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Volunteers fight hunger in Ramadan

By Samina Saifee and M. Muhammad Ahmed

Farmington Hills, MI – On July 11 in the heat of Ramadan, hundreds of volunteers gathered at a local department store in metro-Detroit to package food for those in need. This effort along with dozens over other events are part of the month long Ramadan Fight Against Hunger organized by the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC). Over 30,000 people have been fed this month across Michigan through these organized efforts to help Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors in economically devastated areas.

The Farmington Hills event was originally started 19 years ago by a group of Muslim engineers from GM, Ford and Chrysler, along with their families. This annual event has grown to an immense operation where several tons of food is packaged into over a thousand boxes and delivered by 7 trucks to over 40 communities. Over $100,000 is raised from local Zakat (charity) funds and used for purchasing and distributing the food, according to one of the organizers, Asim Khan.

“It is the culmination of all my worship as it brings together both serving humanity as well as fulfilling my spiritual obligations,” Asim Khan, said in a statement. “The food drive for me is putting my faith into action by serving the less fortunate to serve God.”

The packaged boxes include canned goods, oil, rice, flour and other basic food items that can feed a family for several days. These boxes are distributed to a network of mosques, community centers and emergency shelters in places such as Detroit, Hamtramck, Ypsilanti, Dearborn and Flint. Many areas around Metro-Detroit have suffered greatly from the recession and have been slow to recover. The Southeast Michigan United Way estimates that 1 in 5 children in this area have experienced hunger due to poverty.

The program, entirely volunteer-driven, brought the older generations together with the youth. The entire spectrum could be found working with one another, including moms, dads, children and grandparents. Volunteers were seen cheering after every big assignment had been completed, and some sang as they put the boxes together.

Asim Khan further explains, “The Prophet Muhammad (S) once said, ‘a believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity,’ so we all strive to make the most of Ramadan, we should be hyper-aware of our obligation to help those in need and events like this food drive provide the opportunity to do so.”

According to the Michigan Muslim Community Council chairperson, Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, “Events like these are a great way to bring together our community from all races and ethnicity, to help neighbors who are disadvantaged. We also are proud that our local Shia and Sunni community members all work together for these projects, and that is a real example for our brothers and sisters overseas”

Many Michigan non-profits participate in the Ramadan Fight Against Hunger (RFAH) campaign. Zaman International is a Michigan based charity that is also a sponsor of the campaign. Through its large warehouse in Inkster it packaged 1800 boxes of food for local families to be delivered in the beginning of Ramadan. Throughout the month, it has been distributing food, providing emergency relief to at risk women and children, and gave gift-wrapped Eid presents to almost 300 children.

Local mosques in Michigan have also been active participants in RFAH. There over a dozen food drop boxes in many mosques where approximately two tons of canned goods have been collected. In addition, hundreds of volunteers from local mosques have been visiting food pantries weekly such as Gleaners Food Pantry and the Forgotten Harvest to package thousands of pounds of food. Local Imams and youth groups have been actively encouraging their members to get involved. Osama Odeh, youth director at the Canton’s mosque, MCWS, said, “we really want the kids to get involved and get out there making a difference, not just sitting around in their homes fasting. We appreciate groups like the Michigan Muslim Council helping us coordinate all these opportunities to help others.”

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Excellent Services Of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project

eid event bwMasjid-ul Mu’mineen, located at 8875 Benning Drive (off West Bellfort at India Center), Southwest Houston, Texas TX 77031-2441, is one of the distinct Masajids of Houston. It has been providing for the past twenty years religious, cultural, social, and relief services to not only Muslims, but non-Muslims. Its activities are organized by the Nigerian Muslim Association of Greater Houston (NMA). Originally it started with a community of around 1,000 persons, which have now increased to around 45,000.

One of the major programs of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen is the Relief Project. Through this, all the Zakat, Sadaqat, Fitra, and general donation money received to assist those in needs, Masjid-ul Mu’mineen distributes those resources in most transparent and organized manner.

Every year after Eid, Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project, organizes an impressive and much needed program for the refugees, who have come to Houston from various Muslim countries and distribute Eid Gifts & have nice luncheon for the families.

This year a different program was arranged for the Somalian Refugees in Houston. Instead of Masjid-ul Mu’mineen organizing the program, they asked the Somalian Refugees to organize the program themselves. Over the years, the Somalian refugees community have organized themselves and have formed an association called “The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation”.

So Masjid-ul Mu’mineen Relief Project gave all the resources to The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation, like the sound system and the Community Hall besides Masjid-ul Mu’mineen, food for luncheon, gifts for children, and so on; and asked them to arrange their program themselves.

The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation organized a excellent program of Quran recitation, supplications, Q-&-A session about social, cultural, and family needs of the community, refreshments, gifts for children & families, and much more. This very well arranged and much needed program started around 10am and went till 3pm.

Our media outlet congratulates Masjid-ul Mu’mineen for empowering another upcoming Somalian refugees community and their organization The AL-Qamar Cultural And Educational Foundation. This collaboration is not seen much around us and need to be appreciated and acclaimed.

Everyone in the community is being encouraged to visit Masjid-ul Mu’mineen and learn about the regular positive activities. For more information, one can visit http://masjidulmumineen.org/

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Musings–The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Note:  This article is part of a CD series.  Write for more information.

First of all you should know that when we say “Rich” we’re not simply talking about material or monetary richness.  Finance is certainly a part of it, but richness comes in many forms.  You can be “rich” if you only make $150 a week – and you can be a multi-millionaire and be the “poorest” of the poor.  You are “rich” when you have a balanced life brought on by a balanced lifestyle.  This balanced lifestyle begins with the belief in ALLAH, His Messenger… and prayer.

Of course, having ample finances to take care of your necessities plus a few luxuries, goes a long way to making one happy.  You cannot be happy and fulfilled if you don’t have enough food to eat or clothes to wear or a comfortable place to lay your head.  This is one of the main reasons that poor areas have more despair, stress, lawlessness, and family and societal breakdown.

This is not to say these things don’t exist in affluent neighborhoods.  They do.  But the proportion of despair in poor neighborhoods far exceeds that in richer areas.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a psychiatrist to understand that if a person grows up looking at broken bottles and empty boarded up houses everyday, he or she will not be as productive as those who grow up looking at and utilizing wealth.

However, ALLAH says if you follow some simple rules, you will be “Rich” enough to be happy in peaceful, productive surroundings.

First let us look at ZAKAT.  Prayer and zakat are two of the most often repeated dictates of ALLAH.  He puts so much emphasis on it that He has given an example of what you get back by charitable giving.  He says charity is like giving a grain of corn and each grain grows seven ears and each ear has another hundred grains.  Now add that up and see what your reward is.  I must warn you – you’ll need a mighty bi calculator.

This principle of giving is for everybody – not just “affluent Muslims.  ALLAH says for the believers (rich and poor) to pay zakat.  Some people who don’t have much money think they are exempt from giving.  This is not true and may very well be the reason they are in need.  If you only have a dollar and you give five cents, ALLAH will multiply what you gave.

The next key for getting “Rich” is saving a portion of what you have.  Again, it is irrelevant as to how much you have.  If you only make $150.00 a week, save some of it before you start spending.  First give charity and then, pay yourself.  This savings is not to be touched for anything except a dire emergency.  (And an emergency does not mean running out and buying that good looking coat you saw in the paper.)  Saving will make you independent.  You can rely on yourself for emergencies and needs rather than rely on the generosities of other people.

This is sensible living and allows you to live a life “Rich” in value, “Rich” in productivity and eventually “Rich” in finances – or at least being able to live comfortably and happy.  This is the type of life ALLAH wants us to live.  It’s the very reason He sent His message and Messenger to us.

Too many Muslims do not key in on the simple, but powerful benefits of obeying ALLAH.  But in case you don’t realize it, it’s the way to a perfect life.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin