Community News (V9-I18)

Donations urged for VA Tech student’s family

The MSA is urging the community to donate generously for the family of a slain Muslim student of Virginia Tech. Waleed Shaalan, 32 years old, first stepped onto the Virginia Tech campus in August 2006. An international student originally from Zagazig, Egypt, with no family members in the United States, Waleed quickly became an essential member of the Blacksburg Muslim community. Among those mourning his death are his two roommates (Fahad Pasha and Irfan Waseem) to whom Waleed was their loving older brother, cook, academic and spiritual mentor. Waleed was known for his broad smile and wave that he gave everyone.

Waleed left behind Amira, his wife for 3 years, and Khaled his one-year old son. For more information about Br. Waleed or the Virginia Tech MSA please visit

Br. Waleed Shaalan passed away during the Virginia Tech tragedy on April 16, 2007. MSA National will be collecting donations to support Br. Waleed Shaalan’s family.

MSA’s goal is to raise $25,000 over the next four weeks. Checks can be mailed to:

MSA of the US and Canada
P.O. Box 1096
Falls Church, VA 22041

Bangladeshi professor speaks on Muslim women at Islamic center

JOHNSTOWN, PA– Dr. Taslima Monsoor, a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Islamic law at the University of Dhaka, spoke on the topic of Islam and Women at the Islamic Center of Johnstown. She is visiting Penn State for six weeks and has been lecturing at churches,college campuses and Islamic centers.

“I want to give the correct insight on Islamic women’s rights,” she said. “Many people think what they see on TV and in the papers is how Muslims are.”

Dr. Monsoor said many speakers in the media give distorted pictures of Islam to please others.

“People think Islam does not give women rights,” she said.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that women do not have the same equality as men.

“People think women are inferior to their husbands,” Dr. Monsoor said. “The relationship between a husband and wife is not a relationship of superiority and inferiority. Marriage is a sacred covenant for life.”

Fundraiser held for first mosque in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, NH–Imam Siraj Wahhaj led the fundraising effort to build what s touted to be New Hampshire’s first mosque on an east Manchester hilltop. The $30-a-plate dinner was held at the Center of New Hampshire Raddison in downtown Manchester.

Site work on the Karatzas Avenue property is completed, and well drilling should begin this week, said Dr. Hassan Mahboubul, president of the society. The mosque will eventually exceed $2 million to build.

He said volunteers want to work on the site, but neighbors have insisted that city ordinances, which prohibit construction work on weekends, be followed.

“The volunteers can only work on the weekend. We’re in a dilemma of what to do,” he said. The society hopes to erect a building shell with the money raised last night.

Mahboubul said the society has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review and approve an account it has established in order to solicit donations from overseas.

Shahid and Ann Khan Tennis Complex at UIUC

URBANA, Ill. – With small beginnings as a student in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois, Shahid Khan had a vision of more. Starting his career off working for the Flex-N-Gate Corporation in 1970, while a student at the U of I, Khan’s vision began to take shape and took flight in 1978 when he left Flex-N-Gate to start a new venture designing and building bumpers with an innovative design.

Khan’s innovation, a lightweight, continuous piece of metal with no seams to corrode or rust, soon became the industry design standard. From what started out to be a one-man company, inside one garage through one press operation, turned into the backbone of Khan’s lifelong success.

Now the successful entrepreneur, and his wife Ann, are funding a major expansion of the Illinois tennis facilities. The groundbreaking of the Shahid and Ann Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex took place on Friday, April 20 at the Atkins Tennis Center. Construction of the outdoor tennis complex will compliment the Atkins Tennis Center, insuring the Illinois men’s and women’s programs will flourish in one of the best comprehensive facilities in the country.

Ron Guenther, Director of Athletics stated, “Top notch, first class facilities are the foundation for recruiting and retaining world-class coaches and players. We are extremely thankful to the Khan family for their support in helping us enhance our amenities and make our tennis facilities among the best in the country. We also would like to express our thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Josef Lakonishok, Mr. and Mrs. Marc Schwartz and Mr. and Mrs. Thom Zimmerman who also have made significant contributions to assist with this project.”

Since his graduation from Illinois, Khan received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in 1999 and has served on both the College of Engineering Board of Visitors and College of Business Advisory Council. Additionally, Khan received an Honorary “I” Award from the Varsity “I” Association in 2006.

Khan’s achievement of creating a $3 billion global auto parts manufacturer from scratch stands as his most prized accomplishment professionally.

A company that has worldwide influence, Khan took little time in making his decision to return to Champaign-Urbana when he was posed with the chance of purchasing Flex-N-Gate back in the late ‘70s. To this day, Khan is the sole owner of the corporation that employs over 3,500 associates at 10 manufacturing plains in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Canada and Mexico. Annual sales exceed 500 million.

Keeping the company’s headquarters in Champaign-Urbana, Khan has decided to use his success for the benefit of the U of I community. Through their philanthropic efforts, Mr. and Mrs. Khan have supported the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, the Spurlock Museum and most recently the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics with the gift for the Shahid and Ann Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex addition to the existing Atkins Tennis Center. The complex will include 12 outdoor courts, locker rooms, concession areas, a new pro shop, lighting, and seating for 2,000 spectators.

Melbourne hate-crime meeting held

MELBOURNE, FL–Seven months after a shooting at a Melbourne mosque, community leaders and law enforcement are working together to reduce hate crimes.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Melbourne Police and others held a community meeting yesterday to discuss the issues. They talked to students and community members about ways educate the public on hate crimes and the consequences. They also talked about how to reduce hate crimes.

“In terms of safety, having more interaction with our law enforcement, more interaction among interfaith groups, getting to know your neighbors more, and just concrete steps that we can take as ordinary citizens in terms of preventing hate crimes,” said Sabina Khan, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The Melbourne forum was a response to a shooting at the Melbourne mosque last September on the first night of worship during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

New mosque for Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY, MO– The Muslim community in Jefferson City is elated that they will soon have a permanent location for a mosque. Two weeks ago marked the ground breaking ceremony of a 4,800 square foot mosque on a five acre plot.

“Our community is growing,” said president Iqbal Hussain. “We have limited space, even the women do not have the privacy.”

This fall, the community hopes to begin meeting in their two-level facility, which will expand their capacity maximum from 50 to 250 people.

Eventually, they plan to build a playground and later a school.

“We are hopeful. Many are waiting for the mosque to be built,” Hussain said. “We feel as soon as the mosque is ready, we will increase in numbers from neighboring towns, too.”

About 15 families from the local Sierra Leone organization, which currently meets elsewhere, joined the local Muslim community to observe Eid al Fitr, the end of Ramadan, last year, said Sabir Vali, vice president.

And several Muslims, who work in Jefferson City but chose to live in Columbia to be near a mosque, may relocate, too.

“The mosque will come and then people will definitely come,” Vali said.

Muslim Women in U.S. Showcase Talents at Art Exhibit

A monthlong exhibit (April 2-30) featuring the work of 10 Muslim women artists in the Washington area is drawing capacity crowds of art enthusiasts from the local Muslim community and beyond.

All the artists – Roda Alharithi, Nadia Janjua, Nadia Khalid, Bano Makhdoom, Samar Najia, Muna Sobhi Omari, Shela Qamer, Ann C. Saunders, Fatima Shaikh and Malia Steeple – are members of Muslim Women in the Arts (MWIA), an organization that aims to educate the public about Muslim women and Islamic culture by showcasing the women’s art.

This is MWIA’s eighth annual show, a testament to the growing presence of Muslim women on the Washington art scene. The artwork spans many categories, including paintings (oil, acrylic, watercolor, mixed media), soft sculpture (innovative designs inspired by the illustrations in children’s pop-up books), poetry, glasswork and richly ornamented textiles.

Arabic calligraphy is a recurring element in the paintings of Saunders, an artist whose large canvases are recognizable by for their dramatic flair. The bold, graphic quality of Saunders’ work is achieved by superimposing calligraphy motifs against a backdrop of undulating plants and flowers. All these motifs have significance in the Muslim faith.

Saunders, who grew up in Chicago, originally hoped to pursue a career as a fashion illustrator, but she switched her focus to graphic design because it was “a broader applied-arts discipline … and therefore a more challenging career path,” she recalled.

In 1983, while still in graduate school, Saunders converted to Islam. “I was drawn to Al Islam while attending a lecture series” at Syracuse University in New York state, she told USINFO. “The information presented about Al Islam resonated as truth.”

She established herself as a successful artist, graphic designer and educator, and began making contact with other Muslim American artists, which inspired her to use art as a vehicle for sharing the tenets of her faith.

“This work became my passion after making the pilgrimage to Mecca” in 1999, she said.

Saunders has mastered a wide range of media, but her most recent efforts concentrate on oil and acrylic painting. She cites Islam as the vital force that fuels her artistry. “My artistic endeavors have changed since I embraced Islam,” she said. “I am more passionate, confident, and joyful about my work.”

Qamer, a painter whose abstract works display the vivid colors of the natural world, said she often incorporates texture into her canvases by adding pieces of parchment-like paper to the surface before she starts to paint. A native of Pakistan, Qamer showed artistic promise at an early age. With the encouragement of her parents, she honed her technique under the tutelage of the Karachi-based artist Ali Imam. She emigrated to the United States in 1978, and resumed her studies by taking courses offered by Washington’s Corcoran School of Art.

“My focus is usually to maintain some sort of balance and rhythm in my paintings through the use of different colors, textures, materials and lines,” she said. Qamer has experimented with different media over the years, such as charcoal drawing, oil painting, and watercolor. Now, “I am primarily working with a combination of hand-made paper and acrylic paint,” she said. “I usually start with very subtle ideas of how I want the painting to be,” while allowing the process to remain spontaneous. Along the way, the emerging “colors, space, lines, etc., sometimes dictate the end result,” she said.

Janjua, another artist with roots in Pakistan, was born and raised in a small rural town in western Maryland, where her parents settled after arriving in the United States during the mid-1970s.

Her works are not confined to one particular style, and she uses a variety of media. A few of her pieces have Arabic calligraphy in the foreground. There are also some surprises: one small image initially appears to be a detailed architectural drawing or etching, but on closer inspection, it reveals itself as a photo print on watercolor paper. Nearby, Janjua displays an oil painting of a shop interior filled with musical instruments, walking sticks, vases and miniature tapestries, evoking the bazaars of Cairo, Egypt, or Marrakech, Morocco. Janjua confirmed that her travels have influenced her artwork. Travel, she said, “is an accelerated course in life” that brings the world into sharper focus, and “it has definitely shaped me into who I am.”

Thanks to the efforts of MWIA, Muslim women in the United States have a forum for introducing their artwork to a general audience while exploring and preserving their cultural heritage. (Courtesy:US Dept. of State)

AuGRID Moving Toward Purchase Of Meat Processing Plant

Vineland, NJ – AuGRID Global Holdings Corp., a holding company that acquires and manages a diverse range of businesses, recently announced that it is performing final due diligence on a meat processing business that specializes in Halal meat products.

Literally, the word “halal” is Arabic for “permissible,” and foods prepared by these standards are a mainstay in certain cultures. The global Halal food trade is currently estimated at $150B annually, and expected to grow to $500B by 2010. In the U.S., the Company has identified several opportunities to market and sell Halal products, including those in schools, the vending industry and convenience foods such as frozen dinners.

The Halal meat business to be acquired generated $2.55M in revenues during its last reported fiscal year, with that number expected to climb to $2.8 in 2007. Currently holding a 14% interest in the business, AuGRID expects to acquire up to 40% interest within the next 30 days, and controlling interest soon thereafter. No assurances can be given that such acquisition shall be achieved or that, if achieved, will result in similar revenues.