In the Media

07/08/2013: Holy month of Ramadan starts tonight with fasting, introspection

Holy month of Ramadan starts tonight with fasting, introspection
By Niraj Warikoo 

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

For Zainab Chami of Dearborn, the holy month of Ramadan isn’t just about fasting all day from food and water — it’s a time of introspection.

“Ramadan elevates you spiritually,” said Chami, 29, a high school teacher, about the month marked by observant Muslims. “There’s a spiritual reawakening. The feeling is indescribable.”

Like many other Muslims across metro Detroit and around the world, Chami will start observing Ramadan, which starts tonight at sunset. During the month, Muslims refrain from eating or drinking any liquids from sunrise to sunset, which can be a challenge during the long days of summer.

But it’s worth it because the fasting is a way to keep Muslims focused on their faith, Chami said. Despite feeling hungry or thirsty, “I become more patient” during Ramadan, she said. “I’m calmer, more tranquil, more serene. I feel closer to my creator. I never feel closer than I do during Ramadan.”

Dr. Mansoor Qureshi of Superior Township said that he and other Muslims try to improve themselves every Ramadan.

“Every year, we want to be a better human being by the end of the month,” said Qureshi, with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center in Rochester Hills. “It’s kind of like a mountain climber, moving up. We have to get a notch above.”

For Qureshi and others, that can mean avoiding backtalk, being nice to people and controlling desires. Some do that by reading more from the Quran, the Islamic holy book that Muslims believe was first revealed to their prophet, Mohammed, during Ramadan. Observing Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam.

Imam Mohammad Elahi, the religious leader of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, said Ramadan is a time for Muslims to “return to God, who is the source of everything, whether it’s health, happiness, peace or wisdom.”

“We repair our relationship with the divine through fasting and prayer.”

At Elahi’s mosque, a nightly program in English and Arabic starts Tuesday. Dozens of other mosques and centers will feature similar programs, with lectures from visiting speakers and prayers. Fordson High School’s auditorium will feature nightly lectures whose theme this year is “Revolution of the Self.”

Ramadan is “the month of self-improvement, where you build your character, your immunity to desires,” said Bilal Dabaja, 28, of Dearborn, who helps organize nightly lectures during Ramadan. “You’re working on building your spirituality.”

Imam Elahi said that Ramadan is like a “free market for spiritual shopping.”

“It’s a month of God’s reception ... we let the Quran be revealed in our hearts.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com, Twitter @nwarikoo

 

07/05/13: Federal judges meet with religious and community leaders, encourage greater participation in jury duty

Federal judges meet with religious and community leaders, encourage greater participation in jury duty  

By Natasha Dado

Friday, 07.05.2013, 12:11am - Arab American News

DETROIT — Inside Chief Federal Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan Gerald Rosen’s chambers, sits a copy of the Quran, alongside the Old Jewish Testament. Both books are laid flat open to sections that discuss justice and the courts. 

The Quran was given to Rosen last April by Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center in Dearborn, who was one of several religious leaders from the American Muslim community to visit the Theodore Levin Courthouse in Detroit and meet with Rosen and about 10 other federal judges to discuss the importance of jury service. 

Local Muslim clerics stand with Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, other federal judges, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade and Arab American community leaders at the
Theodore Levin Courthouse in Detroit."They gave me a copy, so I put it right here with a copy of the Old Testament. I have the Jewish Old Testament and the Quran," Rosen said.

Jury diversity has become an issue, as more people complain about being deprived of fair trials when juries aren’t reflective of a defendant’s background. Doubts have been raised about whether a black defendant can have a fair trial in a Detroit federal courthouse with an all white jury, or if the negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in the media could influence a jury’s verdict in a case involving an Arab or Muslim defendant. 

Judicial experts who have weighed in on the topic say that it is still possible for a defendant to have a fair trial, even when the jury isn’t reflective of the defendant’s background, because jurors are directed to follow instructions and the law.  

"I had a reason for wanting them to come. We are trying to do outreach to all of the minority communities, and I think it’s important for our court to engage the community on a number of different levels…A very big problem in minority communities, including the Middle Eastern community, is not responding to our jury summons," Rosen said.

Diverse juries can offer different perspectives when reviewing a case, and increase understanding about the statements and actions of defendants and witnesses, leading to a more just verdict. 

 The discussion among religious leaders and judges was centered on how courts select juries, the importance of jury diversity, and the role that religious leaders can play in the community to encourage more people to serve.

Rosen said that every Imam who was present pledged that they would try and get more people from the community to become active in jury duty.  

Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said that, since the meeting, he has addressed the issue of jury diversity during Friday services. 

"Where there are rights, there are responsibilities.  We cannot just talk about our rights. Fulfilling our civil duties as citizens is important," Elahi said. 

The meeting came on the heels of two other forums that were organized to encourage more minorities to respond to jury summons and actually participate in the process. One of the forums, which was aimed at reaching out to the African American community, took place at Wayne County Community College District July of last year.  

Another, which was focused on outreach to the Arab American community, was held at the Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC) in February this year. "The meeting at the courthouse was a follow up on the forum which took place at the Lebanese American Heritage Club," said Abed Hammoud, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, who also served as the moderator for the panel discussion on jury diversity at the LAHC. 

Hammoud, Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, Rosen and other courthouse officials helped organize the meeting between the judges and religious leaders.   

 A forum focusing on helping get the Hispanic community to participate more in jury duty is being organized.  

"One of my priorities as Chief Judge was to encourage my colleagues to get out into the different communities; understanding that there is much we can’t talk about, but also understanding that the more the community understands what we do, the more they will understand the role of the federal judiciary," he said. 

Rosen shared a story with the Imams about a Muslim juror who once said that she couldn’t serve because it was a violation of her religion to participate in jury duty.

"When I told the Imams this story, they said ‘Oh that’s not true.  That’s absolutely not true.  She’s just making excuses,’" Rosen said. "It’s so important that our juries represent a cross section of our community." 

For years Rosen has maintained a positive relationship with the Arab American community, and  continues to make efforts to further understand it. 

"It’s a fascinating community.  It is so diverse within itself. One of the best things about this area is the ethnic diversity and all that it brings," Rosen said.  

Many view the opportunity to serve on juries as a constitutional privilege, because they have the opportunity to administer justice. Jury duty is one of the most basic concrete forms of self government. 

Rosen says people who have served on juries tell him afterwards that although they initially didn’t want to participate, it turned out to be a rewarding experience. 

"I think this was a great initiative," Elahi said.  "We need to have more of these meetings, because they are educational to both our community and public officials."

 

 

07/04/13: Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism

Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism 

Thursday, 07.04.2013, 07:07pm- ARAB AMERICAN NEWS

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On June 29, the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) sponsored a forum that was organized by the Imams’ Council of the organization at the Islamic House of Wisdom.  

Because both Shia and Sunni communities, organizations, and service institutions share a significant set of beliefs and values, an agreement exists among local imams that it is beneficial to further unite the region’s diverse communities and organizations, so as to highlight and emphasize those commonly held areas through a process of mutual consultation.  

Part of the forum’s objective was to help bring both the Sunni and Shia communities together in closer cooperation and to establish concrete actions, so as to resist and reject the influence and affects of sectarianism. 

The group identified tangible relationship-building steps, along with follow-up action points, including the creation of a task force that was delegated with the responsibility to cultivate and nurture the process.          

Sunni and Shia imams stand among one another with community members at the forum aimed at rejecting religious sectarian divides.Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the Imam’s Council of the MMCC joined hands, along with sixty Muslim community leaders and area imams, representing various mosques across the tri-County area, to pledge the prevention of sectarian influences that have plagued the Middle East, from affecting Muslim American communities and to reaffirm American and Islamic values of religious tolerance. 

“The speakers spoke eloquently.  The dialogue between Sunni and Shia imams, as well as community leaders, reflected the challenges that Muslims face and the maturity of the Muslim American community in dealing with the issues facing them,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America and the Sunni co-chair of the Council. 

 Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom and the Shia co-chair of the MMCC emphasized the idea of heading down a road of moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations. 

“The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with true teachings of Islam.  Neither does terrorism and extremism,” Elahi said. “The factions are engaged in political domination.” 

Dawood Zwink, Executive Director of the MMCC, said that the event was very much needed and the implementation of the ideas and proposals that were offered would greatly help both communities and future generations. 

The Imams’ Council of the MMCC and other Islamic leaders in Michigan meet regularly to enhance communication within the diverse Muslim community and to reach out to the interfaith community, by building relationships and alliances in pursuit of an inclusive community and peaceful neighborhoods.  A Code of Honor was developed by the Imams’ Council of MMCC (formerly CIOM) in 2007 to combat sectarian divisions. 

Imams and leaders from all major Muslim sects in Michigan agreed to respect each other's traditions and maintain dialogue with one other. 

07/4/2013: Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism

The Arab American News          

Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism

Thursday, 07.04.2013, 07:07pm

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On June 29, the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) sponsored a forum that was organized by the Imams’ Council of the organization at the Islamic House of Wisdom.  

Because both Shia and Sunni communities, organizations, and service institutions share a significant set of beliefs and values, an agreement exists among local imams that it is beneficial to further unite the region’s diverse communities and organizations, so as to highlight and emphasize those commonly held areas through a process of mutual consultation.  

Part of the forum’s objective was to help bring both the Sunni and Shia communities together in closer cooperation and to establish concrete actions, so as to resist and reject the influence and affects of sectarianism. 

The group identified tangible relationship-building steps, along with follow-up action points, including the creation of a task force that was delegated with the responsibility to cultivate and nurture the process.          

Sunni and Shia imams stand among one another with community members at the forum aimed at rejecting religious sectarian divides.Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the Imam’s Council of the MMCC joined hands, along with sixty Muslim community leaders and area imams, representing various mosques across the tri-County area, to pledge the prevention of sectarian influences that have plagued the Middle East, from affecting Muslim American communities and to reaffirm American and Islamic values of religious tolerance. 

“The speakers spoke eloquently.  The dialogue between Sunni and Shia imams, as well as community leaders, reflected the challenges that Muslims face and the maturity of the Muslim American community in dealing with the issues facing them,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America and the Sunni co-chair of the Council. 

 Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom and the Shia co-chair of the MMCC emphasized the idea of heading down a road of moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations. 

“The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with true teachings of Islam.  Neither does terrorism and extremism,” Elahi said. “The factions are engaged in political domination.” 

Dawood Zwink, Executive Director of the MMCC, said that the event was very much needed and the implementation of the ideas and proposals that were offered would greatly help both communities and future generations. 

The Imams’ Council of the MMCC and other Islamic leaders in Michigan meet regularly to enhance communication within the diverse Muslim community and to reach out to the interfaith community, by building relationships and alliances in pursuit of an inclusive community and peaceful neighborhoods.  A Code of Honor was developed by the Imams’ Council of MMCC (formerly CIOM) in 2007 to combat sectarian divisions. 

Imams and leaders from all major Muslim sects in Michigan agreed to respect each other's traditions and maintain dialogue with one other.  

 

07/3/2013: Imams, other Muslim leaders unite to reject sectarian divides

Press and Guide (pressandguide.com)

DEARBORN HEIGHTS: Imams, other Muslim leaders unite to reject sectarian divides

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — About 60 leaders of the Muslim community in southeastern Michigan gathered at the Islamic House of Wisdom on the last weekend of June for a conference titled “Rejecting Sectarian Influence in our Communities.”

It was sponsored by the Imams Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council and included the Imams Council’s Shia and Sunni co-chairmen, fellow imams and Muslim community leaders. The goal is to break down the sectarian divides and reaffirm American and Islamic values of religious tolerance.

“The event was very much needed, and the implementation of the ideas and proposals offered would greatly help us and our future generations enjoy the gift of pluralism American offers,” said Dawood Zwink, MMCC executive director.

The Imams Council and other Islamic leaders in Michigan meet regularly to enhance communication in the Muslim community and reach out to other faiths to build relationships and alliances.

“The speakers spoke eloquently — the dialogue between Sunni and Shia imams, as well as community leaders, reflected the challenges Muslims face and the maturity of the Muslim-American community in dealing with the issues facing them,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren and the Imams Council’s Sunni co-chairman.

The Shia co-chairman, Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, called for moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations.

“The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam, nor is terrorism and extremism,” he said. “The factions are engaged in political domination.”

The group identified building steps and follow-up action, including creating a task force that will continue the process.

The Imams Council developed a Code of Honor in 2007. It’s at www.mimuslimcouncil.com/about-us/code-honor/.

07/1/2013: ISNA Joins Sunni-Shia Forum in Michigan

ISNA Joins Sunni-Shia Forum in Michigan

(July 1, 2013) On Saturday, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director of Interfaith & Community Alliances, joined the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) for a dialogue between Sunni and Shia leaders. Dr. Syeed spoke about recent events of the Arab spring as the basis for discussion and collaboration with the intent for reconciliation. 

The forum began with this objective: "There are significant areas of shared beliefs and values held in common between our Shia’ and Sunni communities, organizations, and service institutions.  There is agreement among our imams that it will be beneficial and contribute to the further unification of our diverse communities and organizations to highlight and emphasize those commonly held areas through a process of mutual consultation.  These consultations are intended to help bring communities together in closer cooperation and concrete actions to resist and reject the influence and effects of sectarianism in our communities."

Dr. Syeed addressed the gathering of Michigan Muslim leaders and imams at a time when the tension between Sunnis and Shias is at all time high in the Middle East. He thanked the MMCC for organizing the conference at this critical time in order to send a message of solidarity to the Muslim Ummah.  He continued: 

"This year is a special one for people in Detroit because it is the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's visit to Detroit with his civil rights message and his march on Washington, DC.  It so happens that this is the same year that the Muslim community's development in America took a new direction. This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Society of North America.

"Our greatest achievement has been the integration of Muslims of all races and of all schools of thought. This emergence of this American Muslim community is an experiment in the growth and development of a tolerant community that is respectful of diversity. We rejected an interpretation of Islam that would have set us against each other. We have had leaders presiding over this movement from both Sunni and Shia backgrounds. In 2006, ISNA was proud to invite former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to address the largest Muslim convention in the Western world because he was a champion of dialogue. Muslims of all persuasions felt proud and empowered by his presence.

"When tensions rose in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2007, we brought together all major American Sunni and Shia leaders in Chicago and announced a Muslim Code of Honor that was committed to and signed in front of thousands of rejoicing Muslims. The impact of this Code of Honor has had an incredible international effect. It was translated in several different languages and we have heard reports that it inspired Sunnis and Shias in vulnerable places in Afghanistan and other countries.

"This 50 year growth of harmony and understanding naturally prompts us to look to the current events in the Middle East and reject any instance where we see radicalization or sectarian polarization. We have prayed for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to gain freedom from tyrants like Muammar Ghaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and we are jointly celebrating the fulfillment of our du'a in terms of the Arab Spring. We continue to pray for the people of Syria to have a similar deliverance from tyranny and repression. Having prospered in America as a minority, we believe that Syria can also adopt a democratic constitution that will guarantee freedom and empowerment for all, both majority and minorities. We collectively support that kind of pluralist democratic society. We know that minority rule cannot continue anywhere and no minority can accept that arrangement. We have seen how the civil rights movement in this country paved the way for us as Muslims and for African American minorities. This is our vision of Islam for ourselves and for countries with Muslim majorities.

"ISNA is proud to be a part of Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values, a campaign together with Jewish and Christian organizations that works to ensure that anti-Muslim sentiment never becomes mainstream in America. On multiple occasions, prominent national Jewish and Christian leaders came forward and fought for the rights of Muslims. They believe and we believe that bigotry against one religion is bigotry against them all. It is our duty to see that we generate this same spirit in the Muslim world, a spirit where majority religious groups come forward to protect minority groups. If Christians and Jews are standing up for Sunnis and Shias alike, there is a compelling moral duty for Sunnis and Shis to stand up for each other and jointly for people of other faiths."

The participants identified tangible steps for relationship-building, along with follow-up action items such as the creation of a task force delegated with the responsibility of cultivating and nurturing the relationship-building process.          

The Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the MMCC Imams Council joined sixty Muslim community leaders and area imams representing various mosques across the tri-county area, to pledge to keep the sectarian influences currently plaguing the Middle East out of American Muslim communities, reaffirming American and Islamic values of religious tolerance.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, the Shia co-Chair, emphasized marching on the road of moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations. He stated “The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with true teachings of Islam, nor is terrorism and extremism.” He added “the factions are engaged in political domination.”

The Imams’ Council of the MMCC and other Islamic leaders in Michigan continue to meet regularly to enhance communication within the diverse Muslim community as well as to reach out to the interfaith community, building relationships and alliance in pursuit of an inclusive community and peaceful neighborhoods.

Click HERE to read on their website.

 

06/27/13: A new president, a new era in Iran

A new president, a new era in Iran

By Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Thursday, 06.27.2013, 07:27pm- Arab American News

On June 14, 2013, Iranians passionately participated in their presidential election and chose HojjatolIslam Dr. Hassan Rouhani to serve as the 7th president, since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. 

I have known Dr. Rouhani for 37 years. He is the right man, at the right time, for the right job. He is a man of faith and determination, mind and manner, knowledge and experience, rationality and righteousness.

Dr. Rouhani has a strong seminary background, which includes a PhD from the University of Glasgow, and has written almost 100 books and articles.  He has also supervised 700 research projects, in addition to a great number of national and international presentations on a variety of social, political and religious issues.   Dr. Rouhani’s work has earned him a very special place among the Islamic Republic’s leaders.

The president elect’s educational background, combined with his decades of experience and successful services in legislation, national security, defense and nuclear negotiations with international atomic agencies and world governments, are just a part of the new president’s credits and qualities. 

What I admire most about Dr. Rouhani is his ethical character and moral values.  Voting for Rouhani was a vote for the rule of law, democracy, civil rights, peace and prosperity.  In addition, it was a vote for wisdom, patience and humbleness, which are what have inspired people the most.

It was his solidarity with a founding father of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, and previous president, Sayyed Mohammad Khatami, that promoted the presidency of Dr. Rouhani.  It was also the indirect support of leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei that helped this democratic process and prevented the extremists from sabotaging Rouhani’s election.

The highest leaders of Iran heard the voice of the people and recognized that continuing on the previous path would cause more disastrous destruction of the economy, image, interests and ethics of the country. 

The observations of extremely happy celebrations in the streets across Iran, reminded me of the public passion of the people after the victory of the revolution in 1979. People have happily welcomed a new chapter, new era, and new hope for a better future, which will be blessed with freedom, justice, prosperity, honesty, trust and confidence in their new administration.  The next step for the president is to practice what he preached during his campaign.

Dr. Hassan Rouhani.It is obvious that the resolution of tremendous social, political, economic and ethical issues cannot happen in one night, or by one man. The leader’s job is to provide the key; it will be up to all citizens to help open the doors of opportunity. It will take some time to address the high rate of unemployment, poverty and corruption that are the result of bad management on the inside and unjust and blind sanctions on the outside.

Certainly, with a mutual understanding and cooperation between the supreme leader and the president, along with the support of millions of energized youth, progress will be reached earlier than is expected.

It is my hope that this election provides a road map to the Arab World, whose "Spring" has been suppressed by dictators, or hijacked by extremists, to discover the right path and turn the current regional bloodshed to love, brotherhood and cooperation. 

Both Sharia laws and international laws have allowed for the president elect to be moderate and understanding; Whereas, the sectarianism in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan has been fueled by foolish fatwas that lack the wisdom, compassion and justice of either Sharia, or international laws. In Rouhani’s democratic pattern no room exists for Takfiry ideology of Al-Qaida and other terrorism organizations.

Our message to president Obama:

Now that the people of Iran have made their point through a democratic election and have chosen a responsible president, who answers questions with honesty and integrity, it is now your administration’s turn to respect the rights of Iranians, end this unjust economic war against them, and stop helping the Saudi government by sending Al-Qaida Takfiry followers to create further bloodshed in the region, in the name of putting pressure on Iran.

The victory of Rouhani serves as a big test for our administration. It is in the best interests of the United States and Iran to move toward a new diplomacy and remove all these painful sanctions that hurt the innocent citizens.  Let’s not make the same mistakes that President Bush made during the democratic rule of president Khatami.

Let’s pass this test with integrity and honesty, through both expression and action. 

Fortunately the tone of the international community towards Iran has already changed. The message of the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S., plus Germany) towards the Iranian election and the invitation of President-elect Rouhani to the Geneva conference on Syria may signify a new era of communication and engagement.

Among world politicians, only Netanyahu is angry over the election in Iran, as he believes that, with Rouhani, it will be more difficult to mobilize the world against Iran. 

I hope that our Congress keeps a distance from external political selfishness that show complete disregard for American interests and integrity. 

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi is the Director of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, Michigan


05/2/13: Islamic House of Wisdom holds fundraiser, recognizes local leaders

Islamic House of Wisdom holds fundraiser, recognizes local leaders

Thursday, 05.02.2013, 07:57pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — The Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) celebrated its semi-annual fundraising dinner last Sunday, before an audience of hundreds of officials, dignitaries, supporters, and community members of different faiths and nationalities, who turned out to support the mosque.

Since its establishment in 1995, the IHW has created a niche for itself in the community through its focus on the spiritual needs of Muslims and reaching out to non-Muslims through awareness and dialogue. The mosque reaches out to political activists and organizations and combats Islamophobia, in an effort to eradicate hate and ignorance against Muslims. 

The event program included a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran, special presentations, an awards ceremony, and a highlight of the pro-active programs and services that the IHW has provided to the community over the years.  

IHW Spiritual Leader Imam Mohammad Elahi thanked participants for their attendance and reflected on the effective role of the mosque in the community and as a spiritual organization. Following his speech, the IHW board recognized five individuals for their achievements and service to the community.

Dearborn High School student Ollie Ajami was recognized for his athletic and educational achievements.  Ajami has accepted a full athletic scholarship to Grand Valley State University, where he will play college football.

The Islamic House of Wisdom honorees pose in the front. Honorees were (From Left to right) Hajji Mariam Ousman, Mr. Harold Samhat,  Attorney Abed Hammoud, Dearborn High student Ollie Ajami, and Dr. Tallal Turfe. Dr. Tallal Turfe was recognized for his national and international achievements, including his dedication to unifying the community and his work for peace and justice through his books, numerous lectures and outreach activities.

Attorney Abed Hammoud was recognized for his achievements and contributions to a number of high-level jobs in the area, including his most recent position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney within the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. He was also recognized for his leadership and his role in establishing several community civil and political organizations, including the Arab American Political Action Committee.

Mr. Harold Samhat was also recognized for his personal achievements and his dedication to the community. He has been a successful businessman and a prominent contributor to the community, as a board member of the Arab American National Museum, for a number of years.

Hajji Mariam Ousman was recognized for her unwavering support to the IHW over the years. She has served the IHW for a number of years and has participated in every capacity to promote the mission of the organization.

Some of the attendees at the event included candidates who are running in local elections this year. Among those present, included Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko, Dearborn Heights Mayoral candidate Janet Badalow and Dearborn City Council candidates Susan Dabaja, Mike Sareini and Moe Berro. 

Dabaja, Sareini, and Berro all expressed a unified message during their address to the attendees, highlighting the importance of getting involved in local elections. Mayor Paletko also encouraged community members to get involved as well and went on to recognize the IHW as a leader in the community through its continued efforts to foster interfaith cooperation and dialogue.

Another speaker at the dinner, Father Jeffrey Day, who was representing the Catholic church, made some important remarks,  reflecting on the new Pope and how his appointment sparked peaceful dialouge between Muslims and Christians.  

While the IHW has served as a spiritual home to many, it has also provided care to the needy on many occasions, through food assistance, child care, clothing and occasionally cash assistance to those less fortunate. The center also performs funeral and wedding ceremonies and conducts outreach programs, which include the disbursement of books, Qur'ans and gifts to Muslim prisoners. 

 

03/21/13: Muslim Girl Scouts form strong friendships through faith

Muslim Girl Scouts form strong friendships through faith

Thursday, 03.21.2013, 05:39pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — The Muslim Girl Scouts troop of southeast Michigan could be one of the largest scout groups in the region with its more than 250 members according to a report. Its members reside in different cities in the region, and meet once a week. They also take trips during the summer.  

Janan Wutwut, who has been a member for years says the group has brought her closer to her faith, and she wouldn’t know as much about Islam as she does today if she hadn’t joined. Wutwut says over the years she’s met friends through the group she wouldn’t have met otherwise, and formed close friendships. 

“I’ve been in the group for years, and a lot of us have watched each other grow up. It’s more than just a girl scout troop. We’re forming strong friendships and learning a lot about each other. I’ve learned so much about my faith as well,” Wutwut said. 

There are about 25 volunteers who dedicate their time to leading the group, and  include parents, college students among others.  

Muslim Girl Scouts at the Islamic House of Wisdom where they performed a reenactment of Hajj ritual proceduresRana Alaouie, who’s a volunteer and has two daughters in the group says its members are taught to be confident and encouraged to take on leadership roles when they get older. “We want them to be strong and take on leadership roles in the future,” Alaouie said. She says the girls are taught about different issues such as bullying.        “We teach them that bullying is wrong and Islam teaches us to love one another,” she said.  Through the group the girls are embracing American culture and their faith.  

Hawra Yassine, 21,  and a volunteer was never a part of the group growing up, but wishes she was because of the opportunities and friendships its members form. 

 “It’s a wonderful thing to watch these girls mature and grow,” she said. 

Last Friday the group delivered a powerful performance before hundreds at the Islamic House of Wisdom’s interfaith event here  where they reenacted the ritual procedures of Hajj through prayers and songs. 

Sayyed Najah Al-Huseini spoke about the philosophy of Hajj, from unity to purification of the soul. Imam Elahi welcomed the guests and spoke about the future role and responsibility of the Girl Scouts. Imam Elahi said that Girl Scouts is about love through action, and service and sacrifice for the sake of others. Imam Elahi wished the girl scouts a joyful journey in life, a journey beautified with two words: love and action.  At the end, he thanked Hajja Amal Mazeh and other Muslim and non-Muslim leaders of the girls organization. 

“It’s a great experience, when we have our own kids we want them to be in it,” Wutwut said.

If residents are interesting in participating with the group, they can contact the Religious Relationship Committee at interfaith@gssem.org. 

 

01/24/13: IHW honors life and work of Kay Siblani

IHW honors life and work of Kay Siblani 

Thursday, 01.24.2013, 08:59pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On Sunday, Jan. 20 the Islamic House of Wisdom here honored the life and work of Kay Siblani, the longtime executive editor of The Arab American News since 1984, when the paper first launched. 

IHW members held a breakfast in honor of Siblani, who passed away on Jan. 1 this year.  

Following the recitation from the Qur’an, Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi started the service honoring the life and legacy of Siblani, noting that she served the Muslim and Arab American communities for nearly three decades. 

He discussed her role as an editor, and her commitment to raising awareness on the health issues concerning Muslim and Arab Americans. 

He praised her book, Islam and that Muslim Patient, a guide on treating Muslims in American hospitals, saying it was educational. The guide was written more than a decade ago to remove misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.  

Imam Elahi says the book helped breakdown stereotypes about Islam. Some of the stereotypes include misconceptions that Islam is a religion of violence, radicalism, and that women are oppressed under it. 

The book also touches on many elements about Islam such as prayer and fasting rituals. 

“This book carries valuable points and is very helpful for doctors and nurses in the hospitals who may deal with Muslim patients and the issue of cultural sensitivity,” Imam Elahi said. 

He prayed before the crowd asking God to bless Siblani’s soul, calling her a “sincere servant of the community and humanity.” 

He also expressed sympathy to Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News, and the paper’s staff, and wished them the best as they carry on the legacy she left behind.

01/10/13: A community bids farewell to one of its greatest advocates

A community bids farewell to one of its greatest advocates 

    By Natasha Dado- Arab American News

Thursday, 01.10.2013, 10:59pm

WARREN — “People don’t know the amount of work Kay put behind some of the things that led to advances in this community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Abed Hammoud said speaking at a funeral service here Monday for Kay Siblani, the longtime executive editor of The Arab American News (TAAN). 

Siblani was one of the paper’s founders, and its executive editor since its inception in 1984, until she lost her battle with cancer Jan. 1, 2013. 

Her work in the local Arab and Muslim communities extended far beyond TAAN. “People who knew Kay through the paper thought she was the editor of the paper, she wasn’t only an editor,” Hammoud said. 

He discussed Kay’s role in the progress made in Dearborn Public Schools, and the buildings erected after the three school bond battles in the early 2000s. 

“Every time a kid walks in one of these buildings in Dearborn, some of these schools were built because of the efforts Kay contributed to,” he said. “I can tell you she touched thousands of lives, many who don’t know her, she’s never talked to them, and they have never talked to her.” 

He also spoke about the amount of time Kay invested into making the Arab American Political Action Committee a stronger force by working on press releases for the group, statements, fliers, coming up with campaign slogans and getting involved with important political issues. 

“Some of the political fights we had, Kay was an instrumental piece,” Hammoud said. He remembered Siblani coming up with the slogan, Save Our Schools (SOS) during the school bond battles in the 2000s. 

Hammoud said he often sought Kay’s advice on important issues, and that she always brought a different perspective because of her background and upbringing. Kay was a white American, but dedicated her life to fighting for Arab and Muslim causes. 

Kay Siblani's family members mourn at her funeral.“She’s a true believer, I’ve been in the community for many years and I’ve seen my share of people who say they’re working hard, some work hard, some say they believe in a certain cause, but I haven’t seen many as dedicated day and night as she was, and when I say that, I mean it,” Hammoud said. 

Siblani was also one of the founders of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan. CAIR has chapters across the country and is the leading voice, and advocacy group for Muslim Americans.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR Michigan says when he first took on the position in 2005, it was a tough time for Muslims and Arab Americans, and Kay was there for both of the communities.

“Kay was a very strong personality in our community, when I took over as a director, I would seek her advice and she gave me a lot of advice,” Walid said.  

Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News said, “I am one of Kay’s friends, her former husband and one of her students.” 

“For the first time I truly feel like I am speechless, because every time I spoke and I did an interview I had to call Kay and say how do you think I did? She was a phenomenal woman by all standards, she was a warrior, a fighter, a teacher...She was a great wife, and a marvelous and unbelievable friend. She touched so many lives, and she loved so many people, and I know a lot of people loved her.”

Kay’s unwavering commitment and dedication to the paper was crucial in making it the pillar it is today in both communities.  

Siblani said even through Kay’s most difficult times battling cancer, she remained committed to the paper, often asking to have it sent to her to edit, in order to assure it was void of mistakes.  

“Kay’s dedication to the paper was not less than her dedication to her family,” Siblani said. Kay Siblani's mother, Anna Leota Kendall, being carried by a family friend and son Kenny.

People laughed at times when Siblani told stories about Kay, including one about their trip to the Middle East when they met with and interviewed then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The interview was eventually picked up, and published by several other news outlets. 

“She was a remarkable woman. We will miss her everywhere in our lives. We’ll remember her smile and laughter, her words of encouragement and how she endured all of our family taking pride in their accomplishments, such as their first steps to their graduations,” Kay’s nephew Brian Kendall said. 

He says Kay loved bringing the family together for activities such as  fishing or camping.  “On top of helping us enjoy life she helped us get through it. She was there for all of us when we faced personal battles,” Kendall said. 

Before becoming the executive editor of The Arab American News, Siblani was the head nurse of a local hospital with no experience in journalism or knowledge of Middle East political affairs.  

“Soon the smart Kay would even out-smart me, and everybody around her on international affairs,” Siblani said.  

Pastor Alfred Badawi of the St. Sharbel Maronite Church also spoke at the service and recited a prayer. 

Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said  Kay was one of the first friends he had when he arrived in the area. 

“I owe her a lot personally, like everybody else in the community,” Elahi said.  He thanked Siblani for her encouragement in the establishment of the IHW.

“You have a lady not only caring about her family and the community, but all of humanity. He says Kay left a legacy of passion and sharing. 

Speaking to Kay’s family, Hammoud said, “You probably know she was involved all the time, but you probably didn’t know how deep it went, how far it went.”

“Be very proud of her, and know that her legacy will live for a very long time, not only for the buildings, but for the people she helped empower…I am very proud of her, she taught me so much.” 

01/05/13: Community remembers Kay Siblani

Community remembers Kay Siblani

Saturday, 01.05.2013, 04:49am

Following this week’s announcement on the passing of The Arab American News’ longtime Executive Editor, Kay Siblani, an outpouring of support and heartfelt condolences were sent by countless groups and individuals. 

The messages illustrate how highly valued Siblani’s life’s work was by the Arab and Muslim communities she spent her life serving, and fighting for.  Siblani, 64, lost her battle with cancer Tuesday, peacefully alongside her loved ones.  

Here are only a few reactions to her passing that show the decades she spent working to uphold human rights and social justice will remain part of her life’s legacy. Some of the paper’s staff also shared their thoughts on the influence she had on them as a friend and colleague:   

"Kay Siblani, a beautiful woman, a passionate activist and a wonderful friend. Her guidance and her sense of commitment, even during her illness is and will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew her. God rest her soul as she will be eternally in our hearts. Rest in peace dear Kay, you have left a legacy for all to cherish, remember and admire."

— Siham Awada Jaafar

“The Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) extends its deepest condolences to the family of the executive editor of The Arab American News… Kay was more than the editor of The Arab American News.  She was a vital component of the publication since its creation and a staple within the Arab American community in southeast Michigan. Her contributions to the paper and the community at large are immeasurable and invaluable.  During her tenure at The Arab American News, she was a powerful voice and an advocate for Arab and Muslim Americans on local and national issues. The ACRL is truly saddened by the loss of a pillar of this community, who, although not of Arab descent, fought tirelessly for the rights of Arab Americans throughout her 28 years of work within the community.”

— Arab American Civil Rights League 

Kay Siblani's contributions to the community reach far beyond her work at The Arab American News.  Her legacy will live forever in the number of campaign fliers and documents she wrote and/or edited to help promote important candidates and causes.  She was the unsung hero behind many of the electoral and community successes not the least of which the progress made in Dearborn Public Schools and the buildings erected after the three school bond battles in the early 2000's.  No one will ever be able to count the number of hours she spent working for and on behalf of our community day and night literally.  There was never an hour we couldn't call Kay to seek her input on an issue, an article, or a document.  She will be dearly missed because she is simply irreplaceable. God bless her soul. 

— Attorney Abed Hammoud, Former AAPAC President   

"She was an important force who contributed to the progress of Arab Americans, and didn't really get the recognition she deserved for it. She was loved and well trusted by anyone she came in contact with." 

—Ismael Ahmed, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Associate Provost

“It was with great sadness that I received word of Kay's "walking-on."  While it is good her suffering has ended, I will miss the ability to call upon for support as I did in past years.  I recall meeting Kay in the mid 1990's when she served on the planning team for an interfaith symposium at the Islamic House of Wisdom, an event which featured national Jewish leader David Saperstein.  Over the years Kay provided me with more kindness than I deserved and the candor I needed.  I believe the many ways she helped the rest of us know of the power and love of Allah, will allow us to connect with that enduring spirit in the days ahead...” 

—Steve Spreitzer, Director of Programs, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion 

"Marianna Kay Siblani spent much of her adult life serving the community at large when she was working in the healthcare field. Later and for the last 28 years as an executive editor of The Arab American News she served honorably and notably the Arab community. She worked hard and never asked for anything in return. She will be missed. Allah bless her soul.” 

— Ali Baleed, Yemeni American Benevolent Association (YABA)  

“Kay was a smart and wonderful individual, I have known her and worked with her for more than two decades. She was always supportive to our community and in particular to ACC as we together strive to serve the underprivileged and the underserved in our society. Her hard work, dedication and sacrifices greatly contributed to the success and continuity of The Arab American News for the last twenty-eight years. As she passes on, her work will continue to yield great results. They say great people never die, she will always be remembered. God bless her soul.”

— Haifa Fakhouri, President and CEO of the Arab American and Chaldean Council

“On behalf of the Arab American and Chaldean Council (ACC) we would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Kay Siblani. After a two year battle against breast cancer, Kay passed away on Tuesday.  Marianna Kay Siblani, served as the executive editor of The Arab American News for the last 28 years. During her time at The Arab American News, she was a powerful voice and an advocate for Arab and Muslim Americans on local and national issues. Her tireless efforts expressed her dedication to the Arab cause.”

— Arab American and Chaldean Council  

“Osama, we wish to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to you, your staff, and the family of Kay Siblani on her recent passing. We know that death is not easy to understand, especially when the persons are so dear to you. We are mindful of your loss…Kay was an outstanding administrator, reporter and achiever for your newspaper. She understood both the American and Arabic community here in Michigan and assured that honorable and factual articles appeared in your publication which were written by Kay.”

— Edward Deeb, Michigan Food and Beverage Association and Michigan Business and Professional Association 

“The LAHC extends its sincere condolences to the family of Marianna Kay Siblani, former wife of Arab American News (TAAN) Publisher Osama Siblani and former Executive Editor of TAAN.  She was also a nurse and a staunch advocate for Muslim and Arab American rights. During her time at The Arab American News, she was a powerful voice and an advocate for Arab and Muslim Americans on local and national issues. She has truly been a silent warrior and a tough fighter since the inception of the newspaper, and helped set its foundation so that it will remain strong for decades to come.  

— Lebanese American Heritage Club 

“The LAHC joins the entire community in mourning the loss of Kay Siblani. Kay has always been a friend to the LAHC and has been a  true supporter since our inception, witnessing our development and progress over the years.  She will be missed.  Our prayers go out to her family and friends as they struggle through this difficult time.”

-Ali Jawad, founder of the LAHC

“I am really saddened to learn about the passing of Kay…Kay Siblani was one of the biggest advocates of our issues. She worked tirelessly to advance this community in her capacity at The Arab American News. May God bless her soul and grant her a place in heaven.” 

– Sam Beydoun 

“I’m so sorry for your loss and the community’s. Kay was a tireless advocate, and will surely be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers are with you and her family.” 

— Aimee Blackburn, President, Dearborn Board of Education

 “Deeply sorry for the loss of Kay. She was a fighter for justice and human rights. Kay lived a life of commitment and hard sacrifices.” - — Hassan Jaber, Executive Director, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services

“The loss of Kay grieves us all…God bless her soul.” 

—Hassan Bazzi, President, Dearborn Heights Community Organization 

“Heartbreaking loss of a woman who fought off cancer multiple times, founded a spitfire of an ethnic newspaper that would come to mean everything to its community — and gave me my first reporting job.” 

— Khalil Al-Hajal, MLive.com reporter, former community news reporter for The Arab American News

“I'm very saddened by the passing of my editor, Kay Siblani. She was an inspirational woman, and will always be very special to me. Thanks for reaching out, and guiding me to become a better reporter when I started my first journalism job.  I’ll never forget you for that, or your life’s work that I’ve come to greatly admire over the last few years. You spent your life fighting to give a voice to the voiceless, and  inspired others to do the same. Rest in peace Kay.” 

—Natasha Dado, community news reporter, The Arab American News 

“Kay was the unsung hero who was a great supporter of women’s issues and causes. My condolences to her family and friends, especially The Arab American News family.”  

— Hoda Amine

“I am so sorry for her loss. What a wonderful and vibrant woman.”

— Ali Dagher, Chairman of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce

“A true champion of Freedom! May Kay rest in peace, knowing her life mattered and her work valued.”

— Kenneth Ayouby

“I couldn't help but remember her encouraging words when I was leaving for Lebanon for broadcast work in 2008, and then her warm welcome when I went back to visit. She was a great woman and an idol for our community. She will definitely be missed.” 

— Elian El-Khamissi 

“She was a generous, loving and caring women who has given a great deal of commitment and love to human rights and this community. May God rest her soul and grant her peace in the hereafter.” 

—Ghassan Hourani

“ADC Michigan extends its deepest condolences to the family of Marianna Kay Siblani and the Arab American News family on their profound loss.  Marianna Kay Siblani was the Executive Editor of The Arab American News for 28 years and has been a powerful voice for the Arab American community.  She passed away peacefully on January 1st, 2013, surrounded by family.” 

– American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Michigan 

“A true warrior with deep faith in the justice of the Palestinian cause... An angel who earned her wings in heaven!”  

— Nafeh Abu Nab 

"The thing that always struck me most about Kay was her intense dedication and commitment to telling the stories of, and helping, the marginalized people of the Arab American and Muslim communities. Her passion for her work came to the forefront in every sentence she spoke within the walls of  The Arab American News, and every one she wrote for 20 plus years. You could tell she took her role as a community servant seriously and was energized by her power to affect change by fighting for justice and exposing the truth. While I only knew her for just under five years, I could tell that the stress of the job had taken its toll. She kept fighting, though, even helping us to  edit and write stories while undergoing extremely debilitating chemotherapy treatments. She gave everything she had to the paper, its readers, employees, and the community, and all of us are better off for her sacrifices today in so many ways." 

—Nick Meyer, The Arab American News reporter/editor since 2008

"The members and the board of the National American Arab Journalists Association (NAAJA) wish to express their sincere condolences to Osama Siblani, the Arab American News newspaper, and family on the tragic passing this week of Marianna Kay Siblani. Kay Siblani was a respected member of the American Arab journalism community and an editor at the important Arab American News newspaper based in Detroit. Kay Siblani was a professional and her efforts helped to make The Arab American News, one of the best weekly American Arab newspapers in the country. Her role as an editor also challenge the stereotype against women in journalism, breaking the glass ceiling. It is with great sorrow that the members of NAAJA express our condolences on this tragic loss of an icon of American Arab journalism,"

— Ray Hanania, National Coordinator, National Arab American Journalists Association

"Thank you for sharing this information with me about Marianna Kay Siblani. Please accept my condolences on her passing. She played an important role in helping you shape The Arab American News into a pillar of the

Arab-American and general communities."

— Arthur Horwitz, Jewish News Publisher

"Kay was undergoing chemotherapy when I had become a reporter for The Arab American News,  yet she still found ways to extend her hand out to me several times through phone calls and emails, aiding me with recommendations on how to better my journalism skills. Because of her rich history as a journalist and a community leader, I will forever cherish the input she has given me and will carry it with me as a journalist for years to come. My condolences go out to Kay’s family and friends."

—Samer Hijazi, community news reporter, The Arab American News

"We are shocked and deeply saddened at the terrible news of Kay's passing. May Allah grant her eternal peace at his side.  She will be sorely missed by those of us who knew her as well as those who read her always insightful editorials.  Her passing is a huge loss to our community and to the world of journalism."- — Ron and Mona Amen

"So sorry to hear about passing of Kay. May God bless her soul and give patience to her loved ones. Kay was indeed a pillar in the Arab/Muslim community." 

— Victor Ghalib Begg, founder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan

"My sincere condolences to the entire staff of The Arab American News.  Kay made so many contributions to our community with her writings. Personally I am grateful for her encouraging articles about our work at the Islamic House of Wisdom, almost two decades ago.May God bless her soul." 

— Imam Mohamad Ali Elahi, Islamic House of Wisdom Dearborn Heights

“It is with deep sadness that we report the recent death of a long time media partner. Marianna Kay Siblani, (1948-2013), was the executive editor of The Arab American News, the longest running Arab American weekly newspaper, published in Dearborn, Mich. since its inception in 1984, as well the newspaper's co-founder. Warmly known to most everyone as Kay, she had been battling aggressive Stage 4 breast cancer for two years. Kay was a powerful voice and a constant advocate for Arab and Muslim Americans, on local and national issues. She was completely devoted to the Arab cause, even though she herself was not of Arab descent.  In February 2010, Kay was selected for a New America Media National Fellowship on aging for her outstanding coverage.”

—New America Media 

"CAIR is saddened by the passing of one of its first staffers, sister Kay Siblani. Siblani worked with CAIR-MI at a very crucial period for the Michigan Muslim community in the time frame of the tragedy of 9/11. We send our sincere condolences to the Siblani family..." 

— Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan

“I am so sorry for your loss. She was a strong yet kind person who will be missed by many. RIP Kay.”

— Suzanne Sareni 

"We are so sorry to hear about the death of Marianna Siblani. It sounds like she had more than her share of illness. We know she lived a very full and meaningful life and loved her job —thatmeans so much. We grieve with you and your staff. Best Wishes." 

-Delinda Hanley, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

12/21/12: Community reacts to Connecticut elementary school massacre

Community reacts to Connecticut elementary school massacre 

By Samer Hijazi

Friday, 12.21.2012, 04:40pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN, DEARBORN HEIGHTS -- The Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC) with the co-sponsorship of the Arab Student Union of the University of Michigan Dearborn held a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut on Monday, December 17th in front of City Hall.

Twenty elementary school children aged six and seven, along with six staff and faculty members were killed by a gunman last Friday, before taking his own life shortly after. The incident brought droves of emotions and discussions, and the community here was no different.

A Candlelight vigil at city hall was held in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims. PHOTO: Samer Hijazi/TAAN"I saw the news and I couldn't take it, so I put myself in those families shoes. You can imagine the reaction, if you were a part of one of these families. We always care about outside stuff like what's going on in Palestine, what's going on in Syria or what's going on in the Arab world. But we never care about what's going on in Michigan or what's going on in our nation. The youth are reacting to something that's going on in the U.S, and that's amazing," stated Hussein Hachem.

The group of commemorators weren't just honoring the victims, but among certain individuals, the topic of gun control had also come up.

"I came out today because the least we can do is to pay our respects to what has happened. But I think something needs to be done  globally. A few years back when there was a shoe bombing, it forced us to take our shoes off at the airport. This is not the first time there has been shootings at schools and nothing has been done to stop it. I think there needs to be measures taken so this doesn't happen again. A lot of people who own guns are not mentally stable, so I think gun owners should be mentally evaluated repeatedly," stated Zeinab W. Bazzi, a student from the University of Michigan Dearborn.

Other individuals had stated that regardless of any preventive actions taken in the future, you could never predict when something of this tragic nature would occur.

"We are part of this great nation. We share the happiness and we share the sadness and tragedies. As an Arab American community, we are always protesting for the Middle East, but today we are here to show a great appreciation for this nation. You can take all the precautions and try to take all these measures, but when a sick act like this happens, you pray for the best," stated Ali Jawad, the founder of the Lebanese Heritage Club.

Another individual also echoed in on these statements, stating that criminals are still likely to get their hands on a gun, even if more restrictions are put in place.

"I think you can't control guns. If a criminal wants to get a gun, he will get a gun no matter what laws are in place. So more laws are not going to help solve this issue," Alicia Beydoun, a student from Henry Ford Community College had stated.

Another ceremony in commemoration of the victims was expected to be held on Thursday, Dec. 20 by the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC) at Groves High School, 20500 West 13 Mile Road in Beverly Hills.

Islamic House of Wisdom honors Sandy Elementary victims

The Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) in Dearborn Heights held an event to commemorate the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on Sunday during a family breakfast service.

Imam Elahi the spiritual leader of IHW dedicated his Sunday message addressing the connecticut tragedy and the lessons our community and nation can learn to prevent such future occurrences. 

"We understand the pain of those parents who lost their beloved ones and share our thoughts and prayers with the rest of our nation in sympathy and solidarity with those suffering families," Imam Elahi stated.

Imam Elahi criticized the double standards in the mainstream media who used words like gunman or shooter instead of terrorist for the Connecticut murderer. He said, if the killer carried an Islamic or Arabic name they would mislabel his name, religion and cultural background. Imam Elahi cited multiple negative influences which could lead someone to commit such horrid acts.

"To protect society and establish a foundation of national security we must start from home by instilling faith, family values and educating our children with the principles of love, forgiveness, respect, responsibility, modesty, humility and positive energy. Increasing the sale of guns in addition to the widespread abuse of drugs, alcohol and violent video games calls on society to evaluate its direction. Mental illness, which has become a recent scapegoat of blame in many tragedies calls for allocation of financial resources, study, proper care and awareness," Imam Elahi stated. 

Imam Elahi advised the community to keep their children close to God, in order for them to avoid evil influences.

"For the Muslim community to protect our children we must teach them the importance of loving the Lord and His creation, reflection of God’s attributes towards application within our own lives and prayer. We must protect them from associating with faithless friends and evil influences," Imam Elahi added.

12/07/12: IHW elects woman to serve on new board of trustees

IHW elects woman to serve on new board of trustees 

Friday, 12.07.2012, 10:47pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — The Islamic House of Wisdom Board of Trustees elected new officers during its special meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5. 

The board elected Hajj Dave Abdallah, Chairman, Hajja Vicki Ashkar, 1st Vice Chair and Hajj Tarek Chami, 2nd Vice Chair. 

The recently formed board is comprised of 17 members, and it presides over one of the leading Islamic organizations in the area. 

The board embarked on selecting various committees to evaluate programs, increase membership and coordinate fundraising and public relations campaigns.

It’s noteworthy that a woman has been elected to serve as a 1st Vice Chair. This demonstrates the IHW’s vision on the importance of involvement from Muslim women in leadership and decision making roles within the community. 

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi praised the elections and welcomed the new enthusiasm that the new board brings to the IHW.

 

11/19/12: Interfaith unity dinner held at Islamic House of Wisdom

Interfaith unity dinner held at Islamic House of Wisdom

Monday, 11.19.2012, 04:17pm- Arab American News

Dearborn Heights — Muslim community members in addition to members of the Christian and Jewish communities gathered at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights for a unity dinner that included attendance from the interfaith community last Friday.

Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom and Rev. Bill Gepford of Littlefield Presbyterian Church began the dinner with opening prayers. Following dinner, the program moved into the auditorium for a special Interfaith Service that featured encouraging words of unity from Interfaith Clergy Leaders and participants.

Hajj Khalil Hachem gave welcoming words on behalf of the Islamic House of Wisdom and invited to the podium the MC of the evening, Dr. Robert Bruttell, Chair of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit to MC the event. Following a brief overview of the evening, emcee Robert Bruttell invited Imam Elahi to the podium.

Mentioning the end of the elections in the U.S., Imam Elahi hoped that the president's slogan of change starts from within the minds and hearts of all people, replacing selfishness with sacrifice, greed with giving and the culture of "Me" with the culture of "We."

Imam Elahi asked other mosques and churches to continue with this type of interfaith dialogue in setting a good example for those in the Middle East who are choosing the direction of death and destruction in the name of God and religion.

The second speaker was Rev. Amy Kienzl, the Pastor at Christus Victor Lutheran Church of Dearborn Heights reflected of the some stories from the Bible noting to "Love your neighbors" and asked for the continuity of this outreach.

The Islamic House of Wisdom will also begin their Ashura services this week with English speaker Sayed Jafar Al-Qazweeni  and Arabic speaker Sayed Najah Al-Husseini. The lectures will take place every night during the ten days of Ashura beginning at 7:30 p.m.

 

09/22/12: Interfaith groups react to anti-Muslim film, condemn violence abroad

Interfaith groups react to anti-Muslim film, condemn violence abroad

By Samer Hijazi- Arab American News

Saturday, 09.22.2012, 05:34pm

DEARBORN — Last Saturday local interfaith religious leaders gathered at the Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) in Dearborn Heights to condemn any form of violence in relation to the movie "Innocence of Muslims" which has garnered a fire-storm of controversy leading to protests and deaths as well as hundreds of injuries around the world including the countries of Egypt, Yemen and Libya, which saw the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

Local community leaders discuss the anti-Muslim film during a press conference.Those present at the press conference included Imam Mohammad Elahi from the Islamic House of Wisdom, Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan Chapter (CAIR-MI) and Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini from the Islamic Center of America who all joined together to represent the Imam's Council of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

"The Imam's Council condemns in the strongest terms the killing of the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya and other embassy staffers. Islam strictly prohibits the killing or harming of diplomats and civilians under any circumstance. Such violence is against the Islamic teachings and the spirit of the Holy Quran," the press release stated. "The Imams do support our freedoms, but also denounce the abuse of such privileges, including the promotion of hatred via inflammatory literature, movie or speech by individuals or groups. Such actions by all extremists must not be allowed to damage the emerging freedoms in the Middle East and peaceful co-existence everywhere. We urge all Muslims to peacefully oppose any provocative or aggressive acts against their faith."

The stance the local leaders have taken on the issue, condemning both the anti-Islamic film as well as the violent reactions that have ensued afterwards, seems to be the stance that the majority of American Muslims have been taking as a whole. Some national organizations have even gone further to condemn the violence occurring overseas. CAIR's national office for example released an Arabic language video directed at the Middle East this week urging protestors not to blame Americans and the U.S. government for the film. CAIR's national Executive Director Nihad Awad urged Muslims in the video to follow the path of prophet Muhammad by not retaliating with violence.

But while many have been fearing the growing violence overseas, both Muslim and civil rights groups in the U.S. have also expressed their worries that the violent reactions could carry over into the U.S., but not by Muslims. At the press conference in Dearborn Heights, Walid told reporters that he hopes anti-Muslim extremists in the U.S. don't use this situation as a means to rally Americans up against Islam.

"We are concerned about a backlash in our country or extremists trying to take advantage of the situation," Walid stated. "The escalating tensions going on overseas involve a very minuscule percentage of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world," Walid added.

That same message was also conveyed on Tuesday in Los Angeles when the Muslims Public Affair Council and the Los Angeles Diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Church held a press conference hosted by the L.A City Human Relations Commission in front of the L.A’s City Hall to condemn the escalating violence. The press conference was conducted in both English and Arabic in order to convey the message to the Middle East. 

"We are here to condemn putting prejudice and hate in a production that only serves to insult groups,” said Dr. Maher Hathout, the MPAC Senior Adviser . “We declare in no ambiguous terms that we are totally against mass labeling of a group of people because of the actions of some who claim to belong to that group. These people are neither Muslims nor Copts. Those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate and minds full of disease. Our job together is to leave no room for these voices to manipulate and take over the arena. The voice that should be heard is our collective voices here.”

During the press conference in Dearborn Heights, Imam Elahi welcomed open dialogue to those who may have a misconception about the religion of Islam and stated this would be one way of dealing with the rise of Islamophobia. 

"Anyone who may have any problem with Islamic history or teachings is welcomed to sit down and have a dialogue and dispute on this. Islam is a religion of reason and love and its light can't be turned off through these hateful expressions," Imam Elahi stated.

While the reaction to the video in the U.S. has not been as chaotic as the turn of events in the Middle East, locals have been responding in their own ways as well. Last Thursday in Royal Oak, dozens gathered for a silent vigil in honor of Ambassador Stevens and three others who were killed in Libya. The Muslim community in Dearborn has also been looking for noteworthy but appropriate ways to respond to the situation. According to Imam Al-Qazwini, due to a demand from the community, there will be a rally held at the Islamic Center of America on September 21st.

“We are calling for the community to join us as we invite both interfaith leaders as well as Sunni leaders in condemning this anti-Islamic movie and condemning the acts of violence that has targeted the lives of diplomats in the Middle East,” Imam Al-Qazwini stated.

Imam Al-Qazwini says the rapid spread of Islamophobia in the United States needs to be addressed by the Muslim community. He even alludes to politics in having a great role in pushing the anti-islamic agenda.

“Islamophobia has been spreading and this movie is a great example of one case. I do not rule out the role of some political parties who have been using Islamophobia as a way to manipulate the public and attract voters during election season. This movie didn't just come out of nowhere. I feel like it was a calculated move. The fact that Terry Jones continuously comes to the largest population of Muslims in the country as well as the recent acts of New York police provoking Muslims and multiple other examples that have occurred in recent months, all these are indicators that there is a big movement taking place and there are certain forces behind it,” Imam Al-Qazwini stated. 

Another gathering, spearheaded by leaders from the local community is also expected to take place in the upcoming week in the auditorium of the Civic Center in Dearborn. Several community leaders have been meeting this week at both the Lebanese Heritage Club as well as The Arab American News’ office to prepare for what is expected to be the biggest response from the Arab American community to date in regards to the issue. Attorney Tarek Beydoun, one of the organizers of the upcoming event, says this will be a collaborative community effort with a goal to make a statement against hate speech and promote all of the religions prophets in a positive light.

"The goal of the rally is to condemn hatred and express love for the prophet and all other prophets. We need to educate people on how hate speech impacts not only our nation but people around the world as well," Beydoun said. 

Imam Abdul-Latif Berry, Director of the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn, said that he held a meeting with several local imams and community leaders, who ultimately pledged to support the community’s efforts and rally at the Civic Center. 

Organizers of the event are looking to fill the auditorium with locals and are  encouraging members of other faiths to attend as well. At press time, speakers are also expected to take the podium. The event at Dearborn’s civic center will take place Friday, September 28 at 5:30 p.m. located at 15801 Michigan Ave. 

09/22/12: Interfaith leaders condemn hate speech at ICA rally

Interfaith leaders condemn hate speech at ICA rally

Samer Hijazi- Arab American News

Saturday, 09.22.2012, 05:46pm

DEARBORN-Hundreds of locals turned out on Friday afternoon at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn where a group of interfaith leaders stood in front of the mosque to condemn the anti-Islamic film that has led to worldwide outrage in the last few weeks.

Those speaking at the event included Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, Reverend Edwin Rowe from the Central United Methodist Church, Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of CAIR-MI, Michael Hovey from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, Imam Mohammad Elahi from the Islamic House of Wisdom, Robert Bruttell of the Interfaith Leadership Council and Victor Begg from the Michigan Muslim Community Council.

Imam Al-Qazwini started off the event at the podium by telling the audience that it was time for both the Muslim community as well as Americans to draw the line between freedom of speech and hate speech when it promotes discrimination and bigotry.

"Islam will not tolerate or condone violence in honor of defending our holy prophet. Yes as Muslims we need to defend the dignity of our holy prophet, and yes as Muslims we need to demonstrate and condemn this kind of movie. But Muslims should not resort to violence by attacking innocent people. And finally, my dear brothers and sisters....this is what we Muslims expect; we ask that Muslims respect all the prophets of God. We respect Jesus, peace be upon him. We respect Moses and Abraham...and all other prophets and messengers of God. Therefore we demand that the rest of the world respect our prophet Muhammad," Imam Al-Qazwini told the crowd.

Michael Hovey from the Archdiocese of Detroit then took the stand to inform the crowd that as Christians they condemn the spread of hate speech and recognize the importance of Muslims and Christians standing side by side in peace. Also speaking was Reverend Edwin Rowe, who took the podium to tell the crowd that the blame of the escalating violence should be placed on those individuals who were responsible for creating the movie first and foremost."Blood is on their hands. There is absolutely no way we can call this anything close to free speech. In fact, if you know the action that you are going to create is going to result in violence and death, then you are responsible for the blood that it causes and I pray that these folks will be brought to justice. What our faiths together teach us is if we respond to evil with evil, then we all become the very thing we hate," Hovey told the crowd.

Dawud Walid, from CAIR-MI told the audience that it should be American Muslims' responsibility to react to hate against Islam by advocating peace and explaining to other Americans why the video was so offensive and disgraceful in the first place. Walid stated that Muslims shouldn't tolerate when hate groups attack any of the religion's prophets."The Qur'an says that the prophet is closer to the believers than to their own souls. Prophet Muhammad says none of you will truly believe until he has more love for me than he has for himself, his parents and his children. So when we see a movie molesting our prophet, molesting his wives, it hurts us more than someone literally molesting our fathers, mothers, wives and our husbands. But prophet Muhammad never returned insults with injury. And this Muslim community has been very responsible because out of seven million American Muslims, we can't even recall one act of violence or intimidation," Walid stated.

The crowd at the Islamic Center not only included Muslim and Arab Americans, but individuals from other religions also came out to show their support for the cause. Bystander Peter Blohm, a Scottish Christian Dearborn resident, said he came to the event because he is a big supporter of peace."I think the community has a right to speak out against it but at the same time there is a very thin line between freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I was also here when Pastor Terry Jones, if you can even call him a pastor, when that ordeal happened with him and I think it's really important that we spread a message that everyone can live together. I also believe it's important that the Muslims stand up and condemn what some extremists in the Middle East have been doing," stated Blohm.

But not all bystanders were happy with the event that took place on Friday afternoon in front of the mosque. One local Muslim woman was extremely disappointed, stating that she expected a bigger turnout."Dearborn has the biggest Muslim population ever...where are they? Not enough people showed up. We need to get the word out there that prophets are not toys for anybody to play around with. We don't condemn anybody's religion, so why are they bothering our religion," the woman stated wishing to remain anonymous.

Residents will have a second opportunity to address the issue next week, where community leaders have been organizing an event that will take place at the Dearborn Civic Center located on Michigan Ave. The event, scheduled on Friday, September 28th at 5:30 p.m. in the venue's performing arts theater, is asking for all residents of all religions to come together to stand up against hate.

 

 

09/20/12: Religious leaders warn against Middle East unrest

Both the internet video and the violent protests it sparked are being condemned by religious leaders of several faiths in Metro Detroit.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi hosted a panel of religious leaders at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights Saturday morning.

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