Authors Posts by hsaahir



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Mia Carey sinks a shovel deep into the heavy reddish soil of a bleak, empty lot in upper Georgetown.

She stands up holding a bone. “It’s a pelvis,” she announces with a smile, holding it next to another bone to show how they fit together. This discovery is probably from a small mammal, maybe a goat or a sheep. It’s not the thing she’s looking for in her summer-long quest.

She’s looking for the bones of Yarrow Mamout.

Yarrow Mamout was something of a local celebrity in early 19th-century Georgetown. Taken from Africa in 1752 and sold into slavery, he eventually gained his freedom and made himself into a comfortable homeowner and something of a local financier. A Muslim, he prayed toward Mecca in the southeast corner of his snug plot of land and walked the streets of the village, singing chants that were probably from the Koran. He could read and write in Arabic.

And in his later years, he sat for two formal portraits, including one by Charles Willson Peale, one of the most celebrated portrait painters of the 18th and 19th centuries. But after his death in 1823, Yarrow virtually disappeared into a sleepy corner of history.

Now he may literally rise again. Archaeologists are hoping to find traces of the man — bones, a coffin or even just evidence of the home he built — on his Dent Place NW property. There’s about a 50-50 chance that he’s buried there, says assistant city archaeologist Chardé Reid, one of a handful of archaeologists and volunteers who have been working on the dig this summer. It was not uncommon for people to be buried on their property in the 19th century.

Yarrow may have stayed quietly unknown and nearly lost to history if not for the curiosity of local historian and lawyer James Johnston. In 2003, Johnston came upon a portrait of Yarrow in the Peabody Room of the Georgetown Public Library.

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Atlanta’s Muslim community lost one of its leaders when hunger relief activist Abdul-Jami Allen passed away on Aug. 1 after battling cancer. Abdul-Jami, founder of the non-profit Giving Back to Humanity, was a source of guidance, inspiration and relief for both the Muslim and broader Atlanta community over the past 30 years, family and friends say.

“Brother Abdul-Jami was a jewel in our community,” said local activist Atiba Saleem Jones. “He lived a life of selfless service. Abdul-Jami literally served thousands upon thousands of people over the past several years....”

As the leader of Giving Back to Humanity, perhaps the most successful food service program organized by Muslims in Atlanta, Abdul-Jami could be found on Broad Street every Sunday morning. There, he organized, fed and connected with Atlanta’s underserved population.

Established in 2005, Giving Back to Humanity now feeds anywhere from 300 to 350 people every Sunday. That number only drops to about 275 on days of extreme rain or cold, according to organizers.

But hunger relief was not a recent interest for Abdul-Jami. The Atlanta Muslim had been organizing and serving the needy in Atlanta since 1984. Continue Reading

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On July 2nd, the America’s Islamic Heritage Museum (AIHM) and Cultural Center of Washington, DC hosted an iftar fundraiser dinner sponsored by the Embassy of Qatar. The event highlighted the unique role in which the museum serves as is the only institution in Washington DC specializing in and preserving the history of Muslim Americans and their multicultural communities. The collections and museum is a unique historical and artistic collaboration of exhibits and programs (short plays, readings, oral history programs, discussions, and films) that provide a platform for unheard American voices that clarifies the historical and cultural impact Muslims and Islam has played in the United States.

Imam Siraj Wahaj of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Brooklyn, New York provided remarks of encouragement to those in attendance and encouraged individuals to make the necessary investment in preserving our collective Muslim past and present history. In addition, Ali Saad Al-Hajiri, Political and Economic Counselor for the Embassy of Qatar extended remarks on behalf of the Ambassador and encouraged the transatlantic connections between the United States and the people of Qatar. A diverse groups of Muslims and non-Muslims were in attendance, including The Nation’s Mosque, under the leadership of Imam Talib Shareef brought a large contingency of believers to the event. Also, local and national representatives from various Masajid’s in the Washington, DC metropolitan area were represented including: the Council of American Islamic Relations, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Muslim Community Center, Islamic Society of the Washington Area, International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Islamic Society of North America to name a few.

AIHM under the leadership of the founder and curator Amir Muhammad and his wife Habeebah remains a vital lifeline to the social and historical fabric of Washington, DC and the American society at-large. The continued financial and social support by the community to this institution will ensure a future of preserving the unique experience of American Muslims since the founding as a republic.


By Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Ph.D candidate in African and Islamic thought, Howard University


Muslim representatives from Masjid Freehaven Masjidullah and the Feed Philly organization, are pictured with Mr. Will O'Brien. Mr. O'Brien is the Special Projects Coordinator of Project Home, and the World Meetings of Families Hunger and Homelessness Committee. Mr. O'Brien invited faith communities from the Delaware Valley area together, to discuss and strategize how we can best leverage Pope Francis' visit and vision, "to energize the Philadelphia-area community of faith and conscience on issues of justice and compassion for our sisters and brothers struggling with poverty, hunger, and homelessness."

Stay up to date with their efforts at!

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Imam Talib Shareef, leader of The Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, the oldest Muslim community located in the capital of America dating back to the mid 1930s, responds to the Charleston massacre.

We join the President and all right-minded people across the nation who are offering condolences and prayers from the deepest place in their hearts and souls for the immediate and extended families of the nine innocent lives taken.  And, as well those lives shaken, shattered and left void, by yet another senseless act of violence, the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.

We continue to be outraged and troubled by acts of hate, terror, or extremism that gravely disturbs our souls.  Nevertheless, it is tragedies like these that cause our collective souls to hurt and care for those affected as one human family.  It is these experiences that usher forth the needs of our common life and shine a bright light on our unity and strength as a nation as we respond with a helping and embracive hand.  These senseless acts of savage killings are drawing like-minded people together who are collectively using power to comfort, provide hope and secure peace here and abroad.

As some of the headlines read, “A young white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church…,” the immediate conclusion registers a racist act of hate which was met with the department of justice initiating a welcomed and appropriate hate crimes investigation.  While “race” was the description used for the gunman, it could have been a “religious” or “ethnic” description.  And while this is initially being labeled a hate crime, with a different description used it may have been labeled a terrorist act.  Same act against civilians but classified differently, yet the behavior meets that of terrorism.  It appears we are creating an environment that doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of the threats due to the seemingly major terrorist problem being those with religious labels, particularly Muslim.  While in fact the majority of deadly acts of terrorism committed in the United States are by dangerous, bitter racists and anti-government extremists.  In the interest of heightening awareness and protecting human life, consistent references should be used; it’s a matter of our safety.

This was a young man, 21 years of age, the likes of those ill-inspired by groups like ISIL.  What group or what misguided sentiment in the society ill-inspired this young man?  It is certainly apparent that a racially charged atmosphere has been prevalent in our society.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter who attackers are or what they claim, all acts of violence, whether committed by people claiming a race or faith, or committed against people of different race or faiths, are criminal, inhumane, desperate attempts for legitimacy and recruitment to their causes and are not condoned by civil societies, or by the religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any of the other beautiful faiths.  Any person, no matter how desperate their situation, whether real or perceived, there is no justification for them to murder and make helpless, vulnerable innocent humans the target of their terror, their hate or their violence.

There is no excuse and no time, in which such senseless and inhumane acts should be carried out. There is a great deal of pain, frustration, and unanswered questions.  As a human and a member of this great nation, I feel it is part of my duties and obligations to assist in any efforts to create an environment that encompasses our shared freedom space, in which such a climate of violence, whatever the motive, does not exist. We will continue to work with our partners in local and federal law enforcement, as well as our interfaith community.  Our Acting United States Attorney for the District stated that this horrific attack reminds us of the importance of discussing ways to improve safety, even within the most sacred of places and assemblies.

We must look at these mass killings and learn from them, so they do not continue to occur. Whether it is gun laws, violence in video games, media, magazines, or concerns in areas of mental health; we cannot close our eyes to the signs we are given. Nor can we close our eyes to the roles that our actions, thoughts, words, products, and services play in nurturing the minds of our fellow citizens.

We must continuously ask ourselves what we can do to better ourselves, our communities, and promote change and excellence. All of us should strive for and be motivated by our best human motivations and the best excellence that G-d has created and caused us to inherit from the best of human beings; those who went before us and passed away.  If we do that, we will have a better, beautiful and wonderful world.

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amcrombieThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who sued for discrimination after being denied a sales job at age 17 at an Abercrombie & Fitch Co(ANF.N) clothing store in Oklahoma because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons.

In an 8-1 decision in the important religious rights case, the court backed Samantha Elauf, who had been rejected under Abercrombie's sales staff "look policy" after coming to her job interview wearing the head scarf, or hijab, used by many Muslim women.

The decision marked a victory for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that sued the company on Elauf's behalf after she was turned down in 2008 at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa.

"Observance of my faith should not have prevented me from getting a job. I am glad that I stood up for my rights, and happy that the EEOC was there for me and took my complaint to the courts," Elauf said in a statement issued by the EEOC.

Elauf, now 24, initially won a $20,000 judgment against Abercrombie before a federal district court. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver then threw that out, ruling in favor of Abercrombie, before the high court backed Elauf. Continue Reading

It's easy to be anxious about the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. After all, this is a brutal organization that not only kills but seems to revel in doing so in ways designed to shock the world -- from the beheadings of journalists to burning a Jordanian pilot alive. Such moves are part of this murky group's propaganda and its deliberate efforts to manipulate information.

So what can and should we make of the organization?

I explore the issue in depth in a special airing Sunday night. And although it's important to start with the caveat that ISIS is indeed trying to scare and confuse us, I took away some tentative lessons from speaking with the people who have traveled inside the minds of ISIS.

There is increasing evidence that the military backbone of ISIS is made up not by a group of Islamic zealots, but rather high-ranking officers from Saddam Hussein's army -- Baathists who were at least ostensibly secular. An internal ISIS report detailing its organizational structure was reported on last week in the German weekly Der Spiegel.

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bbilalTRENTON, N.J. – A prolonged search for a new Imam to lead the congregation of Masjidut- Taqwa, located at 1001 E. State St., in Trenton, was rewarded in a big way after Instructor Benjamin Bilal accepted the offer to become their new religious representative.The formal installation was conducted after Jumu'ah Prayer on May 1 of this year, in front of a large and international group of Believers, with his wife, Kareema Medina Bilal, at his side. Instructor Bilal, a longtime resident of New York City, is no stranger to Trenton, having previously delivered the Jumu'ah khutbah there on numerous occasions.He is widely known for his Sunday evening radio broadcast, True Human Radio! on where he expounds on "The Sacred & Secret Language of Religion and Culture," a subject which has become his signature in lectures around the country. Perhaps equally wellknown is his Qur'an Linguistic Study Course, which meets weekly by conference call, with students numbering almost a hundred.Long-time followers of Imam W.D. Mohammed will recognize Bilal's name and face from his three plays: "Remake The World," a play about the reconstruction of family life; "The Evolution Of A Community"; and "It's Wake Up Time!" The two latter plays were development of the journey from the Nation of Islam to al-Islam proper. Bilal wrote, produced and performed all three to glowing accolades in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Instructor Bilal is very grateful for and feels blessed by the fact that Imam W. Deen Mohammed himself actually attended the performances and approved of Bilal's portrayal of him in the latter two plays. However, it was the enthusiasm to revitalize the Trenton Masjid that ultimately swayed him in favor of taking his new position. A community activist at heart, Instructor Bilal has long noted the “moribund state” of many African American communities around the country and has spoken at great length on the need to shift paradigms towards addressing the needs and concerns of the youth. This problem, he notes, is one which plagues all faith communities and which demands an interfaith approach. He intends to make this issue a focus of his tenure. That very afternoon, Imam Bilal’s intention was promptly put to the test. A meeting was arranged with a few notable members of the Trenton clergy by the president of the Trenton branch of the NAACP, Ms. Jonette Smart, who is also a proactive member of Masjidut-Taqwa. Within hours of his installation, Imam Bilal was already exchanging greet discussing common concerns with Obama Administration appointee Jannah Scott, who is the Deputy Director of the DHS Center for Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. Then he spent more than a few minutes in deep conversation with Pastor John Taylor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton, getting a short but intense overview of his observations on the youth landscape and the outreach efforts by the Christian community in the city. Next up on the agenda for the presiding Imam is his appearance as the keynote speaker at a Pre-Ramadan Interfaith Dinner on Sat.,June 13, 2015, in Trenton. He will be part of a panel that includes Pastor John T. Taylor; Rev. Lukata Mjumbe, Executive Director, Urban Mission Cabinet, of Lawrenceville, N.J.; and Pastor Karen Hernandez-Grazen of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Trenton. This event will be held at The Big Easy Restaurant,120 S. Warren St., in Trenton. Imam Bilal states that his philosophy embraces the guidance in al-Qur’an which instructs the Believers "to strive as if in a race towards all that is good " and believes that al-Islam is a religion of inclusion, not coercion, and of beautiful teachings by invitation, not by the bomb or the sword. His wife, Kareema Medina Bilal, says he goes to sleep and wakes up thinking about ways to expose and invite people to the beauty of al-Qur’an, the excellent character of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and the wisdom in the teachings of Imam W.D. Mohammed.She says he is very, very enthusiastic about the potential for human growth and development that he sees in the Trenton community. Trenton's position as a leader in the Muslim community should be changing with Imam Benjamin Bilal at the helm, if his initial activities are any indication of his future performance. So at least for the present, keep an eye on Masjidut-Taqwa. It will be interesting and refreshing to watch this enthusiastic band of Believers, as they join hands with the larger Trenton community and invite them to establish a new model of excellence that will prayerfully improve conditions for all parties concerned.

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ATLANTA – Mercer University, in partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia (CBF/GA), dedicated its new interfaith prayer garden today on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta.

The site, which is located on an island in the West Parking Lot on campus, also includes a labyrinth and outdoor classroom and is intended to be "a garden, a spiritual oasis, a place where friendship that crosses every ethnicity, culture and faith tradition can grow," said Charlotte Connah, co-chair of the Baptist-Muslim Committee of the CBF/GA Interfaith Task Force. The task force is a partner organization of the University's McAfee School of Theology.

"This campus is wondrously rich in diversity, and this committee fully believes that our young people are our future's best shot at building a better world, one of bridges rather than walls, one of dialogue rather than reaction, one of friendship and not division," Connah said during Thursday's ceremony.

Connah had the vision for an interfaith prayer garden on Mercer's campus three years ago and shared her idea with Mercer President William D. Underwood, Senior Vice President for the Atlanta Campus Richard V. Swindle and McAfee Dean R. Alan Culpepper. A fundraising campaign was initiated through CBF/GA and received contributions from approximately 40 donors representing multiple religious faiths and walks of life.

The lead gift was made by Aziz Dhanani, CEO of Premier Petroleum Inc., who has significantly contributed to the Atlanta area through his involvement with the local Muslim community and his philanthropic endeavors. The garden was dedicated in memory of his parents, Zehrakhanu and Allauddin Dhanani. Continue Reading


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