Community News (V9-I26)

Honest teen returns lost cash

WEST NEW YORK,NJ— An honest teen is being praised for returning $12,000 in cash that he found in the washroom of a New Jersey restaurant. Yousry Desooky,16, told the Advance newspaper that he saw the envelope on the floor of the bathroom stall.

The words “For Tahir. 11,875” were written on one side, and when the teen looked inside, he found a thick stack of hundreds and twenties. The high school junior immediately informed his dad who left a note at the restaurant for the rightful owner after asking around if anyone had dropped the note.

Guessoum Tahir, the owner of the cash, came back and relieved that it is safe. He said he had gotten the money from a friend, Mount Vernon resident Ibraihim Taibi, who had given it to Tahir to pay him back for a 2003 Honda CRV he bought at a Pennsylvania dealer’s auction.

“I’m thinking, 90 percent, I’m not gonna find the money. I just accept the loss and that’s it,” said Tahir, who owns an auto repair shop in Manhattan. “Thank God it was honest people.”

And Yousry learned firsthand that honesty does, in fact, pay.

Tahir took $1,200 from the stack of cash and handed it right back to the teen.

“I’ll save it for college,” said Yousry, who aspires to be a civil engineer.

Faith leaders launch push against hunger and poverty

Hundreds of national and regional leaders from major faith traditions joined nearly 1000 people of faith at Washington’s National Cathedral for the second Interfaith Convocation on Hunger.

Organized by Bread for the World and sponsored by the Interfaith Anti-Hunger Coordinators, the event brought together leaders of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical and ecumenical Protestant denominations, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish traditions, and other faith groups to call on the president and Congress to renew their commitment to end hunger. The event was held in conjunction with The Gathering 2007, a four-day conference organized by Bread for the World in partnership with twenty-nine denominations and religious organizations.

Imam Mohamed Magid, Executive Director, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Vice-President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muhammad Haq, The Islamic Dawah Center, Houston, Texas and Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University participated in the event.

CAIR plans Oklahoma City office

The Council on American Islamic Relations is planning to open a office in Oklahoma City. The local chapter was approved by the national organization and held a successful dinner in May. It is in the process of hiring a full-time executive director. The staff may be expanded later.

“We will work hand-in-hand with people of other faiths to build a more solid foundation of interfaith relations in our state,” said Lobna Hewedi, CAIR-OK chairwoman.

We want to promote a positive image of Islam and promote civil rights for all Americans regardless of their faith,” Hewedi said.

She said CAIR-OK will also work with local law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and houses of worship to foster mutual understanding and tolerance.

Plans for New Castle mosque invite concerns from neighbours

NEW CASTLE, NY–The Upper Westchester Muslim Society plans to build a 24,690 square foot Islamic center on more than 8 acres of land in New Castle. Neighbours voiced their concerns about noise, traffic, and other changes at a meeting two weeks ago. A few even called for the town to reject the mosque plans, the Journal News reported.

Several Muslims attended the meeting to dispel the concerns. Before the meeting, Lamyaa Elzoghby said they came to support the application and show that they are normal and that not all Muslims are terrorists.

“I want to see how people react when they see us as families with children, normal,” said Elzoghby, who lives in Yorktown Heights and whose husband, Hussein Elzoghby, is on the board of the Muslim Society.

The Muslim Society, which has about 35 member families, was formally organized in 1997 and now holds prayer services in rented office space in Thornwood. Anees Shaikh, who lives in Yorktown and is the vice president of the society’s executive committee, said the location limits the things the society can do, including religious education for the children and weekly prayer services.

Shaikh said there isn’t a large growth in the population of Muslims in northern Westchester, but the Islamic center building is needed because of a growing demand for the services it can provide, especially education for second-generation Muslim-Americans, and for outreach to neighbours. About 80 to 100 people attend Friday prayers.

“I don’t think our needs are really that different than any other faith group in the area,” he said.

The Upper Westchester Muslim Society wants to build a two-story building at 130 Pines Bridge Road with a prayer hall with separate spaces for men and women, a social hall, meeting rooms, classrooms, a daily prayer room, a baby-sitting room and other small rooms. The plans include 78 parking spaces. Because of the slope of the land, only one story will be visible from the road.

City planners deny Islamic school request

FORTH SMITH, AK–The Fort Smith Planning Commission on Tuesday denied a request by the Fort Smith Islamic Center to operate a school next to the center,the SW Times reported.

The Islamic Center received a conditional-use permit to construct a mosque and school at 2401 S. 28th St. in 2002, before abandoning that plan and purchasing the former First Church of Christ Scientist at 1800 S. Albert Pike in January 2005.

Officials with the Islamic Center hoped to build a 4,400-square-foot education facility in the southwest corner of the mosque property.

While no one expressed opposition to the plan at a planning commission study session a week ago, about 20 people raised their hands at Tuesday’s meeting to signify their opposition to the proposed school.

About nine of those opposing the Islamic Center’s request addressed the commission.

Most comments addressed concerns about traffic, the addition of the building possibly exacerbating existing drainage problems, the facility not matching the existing character of the neighbourhood, an adverse affect on property values and parking.

Muslims donate food in Rock Island

ROCK ISLAND, IA–The Muslim community is fighting hunger and stereotypes in Iowa by donating food to the needy through the Churches United project.

“We should get busy serving our neighbor and learn about one another,” said Ahmed Elkhaldy, president of the Muslim American Society-Iowa.

The group has so far delivered 500 pounds of meat and has plans to return monthly with more to feed the hungry.

“I think they’re demonstrating there is a far more positive side of Islam than what a few have hijacked and turned into something else,” said Mike Wakefield, Barnabas Uplift.

Roundtable participants dismiss Muslim stereotypes

DECATUR, IL–An event titled “Islam: Its Teachings, Perceptions and Misperceptions” was held at the Decatur Public Library, the Herald Review reported. Muslim panellists at the event included Laila Muhammad, executive director of Ash-Shamsiyyah or “The Umbrella,” an anti-domestic violence program in Chicago; Suleman Chaudhary of Decatur, a graduate student at the University of Illinois; Imam Johonnie Shabazz of Masjid Walihasan, a mosque in Decatur; Imam Darnell Karim of the Harvey Islamic Center; and Muhammad Abdullah of the Muslim Reading Room and Study Center in Champaign.

“God has made us in different colors and with different languages so we may get to know each other,” Karim said. “People hear the word ‘differences,’ and they think it’s negative. But the word ‘difference’ is good in the eyesight of God. No matter what your denomination, we are people of faith. We are trying to understand what is going on in the world.”

Karim said with recent stories in the news media focused on the actions of Muslims in the Mideast. When people hear the word “Muslim,” they often hear “terrorist,” he said.

“The media needs to tell people that Islam is a religion of peace,” Karim said. “When you see a picture of a man with a machine gun, that is not Islam.”


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