SE Michigan News 8-33

Governor Jennifer Granholm Wows Muslims at IAGD

Troy—August 5—Governor Granholm exuded charm, said all the right words, and won the hearts of an audience of about 500 people this past Saturday at IAGD. Governor Granholm came to the mosque with a few other politicians in order to address the Muslim community there, present her achievements and goals, with of course the unstated goal of bringing the voters, volunteers and contributors of that mosque into her camp for a victory over her Republican opponent, Dick DeVos.

The evening began immediately after ‘asr prayers—IAGD had set up 23 women’s and 23 men’s tables with 10 chairs each for an assembly that was to fill at least that many spaces. Governor Granholm came into the hall to a standing ovation, open arms, and smiles; she immediately engaged with the people of the audience, smiling, conversing, and shaking hands while wending her way through the men’s tables—which were closest to the door. While speaking with each person she made an effort to find out a name and profession. The governor elicited smiles and nervous laughter from every person she came within two feet of. After perhaps 30 minutes of handshakes and meetings, she and IAGD’s representatives sat down at the front of the room in order to give speeches.

The imam of the mosque recited Qur`an, reciting from Surat Maryam. The mosque’s representatives thanked the governor for coming, and mentioned that they had invited her during a meeting with her about two months earlier. Governor Engler, they had explained to her, had visited IAGD frequently, and now they wanted the same honor from Governor Granholm. Thus she agreed to come.

Mr. Asad Malik pointed out that State Senator Martha Scott was in attendance at the event, as well as State Representative Fred Miller.

Mr. Malik then introduced the governor, reciting in summary her bio from the time of her birth in Vancouver, British Columbia to the present, citing her many academic achievements (including degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School), as well as her career achievements which started during her post as a prosecutor in Detroit. Malik pointed out that Muslims had supported her during her first entry into politics in 1998 when she ran (successfully) for Michigan attorney general, and during her run for the governor’s office in 2002, helping to make her Michigan’s 47th governor.

Governor Granholm’s ability to engage with people is almost a tangible quality—perhaps most obvious in her quite natural comfort with children. She began her speech by walking in front of the IAGD lectern in order to be closer to her audience—for some this might have been an affected and insincere gesture, but with her it was an endearing act that cemented her rapport with the audience. She may have disappointed IAGD’s congregants, however, by beginning her speech on the issue of her economic plans rather than the current events of the Middle East. She spoke of her $6 billion plan to turn around the auto industry, raised through bonds and tobacco taxes and not through personal taxes. She spoke of the auto industry’s strength, speaking of advanced cars she had had the opportunity to see. She spoke of her $2 billion plan to bring the best companies from around the nation to Michigan, which she said had attracted 500 high-quality business applicants. She also spoke of her strong desire and will to double the number of Michigan college graduates, saying that simple accomplishment would make Michigan the top educational state in the United States. She emphasized her new standards for high school accomplishment, listing the requirements for math, science, English, foreign language, and online learning that will form an important foundation for Michigan-educated high school graduates. She emphasized the $4,000 she had made an effort to provide to every graduating Michigan senior—enough, she said, to pay for about two years of community college.

Perhaps the most promising issue she spoke about was healthcare, saying that she was in negotiations with the federal government to create a Michigan program parallel to the new universal healthcare program in Massachusetts. She emphasized also that in this time of difficulty in the Middle East, it is especially important for all of Michigan’s people to cooperate with mutual understanding. She finished her speech by thanking the audience for giving her the opportunity to speak, and by moving off to greet the many devoted women in the audience who were awaiting anxiously their opportunity to speak with the governor.

Speech by Dawud Walid at YMA/ICA

Dearborn Heights—August 4—CAIR Michigan’s Executive Director Imam Dawud Walid emphasized in a speech on Friday to the Young Muslims’ Association associated with the Islamic Center of America that Muslims should distinguish between the ongoing demonstrations regarding Lebanon and Islam itself. About 75 young people, a few with their parents, were present at the meeting, arranged by senior officials of the ICA. The YMA is composed mostly of young people of high school and college age.

The core of what he said was more spiritual than political, that we should first try to strengthen our connection with Allah (swt)—all of the demonstrating and complaining does no good if it is connected with Allah and we are not behaving as Muslims.

Some ICA members had asked Mr. Walid to speak to the YMA youths because of concerns that at some of the demonstrations, strange things had happened. For instance, some secular people unknown to the religious communities of Southeast Michigan were chanting Hezbollah and Hamas slogans, perhaps inciting and inflaming the emotional nature of the event and of the political situation, encouraging anger.

Imam Walid emphasized a hadith that “Anger is from Shaytan,” and clouds reason. He discouraged the youths from going down a path of anger, because Shaytan uses anger to trick people into doing things they should not do. He also emphasized a hadith about Sayyidina Ali (ra), who at a battle was spat upon by an enemy—he then refused to kill the man, saying that if he killed him then it would be for his own anger and not for Allah (swt).

Imam Walid argued an important issue, that as human beings our first identity is Islam itself rather than our ethnic identity. Our ethnic identity cannot supersede Islam, and unfortunately some people confuse ethnicity with Islam. •

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