance sheet losses by the banks, insurance companies, and automakers. They ask you to accept on faith that earnings will rebound strongly, and based on their best guesses for operating earnings minus the bad stuff, stocks look cheap.

Is that rationale good enough for you to risk your savings? If you said yes, perhaps you should go lie down and take a nice nap until you regain a little clarity. First, operating earnings disregard meaningful events sometimes classified as “one-time losses.” Exactly how many “one-time losses” has General Motors declared over the past five years?

Those earnings estimates are also based on optimistic assumptions about the health of our economy. We hear that every year, though, don’t we? We were told that the housing mess would be contained, and to expect nothing worse than a soft landing in home prices. We were also assured that the economy wouldn’t sink into recession territory. Now that we’re about 18 months from the officially recognized beginning of the current downturn, can you think of any reason to listen to today’s rosy predictions? From the same people that fed us that nonsense a couple of years ago?

When the price of oil began falling from its old highs of about $145 per barrel, we were assured that the decrease would be a good thing for both the economy and corporate profits. That didn’t happen, either. Profits are in the tank, and GDP numbers are far worse than anyone suggested they might be a year ago. And now the price of energy is again on the rise, but no recommendations on how an already struggling economy might adapt to higher fuel costs appear forthcoming.
The jobs market is worse than anyone predicted a year or two ago, and continues to offer fresh rounds of bad news each week. This trend is important, since it suggests consumer spending won’t rebound (in any meaningful way) any time soon. Shouldn’t that have an impact on corporate profits and those high P/E ratios for the major averages? Yes, it should, but it doesn’t.

California, our largest state, is now bankrupt, and hoping to borrow billions of dollars despite a credit rating that’s already the lowest of any state, meaning their costs to borrow money are rising and constraining economic activity. Given California’s size, and the amount of economic activity usually observed there, shouldn’t that make us more bearish than bullish?

Again, those and many other fundamentals of our economy suggest that stocks are still overvalued and poised for a nasty meeting with reality. Of course, by the time you read this, the big Spring rally of 2009 may have ended under the weight of worsening news about our economy.

And that’s what secular bear markets are all about. Once the economy spots trouble, stock prices fall (some by significant amounts,) and then the promoters work their hardest to convince us that the worst is over, and that we’ll miss the big rebound if we don’t buy at the day’s low prices. Then reality sets in again and share prices fall, and on and on it goes.

Stock rallies fail, and investors grow frustrated enough to sell and raise cash, just in time for the next bull cycle to begin. This has much to do with the relatively small number of investors who’ve managed to make money investing in stocks, even in long-running bull markets!

So what should you do if you remain committed to your investments? I ask myself that very question at times like these, knowing that it’s my job to aim for growth and profits in any and all market cycles. And while I can easily tell you what I’m doing personally, that doesn’t mean you should follow my lead.

Remember that with the markets, you are ultimately on your own. Everyone on the other side of your trades is after your money, and the best managers will, in time, get it. In secular bear markets, individual investors pay to play. And since I’ve already established that this is not an investor’s market, it must therefore be a gambler’s market, and you aren’t investing, you’re playing.

You already read in this space a few weeks back that I have gotten out of the domestic markets on both the long and short sides. I just don’t want to have anything to do with a market that’s dominated by gamblers and short-term traders, especially given the horrific fundamentals of our economy.

This strategy is working out quite well, as foreign and emerging markets are outperforming the domestic markets by a very wide margin. And while I’m enthusiastic about the prospects for the foreign markets to continue proving themselves the most profitable to invest in, I’m still concerned about a potentially large drop in the domestic markets that might drag all markets lower in sympathy.

So I’ve been adding cash to all of my managed accounts like never before. My target allocation is to hold roughly half of each portfolio’s assets in cash, with the usual allocation, about 15% in gold shares, a small allocation in energy shares, and the rest in foreign shares. Those long side allocations are hedged against downside market movements with small share amounts in inverse index funds for those foreign markets, leaving me with only about a 30% exposure to upside potential.

In this type of market environment, there’s little reason to think that a sustainable move higher is in the cards. It’s the worst of times for investors, and caution is well warranted. There will surely be better times in the future, and it’s important that you’re around to participate. That means preserving your capital until then, and holding plenty of cash is the safest way to get there. If you’re going to pay to play, don’t pay much. It just isn’t worth the risk of being taken out of the markets when a real rally ensues.

Have a great week.
Bob

Bob Wood ChFC, CLU Yusuf Kadiwala. Registered Investment Advisors, KMA, Inc., invest@muslimobserver.com.

11-23

Fiqh Class at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center

Bloomfield Hills–May 24–Imam Musa is one of the many extraordinary imams of the Southeast Michigan community who engage in a humble and comfortable manner with their congregations, teaching by lecture and also by example about the great religion of Islam.

This past Sunday Imam Musa gave a summary description of the fiqh rules relating to inheritance of money that is in part from haram sources.

The imam explained that inheritors must make an attempt to remove from their inheritance that portion of the money they receive that came from haram activities or from haram means such as riba.

He explained that “if they can divide it,” by identifying clearly that portion of the wealth which is unlawful (possibly taken by force, or by deceit, or through riba, or through haram actions or products), they should return that portion directly (for instance a piece of land taken by force).

In some instances, he explained, it is impossible to give the money back directly to the person who was harmed and in this case the money should be given as sadaqa, or to a mosque.

Imam Musa explained in his summarized fiqh lecture that a Muslim who converted to Islam should stop earning money from haram sources but is not required to return the money he or she earned before converting to Islam, even if it was from haram sources.

11-23

Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin of Detroit’s Muslim Center Runs for Detroit City Council

TMO Stringer

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Farmington–May 27–Imam El-Amin announced last Thursday evening that he is running for Detroit City Council.  This is another indication of a growing trend–the silver lining that followed the years of difficulty after 9/11–of Muslims seeking political office to remedy the lack of political clout that Muslims feel in the US.

In an email press release titled “My Plan for Detroit,” Imam El-Amin explained his vision for Detroit’s future. 

A long-time columnist who helped found The Muslim Observer, Imam El-Amin is a strong voice of conviction, conscience, and principle who has an ability to cross cultural and religious lines in order to sow the seeds of peace–with Christians, Jews, and Muslims, with Americans and Africans. 

His own mosque reflects this uniquely, as it is a crossroads frequented by people from the African American community and also the African Gambian community, not to mention people from many other ethnicities, including Malaysians, white Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, and Arabs. 

This is no accident–Imam El-Amin has made a deliberate and conscious effort over decades to reach out to different communities of peoople.  You may find him at his mosque, warmly welcoming the many partners he has found with whom to build peace in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities.  He has also accomplished much within his own community–not least among his accomplishments are the mosque he has helped to put into place, the Muslim Center of Detroit on Davison Hwy.

Speaking of his own candidacy he shows the confidence of a successful candidate, “we’re going to win, but I need a lot of help.”

Following is the press release which announces his candidacy:

Announcement of Candidacy

“Making Detroit Great…Again

“Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

In times of hardship, it is easy for people to lose hope, to feel that all good is gone.  Detroit is on hard times but we are not lost, and we are not out of the game.   Our city is blessed to have thoughtful, committed citizens who are willing to work hard and tirelessly to see our community improved.   I am running for City Council because I am committed to putting in the time and hard work necessary to realize the true revitalization of the City of Detroit.  As your councilman, there are several things I feel are vital for this to occur.  Below is a partial list.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and to working together to formulate a full plan.   Together, we can make Detroit great… again!

DETROIT “VILLAGES”

o    Rebuild a “village” mentality where neighbors look out for each other’s well being and property.  
o    Support the construction of new Neighborhood Block Clubs throughout the city.
o    Strengthen existing block clubs by linking with funders to provide “mini-grants” for clean ups and other neighborhood projects

    DETROIT JEWELS

o    Detroit’s image has been tarnished throughout America.  We need to bring attention to our Detroit Jewels like Eastern Market, Greektown, our beautiful Waterfront, Auto Show and Historic homes to improve our image and increase tourism.
o    When we repair our image, we will be able to increase international and regional support for investment in the City of Detroit

    WORK FOR DETROIT, LIVE IN DETROIT

o    Each person that is paid by Detroit tax dollars should live in Detroit.  I will work to create legislation that would require city residency for police, firemen, political appointees, and other city employees.   We must begin to infuse good peoples back into our neighborhoods and that begins with our employees.

    CLEAN SWEEP

o    Take a strong stand against littering and illegal dumping in the City of Detroit.   If you litter, you are ticketed.  If you dump, you are heavily fined and prosecuted.  We will not tolerate the denigration of our community.  Increase requirement for visible community service for breaking the laws of littering and illegal dumping in the City of Detroit
o    Encourage neighborhoods to organize regular neighborhood cleanups
o    Provide cleaning supplies for those who engage in cleanups.

    DETROIT BUSINESSES GET DETROIT CONTRACTS

o    Detroit businesses should be given priority for contractual work with the city.  Choosing to locate your business within the City of Detroit is a plus for our community.  Those who invest in Detroit should reap the benefits first.
o    Encourage Detroit residents to enter into small business entrepreneurial ventures such as grass cutting, snow plowing, plumbing, drywall installation, etc.
By implementing this basic plan, our pride in the city will be enhanced.    When people are prideful, they think twice about denigrating or allowing others to denigrate it!

THANK YOU AND VOTE FOR EL-AMIN

Leadership with Integrity for Detroit’s Future!

11-23

Illinois Muslims ‘Action Day’ in State Capitol

By Ahmed Khan

ED8 On May 21, 2009 close to 500 American-Muslims from across Illinois traveled to Springfield to participate in the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago’s Muslim ACTION! Day. The event drew out Muslims of all sorts ranging from community leaders to high school students.

The issues that were advocated for were: pushing for public education funding reform, opposing online gambling in Illinois, advocating the reduction of greenhouse emission in Illinois and promoting investment in Green technology, and finally introduction of Arabic language instruction in all Illinois’ Public High Schools.

The day started early with breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion where Muslim community leaders met with legislators. Among the legislators to attend the breakfast was Rep. Paul Froehlich (D) from the 56th District (which is the greater Schaumburg area).  Rep. Froehlich is a co-sponsor of the “Arabic language instruction in public schools” resolution introduced by Senator Jacqueline Collins (D). Also attending the breakfast were Senator Mike Jacobs (D) from the 36th District (Quad City area) and Rep. Greg Harris from the 13th District (encompassing numerous North Side Chicago Mosques).

After the breakfast, more than 10 buses carrying 500 Muslims arrived at the Howlett Auditorium for a Kick Off Rally. The packed auditorium was buzzing with excitement and energy as the audience was engaged by CIOGC Chairman Dr. Zaher Sahloul, CIOGC Executive Director Junaid Afeef, and IMAN’s Executive Director Rami Nashashibi, who also serves on the CIOGC Executive Committee.

Sen. Dan Cronin (R) from the Islamic Foundation community, Rep. Paul Froehlich (D) from the Masjid Al-Huda community and Rep. David Miller (D) from the CMecca School community engaged the Muslims and gave an added boost to an already excited crowd. Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, flew in from Los Angeles to show solidarity with Muslims in Illinois and also spoke to the crowd.

After the Rally, participants headed out to the Statehouse to meet with their legislators. Many Muslims were able to meet with legislators including Sen. John Milner (R) from Bloomingdale and Senator William Delgado (D) from the 2nd District to discuss the issues that were being advocated for, but as both the House and Senate were in crucial budget session, those who were not able to see their legislators outside the chambers visited their legislative offices and hand-delivered literature on the issues directly to Legislative Aides.

Several leaders including CIOGC Chair Zaher Sahloul, Vice Chair Tasneem Osmani and Executive Committee member Bambade Shakoor-Abdullah visited with Rep. Tom Cross (R) and Sen. Christine Radogno (R) in previously scheduled meetings to personally discuss the issues.

While the community was advocating and engaging their legislators, six gifted young high school students from the American Muslim community spent the day as honorary Senate pages. Students from Universal School were also brought onto the Senate floor and honored by Sen. Ed Maloney (D).

Ahmed Khan is an Associate Organizer, CIOGC

11-23

Community News (V11-I23)

CT school district considers Muslim holidays

PROSPECT, CT–A Connecticut school district is considering a proposal to close schools on two Muslim holidays. The Region 16 Board of Education is expected to take up the Student Council’s proposal this week.

The board represents the towns of Prospect and Beacon Falls, Conn. The resolution asks the board not to hold classes on Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Directory Launches to Foster Dialogue

New York, NY — JewishMuslimDirectory.org today announced the launch of an online interfaith directory to facilitate dialogue between Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States. The website’s central feature is a comprehensive directory of organizations and individuals involved in interfaith dialogue across the country.

The site’s founders, members of both the Muslim and Jewish faiths, were spurred to create a comprehensive directory of interfaith organizations after successfully engaging in dialogue activities during their time as students at the University of Pennsylvania. Struggling to match the depth and frequency of engagement outside of their university experience, the founders saw the need for a single site that could direct interested parties to appropriate groups across the country.

“By cataloging many of the organizations approaching the interfaith space, JewishMuslimDirectory.org hopes to increase access to interreligious and intercultural organizations across the country” said Samir Malik, the site’s co-founder and a former president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Muslim Students’ Association. “Interfaith works. As students, we were surrounded by open-minded peers immersed in a culture of isolation and self-segregation. By taking steps to bridge the gap between the Jewish and Muslim communities at Penn, we helped to foster an environment of dialogue and mutual respect” Malik said.

Aiming to extend those efforts beyond the college environment, JewishMuslimDirectory.org allows visitors to search for organizations and share feedback about successful programming with other users. Intended as user friendly and participatory, users can add organizations to the directory by submitting contact information through a simple web interface.

“Though the site is primarily a tool for finding relevant organizations nearby, it is also a forum for exchanging ideas” said co-founder Sam Adelsberg, who also leads LendForPeace.org. “We actively encourage visitors to add and update their organization information and to participate in constructive discussion about successful interfaith programming” he said.

With this launch, JewishMuslimDirectory.org hopes to contribute to the broader effort of improving relations between the United States’ Muslim and Jewish communities.

Islamic college proposed in Berkeley

The proposed Zaytuna College would be a first: a four-year, accredited, Islamic college in the United States.

“Part of the process of indigenizing Islam in America is for the community to begin to develop its own leadership from inside the country, develop its own scholars,” said Hatem Bazian, chair of the management board for Zaytuna College and a senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

“There is a growing need in the Muslim community to provide a variety of trained specialists to fulfill a growing and diverse community infrastructure and institutional framework,” Bazian said — to work as imams, as chaplains, or within the growing network of Islamic non-profit organizations. Currently, Bazian said, American students who seek a high-level Islamic education must study in the Muslim world.

The proposed college would be built out of an existing institute with significant influence in the Islamic community. The Zaytuna Institute and Academy, an Islamic educational institute founded in 1996, is transitioning into Zaytuna College; the Berkeley-based institute already offers classes, but not for university credit.

Interfaith ride of discovery in New Jersey

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ–Adherents of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths in New Jersey went on an innovative ride last week–a ride of discovery.

The participants in the May 17 Interfaith Ride of Discovery traveled from Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick to St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in East Brunswick and ended at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in Monmouth Junction.

Many participants rode together in buses draped with large banners bearing a star of David, a crescent, and a cross.

The event was the result of an initiative proposed last year by Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12), whose district includes parts of Monmouth, Middlesex, and Mercer counties.

11-23

Houstonian Corner (V11-I23)

Khalid Khan & M. J. Khan Host Dinners for First Pakistani Ladies Parliamentarians Delegation

The Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) under the leadership of Khalid Khan, hosted at Hilton Southwest Hotel a befitting dinner for the first ever Pakistani Ladies Parliamentarians Delegation to USA, which came to Houston this past week. Pakistan Chronicle was the Official Houston Facilitator of this State Department Initiative, where the delegation was to meet with federal, state and local elected officials, judges, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and grass roots activists, representing a range of important issues. The participants learnt about the history of USA as well as the history of women’s rights and progress of women in political office in the United States.

The delegation consists of: Ms. Nasim Chaudhry – Multan (PPP); Ms. Mamoona Javed Hashmi – Multan (PML-N); Ms. Fouzia Ejaz Khan – Karachi (MQM); Ms. Marvi Memon – Karachi (PML-Q); and Ms. Sumaira Yasir Rasheed – Narowal (PML-N). They have been to Minneapolis; Washington DC and will be going to North Carolina from Houston, before returning to Pakistan from Washington DC.

Consul General and Commercial Attaché of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem and Dr. Zia Ahmed and their wives were present on the occasion and so were friends of PAGH and Khalid Khan. On the passionate appeal of Khalid Khan, some of the participants contributed generously towards “Prime Minister Relief Fund for IDPs”.

A farewell dinner was organized in delegation’s honor by the City of Houston Councilperson M. J. Khan on Tuesday evening at Mezban Restaurant.

The First Pakistani Ladies Parliamentarians Delegation Visited Home Of Consul General Of Pakistan

At an exclusive dinner party hosted by Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Honorable Aqil Nadeem and his wife at their official residence in Northwest Houston, the first ever Pakistani Ladies Parliamentarians Delegation to USA met several prominent community political, social, entrepreneur, professional and journalistic personalities. The delegation consists of: Ms. Nasim Chaudhry – Multan (PPP); Ms. Mamoona Javed Hashmi – Multan (PML-N); Ms. Fouzia Ejaz Khan – Karachi (MQM); Ms. Marvi Memon – Karachi (PML-Q); and Ms. Sumaira Yasir Rasheed – Narowal (PML-N). Commercial Attaché of Pakistan in Houston Dr. Zia Ahmed and his wife was present on the occasion. Everyone enjoyed the splendid dinner prepared by Mrs. Aqil Nadeem.

Splendid Floodlit Festival At ISGH Synott Masjid

This past Sunday saw the second floodlit carnival in a Houston Masjid at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Southwest Zone Synott Masjid. Theme of the event was: “Let Your Summer Start Here.” There were Games, Camel Ride, Pony Ride, Train, Rock Climbing, Moon Walk, Petting Zoo and Variety of International Food Stalls. Vendor booths full of nice clothing and other items were another attraction. If you have any comments about this event, please call Sonia 713-320-0612 or Ambareen 832-878-9786.

Community Events

1)      Friday, June 05, 2009, 8:30pm.; Topic: “Building a Media Institution”; Mezban Restaurant, 6655 Harwin Drive, Houston, Texas 77036 (Call 713.952.0606 for directions); RSVP: 832-275-0786;

2)      Saturday, June 06, 2009, 8:00pm., Theme: “Empower Next Generation Muslims With Education” (Not A Fundraising Event); At La Sani Restaurant, 9621 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas 77036; RSVP: 713-933-5859;

3)      Saturday, June 20, 2009, 9:00am.-4:00pm.; 16th Knowledge & Skills Competition for Muslim Youth (Different Age Levels: 4 to 17) by ICNA at Four ISGH Centers (Adel Road; Synott Road; Old Galveston Road; and Bear Creek): http://www.icnahouston.com/; E-Mail: houstonicna@yahoo.com

4)      Saturday, July 04, 2009, 09:00am.-11:00pm.: Theme: “Serving Humanity for the Love of Divinity”; ICNA-MAS Conference; Rice University; http://www.icnahouston.com/; E-Mail: houstonicna@yahoo.com

11-23

AL-AWDA Convention

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world today. The Israelis drove out approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. The legal basis for their right of return cannot be disputed. In their treatment of Palestinian refugees, the Israelis not only forced Palestinians to leave ancestral lands, but, through their treatment of them from 1948 until today, they have destroyed a culture.

In the 61st year of the Nakba (the catastrophe), AL-AWDA once again has brought national and international attention to this situation.

The seventh annual convention of AL-AWDA, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, was held in Garden Grove, Ca. this past weekend. This well attended, exciting and educational event, titled “Freedom for Palestine”, began Friday evening with a meet and greet session enhanced by outstanding Arabic food.

After the convention opening and welcome, activists from solidarity organizations addressed the audience. These activists included, but were not limited to: John Parker, the West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center; Richard Becker, a founder and current leader of the ANSWER Coalition, and Cindy Sheehan, a prominent anti-war activist and campaigner for human rights.

A showing of “Salt of the Sea” closed the evening’s activities. This motion picture tells the story of a young Palestinian woman, born in the United States to Palestinian refugees. When she becomes aware that at the time of the Nakba the Israelis froze her grandfather’s bank account in Jaffa, she travels to Palestine to reclaim what she believes is her due. As she sees the conditions of Palestinian existence and meets a young Palestinian man, she comes to realize that what needs to be reclaimed is far more than a bank account.

On Saturday forums were held throughout the day dealing with such timely issues as: “Palestinian Refugees – Background and Current Status”  with Dr. Jesse Ghannam. Dr. Ghannam has established mental health clinics in Gaza and travels there frequently. The clinics and his participation in them are under the auspices of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In the United States, Dr. Ghannam is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California San Francisco.

“Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” was conducted by Lubna Hamad of Adalah (The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East) New York of which she is co founder. Ms Hamad was a legal consultant for UNICEF in Jerusalem with a specialty of child protection.

George Galloway, British MP and international human rights advocate, conducted a forum on “Viva Palestina”.

MP Galloway also addressed an evening session on “Growing our Global Movement – Freedom for Palestine” which session included fundraising.

Keynote addresses on Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli attack and the situation in Jerusalem highlighted the luncheon session.

A parallel youth program was held.

The final session of the Convention, held on Sunday, dealt with reports, challenges and future plans.

The Sacramento chapter, which had at one time been part of the San Francisco chapter, reported growth and successful participation in anti war events, BDS and educational series. The Phoenix chapter also reported growth and public engagement.

A suggestion was made to encourage tourism to Palestine,specifically Jerusalem, as the Israeli government is trying to cripple East Jerusalem economically. Tourists should stay at Palestinian run hotels; eat at Palestinian run restaurants, and purchase from Palestinian run shops.

Further, a suggestion was made to coordinate AL-AWDA activity here with AL-AWDA groups in Europe where the movement is extremely active.

Still another suggestion, unanimously and enthusiastically accepted, was to send a small delegation to the Egyptian Consulate to express our dismay at Egypt’s cooperation in making crossing into Gaza through Rafah difficult and erratic.

Booths on display at the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Online Store; A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; International Action Center; Free Gaza Movement, and Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California in San Diego.

Host committee organizations of the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Aid Society; Muslim Students Association at UCSD, Palomar College, and Mira Costa and the Muslim Students Union at UCR; Free Palestine Alliance, and Palestinian American Women Association.

AL-AWDA may be accessed at: www.al-awda.org.

11-23

Palestine Awareness at UCLA

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

The month of May is a time when people who value fairness and who share humanitarian ideals observe the anniversary of the Nakba. The Nakba is the catastrophe that was inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the Israelis in 1948, an event which has yet to be squarely faced by most of the Western world, particularly the United States. It is a situation which cries out for justice and finds none.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA this past week presented a panel discussion titled: “Why Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions?” The event was part of Palestine Awareness Week, a collaborative effort held for the purpose of educating the larger UCLA community about the situation in Palestine. The true conditions of the Palestinian people are only rarely, if ever, presented by the main stream media.

The panel members were Reem Salahi and Professor Mohammed Abed. Ms Salahi is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and recently visited Gaza on a fact finding tour sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). She was a Fulbright Fellow in Amman, Jordan from 2004 through 2005.

Professor Abed is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at California State University in Los Angeles. He is currently focused on ethical issues raised by political violence, particularly in the Middle East and most specifically on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Ms Salahi told her audience that the Palestinian people want a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) program against Israel. Palestinian civil society has asked for a BDS program similar to the program which was employed successfully against South Africa. In addition they want an academic boycott. An academic boycott means no engagement or collaboration on a national or international level and no subsidies. The academic boycott began in 2004. In 2005 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague found Israel’s Separation Wall to be illegal. Palestinian civil society asked for a boycott similar to the one imposed on South Africa. A boycott simply means: do not purchase Israeli goods; divestment means the withdrawal of investments in companies doing business with Israel; sanctions means penalties and moral pressure.

Ms Salahi spoke of the successful boycott of Motorola. Motorola, thanks to the boycott imposed, no longer makes bomb fuses for Israel.

“Israel has gotten away with murder” said Ms Salahi.

She left her audience with suggestions. 1)Identify a goal; 2)Engage in an education campaign; 3)Preempt the opposition – there will always be a push back against your actions; 4)Keep up morale; 5)There should be support groups.

Professor Abed then took to the podium. He said that he would make the moral case for BDS. He said he would also answer in advance, as it were, the arguments which those fighting for BDS would encounter from the opposition.

Many opponents of BDS claim that there are nations in the world with worse human rights records than Israel. Why not work against China and/or Sudan? Professor Abed said that in China and Sudan the citizens do not have the ability to change their government’s policies. The nature of Israeli society is such that citizens can force a change in that nation’s actions.

Referencing the charge that BDS would harm all Israelis, not only those in charge of policy, Professor Abed said that there would be ways of structuring policy to minimize that effect.

He portrayed Israel as an unruly child and the United States as the parent of that child. If one’s child misbehaves, a parent cannot look away and say that other children have behaved in an even worse manner.

Professor Abed reminded his audience that Israeli occupation is not benign. It not only effects the West Bank, Gaza, Palestinians in Israel and Palestinians in the Diaspora; it impacts on the entire Middle East. It is the central irritant.

“It is time for third party intervention’ said Professor Abed.

In describing the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, Professor Abed said that Israel has destroyed a culture.

A lively question and answer session followed the presentation.

“I feel that I really earned a lot” said one woman in the audience.

Students for Justice in Palestine may be reached at: sjp@ucla.edu.

11-23

How MI5 Blackmails British Muslims

‘Work for us or we will say you are a terrorist’

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor, Independent UK

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.

The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.

Three of the men say they were detained at foreign airports on the orders of MI5 after leaving Britain on family holidays last year.

After they were sent back to the UK, they were interviewed by MI5 officers who, they say, falsely accused them of links to Islamic extremism. On each occasion the agents said they would lift the travel restrictions and threat of detention in return for their co-operation. When the men refused some of them received what they say were intimidating phone calls and threats.

Two other Muslim men say they were approached by MI5 at their homes after police officers posed as postmen. Each of the five men, aged between 19 and 25, was warned that if he did not help the security services he would be considered a terror suspect. A sixth man was held by MI5 for three hours after returning from his honeymoon in Saudi Arabia. He too claims he was threatened with travel restrictions if he tried to leave the UK.

An agent who gave her name as Katherine is alleged to have made direct threats to Adydarus Elmi, a 25-year-old cinema worker from north London. In one telephone call she rang him at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months’ pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.

Mr Elmi further alleges: “Katherine tried to threaten me by saying, and it still runs through my mind now: ‘Remember, this won’t be the last time we ever meet.’ And then during our last conversation she explained: ‘If you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate.’”

Madhi Hashi, a 19-year-old care worker from Camden, claims he was held for 16 hours in a cell in Djibouti airport on the orders of MI5. He alleges that when he was returned to the UK on 9 April this year he was met by an MI5 agent who told him his terror suspect status would remain until he agreed to work for the Security Service. He alleges that he was to be given the job of informing on his friends by encouraging them to talk about jihad.

Mohamed Nur, 25, a community youth worker from north London, claims he was threatened by the Security Service after an agent gained access to his home accompanied by a police officer posing as a postman.

“The MI5 agent said, ‘Mohamed if you do not work for us we will tell any foreign country you try to travel to that you are a suspected terrorist.’”

Mohamed Aden, 25, a community youth worker from Camden, was also approached by someone disguised as a postman in August last year. He alleges an agent told him: “We’re going to make your travelling harder for you if you don’t co-operate.”

None of the six men, who work with disadvantaged youths at the Kentish Town Community Organisation (KTCO), has ever been arrested for terrorism or a terrorism-related offence.

They have repeatedly complained about their treatment to the police and to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which oversees the work of the Security Services.

In a letter to Lord Justice Mummery, who heads the tribunal, Sharhabeel Lone, the chairman of the KTCO, said: “The only thing these young people have in common is that they studied Arabic abroad and are of Somali origin. They are not involved in any terrorist activity whatsoever, nor have they ever been, and the security services are well aware of this.”

Mr Sharhabeel added: “The se incidents smack of racism, Islamophobia and all that undermines social cohesion. Threatening British citizens, harassing them in their own country, alienating young people who have committed no crime other than practising a particular faith and being a different colour is a recipe for disaster.

“These disgraceful incidents have undermined 10 years of hard work and severely impacted social cohesion in Camden. Targeting young people that are role models for all young people in our country in such a disparaging way demonstrates a total lack of understanding of on-the-ground reality and can only be counter-productive.

“When people are terrorised by the very same body that is meant to protect them, sowing fear, suspicion and division, we are on a slippery slope to an Orwellian society.”

Frank Dobson said: “To identify real suspects from the Muslim communities MI5 must use informers. But it seems that from what I have seen some of their methods may be counter-productive.”

Last night MI5 and the police refused to discuss the men’s complaints with The Independent. But on its website, MI5 says it is untrue that the Security Service harasses Muslims.

The organisation says: “We do not investigate any individuals on the grounds of ethnicity or religious beliefs. Countering the threat from international terrorists, including those who claim to be acting for Islam, is the Security Service’s highest priority.

“We know that attacks are being considered and planned for the UK by al-Qai’da and associated networks. International terrorists in this country threaten us directly through violence and indirectly through supporting violence overseas.”

It adds: “Muslims are often themselves the victims of this violence – the series of terrorist attacks in Casablanca in May 2003 and Riyadh in May and November 2003 illustrate this.

“The service also employs staff of all religions, including Muslims. We are committed to recruiting a diverse range of staff from all backgrounds so that we can benefit from their different perspectives and experience.”

MI5 and me: Three statements

Mahdi Hashi: ‘I told him: this is blackmail’

Last month, 19-year-old Mahdi Hashi arrived at Gatwick airport to take a plane to visit his sick grandmother in Djibouti, but as he was checking in he was stopped by two plainclothes officers. One of the officers identified himself as Richard and said he was working for MI5.

Mr Hashi said: “He warned me not to get on the flight. He said ‘Whatever happens to you outside the UK is not our responsibility’. I was absolutely shocked.” The agent handed Mr Hashi a piece of paper with his name and telephone contact details and asked him to call him.

“The whole time he tried to make it seem like he was looking after me. And just before I left them at my boarding gate I remember ‘Richard’ telling me ‘It’s your choice, mate, to get on that flight but I advise you not to,’ and then he winked at me.”

When Mr Hashi arrived at Djibouti airport he was stopped at passport control. He was then held in a room for 16 hours before being deported back to the UK. He claims the Somali security officers told him that their orders came from London. More than 24 hours after he first left the UK he arrived back at Heathrow and was detained again.

“I was taken to pick up my luggage and then into a very discreet room. ‘Richard’ walked in with a Costa bag with food which he said was for me, my breakfast. He said it was them who sent me back because I was a terror suspect.” Mr Hashi, a volunteer youth leader at Kentish Town Community Organisation in north London, alleges that the officer made it clear that his “suspect” status and travel restrictions would only be lifted if he agreed to co-operate with MI5. “I told him ‘This is blatant blackmail’; he said ‘No, it’s just proving your innocence. By co-operating with us we know you’re not guilty.’

“He said I could go and that he’d like to meet me another time, preferably after [May] Monday Bank Holiday. I looked at him and said ‘I don’t ever want to see you or hear from you again. You’ve ruined my holiday, upset my family, and you nearly gave my sick grandmother in Somalia a heart attack’.”

Adydarus Elmi: ‘MI5 agent threatened my family’

When the 23-year-old cinema worker from north London arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport with his pregnant wife, they were separated, questioned and deported back to Britain.

Three days later Mr Elmi was contacted on his mobile phone and asked to attend Charing Cross police station to discuss problems he w as having with his travel documents. “I met a man and a woman,” he said. “She said her name was Katherine and that she worked for MI5. I didn’t know what MI5 was.”

For two-and-a-half hours Mr Elmi faced questions. “I felt I was being lured into working for MI5.” The contact did not stop there. Over the following weeks he claims “Katherine” harassed him with dozens of phone calls.

“She would regularly call my mother’s home asking to speak to me,” he said. “And she would constantly call my mobile.”

In one disturbing call the agent telephoned his home at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.

“Katherine tried to threaten me by saying – and it still runs through my mind now – ‘Remember, this won’t be the last time we ever meet”, and then during our last conversation explained: ‘If you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate’.”

Mohamed Nur

Mohamed Nur, 25, first came into contact with MI5 early one morning in August 2008 when his doorbell rang. Looking through his spyhole in Camden, north London, he saw a man with a red bag who said he was a postman.

When Mr Nur opened the door the man told him that he was in fact a policeman and that he and his colleague wanted to talk to him. When they sat down the second man produced ID and said that he worked for MI5.

The agent told Mr Nur that they suspected him of being an Islamic extremist. “I immediately said ‘And where did you get such an idea?’ He replied, ‘I am not permitted to discuss our sources’. I said that I have never done anything extreme.”

Mr Nur claims he was then threatened by the officer. “The MI5 agent said, ‘Mohamed, if you do not work for us we will tell any foreign country you try to travel to that you are a suspected terrorist’.”

They asked him what travel plans he had. Mr Nur said he might visit Sweden next year for a football tournament. The agent told him he would contact him within the next three days.

“I am not interested in meeting you ever.” Mr Nur replied. As they left, the agent said to at least consider the approach, as it was in his best interests.

11-23

New Indian Govt. Faces Problems From Day One

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Paradoxically, even before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had settled, taking charge for the second continuous term of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, trouble from unexpected quarters surfaced. Singh and 19 members of his cabinet were administered oath of office and secrecy by President Pratibha Patil last week (May 22). Hard bargaining with key allies over which party should be allotted how many number of seats delayed the complete formation of the new government. Though there was nothing surprising about Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with 19 seats and Trinamool Congress (TC) – 18, giving a hard time to Congress leaders on their demand of ministerial berths, it certainly send a strong message from day one. At a point, DMK chief, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi even said that his party would give external support to UPA. TC chief Mamata Bannerjee, who was among the 19 ministers administered oath last week, accepted the Railways portfolio she had asked for. At the same time, the lady made it clear that she will not take charge of her portfolio till some of her party colleagues were included in the cabinet.

It may be said that any coalition government is bound to face such “teething” problems in its initial days. Nevertheless, it does raise questions on the degree to which Congress can expect its allies to function as cabinet members. Senior Congress leader, Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal said: “Efficiency and performance will be the hallmark of this government.” It was with aim that Singh got down to begin working, from day one, after being administered the oath of office. The same can be said of other five ministers who were accorded portfolios, a day after taking oath (May 23). These include senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, who was allocated Finance portfolio, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar with Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, A.K. Antony (Congress)- Defense, P. Chidambaram (Congress)- Home and S.M. Krishna (Congress)- External Affairs ministry. In contrast, TC supremo Mamata adopted a different line, despite being allotted the ministry she was keen for.

Some credit must be given to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders for having at least managed to resolve the deadlock over ministerial berths. But that the deadlock prevailed certainly suggests that Congress leaders were given a hard time from day one on forming the new government. On its part, the Congress may say that the task would have been more difficult had the party won lesser number of seats. With 206 seats, the Congress succeeded in attracting enough legislators to gives its alliance, together with external supporters, more than 320 seats, which is significantly higher than 272- the magic figure needed to prove majority in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress leaders were probably prepared to face wrangling over ministry sharing. The party, however, had not expected that the first statement from the Prime Minister soon after assuming office would be over disturbance in the country. The disturbance refers to violence and clashes in Punjab and several parts of Haryana, triggered by killing of a Dera sect (Sikh) leader Sant Rama Nand in Vienna (Austria). Visiting Vienna, Dera leader was killed and 30 others injured in a clash at a Sikh temple (Gurdwara), provoked by a dispute over a sermon being given by a priest (May 24). The Vienna incident provoked large-scale violence in Punjab, in which protestors set afire train coaches, buses and clashed with police, prompting the authorities to impose curfew in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Hoshiarpur. The army was called in Jalandhar and Phagwara. Protestors also blocked road and rail traffic at several places in Punjab. Dera sect and Shiromani Akali Dal also called for a shutdown strike. As a precautionary measure, the Delhi-Lahore bus service was stopped at Ludhiana. At least two persons were killed and several injured (May 25).

Singh was probably not prepared that in his first statement he would have to express his distress over clashes in Punjab. Expressing concern, in a message, Singh said: “I am deeply distressed by the outbreak of violence in Punjab following certain incidents in Vienna, Austria. Whatever the provocation, it is important to maintain peace and harmony among different sections of the people. Sikhism preaches tolerance and harmony.” “I appeal to all sections of the people in Punjab to abjure violence and maintain peace. In areas where curfew has been imposed, it is necessary that people should go back to their homes and allow the security forces to restore law and order. I sincerely appeal to the people of Punjab to heed this message and help the authorities restore peace and order,” he said.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that the Vienna-incident was a “matter of deep concern and regret.” Expressing “deep condolences” at passing away of Dera leader, Krishna said that Indian embassy in Vienna was in “close contact with the Austrian Foreign Office, the Viennese police and the Austrian authorities.” “We are receiving the cooperation of the Austrian authorities and are determined to ensure that the perpetrators of this completely mindless and wanton attack are brought to justice,” he said.

On his part, soon after assuming office, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that situation in Punjab was “not quite normal.” “We have already provided 14 companies (1,400 personnel) of paramilitary forces. They are already in place since morning. Eleven more (companies) are moving. We have also provided a helicopter to the state government,” he said.

News of UPA ministers beginning work was overshadowed by headlines about riots and violence in Punjab, something that Singh and his new cabinet were certainly not prepared for!

11-23

They May Not Want The Bomb–And Other Unexpected Truths

By Fareed Zakaria | NEWSWEEK

Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. The regime wants to be a nuclear power but could well be happy with a peaceful civilian program (which could make the challenge it poses more complex). What’s the evidence? Well, over the last five years, senior Iranian officials at every level have repeatedly asserted that they do not intend to build nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has quoted the regime’s founding father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who asserted that such weapons were “un-Islamic.” The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa in 2004 describing the use of nuclear weapons as immoral. In a subsequent sermon, he declared that “developing, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam.” Last year Khamenei reiterated all these points after meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. Now, of course, they could all be lying. But it seems odd for a regime that derives its legitimacy from its fidelity to Islam to declare constantly that these weapons are un-Islamic if it intends to develop them. It would be far shrewder to stop reminding people of Khomeini’s statements and stop issuing new fatwas against nukes.

Following a civilian nuclear strategy has big benefits. The country would remain within international law, simply asserting its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a position that has much support across the world. That would make comprehensive sanctions against Iran impossible. And if Tehran’s aim is to expand its regional influence, it doesn’t need a bomb to do so. Simply having a clear “breakout” capacity—the ability to weaponize within a few months—would allow it to operate with much greater latitude and impunity in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Iranians aren’t suicidal. In an interview last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Iranian regime as “a messianic, apocalyptic cult.” In fact, Iran has tended to behave in a shrewd, calculating manner, advancing its interests when possible, retreating when necessary. The Iranians allied with the United States and against the Taliban in 2001, assisting in the creation of the Karzai government. They worked against the United States in Iraq, where they feared the creation of a pro-U.S. puppet on their border. Earlier this year, during the Gaza war, Israel warned Hizbullah not to launch rockets against it, and there is much evidence that Iran played a role in reining in their proxies. Iran’s ruling elite is obsessed with gathering wealth and maintaining power. The argument made by those—including many Israelis for coercive sanctions against Iran is that many in the regime have been squirreling away money into bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland for their children and grandchildren. These are not actions associated with people who believe that the world is going to end soon.

One of Netanyahu’s advisers said of Iran, “Think Amalek.” The Bible says that the Amalekites were dedicated enemies of the Jewish people. In 1 Samuel 15, God says, “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Now, were the president of Iran and his advisers to have cited a religious text that gave divine sanction for the annihilation of an entire race, they would be called, well, messianic.

Iran isn’t a dictatorship. It is certainly not a democracy. The regime jails opponents, closes down magazines and tolerates few challenges to its authority. But neither is it a monolithic dictatorship. It might be best described as an oligarchy, with considerable debate and dissent within the elites. Even the so-called Supreme Leader has a constituency, the Assembly of Experts, who selected him and whom he has to keep happy. Ahmadinejad is widely seen as the “mad mullah” who runs the country, but he is not the unquestioned chief executive and is actually a thorn in the side of the clerical establishment. He is a layman with no family connections to major ayatollahs—which makes him a rare figure in the ruling class. He was not initially the favored candidate of the Supreme Leader in the 2005 election. Even now the mullahs clearly dislike him, and he, in turn, does things deliberately designed to undermine their authority. Iran might be ready to deal. We can’t know if a deal is possible since we’ve never tried to negotiate one, not directly. While the regime appears united in its belief that Iran has the right to a civilian nuclear program—a position with broad popular support—some leaders seem sensitive to the costs of the current approach. It is conceivable that these “moderates” would appreciate the potential benefits of limiting their nuclear program, including trade, technology and recognition by the United States. The Iranians insist they must be able to enrich uranium on their own soil. One proposal is for this to take place in Iran but only under the control of an international consortium. It’s not a perfect solution because the Iranians could—if they were very creative and dedicated—cheat. But neither is it perfect from the Iranian point of view because it would effectively mean a permanent inspections regime in their country. But both sides might get enough of what they consider crucial for it to work. Why not try this before launching the next Mideast war?

11-23

New York’s Historic Candidacy of a Muslim for Comptroller

TMO Stringer

Farmington-May 27–”How are you, son,” said the candidate to the reporter.

Thus began the interview of Salim Ejaz, a Muslim CPA running for New York City Comptroller. 

“I’m a CPA with 40 plus years of experience, and I am the first Muslim to stand for the NY City Comptroller’s position,” explained Mr. Ejaz.

He said of his odds:  “Actually extremely good because of the various factors.  Number one, I’m the only CPA who’s running and none other candidates matches my experience.” Ejaz explains he found an accounting error of over $500 million at his previous job. 

He touts his “unmatched and unparalleled achievement, way above the other candidates.”

“Since it’s a first time a Muslim or a South Asian who is competing for this position,” he explains there is “huge excitement among the community–the response has been overwhelmingly positive from every group and every sector…. Luckily in the last few years, the growth in the ethnic media has been explosive, there are over 15 ethnic TV channels and scores of print weeklies, most of them carrying news about this historic candidacy in a very positive manner… very supportive manner.”

Asked if he was from India, he said, “Pakistan–but it doesn’t matter–we are all here together in the same boat.”

He said, “It is imperative in these challenging times that our community gets represented in the city politics, it is frustrating for all the Muslim population which is 600,000 strong–that they have nobody to champion their cause.  The Muslim community by and large is highly educated, affluent, and has made significant contributions to the city.  And it is about time that we stood up together, challenged the entrenched establishment, and achieved the long denied political empowerment which is our due.

You can support Mr. Ejaz at www.salimejaz.com.

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EEG

ibn tufail 5-25-09

The science of recording and analyzing the electrical activity of the brain. Electrodes, placed on or just under the scalp, are linked to an electroencephalograph, which is an amplifier connected to a mechanism that converts electrical impulses into the vertical movement of a pen over a sheet of paper. The recording traced by the pen is called an electroencephalogram (EEG). Readings may be obtained for a particular brain site by coupling a single electrode with an indifferent, or neutral, lead (monopolar technique) or between two areas of the brain through two independent electrodes (bipolar technique). The combination of impulses that are being recorded at any one time is called a montage.

The electrical activity of the brain was first demonstrated in 1929 by the German psychiatrist Hans Berger. The scientific professions were slow in giving proper attention to Berger’s discovery of the brain rhythms he named alpha waves, but since then at least three other standard brainwave patterns have been isolated and identified. Alpha waves are fast, medium-amplitude oscillations, now known to represent the background activity of the brain in the physically and psychologically healthy adult. They are most characteristically visible during dream-sleep or when a subject is relaxing with eyes closed. Delta waves are large, slow-moving, regular waves, typically associated with the deepest levels of sleep. In children up to the age of puberty the appearance of high-amplitude theta waves, having a velocity between those of alpha and delta rhythms, usually signals the onset of emotional stimulation. The presence of theta waves in adults may be a sign of brain damage or of an immature personality. Beta rhythms are small, very fast wave patterns that indicate intense physiological stress, such as that resulting from barbiturate intoxification.

By observing abnormalities in recordings and determining the area of the brain from which they originate, the physician’s ability to diagnose and treat such conditions as epilepsy, cerebral tumor, encephalitis, and stroke, is greatly enhanced. Electroencephalograms have also proven valuable in the general study of brain physiology and in the particular study of sleep. Various types of Eastern meditation, e.g., yoga, use techniques that increase alpha and theta wave activity. Because of concomitant physiological changes during meditation, e.g., lessened anxiety, the techniques have recently become popular in the West. Using EEGs to enhance biofeedback, a subject can be taught to monitor and regulate his or her own brain waves; the technique has been used experimentally in control of epilepsy. EEGs are also used to determine brain death.

11-23

The State of Affairs…!

By Tariq Choudry

Orlando, FL–May 13, 2009–Societies are building blocks of future generations. It is important for the social system to stay intact, provide a comprehensive system of cohesion and inter-community dialogue that cultivates an environment for open communication promoting cultural values, and encouraging exchange of information that is vital for newer generations to thrive in today’s multifaceted cultures. Today’s society is full of bigotry and bias towards Muslims in particular. 

One only needs to look around and speculate how diverse the universe is and how fragile the relationships are for communities and families to prevent from fracturing from external venomous vials full of detestation and pre-ponderous plans to obliterate delicate societies as fragile as ours. We have received a whole lot more from the society and expect a whole lot more – true.  Nonetheless, when was the last time we offered something of value to add to the society? 

It is true that diverse societies form social system and follow it through a system of acceptance, which is displayed how they interact among each other and with the whole of society.  Today’s societies are a blend of cultures from around the world, which makes it even more challenging and desirable to ponder upon the destitution and culmination of homogeneous society. Now, the important question that arises has to do with who should follow who and why! The debate can be as prolonged as Shakespeare’s novel and still would not provide an amiable answer.  Must a group follow another lies on how one distinguishes other’s views and predomination of rules that follow.  Alternatively, the idea can be as simple as following the pure Islamic Shariah and not strangle each other with quivering views and conflicting ideas of self-interests or self proclaimed rustic views.  However, to do that one has to be open minded and pretty darn tolerant as Islam teaches us.  Are we truly a follower of Sunnah and Islamic teachings depicting same values depends upon who we ask and what we expect to hear.

It is a generally accepted fact that our social system of self-respect and tolerance has been damaged since recent centuries. One can go back in time as far back as Ninth century; during these last 500-600 years, science has seemed to be dominated by the countries of the Western world. When one studies about the West, names such as Galileo, Newton, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Euclid, Gutenberg (just to name some) comes to mind. We think of famous Americans Henry Ford, and the Wright Brothers as inventors of the automobile and airplanes, but the West was not always on top, as it would seem. Henry Ford never invented the automobile, and the Wright Brothers were not actually the first people in flight.

Islamic areas of the world were at one point some of the most advanced places on the planet when it came to technological advancement and science. The Islamic parts of the world indeed were more prominent in technological progress than any of European centuries after the fall of Rome in the year of 476. Muslim doctors were removing cataracts with needles, made improvements on Chinese paper, and even housed the mentally insane in psychiatric hospitals, which were non-existent in Europe anywhere. To name a few bright Muslim scientists, one that comes to mind may be the names of Abbas Ibn Firnas, Abu-al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathir al-Farghani (Alfraganus), and Ya qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (Alkindus) and Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Jabir ibn Sinan al-Raqqi al-Harrana al-Sabi al-Battani (Albategnius).

Last but not least was one of the greatest mathematical minds from out of the Islamic Golden Age. His name was Albategnius, which was Latinized. He was well known for his mathematical achievements like solving trigonometric problems and adding solutions, which thus influence trigonometric functions. He also determined that the solar year was 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds and was correct by today’s standards. He also made corrections to the Earth’s axis of rotation and the Sun’s apogee. All of these things without the aide of any satellite taking pictures from space.

All these arguments prove one aspect of those Muslims… they were all pious and true believers free from self-creed and determined to maintain a common and esteemed place in the world. 

Let’s look around the world today and put your finger on a single Muslim country out of 60 or so that has an established government, let alone a “Shariah Government”, offering similar achievements in science and technology, offering peaceful society, tranquility, justice, harmony among diverse groups, social system of caring and self reliance.   Nevertheless, this list can go on.  Instead, what we experience is broken societies full of disgust, filching stewards of government, dishonesty, greed, deceitful acts in a show off society flinching away humility and pious pedigree. Are we proud of our societies is the question every one of us must answer with honesty. Surprisingly, on the surface, we all claim to be the followers of the greatest religion of Allah (SWT) ostensibly offering quilting random prayers seldom make us a pure form of society that it is really meant to be. Have we ever wondered how stubborn we have become and how insane are our societies and how shameful it is in the eyes of non-believers, we so claim those KAFIRS who are not following the message of Islam! How can we live a life in denial full of deplorable flaunt in fletching turmoil. 

We must come to terms with what must be done to fix the obviously broken social system and start adhering to social norms that are acceptable not only islamically but socially by living a simple yet humble life full of grace and predictable behavior if we are to see a respectful future for our generations.  We must build a bridge between the East and West; and ourselves and our youth that can take us into the 21st century with grace and tranquility offering a stable and respectful place in the world.  The only way it seems possible is if we follow the basic tenants of Islam by offering help to the needy instead of clinching our desires with bragging styles and racing to yield others by way of looking down upon with neglect and dishonor.  When was the last time we arrived at a hosts’ place on-time?  When was the last time we kept our promise? Likewise, when was the last time we looked back at a needy person and offered help by sacrificing or giving from what was indeed heartily dear, to others!  And last but not least, when was the last time we existed the Masjid after offering prayer pushing and peddling thru others trying to squeeze thru by clinching human path-a-way ushering away doggedly forcing thru clumsy skeletal of elderly! 

If none of the above is so acceptable, then the day has arrived when our society shall determine to remind ourselves of a creation of society full of demeanor, respect, and civility that we genuinely deserve.  May Allah SWT guide us all so we can truly exercise the teachings of Islam and follow our beloved prophet’s (PBUH) Sunnah in a pure form.  This is the only way to eternal salvation, not the ways we are accustomed to.  Dear friends, lets make a determination to first change ourselves before asking our leaders or the West to embrace change!  Moving forward is only then possible.

11-22