SE Michigan (V9-I25)

Girls-Only Beach Campout Arranged by IIK

Dearborn–June 10–Happy girls from IIK’s girls’ program just returned from an isolated sandy idyllic beach in Western Michigan this past weekend. For many of the girls, this was their very first experience of sleeping outside of their parents’ own homes.

Explained Hajja Khalida Beydoun, Public Relations Director of the Islamic Institute of Knowledge (IIK), “Many of these girls had literally never slept outside the home before.” The event was in some ways a seismic shift in the lives of the girls, and was a reflection of the trust of the IIK community in Ms. Beydoun and the imams of the mosque.

The girls went to Douglas, Michigan, which has as its motto “The Fun Begins Here!” The community is on Lake Michigan, on the West coast of Michigan in Allegan county. The community is relatively very isolated and rural, having a population (based on the 2000 census) of only 1,214. Douglas is south of Kalamazoo and immediately south of Saugatuk State Park and Mt. Baldhead Park, about 175 miles from Dearborn.

Two chaperones attended along with Ms. Beydoun, including Ms. Samira Bazzi (the mother of two of the students attending) and Ismoona Kaiyat and Hajj Fuhudat, who drove the girls and chaperones but did not stay in the house with them.

Ms. Beydoun had the idea of a girls-only retreat, got an okay from IIK’s Imam Abdul Latif Berry for the adventure, then got an okay from all the parents–the girls, of course, couldn’t line up fast enough because they were so eager to go once they got permission.

With all the permissions in place, Ms. Beydoun made the reservations for the girls (only for the first 24 to express interest–there was a large waiting list) accepting applications only from those girls in her girls’ religion and leadership classes at IIK.

She found an isolated cabin with a private gate and a semi-private beach where she was able to control access so men and unknown people could not come, and the girls brought their own halal food from Dearborn for the weekend.

Last Friday, the crew met at the IIK, then they drove to Douglas, prayed maghrib and ‘isha on the beach in the sand, ate dinner, and had a huge bonfire.

Being for the first time outside but in the company only of girls and women, the girls were able to relax without hijab, enjoy sand, swimming and volleyball.

Saturday, they went into town, taking a ferry across the lake from the peninsula on which their cabin stood. They went to the beach for about 2.5 hours, ate barbecue, had a round-table discussion on religious and personal management issues, specifically the importance of using time–this was one of several weekend discussions centering on such issues. They showered, ate ice cream in town, hiking through beautiful sand dunes, finding a place where there was sand that Ms. Beydoun said was like quicksand, rising up to the girls knees as they walked. They hiked back home, had dinner, prayed together, enjoyed another bonfire, this time with fireworks.

There were some small meetings with non-Muslims there in Douglas, which provided a wonderful opportunity for Ms. Beydoun and the girls to introduce themselves as normal people living Islam to people who had never before actually met a Muslim and who therefore had some confusion about what Islam was–the girls and their chaperones were such positive examples of Islam that they were able to create bonds of goodwill across cultural lines.

The entire trip was amazing, said Ms. Beydoun, who explained that even the ferries that they rode were a novelty, as they had to be hand paddled by the passengers.

The price of the event was $130 per person, which included food, transportation, for the 2 night and 3 day event.

The event provided a wonderful way for the girls and chaperones to address religious and social issues in a setting of mutual trust and goodwill, and a huge opportunity for the girls to unwind completely, within the shelter of caring and knowledgeable chaperones, but without the pressure of men, boys or family–able to relax completely without hijab but within the comfort of Islam and friendly community.

MAS Youth, Detroit

By Sara Qamar, MMNS

Detroit–June 9–Faith and methodology were explored at the MAS Youth Detroit (MYD) presentation last Saturday given by Imam Ali Lela. Held at the American Moslem Society in Dearborn, it was an effort to promote tolerance and unity among Muslims, regardless of what school of thought they choose to follow.

About thirty five people were gathered at 10 a.m. in the dimly-lit basement of the American Moslem Society aka Dixy Masjid. Juice and bagels were handed out by MYD members as well as highly useful training packets the audience could take notes on during the lecture. Many of the people in attendance were members of MAS Youth, which opened its Detroit chapter just two years ago.

The Muslim American Society (MAS), a nationwide non-profit organization, co-sponsored the program with MYD. With roots going as far back as the sixties, MAS is also a movement for Islamic revival and reform. More recently, it gave birth to MAS Youth, which is aimed at getting youth more involved in the movement by preparing them to be at the forefront in developing their communities. Our local chapter focuses on developing the individual in spiritual, intellectual, physical and social domains. They hope to achieve this goal through monthly trainings, weekly kiams, community service events and retreats.

Training sessions are quarterly and focus on activism, life skills or traditional Islamic sciences. This month’s topic was Mapping Muslim Minds: Evolution of Fiqh and the Madhahib. Imam Lela, who also serves as the Imam of the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit (IAGD), gave a detailed, if at times lengthy, explanation of the differences between Fiqh and Shari’aa. Shari’aa was defined as the divine, absolute, unchangeable practical rulings of Islam, while Fiqh is about using human intellectual effort in understanding the teachings of the Prophet and the Qur’an. Unlike Shari’aa, Fiqh is always changeable and up for debate.

Much of the lecture was spent on the subject of ijtihaad, or personal reasoning. Physically and intellectually difficult to accomplish, it is about the individual expending efforts in order to reach a conclusion of a complicated matter.

According to Imam Lela, unlike Judaism or Christianity, Muslims are allowed to dispute religious authorities because of ijtihaad. In the absence of text, you are allowed to apply human intellectual thought in order to do what you think is right. However, if the text is very clear and decisive then there is no room to practice Ijtihaad.

Overall, it was a very fascinating topic that will hopefully be talked about more often in everyone’s respective communities.


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