SE Michigan News (V9-I19)

Fundraiser for Islamic Center of Saginaw

Saginaw–April 29–The Islamic Center of Saginaw had an immensely successful start this past weekend at a “Fellowship Fundraiser at the Temple Theater on N. Washington St. in Saginaw.

About 400 people were present for this marvelous event, at which keynote speakers Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani and Azim Khamisa spoke.

The mosque hopes to raise 1.5 million dollars to begin the initial phase of work on their mosque and school. To date, including last weekend’s fundraiser, they have collected about $500,000 in cash and pledges, during a several-month long fundraising campaign.

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is a prominent Muslim, with worldwide contacts among world leaders, having written many books, having prevented much backlash against the Muslim community following 9/11 by his brilliant and careful speaking to the American news and public in the wake of that tragedy, especially given the credibility he had built with mainstream Americans by being the only Muslim predicting before 9/11 that there would be a terrorist attack in this country and that the majority of Muslims did not agree with such behavior.

Azim Khamisa is in his own right a very prominent Muslim with a nationwide impact as the father of a boy who was murdered by a gangmember, but who forgave the gangmember (now serving a prison sentence for the murder) and works with his the family of the killer to stop violence among US children.

Shaykh Kabbani was perhaps the most effective fundraiser this reporter has seen in two years of reporting on fundraisers. He brought a legion of converts to the event, perhaps 50 people he himself converted to Islam. All of those he brought had their $50 admission to the fundraiser paid for by another of his students, a Dr. Jamal Akbar from the Saginaw community. Many of them, in turn, donated money as well during the fundraiser, perhaps giving several thousand dollars.

The fundraiser organizers had hoped to raise $30,000 for the Islamic Center of Saginaw–instead they collected approximately $134,000 in cash and checks and $183,000 in pledges–ten times the amount expected. Compared to many Southeast Michigan mosque fundraisers, this is not a huge amount–but compared to what was expected it was huge.

Mr. Khamisa described the murder of his son and showed a brief video describing his work of showing people the example of forgiveness and embracing those who have harmed him, which brought a tone of sympathy and sadness to the evening.

Shaykh Kabbani picked up the audience by saying that actually Prophet (s) had done fundraising also, in the early days of Islam–that no community can exist and continue without collecting money; he reminded them of the sacrifices of Sayyidina Umar (ra) and Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra), who gave respectively half and all of their money when Prophet (s) needed that money to defend the small Islamic state.

Shaykh Kabbani emphasized the continuation of some works after death, such as the education of a pious son, the giving of money as Sadaqa jaariya, and good works–he said that building an Islamic school is all three of those things. A Sunday school, he said, is not enough–children need a place where they can get moral values together with their education. He spoke highly of the existing Islamic schools, but emphasized the importance of having one close to each community.

He made the audience laugh by different jokes, saying “If you don’t make people happy you can’t get money from their pocket,” which in turn made the people laugh more.

This was a successful fundraiser, followed by a visit to the beautiful little mosque that is in the first phase of its growth into a powerful beacon of knowledge and worship for all of Saginaw.

To contribute, here is the contact information: Islamic Center of Saginaw, 114 N. 4th St., Saginaw MI 48607. 989-752-3531.

Dawud Walid Speaks at MCWS

Canton–April 27–The greatest potential division within the Muslim community is not from the Sunni-Shi’a controversy spilling out of Iraq. Rather, it is the racial divisions in the Muslim community. This was the underlying argument of the speech of Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan at MCWS, the Canton mosque.

About 300 were present to hear Imam Walid speak between maghrib and ‘isha in the MCWS cafeteria.

The main points of his speech were that as a part of his job he has his finger on the pulse of the Muslim community, hearing their complaints of discrimination. He said that discrimination among Muslims is the “pink elephant in the room” that people do not talk about, and that racism was, first of all, something that was addressed in the earliest days of the ummah, and he gave ahadith to support this, and praised Sayyidina Bilal (ra) and described his honor among Companions and how Prophet (s) defended him against bigotry. Imam Walid proudly said that America has more diversity than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

He explained that African Americans have been described by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed as “punch drunk” after abuse that has spanned years on a personal level and centuries on a community level. Because of this sensitivity, they might easily fall into thinking that a mosque is “racist” if they do not feel welcomed there;

Imam Dawud emphasized that African Americans have firm roots in America, having come here about 400 years ago during the early settlement of Jamestown. He emphasized that immigrant parents should relax their views on allowing children to marry outside of their ethnicity, and that while immigrant Muslims usually have more money, African American Muslims have much more political clout and so it was no accident that Keith Ellison was elected to the federal legislature before any other Muslim.