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Archive for April, 2007

04 26 07

Courier News: PISCATAWAY: First Islamic Games will be held

On May 26, more than 600 Muslim athletes will assemble to compete in the Annual Islamic Games presented by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)at Crossroads South, South Brunswick.

The annual Islamic Games under the theme “Strong Inside … Strong Outside” will feature action in track and field, basketball, volleyball, soccer, cricket for males and females of all ages.

Many other fun activities, sports and games will be on hand for kids and grown-ups.

The Islamic Games is being launched in response to the growing needs of the Muslim communities. The purpose of the Islamic Games 2007 is to promote athletic skills and serious participation in sports and athletics among Muslims.

Many Muslims, male and female, participate in sports and athletics at all levels, the Islamic Games allows such athletes to meet, network and compete with each other.

The Islamic Games also seeks to provide the forum for Muslim Schools to
participate in and compete with each other especially since there is no
athletic program for them.

Medals and trophies will be awarded for first and second place in the
team sports while medals up to sixth place will be awarded for track
and field.

Registration can be done online or by mail-ins. Forms are available at
Muslim Schools, local Mosques and Islamic Centers or can be downloaded
from Registration fee is $10., deadline is May

For more information, contact S. Nausrudeen at (718) 554-7620 or visit

04 26 07

Young Muslims Connect With Bronx Fire Victims


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity."  (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 589)
It was all over the news. Raging fire in Bronx, NY leaves many family members dead. When I was first asked to engage in this Young Muslims (YM) initiative to ease the pain and hardships of the Maggasi family from the Bronx I was caught up in the sensationalism that television often creates. I thought to myself, ‘I will actually meet the family that appeared on TV!’
Glory be to God, little did I know, the matter was greater than that…

As news of the deaths spread far and wide YM, Young Muslims decided to step in and help this Muslim family. The sisters in Jersey City decided to visit them. The weekend before the visit we went shopping for school supplies for the children. Afterwards, the feelings I carried were quite ambiguous. Perhaps, I felt disconnected from it all. I felt that it wasn’t enough, that more should be done for this family.

A few days later, I was at work speculating about ways I could offer my help. I decided to ask the group of people I pray with while at work. I figured maybe they could contribute something for the family. I sent out an email to the group, and left my desk for five minutes. Upon my return, I discovered at least ten replies from people who wanted to help. Immediately I remembered the verse from the chapter in the Quran entitled ‘Divorce’:

“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)”

Since the beginning of this YM project God made it very easy for us to buy supplies and raise funds for the family. I can only assume the reason for this ease was that God must love this family for remaining strong during this time of tribulation.

Finally, the day had arrived. I met up with the most kind-hearted, beautiful sisters (inside and out) anyone could ever meet. We began our journey to visit the family. We first picked up boxes donated by students from Miftah ul Uloom (Key to Knowledge)
High School in Union City, NJ. We went through each box one by one to distinguish the good clothes from the bad, boxed the good ones, and labeled it for each of the families we were visiting. Then we drove off. The directions were easy to follow, the trip there was free of traffic, and finding the buildings was even easier. I knew that was God’s way of helping us help them. The hardest part awaited us inside that apartment.

We visited the first wife, who lost at least 5 of her children. She was left with an older son and daughter. Looking at her, I felt the sense of utter despair and emptiness. She did nothing but thank us, but that feeling of discontent entered my heart once more. I felt as if I had done nothing for this family. Nothing can ease the pain and suffering of losing a child, never mind five! I wish I had said more to her, done more for her, but words were just trapped inside me. What can I as a sister say or do to ease this sister’s pain? God, grant her patience. I wish I had told her the story of Prophet Ayub (Jacob) who suffered more tribulations than anyone in this world, yet he uttered a prayer to God more beautiful than anything that the ears can hear:

"And (remember) Jacob when he cried to his Lord "Truly, distress has seized me, but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful." ‘The Prophets’, Verse 83 The Quran

I couldn’t grasp the idea that the person before me has been through a flaming, burning fire; lost her children, her belongings, everything that she ever owned, possessed, and loved. I couldn’t help but wonder what would I have done in her situation? In the Chapter of the Quran called ‘The Believers’ 23.62FhFF, it is stated:

'On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear.'

Yet, this sister handled this better than anyone I know can. She did not shed a tear in front of us. Despite her despair, I sensed her strength.  May God grant her strength and patience in her faith.

My favorite part of the day occurred next. We visited the other mother who, Praise be to God, did not lose any of her children, but suffered a few minor burns.  The children, as well, had a few bruises but nothing major by God’s will. The children were cuter than words can describe. They melted my heart, especially the baby. We started to open up the gift bags (full of school supplies) and handed each to its rightful owners. To their excitement, they couldn’t help but smile and checked out the cool new stuff these strangers had bought in for them. I handed the remaining money to the mother, and we exited the apartment leaving a smile on each family members face, and that was priceless!

This visit made me realize regardless of all the hardships of this world, it cannot equal the troubles and hardships of the next life (i.e. heave and hell). God promises in the Quran, in Surah (chapter) ‘The Morning Hours’, Ad Duha:

Verily, the hereafter will be much better for you than the present.
Have we not found you an orphan, and gave you shelter and care? Have we not found you wandering, and gave you guidance? Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor turn away the petitioner unheard; but the blessings of your Lord Rehearse and proclaim!

This chapter has nothing but wisdom and truth. God gave us everything, and in a blink of an eye, can take it back. Brothers and sisters, do not assume that God will not test you in this world. And when He does test you, remain steadfast on your faith, because no one but HE can help you endure the hardship.

A hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) narrated by Abu 'Abbas 'Abdullah, says:

"Remember God in times of ease, and He will recognize
you in times of distress. What hit you could not have
missed you, what missed you could not have hit you.
Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes
with affliction and ease comes with hardship".

God give us strength to endure the hardships that you will bestow on your believers. And give us strength to emerge from all the trials and tribulations of this life victorious.

04 19 07

NY Times: Fire Victims Gain a Little Immortality Through Art

By TRYMAINE LEE, April 19, 2007
Aisse Magassa slowly rolled her wheelchair to the wall of the old building, carrying a can of spray paint and with four of her little girls squirming behind her. The air was cold, and droplets of rain crashed softly onto the hijab that covered her hair. The brightly painted wall, at 56 East Mount Eden Road in the Bronx, lit up an otherwise drab stretch of auto repair shops and dollar stores.
Read more

04 18 07

ICNA Sponsored Arts and Islam Tour a Great Success

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) sponsored the Arts Council of England and Mohammed Ali’s Arts and Islam USA Tour which has made quite an impact this week in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and Boston. Please see press coverage below:

NY Times: Fire Victims Gain a Little Immortality Through Art
Read more

04 17 07

ICNA Expresses Deep Grief at the Horrific Tragedy at Virgina Tech

JAMAICA, New York (April 17, 2007) – The Islamic Circle of North America expresses deep grief at the horrific tragedy that unfolded at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
Read more

04 15 07

Breaking Down a Cultural Wall

chicagotribuneWith graffiti, British artist offers vision of unity between Islam, West … but mural here must wait

By Azam Ahmed, Tribune staff reporter

In a world where Islam and the West are sometimes viewed as clashing cultures, Mohammed Ali’s art says otherwise.

Like many young Muslims, he grew up reading the Quran and watching music videos, praying at the mosque and listening to hip-hop.
Read more

04 15 07

Muslim group wants apology from Stone

chicagosuntimesBY ESTHER J. CEPEDA Staff Reporter

A misunderstanding about permit requirements for public art has a North Side Islamic group calling for an apology from an alderman facing a runoff Tuesday.

The Chicago chapter of the Islamic Center of North America says Ald. Bernie Stone (50th) acted inappropriately last week when he stopped the painting of a peace mural by an internationally known artist and a group of 20 high school students.

Muralist Mohammed Ali was in Chicago through a program with the Arts Council of England, said Mahmood Khan, ICNA president. On Friday morning, he and the teens were painting a skyline and the word "salaam," which means "peace," on the side of ICNA's building in the 6200 block of North California when Stone drove up and shut down the project.

"We didn't know we needed a permit," Khan said. "This is a piece of artwork, not for commercial purposes."

Khan said he's also concerned because of comments from Stone that implied the letter "m" in the mural looked like the World Trade Center towers crumbling after the 9/11 attacks.
"I said some of the people were complaining that's what it looks like,"
Stone said. "I'm not making an issue of it — it's a sign, it's more
than 25 feet in height, more than 100 square feet. It needs a permit."

Stone said he'd be willing to introduce the permit request to the City
Council, but the approval process would take six to eight weeks.


04 15 07

Chicagoist: Painted Into a Corner

chicagoistJust days before he faces Naisy Dolar at the ballot box in Chicago's 50th Ward, Bernie Stone is facing a different kind of challenge in his ward: public art, and the tension it can create in the community. Mohammed Ali, a British Muslim artist who is touring the US in conjunction with the Arts Council England for his “Arts and Islam” tour, came to Chicago this past weekend. For the Chicago portion of the tour, he had planned to paint the word "Peace" in both Arabic and English on the side of the Islamic Circle of North America mosque on Granville and California. Come Friday, however, Ali and his supporters, including children from the community that had come to help paint the wall were confronted by none other than Bernie Stone himself, telling them that they needed a permit for the sign, and it had to go through his office first.City Ordinance 8-4-270 seems to address this situation; we have to wonder, however, if the authors of the ordinance intended it to apply to works of public art on private property, particularly religious institutions. Unfortunately, what started out as a simple misunderstanding flared up into a much stickier situation.
While Stone has some valid points, perhaps the most disturbing part of this video is the quote from the fellow to Stone's left, who told the artists "those guys [CFD] are pissed over there, they're saying how many firemen died in that thing and they got to see this every morning [the mural].”

Mohammed Ali, the artist, told Chicagoist, "We were out here for a
beautiful purpose, to create art and to bring diversity and color to
the community. This feeling of unity and happiness was crushed not just
by us being stopped from painting but by the frankly racist comments
… towards us. How many signs are there out there that are over 12
square feet and without a permit? Before this mural there was some real
big banners that we never got permits for on that wall." We here at
Chicagoist won't try to interpret the law for Alderman Stone, but we're
troubled and saddened that one of our own city councilmen, who
represents a community of many different faiths and ethnicities, and
has an obligation to represent Chicago to the rest of the world, can't
take a stand when such blatant racism is shoved not only in his face,
but the faces of the community and its