Guest speaker Garry Pierre Pierre speaks at the TMO Foundation banquet.
Photo by Laura Fawaz
The TMO Foundation had a successful fundraiser at its annual banquet Sunday evening at Burton Manor in Livonia. The event showcased the speeches and support of prominent people from within the Michigan community, a Muslim scholar, and a Pulitzer prize winning writer who has been engaged by The Muslim Observer to encourage and design its “reboot” into a better form.
A common theme among the many speeches was to envision a not-too-distant future in which Muslim media will play a more important role, and in which the Muslim community holds a stronger position.
About 200 people were present at the gathering, including many of the luminaries of Michigan’s Muslim community such as Dr. Muzzammil Ahmed and Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, and most notably present were Pulitzer prize winning writer Garry Pierre Pierre and Columbia University intellectual and PhD candidate Haroon Moghul.
Dr. Nakadar, the founder of TMO and the TMO Foundation, began by congratulating the students and offering his best wishes to all the essay writers who participated but did not win prizes, giving a breakdown of how many students selected each essay topic.
The theme of his speech was that the Muslim community, without a media voice, will fall behind in effectiveness relative to other communities in the United States.
He advised those present that in order to succeed, they must seek truth, justice, creativity, and always keep an eye to maintaining human warmth with others.
He offered the advice that an outsider can sometimes make a large difference to the success of an endeavor by offering his unique perspective.
Dr. Nakadar gave the example of a time in India when he went out of his way to offer medical services to a Hindu nationalist who had always been hostile to Muslims–after this the nationalist had undergone an important transformation and began to harbor goodwill towards all Muslims, not only towards Dr. Nakadar.
From left to right: Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Pierre Pierre, Yousuf Ali, Maerna Kersha, Aakif Syed Aslam, Mamdud Ahmed, and Columbia University intellectual Haroon Moghul.
Photo by Laura Fawaz
Haroon Moghul, a PhD candidate at Columbia University and current lecturer there, spoke on the American Muslims’ tendency to feel exhaustion at explaining themselves in the face of the continuing onslaught of terror acts done in the name of Islam; he emphasized however the vital importance of building an infrastructure of media organizations and funding capable of providing a voice on the national stage in pursuit of policies more palatable to Muslims.
He emphasized that we must take a long view of how the world will look in 100 years–highlighting the astounding changes that have affected the subcontinent in the past 100 years.
Using the example of the famous Urdu poet Allama Iqbal, Moghul emphasized the important differences and developments in the last 100 years–pointing out that in Iqbal’s time there were only 40 Western degree holders in all of the subcontinent, whereas in the simple gathering of the TMO Foundation there were more than that number of degrees present.
A central theme of his speech was that by pursuing catastrophic policies such as an ongoing series of wars across now more than a decade, the US was careening towards a place of irrelevance in the world’s future.
Garry Pierre Pierre was the chief guest. The Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Executive Director of the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, and publisher of the Haitian Times, focused on the immediate future of The Muslim Observer.
A theme of his speech was that for a community to determine the nature of the debate about it–that community must enter the debating arena. Through the means of the Muslim Observer, Muslims can enter the debate in America and redefine the discussion about Islam and Muslims.
“It is your destiny,” he said, “do you want to control, or be controlled?”
Following Mr. Pierre Pierre’s speech, Dr. Abdulmajid Katranji ran a successful and friendly fundraising campaign until dinner began.
This fifth annual banquet marks an increased level of maturity for the TMO Foundation, and the subtext of this gathering was that a substantial reboot of The Muslim Observer is in the offing, and needs the support of the community to succeed.