By Adil James, MMNS
The Islamic Shura Council of Michiganâ€™s â€œDay of Goodnessâ€ last Saturday night was deprived of its keynote speaker due to a problem with specialized visas.
However, many prominent and active Muslims from local organizations still attended, perhaps showing more in quality than in quantity, with about 100 people present, but among those people perhaps 10 imams, and the leadership of the many organizations associated with the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan.
The event is essentially a fundraiser, and by the end of the evening it had earned approximately $75,000 towards its stated goal of $150,000. The event was in a conference room at the Southfield Westin hotel on Town Center Drive.
ISCOM Chair Dr. Mouhib Ayas explained that intended keynote speaker Jamal Badawiâ€™s visa did not permit him to speak at Not-for-profit fundraisers. So Badawi was not able to speak despite his coming to Michigan from Canada, and despite his having given the khutbah at the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center earlier in the day.
ISCOM was established in 2005 as a non-profit umbrella organization with, according to the dayofgoodness website, â€œthe mission of providing coordination between and building cohesiveness among the Islamic centers mosques, and organizations in Michigan. The council works for the betterment of all Muslims, to advance Muslim interests, and to promote Islamic values.â€
The chairman of the Board of Directors is Mouhib Ayas, and its Vice Chair is Arif Huskic. Attorney Misbah Shahid is the Secretary, and several other prominent Southeast Michigan Muslims are also on the board–the executive assistant and first employee is Reheem Hanifa.
20 different mosques, comprising the majority of the major mosques in Southeast Michigan, including the biggest Shiâ€™a mosque and most of the big Sunni mosques, are involved.
Dr. Ayas gave a long but interesting presentation with a slideshow demonstrating the accomplishments of ISCOM. He pointed out the association of ISCOM with Gleaners Food Bank, and also showed the institutional progress the organization has made by hiring a grant writer to apply for available grants–this alone has netted thousands of dollars in projects and may likely bring more projects in the near future. One project the grant writing process obtained was a $25,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield project.
One program he spoke about was the â€œMaintaining Houses of Allahâ€ program, which is designed to address the disparity between the wealthy mosques and the mosques with less money that are sometimes dilapidated and run down for lack of funds.
In a moving presentation Dr. Ayas pointed to pictures, first of a wealthy mosque then of a more destitute mosque, saying â€œThis is a house of Allah, and this is a house of Allah,â€ driving home the point that ISCOM is working to benefit Muslims who really need help in order to worship Allah in clean and nice mosques.
Another ISCOM project is working with MSAâ€™s, using them really as a lever to connect to non-Muslims in universities–â€we need to start influencing minds when people are young.â€ He explained the goal is to meet future leaders of this country early on, and Dr. Ayas gave examples of programs where non-Muslim students fasted (not during Ramadan) in order to understand the effects of fasting on Muslims.
Dr. Ayas explained also that in order for the institution to move forward, ISCOM needs to start hiring professional full-time people, and he gave the example of Mr. Reheem Hanifa who has begun working full-time for the organization.
Dr. Ayas also showed a fairly inspiring diagram which showed ISCOM as the hub of a wheel reaching about 15 different important Muslim organizations in Southeast Michigan, including Muslim Family Services, MSAâ€™s, the Huda Clinic, Islamic schools, and more.
There was a presentation by a relatively new organization called Muslim Social Services, www.muslimsocialservices.com, whose mission is to extend the reach and value of social services to Muslims in Washtenaw County, Michigan.
There was a strong fundraising effort by a young but dedicated medical student, Farhan Abdul Aziz. He told a beautiful story of a Chinese Muslim who travelled to the United States and passed away knowing nobody, but who was able to be buried by Muslims because of the social service institutions that had been set up in the city in which she died, which drove home the vital importance of such institutions.
For more information about ISCOM, you can visit either www.islamicshuracouncil.com or www.dayofgoodness.com. You can also contact Dr. Ayas at 248-705-9137.