Houstonian Corner (V9-I16)

Muslim Matters

Houstonian Corner (V9-I16)

Come to Election Town Hall Meeting!

Several candidates have already announced their candidacy for the U.S. Presidential Elections of November 2008. There are several crucial issues and problems that the USA is facing today. This may be the most important election in American history.

In order to address the issues, our community must understand and learn more about what is affecting our own community, but also learn about the dangers our country USA is facing.

For this purpose, attend with your family members, friends & acquaintances, The U.S. Presidential Elections Seminar on Saturday – April 21st – 2007 – 12:30PM. at Shahnai Restaurant – 5920 Hillcroft – Suite “D” – Houston – Texas 77036.

The seminar is being organized by Muslim Media Network, which brings you the weekly The Muslim Observer. Speakers will include Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Editor-In-Chief of The Muslim Observer and director of the Islamic Society of Nevada in Las Vegas and Dr. A. S. Nakadar, the CEO & Publisher of The Muslim Observer, and other local speakers TBA.

Please RSVP to ILyas Hasan Choudry, cell: 832-275-0786, email: houston@muslimobserver.com, Shaukat Khan, cell 832-867-2522.

Muslim Imam’s Prayer In Austin Senate Makes One Senator A No-Show

By Mark Lisheron

Nothing is more routine on the floor of the Texas Senate than the Morning Prayer. Unless the prayer is delivered during Passover, four days before Easter, by a Muslim cleric whose background is questioned by conservative radio talk show hosts, one of whom happens to be a senator.

The senator, Dan Patrick, who has from his first day in office challenged tradition, may have become the first senator ever to leave the floor in protest of the prayer. The invocation itself was a first for the Senate, delivered by Imam Yusuf Kavakci, with the Dallas Central Mosque.

Imam Yusuf Kavakci, a Muslim cleric in Dallas who led the invocation Wednesday before Easter in the Senate, was greeted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Before he could stand before the Senate, Kavakci faced accusations by conservative groups such as the Texas Eagle Forum, suggesting that he was a member of a radical Muslim religious sect, a charge he has denied.

Radio talk shows in Houston took calls from listeners who said it was sacrilege for the Texas Senate to welcome a Muslim to pray during a holy time for Christians and Jews.

In a Houston Daily Newspaper story Wednesday, Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party said, “I’m shocked that the day before Easter recess that a Muslim is leading the prayer. They should be having a celebration about the death and resurrection of Christ.”

Patrick (R) Houston, brought those concerns to the Senate floor on Wednesday. Conspicuous in his absence during the prayer, Patrick later returned and was granted a rare personal privilege to explain himself at the end of the day’s session.

“We witnessed something this morning that was extraordinary,” Patrick said. “The Imam is fortunate to be in this great country, a nation that is so tolerant of others’ dream and faiths.”

The senator told the assembly that the world must be puzzled by a country that would allow someone to bring a Quran into the Senate while it prohibits a child from carrying a Bible into a public school.

Afterward, Patrick told reporters that he chose to step out during Kavakci’s prayer because “I didn’t want my attendance on the floor to appear to be an endorsement. I think that it’s important that we are tolerant of all faiths. That doesn’t mean we have to endorse all faiths.”

Sen. Florence Shapiro, who introduced Kavakci, one of her constituents, with a lengthy résumé that includes serving on several interfaith boards and the Peace Institute Advisory Board at Richland College, said she was at first puzzled and then bemused by Patrick’s actions. Shapiro, who is Jewish, said she has during her eight Senate sessions prayed along with hundreds of Christian ministers of the day.

Shapiro, R-Plano, said it was appropriate for a scholar with the Dallas Central Mosque, which serves more than 150,000 Muslims in the Dallas area, to lead prayer on a day to honor the more than 400,000 Muslims who live in Texas.

In her introduction, Shapiro said, “Our country prides itself on freedoms; the most relevant today is freedom of religion. Allowing a Muslim to express his freedom demonstrates what we all have in common in the United States. We are all Americans.”

Three months ago, Kavakci asked Shapiro if he could deliver the prayer on Muslim Legislative Day, the third year hundreds of Muslims have been invited to the Capitol for a day of education about state government. Shapiro said she has known the cleric for four years.

Shapiro said she had been unable to meet with Patrick before the start of Wednesday’s session but had heard from other senators that Patrick warned them that perhaps Kavakci was the not the person he was being presented as.

Patrick met with Shapiro in a hall outside the chamber as the Senate parliamentarian worked on his request for personal privilege. “All he said was, ‘I’m not mad at you,’” Shapiro said. “I said, ‘I’m not mad at you, either.’”


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