By Ilyas Choudry, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Several hundreds attended the well-organized Annual Ramadan Banquet of the Muslim American Society â€“ Houston Chapter (MAS-Houston) at Hilton West-Chase. The theme of the occasion was: â€œBuilding a Foundation for Our Next Generationâ€. Imam Mahdi Bray of MAS Freedom Foundation especially came from Virginia to attend the Banquet and emceed the program. Throughout the program, Imam Bray emphasized on Votersâ€™ Registration.
Special guests on the occasion were Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman AL-Green and City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan. Adeel Zeb from the Office of Congressman Nick Lampson was present. Other speakers on the occasion included Hopeful for the City of Houston Council Seat At-Large 5 Zaf Tahir, Vice President MAS-Houston Dr. Mohammad Azeemuddin; President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Sheikh Rodwan Saleh; Renowned Khatib Sheikh Zoubir Bouchiki; In-Charge of Convention Fady Qaddoura and inspirational speaker and fundraising expert Sheikh Abder Raoof AL-Khawaldeh.
Professionally prepared audio-visual presentation was played off and on throughout the event on two large screens, giving information on the various projects of last year and upcoming future projects. The major project is to establish a second Youth Center in South East Houston: MAS-Houston already runs a successful Youth Center in Southwest Houston in the Mission Bend Area, where Youth learn Quran, Hadiith and Sports like Karate, Self-Defense and Basketball. Part-Time Salaried Staff for the Youth Center and Full-Time Director for MAS-Freedom Foundation Houston are the other major undertakings for the upcoming year. Last year saw MAS in collaboration with Islamic Circle of North America Houston Chapter (ICNA-Houston) organizing two conventions, Six-Days Youth Camp for Training, Scouts Programs, Feed the Needy during Ramadan (ongoing), and may others.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said: â€œIt is nice to see MAS is implementing the values of Islam through good deeds. It is very encouraging for the healthy future of our society to see MAS emphasizing on teaching these excellent societal values to the Youth in practical manner.â€ She mentioned about Jena-6 Louisiana and said this effort is not to avoid the reprimand to six Afro-American Youth; this is about Justice and to end racism from the society.
Congressman AL-Green said: â€œWe need to give rousing applause to the efforts of MAS in bringing self-esteem to the Muslim Youth. You are my people and I am your Brother. I salute you for creating unity, which in turn has created a vigorous communityâ€ He also talked about Jena-6 Louisiana and said injustice at one place is a threat to injustice every where and that is the reason he has always raised voice against the injustice being done to Muslims, when they travel.
In a fiery speech, City Councilman M. J. Khan said: â€œMuslims should stand up for Justice and raise their concerns about racism in America in light of unfortunate Jena 6 incidents. My generation of baby-boomers has messed up quite a bit, but when we look at our Youth, we say Thanks to Allah SWT, since they under the positive influence and efforts of organizations like MAS are coming forward as the generation to resolve the issues of the society.â€
Amidst applause, Fady Qaddoura announced about the scholarship in the name of Late Sheikh Rashad Khalil, where a brother will soon be going to AL-Azhar in Egypt to become an Islamic Scholar of the near future and this scholarship will continue to fund similar future actions.
Adeel Zeb gave Proclamation Certificate from the Office of Congressman Nick Lampson to Sheikh Hesham Ebeid, President MAS-Houston: Similar Proclamations were given to MAS by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman AL-Green. Special Certificates of Appreciation were given by Imam Mahdi Bray on behalf of MAS to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman AL-Green and City of Houston Councilman M. J. Khan.
Before the heart wrenching Isha-&-Taraweeh Prayers, MAS-Houston raised $185,000 in cash and pledges. Talking to the media, Sheikh Hesham Ebeid, President MAS-Houston said: â€œIt is a history changing evening, where the work of MAS for the Youth is not only recognized by the Muslim Community with this overwhelming monetary and support, but the enthusiasm shown by Congresspersons and the City Councilman about MAS Youth Projects is unprecedented: We at MAS promise to deliver the best for the community with Allah SWT Blessings and the continuous support of the community.â€
For more information about MAS-Houston, please call 281-530-4MAS or visit www.MASHouston.org