Orlando Mosque Welcomes Hurricane Irma Evacuees

by Aysha Qamar

While many worshipping and religious houses closed their doors to avoid Hurricane Irma destruction, Tariq Rasheed, the imam of the Islamic Center of Orlando, opened his mosque for people seeking shelter, hosting around 150.

After millions were forced to flee as Hurricane Irma traveled up Florida’s west coast, the Islamic Center of Orlando, Jama Masjid, opened up its doors to all those seeking shelter. The local Orlando Mosque has been named as one of the first religious organizations to have opened its doors for Hurricane Irma Evacuees.

The mosque posted its welcome on social media and was met with positive responses.

The building was sheltering about 150 people as of 5 pm on Sept. 10, according to Rasheed during an interview with The Washington Post.

The mosque hosted people of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds.  While other worship places such as churches and synagogues have community halls or areas specifically meant to accommodate people due to pews, mosques are able to offer the actual worship space as shelter. The wide open carpeted prayer floors allow for a space to be transformed into shelter camping ground.

“We wanted people to feel as comfortable as possible and we wanted to do our best and did not want anyone to have any discomfort.”

The Islamic Center of Orlando is one of the few houses of worship that remained open in the area. It announced it will continue its usual prayers five times a day, while welcoming anyone in the community who needs shelter.

“Lots of hospitality, they’ve been feeding us three meals, giving us cots to sleep on and we’ve just had an excellent experience. And of course, being in the Islamic community is just wonderful for us,” one of the evacuees, Sally Killic, told The Washington Post.

An estimated of 10,000 residents are homeless after Hurricane Irma blew through Florida as a massive and powerful Category 4 storm.

The storm downgraded as it moved north towards Atlanta, with maximum sustained winds of 56km/h (35mph) later recorded, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.

6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after Hurricane Irma cut a deadly path through the state, officials said.

Many other mosques have also opened their doors, providing shelter, food and daily necessities for those in need.

The little library that did big things

Shah_library in mosque

By Amina Shah

Why did I bother setting up a children’s library in a masjid?

I love hearing that question. It gives me the perfect opportunity to discuss negative attitude towards children coming to mosques.

This is a conversation that we must hold over and over, again and again, until every mosque welcomes children with open arms, nurturing in their warm little hearts an undying love for Allah and Islam.

It seems to me that people want all the rewards of congregational prayer without experiencing the social interaction that comes with it. The general solution that such people offer is for mothers and children to stay at home.

Such open discrimination!

You would think that the entire idea of a ‘mosque’ is to invite people inside–to create an environment so magnetic that it draws people from all walks of life inside.

This is the answer to the question, why did I set up a library for children at a mosque?

Because I wanted to be part of the solution.

Let me divulge two important steps of problem solving that my mother taught me: What Next? How To?

People feel that children misbehave, the parents are not bothered and the serenity of the mosque is compromised.

What next?

Should you yell at everyone and storm off in a cloud of rage, or plant a seed whose fruit you will reap for generations and generations?

If our children don’t behave like Christian children do in churches, then it’s because we never taught them.

How to?

It doesn’t matter how many times you yell at a child to ‘Be quiet!’ and ‘Sit down!’ It is a completely unrealistic expectation. And that usually leads to the conclusion that mothers and children should stay at home.

Is that really the best that we can do? Can we really not come up with a decidedly more intellectual solution?

How about setting up a children’s area with toys and books? Or a separate room for mothers with little ones? Or a program to keep children occupied during adult lectures? How about babysitting services?

Of course, implementing those ideas takes volunteers, leaders and doers willing to put in time and effort for the community. People are quick to criticize, but no one wants to be part of a progressive solution.

In the absence of all of those options, I still believe that if we allow children the freedom to be themselves and play around, we will be amazed at how much they pick up from a lecture that is not even geared towards them.

But I am at odds with my opponents on a vital point. Are you at a mosque for personal gain or for a collective benefit?

I see some women at the masjid helping a mom struggling with the fussy child, and then I see a another person giving dark looks to the mom struggling with the fussy child. The former is willing to lend a hand to make a learning environment for everyone present, while the latter is only concerned with one person-herself.

But when you enter a public gathering, you have to leave the ‘me’ at home, and concern yourself with the ‘us.’

I categorically disagree with the sentiment that mosques are for praying in peace and quiet. Has Allah forbidden children to enter the most sacred mosque in the world, Masjid Al-Haraam? Is there, then, any person on earth who would dare to do so?

Mosques are for worshipping with a large number of people, altogether, as a single, cohesive, harmonious unit! And creating that harmony takes compassion, empathy, grace, kindness, benevolence and mercy.

Don’t you think that when Allah calls us together at one point to turn towards Him, He is coaxing us to nurture these qualities inside us that we attribute to Him?

This all comes back to the question: why did I set up a children’s library in a mosque?

Because I wanted to create that nurturing environment. Because I wanted children to feel like they belonged. I wanted them to enjoy learning about Islam, and I wanted to use this priceless resource create other programs involving children, capturing their attention so that they don’t feel bored, restless and unwelcome.

And alhamdulillah, today I have even more conviction in these ideas than ever before! We conducted weekly story times for children throughout the summer.

In every way, the program proved that children learn how to conduct themselves in an instant when taught in a loving way that captures their attention.

The children loved coming to the mosque.

They loved hearing the stories.

They followed directions.

It has been a joy to go on this journey of discovering Islam through books with them.

Why did I want to set up a children’s library in a mosque?

Because I have yet to meet a child who will not instantly perk up with excitement on hearing the words, “Let me tell you a story.”

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The views are solely those of the author.

Masjid Allahu Akbar: 20 years of community

By Layla Abdullah-Poulos
OnIslam US Correspondent

LONG ISLAND, NY – While many mosques fall victim to vandalism attacks, Masjid Allahu Akbar in Wyandanch, NY, sets an example of 20 years of success in developing congenial relationships with their non-Muslim neighbors, building a community based on respect and understanding.

“We have been here longer than most of our neighbors,” Imam Al-Amin Abdul-Latif, the community leader, told

“We live on this property. We live around the mosque. We are the face of the community. We feed the neighbors’ kids. They know we are Muslim and they know we are peaceful people and they respect our Islam.

“We have a good relationship with our neighbors. This is a mixed community of African-Americans, Hispanics, and European Americans. The people are very respectful,” he added.
The Masjid [mosque] dream started 20 years ago as a result of endeavors by members of the Muslim communities in Masjid Al-Mu’mineen in Brooklyn and Masjid al-Mustaqeem in Wyandanch to unite under one cohesive community named Masjid Allahu Akbar.

Al-Amin credits his friend and colleague, Shaikh Inshirah Abdel-Jaleel, who served as imam of Masjid al-Mustaqeem, with having a significant role in the establishment of Masjid Allahu Akbar by facilitating the merging of the two communities.

“We had an economic component, to enable people to buy housing to live around the masjid, so we have neighborhood and community. It entailed developing businesses, educational institutions, and whatever was needed in the community,” explained Al-Amin,
The members of Masjid Allahu Akbar planned more than a place of worship, developing a variety of sub-projects, collectively named Project Allahu Akbar, to benefit all Wyandanch residents.

“The concept was building a community not just a masjid, but to provide all of the educational, financial, and cultural components to build a strong vibrant community.” Al-Amin added, referring to social outreach to the local community as part of the vision of Project Allahu Akbar.

Till today, the members of Allahu Akbar mosque have succeeded in launching several programs including hosting visiting scholars from Madinah, educational seminars, interfaith dialogues, prison outreach, weekend schools, and da`wah programs.

In addition, the masjid also organized summer camps, backpack giveaways, glove giveaways, homeless feeding programs and a summer breakfast/lunch program for all the children in Wyandanch.

Indigenous Muslims

Having a substantial African-American Muslim membership, Masjid Allahu Akbar is following the model characteristic of many African-American Muslim communities, which recognizes the importance of having a house of worship and servicing the needs of the people.

Presently, Muslims in the community use a converted two-story garage as the masjid.
“We took this garage and turned it into our masjid. We don’t have the space for `Eid and sometimes Jum`ah,” Al-Amin said.

The rest of the 1-acre property includes a home where Imam Al-Amin resides, a playground and now the new and larger masjid under construction.

Community member Sabbah Abdul-Latif noted the importance of the new facility.

“We need a stable, legitimate building to worship in and we also need to give a positive image of Islam to our neighbors,” Sabbah told

Although the new facility is only approximately 4,000 square feet, Al-Amin explained that it is enough to service the small community of Muslims with room for expansion.

“It was structured in a way to accommodate a few hundred people,” Al-Amin elaborated.
“As the masjid grows, we can go up. We can go up a story, or we can go out.”

Despite its size, the new masjid is essential to providing a comfortable place for the Muslims in Wyandanch to worship, engage in community-building activities, and foster a sense of Islamic brotherhood.

Yusuf Abdul-Latif, a Bay Shore, NY resident, travels to Wyandanch with his family to participate in Masjid Allahu Akbar’s faith and community activities. Abdul-Latif clarified why he travels to Wyandanch even though there is a masjid, closer to him.

“First of all, this is where I accepted Islam. So, this is my foundation where I learned my Islam,” said Abdul-Latif.

“I learned how to read Arabic, and this is where basically people who I am close with come from.”

Abdul-Latif, who is a Euro-American convert, further described how many native-born American Muslims feel unwelcome when interacting with immigrant Muslim populations and may opt to attend a masjid with a larger native-born American demographic.

“They don’t feel as comfortable in the predominant immigrant communities because they are not made to feel that welcome,” said Abdul-Latif.

“What happens is many of them [immigrants] try to create a ghettoized Islam in that area, be it Arab, Pakistani, African, or whatever. So sometimes you are not accepted.”

Abdul-Latif does mention having good relationships with some members and leadership of the community closer to where he lives, but he remains more socially active in the Wyandanch community.

“I predominantly pray at the masjid closer to me, but most of the activities that I am engaged in are here in Wyandanch.”


Deemed a key part of the mosque congregation, the women of Masjid Allahu Akbar are involved in the new mosque planning and community events.

While talking about the masjid’s building project, Abdul-Latif, Al-Amin’s wife, described inclusion of the community’s sisterhood in the collaboration process.

“Imam Abdul-Latif has always invited and included all the members of the community, i.e. the men, the women, as well as our young adults. We’ve never been excluded from any meetings,” explained Sabbah.

Sabbah also explained that at times when the women are unable to attend a meeting, Imam Al-Amin would reschedule to ensure their presence.

“We’ve always had a vote and had a say in the project, the development of the project, and also the planning of any activities,” she added.

The new masjid will provide the Muslim women with much needed improved facilities.

“The primary difficulties we’ve had is that we don’t have a bathroom or cooking facilities in the same building,” said Sabbah.

“In the new building, we will have a bathroom and wudu` (cleansing) station. We will also have a certified commercial kitchen, which makes it easier for us to conduct activities within the masjid rather than doing things separately.”

Al-Amin notes that when up for a review at a public town hearing, no residents from the Wyandanch community expressed an issue with having the new facility built.

Yusuf Abdul-Latif agreed, adding that, “the only person who came out to the town hall meeting was a person in the neighborhood who fully supported it.”

Working on building a community over the past 20 years, the masjid’s construction still faced funding problems.

Raising $300,000 so far, the project is still short of the $750,000 needed to complete the new building.

“Our project is $750,000 for a complete masjid in and out.” When asked about support from the other Muslim communities on Long Island, New York, and beyond, Al-Amin asserted, “They can give more. The benefit is the brotherhood. It builds relationships and removes biases immigrants may have about their African-American brothers and vice versa. Why not help a poor community struggling to build a masjid.”


Imam Fajri Ansari and wife to be honored

BUFFALO,NY—Imam Fajri Ansari and his wife Lavonne are being honored by the National Federation of Just Communities of Western New York for their interfaith work. They will presented with the award at a ceremony in Buffalo later this month, according to the Buffalo News.

Imam Ansari is the imam of Masjid Nu’man in Buffalo. He also has served as director of admissions for SUNY Buffalo State’s Educational Opportunities Program for more than 20 years and is the college’s head basketball coach, leading the team to the 2011 SUNYAC Division III Conference championship.

Lavonne Ansari, a graduate of SUNY Brockport, SUNY Buffalo State and UB, was the first Muslim African-American female vice president of Niagara County Community College. She has received many awards for her contributions to human rights, community involvement and education.


‘Eidul Fitr, Masjid As-Salam, Dearborn

By Jumana Abusalah

7624788It was time for celebration and joy as Muslims all over the world celebrated this year’s Eid Al-Fitr, 1432. It marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a fun yet spiritual way. Masjid Al-Salam (Dearborn Community Center) in Dearborn, Michigan was no exception.

The mosque chose to rent the soccer field at the Dearborn & Performing Arts Center on the morning of the 30th of August.  The field was decorated with large banners and colorful balloons.  Everyone gathered around and was reciting takbeer. Friends were giving their Salaams, children were playing together, and families were reunited.  When it came time for prayer, over 500 people rose to thank God for all His blessings and for all the great things He gave us. 

The Imam’s Khutba after the Eid prayer was very informative and touching for many people. He explained that Eid is God’s gift to us to reward us for our ibadih during the month of Ramadan.  He continued on to explain that we should be thankful for being able to have such a celebration—other people around the world are not able to, either because of poverty, war, or other unfortunate circumstances. We then all made du’aa to Muslims around the world and asked God to help their countries resolve their problems peacefully.

The Eid celebration for Masjid Al-Salam this year was an event that many people will not forget. There was also an Eid Festival at the same center on the following Sunday—not just for this particular masjid, but for all Muslims around Dearborn. As it should be, Eid was a celebratory, but sacred event.


‘Eidul Fitr, Masjid As-Salam, Dearborn

By Jumana Abusalah

7624788It was time for celebration and joy as Muslims all over the world celebrated this year’s Eid Al-Fitr, 1432. It marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a fun yet spiritual way. Masjid Al-Salam (Dearborn Community Center) in Dearborn, Michigan was no exception.

The mosque chose to rent the soccer field at the Dearborn & Performing Arts Center on the morning of the 30th of August.  The field was decorated with large banners and colorful balloons.  Everyone gathered around and was reciting takbeer. Friends were giving their Salaams, children were playing together, and families were reunited.  When it came time for prayer, over 500 people rose to thank God for all His blessings and for all the great things He gave us. 

The Imam’s Khutba after the Eid prayer was very informative and touching for many people. He explained that Eid is God’s gift to us to reward us for our ibadih during the month of Ramadan.  He continued on to explain that we should be thankful for being able to have such a celebration—other people around the world are not able to, either because of poverty, war, or other unfortunate circumstances. We then all made du’aa to Muslims around the world and asked God to help their countries resolve their problems peacefully.

The Eid celebration for Masjid Al-Salam this year was an event that many people will not forget. There was also an Eid Festival at the same center on the following Sunday—not just for this particular masjid, but for all Muslims around Dearborn. As it should be, Eid was a celebratory, but sacred event.


Lessons from a Medina Graveyard

By Fahad Farruqui

slide_42595_328275_largeOne can learn many lessons at a graveyard. I once found myself helping carry the corpse of a stranger, an old woman, to its final abode. At the time, I was a 20-year-old on a family trip to the Holy City of Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Following the ish’a (night) prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Nabawi) and the recitation of obligatory funeral prayer, I came across a middle-aged man searching for help to transport the coffin of the woman, who I later learned was his mother. She had passed away a few hours earlier and her son was eager to fulfill her final wish: to be buried immediately after death.
The son was the only family member present. He was anxious to hastily transport the steel coffin, containing the corpse of his mother wrapped in a white shroud, to the Garden of Heaven or, as it is called in Arabic, Janatu l-Baqi’, a graveyard adjacent to the Prophet’s (s) Mosque.

Since it was late at night, the mosque had emptied quickly and there weren’t many eager beavers to lend a hand. A few men on their way out of the mosque regrettably declined the man’s pleas for assistance, saying they had far travel before reaching home. I wanted to help, but I was unsure if I would be able to carry the coffin all the way to the grave situated a couple of hundred meters away.

After a handful of men gathered to move the coffin, four men including me lifted it in unison and rested each corner on the shoulder. As we proceeded toward the graveyard, the coffin was tilted toward my side since I was relatively shorter than the other three.

“She isn’t heavy,” I thought to myself in relief.

A man behind me yelled blessings to the dead as we commenced our walk towards the Medina graveyard. We all joined in enthusiastically, chanting blessings to the dead.

Our voices started to get dimmer as we ran out of breath. The farther we moved away from the mosque, the darker it became. In the sunlight, the sands of Medina graveyard vary in color from orange to a shade that borders on red, with volcanic rocks scattered throughout the grave marking the grave. But at night, it was pitch-black. Our pathway was lit only by the light illuminating from the towering minarets atop the mosque, where Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, rests along with Abu Bakr, the first caliph, and Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, may God be pleased with both.

slide_42595_327677_largeAfter a few uneven steps, the buckle of one of my sandal’s broke, forcing me to push it aside as we continued forward. The ground was warm, even at this late hour. I could barely see where my feet were stepping in the wide graveyard around us. I was granted some relief when a man volunteered to help, seeking only reward from the Creator.

We walked aimlessly for a bit, trying our best not to trample over the other graves as we searched for the woman’s resting spot. Once we located it and rested the coffin beside the dugout, I took a peak at the grave. It was remarkably dark — the darkest shade of black that I have ever seen.

As I stood among these strangers with death before my eyes, and a six-foot deep grave that felt suffocating from above, the importance of my worries drifted away, and I began reflecting on the temporality of life.

It dawned on me how near we are all to death, our inevitable fate, although many of us think about death very rarely.

Quite out of the blue, I felt I was granted clues and answers to questions that had been filling my mind: Why am I here? And where will I go from here?

I had little to no sense of time. My startled parents went out looking for me when they saw all the doors of the Prophet’s Mosque closed from the window of our hotel room. I arrived back at the hotel more than an hour later than usual, yet the impression the experience left on me has been lasting. It was a moment of clarity, an hour that changed the very foundation of my existence.

“A moment of true reflection is worth more than ages of heedless worship,” Faraz Rabbani, a leading Islamic scholar, said recently on Twitter.

His words reminded me of that night. At certain points in our lives, we have experiences that shake us to the core and compel us to question our outlook on existence and, if we cultivate them properly, bring us nearer to the Almighty. Even many years later, in times when anger, distress, tribulation or temptation has attempted to sway me, my mind returns to that graveyard.

When you become mindful of death, you think and act differently. It becomes difficult to lash out in anger when we know how near death could be. A person conscious of death would think twice before defrauding and deceiving another human being.

slide_42595_328537_largeBy remembering that we will all perish and be buried in dirt, taking none of our possessions with us, it becomes undesirable to wrong or hurt someone intentionally. But one has to realize that death is inevitable.

My recollection of the funeral procession that night is vivid. I remember how time seized for me in the midst of that graveyard. I recall the haunting feeling of suffocation and discomfort that kept me awake that night.

Back in the hotel, as I rested my head on the plush pillow, in an arctic air-conditioned room, I thought of the rock-hard walls encircling that meager grave.

We need not reflect on death at all times to keep us on track. Paying attention to life — to the wondrous creations of the universe around us — can always draw us near to God and prompt us to be grateful. But also reflect on death, since it turns you away from the superficiality of the world and curbs your ego.

I would not say I am a man of immense knowledge. I haven’t spent an adequate amount of time fully uncovering the miracles of the Quran as deeply as I should. I have my ups and down. My faith, at times, dangles, and then I have to realign my thoughts. It happens more often than I am ready to confess here.

Yet I find remembering the inevitability of death from time to time is one way to stay grounded. During a course on Buddhist ethics I took a decade ago with Robert Thurman, the professor related a tale of a newlywed royal couple who went to a celebrated monk, Atisha, for marriage advice.

slide_42595_327710_largeInitially hesitating to offer any since he had never been married himself, the monk finally yielded, giving some of the soundest marital advice I have heard: “Eventually, husband and wife, each will die. So now while alive, you should strive to be kind to each other.”

Thoughts of death need not flood our minds with sorrow and negativity, as we should understand that death is a natural part of the journey of life.

If we work on making every prayer count as if it’s our last and set aside time from our busy schedules, including the social media that consumes a measurable chunk of our day, to unwind the thoughts and worries entangled in our minds, we may become better humans and will indeed have a greater chance of living with peace.


Encouraging Program For Young Ones By Masjid At-Taqwa

Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (3) Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (4)

It all started with the volunteers like Mahmood Marfani, Irfan Ibrahim, & Hanif Samana; and tireless efforts of Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui, that the first Quran Qirat Competition for young boys and girls, could become a reality By the Grace of Allah SWT. First time in the history of MasjidAttaqwa at Synott Road, in Sugar Land near Houston, on the 21st Night of Qadar, more than seventy talented and amazing young boy’s and girl’s participated in this Quran Qirat Competition and recited one after another in a beautiful voices – the verses of the Holy Quran which they have memorized by heart.

Masjid was filled up with parents and others, who love Quran and want to encourage the young stars, who were shinning until 3:30am. The Judges, Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Hafiz Arsalan Majid, were following the criteria of memorization, pronunciation, and tajweed to choose the winners of the competition.

Parents and children were excited and anxiously waiting as Abdur Rahman Siddiqui pronounced the results of the competition. The Qirat Competition came to an end with twelve winners, who were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes in four groups.

First place was awarded with a cash price of $100, second place was $50, third was $25, and every participant was awarded with a cash price of $10 each. The program ended with Tahjjud Prayer and Suhoor.

Administration of Synott Masjid want to thank Allah SWT and the generosity of the Brothers who supported this event financially and morally. InshaAllah, They will have more Quran Qirat  Competition in the near future. For comments/suggestions, please visit


Community News (V13-I33)

Mohammed Nuru appointed Acting Director of SF DPW

SAN FRANCISCO,CA–Mohammed Nuru has been appointed as acting director for the San Francisco Department of Public Works, city officials announced today.

Nuru has served more than 11 years as deputy director for the department, and has worked closely with city communities, agencies, businesses and non-profit groups, according to Acting City Administrator Amy Brown.

His experience ranges from improving the cleanliness of city streets and sidewalks to successfully managing construction projects.

In his last position he was responsible for spearheading programs including the 7501 apprenticeship program, which provides entry level positions to individuals transitioning into construction or gardening jobs. He serves as Chair of the City’s Graffiti Advisory Board, and serves as liaison to other City and State agencies including CalTrans, BART, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He was recently appointed to the Housing Authority Transition Team and is charged with repairing vacant housing units, introducing garbage and recycling services, and with providing general grounds maintenance. Mr. Nuru is an advocate for cleaning and greening the City and has led notable efforts including San Francisco’s Trees for Tomorrow Program, which planted 26,408 trees in San Francisco between 2005 and 2009. Mr. Nuru also leads efforts to beautify street medians and the City’s gateways.

Prior to joining DPW, Mr. Nuru served as the Executive Director of the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG). Prior to his San Francisco experience, he worked as a landscape architect, planner, and project manager in the United States, Africa and Saudi Arabia. He has a B.L.A. in landscape architecture. Mr. Nuru lives in Bayview Hunters Point with his five children and volunteers with various organizations and neighborhood clean-up groups.

Dr.Mohammed Saleem leads to way in cancer research

AUSTIN,TX–Dr. Mohammed Saleem, a scientist at the Hormel Institute’s Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics lab, is leading the way in finding breakthrough cure for cancer.

He has published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study, co-authored by Dr. Hifzur Siddique and Dr. Shrawan Kumar Mishra — members of Saleem’s team at the Institute — along with Dr. R. Jeffrey Karnes of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Urology, is promising enough that scientists around the world, from the University of Wisconsin to South Korea, are replicating the Institute’s earlier work to catch up.

“We are the leaders in this research,” Bhat said.

Institute scientists are intrigued by Lupeol, a chemical that is found (in very low doses) in fruits and herbs like mangos, strawberries, tomatoes and other plants. The compound tends to prevent cancer from forming.

Lupeol has been studied by scientists for years, but Bhat and his team have found the compound can actually prevent prostate cancer from forming in test mice injected with human cancer cells. Bhat and his team also found the compound can affect early stages of cancer. In some cases, Hormel Institute scientists found mice with cancerous tumors had their tumors shrink over the course of eight to 12 weeks.

Friday prayers spill into parking lot

NEW HAVEN,CT–On the fifth day of Ramadan, a capacity crowd at Masjid Al-Islam couldn’t keep the faithful from the afternoon prayer. They simply unrolled their tan and red prayer rugs among the Nissans and Toyotas in the adjacent parking lot, the Independent reports.

It was emblematic of the growth the West River masjid has been seeing recently.

Dr. Jimmy Jones, the masjid’s leader, said that more than 300 people attend the jumah, or Friday afternoon prayer, not only during the month-long period of Ramadan that began last week but throughout the year. That’s a significant increase in attendance, he said.

Jimmy Jones said that new developments this year at the masjid, beside clearly increased and robust attendance, include high involvement of masjid personnel in the Muslim Endorsement Council of Connecticut and the Islamic Seminary Foundation. The former is setting standards for religious teachers and leaders, and the latter is training chaplains.

Author challenges misconceptions of Islam

MADISON,WI–Over 50 people crammed into Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative on Thursday recently to hear local author, Amitabh Pal present his new book, ““Islam” Means Peace.”

Pal, who is managing editor of The Progressive magazine, and co-editor of the Progressive Media Project, presented passages from his book, encouraging the audience to explore the pacifist side of Islam.

Pal, a non-Muslim, said he was inspired to write the book because of his own interest in non-violence and non-violent political struggles.

“I came into this sideways or backwards–my interest initially was in non-violence,” he said. “I learned of Ghaffar Khan and the Pashtun movement, I started looking at other instances in the Muslim world, and through that, eventually the book came about.”

“My aim is not to be reductionist, not to be simplistic,” he said, “but to complicate the image of Islam in the minds of Americans. To show that there is a good and a bad side..I think the image is so overwhelmingly generally negative, that even if I’ve managed to make it complex in the minds of Americans, I think I would have done a whole lot.”


Muslims and THE PEACE – As Salaam

Finding a new way to fight

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO

Since the start of the so-called “Muslim Reformation” in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Libya, and others, there have been many” Coach Potato Diplomats” explaining the why’s and the who’s of what is happening… 

These “Islamic” countries have been operating under tyranny and dictators since they gained their freedom from the colonialists who put these dictators in power.  The same countries that colonized these countries;  the United States, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and others, are the same ones controlling their economy today.  In some African countries, the colonizing country controls the airports that they built and command upwards of 95% of all revenues generated yearly – while the natives are just happy to be able to use it.

One of the most common descriptions of Islam is it’s the”religion of peace.”  And this is true.  The very root of the word Islam means peace.  But it’s more than a definition and explanation of a word; it is actually a way of life.

The war we are fighting today is not really one of bullets and physical violence. For us Muslims it is not even one of planes, ships, rockets, and nuclear weapons because we are grossly inferior in all those areas.  So it makes sense to approach the solution to our problems in a different way.   The war we must fight today is not one of raw emotion; it must be one fought with morality and spiritually-guided intelligence.

I’m sure most of you readers have heard of the “Qur’an-burning Pastor Jones from Florida.  This fellow traveled to Detroit, Michigan to stage a protest against the “threat of violence stemming from what he thinks is sharia law.  Ironically his protest was to be in front of a masjid widely known for its efforts to spread peace through our society.  It seems his, and his sponsors( reported to be some White-supremist right-wing group in Northern Michigan) sole purpose was to incite the very violence he says he was trying to prevent.  And he wanted to do all this on the Christian “Good” Friday and in the very name of Christ Jesus, who, according to biblical scripture, would never have done such a thing.

As a result and I’m sure much to his surprise, Pastor Jones’ plans backfired on him and actually benefited the Muslims.  Nearly a thousand people of varying faith traditions (mostly Christians) came to the masjid targeted by Jones, the Islamic Center of America, to speak against him and extol the virtues of our glorious religion.  The Archbishop of Southeast Michigan, the leader of over one and a half million Catholics was in attendance and lead the speeches of the interfaith group of leaders.

After the short program one of the most glorious and spectacular sights I have personally witnessed took place.  A multitude of Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Bahia, and others, joined hands with the Muslims and circled the masjid in a show of solidarity and interfaith love and respect. It was a sight to behold.  Now who would have thought such a show of love and respect was possible?  Many people, including many Muslims, believe this religion would never garner that kind of respect.  But Almighty ALLAH has promised the believers the victory IF they submit to Him with a gentle heart.

But it was no accident that that great multitude of people showed up to support the Muslims.  The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) has been working diligently fostering interfaith love and respect for over thirty years.  Additionally, the Interfaith Leadership Council co-sponsored the program at the masjid.  They worked tirelessly to show their support of the masjid and their disdain of “Pastor” Jones.  The relationship with the different faith traditions in the area has been on solid footing because we reached out to them and they reached out to us.  We accepted their overtures and they accepted ours.  So we grew to know one another.   

As I said earlier, we do not have the wherewithal to fight a physical war but our God and our scripture make us well equipped to fight a spiritual one.  

Let us focus on fighting a war we can win.  Let us argue with them in the best manner – with wisdom and beautiful preaching.  That’s when we are  setting  our aim on the real enemy; the Shaitan. 

It is a war fought on our terms; and it is a war we can win.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin


Houstonian Corner (V11-I33)

Unique Fundraising Done For The Oldest Masjid Of Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “We have lived among masses and understand the psyche of the society. We understand the real issues of people at grassroots level and have always been at the fore-front of serving the humanity by example and not mere words: This is what AL Islam has taught to remain be active. This event is exceptional and we are absolutely delighted to see Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, coming here in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community with no strings attached:” These were some of the sentiments of Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam of Houston, which was started in 1950s in a barber shop and later on became a full-fledged Masjid in 1978, is the oldest Masjid in the Houston area. Most of the initial funds for the Masjid came from the famous Boxing Champ Mohammad Ali.

“Muslims from the communities like Masjid AL Islam, are the ones’, who know the local language and culture. They can explain and present Islam to the Americans in much better manner than us, who have come from overseas and America is our adopted home. We can all learn from each other, but when it comes to conveying the message, the local Muslim Americans are the ones, who can do an effective job. As such we need to be at the forefront is making communities like Masjid AL Islam stronger,” said Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who is In-Charge of the recently formed Moon Sighting Committee of Houston.

Due to the efforts of Syed Shahid Ali Sunni & Associates, more than $140,000 were brought to the fundraising evening for Masjid AL Islam from their anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

Masjid AL Islam was rendered unusable as a result of Hurricane Ike. Ever since that time, several members of the congregation and administration of the Masjid have been working themselves to re-build some of the things at the Masjid. Now the real groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 12-Noon on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at the Masjid premises located at 6641 Bellfort Avenue; Houston; Texas 77087.

In order to have a smooth rebuilding of Majid AL Islam, a fundraiser was held at Shahnai Restaurant. Keynote speaker on the occasion was Imam Faheem Shuaibe of California, who in an inspiring and intellectual manner using various metaphors from AL-Quran, the science of inception, etc. explained the Finality of Messenger Mohammad (s). Allama Mukhtar Naeemi, Qari Abdul Ghani Ovaisi and several other distinctive personalities of the community were in attendance.

Imam Wazir Ali of Masjid AL Islam informed that around $500,000 are needed for the re-construction project of which some have already been collected and about $200,000 were needed to be raised that evening. He said he is absolutely delighted that Muslims from various Immigrant Communities, especially from Pakistan, India and Middle East, have come out in an organized manner and large numbers for the first time to assist Muslims of the African-American Community, who have much to offer to the larger Muslim and Other Communities living around Houston, by social and spiritual support. He specially thanked Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, who worked very hard to gather more than $140,000 for Masjid AL Islam from his anonymous friends of the Pakistani Community.

First Islamic Radio Program in Houston: Fifteen Years Have Passed


Radio Light Of Islam airs every Sunday 10pm.-12am. on Frequency 1460AM and live worldwide at www.KBRZRadio.Com started some 15 years ago: To commemorate the occasion, Anchors of Radio Light Of Islam Maqsood Siddiqui and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui arranged a Community Dinner, where special awards were given to those youth, who have done memorization of Quran (the Huffas of Houston). Heart wrenching recitation of Quran by Qari Ahmad Siddiqui of Madrasae Islamiah was followed by Hamd and Naat presented by young children.

Several prominent speakers spoke on the occasion about the importance of Community Owned Media and ask people to financially support Radio Light of Islam, so that its hours are increased and more languages programming can be done on it like the Spanish. Those included Mufti Saleem, Imam Wazir Ali, Imam Yahya Gant, Imam Abu Mujahid (Spanish), Hafiz Nisar-ul-Haq, Hafiz Tauqir Shah and others.

For more information, one can call 832-298-7860.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Remembered For His Legendary Role

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, MMNS India Correspondent

shahi imam

In this file picture taken on February 14, 2006, Shahi Imam of New Delhi’s Jama Masjid Mosque Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari addresses a press conference at The Jama Masjid.

NEW DELHI: Fire-brand Shahi Imam of historic Jama Masjid, Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari is no more, but memories of his legendary role live on. He is credited for being among the first Muslim clerics who strongly spoke and worked constructively to redress grievances of Indian Muslims. Suffering from illness, Bukhari (87) passed away at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), last week, where he had been admitted several weeks ago. Ironically, he breathed his last on July 8, the very day on which in 1973 he took charge as Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid. Though he passed on the charge of Jama Masjid to his son Syed Ahmed Bukhari on October 14, 2000, he retained the title of Shahi Imam till the very last. He was the 12th Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, a process which began during the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan’s reign. The Bukhari family was invited from Central Asia to take charge of Jama Masjid, with Shahjahan conferring the title of Shahi Imam on Syed Ghafoor Shah Bukhari on July 24, 1656. Since then, Imamat of Jama Masjid has continued in the family, with each Shahi Imam being succeeded by his son.

Bukhari played a crucial role in 1947 in persuading Muslims not to migrate to Pakistan. When he was asked decades later (in 2004) by former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan on had he ever thought of shifting to Pakistan, Bukhari replied: “India is my country and the very question of leaving it cannot arise at all.” His protest against communal violence in Delhi’s Kishanganj area in 1974 led to his being jailed for 18 days in 1975. Bukhari shot into fame in 1977, when he campaigned actively against the forced sterilization drive pursued by then Congress government in parts of Old Delhi. His anti-Congress campaign played a crucial role in pushing then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi out of power in 1977 Lok Sabha elections.

Remembering Bukhari for fearlessly voicing stand against government’s anti-Muslim measures, Qazi Ayub Hassan Choudhary said: “He was the one who looked Indira Gandhi in the eye.” Bukhari is remembered by Muslims for providing thousands of them shelter in Jama Masjid when they were driven out of their homes by mobs during troubled times. He provided them food, clothes and medicines. In other words, his service to the Muslim community extended far beyond rhetoric, reaching out to actually aggrieved ones. Though Bukhari played an active role in favor of Babri Masjid, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, it had limited impact.

Among those who knew Bukhari well remember him for his secular credentials too. When a Hindu couple, who worked for the Imam, passed away around four decades ago, Bukhari decided to “adopt” their son, Raju. The little boy lived and worked at Bukhari’s house till his marriage. One of daughters-in-law of Bukhari was a non-Muslim. She remembers him for having never imposed Islamic beliefs and practices on her, which she adopted out of her own choice.

In his condolence message, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari said: “I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Maulana Syed Abdullah Bukhari.” “A respected personality,” he “had an impressive record of religious service to the people,” Ansari stated. “He would remain a lasting exemplar of selfless service and his death has caused a deep void,” he said.

Expressing grief at his demise, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: “He will always be remembered in the history of Jama Masjid and the country.”

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “In his whole life, he served his nation and Islam. Today, we regret that the great scholar has left us. I am sure that after his death his successors will carry forward his tradition of secularism.”

Mourning his demise, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: “He worked towards the betterment of all communities.”

“Imam sahab was a dynamic personality. Besides being the Imam, he was always involved in raising social and political issues. He played a constructive role in 1947,” Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan said.

“The Imam was a great personality. He was a fearless man. He tried to pressurize the government to take up issues concerning the community. He had been a fighter for 30 long years. After Emergency (June 25, 1975 to March 21, 1977), he became more involved,” Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque, said.

In its condolence message, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations said, that Bukhari played a “leading role” for Indian Muslims for over three decades.

Born in Sambhar, Rajasthan, Bukhari received his religious education in the capital city. He was laid to rest in the family graveyard on the northwest side of Jama Masjid (July 8). He is survived by four sons and two daughters.

Remembering his father, Ahmad Bukhari, the present Imam, said: “Not only did I love my father, I admired him and tried emulating him. He always advised me to fight against oppression and he would tell me that I should never succumb before the cruel. I have tried to uphold his principles.


Community News (V10-I39)

Chicago interfaith Iftar

CHICAGO,IL–Chicago area Muslims and Christians gathered at the Islamic Foundation Mosque recently for an interfaith iftar. It was part of an ongoing effort  between the two communities relations between the two communities. More than fifty people came for the event.

Similar events are being held throughout the Chicago area.

“Had it not been for interfaith relations in the Chicago area, the aftermath of 9/11 would have been very different,” said Ghulam Haider Aasi, professor of Islamic studies at American Islamic College in Chicago in an interview to the Daily Herald. “Muslims of Chicago fortunately did not see as bad a situation (of backlash) as people in other parts of the country.”

Leaders emphasized commonalities between the faith traditions and the significance of building fellowship through the fast-breaking ritual.

“What I think is valuable about this is two communities build personal relationships first in the context of which they are then able to discuss the larger issues between them,” said the Rev. Thomas Baima, Provost at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary.

Heitage Hills Mosque plans not approved

GRAND RAPIDS,MI–Heritage Hill residents convinced city planners to reject an Islamic community’s request to convert a former school building into a mosque.
The city’s Planning Commission voted 8-0 against the request by the Masjid Muhammad Islamic Center.

Mosque officials said the daily prayers would attract only a handful of worshippers, while other gatherings rarely would draw more than 50 people.

But neighbors complained that the property has only seven spaces, with three spaces available on the street which will lead to problems.

The Masjid Muhammad Islamic Center has been looking for a permanent home for five years, since a mosque along South Division Avenue was destroyed by fire.

Bus ads spread the message

SEATTLE,WA– Adopting an innovative approach to Dawah, activists in Seattle area have turned to public transit buses. The paid advertisements on the Metro buses simply read:  “Q: Islam. A: You deserve to know,” with a phone number and Web site.

They have been designed to spark curiosity about the most misunderstood religion. The idea was initiated by the Islamic Circle of North America and now ads are displayed on the outside of six metro buses and the inside of about 25. The cost of $5,000 was contributed by ten local Muslims.

Buses in New York and Chicago will also display the advertisements soon.

Memphis Muslim clinic reaches out

MEMPHIS,TN– As the number of uninsured grows in America, Muslim doctors are doing their part to help their fellow citizens and lighten the burden.

The Memphis Muslim Medical Clinic in East Memhis has been serving the uninsured patients for the past two and a half years. With a volunteer base of 100 Muslim doctors have served over 2,000 patients who pay as little as $5 per visit.

Housed on the property of  Masjid As-Salaam the clinic is run by five directors all of whom are on the staff of University of Tennessee.

Open on weekends, the clinic has a $100,000 annual budget, which is funded through private donors, many of whom make direct monthly deposits.

Work at Boonton mosque stopped

BOONTON, NJ–More than two years after the expansion of the Jam e Masjid Islamic Center was approved by the planning board, progress on the controversial proposal has hit a snag, the Daily Record reported.

The town issued a stop-work order in early August on construction of the multi-story 4,000-square-foot expansion to the Harrison Street mosque, after a resident noticed the work on the façade did not conform to the site plan approval of March 2006.

Work on the expansion began several months ago by Perth Amboy-based Troop Construction, mosque officials said.

An amendment to the application—revisited by the planning board on Wednesday night–was denied in a vote of 5-2 following testimony from representatives of the mosque on the site plan changes and protests from several residents who oppose the changes.

Board members Richard Orlusky and Douglas Phelps approved the amended plan.

Roy Kurnos, the mosque’s attorney, said he will meet this weekend with mosque officials and architect David Singer to revise the amended plan, re-file and present it to the board again.


Muslims Distance Selves from Atlanta Terror Suspects

Muslims Distance Selves from Terror Suspects
By Adil James
April 25—All of those with alleged social ties to two terror suspects arrested by the FBI are seeking as much distance from them as possible.
The two, 19-year-old US citizen Ehsanul Islam Sadequee (of Bangladeshi origin) and 21-year-old Syed Haris Ahmed (of Pakistani origin), are local area students (Mr. Ahmed being a mechanical engineering bachelor’s candidate at Georgia Tech) accused of having gone to Toronto to conspire to engage in unspecified terrorist attacks against unspecified victims within the United States.
The FBI arrested Mr. Ahmed on March 23. They accused the two of having met at a mosque adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus, al-Farooq Masjid and Corporation.
Dr. Mohammad O. Tomeh, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of al-Farooq Masjid, said that he does not remember having seen the two boys at all in the mosque. “It’s not like a church—people pray and go—we have no relationship with them.”
Dr. Tomeh emphasized that “there are no political activities in our mosque.” No political functions, he explained—the mosque as a matter of policy as written in its bylaws, he says, prohibits political activities. “We are a religious institution, we teach Qur`an, `ahadith, and good character—we have two schools. “We have no relationship with” the two boys who were arrested.
The mosque is an old one, having been built in 1980. It is now in the process of building an entirely new structure on its land, to replace the old mosque. So far, Dr. Tomeh explains, the mosque has fortunately had no problems from the surrounding community in the wake of the arrests.
Fellow students, also, are seeking to put as much distance between themselves and the two boys as possible. “I didn’t hear about that at all,” explained Jenny Rieck, a freshman psychology major from Augusta Georgia in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I’ve been locked in my room working.”
Another student, West Daniel, was similarly shocked. “I’d never even picture a classmate even being accused of something like that,” said Wes Daniel, a junior mechanical engineering major who believes he may have had a class with Ahmed. “Everyone’s asked each other if they know him.”
One dark cloud remains over Atlanta in the wake of the accusations and arrests. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, without giving supporting evidence or quotes, that the two boys were well-known at Al-Farooq Masjid.
In fact, according to Dr. Tomeh, the Chairman of that mosque, this is absolutely not the case. –

Don’t Relax Your Islam

“O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe see you from a position where ye cannot see them. We made the Satans friends (only to those without faith.” 7:27

One of the pitfalls of the glitz and glamour of the modern world is it has a very strong magnetic effect on the young (and sometimes not-so-young). Much of the TV, movies, and music we experience today have messages that downplay good healthy wholesome living.
Sometimes when I haven’t seen a person at the masjid in a long time, I will run into them at a festival, parade, ball game, golf course, or some other recreational outlet. And many times when I see them they will be with a non-Muslim companion and not dressed exactly as they were the last time I saw them at the mosque. This is much more common in the African-America community, because assimilation in the local culture is much easier than it is for immigrant Muslims.
Many of our young people, indigenous and immigrant, feel that Islam and living an Islamic life means you can’t have fun. They feel that Islam is too restrictive and prevents you from living a full life. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. And I’m not speaking from the perspective of an older person. I’m speaking from the perspective of the Qur’an.
ALLAH only forbids us those things that are harmful to ourselves and/or the society. A few examples of what I mean:
We are forbidden to eat pork and other unclean meats. This is self explanatory if you think about it. Pork is known to cause high blood pressure and clogged arteries, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It also harbors worms.
Adultery and fornication cause breakups in the family, which ultimately weaken the society. Alcohol and intoxicants cause warped and unstable thinking. Gambling leads to lying and theft after the inevitable losses you will incur.
These are a few of the prohibited things. There are many more activities that are permitted by ALLAH. You don’t need to stay away from the masjid to go to a movie. Just try to see decent movies. If your culture allows you to listen to music, make sure that the music you choose is not the rotgut, vulgar stuff put out by Shaitan.
As an imam and counselor, I get great many people seeking help for problems that can, for the most part, be solved by regular attendance and participation at the masjid. When you are around Muslims, your behavior automatically is going to be more Islamic. You will be encouraged to pay the zakat and attend Friday prayers. We need each other. Steel sharpens steel and man sharpens man.
On the other hand, we must be constantly aware of the presence and plan of Satan and know that “he can watch you while you are unaware.” When you are around non-Muslims, your behavior will likely be like those you are around. You will “relax” into an inferior culture, which will bring you down to a lower level.
Be Muslim ALL the time. Your life will be less stressful, more peaceful, and a greater asset to the community………And your Lord will be pleased with you.