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Archive for October, 2007

10 25 07

ICNA Appeals for Support for Southen California Wildfire Victims

JAMAICA, New York (October 25, 2007) – The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a grassroots organization of American Muslims, is calling for Americans to wholeheartedly support victims of the wildfires in Southern California. ICNA Relief USA, a division of ICNA, has Disaster Relief experience from the Asian tsunami, South Asian earthquake, and has been recognized by FEMA for its Hurricane Katrina relief.
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10 19 07

The Passing of Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus

brilyasbayunus4webAfter a long struggle with his heart condition, Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, a pioneer of Islamic work in North America in the second half of the last century, bid farewell to earthly existence and joined his Master for an eternal life at the start of Fajr prayer on the blessed day of Friday, Ramadan 23, 1428/ October 5, 2007. When the history of Islamic work in North America is written, the name of Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus will be recorded in golden words.

He was born in Hyderabad, Daccan, and migrated to Pakistan at an early age. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Urdu College in Karachi and his Masters from Karachi University. Both degrees were in Geography. After pursuing his doctorate at the University of Minnesota and earning a second Master’s degree, he had a sudden change of heart and received yet another Master’s degree from University of Illinois (Dekalb) in Sociology. He then completed his Ph.D. in Sociology from the Oklahoma State University. Having lived in this country for a total of 47 years, he had become gravely concerned about the socio-cultural problems of this society and their impact upon Muslims. He pursued a long career as a distinguished professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Cortland, NY until 2003 when he retired. In 2005, he decided to move in with his only son, Asad Ba-Yunus, a successful Attorney in Miami, Florida, only one week prior to the birth of his first granddaughter, Hafsah.

Ilyas Bhai, as I used to call him, was greatly influenced by the Islamic movement in Pakistan. He taught Geography in a movement oriented school in PIB Colony, Karachi where I happened to be his seventh grade student. After arriving in this country, he intensified his involvement in Islamic work. He was a founding member of the Muslim Student Association of US and Canada in 1963 and served as its president in 1969 and in its central leadership until the formation of ISNA.

In 1980, when I became the President of Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Ilyas Bhai was elected as the President-Elect. However, shortly after that, he accepted an offer as a visiting professor of Sociology at King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah where he completed his first book on Islamic Sociology that he co-authored with Dr. Farid
Ahmed. Just prior to leaving for Saudi Arabia, Ilyas Bhai published a report through the MSA, identifying the growing trend of Muslim students settling in the United States, and raising the need for a national community-based organization. He urged the leadership of MSA and other organizations to come together and form this ground-breaking entity, which would soon become ISNA.

In 1982, when ISNA was established, we were all looking for a senior, highly respected and community oriented brother to head the new organization. When I proposed the name of Ilyas Bhai for the position, everyone agreed. Dawah, education and community organization and development were the three important pillars of ISNA at its birth and Ilyas Bhai zealously championed them across the continent. Even after his tenure was over, as a member of ISNA’s Majlis-e-Shura, he remained the most enthusiastic advocate of greater participation of the local communities in ISNA’s decision making process. He introduced a constitutional amendment for this
purpose and waged a successful campaign for its passage.

One of his major achievements in the latter period of his life was the sociological and demographical survey of American Muslims. A few other books and scores of articles were also a significant contribution to Islamization of
education. This, of course, was in addition to his excellent and thoughtful presentations in AMSS and ISNA conventions and conferences for more than a third of the century. He recently published his latest book (co-authored by Dr. Kassim Kone), “Muslims in the United States,” which sums up much of his research on the American Muslim community. His final book, “Ideological Dimensions of Islam,” co-authored by his
son Asad, is still in the final editing phase and, once published, inshaAllah, will be a final culmination of his life’s research and scholarship.

The foremost qualities of Ilyas Bhai, of course, were his dedication and care for Islamic work in North America, humility and warmth in inter-personal relationships. He was like an older brother to me, always very affectionate and loving not only to me, but to my family as well. When we decided to hold a Bismillah for Sohaib [my son] in
Indianapolis, we could not think of a better person than Ilyas Bhai to conduct it. Both Sohaib and his elder sister, Sohaira definitely counted him among their favorite uncles.

May Allah [SWT] forgive all of his sins, fill his grave with His noor and grant him the highest place in Jannah [Ameen].

Dr. Talat Sultan
Former President of ICNA, AMSS and former ISNA Director of Education

10 19 07

Mohammad Younis Ramazan Fund Announced

ICNA Relief USA has announced a fund to support the family of the late Muhammad Younis Ramazan.

Br. Mohammad Younis passed away around 1:30 pm on Saturday, October 13, at a hospital in Philadelphia. May Allah be pleased with him and place him in the highest garden of Jannah. Br. Younis has been a great soul and worked very hard for the community. This friend of Allah has finally met with his Lord on this day of Eid-ul-Fitr. Inna lillahi wa-innal-ilayhee rajeeon. May Allah grant him peace and extreme patience to his family and friends

Br. Younis was part of the organizing team of ICNA-NJ and 877-Why-Islam. He also managed the Sunday School in Edison, which consisted of hundreds of children. He was also a board member of MCNJ and led arrangements of Friday prayers in the Edison area for more than a decade.

His Janaza was held on Sunday, October 14, at MCMC located at 1000 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854. The prayers were offered after Zuhr prayers (1 PM). Over 1000 people attended the Janaza from various communities. They bore witness to the selfless efforts of Br. Younis, and prayed for him.

Please keep him and his family in your prayers. May Allah (SWT) give his family sabr, and grant him Jannah, Ameen.

You can donate here. Please specify "Mohammad Younis Ramazan Fund" in the donation preference.

10 17 07

Eid Message from the ICNA’s President

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam,

Assalaamu ‘Alaikum. ‘Eid Mubarak!

Eid is an auspicious occasion.  On this day, we should thank Allaah, Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, for having been able to experience yet another blessed Ramadaan – the month of Al-Qur’aan, the month to acquire Taqwa (Allaah-Consciousness), the month to provide us with an excellent opportunity for personal and spiritual elevation!

Throughout this month, Muslims all over the world engage in various ‘Ibadaat, hoping to be worthy of Allaah’s mercy, forgiveness and salvation from hellfire. May Allaah (S) accept our humble efforts and bless us all.

We know that Shaytaan will now be attacking us right and left with vengeance, misguiding us to destroy our piety, self-control, discipline, sacrifice and Allah-consciousness as soon as possible. Now that the battery of our Taqwa is fully charged, let’s try not to let it leak, at least for the next eleven months. We have worked so hard for it, we must now protect it vehemently. We should strive to keep following the routine we established during Ramadaan. Let’s fast six days in the month of Shawwal, and weekly thereafter. Also, we should keep offering Tahajjud, paying charity, and being good to others at all times.

As we know, the main purpose of fasting is to acquire Taqwa, so that we can benefit from the Qur’aan. Let’s resolve to study the Qur’aan daily- reciting it, pondering over the meanings, following it ourselves and conveying its message to others. We should stay connected with Allaah day and night. If Allah (S) is pleased and His (S) mercy and blessings are with us, we don’t have to worry about anything else.

Along with the material well-being, let’s keep trying to develop our spiritual level – the sine qua non for success here as well as in the Hereafter.  

On this joyous day of Eid, we must remember the poor and needy, with acts of kindness and generosity.  Let’s not forget that serving thehumanity is imperative to please Allaah (SWT), and pleasing Him (SWT) should be our ultimate goal in life.  

May Allaah (SWT) guide, protect and bless Muslims all over the world.  May He (SWT) guide the whole humanity towards love, peace, justice, harmony, fellowship, and to obey the Creator. Ameen

Once again, our best wishes for a joyous Eid, and for health, happiness, and prosperity throughout the year. Kullu Aam wa Antum Bikhair!

Your brother in Islam,
Dr. Khurshid Khan
Ameer (President), ICNA

10 14 07

Muslim Family Day at Six Flags Over Texas Hosted by ICNA Dallas

On Sunday, October 14th the Muslim community of Dallas/Fort Worth gathered for an unprecedented and auspicious event at Six Flags over Texas. An estimated 9,000 Muslims gathered at the theme park in Arlington, Texas to enjoy a day of family-fun.

On this day the DFW Muslim community showed their solidarity and unity by participating in this event. This is the first time in DFW’s history that the Muslim community gathered in such a large number in one location for a day of fun.

Families from Houston, Tyler, Oklahoma, New Orleans and other surrounding cities joined in on the fun of the bone-chilling excitement and wonderful rides of Six Flags. The park was packed with sisters in Hijabs and brothers with Kufis and beards.

Families gathered at the Music Mill Theater for Zabiha/Halal food and prayers. The Adhan for each prayer and the prayers itself engulfed the entire theater. The Music Mill theater is a place for concerts, but for the first time in the history of its establishment it was converted into a place of worship. The crowd also got the opportunity to hear some beautiful recitation of the Quran from our best community members.

Delicious Moroccan and Indo-Pak food was made available on that day, though some of the lines were long due to the excellent attendance. Alhamdulillah everyone enjoyed and took pleasure in the food. The park shined with Muslim brotherhood, reminding us all that we can have fun if we are responsible and are aware of our limits.

The DFW Muslim community really exemplified what a true Muslim is, and we hope and pray that this event left an excellent impression on the other folks that attended that day, and showed everyone the excellent character of a true Muslim. This event was arranged solely for the purpose of good, healthy entertainment, and we can honestly say that we did serve our purpose.

10 11 07

Moonsighting Announcement – Eid Mubarak

In the Name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful

moon was not sighted on Ramadan 29/October 11. According to
North American Moonsighting the first day of Shawwal and Eid-ul-Fitr is Saturday October 13, 2007. However, for the sake of unity, we
suggest that Muslims cooperate and follow their local Masajid and
communities, whether they follow our approach or not.

In the Event that is unavailable please try or to see our announcement.

You can also call (718) 658-1199 to hear our Announcement.

Continue to ICNA Main Site

10 7 07

A time of faith, a time of change

The leader of region's largest mosque is leaving to start a seminary
By MARC PARRY, Staff writer,
 COLONIE — The end of Ramadan this weekend will be a time of shared gifts and celebration. For the popular leader of the region's largest mosque, it also will be a time to say farewell.

Imam Ahmed Kobeisy is leaving his Colonie mosque at the end of the month to establish an Islamic seminary based in New York. It's an effort to build the infrastructure for educating the next generation of Muslim-American leaders. Right now, the expanding U.S. Muslim population often depends on imams educated abroad.

Kobeisy, 50, arrived in the Capital Region from Syracuse three years ago. The Saudi Arabia-born imam has since become the area's most visible Islamic leader, winning admirers for opening the Islamic Center of the Capital District to other faith groups, government officials, activists, teachers and the media.

Within his mosque, Kobeisy is a father figure known for a willingness to share his cellphone number and an approach to Islam that is, like his business suits, practical. He teaches Muslims, leads them in prayers, counsels them, marries them, visits them in hospitals and advocates for their rights with employers and teachers.

Some have cried in Kobeisy's office since the imam announced his plans
to leave the nearly 500-member mosque on Lansing Road off Central
Avenue. One active member, Maliha Nazeer, said that with Kobeisy's
outreach "we became more mainstream in society."

"He empowered us to go out there and tell people what Islam is," added
Nazeer, 43, an East Greenbush homemaker. "All of a sudden we were the
faces of Islam, not some leader someplace in some other country."

This career change is something of a gamble for an Islamic leader who
has carved out a unique career since coming to the United States at 28.

Kobeisy, who already had earned a degree abroad in Islamic studies,
built on that foundation with a master's in counseling and a doctorate
in social sciences, both from Syracuse University. He wrote a book
about counseling U.S. Muslims. He is a chaplain at Syracuse. He teaches
at Le Moyne College.

His office in Colonie could be a lawyer's, with its broad, glass-topped
desk, and its shelves of gold- and silver-embossed books. Except the
jurisprudence in those volumes is Islamic. And, in keeping with mosque
etiquette, the imam in the gray suit isn't wearing any shoes.

"I love this community, and I'm not leaving them because of looking for
another community," Kobeisy said. "No, I'm just looking to do something
that is not done, and has not been done — and that must be done."

The need, Kobeisy said, is for a school both steeped in Islamic
tradition and American culture; one that will turn out leaders
comfortable with both the Quran and the Constitution. Kobeisy will
become director of the Islamic Learning Foundation — a branch of the
Islamic Circle of North America — and he hopes to reinvent the
foundation to fill that gap.

Its classes will take place mainly at night and on weekends to
accommodate working students. The plan is to eventually offer
bachelor's degrees and programs around the nation. It will prepare
young Muslims to work as imams and chaplains in America.

"You could memorize the Quran, but you don't really know the Quran
until you know how it applies in the context in which you live,"
Kobeisy said.

An imam with experience working in the United States is what the
Islamic Center seeks in its next leader, said mosque president Tariq
Niazi. That person will take over a 28-year-old mosque with members
from Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Middle East, North
Africa and the United States.

"It's difficult, because there are not that many candidates, especially if you are not reaching out abroad," Niazi said.

The Rev. James Kane, the official in charge of interfaith affairs for
the Albany Catholic Diocese, appreciated Kobeisy's effort to reach out
after the Pope made controversial remarks about Muslims last year. At
Kobeisy's invitation, Bishop Howard Hubbard spoke at the mosque.

"That certainly was a first," Kane said.

Marc Parry can be reached at 454-5057 or by e-mail at

taken from: source

10 4 07

U.S. House Passes Historic Ramadan Resolution

Washington – A resolution recognizing the Muslim holy month of
Ramadan and expressing the "deepest respect to Muslims in the United
States and throughout the world" was adopted in the U.S. House of
Representatives October 2 by a vote of 376-0.

The resolution
acknowledging the importance of Muslims in America, the first of its
kind, was introduced by Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson and
co-sponsored by 30 legislators, including Representative Keith Ellison
of Minnesota.  Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S.
Congress. (See related article.)

a sign of respect and recognition. It’s a very American thing to do. We
are a nation of religious tolerance and religious inclusion," Ellison
told USINFO.

"The basic idea is to demonstrate not only to the Muslim world but
to the whole world that the U.S. Congress is a place where all faiths
are respected, all faiths are recognized, where we embrace our
diversity and where we believe that the promise of America is that you
may seek the Divine as you see fit within your own judgment, and in
your own tradition and in your own way," he said.

Brad Sherman, who strongly supported the bill, said when presenting the
resolution for discussion and a vote on the floor of the House: "The
observance of Ramadan requires devotion to faith, community and family,
truly universal values we all share." He said it is "appropriate and
necessary" for Congress to recognize the observance to express "the
deep respect we all feel for Muslims in the United States and around
the world."

The author of the bill, Eddie Bernice Johnson,
told the House, "The Muslim American community contributes to the
vibrant growth of American society and culture. Muslim Americans play a
significant role in our nation’s political process, economic growth,
scientific development, free enterprise, religious tolerance, law
enforcement and homeland security."

"American pluralistic
ideals, democratic institutions and multiculturalism are expanded and
strengthened by the contribution of Muslim American civic
participation," she said, adding, "During this holy month, I’d like to
say Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims."

Ellison told legislators
that as a Muslim observing Ramadan, "I can tell you it is a time of
reflection, a time of renewal, and regeneration," adding, "It’s
important to reassess your life, to contemplate your role in society
and to benefit your neighbor."

He described a joint
breakfast held in this spirit by his mosque and Temple Israel in
Minneapolis on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur that drew 160 people. "We
didn’t have enough chairs for everybody, but we had enough food because
we shared it … showing again that we’re not too far apart."

Jersey’s Bill Pascrell pointed out features Islam has in common with
other faiths and said, "It should be imperative for all of us
non-Muslims to learn about this faith, which too often has been
misunderstood and mischaracterized."

"As the grandson of
immigrants, I know true assimilation means preserving traditions while
achieving success. I am in awe at how quickly the Muslim-American
community has mastered both," Texas Representative Nick Lampson said,
attributing their success to "shared values of hard work, discipline,
community, family and culture."

The resolution reiterates
support for American Muslims in the face of hate crimes, and maintains
a strong stand against intolerance.  "May Ramadan this year truly be a
time when Muslims and people of all faiths embrace freedom and
tolerance for all, and reject violence and extremism," said Texas
Representative Ted Poe.

A hate crime is "a violation of law,
it’s a violation of our culture and a violation of the American way of
life," Ellison said later.

American Muslim reaction to the
resolution is "overwhelmingly positive," according to Corey Saylor of
the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It’s a sign that Muslims in
America are growing in their recognition as being part of the
mainstream fabric of the United States."

"America is a
pluralistic society, and it welcomes all different faiths, but it’s up
to each of those different faiths to assert itself in the public
sphere, and what this resolution does is shows that American Muslims
are learning more and more how to assert themselves in the public
sphere," he said.

Executive Director of the Muslim Public
Affairs Council Salam Al-Marayati said, "It’s definitely a milestone
for America and a positive reinforcement for the tradition of religious
pluralism in our country," which has been a haven for diverse religious
minorities. "It’s a sign of reassurance and a sign of inclusion and a
sign of social harmony, and people are very pleased with the resolution
for having accomplished these things."

The House resolution,
"Recognizing Commencement of Ramadan and Commending Muslims for Their
Faith," Ellison said, shows "solidarity between America and the Muslim
community across the world." 

For more stories related to Ramadan, see Celebrating Ramadan in America.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: