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Students with their plaques and certificates, guest Hakim AlMasmari, and Carla Powers on the right. Photo credit:  Adil James

Giving a voice to our youth

Students with their plaques and certificates, guest Hakim AlMasmari, and Carla Powers on the right. Photo credit:  Adil James

Students with their plaques and certificates, guest Hakim AlMasmari, and Carla Powers on the right. Photo credit: Adil James

TMO Contributing Writer

The Muslim Observer Foundation held its 6th annual fundraising dinner last Friday at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI. Billed as “giving a voice to our youth,” the event drew about 250 attendees. TMO Vice President Dr. Abdulmajid Katranji was the MC for the evening.

“If we don’t tell our own stories others will tell them for us,” said Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, CEO of TMO. He emphasized the need for an organization like TMO that could help shape the broader discourse about Islam and Muslims. Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, President of TMO, emphasized the importance of telling our stories and outlined the next steps for TMO.

The two main speakers at the event were Hakim Almasmari, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Post and a reporter in Sanaa, Yemen, and Carla Powers, author of “If the Oceans were Ink” from London, UK.

Powers emphasized that the perception of Muslims was of two types. She told a story of how a Hindu man received a copy of the Qur’an from a Muslim. After reading it he asked his Muslim friend where was the Qur’an of those Muslims who he had heard so many negative things. “The mainstream media has done a very poor job in portraying Muslims,” said Powers, who added that Muslims have all sorts of interests in things that are not only unrelated to terrorism but interesting and a sign of a vibrant community.

Almasmari mentioned that the role of the media was very important in shaping perceptions of the Muslim community. He said that it was vital that The Muslim Observer keep growing as an organization and that there was plenty of room for improvement but that “it’s a matter of tweaking the formula.”

Students were invited to write on one of three topics: why Muslims should be journalists; how does the mainstream media discriminate against Muslims; and how should parents encourage their children to pursue their dreams. Tied for first place were Zehra and Batool Mehdi from the University of Ohio in Toledo. In third place was Lailah Ghatalah from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In fourth place was Mubarak Hasan, a student at Greenhill High School in Ann Arbor, MI. All the winners received plaques and cash prizes. Director Dr. Mohammed Saleem and TMO Managing Editor Aatif Ali Bokhari conducted the award ceremony.

TMO Secretary Dr. Muzammil Ahmed requested the audience to support our own media.

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Beauty Within Me

By Noor H. Salem, TMO Foundation

They say that I’m oppressed because I cover my hair, They are misinformed, and by that I swear, Misinformed because they lack, the knowledge that I own, Knowledge that changed, throughout the years I’ve grown, I cover my hair, not by force or shame, But by obedience to my Creator, His satisfaction is my aim, My birth, life and death, are all to Him alone, That’s why my beauty to strangers, isn’t ever shown, Women are treated like sex objects, billboards and ads, And they wonder why young girls, get harassed by their dads, They wonder why a 1000 girls, die every single year, Of eating disorders, as they try to impress their thinner peer, When a size zero isn’t good enough, you know there is something wrong, Even when the girl’s been thin all along, They wonder why women are rapped day and night, They don’t realize what the media is doing, just isn’t right, I was once a size one, and with societies push I thought, A size zero is better, and that’s the next thing I bought, Double zero came quite fast, and that’s when I began to think, Is this really what I want in life, to continue to shrink?

I realized there is more to life, than beauty and my size, And society is killing us, and it doesn’t seem to realize, I became thankful for my religion, for I’m not judged on my face, But the true purpose- good deeds; it’s all one big race, A race to Paradise, an option for us after we die, Of course Hell is the other, for those who deny and always lie, Why waste my time, worrying about my eyeliner’s perfection, Or the fact that I need to renew my lipstick collection, Why deprive myself of food, and have celery and carrots for dinner, And ignore my loved ones who tell me, I keep on getting thinner, Why live my life to try impressing those around me, When in the end, they’re judged at a total different degree, A degree based on our actions, words, and deeds, A good deed would be, like fulfilling other’s needs, A deed like this of course, weights quite heavy on the scale, The scale that REALLY counts, the one we don’t want to fail, It’s not digits of your pounds; it’s not length of your hair, It’s the good that you do, hear me out if you care!

We’re all going to die, and end up in the same place: underground, So why sit here and try, to make this life so sound, Why build up our wealth, our beauty and our fame, On the day we are judged, all this is going to be so lame, Allah is not going to ask me why I went from 90 to 99 (pounds), And He’s not going to punish me, because my eyes didn’t “shine”, With the so called foundation, mascara, and blush, So girl I’m gonna tell ya, keep your words in and “hush”,  If you’re blinded from the truth, I pray for you each day, To be guided on the path, the one and only way, For eternal bliss, eternal, yes, as in forever, So you tell me, what’s more clever?

Live this life as if it’s going to last, Then get a smack in the face, when I lay in my cast, Or stick to my heart, and follow my deen, The deen of Islam, I believe in the Unseen, Throughout the past few years, I’ve realized more and more, Islam is so beautiful; it’s a total different door, Than what society perceives it to be, oppression, terror and hate, Wake up and realize this, before it’s too late, I am proud of my religion; it’s a protection for me, And after reading this and learning, you just have to agree!

A shout out to my friends, my family and more, Who cover their beauty, as they walk out their door We don’t need the approval of strangers, we don’t need their rates, They didn’t create us, and they’re not the ones to open Heavens gates, Does it really make you feel good, at the whistle from the guys As they stare your behind up and down, checking out your thighs Does it really make you feel good, at the winks and the flirts Does it make you happy, because for you my heart hurts!

You walk in arrogance, as if showing more skin means you’re better than me, And I walk in laughter, because I know you are NOT what I want to be, I don’t need attention from the senior guys, I don’t need to sit and flirt, Because I am a human, and don’t deserve to be treated like dirt, Covering up myself makes me feel real great, Knowing I’m not an object, for others to use at their own rate, I’ve gained respected for my personality, from strangers all around, And that’s when I truly realized, Islam is very sound, My name is Noor Salem, and I shout out loud, My religion is Islam, and I am VERY proud, Those who hate can hate, those who lie may do, But in the end what will emerge, is everything that’s true, I thank Allah for my religion, deep down in my heart, And I pray to stay on the path, until the day I depart.

Copyright 2011© Noor H. Salem

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