Authors Posts by hsaahir

hsaahir

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By Sis. Saisa Neel

She is the youngest of four daughters born to her father, Assistant Imam Mujahid of Al Baqi Masjid and Sister Katara Aleem in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her mother, also an educator, is one of the founders of the Al-Nur School in Springfield. Later she and her mother relocated to Maryland. They have been active members of Masjid Muhammad—The Nation’s Mosque in Washington, D.C. She is the mother of an 8-year-old child. Both she and her mother teach children at the Masjid’s Weekend Islamic School. Sis. Inshirah instructs the 6-8 year olds and participates on the School’s planning board. Her name was taken from Surah 94 in the Holy Qur’an and she truly reflects the theme of that Surah.

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When Inshirah was 15, she was diagnosed with a severe form of bipolar disorder. She became paranoid and slipped into a psychiatric coma. In what she calls “a part of my journey”, she was detached from reality. In 2012, she published a book about this adolescent period in her life. Her memoir, She Smiles and Cries, is a compilation of the events that led to the deterioration of her mental health at that time. Inshirah credits Allah with bringing her out of the deep depression and helping her positively re-shape her life. Currently she is working on getting her second book published. It will detail her life from high school to college graduation. On its website, Amazon states that “her memoir captures the possibility for us all to rise above pain. . . . .to smile after we cry.” She Smiles and Cries includes poetry and prose.

After recovering from her paranoia, Sis. Inshirah completed college studies. She now holds a Masters in Special Education. For the past 7 years she has been teaching 4th and 5th graders at a DC public charter school.

In spite of her writing and teaching achievements, her “passion” is working to help people understand mental illness and its impact on individuals and their families. She wants to decrease the stigma of having a disorder that the patient did not cause and for which, there may be few solutions. Sis. Inshirah remembers being a teenager and unable to verbally explain her feelings and thoughts. She used her Allah-given gifts of poetry and prose to write her first book of reflections and hopes to continue inspiring others when she publishes the second book.

A large part of her life is spent working either as a paid staff member and a  volunteer for a national organization called the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Through a format called “In Our Own Voices”, Sis. Inshirah teaches the general public about mental illness. NAMI was started by Harriet Shetler and Beverly Young, two mothers who had sons with schizophrenia and who found few resources to help their children. In 1979, they met with other concerned persons and formed NAMI. The organization has grown to over 1,000 chapters represented in all 50 states and is headquartered in Arlington, VA.

More recently, Sis. Inshirah has launched her own enterprise, called “Finding Our Voice”. Similar to the NAMI workshops, she encourages those with mental health illness and their caretakers to do role-playing, dialogue, interactive activities, and to use other modalities to teach the general public.   The Masjid’s Health Team Committee and Sis. Inshirah are currently planning a workshop later this year. Within our own community, we recognize the need for more information and greater understanding of mental health illness and for extended assistance to those families dealing with often debilitating and frightening disorders.

To order Sis. Inshirah’s first book of reflections, access Amazon or contact her at her website,www.inshirahaleem.com.

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“After his organs had shut down, his heart kept beating for another 30 minutes.”

Hana Ali

The most significant part of the body is the heart. The symbol of love, courage, substance, endurance, faith: MUHAMMAD ALI

On Saturday, June 4, 2016 Muhammad Ali transitioned and left this world with the most intimate feeling of lost that we all had a personal stake in.

Why was he an iconic figure? What made him different from other boxers before or after him? It was because he was not a boxer; he was a bridge builder, a man of conviction, hope, confidence,  a man of sacrifice, a man with heart

His heart transcended perceived enemies. In an exclusive interview with Jackie Frazier, daughter of legendary boxer Joe Frazier , she was candid about the relationship of love that was shared by these boxing rivals. “My father loved Ali, and Ali loved my father. When his title and license was taken away, my father went to Washington to ask then President Nixon to intervene in the decision.” She went on to say that her father pleaded “this man needs to make a living in order to take care of his family”.  She shared with me that the children of these boxers were close; like family and still stay in contact with each other.

(more in the next issue on Jackie Frazier’s comments)

Sources shared that Ali convened a meeting with his team to plan his memorial. 'This is what I would like to see, this is the type of program that I would like to see, one that is inclusive of everyone, where we give as many people an opportunity that want to pay their respects to me.' "Ali also said it was important that the memorials be conducted in the Muslim tradition,

On Tuesday, June 7th, New York City named a street near Madison Square Garden’ Muhammad Ali Way’. The gesture was good; however, Muhammad’s way is embedded in the landscape of the world….

No one article will ever be able to capture the life and legend of this icon. As a writer, I realized early on that this newspaper must have more than one issue dedicated to Muhammad. Please send in your Ali stories, pictures and comments so that we can continue to highlight this fearless giant. The above caption of Ali’s daughter, Hana is a message to all of us…We all should work to make sure that after our body (life) is over, we will have a heart that is developed enough to continue to beat into the future.

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” ; was a classic Ali phase.

My brother, we will count the days that you made count……Our next issue will continue with education our future with the opportunity to understand the time, commitment, and sacrifice that it takes to become’ the greatest….

By Marie Adilah Hameen

OnPoint Media/Muslim Journal Reporter

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By Michael Saahir
June 6, 2016
An-Najm (The Star) 53:39-42: That man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight:- Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete; That to thy Lord is the final Goal; (Y. Ali)
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On January 17, 1942 Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. emerged on the world scene as the son of Cassius and Odessa “Birdie” Clay. Over the next 74 years and 5 months this new born babe would grow to be known as “The Greatest of All Time.” Allah has revealed that human beings are created to grow stage by stage. However, with the life of Cassius Marcellus Clay, who evolved to become Muhammad Ali, his stages of challenging developments were witnessed by humanity around the globe. Muhammad Ali’s ability to time and again to champion life’s many challenges made him a model of success for down-trodden people around the world.
The measure of a man or woman’s greatness is not best measured by their personal achievements but more so by how their personal achievements improve the lives of other people. Muhammad Ali’s personal achievements made him “great” only because his personal successes always extended to become achievements in the heart and souls of others. His achievements transcended racial, gender, ethnic and nationalistic lines and barriers. His greatness was always shared with others. That is why Muhammad Ali is the quintessential champion – the people’s champion; therefore, he is the champion of champions.
After winning a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics the then Cassius Clay became the world’s Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1964 by defeating the seemingly unbeatable Charles “Sonny” Liston. A young 22 year old Ali exclaimed to the astonishment of the boxing world, “I shook up the world!”
The Holy Qur’an teaches, “When you are free from one task, immediately seek another.” For the rest of Ali’s life it seems that a succession of struggles came his way; struggles that were played out in the public arena for the entire world to witness.
The next challenge Ali had to champion was his battle for his religious belief and stance. Many white Americans did not like him associating with Minister Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. This disdain for his religion was compounded as many Americans rejected Clay denouncing his birth names as a “slave name” in exchange for the Islamic “holy name” of Muhammad Ali.
Ali championed his fights in the boxing ring; however, it is his fights outside the ring that manifested the true greatness of Muhammad Ali as witnessed with his stand for his religious convictions and him accepting his new name from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Not enough is said about the positive and immeasurable contributions of Mr. Elijah Muhammad upon the life of Muhammad Ali. In a December 2001 Reader’s Digest interview conducted by Howard Bingham, Ali readily revealed his continued admiration for Elijah Muhammad. Bingham asked Ali, “Now, after you were older, who influenced your life and the beliefs that you have?” Ali replied, “After I started boxing, Sugar Ray Robinson. And my idol was a man named Elijah Muhammad. [His] Islamic teaching is what made me so confident.”
Ali remained faithful to the Nation of Islam until 1975 when Elijah Muhammad died. Ali then followed Elijah Muhammad’s son, Wallace Deen into a universal practice of Islam.
Rather if he was fighting in the boxing ring or in the public arena Ali continued to strive against great odds, speaking boldly as he championed his life challenges. Even his enemies – after observing that Ali was much more than a braggadocios young fighter began to admire him.
The young folks loved Muhammad Ali. Those who were down-trodden loved Ali, but in some sectors of society Ali’s list of enemies grew especially when he refused to be drafted into the Viet Nam war declaring that he was a conscientious objector. The non-stop life challenges did not deter Ali from his faith in Islam and for his leader Elijah Muhammad. Ali continued to strive.
When Ali refused to be drafted he was stripped of his heavyweight boxing titled and faced the possibility of prison time for refusing to be drafted into the Viet Nam war. Nonetheless Ali stood strong as a man of faith and principle who disbelieved in killing. In 1970, after struggling for three years he finally regained his boxing license. Eventually his claim to be a conscientious objector was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972. Another major challenge championed by Ali, all to the admiration of down-trodden people around the world.
From 1970 through 1975 Muhammad Ali is front and center of some of the world’s best boxing battles in history. His fights with Ken Norton, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, and the big, bad seemingly unbeatable George Foreman will be mentioned by boxing enthusiasts for decades, maybe even for centuries. Many people will agree that Ali stands head and shoulder over these noble boxers as the GOAT, the “Greatest of All Times”. However, Ali’s next foe would prove to be an even bigger challenge; Parkinson’s disease.
Diagnosed in 1984 Ali was entering into what would be a 32 year battle with Parkinson’s before his passing on June 3, 2016. Parkinson’s disease effects the motor skills, still Ali refused to give in to this formidable challenged as witnessed on July 19, 1996 when he lit the Olympic torch in Atlanta, Georgia. Ali maintained a vigorous schedule traveling and lending his name and face to many charitable causes around the world, and speaking against terrorism. It is reported that his wife Lonnie said, "Even though Muhammad has Parkinson's and his speech isn't what it used to be, he can speak to people with his eyes. He can speak to people with his heart, and they connect with him."
Again the world rejoiced as Ali lit the Olympic torch. With tears of admiration flowing from the eyes of millions of fans, the world once again witness this quintessential champion bringing pride and confidence to people around the world. His lighting of the Olympic torch also lit the heart and soul of humanity.
Ali’s greatness may have begun in the boxing ring, but that was only his place of preparation for world greatness. Throughout his life Ali continued to receive numerous awards including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in November of 2005.
Ali was a man who lived his faith for all to see on a world stage. He publicly lived the words of the Qur’an his holy book that reads, That man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight:- Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete; That to thy Lord is the final Goal.

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Barack Obama in 2004, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, reading through a copy of his keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention below a photo of Muhammad Ali at his campaign office in Chicago, Ill.
Barack Obama in 2004, then a candidate for U.S. Senate, reading through a copy of his keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention below a photo of Muhammad Ali at his campaign office in Chicago, Ill. M. Spencer Green/AP

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.  Period.  If you just asked him, he’d tell you.  He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

 

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

 

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing.  But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

 

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.  I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

 

“I am America,” he once declared.  “I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own.  Get used to me.”

 

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right.  A man who fought for us.  He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.  His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.  It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.  But Ali stood his ground.  And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

 

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved.  But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.  Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

 

Muhammad Ali shook up the world.  And the world is better for it.  We are all better for it.  Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

 

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Muhammad Ali arrives at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the swearing-in of Barack Obama as president on Jan. 20, 2009.
Muhammad Ali arrives at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the swearing-in of Barack Obama as president on Jan. 20, 2009. Donna Cassata/AP

From NPR

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Imam Talib Shareef of The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, and the oldest Muslim community located in the capital of America, dating back to the mid 1930s and representative of the community where Muhammad Ali’s Spiritual journey as a Muslim began, released the following statement in response to his passing.

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We join our President and those in our nation and around the world who are offering condolences and prayers for the family on the passing of such an iconic world champion and great humanitarian, Muhammad Ali.

As the champ once said, “You have but one life; it soon will be past, what you do for G-d is all that will last”.

The incredible impact that his life and legacy are having on the world stage serve as a testament to the fact that “one person can change the world.” Muhammad Ali was a living example of that statement and he was Muslim and American, yet a citizen of the world and a true human being.  Through his standing for something meaningful, his strong sense of identity and commitment to faith, he revealed the CHAMPION that we all have in common, and that is the dynamic soul of a people oppressed and struggling to see their humanity free.  He demonstrated that one person’s conviction and conscious actions can effectively change the lives of many, and ultimately transform the world.  Muhammad Ali once said, “I’ve always wanted to be more than just a boxer. More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.”

Contributing selflessly to humanity, he devoted himself to helping promote world peace, civil rights, religious freedom, hunger relief and humanitarianism, which is legendary in itself. It is in this spirit that we celebrate the life and legacy of such a wonderful and dynamic human soul, a servant of the Almighty and a servant of the people, the People’s Champ.  He was the proponent of his six core principles of Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality.

He went the distance in the fight for justice and in advancing his vision to enhance the critical circumstances affecting the future of the African American community and America at large.  As one of our resourceful leaders, he left a strong legacy of having helped to lift up the people, reflect the best of American and human life, and became not only a healthy powerful resource to his people and humanity, but also to the nation where he claimed citizenship.

We hope that he, through his legacy, his center in Louisville, continue to inspire old and young people to be great, do great things, and look past themselves and add value to the lives of others. We salute him.  May the Almighty forgive his shortcomings, give him comfort, expand his place of rest, honor his arrival and let not his passing cause a burden or hardship on those he leaves behind.  Ameen.

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“The Prosperity Foundation to Join NASIM Conference”

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By Shahid Abdul-Karim

Washington D.C. - The Prosperity Foundation (TPF) founder Howard K. Hill will lead a discussion on the role of black philanthropy during the NASIM Conference next month in Capital Heights, Maryland.

The conference will take place April 8 -10, at the Hampton Conference Center, 207 West Hampton Place, Capital Heights, Maryland. Register for the conference at www.nationsmosque.org.

TPF is the Connecticut’s first black organized philanthropic foundation which focuses on critical areas such as health, economic development and education.  

"We are excited to have The Prosperity Foundation join us. The conference is focused on our business interest and one of the things that concern us is economic development," said Nation's Mosque leader Imam Talib Shareef. 

Shareef said he learned about the foundation through its grant-giving initiative earlier this month.

"We see them as being the leading black foundation in terms of its efforts," Shareef said. 

The foundation's presentation, according to Shareef, "will be informational and a motivating piece for our community," he said.

In 2010, a partnership was established by Hill and an advisory committee with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to create the Urban Prosperity Fund, to promote philanthropy, prosperity and self-empowerment in the black community. TPF became an outgrowth from that fund and was established last year, according to the organization’s website www.tpfct.org.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be able to link up with the Nation’s Mosque and the Muslim business community, particularly around economic development,” said Hill, 47, of Howard K. Hill Funeral Services who has locations throughout the state of Connecticut.  

“Our philanthropy has a mission – to promote economic development in communities that are typically over looked,” he said.  “Our foundation is about making permanent change and we feel we’ll be successful where we’re with people who have an interest in making change such as the community like The Nation’s Mosque.”

Shareef said the foundation’s mission fits right in line with the do for self-concept.  He said it’s rare to see a black organization helping other African-Americans.   

Earlier this month TPF fulfilled part of its philanthropic commitment, contributing over $20,000 in grants to 11 various organizations in the state during an educational event on the role of philanthropy at the Marriott Downtown in Hartford, Connecticut.

“The idea of an endowment or source of income in perpetuity sounded very appealing to me, said Hill, who is in his second term as president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association.  

“As I sat on the board of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, I saw how the impact of philanthropy would be able to help the black community sustain itself,” he said.

Hill sat of the board for seven years.

The event marked the foundation’s inaugural Small Grant Initiative’s effort to help create long-term sustainability for organizations and educate blacks on the role of philanthropy.

Other scheduled presenters for the conference include, a representative from the World Trade Center, WeBuyBlack.com owner Shareef Abdul-Malik, Wallace Mohammad II among others.

In addition to building the foundation’s coffers, Hill said TPF will target resources in a manner that will create wealth and generate more opportunities to benefit black people.

To start an endowment with the foundation one may gift $5,000 or build up to the $5,000 over a period of time. If individuals choose not to start an endowment, the foundation accepts contributions at all levels.

Other TPF board members include, Yves Joseph, Larry Conaway, Nancy Hill, Carolyn Vermont, Rolan Joni Young Smith and the Rev. Dr. Eric B. Smith.  

For more information, visit www.tpfct.org or email info@tpfct.org.

 

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This year’s annoumabdurrahimncement by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper highlighting that homegrown extremists will likely pose the most significant Sunni threat to the U.S. homeland in 2016 along with an uptick of arrests and indictment in Philadelphia and Baltimore by African American Muslim converts are of major concern. Earlier this year, a Philadelphia man, Edward Archer attacked a police officer invoking ISIS and a Maryland man, Malik Alim Jones was arrested for his involvement with al-Qa’ida affiliate al-Shabaab.  

These latest attacks and events further builds on the recent 51 minute al-Shabaab recruitment video targeting and recruiting African American youth to jihad which is part of a decades’ long effort by violent extremists to specifically recruit from troubled, dissociated and vulnerable segments of the community. Since 2008, Al-Qaida’s then second in command Ayman al Zawahiri sought to interlace domestic African American racial grievances with the global jihad movement. In a video message after President Barack Obama election. Zawahiri’s message presented video motifs of Malcolm X, attempting to exploit historical African American Muslim activism as a potential means for future radicalization. However at the time, the message largely fell upon the deaf ears of mainstream and African American media.

Historically, segments of the African American community have been exposed to multiple types of violent extremism because mainly urban marginalized communities have been impacted by perceived historic injustices making them vulnerable and easy fodder- appealing to a collective sense of injustice, feelings of deprivation and social alienation – the formula that violent extremists groups exploit to win over converts the way a gang recruits.

Since 2001, at least half of the most recent prominent attacks and plotting in the United States were carried out by U.S. born men.  Of them, at least 35 African American(non-African immigrant) converts were involved in these events and constituted one of the largest single ethnic group involved in these actions. These individuals’ stories and paths to radicalization reveal a variety of reasons for why this demographic group is joining ISIS – from social alienation to political grievances.”

The events in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, along with the growing popularity of America’s Black Lives Matters movement, has brought to the forefront issues between urban communities and the police into sharp focus especially among the broader African American community. Furthermore, these current challenges in urban communities throughout America have also convened ISIL facilitators and sympathizers seeking to capitalize on recent events. A number of online ISIL supporters over the past several months have used hashtags and twitter account feeds to express their solidarity and support for African American youth negatively affected by the U.S. criminal justice system and perceived inequities as a way to appeal to them.

Recruitment efforts by extremists who identify with a fundamentalist interpretive are nothing new. Missionary activities started in the early 1990s when the reawakening of African American social identity coincided with the aggressive recruitment mission undertaken by wealthy Gulf based funders. In America, the epicenters of East Orange, New Jersey, and Philadelphia became recruiting grounds where lucrative educational scholarships, satellite exchanges with Saudi-based clerics and immediate infusions of cash into urban communities desperate for resources were provided.  Social media and the Internet have just made it more visible.  

The abovementioned incidents indicate that a small segment of African American converts have been exposed to and are readily susceptible to dangerous extremist rhetoric.  However, violent extremist messages can be mitigated. Social scientists indicate that the vast majority of African American Muslims represent an example of synergy between American and Islamic shared values. The examples of African American Muslims like hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco, Mara Brock Akil, film producer in Hollywood with shows like Girlfriends and the Jamie Foxx Show to name a few along with Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, two internationally notable African American Muslims, who despite being highly critical of past injustices within American society channeled their frustrations through the public and legal parameters. My own personal story as a third generation African American Muslim, whose professional and personal life represents the rich tradition of a multi religious and ethnic family is testimony of American pluralism. These examples and achievements should be targeted to the same African American youth that al-Shabaab’s recent video and other extremists prey upon in an effort to show a third way to channel frustration and violence.

About the Author:
Mr. Muhammad Fraser-Rahim is a specialist on countering violent extremism and counter-radicalization issues. Mr. Fraser-Rahim is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University and worked for the United States Government for more than a decade providing strategic analytical advice on CVE at the National Counterterrorism Center supporting directly the White House and the National Security Council.

 

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Imam Maajid Faheem ‘Ali, a pillar of the Muslim community in Savannah and the Lowcountry, was born July 18, 1953 in Savannah, Georgia. He was raised with his siblings, Carl and Patricia, by his mother Mrs. Luellen C. Walker. Maajid graduated as the Senior Class President, with honors, from Alfred Ely Beach High School in 1971. He is a 1976, cum laude graduate of Savannah State College, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice. During his matriculation, he was on the dean’s list, freshman class president, and, he was a member of the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.

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In February of 1974, he became a member of the Nation of Islam movement, under The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and in 1975, he transitioned to Al-Islam, under the global leadership of Imam W.D. Mohammed. In November of 1976, he was elected Imam (religious leader) of the mosque in Savannah, Masjid Jihad, Inc., where he continued to serve until his passing. In his early years as Imam, Maajid provided exceptional and progressive religious leadership to the local Muslim community and the inmate populations at regional correctional facilities. He was also at the forefront of several Islamic-based, community engagement and awareness initiatives, including C.R.A.I.D. (Committee to Remove All Images of the Divine), and Islamic Neighborhood Watch. For almost 40 years, he gave weekly Jumu’ah khutbahs (lecture and prayer service), led Arabic and Islamic studies classes at the Masjid, officiated countless weddings, and presided the Janaazah (Islamic funeral and burial) services for community members.

In the early 80’s and 90’s Imam ‘Ali continued to increase his Islamic knowledge and develop his Islamic leadership skills through training and travel. In 1978, he was selected as a participant of the Muslim World League’s (Rabitat Al-‘Alam Al-Islami) sponsored Imam’s Training Program. In 1984, he served as the regional leader for the Southern Region’s Council of Imams (Majlis Ash-Shura). In 1992, he was again selected to study Qur’anic recitation, Arabic, Fiqh and Islamic Studies at Sayyid Maududi International Islamic Institute in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1996, Imam ‘Ali hosted Imam W.D. Mohammed, world renowned leader of the then Muslim American Society, for an historic address at Savannah State University. Additionally, he performed the Hajj pilgrimage, a once in a lifetime journey, to Makkah, Saudia Arabia in 2003. He made this pilgrimage for a second time in 2007 with his wife, Sakinah and daughter, Sadaqah, where he delivered the khutbah in ‘Arafah for his delegation.

As the Imam of Savannah’s first and oldest masjid, Maajid was an advocate for religious integrity, ensuring those who he encountered were left with an understanding of true Al-Islam. Over the years he has lectured to thousands of individuals, including congregations at other Masaajid throughout the southeastern United States, as well as school aged students, college students, and the general public. In 2006, he was an invited lecturer at the Coastal Georgia-Caroline Phi Beta Kappa Association, speaking on religious tolerance. Imam ‘Ali was also an invited speaker at the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild, and the Kiwanis Club of Savannah. In 2014, he was a guest lecturer at an Islamic Studies class at The University of South Carolina, Beaufort Campus.

Imam ‘Ali hosted a weekly broadcast “Rebirth of America”, which provided a forum for discussing socio-religious concerns and clarifying misconceptions about the religion of Al-Islam. The broadcast began on the local radio station WSOK in 1982, and later transitioned to cable access television from 1988 to 2001. In 2006, he reprised his role as television host, this time for “Renaissance and Reformation: Issues and Answers” which served as a platform for providing Qur’anic-based information concerning the religion of Al-Islam. He has been interviewed by staff of local newspapers and magazines, including The Savannah Morning News, The Georgia Gazette, The South Magazine, and The Georgia Guardian. Imam ‘Ali published several articles in The Herald, The Savannah Tribune, and the national weekly Muslim newspaper - The Muslim Journal.

Engaging the community as the representative for Muslims in Savannah, Imam ‘Ali was involved in several regional civic events. He gave the Interfaith Benediction for the inauguration of Mayor Floyd Adams (1996 and 2000), Mayor Otis Johnson (2004 and 2008), Mayor Edna Jackson (2012), and current Mayor Eddie DeLoach (2016). Imam ‘Ali also gave the benediction for City Council meetings, and he was the first Imam to deliver the Invocation for the Chatham County Commissioner’s Meeting in 2013. Additionally, Imam Maajid was a 1998 graduate of the Chamber of Commerce sponsored Leadership Savannah program. He was appointed to numerous civic organizations, including the Mayor’s Human Relations Commission in 1996, and the Beaufort County Community Relations Council in 2015.

A firm believer in the common core of the Abrahamic faiths, Imam ‘Ali had prominent roles in spearheading several Interfaith and religious education programs. He participated with Religious Trilogies and Symposia sponsored by Savannah State, Armstrong Atlantic State, and Georgia Southern Universities. He was a friend of several local religious and faith leaders, and an invited speaker at several churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions in Savannah and the Lowcountry, including the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Bluffton Unitarian Church, and the Union for Reform Judaism. Since 2010, Imam ‘Ali has participated in the Interfaith dialogue, the Weekend of Twinning, with Temple Mickve Israel Synagogue. Since 2012, He has also participated in the weekend of Tripletting, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim coordination of the Shabbat Service at temple Mickve Israel Synagogue. With Masjid Jihad, Inc. Imam Maajid participated in Congregations in Service, a weekend of collaboration among interfaith congregations to complete community service projects throughout Savannah. He also gave the Invocation and Benediction for the Commencement Exercises at Savannah State University (2004), and the Martin Luther King Businessman’s Breakfast on several occasions.

A celebrated leader, Imam Maajid ‘Ali received countless awards and honors from various community, service based, civic, and religious organizations. More recently, he was highlighted in The South Magazine “Faces of Faith” feature. In 2007, this same feature was subsequently highlighted as 27 out of 50 of The South Magazine’s fifty greatest moments. In 2013, he was an honored guest at The Atlanta Society of Muslim Men 10th Anniversary Weekend. Since his passing, The City of Savannah, recognized the life and contributions of Imam ‘Ali with a resolution from Mayor Eddie DeLoach.

In addition to his religious duties as Imam, for approximately sixteen years, he was employed as a counselor with Tidelands Community Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Center. His work involved assisting the chronically mentally handicapped clients in a day treatment program. He helped them to acquire basic social and life skills, develop sustainable money management practices, and secure viable work experience at Tidelands’ Thrift Shop. He provided clients with GED preparation in the subjects of reading and math. He assisted with providing individual, group, and family counseling.

Maajid has three sons from two previous relationships. His oldest is Shawn Castle, whose mother is Tina Herb of Savannah, GA. He was married to Jacqueline Burch. Out of their union came two additional sons, Rashid Castle ‘Ali, and Raphael Castle.

Maajid is married to Sakinah Ziyadah ‘Ali, they would celebrate their 38th anniversary on March 3, 2016. Sakinah worked tirelessly alongside her husband in several of his Masjid, leadership, and community activities. Sakinah was the primary educator of their four children, having homeschooled them in their elementary school years. She continued to serve an active role in their education throughout their high school and collegiate years.

The pursuit of higher education was heavily emphasized with Maajid’s children. Furthermore; the significance of a supportive environment and cultural diversity is exhibited through the majority of his children’s attendance and graduation from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Rashid, earned his Bachelor’s of Science in History from Georgia Southwestern University. Zarinah earned her B.S. in Biology from Tuskegee University, and Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from Morehouse School of Medicine. Muslimah earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Talladega College, and a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Anatomy and Neuroscience from Howard University. Ikhlaas studied Business Marketing at Albany State and Savannah State University. Sadaqah also followed in her father’s footsteps and attended Savannah State University, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology.

Maajid passed February 27, 2016 after suffering from a heart attack while walking around Lake Mayer. He is preceded in death by his brother Sam Carl Castle, III (1992); mother, Luellen C. Walker (2004); son, Raphael Castle (2005); and father, Nelson David (2006). He is survived by his dedicated wife, Sakinah Ziyadah ‘Ali; sister Pat Chi (Sungwon); children: Shawn Castle, Rashid Castle ‘Ali (Julia), Zarinah ‘Ali Johnson (Kevin), Muslimah ‘Ali Najee-ullah (Tariq), Ikhlaas ‘Ali (Ebony), and Sadaqah Ihsaan ‘Ali; and four grandchildren: Amirah Aris ‘Ali (9); Tanzeelah Bilqis Najee-ullah (5), Yusriyyah Duhaa Najee-ullah (2); and Quddus Abdullah ‘Ali Johnson (2 months); a host of nieces and nephews and extended family members. He also leaves behind his beloved congregation at Masjid Jihad, members of the broader Muslim community, and the community at large.

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By Lyndon A. Bilal, MAVA National Commander

On Saturday, February 27, 2016, The Muslim American Veterans Association was invited to participate and speak at a national rally organized by Veterans for Peace (VFP). On this sunny, chilly, day over 200 military veterans and supporters gathered together in solidarity outside of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)  to let our voices be heard around the world that we will not be silent and relent to the rhetoric, and actions by others that threaten the life of innocent Muslim’s wherever they may be.

Pat Scanlan of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace, organized this event and sent out communication to his national network stating “We as veterans who have served this country, will gather together to declare that Muslims are not the enemy. Violence directed toward Muslims in this country is unacceptable and un-American. We call for this verbal and physical harassment to end immediately”.

Imam Taalib Mahdee of Boston’s historic Masjid Al Qur’an helped to organize the event and was the first speaker. In his opening comments he remarked that the type of support being demonstrated at this event gives hope not only for the United States, but for all humanity, and that scripture reminds us “O’ believers, stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to G-d, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives, and whether rich or poor: for G-d can protect both”.  Imam Mahdee’s opening comments were followed by Methodist Minister James Todd who spoke of the overwhelming message in his faith was that all people are created equal, and ought to be received with love, care, and support, every day of our lives.

Other speakers on this awesome program included:  Hoda El-Tomi – Mercy to All Mankind, Eric Wasileski – Midnight Voices, Bob Funke- VFP, Yusufi Vali – ISBCC, Nicole Waybright – VFP, Alfred Davis – Roxbury Veterans Group, Kourtney Mitchell – VFP,  Dr John Robbins – Council on American Islamic Relations, Calib Nelson – Warrior Writers, Erin Leach-Ogden – William Joiner Institute, Barry Ladendorf – VFP National President, Lyndon Bilal – MAVA National Commander, Joy Cumming – Adjutant Department of Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Bill Evans – Commissioner Boston Police Department.

Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans stated “We are all Muslims deep down, we all stand for peace, and peace is our main goal, and we will not stand for bigotry. The Boston police and the city of Boston love Muslims”.  In his closing remarks Pat Scanlon reiterated the theme that was echoed throughout the morning, and admonished the attendees to take the messages they heard home with them and live by them, and don’t allow prejudice, bigotry, and Islamophobia to fester. If you see someone talking or acting in this manner, take a stand, because we are Veterans that must stand for what is right and American. It’s up to all of us to stand up and bring this un-American behavior to an end.

After the rally concluded all attendees were invited inside the Masjid to observe the congregational Noon Prayer being performed by the Muslims. Additionally, refreshments were served by the host Masjid, and a question / answer session was conducted for the guests, as well.

Please respect, support, and assist, your military service members, and consider joining a MAVA Post near you. To find out more about MAVA, and to start a post where you live visit: http://mavanational.com/ and on Facebook.   

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By Ayesha K. Mustafaa
Watching CNN’s coverage of President Barack Obama’s speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, what stood out was Chris Cuomo’s and his co-anchor’s presentation of two Muslim responses to the president’s visit – both of them negative tweets. And they as journalists only questioned “why now?” We of the Muslim American community in association with Imam W. Deen Mohammed and with many other Muslim community broadly commended the President. We listened to his words and were moved in the spirit that he used to address all issues; no white elephants in the room were left unnoticed. “Why now?” Why not now? When would have been a good time. Muslims say, “We plan and God plans, and God is the Best of Planners.” The timely was planned well; it would have been unfortunate if the president had left office without making such a visit. Those who have found a loud voice to support their disdain for Al Islam would like to deny its recognition among the faiths protected in our U.S. Constitution.

Those against Islam having its “rightful place” in American society and history were ready to pounce on the least hit of “cajoling with the enemy” they may find in the president’s speech. President Obama acknowledge the Muslim architect who designed the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the U.S. and to some degree still holds the distinction of the tallest building of “useable floors” – not simply tall towers. Some have even forgotten that they “count” with ARABIC numbers! We take this opportunity to preserve President Obama’s talk in full in the archives of the Muslim Journal. They are enjoyable words, insightful words, marching orders per say to owning up to our responsibility to our country and to the world. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, Feb. 3, 2016, Islamic Society of Baltimore: Sabah, thank you for the wonderful introduction and for your example - your devotion to your faith and your education, and your service to others. You’re an inspiration. You’re going to be a fantastic doctor. And I suspect, Sabah, your parents are here because they wanted to see you so - where are Sabah’s parents? There you go. Good job, Mom. She did great, didn’t she? She was terrific. To everyone here at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, thank you for welcoming me here today. I want to thank Muslim American leaders from across this city and this state, and some who traveled even from out of state to be here. I want to recognize Congressman John Sarbanes, who is here. As well as two other great leaders in Congress - and proud Muslim Americans - Congressman Keith Ellison from the great state of Minnesota and Congressman Andre Carson from the great state of Indiana.

This mosque, like so many in our country, is an all American story. You’ve been part of this city for nearly half a century. You serve thousands of families - some who’ve lived here for decades as well as immigrants from many countries; who’ve worked to become proud American citizens. Now, a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque. To the folks watching this today who haven’t - think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other. There’s a school where teachers open young minds. Kids play baseball and football and basketball - boys and girls - I hear they’re pretty good. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance here. With interfaith dialogue, you build bridges of understanding with other faith communities - Christians and Jews. There’s a health clinic that serves the needy, regardless of their faith. And members of this community are out in the broader community, working for social justice and urban development. As voters, you come here to meet candidates. As one of your members said, “Just look at the way we live...; we are true Americans.” So the first thing I want to say is two words that Muslim Americans don’t hear often enough - and that is thank you. Thank you for serving your community. Thank you for lifting up the lives of your neighbors, and for helping keep us strong and united as one American family. We are grateful for that. Now, this brings me to the other reason I wanted to come here today.

I know that in Muslim communities across our country, this is a time of concern and, frankly, a time of some fear. Like all Americans, you’re worried about the threat of terrorism. But on top of that, as Muslim Americans, you also have another concern - and that is your entire community so often is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few. The Muslim American community remains relatively small - several million people in this country. And as a result, most Americans don’t necessarily know - or at least don't know that they know - a Muslim personally. And as a result, many only hear about Muslims and Islam from the news after an act of terrorism, or in distorted media portrayals in TV or film, all of which gives this hugely distorted impression. And since 9/11, but more recently, since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, you’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith. And of course, recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country. No surprise, then, that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged. Here at this mosque, twice last year, threats were made against your children. Around the country, women wearing the hijab - just like Sabah - have been targeted. We’ve seen children bullied. We’ve seen mosques vandalized. Sikh Americans and others who are perceived to be Muslims have been targeted, as well. I just had a chance to meet with some extraordinary Muslim Americans from across the country who are doing all sorts of work. Some of them are doctors; some of them are community leaders; religious leaders. All of them were doing extraordinary work not just in the Muslim community but in the American community. And they’re proud of their work in business and education, and on behalf of social justice and the environment and education.

I should point out they were all much younger than me - which is happening more frequently these days. And you couldn’t help but be inspired, hearing about the extraordinary work that they’re doing. But you also could not help but be heartbroken to hear their worries and their anxieties. Some of them are parents, and they talked about how their children were asking, “are we going to be forced out of the country,” or “are we “going to be rounded up?”; “Why do people treat us like that?” Conversations that you shouldn’t have to have with children - not in this country. Not at this moment. And that’s an anxiety echoed in letters I get from Muslim Americans around the country. I’ve had people write to me and say, “I feel like I’m a second-class citizen.” I’ve had mothers write and say, “my heart cries every night,” thinking about how her daughter might be treated at school. A girl from Ohio, 13 years old, told me, “I’m scared.” A girl from Texas signed her letter “a confused 14-year-old trying to find her place in the world.” These are children just like mine. And the notion that they would be filled with doubt and questioning their places in this great country of ours at a time when they’ve got enough to worry about - it’s hard being a teenager already - that’s not who we are. We’re one American family.

And when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation. It’s a challenge to our values - and that means we have much work to do. We’ve got to tackle this head on. We have to be honest and clear about it. And we have to speak out. This is a moment when, as Americans, we have to truly listen to each other and learn from each other. And I believe it has to begin with a common understanding of some basic facts. And I express these facts, although they’d be obvious to many of the people in this place, because, unfortunately, it’s not facts that are communicated on a regular basis through our media. So let’s start with this fact: For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace. And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam - peace. The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum - peace be upon you. And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity. Whoever wants to enter p a r a d i s e , t h e P r o p h e t Muhammad taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.” For Christians, like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are as diverse as humanity itself. They are Arabs and Africans. They're from Latin America to Southeast Asia; Brazilians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians. They are white and brown and black. There’s a large African American Muslim community. That diversity is represented here today. A 14-year-old boy in Texas who’s Muslim spoke for many when he wrote to me and said, “We just want to live in peace.” Here’s another fact: Islam has always been part of America. Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim. And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive. A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans. And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions. Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans. And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths. And I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now: “The Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan” (as Muslims were once called. Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Qur’an. Benjamin Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” So this is not a new thing. Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation. They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.

They built America’s first mosque, surprisingly enough, in North Dakota. America’s oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa. The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s. Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars. A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago. In 1957, when dedicating the Islamic center in Washington, D.C., President Eisenhower said, “I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends, that under the American Constitution … and in American hearts … this place of worship is just as welcome … as any other religion.” And perhaps the most pertinent fact, Muslim Americans enrich our lives today in every way. They’re our neighbors, the teachers who inspire our children, the doctors who trust us with our health - future doctors like Sabah. They’re scientists who win Nobel Prizes, young entrepreneurs who are creating new technologies that we use all the time. They’re the sports heroes we cheer for — like Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon. And by the way, when Team USA marches into the next Olympics, one of the Americans waving the red, white and blue - will be a fencing champion, wearing her hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is here today. Stand up. I told her to bring home the gold. Not to put any pressure on you.

Muslim Americans keep us safe. They’re our police and our firefighters. They're in homeland security, in our intelligence community. They serve honorably in our armed forces - meaning they fight and bleed and die for our freedom. Some rest in Arlington National Cemetery. So Muslim Americans are some of the most resilient and patriotic Americans you’ll ever meet. We’re honored to have some of our proud Muslim American service members here today. Please stand if you're here, so we can thank you for your service. So part of the reason I want to lay out these facts is because, in the discussions that I was having with these incredibly accomplished young people, they were pointing that so often they felt invisible. And part of what we have to do is to lift up the contributions of the Muslim American community not when there’s a problem, but all the time. Our television shows should have some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security - because it’s not that hard to do. There was a time when there were no black people on television. And you can tell good stories while still representing the reality of our communities. Now, we do have another fact that we have to acknowledge. Even as the overwhelming majority - and I repeat, the overwhelming majority - of the world’s Muslims embrace Islam as a source of peace, it is undeniable that a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted interpretation of Islam.

This is the truth. Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL, they’re not the first extremists in history to misuse God’s name. We’ve seen it before, across faiths. But right now, there is an organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts, twists them in an attempt to justify their killing and their terror. They combine it with false claims that America and the West are at war with Islam. And this warped thinking that has found adherents around the world - including, as we saw, tragically, in Boston and Chattanooga and San Bernardino - is real.

It’s there. And it creates tensions and pressure that disproportionately burden the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Muslim citizens. And the question then is, how do we move forward together? How do we keep our country strong and united? How do we defend ourselves against organizations that are bent on killing innocents? And it can’t be the work of any one faith alone. It can’t be just a burden on the Muslim community - although the Muslim community has to play a role. We all have responsibilities. So with the time I have left, I just want to suggest a few principles that I believe can guide us. First, at a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect, we have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths: We are all God’s children. We’re all born equal, with inherent dignity. And so often, we focus on our outward differences and we forget how much we share. Christians, Jews, Muslims - we’re all, under our faiths, descendants of Abraham. So mere tolerance of different religions is not enough. Our faiths summon us to embrace our common humanity. “O mankind,” the Koran teaches, we have “made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” So all of us have the task of expressing our religious faith in a way that seeks to build bridges rather than to divide. Second, as Americans, we have to stay true to our core values, and that includes freedom of religion for all faiths. I already mentioned our Founders, like Jefferson, knew that religious liberty is essential not only to protect religion but because religion helps strengthen our nation - if it is free, if it is not an extension of the state.

Continue Reading in the next issue of Muslim Journal.

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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