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Southeast Michigan News (Week ending May 17, 2006)

IIK Holds Successful Fundraiser

May 14—Dearborn—The Islamic Institute of Knowledge (IIK) held an extremely successful fundraiser on Sunday afternoon in Dearborn, collecting about $400,000 in less than three hours. IIK, located at Warren and Scheaffer roads, is one of the preeminent Muslim communities in Southeast Michigan.

The event ran from about 3 p.m. until about 5 p.m. Roughtly 800 people attended this incarnation of the semi-annually repeated fundraiser. The master of ceremonies, Dr. Ali Fadel, spoke briefly about the necessity of having IIK, and how it helps the community in various ways—religiously, socially, educationally. He also spoke about promoting the unity of the community, that we should help one another emotionally, financially, be there for one another and work as one instead of as disparate organizations sometimes working at cross-purposes.

He emphasized the importance of the school as well, saying that he was saddened that the school would not be an Islamic school the following year (there was a financial crisis this year which resulted in IIK’s associated school being sold to be run as a charter school and no longer an Islamic school next year); he spoke about the importance of community members’ giving, and thanked several members of the community who had given conspicuously over the past year.

Dr. Ali Sobh, the Chairman of the Board of IIK, spoke next. He focused on IIK’s school, also, and emphasized that the community should try to buy the school back. He also thanked those members of the community that had tried so hard to keep the school open.

Imam Abdul-Latif Berry, the imam of IIK, also spoke, emphasizing the Hawza program of the Michigan Institute of Islamic Studies, an institution which survived the loss of the Islamic Academy and which offers classes inside the mosque complex of IIK in tafseerul Qur`an, the life of the Holy Prophet (s), and classes for young girls. He said that this program is very productive for IIK.

Several prominent community members were present, including Magistrate Salem Salamy, running as an incumbent to keep his position, David Turfe, also running for magistrate, Adnan Hammoud, and Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of CAIR Michigan.

Hajj Nazih Hamade, IIK’s accounts manager, continuously updated the audience on how much had been collected so far, and the final figure was approximately $400,000.

A very nice dinner was enjoyed by all at about 4:30 p.m.

Local Children Graduate from Genesee Academy

Flint—May 13—In a joyful occasion that showed a warmth of spirit that must be typical of events involving loving parents and their children, parents, children and school administrators all gathered at the auditorium of Baker College in Flint to celebrate the end of the school year and the Genesee Academy (GA) 11th Annual Year-End Program—as GA’s 9th grade students return to the mainstream schools from which they had a brief respite of Islamic schooling.
The event began at 11 a.m on Saturday at the Baker College campus located at the corner of Fenton and Bristol roads in Flint. Most of the events of the day had been coordinated or video-taped or arranged by students—almost 100% of the events featured students either as singers, actors, or speakers.

The event opened with a welcome from the principal of GA, Dr. Jones. Then came an address from the two MC’s, Ismail Kazmi and Ghada Alkiek, then comments by GA Board President Fahim Khan, and reading from the Qur`an by Belal Tarakji and translation by Hana al-Harastani.

The highlights of the event were of course the performances of the children. The 8th grade class presented a video called “A Day in the Life of an American Muslim,” which was an entertaining look at an American Muslim family’s day, from their greeting a relative from their home country, through fajr prayers (and the difficulty the parents had in getting their children out of bed), the children and parents rushing out of the house to go to work, the events in school as the children explained hijab to a classmate, and the hilarious fictitious punishment of a student by her shoe-wielding mother for speaking in class. The day concluded with a young boy’s escape from his father’s punishment by distraction—”Isn’t it time to go pray ‘isha?” and the father and son’s travel to the mosque.

All of the uperclass students who spoke thanked the teachers and staff of GA, showing real gratitude for having been treated as adults during their past year at the academy, and also showing gratitude for the Islamic knowledge they had acquired during their time there.
The skits and songs performed by the children included important songs sung by all Muslims like Tala’al Badru ‘Alayna and Hasbi Rabbi and also other songs apparently written by GA staff and students, which showed several common themes, like love for Islam and Prophet (s), appreciation for the vital importance of diversity and acceptance of different races and ethnicities (like the “we are a box of crayons” song, sung by the 3rd grade with Mrs. Jumana Jondy, which showed that all colors should be accepted among both crayons and people).

The 4th grade boys danced the traditional “bakra” dance wearing immaculate and ornate traditional clothes and turbans.

The graduating classes walked across the stage in caps and gowns, bringing smiles and happy laughter to all the adults present, especially when the younger children showed intense enthusiasm or small miscues.

The graduating 9th grade showed intense concern over their future at mainstream non-Islamic schools, showing gratitude also for GA’s administrators having extended its size from pre-K thru 8th grade to pre-K thru 9th grades for the first time this year.

Dr. Nael Tarakji explained GA’s successes over the past years very well and succinctly, saying that he was happy with the students and the school, that he was happy to have enrolled his own son in the school, and that he had left the choice of whether to attend the school to his son, who had decided to go there on his own; Dr. Tarakji explained that GA’s MEAP scores were universally at or above the required level, and that most of the student MEAP scores were in the very first category.

He explained his desire to build GA to the point where it continues until 12th grade, explaining that it was better to do this well and gradually over time rather than hastily—the first step was to add a 9th grade class, as GA did this year.

He explained that the students were happy with the school, saying that every one of GA’s 8th grade students would be returning to GA for 9th grade.

He encouraged other parents to enroll their children in the school, in order to support Islamic institutions.

The students presented flowers, one by one, to all of the female teachers and volunteers of GA.

The event was brief but full of happiness for the students, their families, and the administrators of the successful Genesee Academy Islamic School.

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