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An Interview by Imam/Judge David Shaheed

BALTIMORE, Md. – This is an interview of Imam Earl S. El-Amin, Resident Imam of the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore, following an Iftar at the official residence of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

MJ:  Imam El-Amin, were you surprised when Governor O’Malley called you out by named and asked you to call the adhan (at the Iftar)?

Imam El-Amin:  No.  He has hosted the Iftar at the Governor’s residence for the last five years. He started this after he became Governor of Maryland. Last year, I did the presentation on Ramadan and discussed the benefits and merits of Ramadan.

MJ:  Also, I noticed that he was quite pleased to receive a book from you.

Imam El-Amin:  Yes. The first book that I gave him he requested. It was on the 99 Attributes of Allah.  I gave it to him during the legislative session, because I happened to be there (in the State House during the legislative session).

So the book I gave him the night of the Iftar was Islam and Western Democracy (Compatriots of Justice and Religious Freedom), written by someone in our Association, Imam Fahmee Al-Uqdah.  I gave him that book because I noticed the Governor reads everything; he loves to read.

Also, something that I learned from “the first experience” is we always want to leave someone with something.

MJ:  You are right. That is a good practice.

Imam El-Amin: For example, when we went to Turkey last year, we took 35 Legacy of Imam W. Deen Mohammed and 35 of the DVDs – Eight Centuries of Islam in America.  So we gave them to the prominent people we would meet.  At the masajid, we gave them to the Imams and made a gift of them to the leadership of Turkey’s religious departments.

MJ:  How long have you been an Imam in Baltimore and how did you get started in this work?

Imam Earl El-Amin: I have been the Resident Imam at the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore for eight years, and I previously served as a Chaplain in one of the correctional facilities in Maryland.

MJ: You also have a long experience in government and have served in several key positions for the State of Maryland, correct?

Imam El-Amin:  I have been involved in community and involved in government as it relates to activism in the political process. I started out serving as president of our neighborhood association for almost 15 years.

I also worked for the Baltimore Urban League.  Those positions led to positions in state government and working for the Governor’s Office in 1998.

MJ:  What positions did you hold in the Governor’s Office?

Imam Al-Amin:  I was the Ombudsman for Children in Out of Home Placement and then moved to Deputy Director for Independent Juvenile Justice Monitoring Department for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.

I also was Vice President of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, which is a human services agency which does sentencing consultation.  We also are involved in re-entry programming, as well as residential and day services for developmentally disabled adults and residential services for children in the foster care juvenile justice system.

There are 650 employees in our agency.

MJ:  Is there the obvious linkage between your positions in government and your involvement in politics?

Imam El-Amin:  Yes.  By working in community and then working in government, it gave me an opportunity to have more of a personal relationship with a lot of our political representation.    Also, I must point out that until two years ago, for nearly 13 years my brother, Eric, and I were co-hosts of a weekly radio talk show, known as Dialogue with the African American Male.

                 It was broadcasted from Morgan State University.  It gave us a great opportunity to disseminate information and the language of Imam W. Deen Mohammed on a myriad of topics.

MJ:  Was it mainly in the Baltimore area?

Imam El-Amin:  It covered Baltimore, Washington, up in Pennsylvania and portions of Delaware.

MJ:  So this radio talk show was a good dawah tool?

Imam El-Amin:  It was an excellent dawah tool and provided us an avenue to disseminate the language of the Imam (Mohammed).

MJ:  During your tenure as Imam at the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore, did you had the opportunity to host Imam Mohammed and tell him about some of your efforts in the Baltimore area?

Imam El-Amin: Yes. Imam W. Deen Mohammed came to Baltimore on numerous occasions to meet with Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop Emeritus of Baltimore, who played a prominent role in our initially going to meet with Pope John Paul II.

Cardinal Keeler also played a role in our meeting with the Focolare, because it was with the urging of Cardinal Keeler that we met with them.  That is how that came about.

MJ:  In addition to Governer O’Malley, I recall that you also have been on a first name basis with several other Maryland Governors.  Weren’t you also associated with Governor Glendening?

Imam El-Amin:  Yes. I worked in the Administration of former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening.  In fact, he attended our Jumu’ah services at the Community Cultural Center of Baltimore, as well as did the former Baltimore Mayor, Sheila Dixon, and a number of City Council persons.

Also, the former Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is the eldest daughter of Senator Robert Kennedy, attended our Jumu’ah prayer.

MJ: Do you see a link with your involvement with the community and government leaders and interfaith?

Imam El-Amin:  Without a doubt.  People already knew of my involvement in the community through the radio program over those years, and some of the other initiatives, like the Rites of Passage programs for African American males and mentoring programs.

People were comfortable with me already.  So I had easy accessibility to those people.

MJ:  In the current climate of Islamophobia and the fear that has been promoted about shariah, have you been involved in any of those discussions? Has anyone asked you to respond to those questions concerning “fear of Islam?”

Imam El-Amin:  We like to champion the fact that we were one of the first communities in our association, over 20 years ago, to respond to the instructions of Imam Mohammed to get involved with interfaith dialogue and interact with other faith traditions.

Because the people knew of us and had an understanding of our way of life, we had very minimal discussions around shariah or Islamophobia.  With the Imam’s language and our ability to present it, we gave them a good picture of who we are.

Also, we have Muslims serving in prominent positions, e.g.  judges, like Judge Hassan El-Amin, several Muslims magistrates (judges) in the juvenile court system, and Muslims at the federal level, working in the Social Security Administration.

Therefore, people are up close and personal with Muslims, so those questions and issues were not a big priority here.  I think Baltimore is one of the most progressive cities in America, when it comes to interfaith interaction.

I have to credit Imam Mohammed, but I also have to credit the leadership of Cardinal Keeler and how he pushed that interfaith interaction in everything that we did.  I have been very fortunate to participate in so many interfaith programs at the Basilica.

Every year there is a New Year’s Eve Interfaith Prayer Service, and I did the homily (short talk) last year.  The service runs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. and is really well done.  All the major players, i.e. the Governor, the Mayor, the President of the City Council, heads of hospitals and colleges, businesspeople, are participants in the Interfaith Prayer.

It is so expansive, that we have not encountered any problems with Islamaphobia and shariah.

MJ:  Are there any particular points that you would like to share with readers of the Muslim Journal on how to navigate the circumstances that we are in right now?

Imam El-Amin:  One thing that is important is being a good neighbor.  What I mean by that is, if we profess to understand what Allah has blessed us with, the Qur’an and the tradition of Muhammed, the Prophet, and the leadership of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, then it is incumbent upon us to be actively involved where we live.

We should always be involved.  And we should take leadership in those environments.  When we do that, people will see that we are just like they are.  We like to have cook-outs in the back yard; we like to listen to jazz, the whole gamut.

We are the same as they, are but we have a moral integrity that makes us stand out.  And we have a willingness to make friends and develop relationships and to develop strategic alliances.

MJ:  Thank you for your time and what you have shared.  Any other comments?

Imam El-Amin:  Yes.  I think this is very important for our community.  What we have been given by the Imam (Mohammed), if we stick to it, then we will see a cohesive group of Believers emerge.

I make these comments based upon a conversation I had with Imam Mohammed when he was at Georgetown University for a talk several years ago.  Imam Yusuf Saleem and I had dinner with him that night, and in our conversation I told him that I thought people were not moving fast enough and I was thinking about resigning.

The Imam told me that I was doing great work and to keep up the good work.  But he also told me to be patient, because we won’t see the best of this community until two or three more generations down the line.

We need to understand that.  If we are working toward the destiny as a cohesive group, then we are going to see the manifestation. It is already happening.  We will see the manifestation in two or three more generations.

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THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the White House.  Tonight is part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that define us as a Nation.
So these are quintessentially American celebrations –  people of different faiths coming together, with humility before our Maker, to reaffirm our obligations to one another, because no matter who we are, or how we pray, we’re all children of a Loving God.
Now, this year, Ramadan is entirely in August.  That means the days are long, the weather is hot, and you are hungry.  So I will be brief.
I want to welcome the members of the diplomatic corps who are here; the members of Congress, including two Muslim American members of Congress – Keith Ellison and Andre Carson; and leaders and officials from across my Administration.  Thank you all for being here.  Please give them a big round of applause.
To the millions of Muslim Americans across the United States and more – the more than one billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion.  It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings.
So to you and your families, Ramadan Kareem.  This evening reminds us of both the timeless teachings of a great religion and the enduring strengths of a great Nation.
Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life.  This has been especially true over the past 10 years.
In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts.  It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade.
And tonight, it’s worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans.
Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes, including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child.  They were workers in the Twin Towers – Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life.
They were cooks and waiters, but also analysts and executives.   There, in the Towers where they worked, they came together for daily prayers and meals at Iftar.  They were looking to the future – getting married, sending their kids to college, enjoying a well-deserved retirement.  And they were taken from us much too soon.
And today, they live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget.  And tonight, we’re deeply humbled to be joined by some of these 9/11 families, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized, please.
Muslim Americans were first responders – the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.
On this 10th anniversary, we honor these men and women for what they are – American heroes.
Nor let us forget that every day for these past 10 years, Muslim Americans have helped to protect our communities as police and firefighters, including some who join us tonight.  Across our federal government, they keep our homeland secure, they guide our intelligence and counterterrorism efforts and they uphold the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.
So make no mistake, Muslim Americans help to keep us safe. We see this in the brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans.  In a time of war, they volunteered, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way.
Our troops come from every corner of our country, with different backgrounds and different beliefs.  But every day they come together and succeed together, as one American team.
During the 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor.  Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, among them Army Specialist Kareem Khan.  Galvanized by 9/11 to serve his country, he gave his life in Iraq and now rests with his fellow heroes at Arlington.
And we thank Kareem’s mother, Elsheba, for being here again tonight. Like Kareem, this generation has earned its place in history, and I would ask all of our service members here tonight – members of the 9/11 Generation – to stand and accept the thanks of our fellow Americans.
This year and every year, we must ask ourselves:  How do we honor these patriots -- those who died and those who served?  In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago.  We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for.
An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity.  An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity, remembering that here in the United States there is no “them” or “us;” it’s just us.
An America where our fundamental freedoms and inalienable rights are not simply preserved, but continually renewed and refreshed – among them the right of every person to worship as they choose.
An America that stands up for dignity and the rights of people around the world, whether a young person demanding his or her freedom in the Middle East or North Africa, or a hungry child in the Horn of Africa, where we are working to save lives.
Put simply, we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger.  This is who we are and this is who we must always be.
Tonight, as we near a solemn anniversary, I cannot imagine a more fitting wish for our Nation.  So God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.

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CHICAGO, Ill. – The Ephraim Bahar Center stepped out on its 17th Annual Walk for Moral Excellence Parade, setting a new record for Muslim involvement in the inner city movement toward a safer and more morally based community.
IMAN has long held a meaningful bond with African American Muslim followers of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. One of the ways in which the value IMAN places on this relationship is evidenced annually through its taking part in the Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center’s “Walk for Moral Excellence.”
This year’s Parade, held Sat., July 23, 2011, likewise received IMAN’s full support. The Parade stepped-off on the corner of 69th Street and Western Avenue, where participants gathered brandishing banners and chanting the namesake slogan: “What do we want? Moral excellence… When do we want it? Now…”
The Parade commenced down Western Avenue to 71st Street, then traveled west to the rally point at Marquette Park where The Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center's  Da`wah Coordinator, Darryl Williams, and other local leaders addressed the crowd.
IMAN’s Executive Director, Dr. Rami Nashsashibi, was the first to speak and began by acknowledging the religious and racial diversity of Parade supporters. He juxtaposed that diversity to the racism and intolerance of the Nazi group that once occupied the commercial building sitting tandem to the Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center, at 2525 West 71st Street.
Nashashibi emphasized the power in the Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center’s consistent message of moral excellence and ended with the assertion that we’re no longer fighting against Nazi-like racism but against community ills.
The Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center’s Resident Imam, Sultan Salahuddin, then addressed the crowd, speaking on the need for people to be in control of their own community institutions. Imam Salahuddin’s central message was to serve community.
Other Parade participants to speak were Rev. Ken Murray of the American Clergy Leadership Council, IMAN Board Member Rafi Peterson of CeaseFire, Tasha Smith of Mystique Ladies Social Club, Inc., and IMAN volunteer Abdul Hakim.
Following the well-received call to moral excellence, The Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center staff kept up the high-spirit of the afternoon by delivering free school supplies and food to participants, whose palates were especially whetted by the tasty all-chicken African sausage.
Entertainment was provided by the South Shore Drill Team, participants in the Parade, and the Jesse White Tumblers.
This year’s “Walk for Moral Excellence” Parade was truly reminiscent of Imam Mohammed’s much expounded message of service to humanity.
The next major event in the Chicago area is The Mosques Cares (Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed) sponsored Annual Muslim Convention at the Tinley Park Convention Center, Sept. 1 through Sept.  5, of this year.
The Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed remains committed to the same goals of building and sustaining healthy communities, as this year’s Convention theme is: “Al-Islam Obligates us to Build Model Communities.”

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President Obama signing Debt Compromise
President Obama signing Debt Compromise

THE PRESIDENT: As Ramadan begins, Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world.

Ramadan is a festive time that is anticipated for months by Muslims everywhere.  Families and communities share the happiness of gathering together for iftar and prayers.

Bazaars light up the night in many cities from Rabat to Jakarta.  And here in the United States, Muslim Americans share Ramadan traditions with their neighbors, fellow students, and co-workers.

For so many Muslims around the world, Ramadan is also a time of deep reflection and sacrifice. As in other faiths, fasting is used to increase spirituality, discipline, and consciousness of God’s Mercy.

            It is also a reminder of the importance of reaching out to those less fortunate.  The heartbreaking accounts of lost lives and the images of families and children in Somalia and the Horn of Africa struggling to survive remind us of our common humanity and compel us to act.

            Now is the time for nations and peoples to come together to avert an even worse catastrophe by offering support and assistance to on-going relief efforts.

Times like this remind us of the lesson of all great faiths, including Islam – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  In that spirit, I wish Muslims around the world a Blessed Month, and I look forward to again hosting an iftar dinner here at the White House.

Ramadan Kareem.

 

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somalia_drought-1

Following a quick tour of the camps for drought-displaced people, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali snapped when viewing the starving, dying population of mostly women and children.
“[Aid agencies] get money claiming they will help Somalia, yet the people who arrived at Mogadishu were dying of hunger. And that is absolutely unacceptable,” he said grimly.
Nearly 170,000 Somalis have fled to already crowded refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia since January, according to U.N. figures recently released.
In Kenya, about 1,300 Somalis are arriving daily; an average of 1,700 are entering Ethiopia.
Complicating the survival strategies, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued rules barring the spending of U.S. government money on projects if it might “materially benefit” a listed terror organization.
This ban would include Al Shabab, an Islamist group linked to Al Qaeda that controls most of southern Somalia, the area worst hit by the current Horn of Africa drought.
Since the Treasury rules came into force in 2009, U.S. aid to Somalia – once the largest share of all world donors – plummeted by 88 percent, from $237 million in 2008 to $20 million in 2011.
“Aid is not flowing to where people are. It is flowing to certain centers and people have to walk sometimes days to get there. And unfortunately not everyone makes it,” said U.S. based Horn of Africa expert J. Peter Pham.
As thousands of Somalis walk days and sometimes weeks to reach the refugee complex known as Dadaab, young, lifeless bodies lay abandoned by their parents on the sandy paths which have been called “the roads of death.”
In other cases, parents perish during the journey, leaving children in the wilderness, alone.
The U.N. says it plans to start airlifting emergency rations into parts of drought-stricken Somalia during the first week of August.

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By Ibrahim and

Carole Mumin

Holy Qur’an 4:1: O man­kind! Reverence, have a high regard for your Lord (Guardian Evolver, Cher­isher and Sustainer), Who created you from a single soul; created, of like na­ture, your mate and from the two came scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Al­lah (G-d) through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence, have a high regard for) the wombs (that bore you); for Allah (G-d) ever watches over you.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Believers of Masjid Mu­hammad, under the leader­ship of Resident Imam Talib Shareef, celebrated their 50-year Anniversary of the his­toric building. The theme for the three-day celebration was “Honoring Our Past Ensures Our Future.”

It was consistent with Scrip­tural Guidance (Al-Qur’an and Bible) to reverence, honor and show gratitude for the wombs that bore us. The com­munity’s Pioneers, grassroots Americans, made great sac­rifices to establish the com­munity and build Masjid Mu­hammad from the ground up.

It was the first in the Na­tion, among the many oth­ers, under the leadership of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, father of Imam W. Deen Mo­hammed (May G-d be pleased with both of them), to hold such a distinction. Along with that is the distinction of serv­ing the oldest Muslim commu­nity in the Nation’s Capitol.

The June 17, 2011, week­end also served as a kick-off for the year-long Capital Campaign to upgrade and expand this historic Masjid. The three-day event began Jumuah, the khatib being Imam Nasir Ahmad of Miami, Florida. His inspirational and motivational talk set the tone of excellence for the rest of the weekend.

Imam Nasir began by re­minding us that Imam W.D. Mohammed taught us the im­portance of saying “As Salaam Alaikum” and not just Salaam Alaikum. The difference being temporary or man’s blessings with the latter compared to Allah’s Peace.

He continued by reminding us that Islam is the religion of nature, and in fact, Islam is bigger than religion. His talk continued by mentioning Al-Qur’an is a Universal Book that recognizes other Faiths and is respectful of other Faith traditions, including the believers of Christ Jesus and the Jewish people.

Imam Nasir Ahmad went on to say that Islam is not identified with any race, tribe or nationality. His message throughout his talk addressed the pioneer honorees, Mus­lims and visiting Christians and Jews present for the his­toric celebration weekend.

Throughout his talk, Imam Ahmad also took examples from Al-Qur’an, Bible and Torah to show similarities between the major Faiths. At one point he mentioned that Christians and Jews are not enemies of Muslims.

Rather, he said, we are their Brothers, adding that one of the major problems fac­ing our communities is there is so much attention focused on labels and not content — too much attention to the “container.”

He ended his talk by shar­ing how the human being is created in two phases; the biological phase and the in­tellectual or rational phase. He also shared a unique in­sight Imam W.D. Mohammed had given the community on two important concepts, “Paradise lies at the foot of the woman” and “men are the maintainers and protectors of the woman.”

After Jumuah, a Health Workshop was conducted by Sis. Sharon Abdullah, who spoke about the female com­ponent of the Nation of Islam and the MGT and the GCC. She spoke of the customary practices of how the children were raised and often times how we married young dur­ing the first experience.

The moto, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was how they were taught to carry themselves.

On Saturday morning a se­ries of workshops began coor­dinated by Ibrahim MuMin.

The first workshop, “Future Directions for Muslim African Americans,” featured presen­tations by Imam Raouf Abdul­lah, Sis. Farah Shakour and Bro. Anwar Saleem. Topics covered “Reconciling our faith with our secular life,” “Educa­tion,” and “Strengthening our economic future through our past practices.”

The next workshop, “Reflec­tions on the History of Muslim African Americans featured a presentation by Dr. Abulalim Shabazz, former Imam/Minis­ter-Masjid Muhammad who spoke on “Significant events during the 60s and 70s.”

Sis. Baseemah Beyah, a 50 plus year pioneer, spoke on “Reflections on the teach­ings of our leaders.” And Sis. Ayesha K. Mustafa, Editor of Muslim Journal, talked about the national context of what was happening in Wash­ington, D.C.

That afternoon the young adults held a forum that in­cluded Sis. Tawqa Mahdi, who spoke on “Good: The En­emy of GREAT,” Bro. Shareef Abdul-Malik who spoke on “Marriage the Centerpiece for Community Life,” and Sis. Zaibaa Mahdi, who talked on “Upholding Our Community Values.”

The workshops concluded with an Interfaith Panel. The panel presenters included Clark Lobenstine of the Inter­faith Conference of Metropoli­tan Washington and Marilyn Boesch of the Focolare, coordi­nated by Bro. Mujahid Beyah.

An evening sold-out cel­ebration banquet capped the day of events. After opening payer by Imam Yusuf Sal­eem, Sis. Alia Waheed sang the National Anthems. Sis. Labeebah Salaam, a 50-year honoree, brought the welcome greetings and introduction of the Trailblazers.

An impressive lineup of speakers followed that in­cluded the Hon. Paul Monte­rio, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement who brought congratulatory greetings from President Barak Obama. Sis. Khadijah Siddeeq Moham­med, widow of Imam W.D. Mohammed, delighted the audience with wisdom she gained from her late husband.

Sis. Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Muslim Journal Editor, pleased the attendees with her national and internation­al perspectives. The audience was treated to a solo tribute to the Pioneers by violinist, Fad­lullah Ba’th. Resident Imam Talib Shareef was presented Proclamations by the Hon. Kwame Brown, Chairman, Council of the District of Co­lumbia, and from the Mayor’s office read by Bro. Shareef Abdul Malik.

A surprise appearance by the Hon. Ebrahim Rasool, Ambassador to the United States from South Africa, ar­riving with his parents capped off the evening. Later, Imam Shareef gave all the 50-year honorees a gift from the Mas­jid. Accepting on behalf of the Pioneers was Sis. Aida Sabir.

The gift was a specially commissioned cookbook, pub­lished by Masjid Muham­mad, that included recipies from Pioneers as early as Sis. Clara Muhammad, first con­vert to Islam in Washington, D.C., and the home where the Hon. Elijah Muhammad first stayed when he came to the Nation’s Capital.

Imam Sultan M. Abdullah provided the closing prayer. And the evening concluded with entertainment by Leron and Cristal Young, longtime favorites of the community.

On Sun., June 19, the week­end concluded with a Public Address Session at Masjid Muhammad. The speakers at the Public Address in­cluded Imams Yusuf Saleem and Abdulalim Shabazz, both former Imams at Masjid Mu­hammad, and Imam Nasir Ahmad. Imam Talib Shareef made closing remarks, thank­ing all who had participated.

Imam Shareef encouraged attendees to support the year-long schedule of events as part of the Capital Campaign and to purchase CD’s, DVD’s and other merchandise docu­menting the historic weekend celebration.

The 50th Anniversary Cele­bration Committee was led by Resident Imam Talib Shareef. Sis. Rabbil Montez was the general Chair for the event. Committee Co-chairs includ­ed Carole Mumin (location) and Marvis Aleem (work­shops).

Committee Members were Anwar Saleem (Banquet Pro­gram), Wali Shakoor (Pioneers), Najmah Salim (Registration), Muhammad Abdul-Malik (Secu­rity), Rodney Hawkins (Technol­ogy), Albert Sabir (Vendors) and Jamilah Mahdi-Shabazz (volun­teers).

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In His Words Broadcast July 25, 2011, 9:01 p.m. EDT from The White House , Given in Excerpts….

Editorial Note: This Muslim Journal goes to print on Fri., July 29. Before the next issue is published, the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling for the United States will have passed.

As Congressman John Boehner’s, the  Republican Speaker of the House, proposed alternative to President Obama’s Debt Solution was met today, July 26, with word from the GAO, that it would not add up to the cuts that Boehner had proposed, let us take a moment to read with President Obama actually said about this Great Debate.

Let us think hard on where our country is headed and why such opposition to President Obama, when every President as automatically raised the Debt Ceiling. Imam W. Deen Mohammed once said, “We may get robbed. But it will not be in the alley. They will have to rob us in broad daylight on the front streets.”

 While President Obama may be defeated in this round, let us be fully aware of why and by whom this defeat came to be.

THE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES, BARACK H. OBAMA:  Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans.

For the last decade, we’ve spent more money than we take in.  In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus.  But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our Nation’s credit card.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office.

To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families to spur the economy; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.

These emergency steps also added to the deficit. Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable.  But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy.

More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans.  Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books.

Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand.  And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.  And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do.  … [B]asically, the debate has centered around two different approaches.

The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending.  Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.  Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Let’s cut out waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations.  Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.

This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.  It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt.

And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.

This approach is also bipartisan.  While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.

While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said, “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach, because I care about solving the problem.”

And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks.

The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a different approach – a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.

And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scale, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.

So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need.  The debate is about how it should be done.

Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.

How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?  How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

That’s not right.  It’s not fair.  We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country – things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research.

And keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98 percent of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.  None.  In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families.

What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.

And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in.  In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit.  The first time a deal was passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share? Or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.  But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach – an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, by President Clinton, by myself, and by many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate.

So we’re left with a stalemate.  Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

… [R]aising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.  It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine.

Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it.  President Reagan did it 18 times.  George W. Bush did it seven times.  And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.

For the first time in history, our country’s AAA credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.

We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – this one caused almost entirely by Washington. So defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.  And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default.

But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now.  In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result.  We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk….

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach.  Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now.  The House of Representatives will once again refuse to prevent default, unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach.

Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions.  Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare.  And once again, the economy will be held captive, unless they get their way.

This is no way to run the greatest country on Earth.  It’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now.  Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake.

We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward.  The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months.

I think that’s a much better approach, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.  Either way, I’ve told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress – and a compromise that I can sign.

I’m confident we can reach this compromise.  Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before.  And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.

Yes, many want government to start living within its means.  And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few.  But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.  They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table.  And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington.

They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.  So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard.  If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know.

If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message. America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise.  As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding:  That out of many, we are one.

We’ve engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote:  “Every man cannot have his way in all things – without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.” 

History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed.  But those are not the Americans we remember.

We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good.

We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours, who put aside pride and party to form a More Perfect Union.

That’s who we remember.  That’s who we need to be right now.  So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as One Nation.

… May G-d Bless the United States of America.

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By Ayesha K. Mustafaa

Imagine for a moment the rows and rows of flotillas lined up ready to go into GAZA for a humanitarian, human rights cause. And then they are stopped. Some held at gun point – they are not welcomed here.

Imagine for a moment the rows of buses on the interstate highways on their way into Alabama and Mississippi, trying to break a blockade on human rights and to enforce Civil Rights for the African American people of those southern states and elsewhere.

What has one to do with the other? It should be obvious. Where there is no justice, there can be no peace. When human rights are trampled and Civil Rights denied, eventually a ripple goes out across humanity and more than those immediately affected are moved into action.

Their human souls want them to do something to alleviate such unjust massive suffering. The people of GAZA are suffering from the stranglehold put on them by the Israeli military might. Israel’s collective punishment of a whole people has and is causing hard to bring to terms human suffering.

Despite all of its attempts, the world has been put on alert, just like the world’s eye of condemnation turned on South Africa for its inhumane Apartheid system. And so did the world’s eye turn on our own country, the United States of America, in its age of chattel slavery of the African people and then again during the Jim Crow days of post slavery.

Going back further, it is also amazing that among the participants in the Freedom Flotilla are Alice Walker, Pulitzer-prize winner author, and former Anishanaabek Chief Robert Lovelace. Lovelace is a professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University in Canada.

Lovelace also was jailed for protesting uranium mining claims on his people’s territory. He feels obligated to also stand up against Israel’s illegal sea blockade of Gaza, that has left the Palestinian people without nutrition for adults and children, without proper medicines for the sick, and eventual to strip a people of all hope.

These boats are participating in the second international Freedom Flotilla and are a coalition of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations from more than half a dozen countries that will sailed through international waters to Gaza.

The first Flotilla that sailed last year ended in tragedy when Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish boat and killed nine activists, including an American Citizen.

The Israelis imposed the sea blockade on Gaza in 2006, five years ago, after Hamas candidates won a sweeping victory in a certified clean and democratic election overseen by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Lovelace left Canada going to Greece and from there planned to go to Gaza on the Flotilla on July 4, but they were detained in Greece, as the Greek officials said “for their own protection.” The U.S. Boat to Gaza, called the “Audacity of Hope,” attempted to leave Greece on July 1 but also was stopped by Greek authorities.

Upon the detentions by Greek authorities, the international press conference was called and attending along with Lovelace and Walker were Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former diplomat who resigned in 2003 in protest to the Iraq War; and Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian American with Israeli citizenship and who founded the “Free Gaza” Movement. Arraf also is a international human rights attorney, specializing in humanitarian law.

Ten elected members from the parliaments of France, Norway, Sweden and Spain attended the press conference and also intended to board the Freedom Flotilla boats. The banner behind the panel of speakers at the press conference, read in Greek: “We are breaking the blockade.”

For a day-to-day report on the status of the Flotillas to Gaza, visit the website http://ustogaza.org. Also visit the Indian Country Today Media Network – http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

Just as 50 years ago, when the Freedom Ride bus came into Alabama and was firebombed, it did not deter the movement. Another bus load of students came out of Tennessee headed to Alabama.

At its helm, a young 20-something-year-old Diane Nash was the leader of this busload. When she received the call of urgency telling her not to bring those students down to Alabama, admonishing her with, “… young lady, you are going to get those people killed…,” her reply was: “Sir, we have all signed our last will and testament.”

Some oppression may be subtle, hard to put your finger on. And some oppression is so overt, it screams for relief. It appears the Palestinian people are being heard, regardless of all the attempts to silence them.

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CLF Jumuah

ATLANTA, Ga. – The community of Muslims are all abuzz about the recently held Community Life Forward Conference (CLF) held in Atlanta over Independence Day Weekend this year.
As the cover photo display and page 13 of this issue of Muslim Journal reflect, from the White House and Halls of Congress to the Muslim scholars and historians and businesspersons, the rooms of the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel were filled with talent.
Congressman Keith Ellison set the tone with a directive to Muslims, including his presence at a fund-raiser to assure his return to the U.S. Congress. The White House Public Engagement Office was represented by D. Paul Monteiro.
Among the organizers and presenters at the CLF event were Imams Saafir Rabb II, Rahman Khan, historian Precious Muhammad, and business persons Anika Khan and Waleed Shamsid-deen.
Spiritual leadership was clearly exhibited with the attendance of Imams from coast-to-coast, including Imam Naim Shah II, Imam Mansour Sabree, Imam Tariq Najeeullah, Imam Talib Shareef and others. Furthering the educational exchange were persons like Scott Abdul-Salaam, Mubarakah Ibrahim, and AZIZAH Magazine Editor Tayyibah Taylor.
The Lambert family were prominent, along with Sis. Intisar Rashid, Professor Intisar Rabb, and one of the guest presenters  Ms. Acacia Bamberg Salatti, Deputy Director for the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The resulting influences of the weekend conference are still unfolding and will be presented through the 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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