By Dina Rabie, IOL Staff
Nov 1, 2009
WASHINGTON — A leading American Muslim organization has championed a nationwide campaign aimed at promoting family values among Muslim and non-Muslim communities alike, in an effort to preserve the already strained US social fabric from being torn apart.
“The American society is facing so many social problems and the Muslim community is part of all this,” Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), told IslamOnline.net.
“This is an issue to raise awareness about Islamic values among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
ICNA Relief established a toll-free National Family Counseling Hotline to advise people and held family counseling meetings in thousands of homes.
“We also organized workshops and printed posters and flyers that tackle many aspects of family issues and controversial issues like polygamy for example.”
ICNA‘s “Save Family, Save Society” campaign also engaged scholars and faith leaders in 1000 mosques across the nation.
“We requested imams to give their prayer sermons on several family-related topics like raising children in a Western society and teen issues and divorce,” said Naeem Baig, vice president of ICNA.
The organizers circulated a brochure on “Family in Islam” and a video introducing Muslim family.
The several-week campaign began with the Muslim Family Day on September 26, a yearly event which has been sponsored by ICNA for the past 10 years.
“The day was organized in seven cities nationwide; Chicago, New Jersey, Atlanta, Maryland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Lexington,” said Baig, adding that nearly 57,000 people attended the day. ICNA is one of the largest, non-profit, grassroots Muslim organizations in North America with many projects, programs, and activities designed to help in reforming society at large.
Baig, the ICNA vice president, says Muslim families are struggling to live up to the Islamic way of life. “People are coming under a lot of pressure, and they say that they need real guidance in many topics,” he stressed.
“Young people are coming under a lot of pressures in their daily life.”
This includes early marriage and early divorce as well as a gap between parents and their children.
But the organizers insist that their campaign was not intended to serve Muslims, estimated to number more than seven millions.
“The campaign wished to reach out to the community at large,” says Baig.
They communicated with faith leaders of other religious groups to convey the campaign message to their communities.
“We even made a publication with Catholic bishops on the issue of marriage. “
A special issue of “The Message” magazine, which specializes in family issues, was published on the theme of the campaign.
Bukhari, the ICNA leader, noted that social problems are fast spreading in America and its ramifications are clearly seen in society.
“Divorce rate is increasing, single parenting is increasing and children are being bred without their parents.”
A 2005 survey by the US Census Bureau raised the alarm over social illnesses revealing that married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades, have finally slipped into a minority.
It predicted that temporary relationships between people were likely to dominate the American social landscape for the years to come, making family ties and values even weaker and the whole society less cohesive.
Bukhari believes the Islamic social system that preserves and honors the institution of family could be the remedy.
“Islamic values can be helpful.”