By Adil James, TMO
Livonia–November 3–Many of the leaders of Southeast Michiganâ€™s Muslim community were present for the MMCC Annual Banquet held this past Sunday at Burton Manor in Livonia.
Governor Snyder addresses the audience at the MMCC Banquet (Emcee Zarinah El-Amin Naeem is seated).
About 1,000 people were present for the event, the 27th Annual Unity Banquet.
MMCC, the Michigan Muslim Community Council, is the reorganized and apparently reenergized form which has taken the reins from what was CIOM, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.
The event began exactly on time at 6:00 PM, followed by opening remarks by MMCCâ€™s new Executive Director Dawood Zwink, Qur`an recitation by Asim Abdulrazzak and Aleena Ali of the Huda School, a singing of the Star Spangled banner by Zena Elayan, and a brief introduction to Governor Snyder by his strongest and most devoted supporter in the Muslim community, Ahmar Iqbal, who also may have been responsible for bringing this prominent speaker to speak at the unity banquet for the first time.
Ahmar Iqbal emphasized that what won him over, before Governor Snyder had won his election, Snyderâ€™s statement that â€œMichigan cannot be a great state again, until Detroit is a great city again.â€ Iqbal trumpeted the governorâ€™s mantra of â€œrelentless positive actionâ€ putting Michigan on â€œthe reinvention path.â€
The governor spoke extremely warmly and sympathetically to the Muslim community gathered in the room, showing real affection. He emphasized his desire that Michigan should benefit from its natural relationship with the Middle East by virtue of its large Muslim and Arab populations, describing his programs to attract business and investment and travel from the Middle East, specifically mentioning a trip to Dubai designed to attract attention from investors there.
Governor Snyder emphasized his positive and welcoming message also by expressing pride at Michiganâ€™s status as 3rd out of the 50 states in welcoming refugees.
â€œMichigan welcomes you,â€ said the governor, explicitly stating the underlying theme of much of his speech.
He specifically thanked numerous Muslim organizations including MMCC and Ican and several others for their necessary and very important work in helping to rebuild and turn Michigan and Detroit around in the right direction.
The governor mentioned the Islamic Center of Flint, and thanked it for its Healing Flint program which has now happened two years in a row–designed to bring messages of renewal from many Muslim voices to help Flint.
Snyder also thanked the Huda Clinc, run from the Muslim Center of Detroit on Davison Hwy.
His â€œrelentlessly positiveâ€ message was underlined by one of his last statements, that Michiganâ€™s Muslim community must be â€œlouder and prouder,â€ as he thanked the Muslim community with open arms for its actions and presence in Michigan.
â€œSend that message–Michigan is a great place to have and raise a family,â€ he said.
Ahmar Iqbalâ€™s sister Amina Iqbal is an employee with MMCC, making a significant mark in her own right. She spoke of the accomplishments of MMCC, emphasizing the Capitol Day, the intense family atmosphere and close relations between the employees and management there, and expressing her thanks to all those involved in MMCC.
The keynote speech was by Khurram Wahid, a prominent and accomplished attorney who truly overwhelmed the audience with his description of his mobilization of the Muslim voting community in Florida and the success of his organization in voting virulently anti-Muslim elected officials out of office, and of dramatically improving the Muslim turnout throughout his state.
He emphasized the vital importance of Muslim institutions, advising the â€œold guardâ€ of leaders, the people still alive and involved who established and nurtured most of the Muslim institutions that now benefit the community, gently advising them to pass the reins along to the future generations from the Muslim community–without passing the reins and ensuring the continued viability of these organizations, the â€œinstitutionsâ€ will really only have been short-lived organizations realizing only a small part of their potential.
To truly serve as Muslim institutions these organizations must outlive their founders, and for that to happen the founders must learn to let go.
Many other prominent speakers addressed the audience, including Dr. Muzammil Ahmed and many other leaders of the community.
Recognized numerous times by many speakers was Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was present at the gathering but who did not speak–Rep. Tlaib has taken the mantle of standard bearer of the Muslim community by virtue of her honorable service not only in the legislature, but also as a true servant and pillar of the community.
This banquet was truly a resounding success, showcasing many of the active and leading voices of Michiganâ€™s Muslim community.