Education

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By Nayawiyyah Muhammad

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Two years is a relatively short period of time, but as Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an, Surah Al-Asr (Time Through the Ages): “By the token of time through the ages, surely man is in loss, except such as have Faith and do righteous deeds and join together in the mutual enjoining of Truth and of Patience and Constancy.”
Masjid Al-Shareef continues to exemplify Muslim community life and to be a beacon of light in the Long Beach area, by using time wisely. This year, Masjid Al-Shareef marked the two-year anniversary of its Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School (MASS) program at their Pre-Ramadan Dinner.
After opening with a dua by Bro. Ashraf Bhuiyan, a parent of MASS, student Tasneem Khatib welcomed everyone and recited a Ramadan poem. The students then led the way with the Sunday School’s Ramadan Blessings and Du’a Tree.
The Ramadan Blessings and Du’as Tree came about as a way for the students and families of MASS to stay mindful of the Mercy and Blessings of Allah (SWT), especially during the month of Ramadan.
Each student was asked to list something which they are thankful to Allah for and to write a du’a of what they would want to ask for this Ramadan. Some of the students came and presented their blessings and du’as written on leaves.
Each student then placed the leaves on the bare tree. All of the audience was invited to do the same. There were leaves at everyone’s seat to write down their own blessings and du’a, sign their names and add them to the Blessings and Du’as Tree at the end of the program.
What a beautiful sight as the tree slowly became heavy with the leaves of thankfulness and du’a against the backdrop of the room decorated with traditional Ramadan fanoos (laterns).
The program also was filled with Qur’an recitations by the some of the School’s top reciters: Muhamad Putra, Chelsea Rahman, Shahrir Bhuiya, Fayza Elshafie and Fathalla Elshafie.
Everyone appeared jubilant and enjoyed the dinner prepared by the parents, as they looked on at a slide show presentation of the many accomplishments and events of MASS over the past year.
After dinner, Bro. Kazem Elshafie, the Arabic Teacher presented the students with certificates for Good Attendance, Distinctive Progress, and Excellence in Effort.
As principal of MASS, I had the honor of presenting Certificates of Appreciation to some very surprised and deserving parents and supporters of MASS and announced the results of the Islamic Studies Fair.
The announcement of the results Second Annual Islamic Studies Fair was met with great anticipation. Students, ages 6-18, of MASS were asked to research and do some critical thinking on an Islamic topic of their choice, following specific guidelines and present their conclusions before a panel of judges.
This year, the range of topics were quite extensive and showed a great deal of progress in the reasoning skills of the students. The judges grouped the students into two age categories, 6 to 11 and 12-18, and questioned them on their findings, research and conclusions.
In the end, six students worked their way toward either first, second or third place trophies.
From the 6-11 age group, Tasneem Khatib won First Place with her project, The Future of Islam in America: How Muslim Americans Can Impact Islam in the World. Fayza Elsahfie won Second Place with her project on Ramadan. Nawaf Ahmed won Third Place with his project on Eid.
From the 12-18 age group, Shahrir Bhuiya won First Place for his project, Performing Salat. Chelsea Rahman won Second Place for her project, What are the Five Pillars of Islam? Muhamad Putra was the Third Place winner with his project called Islam in the Orient.
All of the winners received trophies and each participant received a certificate.
Another of the highlights of the dinner came as Bro. Ahmed Saafir gave an impressive introduction to Imam Haroon Abdullah, the founder of Masjid Al-Shareef. Bro Ahmed recounted meeting the Imam in his youth and how he witnessed Imam Abdullah’s establishment and formation of the Masjid from the early 1970s until the present.
Imam Abdullah received a standing ovation from the crowd. The entire room fell completely silent with complete attention and respect being paid to Imam Abdullah as he told the history of the Masjid.
It was the first time for many of the believers to hear of how the early members of Masjid Al-Shareef, before it was even called a masjid resigned themselves with the Help of Allah (SWT) to move from a storefront, find a building being used as a heavy duty machine shop, completely pay off the property, and reconstruct out of all that the beautiful Masjid which stands now in Long Beach.
Alhamdullilah! What an excellent example of the good use of time with patience and constancy.
Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Shareef and the director of MASS, Imam Ameen A. Omar closed the evening with remarks about the goals of Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School, which include teaching the Qur’an, Arabic reading and writing, Islamic Studies, Seerah, and life skills for being Muslim in America.
Imam Omar noted that it is the responsibility of Muslim parents to make sure that their children have an Islamic education. Imam Omar also announced that Masjid Al-Shareef is in the process of establishing Al-Shareef Learning Center, a full-time Muslim school to be opened in the very near future, insha Allah.
As the community continues to grow and develop, we can only give all praises to Allah, much can be accomplished in whatever time given, whether it is a year or two or 40 or more.
The mutual teachings of truth, faith, good deeds, patience and constancy has been a mainstay at Masjid Al-Shareef. The results has been a fruition of blessings from Allah (SWT).
(More pictures of our events and information can be accessed on Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School and Al-Shareef Learning Center’s Facebook page.)
Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School on Facebook
for more information or to leave a message.

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Education

By Charmaine Holland
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Masjid Al-Shareef of Long Beach tossed the disposables during the recent Ramadan in a step toward environmental stewardship, which is an essential part of the Islamic way of life.
Some may have noticed that this Ramadan, Masjid Al-Shareef introduced some new plates and cups with which to enjoy the blessing of a meal. Besides making iftar time a little more colorful, these reusable dishes served a worthy purpose: Cutting down on waste and making the Masjid more eco-friendly, while earning some more “hasanat” during this special month.
The serving-ware was donated by a community member, and several other Masjid attendees volunteered their time daily after iftar to wash the dishes and maintain the kitchen area.
By replacing disposable plates and cups with reusable ones, Masjid Al-Shareef, by itself, can have a huge positive impact on the environment. Do the math:
At least 60 people enjoyed iftar here every day; that means 60 plates and 60 cups used daily.
For 30 days of Ramadan, that adds up to 3,600 pieces of styrofoam and plastic being tossed in the trash.
This waste clogs up trash dumps, litters the land, pollutes the ocean, and poisons water, soil, animals and crops. By making the commitment to employ reusable dishes instead, this community can make an important contribution to the health of the earth.
“Going Green” is all the rage these days, but Muslims are no strangers to the idea of living conscientiously and conservatively. Allah (SWT) constantly reminds in the Qur’an of the Bountiful Resources He has granted and makes humans the stewards of the earth.
Verses extolling the grandeur and value of His creation abound in the Qur’an: “It is He Who has brought into being gardens, the cultivated ones and those growing wild, and the date-palm, and fields bearing multiform produce, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: [all] resembling one another and yet so different!
“Eat of their fruit when it comes to fruition, and give [unto the poor] their due on harvest day. And do not waste [G-d’s Bounties]; verily, He does not love the wasteful!” (Qur’an 6:141)
The Prophet (SAW) directed Muslims to protect the amenities which Allah has provided so abundantly, saying, “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily Allah, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it. And He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Muslim)
In the deen (way of life) of Al-Islam, which teaches that we are held accountable for the tiniest of actions, we have an inherent motivation to refrain from wasting resources and bringing harm to nature.
Our consciousness about the environment should stem not just from being fashionably “green” like everyone else, but from our love and fear of Allah (SWT) and respect for His magnificent creation.
Giving up disposable goods during Ramadan may seem like an inconsequential step, but there can be no doubt that the greatest reward from such an action is from Allah SWT. The promise of our Lord is true for every single deed, and we are behooved to send forth as much good from our hands as possible, no matter how small or large the action.
The Prophet (SAW) advised: “Even if the day of resurrection comes upon any one of you while he has a seedling in hand, let him plant it.” (Muslim) Thus, we should not hesitate to do what we can to be excellent caretakers of this earth.
What better time to undertake this effort than during the blessed month of Ramadan, when the reward for a good deed is multiplied many times over. Insha’allah, this first step will be an encouragement to increase our environmental consciousness in our own daily lives, as well as an example for our fellow Muslims in other masajid and communities for all of the rest of the year.

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Two years is a relatively short period of time, but as Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an, Surah Al-Asr (Time Through the Ages): “By the token of time through the ages, surely man is in loss, except such as have Faith and do righteous deeds and join together in the mutual enjoining of Truth and of Patience and Constancy.”
Masjid Al-Shareef continues to exemplify Muslim community life and to be a beacon of light in the Long Beach area, by using time wisely. This year, Masjid Al-Shareef marked the two-year anniversary of its Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School (MASS) program at their Pre-Ramadan Dinner.
After opening with a dua by Bro. Ashraf Bhuiyan, a parent of MASS, student Tasneem Khatib welcomed everyone and recited a Ramadan poem. The students then led the way with the Sunday School’s Ramadan Blessings and Du’a Tree.
The Ramadan Blessings and Du’as Tree came about as a way for the students and families of MASS to stay mindful of the Mercy and Blessings of Allah (SWT), especially during the month of Ramadan.
Each student was asked to list something which they are thankful to Allah for and to write a du’a of what they would want to ask for this Ramadan. Some of the students came and presented their blessings and du’as written on leaves.
Each student then placed the leaves on the bare tree. All of the audience was invited to do the same. There were leaves at everyone’s seat to write down their own blessings and du’a, sign their names and add them to the Blessings and Du’as Tree at the end of the program.
What a beautiful sight as the tree slowly became heavy with the leaves of thankfulness and du’a against the backdrop of the room decorated with traditional Ramadan fanoos (laterns).
The program also was filled with Qur’an recitations by the some of the School’s top reciters: Muhamad Putra, Chelsea Rahman, Shahrir Bhuiya, Fayza Elshafie and Fathalla Elshafie.
Everyone appeared jubilant and enjoyed the dinner prepared by the parents, as they looked on at a slide show presentation of the many accomplishments and events of MASS over the past year.
After dinner, Bro. Kazem Elshafie, the Arabic Teacher presented the students with certificates for Good Attendance, Distinctive Progress, and Excellence in Effort.
As principal of MASS, I had the honor of presenting Certificates of Appreciation to some very surprised and deserving parents and supporters of MASS and announced the results of the Islamic Studies Fair.
The announcement of the results Second Annual Islamic Studies Fair was met with great anticipation. Students, ages 6-18, of MASS were asked to research and do some critical thinking on an Islamic topic of their choice, following specific guidelines and present their conclusions before a panel of judges.
This year, the range of topics were quite extensive and showed a great deal of progress in the reasoning skills of the students. The judges grouped the students into two age categories, 6 to 11 and 12-18, and questioned them on their findings, research and conclusions.
In the end, six students worked their way toward either first, second or third place trophies.
From the 6-11 age group, Tasneem Khatib won First Place with her project, The Future of Islam in America: How Muslim Americans Can Impact Islam in the World. Fayza Elsahfie won Second Place with her project on Ramadan. Nawaf Ahmed won Third Place with his project on Eid.
From the 12-18 age group, Shahrir Bhuiya won First Place for his project, Performing Salat. Chelsea Rahman won Second Place for her project, What are the Five Pillars of Islam? Muhamad Putra was the Third Place winner with his project called Islam in the Orient.
All of the winners received trophies and each participant received a certificate.
Another of the highlights of the dinner came as Bro. Ahmed Saafir gave an impressive introduction to Imam Haroon Abdullah, the founder of Masjid Al-Shareef. Bro Ahmed recounted meeting the Imam in his youth and how he witnessed Imam Abdullah’s establishment and formation of the Masjid from the early 1970s until the present.
Imam Abdullah received a standing ovation from the crowd. The entire room fell completely silent with complete attention and respect being paid to Imam Abdullah as he told the history of the Masjid.
It was the first time for many of the believers to hear of how the early members of Masjid Al-Shareef, before it was even called a masjid resigned themselves with the Help of Allah (SWT) to move from a storefront, find a building being used as a heavy duty machine shop, completely pay off the property, and reconstruct out of all that the beautiful Masjid which stands now in Long Beach.
Alhamdullilah! What an excellent example of the good use of time with patience and constancy.
Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Shareef and the director of MASS, Imam Ameen A. Omar closed the evening with remarks about the goals of Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School, which include teaching the Qur’an, Arabic reading and writing, Islamic Studies, Seerah, and life skills for being Muslim in America.
Imam Omar noted that it is the responsibility of Muslim parents to make sure that their children have an Islamic education. Imam Omar also announced that Masjid Al-Shareef is in the process of establishing Al-Shareef Learning Center, a full-time Muslim school to be opened in the very near future, insha Allah.
As the community continues to grow and develop, we can only give all praises to Allah, much can be accomplished in whatever time given, whether it is a year or two or 40 or more.
The mutual teachings of truth, faith, good deeds, patience and constancy has been a mainstay at Masjid Al-Shareef. The results has been a fruition of blessings from Allah (SWT).
(More pictures of our events and information can be accessed on Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School and Al-Shareef Learning Center’s Facebook page.)
Masjid Al-Shareef Sunday School on Facebook

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Education

By Marian Wright Edelman
A theologian friend took her car to a Jiffy Lube for servicing.  Not having anything to read, she picked up a manual on the coffee table about boating.  A chapter on the rules for what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea described two kinds of craft: Burdened and privileged.  
The craft with power that can accelerate and push its way through the waves, change direction, and stop on demand is the burdened one.  The craft dependent on the forces of nature, wind, tide, and human effort to keep going is the privileged craft.  
Since powerful boats can forge their way forward under their own power, they are burdened with responsibility to give the right of way to the powerless or privileged vessels dependent on the vagaries of the tide, wind, and weather.  
“Who wrote this thing?” my friend asked.  “Mother Teresa? What’s going on in our land when the New Jersey State Department of Transportation knows that the powerful must give way if the powerless are to make safe harbor and the government of the United States and the church of Jesus Christ and other people of God are having trouble with the concept?”
How do we answer her, political, faith, and community leaders and citizens of our nation?  What is our “theory of action” or values compass as we seek solutions to rampant joblessness and poverty among millions of Americans including 16.4 million poor children according to national U.S. census data released last week?  
What beyond politics and unbridled greed and power will calibrate our nation’s decision making?  Is cutting helpless babies the same as cutting some of the many budget busting tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires?  
Is cutting our children’s teachers, nutrition supplements, Head Start and child care the same as cutting powerful corporate subsidies or tax breaks for corporate jets?  A child cut from health care or unable to get services when abused or neglected may never heal.  Is it right or fair for Congress to wield a budget guillotine — called sequestration — if a Super Committee of 12 cannot reach a responsible agreement on both revenue and budget cuts?  
This will leave a range of discretionary programs for children, the poor and middle class, and seniors on the chopping block.  Does the irresponsible no new tax pledge signed by an astounding 279 current members of Congress (238 Representatives and 41 Senators), including the six Republican members of the Congressional “Super Committee,” make the latter an irrelevant and unjust nonstarter?
Are the hungry child and the huge corporate farmer who gets massive government “subsidies” (welfare) equally responsible for the deficit?  I am reminded of French writer Anatole France’s passage in The Red Lily: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”  
Is that our leaders’ and nation’s code of morality and justice?  If so, the very dream and idea of an America where all have a fair chance and level playing field is dead.
According to new national U.S. census data, over 46 million people in America are poor—more than the entire combined populations of Iraq and Niger.  A 2010 front page New York Times story reported that one in 50 — or 6 million — people in America had no income and depended on food stamps to stave off the wolves of hunger.  
It provoked almost no response.  Children — the most vulnerable and least culpable among us for the deficit — are the poorest age group.  And the younger they are the poorer they are.  Inadequate national and state investment in early childhood and education, and government’s failure to protect children now from continuing economic downturn, are making them poorer.
More than one million children fell into poverty between 2009 and 2010; almost a half million fell into extreme poverty.
It is disgraceful that the number of poor children in our rich nation is greater than the entire combined populations of Haiti and Liberia — two of the poorest countries on earth and that the number of children in extreme poverty is equivalent to the whole population of Israel.  
The number of poor children under age five, the years of greatest brain development, is more than the population of Sierra Leone.  I have yet to hear political leaders in either party nationally or in the states say we will not cut young children who have no belts to tighten.  
I believe no child cuts and no cuts for the poor should trump no tax increases for the rich in a just society.
The budget debate today and the role of our national government is about who we are or want to be as Americans.  Who is government — our collective voice — designed to protect?  The powerful or the powerless, some or all of us?  
Whose responsibility is it to ensure all our children are healthy, housed, educated, and prepared to join a workforce to compete with and out innovate the Chinese and others in 5, 10, or 15 years?  Parents cannot achieve this alone especially when millions of jobs and homes have been lost.  
Will cutting child and family nutrition, early childhood programs, education, child care and after-school enrichment programs, and youth jobs close or widen the huge wealth and income gaps between rich and poor?  Will these cuts make us a more or less secure society?  Where has our common sense gone?  
Where has our moral sense gone?  Are there no bottom lines?  Will children’s lives continue to be cut, ignored, and neglected because they don’t vote or lobby or make campaign contributions?  Will they continue to be punished for parents they did not choose and are not responsible for?  
Do we just let them die, go homeless, hungry, and unhealthy when jobless parents cannot provide the basic necessities of life through no fault of their own?
  The Children’s Defense Fund’s trademarked logo is based on the old fisherman’s prayer—“Dear Lord be good to me.  The sea is so wide and my boat is so small.”  It shows a tiny little sail boat on a vast sea drawn by a young child many years ago based on the prayer.  
Never has it seemed more poignant and appropriate than today as our children are being tossed all about in a rough and uncertain sea of life without rafts by killer economic and political waves from the wakes of gigantic, powerful ocean liners — capsizing small child boats.  
Is our Nation protecting the Titanic — a burdened boat enjoined to give right of way — rather than protecting the child’s small privileged boat struggling without power to reach safe harbor?
What can you do?  Demand your political leaders protect the child’s small boat — the privileged boat — and tell the powerful burdened boat to give them the right of way.
  (Marian Wright Edelman is a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans and is the President of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families.)

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Education

By Carole Ali
CAMDEN, N.J. – On a beautiful Saturday in midsummer of 2011, the Believers here at Masjidun-Nur, of Camden, held our Annual Health and Wellness Awareness Festival to promote the need for good health and to address some of the health issues of the people in our community as well as the outside community.
We were blessed to have a beautiful day. All week, the South Jersey area was experiencing a heat wave, however Allah blessed us to have relief that day from the heat.
The day was filled with local agencies explaining their services on physical and mental heath needs, substance abuse, homelessness and HIV information and testing. Vendors were also available selling their merchandise.
There was something for everyone. We had a Bouncer, games, face-painting and horseback riding for the children and inside one of our buildings we had the WII game to play. We had water-Ice, popcorn and cupcakes that the youth set-up and sold themselves.
Masjidun-Nur set-up their own Salad Bar with a variety of fresh salads and toppings to select from. There was fish sandwiches for sale also. There was such an array of additional items to select from that it made you feel like you were at a side-walk restaurant. Numerous compliments were given to the cooks.
The highlights of such a blessed day came when a reporter from our local newspaper, Courier-Post, came to interview Imam Radee on this event.
After the reporter’s departure, we were surprised by our the Hon. Mayor Dana Redd who took time out of her busy schedule to stop by to show her support and to present Masjidun-Nur with a Proclamation recognizing all the things we do in the outside community to promote a positive environment for the residents and youth of Camden city.
Special thanks go to all who aided in the success of this event. Our area supermarkets donated water and other items that we were able to give to those present and we were truly grateful.
We are looking forward to begin planning for another successful event next year.

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Education

CHICAGO, Ill. (Special to the NNPA) – Five hundred African American trailblazers descended upon classrooms in 107 cities and 34 states across the United States, including Puerto Rico, on Fri., Sept. 23, 2011, as part of the 2nd Annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers program.

The one-day program, which comes as students are getting settled in classrooms throughout the country, is designed to bring renewed attention to the needs of the Nation’s educational system and its students.

This year’s participants include: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie B. Jarrett, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, entertainer and author Common, activist and talk show host the Rev. Al Sharpton, political commentator and talk show host Roland Martin, singer/actress Melba Moore, Broadway choreographer George Faison, poet Nikki Giovanni, actress Marla Gibbs, actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, poet/author Sonia Sanchez and author/filmmaker Antwone Fisher.

Notable African Americans will recount their own school experiences and the struggles they encountered on their paths to success. The theme of the day is “COMMIT,” and the goal of the program is to put Black leaders in direct and sustained contact with young people in schools all across the Nation, while encouraging youth to commit to excellence, to learning their history and to achieving beyond what they think is possible.

The HistoryMakers, the Nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, consists of 2,000 videotaped personal histories of both well-known and unsung African Americans.

Subjects include President Barack Obama, General Colin Powell, Marion Wright Edelman and the oldest living African American cowboy, Alonzo Pettie, co-founder ofColorado’s first Black rodeo.

The oldest person interviewed is Louisiana Hines out ofDetroit, who is 113, and the youngest is Ayisha McMillan, a prima ballerina fromNorth Carolina, aged 33.

At last year’s launch, 200 HistoryMakers spoke at 107 schools in 25 states and 50 cities.

Participants included: Former Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, civil rights activist C. T. Vivian and broadcast journalist Carole Simpson. InWashington,D.C., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined civil rights activists the Rev. Al Sharpton and Roger Wilkins at theDorothyI.HeightCommunityCharterSchool. InNew York, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien spoke with former Mayor of New York David Dinkins at the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Through the group’s efforts more than 25,000 students were reached and many HistoryMakers adopted the schools they addressed.

            “Our HistoryMakers embody our commitment to education and are a wonderful example of true service — service that can literally change the course of the lives of thousands of young people,” said The HistoryMakers Founder and Executive Director Julieanna Richardson.

“This is just the beginning as we are making our digital collection of more than 8,000 hours of video testimony available, free of charge, to all participating schools.”

Organizations that have joined forces with The HistoryMakers for the second annual Back-to-School event include The Faison Firehouse Respect Project, DC-CAP, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, the National Education Association, the Arnold Family Foundation, the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link, Inc., the Fernbank Science Center, the Alabama Departments of Education and Archives and History and the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum. Additionally, Comcast, the Chicago Tribune and TheRoot.com have signed on as media partners, with Comcast contributing between $250,000 and $500,000 in public service announcement (PSA) support.

Co-chairs of the event include Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Dr. Anita Blanchard.

            For more information, visit www.thehistorymakers.com or The HistoryMakers digital archive at http://www.idvl.org/thehistorymakers/.

 

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By Baaqia Uqdah

 

“WE PLAN AND ALLAH PLANS, AND ALLAH IS THE BEST OF PLANNERS: In her mission to educate Muslim children, Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif was a soldier in Allah’s army, a general, unyielding in the ongoing battle against the shaitan.

Her philosophy was: “The Muslim doesn’t retire; the Muslim retires in the grave.” Today, Sept. 14, 2011, Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif, at age 85, transitioned from this life as we know it. Indeed, she has retired; she has received her honorable discharge.

A Salute to Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif: This community respects you, honors you, and salutes you and your family through our prayers. May Allah (SWT) forgive your sins and reward you with Jannah. At 9 a.m., on Sept. 15, 2011, her family began arrangements for hre Janazah.

 Say “Truly, my prayer

 And my service of sacrifice,

My life and my death,

Are (all) for Allah,

The Cherisher of the Worlds….

(Holy Qur’an 6:162)

 

NEWARK, N.J. – On Sun., Sept. 18, at 4 p.m., Masjid Imam Ali K. Muslim in Newark, planned to host a Celebration of Life and Achievement to honor Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif, a pioneering Muslim American of Newark and resident of Plainfield, N.J.

The invitation to this event read…

Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif

Phenomenal Woman in the establishment of Islam

In the State of New Jersey

Continuing the Legacy of Clara Mohammad School…

Not long ago, during a Jumuah Khutbah, I heard an Imam make reference to asking Allah (SWT) to show us our specific purpose in this life; to show us (as individuals) what it is that we were born to do.

Regarding the life purpose of Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif, I would have to quote the late Hajji Samuel Abdus-Salaam (also a pioneering Muslim in Newark and the beloved grandfather of my children).

He would often say, “Sis. Ummil-Khair is a natural born teacher. People going to college to be teachers can’t get what Sis. Ummil-Khair’s got, because Allah made her a teacher when she was born.”

I recall that many believers, who could not afford to pay for private education when their children entered kindergarten, would somehow find the funds when their children entered first grade so that they could be taught by Teacher Ummil-Khair.

Then when the child entered second grade, they would return them to their neighborhood public school. Thus, Teacher Ummil-Khair's reputation speaks for itself.

Allah called Sis. Ummil-Khair Sharif to accept Islam as her faith in 1959. Ten years later she answered His Call to teach Muslim children. Her daughter, Khalilah Sharif, shared a famous quote of her mother: “My mother always said she’d either die on her way to school or on her way home.”

Khalilah continues, “What she was telling us was - that was the level of her dedication to the school. That is her life’s work. That’s where she could and would always be found - at Clara Mohammed School!!!

“She has been teaching in Newark at 257 South Orange Avenue from 1969 until Mon., Aug. 22, 2011. You can count on one hand the number of days that she missed .... traveling from Plainfield to Newark everyday!!!!!”

For 56, years Hajja Ummil-Khair has remained the wife of Hajji Jaami D. Sharif. They have seven children – four girls and three boys. The successes of their children are:

Their oldest daughter, Bernadette Gartrell, has her own law firm in Washington D.C.

Their second oldest daughter, Judge Janice Clark, was the first female African American to petition the legal system all the way to the Supreme Court, that there weren’t any African American judges in the state of Louisiana ... and WIN.

Janice G. Clark is presently a judge of the 19th Judicial District, Division D, in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. She was elected to this position on Oct. 3, 1992, and was re-elected without opposition the following September.

Hajjah Ummil-Khair and her husband have 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. The birth of an additional great-grandchild is expected to occur sometime during this month of September 2011.

I was blessed to have interviewed Hajja Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif, mostly with the assistance of her daughter, Khalilah Sharif, because Hajjah Ummil-Khair was not feeling well.

THE INTERVIEW:

MJ: What motivated you to accept Islam?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: One of the Brothers in the community talked my husband into going to the Temple one day. After he went, he invited me to go. Although born into a Christian Family, I always had questions! Those teachings didn’t sit right in my soul.

But when I heard Malcolm X for the first time in New York, I was drawn in. Islam had the answers that I had been searching for.

MJ: When did you begin to teach?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: In 1969, when Newark, New Jersey, opened Muhammad University of Islam #25.

MJ: What motivated you to become a teacher?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: My husband motivated me. I had a great job at a Westinghouse factory in New Jersey. But after accepting Islam, my husband wanted our children to attend a Muslim school.

When Muhammad University of Islam #25 was opened, my husband asked me to accompany our children. At first I was an aide. But Minister James Shabazz visited a few of the classes and noticed the rapport I had with the students and asked me to take a more advanced position.

MJ: Have you ever attended school to become a teacher?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: I have not attended college to become a teacher. My educational background for teaching has come from the actual day-to-day hands on work of being in the classroom, applying the teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

I attended many sessions, including the meeting in Sedalia, North Carolina, on creating a curriculum using the Holy Qur’an as the basis. All subjects can be taught this way.

I have traveled to many cities and states, including Bermuda, as Secretary of the New Jersey State Department of Islamic Education and Secretary of The Northeast Region Department of Education for the Clara Mohammed Schools.

MJ: Have you retired yet? If not, when do you think you will?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: Retire? There’s no such thing as a Muslim retiring. You retire in the grave.

MJ: What are the most important things a teacher should know and do?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: A teacher should study. A good teacher can tell what a student knows and what level they are on. A good teacher can teach many different students the same subjects on many different levels.

A good teacher makes sure the parents are always involved in the classroom environment, keeping them updated on the students’ progress, always suggesting ways to promote an educational environment.

MJ: In your opinion, are Muslim children different today than when you began
teaching? If so, how are they different?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: Yes, Muslim children today are different from Muslim children in the 60s and 70s. In years past, Muslim children went where the parents went. There weren’t so many outside influences, i.e., internet, cell phones, TV’s.

We had the FOI classes, MGT & GCC classes, and Muhammad University of Islam. The children and adults were infused with pride in being Muslims. We genuinely felt more connected with family life.

School was open all year round, except for one week in February for Saviors day and one week in the summer. Today, parents are not registering their children in Clara Mohammed Schools, as many of them have closed over the last 40 years.

Those Clara Mohammed Schools that are still open are registering fewer and fewer students. We are losing our students to the Public Schools.

There aren’t as many qualified Teachers that are dedicated to Islamic Education. Most are there for the paycheck. I was fortunate to have a husband who handled all of the household expenses, so that I could concentrate on educating our children.

To date, I have taught thousands of Muslim children from areas of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. All of them received an Islamic based education that was equal to, or surpassed, that of the Public School system.

We now have Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Engineers and Real Estate Agents in our community who were taught in the Clara Mohammed School here in Newark, and they are all flourishing! Alhamdulillah!

I would like to see them return and give back to the community more frequently. We need them. Shaitan said he will attack us from the front and the back, from the left and the right. From the front means those who came before us and from the back meaning those children who are coming up now.

We cannot lose them to the society. Please support your local Clara Mohammed School.

MJ: What is the main thing you would like for parents to know regarding how Muslim children will benefit from attending Sis. Clara Mohammad Schools?

Hajja Ummil-Khair: In the early years, Sis. Clara Muhammad, the wife of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad (May Allah forgive them their sins and grant them Paradise), began teaching her children in her home using the religion as the basis.

As time went on, several other Muslim parents let their children be taught in her home as well. They felt it was needed, so that their children would learn Islam at an early age.

The Administrators for the Public School system noticed that quite a few children were not registered in the public school and was notified that this woman was conducting classes in her home. So they sent the local Police (Truant Officer) there to investigate.

Upon their arrival, they knocked on the door and this small frame of a woman answered. They asked if she was conducting classes in her home, and she said “Yes.” They informed her that it was against the law to have a “home school” and that all the children had to be registered in the public school.

At that time, she stood as tall as she could and said, “I’ll die as dead as this door knob, before I let any of these children be taught in the public school!” The Police Officers were stunned by the force of her conviction and promptly left the premises.

This was the beginning of the Muhammad University, renamed by her son, Imam W. D. Mohammed, to be now called Sis. Clara Mohammed School.

This is a legacy that we cannot let die! How else will the next generation know about their true evolvement, if we don't teach them? Yes, public schools may have better teachers and more equipment, but in the 60s and 70s, we rallied together and bought a JET FOR MUHAMMAD.

Do you think if we’d stop pointing fingers at others asking them what are they doing, and start pointing at ourselves and asking what am I doing, that we couldn’t raise the funds to have Clara Mohammed Schools in every state and in every country?

Imam W.D. Mohammed once said build a school, and you’ll have a Masjid. Support your local Clara Mohammed School!

Hajjah Teacher Ummil-Khair Zakiyyah Sharif has devoted 42 years of her life to educating Muslim children. When I asked how old she is now, her daughter Khalilah responded, “If she were to answer that question, she’d say one of two things .... either, ‘I’m as old as the sun, moon and stars, but not a day over 16!” Or, “It’s not how long you’ve been here, it’s not how old you are. But I can tell you what it is. It’s Allahu Akbar!

“But in Earth years, she turned 85 in April (2011).”

 

 

 

 

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Vol. 36, No. 51, September 16, 2011

 HOUSTON, Texas – On Friday, one year after the Grand Opening of the first Masjid built from the ground up, which bears the name of our leader, Masjid Warithuddeen Mohammed’s visiting lecturer series featured Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim.

Imam Darnell Karim is an esteemed Muslim American Pioneer of Islam in America, classmate and childhood friend of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, and one of the most remarkable Qur’anic reciters of our time.

He was accompanied by his wife, Sis. Gloria Karim, and his son Shakir Karriem, a photographer and fellow supporter of the Imam W.D. Mohammed Community Center (IWDMC). Together they represent two generations of Muslim life in America and many years of dedicated effort to our Leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim also was the first to call the Adhan across the airwaves of America on the American Muslim Mission radio program.

While the temperature in Houston was setting new records with plus 100 degree weather, inside the Musallah, Khatib Sheikh Darnell Karim brought the believers cool logic and calm wisdom, reminiscent of his teacher, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.

He directed our attention to the purpose and significance of the Day of Jumuah, the day for Allah, where we are to take the instruction learned and apply it throughout our lives.  He went on to explain the Iqaamah and the positions in Salat, as they relate to the life and natural disposition Allah (SWT) wants for humanity.

On Saturday, Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim performed a workshop on gaining an appreciation for Qur’anic Arabic. He explained the Mercy that Allah (SWT) showed to us by revealing the Qur’an in a language no one culture can claim, as Qur’anic Arabic is not the Arabic language or any other language.

He gave multiple examples of how the changing of a single vowel also changes the meaning of a word in Arabic, while encouraging us to increase our knowledge and education of the language of Al-Islam.

He highly stressed the importance of properly pronouncing the Arabia (starting with the Adhan) and being conscious and aware of its meaning. He also shared on more of the character of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, who was blessed at an early age to be able to provide a clear picture of the meanings of the rich language of the Qur’an.

Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim transported us to a classroom in the University of Islam, under Professor Jamil Diab, containing himself, his wife Gloria Karim, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, the Imam’s younger brother Akbar Muhammad, and others who would reflect three linguistic movements, Qur’anic recitation, fluency in the Arabic language, and an insight into the meaning of the language of the Qur’an.

He related that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad asked Professor Jamil to teach the people Qur’anic Arabic, so that they “could get rid of the devil’s language,” so that they “could get a better understanding of the religion.”

For the past eight years, the City of Houston has held a Mayoral Iftar, where the facilities are provided by the city and the local Islamic community provides the food. The brief program prior to Iftar was hosted by former City Councilman M.J. Khan.

The line of speakers included: Usama Cannon of the Zaytuna Institute, who focused on community contribution and civic service provided by the Muslim community; local Resident Imam Wazir Ali provided the invocation and supplication.

Several political officials attending included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and Houston Mayor Annise Parker. The elected officials spoke on the positive involvement of Muslims in Houston, the State of Texas, the United States of America, and the World.

They iterated that sincere prayer for G-d’s Assistance is necessary for all humanity during the blessed month of Ramadan.

Before more than 1,500 people from a plethora of backgrounds and cultures, Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim called the Adhan for Maghrib prayer. His recitation was commented on by many as the most clear and resounding Adhan heard called in the history of the event.

Sheikh Imam Darnell Karim and Imam Wazir Ali were greeted by the political officials, as well as representatives from the sponsoring organizations: The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH); Council On American Islamic Relations of Houston (CAIR); Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (President Saeed Sheikh); Houston-Abu Dhabi Sister City Association; Houston-Istanbul Sister City Association; and Houston-Baku Sister City Association.

Sunday’s Public Address consisted of Imam Darnell Karim’s moving words addressing the Blessing of Ramadan. He interwove verses from the Qur’an, authenticated hadiths of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), commentary of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, and his own personal history and life.

Finally on Sunday night, Sheik Imam Darnell Karim shared more of his life as friend and student of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (may Allah be pleased with him).

 

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By Marian Wright Edelman,

NNPA Columnist

As our Nation pauses to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the dedication of a new Memorial on the anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, most will focus on only part of the story.

When many Americans think of the historic March, they think of Dr. King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his inspiring “I Have a Dream” words he spontaneously added at the very end of his speech.

For nearly 50 years the powerful words in that section have been quoted all over the world.  But too few people remember that the March on Washington wasn’t focused just on racial equality but was actually named the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and was a demand for economic opportunity and economic justice for all.

Too few know or remember the central metaphor that made up the first half of Dr. King’s speech: The bounced check America had written to its Black and poor citizens.

Dr. King said we had come to the Nation’s capital that August day to cash a check America had written nearly 200 years earlier.  He reminded us that when our Nation’s Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they had created a promissory note that guaranteed all Americans the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But instead of honoring that promise for Black Americans, America had defaulted on it and given us a bad check that had come back marked “insufficient funds.”  Dr. King said those of us who had come to the 1963 March on Washington — over 200,000 strong — were there to cash our checks, because we refused to believe “the bank of justice is bankrupt” or that “there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this Nation.”

It is a message with special resonance this year and month, as our Nation’s leaders are locked in bitter debates about our Nation’s insufficient funds, whether or not to default on our country’s debts…,

Whether rich and powerful individuals and corporations whose bank accounts are overflowing from the tax breaks and subsidies which drove up huge debts will be asked to contribute their fair share…, and

Whether millions of hungry, homeless, poor, and poorly educated American children and families will be asked to sacrifice more and continue to receive bounced checks from the bank of economic opportunity and justice.

Congress is fighting the wrong national deficit.  The real deficit every leader needs to address is our human deficit and the immoral values that drive some extremist political leaders to hijack the Nation’s economic wellbeing and sacrifice the lives of innocent children and the poor.

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s recent The State of America’s Children 2011 report shows millions of children and families fell into poverty in 2009 from the economic downturn, jeopardizing America’s promise of a productive future for them and for our nation.

One in every five children — 15.5 million — was poor in 2009.  Children of color, who will be a majority of our child population in 2019, continue to suffer disproportionately.  In 2009 more than one in three Black and one in three Hispanic children lived in poverty compared to more than one in 10 White non-Hispanic children.

And the younger they are, the poorer they are.  These helpless poor babies cannot fight powerful corporate lobbyists and their political allies.

Child poverty is closely tied to economic opportunity.  Although two-thirds of poor children live in families with at least one family worker, the available jobs and wages often aren’t enough. A study prepared for CDF by Dr. Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, found the American dream and employment opportunities vanishing for countless poorly educated Black young people.

In 2010, the unemployment, underemployment, and hidden unemployment rate for all Black 16 to 29-year-olds was a shocking 40 percent and 43 percent for Black males.  The large number of young Black adults not working full-time jobs will severely limit their future employability, earnings, and ability to support their families.

Fifty years after the March on Washington, jobs and economic opportunities are still missing for huge numbers of Black families today, and millions of families of all races who are feeling the pain of soaring unemployment and low wages.

In another new study, Dr. Sum found: “To date, through the first quarter of 2011, the Nation’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession is both a jobless and a wageless recovery…. The only major beneficiaries of the recovery have been corporate profits and the stock market and its shareholders,” with workers and their families left behind.

This was not Dr. King’s dream.  That is not and must not become America’s dream.  Those of us who refuse, like Dr. King, to believe that there are “insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this Nation” need to stand up and demand that our leaders focus on the real economic deficit — jobs and economic opportunity for all and a world quality education for every child.

Our children need to see their parents going to work and holding a job.  Our children need the economic and emotional security employed parents provide.  Our children need to know that if they work hard and get a good education, there will be a good job in their future.

When Dr. King died calling for a Poor People’s Campaign, there were 11 million poor children in America.  Today, with 15.5 million poor children, millions living in extreme poverty, I’ve no doubt he’d be calling for a new Poor People’s Campaign with a sense of urgency.

He’s not coming back.  It’s up to us to pick up the mantle of justice.

(Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind®mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.  For more information, go to www.childrensdefense.org.)

 

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Interview by Samuel  Ayyub Bilal

Homewood , Ill. — The following  Muslim Journal  interview  of Imam Darnell Karim was conducted on April 11, 2011, at the Muslim Journal Office in Homewood; herein is Part III.

MJ: Imam Karim, you and your wife, Gloria, visited Professor Jamil Diab in Phoenix, Arizona, before he died in recent years, and this is when he told you about some of the matters between him and the Hon. Elijah concerning his teaching a class in Qur’anic Arabic to you Nation of Islam students. Was that in 1947 or thereabouts? The Hon. Elijah Muhammad had hired him to teach you all?

IMAM KARIM: Yes.  Concerning  Jamil’s meeting with the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, that was the first time I knew about that (meeting) and  about the “Progress Report” to the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. I didn’t know about that until the latter years.

MJ:  Now (speaking to the Community of Imam Mohammad about the call to prayer, the Adhan. There are two parts: The call to prayer and the call to success. You turn your face to the right and you call “haya ala salat” twice. And you turn your head to the left and call “haya ala falat” – Come to prayer, worship; come to success, cultivation. Is that correct?

IMAM KASRIM: Yes.

MJ: So could you go into that?  I’m leading to asking you the question: Are you still doing that, in your work? As an Imam in the community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed — calling his people to worship and to success?

IMAM KARIM: Yes. Never stopped. As I said before about when the Adhan first started (being called in the Community of Imam Mohammed), I have to go back to the Gift of G-d. I have to relate back to that first.

MJ: Yes, go back to that. But before you go back into the Gift of G-d, you said the Imam said there were three developments out of that Class. Would you tell us what were those three developments?

IMAM KARIM: Which one do you want me to answer first? The question about  the adhan  or the question  about the Class?

MJ: The Adhan, and then we can go to the Class.

IMAM KARIM: There were a lot of developments out of that Class. Myself, the Imam (W. D. Mohammed), Dr. Akbar (Muhammad), Zahirah – my sister, and my wife, Gloria. They were the development out of that Class.

But there were three MAJOR developments, but my wife and sister were developments too. My wife advanced to a point that she could actually teach in my place. But the major developments whom I was relating to, the major roles were the Imam W. D. Mohammed, Dr. Akbar and myself.

MJ:  You three, Imam Mohammed, yourself  and Dr. Akbar were becoming three major developing students in Qur’anic Arabic, in 1947?

IMAM KARIM: Yes. He (Imam Mohammed) was being interviewed (as leader of the community) by some reporter from Iowa, when he explained these developments;   I don’t know who the reporter was.

Akbar had mastered the linguistics in speaking Arabic. I had mastered the Qur’an, in terms of the recitation. Imam Mohammed had mastered the interpretation and   meaning of words. He became master in those areas. With him, that was a major development for our Community, for our future,  (evidence) of what can  be done!

MJ:  OKAY. Now coming back to today, to the work that you’re doing today, to the Mosque where you teach today, and also the IWDM Center…, but before we go into discussing the Center, when you spoke at  the  Jumuah  prayer right after the Imam passed,  you said, when referring to the Imam that “we should all say, ‘I am that man!’”

IMAM KARIM: You’re speaking of the memorial  Khutbah, two days after we had buried the Imam. And I was chosen by the family (of Imam Mohammed) to do the Jumuah  prayer, at the Homewood Inn, in Homewood,  Ill.

MJ: Okay. Describe that. Because someone said that Imam Mohammed had told some people in one of his Classes that “…when  they ask or speak about me, tell them ‘I am that man!’”

IMAM KARIM: Yes. In my spirit, when speaking, I left them (the Jumuah worshippers) with those words, in this way: LONG LIVE W. DEEN MOHAMMED! And I also said that we ALL should stand and say that “I AM W. DEEN MOHAMMED!”

Each one of us should say: “I AM W. DEEN MOHAMMED!” And I was only speaking in that spirit because that’s what the Imam said, throughout his leadership. He even said himself, as you know, that “I (Wallace D.) follow Imam W.D. Mohammed!”  He said, “(Even)I follow Imam W. Deen Mohammed.”

MJ: I was reading yesterday where he said something along those lines, reading it in one of the transcriptions from a  Ramadan Session, wherein  Imam  spoke in the 2000s, before his passing in 2008.

IMAM KARIM: Yes. So I am not saying anything out of context.

MJ: And now, getting back to you and your work today, in the year 2011. Are you still the Community’s Bilal?  Are you still calling the people to prayer, to worship? If so, describe in your day-by-day working how you do it. Describe  your daily, weekly, monthly work and your leading Jumuah prayer on Fridays.

(COMING NEXT:  The next installment of this interview with Imam Karim speaks of his present day work as “The Community’s Bilal.” He also speaks on the status, development, and progress of the much anticipated W. D. Mohammed Community Center, expected to be built in the South Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.)

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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