US Muslims counter hate with virtues

By Carissa D. Lamkahouan
US Correspondent

DALLAS – Building bridges between people, promoting understanding with those of other faiths, and living the virtues of a good neighbor are just some of the Islamic fundamentals Imam Daniel Adbullah Hernandez emphasizes when encouraging his Southeastern Texas congregation to look beyond the masjid walls and to connect with those who they otherwise might avoid.

To show his fellow Muslims the way, he leads by example and emphasizes mercy.

“We have beautiful statements of the Prophet (pbuh) about mercy. He said, ‘The merciful will be shown mercy by the most merciful (Allah),’” Hernandez, a revert since 1999 who now serves at the Pearland Islamic Center in Pearland, north Texas, told

The imam added if Muslims are going to move past the challenges they face from some in Western society, then it is they who must take the initiative to improve their situation.

Most importantly, he said they need not look any further than their own religion.

“Understanding the Islamic concept of interfaith and knowing each other and building on our commonalities is important,” said Hernandez.

“Understanding that we are one humanity and have a responsibility on this earth and even outside of the masjid is also important. And it’s not just a responsibility to build buildings or to pave roads but to spread the divine attributes, which includes mercy and to understand that mercy is for all.”

To live what he preaches, Hernandez regularly reaches out not only to his fellow faith leaders in Texas but to civic leaders, as well.

In fact, he most recently engaged the non-Islamic community to join with his congregants in planting an interfaith garden during Earth Day events earlier this year.
“One goal (of mine) is to introduce the general community to our community and develop a relationship which ends up giving us other opportunities for collaborative programs to take place such as the garden,” the imam said.

“We had (city leaders) and different clergy come to plant trees. Now that we know each other we have a responsibility to continue watering our plants, so to speak.”


Planting gardens events have turned into interfaith event offering the wider community a chance to engage with their Muslim neighbors.

“I think, symbolically, it’s a gesture that indicates to the rest of the world that we need to change how we treat each other and how we view each other,” Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, who attended the planting of the garden, told

Ried said interfaith events like the ones sponsored by the Pearland Islamic Center are critically important to establishing and keeping harmony in a town like Pearland, which is home to people of all colors and creeds.

“(Our city) has been identified as one of the most diverse in the state; we have 62 different languages spoken in our school system,” Reid said.

“We have to come together as individuals and get to know each other because, when you do that, you find out that people are basically good.”

As for how the mayor views the Muslim community and the Islamic faith, he is pragmatic about it.

“We all worship the same god we just call him differently,” Reid said.

He said he’s proud of how his town, with its rich cultural diversity and vibrant faith community, has not only learned to live together in peace but even to enjoy each other’s company and welcome each new member as an important member of society.

“When people move to Pearland, even from outside of the United States, they end up liking and trusting their neighbors, their children play together and they attend community events together,” Reid said.

“We really are a model for the rest of the world to look at and to start following, to encourage people to reach out to each other and get along with each other.”

In addition to holding symbolic events to promote mercy and generosity of spirit between people, Imam Hernandez said a bit of shared fun goes a long way, as well.

To that end, a spring carnival was held in conjunction with the planting of the interfaith garden. He said the event presented an ideal and natural opportunity for da`wah.

“When you’re playing your guard is down, and we made it clear that we had no hidden agenda for inviting (people of other faiths) to our event, and they were impressed,” he said.

“We are doing this because it’s an obligation upon us to do it. We only fear that we will stand in front of God one day, so we need no reward and no thanks.”


Praise of Prophet Muhammad (s) by First Chinese Ming Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang

100 Word Praise In the Honor of Islam and Holy Prophet by First Chinese Ming Emperor – Zhu Yuanzhang


Since Creation of Universe
Heaven has already appointed,
Faith Preaching Giant Saint,
From West He’s Born,
To receive Holy Scripture,
With thirty part Book,
To guide all creations,
King of all Kings,
Leader of Holy Ones,
With Support from Divine,
To Protect His Nation,
With five daily prayers,
Silently hope for peace,
With heart toward Allah,
Empower the poor ones,
Save them from calamity,
See through the Unseen,
Pulling souls and spirits,
Away from all wrongdoings,
Mercy to the World,
Walking ancient Crowned Path,
Evil vanquished to One,
Religion Pure and True,
The Noble High One.
edited (by yursilnaqshi)

Community News (V9-I46)

Little Mosque on the Prairie now available in DVD

Canadian hit show, “Little Mosque on the Prairie” is now available on DVD. The inaugural season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Canada’s breakthrough series produced by WestWind Pictures in association with the CBC, will be released on DVD in Canada on November 13, 2007 by Morningstar Entertainment, a leading distributor of home entertainment products.

Little Mosque on the Prairie debuted in January, 2006 with stellar reviews and huge national and international attention. The series focuses on a small Muslim community in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan many of whose residents are wary of their new, more exotic neighbours. The sit-com reveals that, although different, we are surprisingly similar when it comes to family, love, the generation gap and our attempts to balance our secular and religious lives. The new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CBC.

“Morningstar is proud to present the complete first season of CBC’s popular and innovative series,” says Jason Moring, VP Sales & Marketing for Morningstar Entertainment. “Little Mosque has made a major impact on the cultural landscape of Canada and the world. Consumers will not only love watching the hilarious episodes, they’ll learn more about the making of the production and will hear and see unique perspectives on its success from producers, cast and crew.”

“We are very excited to make the series available on Home Video, says Mary Darling, Executive Producer of the series, “the requests for DVD began pouring in with the airing of our very first episode. This DVD gives us another way to satisfy the appetites of our valued viewers.”

Produced in collaboration with WestWind Pictures, Morningstar Entertainment and CBC Home Video, the 200-minute, two-disc set features 5.1 surround audio, described video for the visually impaired and closed captioned for hearing impaired viewers. Bonus content includes:

– Extended interviews with cast members;

– Behind The Mosque: behind-the-scenes featurette of season 1;

– Under the Veil: Sitara Hewitt’s guide to the wardrobe department;

– Double Audio Commentary for Episode 1 with show creator Zarqa Nawaz and Executive Producer Mary Darling (version 1) and various cast members (version 2).

Little Mosque on the Prairie – The Complete First Season (2 Disc DVD) can be found at retailers across Canada and online at; available November 13, 2007. The DVD features all eight of the Season One episodes.

Imam preaches at church

WOODBURY, CT—Imam Abdullah Antepli, assistant director of the Hartford Seminary Chaplaincy Program, was invited last month to preach during Sunday service at First Congregational Church of Woodbury. First Congregational Church’s Inter-religious Committee has been developing inter-religious dialogue forums for three years. The church has developed Faith Summits, offered lectures on the Religious Right, Congregationalism and Social Mission and continues to develop a “Justice and Peace” lecture series.

Imam Antepli preached about common values between Islam, Judaism and Chritianity and how to coexist.

The church’s pastor Rev.Mark Heilshorn had visited Turkey and Morocco as part of a inter-religious delgation along with Imam Antepli. The two are also enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Hartford Seminary.

Agha Afzal seeks top Jersey City spot

JERSEY CITY, NJ–Agha Afzal is contesting for the post of Jersey City county executive on a Republican ticket.

The elections will take place next week, the Daily Times reported.

Afzal, former executive director of the Hudson County Republican Party, is currently with the Development Agency of Jersey City commissioner.

Afzal, who hails from Sahiwal, Pakistan has also served as honorary deputy mayor of Jersey City in year 2004-2005 and has helped construct shelter homes for battered and needy women in Jersey City.

A county executive heads the executive branch of the government in a county, which is a sub-unit of regional self-government within a sovereign jurisdiction.

Mosque in Monticello runs into trouble

MONTICELLO, NY–A mosque in the Village of Monticello has run into rough weather after village officials alleged that it was constructed without the necessary permits.

The Argo & Alaudin Corp., owner of the mosque property at 33 Cottage St., was granted a building permit on July 21, 2006, to renovate the one-family house located there. A second permit, to convert the house into a mosque, was denied three days later by then Village Manager Richard Sush because only the Planning Board could approve a place of worship in a residential zone.

Despite the denial the owners gutted the house and built the mosque despite non-compliance warnings from the village, officials said. The mosque was finished this September.

Mosque owners are trying to remedy the situation by going to the Planning Board in hindsight. Their next appearance will be Oct. 27.

Albany mosque has new Imam

ALBANY, NY–The Masjid As-Salam in Albany now has new Imam: Imam Abdul Elmi. The mosque was without an Imam for two years after the then Imam Yassin Aref was arrested for allegedly supporting a fictitious terror plot.

The new Imam currently serves as a senior chaplin in the state prison systemand will serve part time at As-Salam mosque. He handles services and counseling at two prisons in that job, among other duties.

The soft-spoken 55-year-old imam is originally from Somalia and lives in Clifton Park with his wife and five children. He is a familiar face both in Masjid As-Salam and beyond it in the region’s small but growing Muslim community.

Many local Muslims know Elmi from the leadership posts he has held within the region’s Islamic community. He chaired the board of trustees at the An-Nur Islamic School in Colonie. He was president of Troy’s Masjid al-Hidaya. He remains a trustee and is involved in the Troy community’s plan to build a mosque in Latham. And he had already been filling in at the Albany mosque before his appointment as imam.

Imam Elmi has an interestin career path. He studied Islam in high school and later on his own. He is the author of a book in the Somali language about Islamic jurisprudence.

His university education was in a much different subject: agriculture.

Elmi earned a master’s degree from Montana State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas before teaching and doing research at Virginia State University. The professor taught Islam — unpaid — at area mosques because they didn’t have enough teachers.

When he was told New York was looking for prison chaplains, he applied and got the job.