TMO Foundation 4th Annual Scholarship Banquet Sold Out; Imam Siraj Wahhaj Chief Guest
By Noor H. Salem and Adil James, TMO
Imam Siraj Wahhaj addressing the audience at the TMO Foundation Fundraising Banquet.
On Sunday, September 22nd more than 500 people gathered in the Novi Sheraton Hotel for the TMO Foundationâ€™s 4th Annual Scholarship Banquet.
Annually, the TMO Foundation honors high school and college students pursuing degrees in Journalism and Communications with scholarships through an essay contest.
This was the first year that the dinner sold out prior to the day of, and all the dedication and efforts were evident in the results that day. The event began on time with the recitation of Quran at 6pm. Dr. Nakadar, the founder, publisher and CEO of TMO, welcomed the large audience with warm words.
Dr. Nakadar emphasized three essential components that measure our vibrance as a community, when (1) we have creative, innovative youth, (2) communities look up to us for our work ethic and social and moral values, and (3) our opinion matters to lawmakers, decision-makers, and think tanks.
Imam Mohammad Almasmari of Muslim Unity Center also gave a few words and recited Qur`an very beautifully.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid at Taqwa in Brooklyn spoke at length, communicating through his powerful voice his own sense of commitment and his history of having given himself wholly first to the Nation of Islam and then to Islam.
When he was first introduced to Islam he was studying full time and working full time, but he quit to sell newspapers, having conviction but no knowledge of how to sell newspapers. Within a short time he was selling 1,000 newspapers a week in difficult and poor areas where he was nearly held up at gunpoint.
He praised Dr. Nakadar and emphasized that the essential mission of The Muslim Observer is one of building a vision, not of building a business–a theme of the evening was that no publisher would continue to produce a paper at a yearly loss of money and immense amounts of time if his intended goal was to build a financial business.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj emphasized that the newspaper he sold for the Nation of Islam was their only means of communicating–they had no TV stations or radio stations or other outlets–therefore the newspaper was their essential vehicle for communicating their message to the outside world.
Next up was the awards–for the shining stars of the night, the essay awardees, who were all called up and honored. Mrs. Laura Fawaz, a TMO photojournalist, named the awardees as Imam Siraj Wahhaj gave each winner his or her prize.
Br. Dawook Zwink, Executive Director of MMCC did an excellent job as master of ceremony.
The event was well planned and functioned very well, with many dignitaries from the local Muslim community including imams of many masajid and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of the Michigan legislature.