Photo credit: photodune

Witnessing ourselves in relationships

Photo credit: photodune

Photo credit: photodune

Karin Friedemann
TMO Contributing Writer

“Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and make bad decisions,” reads a joke circulating on Facebook. But sometimes even smart people make stupid decisions. Many times we don’t actually make conscious decisions but repeat similar mistakes again and again. Part of growing up and learning how to make good decisions is by recognizing our own behavior patterns and stopping ourselves. Becoming conscious requires learning to recognize subconscious emotions. If you get a disturbing feeling that you have felt this emotion before, this can serve as a warning that you are behaving unconsciously.

For example, when Gina became engaged to Frederic, she was madly in love and tried to please him. This desire for approval made her vulnerable when he would treat her in an accusing way. “Why didn’t you pick up the phone? What were you doing? Who were you talking to? Why haven’t you told me about this friend before?”

Gina’s first instinct was to reassure him of her innocence, but as this pattern continued, she realized she was experiencing a familiar emotion: the fearful childhood feeling of being “in trouble” with her parents. Once she realized that she was engaging in a subconscious reaction, she decided to bring her relationship into adulthood: Making mutual respect her goal, she resolved to stop taking her fiance’s controlling behavior behavior so seriously. She could either stop allowing him to talk to her this way, or she could walk away from the relationship. Either way, she refused to allow herself to be bullied by him anymore.

Desperate housewife Amira found herself in a situation where her husband grudgingly tolerated her. He decided he didn’t want her anymore and “sent her back to her parents.” However, 45 days later, her parents sent her back without explanation. But it sent the message that the parents didn’t want her either. Terrified of being abandoned, she engaged in passive aggressive dependency behavior to make it hard for her husband to divorce her – refusing to speak English, refusing to learn how to drive a car, and refusing to leave the house by herself, not even to buy food. How easy it is to resort to victimhood when one’s parent’s have impressed upon a person that love is conditional, and that the best one can hope for in life is to be grudgingly tolerated.

In both of these situations, the women are not only victims of their own patterns but also they are receiving the “Other” treatment.The man is treating them like a thing he owns, like chattel, which he judges according to whether or not it is living up to his hopes and expectations. When she does not please him, his instinct is either to assert control over her or to throw her in the garbage. There is no concept in his mind of a relationship with a human being of equal value. This male chauvenist attitude comes from a combination of cultural conditioning and emotional immaturity.

How can a woman react in order to make a man regard her with the same respect as he requires for himself? The solution is three-fold: she must be willing to end the relationship, love herself enough not to take neurotic responsibility for his problems relating to women, and she must recognize that he too is a victim of subconscious programming,

Compare Amira the unwanted wife to Maryem, who discovered her husband was secretly visiting other women. She threatened him that she would take their children back to her country to live with her parents if he did not immediately recommit to their marriage. Prior to this ultimatum, her husband had been engaging in the mindset of blaming his wife and children for his lack of accomplishments in life and taking revenge on her relative financial success by cheating on her. But faced with the threat of losing his family, he snapped out of this childish victim mindset and took responsibility.

It is remarkable to observe how we react in situations of uncertainty and how this corresponds to our childhood patterning as well as how we have emerged from it.

Shana’s cell phone malfunctioned for 24 hours, so that she was not receiving texts and her husband was not receiving her texts. Her first reaction was to assume he was angry with her. She went over every text she had sent to try and figure out what she had done wrong. But before resorting to abject apologizing without knowing her crime, as she habitually did with her first husband, who had frequently engaged at giving her the silent treatment, she realized that she was engaging in a past pattern and stopped herself from begging for forgiveness. She then went to the other extreme, thinking angrily that if her second husband was going to engage in passive aggressive silence instead of telling her why he’s angry, she would not tolerate it. She started going through a mental list of other men who might want her if this marriage didn’t work out.

Just then, her husband called. “I was so worried about you! I thought something happened to you. Why didn’t you return my texts?”

Shana was so relieved that he was not angry with her, and doubly relieved she had not apologized for nothing! She recognized that she had made considerable progress in protecting her dignity since her previous marriage in that regard. She also noted that she still had serious trust issues. Her husband’s caring reaction made her realize that she was so lucky to have him, and restored her faith in the relationship. His caring nature was born of a decision to live more consciously and to engage in healthier relationships. Ironically, Amira was Shana’s husband’s first wife. How is that the same man would treat two women so very differently? What is it about our attitudes that influence how others treat us?

Learning to be a witness of ourselves with others is one of the most exciting and meaningful paths we can take in life. Those who don’t do it, never fully mature. Those who do, break the chains of social conditioning taught by past generations, and empower themselves and others with enlightened perception and self-management skills.

 Editor’s note: Karin Friedemann is a contributing writer for The Muslim Observer. Her views are her own.

Community News (V13-I50)

Philanthropist Shahid Khan to buy Jaguars

URBANA,IL–Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-American businessman and philanthropist, is all set to acquire Jacksonville Jaguars, according to media reports.

He is the president of the Flex-N-Gate company which manufactures auto parts. It employs over 12, 000 workers in U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain.

Flex-N-Gate is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 168th largest private company in the United States, with estimated revenues of $2.57 billion for the previous fiscal year.

Last year Khan had launched an unsuccessful bid to acquire St. Louis Rams.

Lafayette Islamic Centre to hold community kitchen

LAFAYETTE,LA–The Lafayaette Islamic Centre will hold a community kitchen on December 10. This is the centre’s first ever project of this kind, KATC reported.

The event is open to everyone, and local shelters will be given the information to invite their patrons. Gumbo will be served. Volunteers from the Islamic Center, the UL Muslim Students Association, and the Islamic Education Weekend Program will be on hand to serve those in attendance. The Community Kitchen will be Dec. 10 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

No prayer room at Purdue University Calumet campus

CALUMET,IN–University campuses across North America have a common meditation/prayer area which all students including Muslim could utilise. The Purdue University Calumet campus, however, lacks one creating a challenge for the three hundred Muslim students to offer their five daily prayers.

The issue has been brought to the front by a recent article in the Purdue University Calumter Chronicle. The adminsitration’s contention is that they cannot provide a prayer space for specific religion as it is a state school. The Muslim students have asked that a common prayer open to all religions be provided.

PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon voiced his sympathy for the Muslim students’ quandary, though he held the position that the school is not legally allowed to host a specified prayer room. Although the administration’s hands seem to be bound in red tape, Keon shared his suggestion to work out a resolution to benefit all faiths.

“We need to have a better, long-term approach to resolving the concern. I have suggested that the campus, for the first time, develop an inter-faith counsel and I would like to find church leaders from the region and work with them to see if we can come up with a resolution. In the meantime, I have approached the Vice Chancellors about properties for sale near the campus we may be able to purchase for this specific purpose,” Keon told the student newspaper.

Tulsa police captain’s plea denied

TULSA,OK–A Tulsa Police Department Captain’s plea to amend his lawsuit filed against the department over mosque attendance row has been denied by a US District Court judge.

Capt. Paul Fields filed a suit alleging his First Amendment rights were infringed upon after he was suspended for disobeying orders to attend a community event.

In February, Fields refused to attend Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Islamic Society of Tulsa.  He was then suspended without pay June 12-25 for his actions.

Upon filing the suit, Fields emailed his supervisors.  In the statement, he said, “I believe this directive to be an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my personal religion’s convictions.”


Face the Faith

By Ahmad Al-Hilali, TMO Foundation

8477854Youth from all over the Detroit metro, and different religious backgrounds, came to the Face the Faith event at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills. The purpose of this event was to learn more about different cultures and faiths. There were icebreakers so that they could get to know each other’s names and religious beliefs. Than, after everybody had a feel about who was who, they went down to the basement to listen to the presentation by the Imam of the Muslim Unity Center, the representative of the Jewish faith, and the representative of the Christian faith. And after each presentation, they encouraged many people to speak up if they have a question, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.  It is better to know the answer to a question than to just assume you know, because if President Bush didn’t assume that WMD’s were in Iraq, than the Iraq war never would have happened. Asking questions is what separates the person who wants to learn, from the person who is too ignorant to. Many of the questions asked were regarding the Hijab the Muslim women wear. The answer to this was that women in the Muslim faith covered themselves to hide their beauty, therefore making them unnoticeable on the streets. There were also questions about marriage in Islam, whether it was true or not about the theory that all Arabs are Muslims, the proper Islamic wardrobe for both men and women, and many others. After the presentation, there was a dinner, and an opportunity for them to get to know more about the faiths that were at the event. After the dinner, it was prayer time for the Muslims. As they prayed, the youth of the other faiths watched. And after the prayer, the Imam of the Muslim Unity Center explained how Muslims prayed and why. After that, the event was concluded with a tour of the Muslim Unity Center. Many people thought that this was a very constructive event, and they hope that something similar to this will happen in the future.


‘Eid at the Islamic Center of Detroit

By Jumana Abusalah

Jumana AbusalahMuslim residents of Dearborn and Detroit, Michigan woke up on November 6th to a bright and sunny Sunday morning.  It was Eid Ul Adha, and it was already off to a good start. Muslims gather on this holy day to mark the end of Hajj and to commemorate and remember Prophet Ibrahim (as).

The ICD (Islamic Center of Detroit) is a big success every year, as it is on the edge of Dearborn and Detroit, where many Muslims reside.  This year was no different! The ICD was swarming with no less than 4,000 people! Upon arrival to the mosque, people gave their Salaams to each other and recited takbeer in unison.  When prayer was called, thousands and thousands of Muslims rushed to thank Allah for the blessed opportunities and blessings He bestows upon us. Foot to foot, and shoulder to shoulder, there was no better feeling than standing united with so many fellow Muslims on this blessed day.

After prayer, everyone sat to listen to the Imam’s Khutba. One main point of the Khutba was on the importance of forgiveness and renewing our relationships with fellow Muslims. The significance and holiness of this day should encourage us to erase any grudges or fights we might have between family and friends.  

Along with the Imam, we thanked Allah for the freedom of the Palestinian prisoners and realized that this was the first Eid that they were able to celebrate since their imprisonment. This was proof that our du’aas do not go unanswered and that as long as we stay close to Allah, He will help us and guide us Insh’Allah. It was especially touching and moving to many people, considering the events that have recently transpired in the Middle East. We then raised our hands in humbleness and made du’aa for all Muslims and thanked Allah for allowing us to experience another wonderful Eid. 

After prayer, people dispersed excitedly to continue their Eid activities. Some children spent their energy by jumping on the moon bounce; others ran excitedly to where there were free gifts and colorful balloons. People that had not eaten raced to the falafel sandwiches and different assortments of pies and sweets.  Most importantly was the gathering and meeting of friends and family. This is the day where people forgot their problems and simply enjoyed each other’s company, reassured year by year that Muslims will always be there for each other and that Allah will always be there to help.


Community News (V13-I42)

Camden street named in honor of Dr. Mustapha Khan

CAMDEN, NJ–Trinidad born Dr.Mustapha Khan was a popular medic in Camden who really struck a cord with the people in the area as a physician. He was honored last week when the street he used to walk down to his office was renamed Dr. Mustapha M. Khan Way in his honor.

Khan, who died in 2009 at 84, retired from his medical practice the previous year. He had spent 51 years practicing medicine in the city, taking all patients who came in and treating them even when he knew they might not be able to pay.

“He found his bliss, found his home in Camden, New Jersey, in this community,” said Khan’s son, Mustapha Jr. “He really savored being a man of the people, treating everyone who came through his doors.”

“Whether it was a little kid with a runny nose, a teenager with a behavioral problem or some adult who needed help changing a tire outside, anything he could do, he was willing to do,” recalled Khan’s son Rasheed. “He didn’t care about the reward, didn’t care about the money or accolades. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Over the years, Khan was offered chances to practice medicine with large health systems such as Cooper, West Jersey and Lourdes. He turned them all down to ensure that he could keep practicing medicine his way in Camden’s Parkside neighborhood and helping people in a city he didn’t want to abandon.

Khan also mentored children in the area and many of them are now themselves professionals in diverse fields.

Charolette Musilms, Christians hold interfaith meeting

CHAROLETTE,NC–Mecklenburg Ministries held its first interfaith prayer meeting, designed to promote greater understanding and common spiritual ground between Christians and Muslims.
The Ministries’ youth council, along with Park Road Baptist and the Muslim American Society  co-sponsored the event.

Imam John Ederer  explained Muslim traditions of prayer, then invited those on hand to take part in or observe the Islamic sunset prayer.

The Revs. Amy and Russ Dean, Park Road’s pastors, discussed Christian prayer, then lead vespers.

Talking and praying together, “will be a much more productive way to spend the evening than arguing over political divisions or pointing a long finger of derision at people because they are different than us,” Russ Dean said in a prepared statement.

Ramy Ahmed wins award at Technon Conference

AUSTIN,TX–Ramy Ahmed, a graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, won a Best Paper/Presentation award at the 2011 Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Technon Conference.

Ahmed and advisor Dr. Sebastian Hoyos won for their paper, “A 384-MHz Continuous-Time ΔƩ Modulator Using a Hybrid Feedback DAC Based on Spectral Shaping of Jitter Induced Errors,” in the analog/mixed-signal/RF circuit design session.

Ahmed’s award is among a select group of SRC-funded projects. Hoyos said Ahmed’s work has received excellent feedback in the past three years and has had SRC project reviews with one patent already filed by SRC member companies. They also have been invited to submit a full journal article for an IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I special issue coming up soon.

Ahmed received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in electronics and communications engineering from Cairo University (Egypt). He currently is working toward his Ph.D. in the Analog and Mixed-Signal Center, under Hoyos’ supervision. During the spring of 2008, Ahmed was an intern at Rice Nanoscale Systems Laboratory at Rice University, where he worked on non-autonomous chaotic oscillators and 60 GHz receivers. In 2011, Ahmed held a summer internship with the analog and mixed-signal group at QUALCOMM Inc. in San Diego, Calif.

Ahmed’s research interests include data converters and multistandard wireless receivers. He has co-authored more than 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences and has one patent filed under the SRC/GRC patent program. Since September 2009, Ahmed is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in America. He is a member of IEEE and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Anti-Muslim fliers spark debate in San Diego

SAN DIEGO,CA–A religious organization’s campaign that focuses on passing out anti-Muslim literature to students is being criticized in San Diego.

The group passes out the fliers on public property just outside of the high schools. They have gone to Clairemont High School and Kearny High School, as well as other schools in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The fliers say as Islam grows “Muslims become increasingly more aggressive” and “We must defend students from being recruited and radicalized into Islam.”

The fliers have sparked safety concerns for the Muslim community.

“We’re also concerned about the bullying that’s going on in public schools. So this is only going to spark the fire of ‘Islam-a-phobia,’ possible bullying of Muslim students,” said Edgar Hopida of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


Take Time for Internal Reflection

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, TMO

It is not the quantity, but the quality of time spent attempting to follow the guidance of ALLAH that ensures success.  ALLAH says in Qur’an that “everything is a sign – for those who reflect.”  Each day, if we just take 10 minutes of quiet, quality time in carefully selected thought procedures, we can improve our life by achieving a greater measure of happiness, increased efficiency, and a feeling of spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.

So many things whiz by us each day that it is virtually impossible to reflect while you are on the go.  You will possibly see these “signs of ALLAH”, but not will reflect on them to get the full benefit.  So many miraculous things occur during the course of our going about our daily activities.  They are happening whether you realize it or not.  The key is to first know that ALLAH is in the blessing business and then key in on your blessings by being one of those who “reflect” on the signs of ALLAH.

This 10 minute formula I am sharing with you has been proven scientifically over time and it is right in sync with the ALLAH’S word to “reflect.”  The plan is to spend the 10 minutes every day in quiet submission.  It must be regular.  To do it for a day or two and then skip a day or two will lessen the impact on the results.

ALLAH is real, and He will guide you as you submit your mind to His.  Don’t go into this process with the idea “I want to do this—or do that.  Instead, wait on an answer to enter your mind.  You have now made your mind susceptible to Divine wisdom.

This is in the same vein as the Istikara prayer Muslims say in the early reaches of the night.  The difference is, in the istakara prayer, we ask ALLAH to examine our particular situation.  It may be a particular relationship or maybe a career move or something similar.  We make two rakah and ask ALLAH to make it easy and possible to attain— if it is right for us.  If it is not right for us, we ask Him to remove it from us.  Istakara is a powerful tool of connection and help from ALLAH.

This time of reflection is also special because we stop what we are doing, go to a quiet place with no distractions and wait for thoughts to enter your mind.  They might not be what you expect or even what you want.  They may be far from what we are accustomed to thinking.  But if you are a believer and have submitted yourself to be an instrument of ALLAH, you will be on a higher wavelength of righteousness in which there is no error. The time can vary.  It may be before salat or after salat—or an hour or so after salat. It doesn’t matter.  The main thing is quietness, relaxation, and submission of your mind to ALLAH.

There are many tools and avenues to connect spiritually to our Creator.  This is only one.  Sometimes while offering salat, solutions and answers come to our minds.  I take it as ALLAH choosing a time to communicate with me.  Some people think they are sinning if your mind wanders during salat.  But it is not necessarily so.  It depends on what your mind is wandering to.

This human mind we have is special and it has a special way of communicating with its Maker.  Reflect on the “Signs” of ALLAH.  You will be richer for it.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin


Test of Faith

Last year, Wellesley Middle School students on a field trip were filmed praying in a Roxbury mosque. After being battered by nationwide criticism, why is the public school still determined to stand by its religion curriculum?

By Linda K. Wertheimer

“REMEMBER, THE REASON WE’RE GOING TO THE MOSQUE IS TO CONTINUE OUR LEARNING,” Jonathan Rabinowitz tells his sixth-grade social studies students. Dressed in a button-down shirt and khakis, the lanky 38-year-old teacher stands in the aisle of a school bus idling behind Wellesley Middle School. He holds up a hand to quell chatter and giggles from the 11- and 12-year-olds. “I want to be proud of your behavior. Make us proud in how you ask questions.”

Katie Pyzowski, her hair pulled back in a headband, sits quietly in a window seat as the din of her classmates resumes. Just a few days earlier, the then 11-year-old, who sings in her Episcopal church youth choir, had felt conflicted about visiting other houses of worship. “I feel kind of like I’m intruding on the holy places,” she had said. “It makes me feel like I don’t belong there.” Now, though, she says she feels more excited than nervous.

A short drive later, the bus pulls into the parking lot in Wayland of the Islamic Center of Boston, a rectangular brick building that could pass for offices if not for a few touches of Middle Eastern architecture, such as triangular arches. A few greeters – including three women in hijabs, the traditional head covering of Muslim females – are waiting outside.

“I’ve never been to a mosque before,” Katie says. Neither have most of her classmates, which is part of the school’s reason for this trip – to bring course work to life with real-world examples.

For more than a decade, Wellesley Middle School has been an outlier among the country’s public school systems because it requires sixth-graders to study the world’s religions for a full semester. After years of uneventful field trips to mosques and temples, it drew a maelstrom of criticism in 2010 when a video was made public showing Wellesley boys on a field trip appearing to pray in a Roxbury mosque.

These days, the mere potential for controversy is enough to convince the average school to steer clear of teaching about religion. But just a year after the uproar engulfed Wellesley Middle School, it did something that makes it even more unusual among its peers: It took students to a mosque yet again.

“I felt it was important to establish we can teach about religion,” says Joshua Frank, the school’s principal at the time. “There is nothing like being inside a mosque, inside a temple. These experiences are powerful for kids. They are going to remember them long after they forget Mohammed was born in 570 AD.” (s)

But Diane Moore, a Harvard Divinity School scholar and author of Overcoming Religious Illiteracy, says Wellesley’s difficult experience affirmed her belief that public schools should avoid such field trips.

There are just too many risks, from giving students the impression all temples are the same as the one they visit, to crossing the constitutional divide between church and state. “You’ve got this very fine line,” Moore says. “There are so many opportunities for this to go awry.”


FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS, exposing children to religion in school has been a flashpoint in American public education. Schools and state governments have battled with parents and others over whether religious music could be sung at holiday concerts or graduation ceremonies could be held in a church. For years, schools have shied away from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance because of that problematic phrase “one nation under God.”

Administrators at Wellesley Middle School, however, believe the risks of teaching about religion are worth the potential rewards, which is why it takes the unusual step of making its class mandatory. Even though most US states now include world religions in their education standards, they rarely require that students take a class. According to state records, roughly two-thirds of Massachusetts school systems offer comparative religion courses, but those are usually electives.

Wellesley’s decision to create its class in 2000, says social studies department head Adam Blumer, came from a place of “intellectual angst.”

Even before the terrorist attacks of September 2001, teachers worried that their students weren’t grasping the importance of religion in international politics. Blumer recalls thinking, “Are we really preparing kids for the world they’re walking into?”

Over the half-year course, students spend roughly a month on each of three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and then three weeks on Hinduism. They cover seven aspects of each faith, including “stories of origin” and “core beliefs,” and take field trips to places of worship. For the first several years, those trips went off without a hitch; then there was last year.

On May 27, 2010, some 200 students visited the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, which had opened less than a year earlier. A commanding presence with its black dome and brick minaret, the mosque is part of a 68,000-square-foot complex that includes a cafe, a shop, and an Islamic elementary school. It offers prayers five times a day, which Blumer felt was important: Students could witness the full racial and ethnic diversity of worshipers.

On the tour, a female guide escorted the group into the mosque’s social hall and delivered a PowerPoint presentation about Islam. “You have to believe in Allah, and Allah is the one God, the only one worthy of worship, all forgiving, wise, knowing,” she said at one point.

“Everything we do is to please God because God has guided us to do these things.”

After the early afternoon call to prayer was piped over loudspeakers, the guide took a group to see the prayer hall, pointing out features such as a clock listing the five daily worship times. The students asked to watch, so she escorted them to the perimeter of the room, advised them to sit quietly, and left to pray in an area reserved for women.

When she was gone, a male worshiper looked over to five Wellesley boys.

“You guys can participate if you’d like,” he said, according to Jackson Posnik, one of the students. Jackson remembers thinking, “That’s, like, cool that we’re allowed to do that.”

None of the Wellesley boys were Muslim, but they copied the movements of the Muslims around them, bowing, kneeling, and prostrating on the rug. “I didn’t think I prayed,” Jackson says. “I just kind of mimicked the motions.”

School and mosque officials did not realize what had happened until the beginning of the next school year, when on September 15, 2010, a video titled “Wellesley, Massachusetts Public School Students Learn to Pray to Allah” turned up online.

Unbeknownst to teachers, students, and mosque officials, a Wellesley mother had videotaped the field trip. A Boston-based group called Americans for Peace and Tolerance then posted it on YouTube. The next day, TV news trucks surrounded the school and coverage appeared on local news, CNN, and Fox, as well as in newspapers and on blogs from around the nation.

The reaction to the video was split. Parent after parent in Wellesley praised the school’s program in interviews with reporters. In the meantime, though, a spokesman for Americans for Peace and Tolerance told Fox News Radio that if a Catholic priest had given students Communion on a field trip, “the furor would be visible from outer space.” An anonymous commenter on the Wellesley Townsman’s website wrote, “How idiotic to take our precious little ones into the lion’s den.”

Subsequent news reports said the mother, who has never been identified, took the video on behalf of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which is run by Charles Jacobs, a columnist for The Jewish Advocate newspaper.

The controversial Youtube video of students who joined in to pray with the dhuhr prayer.

When the mosque was being built, Jacobs had alleged its financial backers had ties to radical Islam. Mosque officials have continued to strenuously rebut that claim and note that they have longstanding partnerships with federal and state law enforcement and interfaith leaders.

Today, Jacobs says he remains concerned about the boys’ praying and what he says students were taught by the guide in the mosque. “The five students prayed to Allah. As Americans, we shouldn’t be proselytizing each other’s kids. That’s just not right for any religion,” he says.

“American schools don’t know what to do about the ‘other.’ They take them to the mosque and accept as given the tall tales given to kids.”

Both mosque and school officials say the video was not an accurate portrayal of what happened, and the guide’s talk was not preaching, but an informational presentation about the beliefs and practices of Islam.

The tour guide, who asked not to be named for fear her family would be harassed, also says her comments were taken out of context on the video.

“As a mosque, we didn’t invite them to pray,” says M. Bilal Kaleem, the president of the Muslim American Society of Boston, which runs the mosque. “It is our clear policy not to invite visitors to pray.” But it is plausible, he says, that a worshiper invited the boys. (Guides now escort visitors to the balcony during prayer.) “This was a learning experience,” Kaleem says. “Once you take kids out of the school, there are challenges. They’re curious.”

After the video was released, Wellesley Schools Superintendent Bella Wong issued a mea culpa in a letter to parents. “I apologized for [the praying] part, because that to me crossed the line from observation to participation,” she says. “As a public institution or public school, we really have to honor the separation of church and state. While we can teach about religion, we really can’t do anything that would encourage the practice of religion.”

The border between observation and participation can be a subtle one.

Many Americans don’t realize that the First Amendment to the Constitution only bans public schools from endorsing or promoting religion, it doesn’t prohibit educators from teaching about it.

According to a 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 89 percent of respondents knew teachers could not lead the class in prayer, but only 36 percent knew it was legal to offer a comparative-religion course.

“There’s still a great confusion in the public about what the First Amendment permits and where the lines should be drawn,” says Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C. Haynes believes taking public school students to houses of worship during prayer times is problematic, even if the kids are told they must only observe. “We have impressionable young people,” Haynes says, “and they are there as a captive audience.”


EVEN AS THE ROXBURY brouhaha shook up teachers and school district officials in Wellesley, it did not diminish their faith in the academic promise of the religion unit. “It’s a very rich experience,” says Wong.

“With appropriate guidelines, you can do this without breaking the separation of church and state. I wish other communities would step forward and say they’ll teach it, too. We’ll stay the course.”

To avoid another round of controversy, though, the school did make changes to its field trips. Teachers were instructed to be clearer with students about the difference between participation and observation. In addition, Wellesley earlier this year chose to visit the mosque in Wayland, a place that doesn’t offer regular prayers during the day. “We live, we learn,” says Adam Blumer.

Although Kaleem is disappointed Wellesley classes didn’t return to his mosque, he was pleased the field trip wasn’t canceled outright. “That really would have been sad,” he says. “I think visiting religious spaces should be a part of education in America so people have a better understanding of people of all different faiths.”

On a morning in mid-April, a month before the Wayland mosque visit, Jonathan Rabinowitz ends the unit on Christianity and reviews what students had already learned about Judaism. He posts a big question on a projection screen at the front of his classroom. “In what overall ways are Judaism and Christianity the same? Different?”

The teacher hands out work sheets with a Venn diagram; one circle is labeled “Christianity,” the other “Judaism,” and the overlap between them is “both.” Attached to the worksheet are 44 statements, such as “Believe that Jesus is the Son of God” and “Reading from the Torah at age 13 is a rite of passage for these people.”

“Get up and walk around the room. Talk to everyone,” Rabinowitz says.

“Does it belong in Christianity, Judaism, or both?”

The students huddle in groups, although a few approach Rabinowitz for hints to the trickier statements. Rabinowitz shoos them away. “I want them to debate,” he says. “The hard thing is kids want right versus wrong. There isn’t always a right.”

Rabinowitz has been teaching Wellesley’s religion unit since 2002, though he readily admits that doesn’t make him a religion scholar. But over the years he and his colleagues have worked hard to find effective and unbiased course material. To continue his own learning, he visited Jordan in 2005 as part of an exchange program with teachers from the Middle East.

Rabinowitz, whose students call him Mr. R, was born in South Africa to observant Jewish parents who wanted him to stay home on Friday nights, the start of Shabbat, rather than play soccer. After moving to the United States at age 6, he spent most of his youth and early adulthood in what he calls a “Jewish bubble” – he went to a Jewish day school and mainly socialized with other Jews. “Growing up, I never knew how to talk or even ask questions about Jesus Christ,” he says. He tells students that what they’ll learn in his class will help them discuss religion with others as they get older.

At the start of the Islam unit, Rabinowitz asks his students to name some common Muslim stereotypes. “All Muslims come from Saudi Arabia,” says one student. Rabinowitz shows a world map of areas where Muslims live: The country with the most is Indonesia. “All Muslims are terrorists,” says another student. Rabinowitz urges the class not to use the word “all.”

Another day, students watch a news clip about Muslims’ push to include their major holidays on New York City’s school vacation calendar. Then the class discusses what Wellesley should do. Zain Tirmizi, who also attends religious school at the Wayland mosque, and a boy named Anand Ghorpadey, who describes himself as an atheist, still debate after the bell rings.

Anand, who celebrates Hindu holidays with his family, points out the school’s scarcity of Muslims and Hindus. He says the school should not alter the calendar.

Zain disagrees. “I want my education,” he says, adding it’s hard to catch up after missing classes for his religion’s holidays.

Anand raises his eyebrows. “Hard to catch up three days?”

“We should have both Hindu and Muslim holidays off,” Zain says.

As the pair walk out, Anand grins and shakes his head. He’s not convinced.

Rabinowitz watches his students leave. “I like when class spills out in the hallways,” he says.


RABINOWITZ LIKES it even more when class discussions continue at home.

His students can give a PowerPoint presentation on religion to friends and family during the unit. He also encourages them to have family discussions about a CNN special report he screens for class called Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door. The documentary is about the venomous opposition to the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Protesters torched construction equipment, someone fired shots at Muslim leaders, and a lawyer for mosque opponents evoked 9/11 and said Muslims do not believe in God.

The video saddened Caitlin Gillooly, who discussed it with her mother.

“I’m really glad now that I’ve learned more about religion,” says Caitlin, an altar girl at her family’s Episcopal church. “One of these people could be me. I could be one of those people who misinterpret about religion.”

The class prompts families to have conversations they never would otherwise, according to the parents of Celia Golod, a Jewish student.

“These kids in sixth grade were infants during 9/11,” says Celia’s mother, Lisa. “It’s important that they understand the good and bad.

Religion sparks a lot of controversy, but there’s good in all of the religions.”

Her daughter, though, is skeptical about whether the course can really change students’ minds. In fifth grade, some kids interrogated her about why she did not believe in Jesus, she recalls. Last December, a classmate called her a “typical Jew” in a text message. “People who do tease people about [their religions] probably will never learn,” Celia says.

“But maybe you’re making a dent,” her mother says. “Do you think, Celia, the fact that you understand more about Christianity makes you more understanding?”

Celia nods. “Yeah,” she says. “I didn’t realize that Christianity came out of Judaism. Now we’re all related.” She crosses her fingers to indicate the connection.

Occasionally, Rabinowitz invites parents in to talk about their religions. On a Wednesday in late May, Ali and Hadia Tirmizi, Zain’s parents, arrive to discuss their experience. The couple, originally  from Pakistan, immigrated to the United States in the 1990s, before their children were born. They tell students that Muslims vary in their practices. “I have two kids,” says Hadia Tirmizi, who’s wearing a knee-length black dress and lavender sweater. “I’m a physician. I don’t pray five times a day.”

When Hadia mentions her son’s name means “leader” in Arabic, Celia’s hand shoots up. “We watched a movie, and it said, ‘Zain means beautiful.’ ” Hadia nods.

“So Zain means beautiful leader?” Rabinowitz says.

Zain laughs and ducks his head a little in embarrassment. “Zain is not going to like that,” his mother says.

Later, at the family’s home, Ali Tirmizi raves about the class: “To introduce that religion study class where he’s learning about Hinduism from Anand’s mom, and Judaism, and Christianity, and Islam, it opens up horizons.”

The couple originally resisted sending Zain to a public middle school for fear that he would be bullied. One day in fourth grade a boy approached him and said, “You’re a Muslim. I’m going to check you for bombs.”

But Zain still believes the religion class will affect how his peers treat others. “I believe the next time someone says ‘all Christians are,’ ‘all Jews are,’ ‘all blacks are,’ ‘all gays are,’ they’ll know to say, ‘Only some do this,’ or ‘That’s not true.’ ” But, he adds, that awareness might take awhile. For instance, he explains, after Osama bin Laden was killed, someone asked another Muslim student, “Aren’t you supposed to be at a funeral?”

“I get scared,” Hadia says of her son. “I’m so scared of him getting affected by all of this.” When the permission slip for the mosque field trip arrived, she was relieved to learn the class wasn’t going back to the Roxbury mosque. “If Wayland is a happy medium, there’s nothing wrong with happy mediums,” she says. “We don’t need any more controversy right now.”


IN CLASS before the May 9 field trip this year, Rabinowitz talks about Islamic worship practices and architecture. He passes around a prayer rug, a gift he received from a Saudi Arabian teacher during his exchange. He reviews terms. Mihrab? It’s the niche in the prayer hall that points toward Mecca, the direction Muslims face during prayer. He hands out laptops and asks the students to hunt for 20 mosques around the world. “Explore, explore,” he tells them. One student finds a mosque that has 24 domes and can hold up to 500,000 people.

On the morning of the visit, Rabinowitz and several teachers and parents stand outside the Wayland mosque with some 150 students (about 400 students in all will visit in three waves). With no dome and no minaret, the building doesn’t fit most students’ image of a mosque.

“This tour is going to be like one at an amusement park,” says their tour guide, Sepi Gilani, the mosque’s vice president. The students follow her single file up a set of stairs, where volunteers tell them about the center’s classrooms and library.

Before the students enter the prayer hall, they are asked to remove their shoes. They sit on a green and gold rug. Gilani points out the mosque’s mihrab and other architectural features and gives a PowerPoint presentation about Islam. A few students whisper and fidget, but most seem awe-struck to be here.

Why do we have to take off our shoes? a student asks during a question-and-answer period.

“We pray with our foreheads on the ground,” Gilani says. “If we kept on our shoes, we’d get our heads all dirty.”

When does Gilani wear her hijab? She responds that she, like many Muslim women, regards wearing the head covering in the mosque as a religious obligation. However, she does not wear it when she goes outside the mosque.

Gilani then asks a woman standing in the back to explain why she wears her hijab in public. The woman is Gilani’s friend, and the same person who had led the controversial tour of Roxbury’s mosque the year before.

“For me, not displaying a woman’s beauty in public is about modesty,” the woman explains. “It’s empowering not to be judged on the basis of physical appearance, but rather on the basis of one’s deeds.”

After Gilani’s talk, the students get 10 minutes to try different activities. Some browse books about Islam, while others get an outside tour of the building. They line up by the dozens to get their names written in Arabic. “Faster, faster,” urges Blumer.

Students are then rushed to their buses so they can make it back to school in time for lunch. There was no prayer to take part in. No mysterious videographer.

The next morning, Rabinowitz praises his students for asking thoughtful questions. “At the end of the day,” he says, “every one of you is able to say you’ve been to an Islamic learning center. You’ve been to a mosque.”

Most of Rabinowitz’s students say they probably won’t ever enter a mosque again, and that makes the class valuable. They might never have seen the inside of a Jewish temple, either, or heard so many different views on Islam from practicing Muslims.

“Before this unit, when I saw people wearing full Muslim clothing, I thought, ‘That’s kind of weird,’ ” says Anand Ghorpadey. “Now I understand how each religion is different.”

“Many people in America have stereotypes about Muslims. I’m glad they can teach about it,” says Zain Tirmizi. “I can say, ‘I’m Muslim. I do this.’ I’m very proud of it.”

A few weeks after school ends for the summer, Katie Pyzowski and her parents, Whitney and Paul, sit on their backyard deck. They talk about their strong connection to their Christian faith and their interest in other practices.

At her father’s urging, Katie brings out a photo album from their April vacation to Greece. They had seen burning crosses that were part of the Greek Orthodox celebration of Easter, and had even ducked into a monastery. There was no formal invitation, which made Katie a little nervous, but once inside, she felt as fascinated as she later would in the Wayland mosque.

“The key word to this unit is ‘about,’ ” Katie says. “They’re not teaching you the religion, they’re teaching you about the religion.

They’re not trying to make you do something, they’re trying to get you to learn.”

Sitting next to her, her mother asks, “Did it work?”

“Yeah,” Katie says. “It worked.”

Linda K. Wertheimer, the Globe’s former education editor, is a Lexington freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @Lindakwert. Send comments to


‘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.


Phoenix AZ ‘Eid Celebration

By Nidah Chatriwala

Phoenix, Ariz. celebrated the end of Ramadan on Tuesday at Phoenix Convention Center, gathering a crowd of approximately 4,000 Muslims.

Eid_001The celebration of Eid Ul-Fitr began at 9:30 a.m. and the prayers began at the arrival of featured guest speaker Yusuf Estes, who was visiting Phoenix to raise funds for his new program, Guide US TV. 2011 Eid Ul-Fit attracted one of the largest crowds of the decade and security guards were at the entrance checking women and men as they entered the prayer hall as well as observing parking lot activity. Following Eid prayer, Muslims met and greeted each other while many remained seated to listen to the lecture given by Estes. Usually the lectures given at Eid prayers don’t rally up the crowd and people hurry out of the center to escape a traffic jam. However, this time people stayed in and cheered Estes’ entertaining lecture, reminding us about the lessons and practices we acquired during Ramadan to continue to apply them throughout the year. He also made a special announcement regarding his new venture called Guide US TV, which is a 24-hour channel broadcasting Islamic content. The fashion trend observed in Phoenix was traditional wear in colors of sky blues and pinks as well as various shades of greens for women and men wore suits as well as traditional wear. As the lecture ended by Estes, Muslims were encouraged to an amusement park called Castle and Coasters for all to enjoy rides and share food.


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.”


ISNA Unites with Interfaith Leaders to Protect Federal Funding for Poverty Assistance Programs

July 14, 2011 – Representing a growing movement of Americans concerned that the Administration and Congress are enacting a budget deal that will place an undue burden on the poor “while shielding the wealthiest  from any additional sacrifice,” ISNA leadership and other leaders representing Christian and Jewish faiths today launched a new campaign to encourage policymakers to maintain a robust U.S. commitment to domestic and international poverty programs.

More than 25 heads of communion and national religious organizations are spearheading an 18-month faith-based public policy campaign to urge Congress and the Administration to exempt programs that assist at-risk families and children in the U.S. and abroad from budget cuts.  The campaign will consist of high-level meetings with policymakers, a Washington fly-in of religious leaders and daily prayer vigils among other actions.

The daily prayer vigils are being held on the front lawn of the United Methodist Building (100 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC) near the U.S. Capitol Building.  Led by a different religious organization each day at 12:30 p.m. EDT, the prayer vigils will continue throughout the White House led budget negotiations.  ISNA led a prayer vigil for the leaders on Tuesday, July 12.

More than 25 heads of communion and national religious organizations are spearheading an 18-month faith-based public policy campaign to urge Congress and the Administration to exempt programs that assist at-risk families and children in the U.S. and abroad from budget cuts.  The campaign will consist of high-level meetings with policymakers, a Washington fly-in of religious leaders and daily prayer vigils among other actions.

In their letters to President Obama and Congress, the religious leaders stated, “People who are served by government program – those who are poor, sick, and hungry, older adults, children, and people with disabilities – should not bear the brunt of the budget-cutting burden.”

They further explained that “Houses of worship and communities of faith cannot meet the current need, much less the increased hardship that would result from severe cuts in federal, and consequently, state programs.  We need the public-private partnership that has for decades enabled us as a nation to respond to desperate need, both human and environmental.”
During the briefing, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director of Interfaith and Community Alliances, spoke first about our responsibility to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
He said, “It is our religious duty as part of the faith communities to convey our concerns about the problems of the budget cuts that will directly impact low income individuals and the dispossessed. We are asking for a budget that should be just and equitable.  It is our Islamic duty because this is one of the pillars of Islam.”

Christian, Jewish and Muslim institutions and faith-based organizations, united by shared beliefs to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable, are mobilizing across the country to impact the national budget dialogue by demonstrating that America is a better nation when we follow our faiths’ imperative to promote the general welfare of all individuals.

Contact: Adam Muhlendorf, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications; (202) 265-3000


Fire started at the Houston Masjid Targeted by Arsonists

According to Houston Fire Department, the iconic community Masjid (mosque) Madrasae Islamiah located in the 6600 block of Bintliff Drive in southwest Houston was targeted by masked arsonists. Madrasae Islamiah was established in 1989 and seniors at the Masjid have informed that they cannot recall if anything similar had ever happened.

Madrasae Islamiah Room Roof And Lights Have Black Dust From the FireSpeakers Got Black Dust Due to Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles And Floor Charred by the Fire at Madrasae IslamiahTiles Burnt by the Arson Fire at Madrasae IslamiahWater Sink is Charred at Madrasae IslamiahAccording to the footage from the surveillance video show two masked men sneaked from the backside of the property adjacent to CarMax. According to one member of the Masjid, who heard the fire alarm to reach the scene of the incident, the two arsonists had smashed in a window, and then doused a room with gasoline into the side prayer hall, before setting the fire. Many of the carpets on the floor got on fire, but the person was able to control much of the fire before it could have gone into the main prayer hall. Also many of the wrapped carpets did not catch the fire; otherwise the catastrophe could have been much more horrific. On Monday when our reporter visited the site, there was evidence of the smoke and flames in the atmosphere throughout the Masjid.

Surveillance video shows men creeping onto the property around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday. The video shows them covering their faces, which suggests that they had either known or feared of cameras on the premises. Few minutes later, they are seen getting into a white or silver four-door car driven by another person.

Talking to local mainstream American media outlets, Zaid Abdul-Aziz, a visitor and former Houston Rocket player, who played under the name Don Smith, said the crime was troubling. “It makes me really worried because Islam respects all religions,” he said.

The alarm sounded when glass was broken, but there was also someone staying inside the mosque who called 9-1-1. The crime, however, have not stopped the regular five times prayers at this populace Masjid.

Talking to various media outlets including Brad Woodard of KHOU 11 News, Atif Fattah, a member of the Masjid and radio programmer himself, said: “They came through here, sprayed gasoline all over the carpet and just torched it. There wasn’t significant damage. It was the act itself that’s scary.”

Mustafa Carroll, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Houston) said: “It sounded very nefarious, so I called the FBI and asked them to investigate this as a hate crime. We at CAIR have seen a spike in vandalism against Muslims nationwide since the death of Osama bin Laden. You have a small minority of people promoting this kind of thinking and causing people to distrust. When there’s distrust, hate is never far behind,” said Mr. Carroll.

The Houston Fire Department said there’s no question this was a case of arson. Whether it was an actual hate crime has yet to be determined. The FBI and ATF are following the investigation, but at the time of filing of this report, they were not actively involved.

If you know anything about the case, call police or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.


Tawhid Center Events

By Adil James, TMO


Farmington–April 9–The Tawhid Center has undergone a major transformation over the past few years, yet TMO has not looked at the center since completion of its construction work.

The prayer hall, the subject of years of fundraising and construction, now can hold about 500 people on the lower level, plus another 150 on the mezzanine level.  The women’s area can hold 500 people–in total the mosque can hold about 1,200 people.  The dining area can accommodate 400 people and is available to the community for events at only $800 (for rental and cleaning fee combined)–this provides the luxury of being able to pray in immediate proximity of your event. 

Says Asim Khan of the Tawhid Center, “This has been a big hit actually, it is a central location… We provide the tables and chairs, and [clients] provide the cutlery and food.”

The schools at Tawhid continue, with about 24 hifz students ($400 per child per month), about 30 students in the evening maktab school ($100 per month), about 70 students in the Sunday school ($50 per month).  The summer school is planned to open in July, and will cost about $300 for the entire summer of 6-8 weeks, 10AM to 4PM, Monday thru Thursday.

May 21 Tawhid has invited best-selling author Haroon Siddiqui.  On June 11 they plan to hold an open house and provide free health care services.


Istanbul’s Muezzins Get Voice Training After Complaints

BBC News

_47822399_istanbul_mosque It is meant to be a beautiful, melodic and spiritual start to the day.

But the morning calls to prayer by some of Istanbul’s muezzins and imams have had locals plugging their ears rather than reaching for their prayer books.

The problem is such that following a flood of complaints by locals, special classes for the tuneless culprits have been set up.

Imam Mehmet Tas, one of the school’s first pupils, said he was already feeling the benefits.

“I have so much more self-confidence now in my abilities to do all five calls to prayer in their correct tempos,” he said.

The improvement scheme was put together by Mustafa Cagrici, the city’s head of religious affairs, who is determined to make sure all of the city’s 3,000 mosques produce a beautiful call-to-prayer each morning.

“For some reason, these imams were hired even though their voices are not good, they just can’t sing!

“We’re doing our best to help our imams and muezzins to improve their singing.”

He says that since lessons started, complaints have dropped from hundreds a month to just dozens, an improvement that can be credited to the singing teacher, Seyfettin Tomakin.

“I personally find a badly sung azan [call to prayer] very disturbing,” he said.

“The azan is music, beautiful music that brings people to God, that’s why it’s so important to sing it well.

“Sure, there are some people who find it harder than others, that’s why some come here for a year. But my job is to find their voice to enable them to sing.”

Sadly, for some, no amount of teaching will ever be enough.

“There are some people who can’t improve – no matter how much training you give them,” said Mr Cagrici.

“So we connect their mosque, by radio, to a central mosque where there’s an imam who can sing.”


Ann Arbor ‘Eidul Adha

By Kawther Mohammed, MCA Sisters Youth Co-ordinator

Ann Arbor–November 27–‘Eidul Adha 1430 in Ann Arbor was joyous and festive, with recitation of the special Eid takbeer projecting from the gym speakers, children running around in excitement, men and women frantically putting their shoes in plastic bags, and tables of food lined up against the walls in the hallways.

The Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA) succeeded once again with this year’s ‘Eid celebrations, having invested much time, effort, and money.

One of the primary reasons for holding such large events is to promote the sense of community among members, especially for children. Presenting ‘Eid as an event which bring smiles and happiness through gifts and games, will strengthen the sense of Islamic identity, leaving a lasting impression. With that in mind, the committee members started planning ‘Eidul-Adha prayers immediately after they finished celebrating ‘Eidul-Fitr prayers.

First they needed a facility which could accommodate 5,000 people indoors. At Pioneer High School, a familiar location to many members of the community, the MCA organized the celebration to the last detail. After renting the school’s facilities, brothers and sisters were conveniently designated to the gender-separate gymnasiums for prayer. Tarps were laid out for comfortable prayer.

A variety and abundance of food served on tables lined up in the hallways: Pakistani and Somali samoosa, cheese and zatar bread, chicken sandwiches as well as cheese and broccoli sandwiches added a taste of international food to the Eid prayer.

Muffins and soda, coffee, tea, water, and juices has been standard from the past. To top it all off, the children were able to enjoy cotton candy, popcorn and ice-cream bars. None of that would have been accomplished without the help of many volunteers from among youth and adults and without the cooperation of the staff of Pioneer High School.  Thanks to all who participated and planned the event!


Southeast Michigan (V11-I49)

eid carnival 2009 Detroit ‘Eid Carnival 2009/1430

Sunday, November 29, 2009 (The 3rd day of Eid al-Adha)

12:00pm-6:00pm at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi

(46100 Grand River, Novi, MI 48374)

For more information contact: or your local community leaders

The new website will be launching very soon at

Limited Tickets: Register in advance at (on line registration begins 11/13)

Tickets: $10/person or $40/family (includes 2 parents + their children) for admission, parking, and unlimited rides

‘Oudhiya Program

Many local mosques are participating in the Michigan Oudhia/Qurbani,  a collaborative program among major Islamic centers in Detroit area. The meat will be donated locally to needy families and to soup kitchen in Southeast Michigan.

To participate in this local program you can:

– Donate on line by loging into  and clicking  the Buy now link

– Mail your check to the unity center ASAP and write in the memo section write “Michigan Oudhia)

-Pay by Credit card at the Muslim Unity Center’s office or by calling 248 857 9200.

Bloomfield Unity Center ‘Eid Prayers (Friday 11/27)

Eid Program:

8:15:First Eid prayer

9:45: Second Eid Prayer

10:30 Eid Breakfast and kids program

1:40 Jumaah Prayer(the first Jumaah prayer will be cancelled the day of Eid)

IONA ‘Eid Prayers

IONA is following FCNA on the issue of ‘Eidul Adha, and FCNA in turn is following Saudi Arabia’s announced days for hajj as determinants of when ‘Eidul Adha falls. 

This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research.

‘Eidul Adha at IONA will be at 8 AM at IONA center

· In order to lessen congestion in the parking lots, we ask you to car pool. Once IONA’s parking lot is full, it will be closed and you will be directed to park at King Plaza’s BACK parking lot. Additional parking is at the Professional Medical Building (behind King’s Plaza by 12 Mile Rd.) Please use the back end of their parking lot.

· Please park in the designated parking areas only. Please do not park illegally. Parking on people’s driveways or streets is not allowed.

– Absolutely no praying outside the building.

·  No food will be served after the Eid prayer. Please DO NOT bring food of any kind nor any drinks to the center.

· We ask you to keep your children with you at all times.

“We look forward to your cooperation. Have a blessed and happy Eid.”