Community News (V13-I4)

Daisy Khan speaks on MLK Jr. at interfaith event

PHILADELPHIA,PA–Prominent Muslim activist Daisy Khan spoke on the inspiration she had derived from Martin Luther King Jr.’s example in the recent controversy related to an Islamic Center planned near Ground Zero. She was speaking at Center City’s Arch Street Presbyterian Church as part of an interfaith celebration of King’s life and work, the Inquirer reported.  This 28th annual event was sponsored by the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, a Mount Airy-based coalition of 58 Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Unitarian congregations.

“He gave us strength,” Khan said. “For us, the struggle is one of acceptance, of being treated as equals.” Khan and her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, are the founders of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which seeks to build the Islamic center.

“I know a day will come when Islam will be fully accepted as an American religion,” she said. “A day will come when an entire community is not blamed for the actions of a few . . . A day will come when a woman in a scarf and a man in a beard will not strike fear in somebody’s heart.”

Madina Ali bags Big East honor award

MORGANTOWN, WV–Madina Ali of West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team has bagged  her third BIG EAST honor roll award of the season as announced by the league office this week, according to news reports.

Ali has been credited with overturning the fortunes of the Mountaineers from a season’s first loss last week at Marquette. “Ali led the Mountaineers in bouncing back from the loss with her seventh double-double this season as she put up a career-high 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Syracuse. The win extended West Virginia’s home court streak to 29 games. It was the first 30-point game of Ali’s career and the seventh time she led WVU in scoring this season,” the MSN Sports Net reported.

“At forward, Ali was 10-for-19 from the field, shooting 52.6 percent, including a 3-pointer, two blocks, two steals and an assist against the Orange. She also shot 73.3 percent from the free throw line, allowing WVU another 13 points.”

Aid agencies realize the need for religious dietary accommodation

NASHVILLE, TN–When disaster strikes the normal concerns like religious dietary needs are pushed aside. But aid organizations are now recognizing that in such trying circumstances it would be a good idea to be sensitive. The Red Cross organization realized the diversity of Middle Tennessee area last year when the devastating floods forced many residents to seek shelter. It recognized that the area was home to Muslims, Jews, and Hindus who have their own dietary codes.

“In a disaster, there are very limited resources, but we try to plan menus to accommodate as best as we can,” said Joel Sullivan, CEO of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves 17 counties surrounding Nashville, told the Tennessean. “We learned during the flood that there are dietary needs out there that there wasn’t a demand for in this area before.”

In the months after the flood, staff at the Red Cross have been calling community leaders to get advice on how they could have better responded.

There are approximately 25,000 Muslims living in Middle Tennessee.

New trends in Halal retailing in North America

The halal retail market in North America is brimming with opportunities and creative retailers are experimenting in numerous ways of capitalizing it. An often overlooked but growing trend is the emergence of large super-market style stores which are open until late night or for twenty four hours.  Despite facing a slew of hurdles these businesses have grown and expanded.

The New York Times in its January 7th edition carried a report about the transformation of Hill Side in Queens after a number of new businesses propped up. Among these is the giant 24 hr Super Halal Meat. It sells fresh meat along with a whole array of groceries from South Asia and the Middle East. When it opened last year it was picketed by some residents over alleged health safety and traffic concerns. But the owners eventually were able to convince everyone after more than 50 inspections by city officials didn’t find any major violations.

In Chicago the Nayab Mart on the famed Devon Avenue has been in operation for more than a decade. It is also open 24 hrs and specializes in South Asian groceries in addition to halal meat. 

In Toronto Iqbal Foods has become a landmark and a hit not only with Muslims but also non-Muslim consumers. Open until midnight it attracts customers from throughout the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. 

Unlike the Queens case, Nayab and Iqbal Foods have faced little opposition because the areas in which they opened were already dominated by the immigrant population. Devon Avenue is a well known South Asian hub. Thorncliffe Park, where Iqbal is located, is a dense neighborhood with highrises populated mainly by Muslims.


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