|This group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to call attention to what they claim is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against Muslims in Burma. Claiming that there is a lack of media coverage regarding atrocities being committed against a Muslim minority in Burma, this group of protestors gathered Sept. 28 outside the Detroit News/Free Press facility on Mound Road and Metropolitan Parkway to help raise awareness about the issue.|
Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protesters marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.
"We are here protesting the media silence on the genocide taking place in Burma," said William Antoun of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.
According to Antoun, Rohingya Muslims are an ethnic minority in Burma and are considered by the United Nations to be "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world." The group faces religious and ethnic discrimination by the Myanmar military regime, which does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens.
"They're being treated as foreigners, even though they're indigenous people," Antoun said.
Groups like the Burma Task Force USA (www.Burma Muslims.org) allege that the Myanmar government has "put limits on the Rohingya's access to education, their ability to marry and have children, as well as their right to religious freedom." The group also claims that Rohingya women are routinely subjected to sexual assaults and the men are often sent to concentration camps.
"This has been going on for a long time, but this latest explosion of violence is the worst yet," Antoun said. "There have been millions of people killed over the past several years. This is genocide."
Antoun said groups like the Michigan Muslim Community Council and Burma Task Force USA seek to educate people about the atrocities being committed in the region, and have organized similar protests at locations throughout the country in an effort to raise awareness.
"We're going to bring the media's attention to it because there has been a virtual blackout in the U.S. media about this issue," he said.
Antoun said he hopes that greater media attention on the issue will put pressure on state and federal officials, who will in turn put pressure on Myanmar officials to resolve the conflict.
"That's why we're here," he said. "We need the media to put pressure on our state department to acknowledge what's happening, and put pressure on the leaders of Myanmar to stop and recognize human rights. We need to do something."
VIDEO CAPTION: Calling for greater media coverage of atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), a group of about a dozen protestors marched Sept. 28 with signs held high outside the Detroit News/Detroit Free Press facility on 16 Mile and Mound roads in Sterling Heights.
By Anas Alkatib Davenport University, February 13, 2012: September 30
February 4th 2012 was an important day for Muslims. It is a day in which literally more than a third of the world celebrated the birth of the greatest man who ever lived on Earth; a man who was mentioned in the Holy Quran: “And we have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds” [Al-Anbiya, 21:107].
This man is the seal of the prophets; the most beloved to Allah, and to all Muslims specifically, and to many non-Muslims in general, and this man is Prophet Mohammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Abd Al-Mu??alib. He was sent with a message of faith, ethics and mercy to change the minds and hearts of those living in the Age of Ignorance. He was the most influential and successful human being to ever set foot on earth. He’s the only person that Allah obligates Angels and Muslims to praise, as mentioned in Surat Al-Ahzab.
Though this conference was not a conventional celebration where you’ll see fireworks and such, it was a celebration of the way of life of the Prophet PBUH. The best way to remember such a great man is by remembering his dealings with his family, with his companions, with other people whether they were Muslims, Christians, Jews, or even people of no faith, and pagan people who worship idols.
To commemorate the event, the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) presented the 5th Annual Sirah Conference at IONA Centerin Warren, Michigan. Speaker Dr. Munawar Haque talked about how Prophet Mohammad was sent as a mercy to mankind, to bring the people out of the ignorance (jahiliyah) that they were in, from worshiping idols to worshipping the Creator Himself and not associate anyone with Him. Imam Dawud Walid gave a second speech in which he talked about Prophet Mohammad’s life and about him being a Sheppard of the flock, which needs catering to because sheep are meek animals that require taking care of, and looking after their needs of food, water, etc. He also discussed how the Prophet honored agreements with Muslims and non-Muslims.
Imam Mustapha Elturk gave valuable insights and information dealing with the subject of Prophet Mohammad’s vast knowledge that we have to learn from, quoting the Prophet as saying “Let be there an Uma that will rise and take the mission of da’wa to do good.” Imam Elturk continued on by saying that although there are many Muslims, there are many within the Muslims who are not practicing, and we as fellow Muslims have the responsibility to steer them to the right path. Muslims are obligated to spread da’wa to non-Muslims as well, that is our duty in life. “People are divided into two groups, the majority and the minority, when giving da’wa you can’t neglect anyone, and must convey the message to all.”
The attendance for the conference was very good, from men and women. After the end of the conference, Isha prayer was performed and then food was served. At the end of the conference Imam Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), made an announcement about the 2012 CAIR-MI Annual Banquet that will be held at the Islamic Center of America (ICA) on March 25th with Keynote Speaker Sahar Aziz and guest speaker Siraj Wahhaj.
9/11: Macomb marks 10 years with tears, thanks, lanterns
Published: Sunday, September 11, 2011
By Mitch Hotts
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
From sunrise until long after the full moon rose on Sunday, Macomb County residents observed the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with prayer, song, fellowship and even floating flaming lanterns at Metro Beach Metropark.
A number of churches included a Sept. 11 theme in Sunday celebrations, while several public gatherings will held including in Clinton Township, Mount Clemens and Warren as area officials and residents mourned those killed in the attacks and paid tribute to their hometown first responders.
“It really touches my heart because all of this comes from the heart,” said Evelyn Scafuri, a retired Detroit public schools teacher who attended an event at the D.S. Temrowski Funeral Home in Warren.
Funeral home operator Dave Temrowski hosted a dedication of a new flagpole and unveiled a commemorative bronze plaque in honor of the “lost souls of 9/11.” The funeral home is widely known in the community for providing services for police and firefighters.
“You know who you are and you don’t ask for thanks or accolades,” Temrowski said of the public safety sector. “You just say ‘I am just doing my job,’ but today we as a community say thank you, thank you, thank you.”
The plaque outside of the funeral home carries a message that reads “Dedicated to those we lost and those who carry on 9-11-2001.”
John Wrobel, 64, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was among those who turned out for the ceremony.
“I just wanted to be here,” Wrobel said. “It’s just a sad day, all those lives lost. It was just a real bad day for America.”
At the Warren City Hall, the city and the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice told a crowd of about 1,000 that the country’s unity in the days following the attacks has largely dissipated into racial and religious name calling including “Islamophobia.”
Iman Steve Elturk, a member of the ICRJ’s executive board, said Americans’ distrust of Muslims in the years after 9/11 continues to grow — and that’s wrong, considering a number of Muslims were among those trying to save victims of the World Trade Center incident.
“It is absurd to accuse all Muslims of being terrorists,” Elturk said. “America is for whites and blacks and all colors in between ... it is this diversity that makes America so beautiful.”
Warren Mayor James Fouts, who has pushed for racial and religious diversity in City Hall, vowed to keep public facilities open to all faiths and races as long as he’s the city’s top elected officials.
“In my mind, any terrorist attack is one word: cowardly,” the mayor said. “And anyone hiding behind the Muslim religion is even more cowardly.”
During the event, a female member of the Warren Mott High School Marching Band collapsed in the 80-degree heat. She was given water on the spot, and then treated by Warren paramedics in attendance.
Meanwhile, Warren also honored its first responders as Police Commissioner Jere Green introduced the department’s two officers of the year, Sgt. Steve Mills and Detective Robert Eidt, for their investigation that led to an arrest in the stabbing death of Robert Miller at the Maple Lane Condominiums in 2010.
Also, Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams announced the promotions of 17 firefighters in the department.
First responders were also the focus of a candlelight vigil at the Macomb Heroes Memorial, which was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2010, on Main Street in front of the Macomb County Circuit Courthouse in Mount Clemens.
The names of 30 Macomb police officers, firefighters and paramedics who died in the line of duty were read out aloud, with a bell ringing after each one.
Among those in attendance were relatives of Omer “Jim” Reygaert, 34, a Romeo police officer who was killed by gunfire in 1969 as he and a partner tried to apprehend a shooting suspect.
“I’m sure he would be glad to see this and to know all of them are remembered,” said his wife, Dorothy Reygaert, who attended with the couple’s daughter, Denise.
The largest crowd of the day came Sunday night as an estimated 3,000 showed up at Metro Beach for an evening of music and written tributes.
Under a moonlit sky, hundreds of participants ignited floating lanterns that gently sailed into the night as a tribute to those who died in 9/11.
Dean Bartlett of Harrison Township brought along his daughter, Kaylie, and his girlfriend Angela Sopha to take part in the ceremony.
“9/11 touched us a lot, hit home with my dad being in the service,” Bartlett said. “It was an event we have seen once in a lifetime and hope it never happens again.”
9/11: Muslims forever changed
Published: Friday, September 09, 2011
By Frank DeFrank
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
But they hope to use tragedy to educate fellow countrymen
When the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Mohammed Kibriya’s heart sank with them.
Then a 17-year-old high school student in Hamtramck, Kibriya worried that his Muslim faith would become a target of the rage and fear many Americans felt.
“I didn’t feel threatened,” said Kibriya, now a Warren resident. “But I had a bit of an identity problem. (I thought), ‘I can’t call myself Muslim anymore.’”
Melanie Elturk, 26, a practicing Muslim and daughter of an imam, a Muslim religious leader, was a high school student in Oakland County on Sept. 11, 2001.
Like most Americans, Melanie Elturk was appalled at the carnage she witnessed on television. But unlike most Americans, she felt a lot of suspicion come her way in the aftermath of the attacks.
“I definitely felt I was a second-class citizen in my own country,” said Melanie Elturk, who now resides in Chicago. “… I definitely felt I was on the defensive.”
Mirza Ahmed, 71, of Warren, saw his relationship with his next-door neighbor “slowly turn worse” following the terrorist attacks. On one occasion, the neighbor, drunk and wearing no clothes, banged on Ahmed’s door in the middle of the night, waking his family.
“He gave us a real bad time,” Ahmed said.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and in a jetliner over Pennsylvania shocked and outraged the nation.
For many American Muslims, the attacks were double-edged. They felt the same sorrow and anger for their country as their non-Muslim neighbors, but many also found themselves forced to defend their most deeply held religious beliefs.
Mohamed Hassan, 67, of Clinton Township, worked as engineer at the U.S. Army’s TACOM plan in Warren on Sept. 11, 2001. Concerned the attacks could drive a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim workers, Hassan’s supervisor gathered the entire staff together. Hassan soon found himself quoting the Quran to his co-workers.
“I told them: ‘If you kill a person, it’s as if you killed the whole world,’” he recalled.
Imam Stephen Elturk is president of the Islamic Organization of North America, the first mosque located in Warren. After the terrorists attacks, Elturk and other Muslim leaders faced a twofold challenge.
“Leaders were educating Muslims to … hang onto their beliefs,” he said. “At the same time, community leaders were outside trying to teach the non-Muslim community that what occurred … really had nothing to do with our faith.”
But despite the efforts, suspicions and fears of Muslims and Islam weren’t easily allayed.
Melanie Elturk recalled when her entire family was detained at a U.S. border when returning from Canada. Weapons were trained on family members and several were questioned for hours.
“It jaded me,” she said. “It made me feel like I don’t have any faith in the system. It was humiliating.”
That experience and others strengthened Melanie Elturk’s resolve. She continued to wear a head scarf, even when others her age abandoned the attire. And she spoke out in defense of Islam whenever the opportunity presented itself.
“I had the duty to step up and say more about my religion,” she said.
The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice was long a champion of fostering tolerance of the increasingly diverse cultures that form the tapestry of Macomb County. For many years, the center offered programs and workshops on cultural diversity, with racism and black-and-white issues the primary focus.
That changed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Interfaith Center helped organize an interfaith prayer service and later helped plan an event to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.
The Rev. Michail Curro took over as executive director of the Interfaith Center in 2006, and Curro recognized immediately the need to expand the
focus to include Muslims and Islam.
In 2007, the center introduced its “Listen, Learn and Live” program, in which participants are exposed to different cultures and religions found in
The very first course: Muslims and Islam.
“There is no question the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, has meant a special focus by the (Interfaith Center) to introduce people to Muslims and offer opportunities to learn about Islam and Muslims,” Curro said.
“And although there has been much progress in building relationships and bridges of understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims in Macomb County … it is unlikely that such efforts will slow down.”
A decade after international terrorism came to America, divisions still exists between Muslims and non-Muslims. But many see progress in the relationships that were so severely tested in the wake of 9/11.
The past 10 years have given Muslims the opportunity to show the community they’re no different from millions of other Americans “who are born here and raised here and work here and are doctors and lawyers and engineers who have contributed to this country just like anybody else,” said Imam Elturk.
His daughter agreed, to a point.
“Ten years later, I’m surprised to turn on the TV and see people of other faiths defending me, which is extremely comforting,” she said.
“At the same time, there is going to be the other extreme. That keeps us working and gives us that much more resolve to make sure we’re still getting our point across.
“We still need to educate.”
Underwear bomb suspect challenges his detention
Abdulmutallab says he should be judged by Islamic, not U.S., law
Robert Snell and Oralandar Brand-Williams/ The Detroit News
Last Updated: August 26. 2011 12:42PM
Detroit— Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "underwear bomber" accused of trying to blow up an airliner over Metro Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, asked a judge Thursday to free him from prison, arguing he should be judged by the Quran, not U.S. laws.
The handwritten request, in which Abdulmutallab claims he is being "unjustly detained," injected religion into arguably the most high-profile criminal terror case in the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Legal and cultural experts called Abdulmutallab's request fruitless, with one labeling it a "sideshow antic," though it served as the latest curveball by a Nigerian suspect whose own legal adviser questioned the man's ability to stand trial while serving as his own lawyer.
"If he was in the land of Saudi Arabia or Iran and he attempted the same act, I don't think he would be making that request, because his punishment may be more strict," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. "He really needs to be quiet with these sideshow antics. He is going to get his wish by the Quran, by God, when he dies. He will be judged by the American court right now."
'Excessive force' claimed
The request came as Abdulmutallab, 24, claimed in a separate filing that he assaulted several prison guards Wednesday while observing the holy month of Ramadan. The guards responded by using excessive force to restrain him inside the federal prison in Milan, Abdulmutallab claimed.
The filing doesn't make clear what prompted the alleged assault, but Abdulmutallab seems to make a connection to his observance of the Muslim holiday.
Abdulmutallab, who fired his legal team last year and faces an Oct. 4 trial, asked U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to protect him from prison guards.
His legal adviser, Detroit lawyer Anthony Chambers, sent lawyers to visit Abdulmutallab in prison Thursday following the incident.
"He's doing OK," Chambers said. "Obviously, there are some issues going on. I don't know what triggered anything. It is Ramadan month. He is observing, but what happened, I do not know."
A Bureau of Prisons spokesman was unaware of the incident.
"In a situation where force is used, we only use the force that is necessary to control the situation," Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.
Abdulmutallab wrote that the incident happened between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday.
"Defendant Abdulmutallab, in defense of Muhammad (peace be upon him … the messenger of Allah to Mankind who is being defamed and abused by the United States of America) assaulted several officers from his cell," he wrote.
"As a result, excessive force was used to restrain defendant Abdulmutallab who was already in a closed cell on his own."
He asked Edmunds to order prison guards not to use excessive force while he is "justly defending Muhammad and his religion," according to the court filing.
Request has 'zero' chance
Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, requires Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk.
Known as the "blessed month," it is marked by prayers, works of charity and abstinence from food, tobacco, sex and liquids during the day. The religious observance began Aug. 1 and ends Tuesday.
In a filing Thursday, Abdulmutallab said he is being unjustly detained in the United States and "subjected to the Rule of Man."
Abdulmutallab asked Edmunds to order his release and that he be judged and ruled "by the law of the Quran."
Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, called Abdulmutallab "a fool."
"If he wants to be judged by the Quran, he's going to be convicted," Elturk said. "The Quran condemns killing innocent people."
Abdulmutallab's request for freedom has "zero" chance of being granted, said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and ex-federal prosecutor.
"That argument has never worked in a U.S. court," Henning said.
"You are judged, and international law recognizes, by the law of the nation where your crime took place."
Victor Begg, a co-founder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, agreed.
"Law of the land follows American criminal code," he said Thursday. "… No other law… can be applied in America."
Abdulmutallab faces charges that could keep him in prison for life, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder inside an aircraft, taking a bomb onboard a plane and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
He is accused of trying to kill nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Prosecutors contend he concealed explosive chemicals in his underwear and tried to detonate them as the flight from Amsterdam approached Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Monday, August 1, 2011
American political campaigns targeting Shariah are as red hot as Sunday’s front page in the New York Times. Unfortunately, these grassroots campaigns are aimed at scoring points with frightened voters—not at any real-world problem. No responsible Muslim leader in the United States is trying to substitute Shariah for secular American law. In fact, every major religious group around the world has some code of law for governing community life. Once upon a time in America, political parties targeted Catholics, claiming that they might try to impose Roman canon law in the U.S.—but that myth was dispelled more than half a century ago.
ReadTheSpirit invited a Muslim expert to write a clear and concise summary of Shariah—to combat wildly inaccurate information floating around the Internet. Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk is a Lebanese-American lecturer on the meaning of the Quran and president of the Islamic Organization of North America. Imam Elturk worked for many weeks on this summary, including input from other Muslim leaders.
IF YOU APPRECIATE THIS SHARIAH STORY, please email the link to a friend (either copy the URL above or email from the link at the bottom of this story). Share this link on Facebook. Please, spread this accurate report as far and wide as the bogus information travels.
BY IMAM STEVE MUSTAPHA ELTURK
Shariah sometimes is portrayed as an antiquated Islamic system of law that is barbaric with no regard for values of democracy, human rights or women’s freedom. In fact, the opposite is true: Social welfare, freedom, human dignity and human relationships are among the higher objectives of Shariah.
WHAT DOES SHARIAH MEAN?
The word Shariah comes from the Arabic: sha-ra-‘a, which means a way or path and by extension—the path to be followed. The term originally was used to describe “the path that leads to water,” since water is the source of all life. Hence, Shariah is the way to the source of life. Shariah in Islam refers to the law according to divine guidance leading to a good and happy life in this world and the next.
The concept behind Shariah is not unique to Islam and is found in nearly all of the world’s great religions. Moses, peace be upon him, received the Torah incorporating the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments. Look at the sampling of religious codes, shown at right, for more examples. In Islam, we look primarily to the revelation that came when the Quran was revealed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, incorporating the final Shariah for the benefit of humankind. “For each of you We have appointed a law (Shariah) and a way of life. And had God so willed, He would surely have made you one single community; instead, (He gave each of you a law and a way of life) in order to test you by what He gave you.” (Quran 5:48)
SOURCES OF SHARIAH
There are basically two sources of Shariah—the Quran and the Sunnah (the divinely guided tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him). There is also what is called fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence. There is a fundamental difference, however, between Shariah and fiqh. While Shariah is of divine origin, fiqh is the product of intellectual effort to deduce the rulings of Shariah through the jurist’s own intellectual exertion suitable for his specific time and place. Fiqh interprets and extends the application of Shariah to situations not directly addressed in the primary sources by taking recourse to secondary sources. Those secondary sources usually include a consensus of religious scholars called ijmaand analogical deductions from the Quran and the Sunnah called qiyas. While the Quran and the Sunnah are permanent and unchangeable, fiqh is variable and may change with time and place—but always within the spirit and parameters of these two main sources of Shariah: the Quran and Sunnah.
OBJECTIVES OF SHARIAH
Shariah aims at the welfare of the people in this life and in the life hereafter. The sources of Shariah guide people to adopt a set of beliefs and practices that would help them ward off evil, injury, misery, sorrow, and distress. These beliefs and practices may result in benefit, happiness, pleasure, and contentment not only in this world, but also in the next. The Quran confirms, “Whoever follows My guidance, when it comes to you [people], will not go astray nor fall into misery, but whoever turns away from it will have a life of great hardship.” (Quran 20:123-124)
It is an error to define Shariah as a “legal-political-military doctrine,” as some political activists claim. It also is wrong to associate and restrict Shariah only to the punitive laws of Islam. The fact is that Shariah is all-embracing and encompasses personal as well as collective spheres in daily living. Shariah includes the entire sweep of life: Prayers, charity, fasting, pilgrimage, morality, economic endeavors, political conduct and social behavior, including caring for one’s parents and neighbors, and maintaining kinship.
Shariah’s goal is to protect and promote basic human rights, including faith, life, family, property and intellect. Islam has, in fact, adopted two courses for the preservation of these five indispensables: the first is through cultivating religious consciousness in the human soul and the awakening of human awareness through moral education; the second is by inflicting deterrent punishment, which is the basis of the Islamic criminal system. Other major bodies of religious law in the world, including the Canon Law used by the Catholic church, contain both legal outlines of responsibilities and codes for punishing misbehavior.
SHARIAH 1: PROTECTION OF FAITH
Faith is the essence and spirit of a meaningful life. Muslims profess their faith through a verbal testimony, bearing witness to the oneness and unity of God and to the finality of prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the seal of all of God’s prophets and messengers, a chain that started with Adam and includes Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all. Muslims also express their faith through devotional practices, most importantly the five daily prayers, an act of worship that keeps them connected with the Creator. Additional practices include fasting, obligatory charity and pilgrimage. Fasting during the month of Ramadan has been prescribed to Muslims so they may be mindful of God and learn self-restraint. Zakat, or a portion of our income to be given to the poor, is another duty regulated by God to ensure that basic needs are met for the less fortunate, poor and destitute. If they are able, Muslims are also required to perform Hajj—a pilgrimage to visit the sacred house (Ka’bah) that was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to seek forgiveness from their Lord and renew their covenant with Him.
It is against Shariah to compel or force any person to convert to Islam. The Quran asserts, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (2:256) Shariah provides total freedom of religion. The Quran is quite clear on the point, “Say (O Muhammad), ‘Now the truth has come from your Lord: let those who wish to believe in it do so, and let those who wish to reject it do so’ ” (18:29) “Had God willed He would have guided all people” (13:31)
Islam holds that people are endowed with our senses and our intellect so that we can choose what is best for us to follow. Shariah not only allows other faiths to co-exist but guarantees the protection of their houses of worship and properties. Shariah respects the worth of every human being in his or her own belief and endeavor in the pursuit of life and the truth.
SHARIAH 2: PROTECTION OF LIFE
Shariah recognizes the sanctity and sacredness of human life. One may not harm or kill. The Quran emphatically stresses this point, “And do not take any human being’s life—[the life] which God has willed to be sacred—otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice.” (17:33) Killing innocent people, even at times of war, is a grave sin and strongly condemned by Shariah: “if anyone kills a person—unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land—it is as if he kills all mankind; while if any saves a life, it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind.” (5:32)
Unfortunately, as in all the world’s great faiths, Islam sometimes produces individuals who make distorted religious claims. News reports from around the world have shown us extremists from various religious traditions who claim that their faith compels them to commit acts that clearly are crimes to any sensible person. This recently happened in Norway, according to news reports. Similarly, some Muslims have issued extreme fatwas (judicial rulings) that may not be based on the Quran and the Sunnah at all. Another unfortunate example of this distortion is the lingering practice of honor killings in some parts of the world. Honor killing is an entrenched cultural issue in some areas, but clearly is in violation of Shariah as well as all globally recognized Christian codes of conduct. Nevertheless, honor killings still occur in some traditional Christian and Muslim cultures. These crimes need to be addressed worldwide by leaders of all faiths.
Psychological harm or injury is also prohibited under Shariah. The Quran mandates, “O believers! Avoid making too many assumptions, for some assumptions are sinful; and do not spy on one another; or speak ill of people behind their backs: would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of God: God is ever relenting, most merciful.” (49:12)
Shariah also demands total respect for all of creation. For example, a Muslim is prohibited to cut down trees or kill animals without a good reason. As part of Shariah, Muslims are required to protect the environment from pollution and harmful waste.
SHARIAH 3: PROTECTION OF FAMILY
Shariah regulates the life of a Muslim in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, parenting, upbringing of children, rights of orphans, ties of kith and kin, etc. The family is the nucleus of society. Hence, having a sound family structure builds a strong society. Islam encourages marriage as soon as a mature man is able to support his wife. Premarital or extramarital sex is strictly forbidden.
Islam does allow men to have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four, provided that the husband treats them equitably. However, this represents a tiny minority in Muslim-majority countries, where polygamous marriage constitutes only 1-to-3 percent of all marriages. Islam encourages only one wife. The Quran in verse 4:129 affirms how difficult it is to be equitable in multiple marriage. Polygamy remains a challenging issue in many world faiths. International gatherings of Christian leaders in recent decades also have discussed compassionate responses to polygamy.
Despite misconceptions, Shariah protects women’s rights if properly applied. For example, women are entitled to education, to keep their maiden names and to control their inheritance. They are entitled to a decent living, to own property or to own a business, if they wish.
Islam teaches that family ties are to be maintained and parents are highly regarded. Shariah enjoins believers to honor parents and grandparents. In numerous places in the Quran, the rights of parents are mentioned immediately after the rights of God. The following verse illustrates the importance of this value: “Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them a word of contempt, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully, and lower your wing in humility towards them in kindness and say, ‘Lord, have mercy on them, just as they cared for me when I was little.’ ” (17:23-24)
Neighbors are viewed as extended family in Islam. God instructs believers to take care of their neighbors, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. “Be good to your parents, to relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to neighbors near (Muslims) and far (non-Muslims), to travelers in need.” (4:36)
SHARIAH 4: PROTECTION OF PROPERTY
Shariah stresses lawful earning for the maintenance of oneself and family—and rejects begging for a living. The objective of economic activities is to fulfill one’s basic needs and not to satisfy insatiable desires.
Our rights to property are protected in Shariah, an ideal that naturally contributes to a sense of security in a community. Forms of economic exploitation are condemned. Islam prohibits interest and usury (Riba). The goal is to keep people from depleting their property and falling into poverty through excessive debt. Likewise, the positive Quranic attitude towards trade and commercial activities (al-bay’) encourages mutual help, fairness with employees and equitable transactions in business. The Islamic view of economic principles includes a requirement that a lender should participate in either the profit or the loss of a borrower. Shariah’s interest in a just and healthy community extends throughout our business transactions.
SHARIAH 5: PROTECTION OF INTELLECT
Among the most cherished gifts of God is the faculty of intellect, which differentiates us from animals. It is through this faculty one is able to reason and make sound judgments. Such a precious blessing needs protection. Anything that threatens the intellect is discouraged or completely prohibited by Shariah. Prohibitions on intoxication with alcohol or drugs are aimed at keeping the mind sound and healthy.
Acknowledging that some may claim benefits of gambling and drinking, God informs that their harm is greater than their benefit. “They ask you [Prophet] about intoxicants and gambling: say, ‘There is great sin in both and some benefit for people: the sin is greater than the benefit.’ … In this way, God makes His messages clear to you, so that you may reflect.” (Quran 2:219)
Shariah abhors extremism and excessiveness. Excesses in spending, eating—even worship—are prohibited in Islam. Shariah promotes following the middle path. True Muslims are moderate in all of their endeavors—religious and secular. God described them in the Quran as “the Middle Nation.”
Shariah aims at facilitating life and removing hardships. Shariah beautifies life and provides comfort. It approves of good and forbids evil. It is considerate in case of necessity and hardship.
A general principle in Shariah holds that necessity makes the unlawful lawful. A Muslim is obliged to satisfy his hunger with lawful food and not to eat what has been declared forbidden. One may, however, in case of necessity—when permissible food is not available—eat unlawful foods such as pork to sustain life. Shariah comes from a kind and compassionate God.
The Quran says: “God wants ease for you, not hardship”(2:185) “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear” (2:286) “It was only as a mercy that We sent you [Prophet] to all people.” (21:107)
Ultimately, Shariah strives for justice, fairness, mercy and peace.
Macomb County reflects on bin Laden’s death
By Frank DeFrank
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The death of the world’s most-wanted terrorist resonated Monday from the halls of Congress to the households of Macomb County.
Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, ran out of time and luck late Sunday night when an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs killed him in a compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot in the head during the raid.
“The people of the world can feel relief and satisfaction that a monster has been brought to justice,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said in a statement released Monday. “Justice has a long memory and a long arm.”
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican, called the successful operation “tremendous news for our nation and the world.”
“Our terrorist enemies must understand that our great nation will never relent in our effort to bring to justice those who would perpetrate acts of murder against the innocent,” Miller said. “Let the death of this terrorist mass murderer stand as a symbol of our collective resolve.”
Bin Laden had eluded capture for nearly a decade. He had orchestrated the attacks that saw hijacked passenger jets deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people died in the attacks.
A fourth plane, believed headed for either the U.S. Capitol or White House, crashed in a Pennsylvania field when passengers thwarted the hijackers’ plans.
Bin Laden’s death was confirmed when President Barack Obama addressed the nation Sunday shortly before midnight Detroit time. But many were unaware of the news until Monday morning.
Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, learned of bin Laden’s death Monday morning when he arrived at a New York airport for his flight home to Detroit.
“I was not shocked,” Elturk said. “I knew some day he would be caught.”
In his role as a Detroit-area Muslim leader, Elturk has worked to convince non-Muslims that bin Laden and others like him have “hijacked” Islam, a religion that preaches peace and tolerance, not hatred and violence.
“Extremism has no basis in our faith,” Elturk said. “… We suffered at the hands of extremists.”
Recent political developments in Muslim nations in the Middle East serve as evidence that the anti-Western philosophy espoused by bin Laden is running out of steam.
“Hopefully, with the figurehead gone, things will simmer down,” the religious leader said. “We have to be alert … (but) for the long run, I think his movement is dying.”
As a man of faith, the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, is uncomfortable celebrating the death of a human being. But he left little doubt on his feelings about bin Laden.
“I personally had hoped he would have rotted in a cell,” said Curro, who suggested bin Laden’s death affords Americans of all faiths and beliefs another chance to move forward and leave behind a hateful past.
“There’s another opportunity for unity and level-headed people to speak out against extremism at every turn,” Curro said.
Dr. Steven Karageanes, then a physician with Henry Ford Hospital, traveled to New York in 2001 to offer his services to injured firefighters, police officers and volunteers as they searched in vain for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Karageanes, too, is optimistic that bin Laden’s death could turn a page in America’s history books.
“I guess I’m cautiously optimistic this may improve relations overall between the Muslim and non-Muslim world,” said Karageanes, now with the Detroit Medical Center. “I hope there is very little retaliation and we just move on.”
Local Imams are worried about the planned visit by the Quran burning Pastor from Florida
WARREN, Mich (WXYZ) - Local Imams are worried about the planned visit by Terry Jones, the Quran burning Pastor from Florida.
He is supposed to be in Dearborn on Good Friday, April 22nd. Imam Steve Elturk and other religious leaders are urging Jones not to come. If he does they are urging local Muslims and others not to go see him.
The burning of the Islamic holy book sparked deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan and religious leaders are worried about trouble here.
Meanwhile the Police Chief in Dearborn says Jones' visit is not a done deal because he has not worked out all the requirements of a permit.
If he does, the chief says he will have the assistance of other police agencies, both state and federal, to hopefully keep things under control.
The pastors and the imams represent 35 churches and mosques in metro Detroit. They are going to send a letter asking Reverend Terry Jones not to come to Dearborn. Known primarily for burning the Holy Quran, Jones plans to be in Dearborn on Good Friday, April 22. The Florida pastor has not threatened to burn a Quran or given details about his protest.
The religious leaders had planned to ignore him, but say they can no longer do that. Standing together as interfaith clergy Monday, they spoke out on how they plan to deal with Jones' visit.
"As a christian minister, silence for me would be consent. That's the reason why we are trying to be as vigilant and vocal on the issue as we possibly can," said Reverend Charles Williams II, from King Solomon Baptist Church.
Imam Steve Elturk added "When he burns the Quran he also burns Jesus. Jesus is revered in Islam and is mentioned many times in the Quran... even more than Mohammed."
The clergy members are calling for prayer vigils during the visit and urge their members and congregations not to be lured in to reacting to Reverend Jones.
The imams and pastors want to stress that they are not asking anyone to take part in any sort of counter protest.
They are getting together to decide how they will conduct the prayer vigils, at individual churches or mosques and whether they will be out of doors.
Brave gesture by commissioner tainted by longtime political activist's rant
Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011
The Insider extends kudos to county Commissioner Toni Moceri for making the brave move to invite a Muslim imam to deliver the invocation at Thursday's Board of Commissioners meeting. But the Warren Democrat's decision was not without controversy.
The choice of a religious leader to speak at the beginning of monthly full board sessions is rotated among the commissioners. In the past the invocation was delivered by local Christian ministers or priests.
Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America's Warren mosque broke new ground.
Minutes after he performed the duty, longtime political rabble rouser Don Lobsinger spoke during public participation, denouncing the Martin Luther King holiday, as he does every year, and claiming that King was a communist. Then he turned his sights on Elturk, essentially asserting that Muslim beliefs are a crime against God and the imam will be going to hell.
So much for that civil tone in our politics that the president and Congress have been preaching.
Gov. Rick Snyder's unorthodox decision to speak from notes — not a written speech — at his first State of the State Address on Wednesday certainly inconvenienced reporters and politicians alike.
Reporters had to actually pay attention and take copious notes, rather than simply follow the script. Elected officials who often receive advanced copies of the speech's text weren't able to prepare remarks ahead of time for immediate release afterward.
But that didn't stop new Attorney General Bill Schuette. A fellow Republican, he released a statement at 4:30 p.m., 2½ hours before Snyder's talk, praising the governor's speech. Schuette's comments were distributed to reporters with the caveat they couldn't be made public until 8 p.m., after the speech.
Of course, it's pretty difficult to comment on an address that you haven't heard. But he did.
Schuette may be flying high these days as Michigan's top law enforcement officer. But even he can't avoid some turbulence.
Democratic Club Invites Imam to Speak on Islam
Oak Park-Huntington Woods group invites the public to attend free Thursday evening event
by Leslie Ellies
Published January 13, 2011
Do you know anyone who is Muslim?
That is the question Oak Park-Huntington Woods Democratic Club chair Marian McClellan has urged Imam Steve Elturk to ask the audience Thursday evening during his talk on Islam.
"There is no opportunity for dialogue," when people don't know each other, McClellan said.
The free event, which will be held at the Oak Park Public Library and is open to the public, aims to open up just such a dialogue. McClellan said she organized the talk to help people deal with their fears in the wake of 9/11 and the recent financial meltdown in the United States.
"Everyone's of two minds," McClellan said. "There's Jewish members, whose group has been persecuted. And there are black members, who, obviously their group has been persecuted. We don't want to see that happen to Muslims."
But, she said, people do have legitimate concerns about terrorism and she hopes Elturk can help them distinguish between radical Islam and peaceful Muslims.
"The normal Muslims are just as concerned as we are," about terrorism, she said.
Elturk is an imam – prayer leader – at the Islamic Organization of North America mosque and learning center in Warren, which he said serves about 1,000 people. IONA worshippers hail from places including the United States, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, Elturk said.
The mosque, located in an unassuming strip mall building, is open every day so the faithful have a place to perform their five daily prayers, he said. The public is welcome – there are separate entrances for men and women – and the learning center holds classes for Muslims and non-Muslims, Elturk said.
The community has come to accept the mosque, which did not at first receive a warm reception, the imam said.
During a public hearing about the center, Warren residents called members of the IONA group names and accused them of being terrorists, Elturk said.
"The feeling on that day – I will be frank with you – it was like having a mountain placed on your heart. I was heartbroken," he said. "It's beyond description the feeling one gets in one's heart."
But, he said, the neighborhood has come around. One woman even came to a mosque open house and apologized for what happened at the hearing, said Elturk, who is now part of an interfaith group in Warren that includes the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice.
"We have a good relationship with our neighbors and our city and our churches and we're grateful for that," he said.
For those who have little knowledge of the faith, he laid out some of the core tenets:
Elturk added that Muslims are required to spread the word of their faith, a struggle known as jihad (the Arabic word jihad means struggle, he said). Violent extremists have perverted the word's true meaning, he said.
"Just like the evangelists who struggle to preach the faith, we are obligated to share the message of the Quran," Elturk said. "This holy war thing – there's no such thing in Islam."
Once a nonbeliever has learned about Islam, it is up to him or her to decide what they think, he said: "We believe people's personal faith is personal between them and God."
Regardless of differences in belief, he said, there are many common threads among all people.
"There's a lot of social justice issues that people of all faiths – and even those who don't have faith – can come together to work on," he said, citing among them the elimination of hatred and prejudice, as well as health care, education and environmental issues. "All of these issues concern all of us."
When asked what he'd like to say to the public, Elturk responded: "We can continue to live together if we are open and honest with each other."
Macomb County Muslim leaders denounce call for jihad in video
Published: Monday, October 25, 2010
By Frank DeFrank
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
‘The Muslim-American community, as always, condemns all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity’
Macomb County Muslim leaders have denounced a message by a U.S.-born al Qaida member calling for Muslims living in America and Europe to carry out attacks.
Adam Gadahn made a plea for Muslims to “take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of jihad … by striking the Zio-Crusader interests.”
Gadahn has been hunted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2004. He grew up in California and converted to Islam before moving to Pakistan in 1998, where he reportedly attended an al Qaidatraining camp.
In response to the video, the Warren-based Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, released a statement condemning the message. The message cites passages from the Qur’an to illustrate calls for violence conflicts with Islamic teachings.
“Muslims are urged to ignore statements from individuals calling for violence against innocent people in the name of their faith,” the statement reads. “The Muslim-American community, as always, condemns all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity.”
In the video, Gadahn appealed to Muslims who live in what he called the “miserable suburbs” or Paris, London and Detroit. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, said Gadahn’s “desperate plea” will be ignored in the Detroit area.
“If any Muslim community has grown in civic engagement and empowerment, it would be this community,” Walid said. “He invoked the wrong population to try to stir up.”
The statement from the Warren council echoed Walid.
“Extremism does not reflect the views of Muslims in Michigan who are an integral part of Michigan’s landscape, working hard to rebuild Michigan’s economy, contributing to the peaceful civil society and the mainstream values that make us proud Michiganders,” the statement reads.
Steve Elturk, imam of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, said videos like the one in which Gadahn appeared, “makes us (Muslims) very uncomfortable.”
“They undermine the efforts we exert to continue building bridges between our brothers and sisters or other faiths and cultures,” Elturk said.
Elturk also said he fears incendiary videos and similar acts can produce a backlash against Muslims.
“We are worried that acts like this may result in an increased racial profiling at border patrols and airports,” he said. “We are also concerned about ignorant people who may do something to harm either Muslims or mosques.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Interfaith Center marks 40 years in Macomb, but 'long way to go'
Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010
By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer
From the ashes of the 1967 Detroit riots grew an organization dedicated to working toward racial justice for all.
More than 40 years later, the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice continues that work because, despite evidence of progress, the quest for justice is never-ending.
"We haven't even begun to grapple with the elephant in the room," said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the center. "We have a long way to go."
The Interfaith Center began life as a church-driven organization assembled to combat 1960s issues like busing, white flightand the desire for more diversity in southeastern Michigan.
By the time Cindy Melitz took over as center director in the early 1990s, many of those early issues were no longer hot button. But that didn't change the need for the organization, she said.
"The mission has always been consistent with what the name represents — racial justice," she said. "How the center fulfilled that mission has been different over the years, given the circumstances of that decade."
While overt racism is rare today, Melitz suggested, the goals of the center remain unchanged.
"Embracing peaceful ways of helping people adapt and the need for diversity," she said.
The center is probably best known for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration, which annually packs the Royalty House in Warren.
But the organization also works to foster tolerance and promote diversity the remaining 364 days each year. In recent years, the ICRJ's "Listen, Learn and Live" initiative has introduced hundreds of residents to a tapestry of cultures and faiths that thrive in Macomb County. A session on Muslims and Islam, for example, has proven especially popular.
Steve Elturk, imam of the Warren-based Islamic Organization of North America and president of the ICRJ Board of Directors, said those who attend the sessions become ambassadors for diversity, spreading the word to family and friends what the various cultures are all about.
"There's a ripple effect," Elturk said. "What we need to do is do more (of those types of programs). You will reap the harvest you have sown."
This year, the ICRJ celebrates its 40th anniversary in Macomb County. As part of that celebration, St. Blase Catholic Churchin Sterling Heights will host Sunday a "Praise Concert" featuring church choirs from around Macomb County.
Among those choirs scheduled to participate include: A capella Men's Choir from North Broadway Church of Christ, Mount Clemens Gospel Choir, Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, New Haven Hand Bell Choir, Zion United Church of Christ, Mount Clemens, and the combined choirs of St. Blasée, the Hispanic Praise Band, St. Maximillian Kolbe Church,Ray Township, and the Warren Community Chorus.
The concert will serve a dual purpose: to recognize the ICRJ's anniversary and to raise funds to help the organization continue its work.
"It should be really fun," Curro said.
The Praise Choir will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Blasée Catholic Church, 12151 15 Mile Road, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $15 for individuals or $25 per family. Tickets are available in advance at St. Blasée Catholic Church or at the door on the day of performance. For more information, call (586) 268-2244 or visit the church's Website at www.stblase.org.
Declining image of Islam
Last week, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life issued a poll showing that 30 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Islam, down from 41 percent five years ago. The poll also showed 51 percent object to building the $100 million, 13-story community center and mosque near ground zero in New York City.
"Detroit and Michigan have a very different dynamic," said Ronald Stockton, a University of Michigan-Dearborn sociology professor who studied Detroit Arab-Americans and Chaldeans after the 2001 attacks.
He said of the protests over the Islamic center: "What happened in New York was political opportunism. That would not happen in Michigan. Politicians would know better than to do that here. The proportions of people who personally know a Muslim are greater in Michigan."
Many say they feel more comfortable in Michigan because the state is home to 350,000 Muslims. Some 200,000 live in Metro Detroit -- and the community has been described as having the largest concentration of those of Arab descent in North America.
"Michigan is a highly diversified state," said Mohammed Abuelroos of Sterling Heights, a retired chief engineer and member of the Islamic Organization of North America mosque on Ryan Road in Warren.
"There's a lot of tolerance in Michigan."
Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, who presides over the mosque, said Michigan is more tolerant, although it doesn't mean there aren't some incidents against Muslims or mosques. He also credits numerous interfaith efforts and the area's diverse population for making the difference.
"There have been a lot of interfaith activities, particularly after 9/11," Elturk said. "That's when the faith-based organizations really came together."
Muslim leaders in Michigan have worked hard to ease suspicions, publicly distance themselves from terror suspects and reach out to other religions -- especially since the 2001 attacks.
On Wednesday, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced a national campaign of public service announcements on television about the anniversary, featuring Muslims who were first responders at the World Trade Center.
The campaign hopes to defuse anti-Muslim "hysteria" surrounding the Islamic center controversy, said Dawud Walid, executive director of the local CAIR group.
One of the public service announcements features Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders describing the "golden rule" as expressed by faiths to illustrate that faiths have more in common than differences.
Among the efforts Muslims and others have put together to help ease tensions is Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, consisting of law enforcement, community, advocacy and civil rights leaders and representatives.
Local Muslim leaders also have put out a call for volunteers for an interfaith initiative on the weekend of Sept. 11. It is part of the national "Muslim Serve" campaign for community service projects.
After the attacks, local Muslims hosted open houses and distributed pamphlets about their religion.
Stockton, the U-M Dearborn professor, said mosques in New York and elsewhere could learn from Detroit.
"They can start with young people," Stockton said. "Become proactive. Bring people into your mosque. Talk to them. Give them hummus. Neutralize the issues."
Even so, local Muslims say it's difficult to hear the national dialogue about Muslims -- especially as they observe Ramadan, the holiest month of Islam.
Walid said recent incidents across the country of "Islamophobia" are of concern for local Muslims.
He cited incidents such as one in Queens, N.Y., late last month, when a man entered a mosque, shouted anti-Muslim epithets, called worshippers inside "terrorists" and then urinated on a prayer rug. Also, a New York cab driver who is Bangladeshi and a Muslim was stabbed by a passenger.
"People are worried, disgusted and frustrated," Walid said.
"We're not totally vaccinated here, but we are better off than Tennessee or Kentucky."
Extremists are the problem
The past year has been especially tough for mainstream Muslims, who say they feel they need to constantly defend their religion when Islamic extremists make headlines.
In November, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. Government officials say he was in contact with a cleric with ties to al-Qaida.
A month later, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged with attempting to blow up a plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.
On May 1, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, allegedly tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square in New York. He told authorities he was a "Muslim soldier."
And just this week, two former Detroit men -- Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi -- were detained, but later released without being charged, in Amsterdam when authorities said suspicious items were found in one of the men's luggage.
"They judge us badly. They judge us with hearsay," said Abuelroos, the Sterling Heights engineer. "There are pockets out there that express resentment towards Muslims."
But Muslims, including Malik A. Shabazz, a retired city bus driver, refuse to deny their religion, despite looks or outright hostility. After the 2001 attacks, Shabazz said he deliberately started wearing a kufi, a Muslim prayer cap.
Shabazz, who is not related to the Detroit activist by the same name, said some of his riders treated him differently after they learned of his religion.
"Once people found out I was Muslim, they stopped talking to me," said Shabazz, 60.
"I once had a person ask me if I believed Jesus was the son of God, and when I answered she told me, 'You're a heathen and you're going to hell,' " Shabazz said.
But the Pew study also found encouraging signs. While opinion is divided about the mosque near ground zero, the study found 62 percent of those polled believe Muslims should have the same rights as other groups to build houses of worship.
"It's not entirely a bleak picture for Muslims," said Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum. "I do not want to diminish the attacks or discrimination some of them face, but I do not see real evidence that attitudes have significantly hardened or become less positive since 9/11."
Abuelroos said he hopes the controversy over the New York mosque begins a broad conversation on religion and Islam.
"I hope this issue becomes a national debate in a factual, accurate and non-biased way," he said.
"How are we going to get people to understand Islam?"
firstname.lastname@example.org (313) 222-2027
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100902/LIFESTYLE04/9020339/#ixzz0yxD3Xd9c
Warren Muslims shaken after teen throws bottle during prayers
Last Updated: August 26. 2010 5:27PM
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Warren -- An imam says he is beefing up security at his mosque after a teenager hurled a glass bottle into its parking lot during nightly Ramadan prayers Tuesday.
Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk says the no one was hurt, but the incident has shaken the congregation of the Islamic Organization of North America on Ryan Road near 12 Mile. The mosque is considering contacting police or the FBI, but hasn't done so yet.
"It could be kids' stuff," Elturk said. "But I just hope it's not related to the (New York) mosque (controversy.)"
Plans for an Islamic cultural center and mosque known as Park 51 near the former site of the World Trade Center have sparked protests from New Yorkers and others around the country. Some contend the plans are insensitive since the 2001 hijackers were Islamic extremists, while others say the center could promote healing and argue not all Muslims should be judged by extremists.
On Thursday, the Michigan office of the Muslim civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Michigan mosques to "step up security during nightly Ramadan programs and Friday sermons in the wake of a recent nationwide surge of Islamophobia."
"We advise all Islamic centers in Michigan to increase security in parking lots and at mosque entrances," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid in a press statement.
"We also call on Michigan politicians, civic leaders, and religious clergy of all faiths to respond to the growing anti-Muslim intolerance, which is sweeping America."
Walid told The Detroit News "it's really getting scary out here."
"We're just concerned," added Walid. "We're not forecasting something to happen here."
Walid pointed out recent incidents of vandalism at mosques in California, New York and others parts of the country. He urged political and religious leaders to take a more vocal stand in denouncing the attacks.
Published: Monday, August 09, 2010
Summer camp in Warren focuses on diversity
By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer, Mocomb Daily Staff Writer
Civic and religious leaders hope some of Macomb County's younger residents will provide a good example for all of us.
The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice hopes to foster inter-cultural relationships and build unity with its inaugural 2010 Listen, Learn and Live Summer Camp for Teenagers.
The program features 30 to 40 middle-school aged children from various ethnic groups who will meet through Friday at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Warren.
"We hope the kids, when they get out on Friday will have … made friends, they will have learned about other cultures and that they would respect each other more and in a more peaceful way," said Steve Elturk, iman of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque.
"(We hope) they will become peacemakers wherever they go … and try to bridge that gap of the various cultures in our community."
Ethnic groups represented at the camp include: African American, Chaldean, European American, Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong, Indian and Muslim.
The program is patterned after the Interfaith Center's similar effort for adults, also called Listen, Learn and Live. The idea is to introduce participants to the different cultures that increasingly make up the demographic picture of Macomb County and promote understanding of the various groups.
"What we don't want to see is this is the Chaldean group in the high school, the black group and the white group," said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center.
"Let's have a group of people that know about one another."
The summer camp was inspired by the city of Warren, which recently adopted a formal resolution that re-affirms "American core values" of freedom, equality and justice.
Warren Mayor James Fouts, a former teacher, served as keynote speaker at the first full day of the summer camp Monday.
"Warren is changing demographically," the mayor told the students. "It's important to let everybody know who's moving in (to the city) that we're inclusive, not exclusive.
"We want everybody to move into Warren. We welcome diversity."
Although the camp is just two days old, Marianna Kattula, 12, a Flynn Middle School student, said she has enjoyed it so far.
"I like how we are going to (study) different cultures," she said.
Wolfe Middle School seventh-grader David Hopps Jr. agreed.
"I hope to learn more about the different cultures we have here in southeastern Michigan, and I hope to make some new friends," he said.
Last Updated: August 09. 2010
Amid heat, Ramadan arrives
Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Detroit -- Over the next four weeks during Ramadan, Sabreen Hanifa will be restricted to eating and drinking early in the morning before dawn and after sundown.
And this year, as with last year, an additional challenge will be the heat.
Hanifa, a 28-year-old from Detroit, is a Muslim and will join others worldwide at sundown Tuesday during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, when the faithful embark on increased spiritual reflection and reach out to the poor through charitable giving, said Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.
But the daily fast comes amid one of the hottest summers on record. Daytime highs in Detroit are expected to be near 90 degrees through Saturday, with overnight lows in the 70s, according to the National Weather Service.
""Water is the key," said Hanifa, who attends Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit. "You don't want to get dehydrated."
The weather poses a concern among some local clerics, who fear it will prevent some people from attending nightly prayers or religious lectures, said Dawud Walid, the executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan and the assistant imam at the Masjid Wali Muhammad.
"This year will definitely be the most challenging for fasting," said Walid.
Young children, the elderly and people with medical conditions are exempt from fasting.
In the last couple of years, Ramadan, for which the observance period fluctuates every year, has fallen on hot and humid months. The timing of Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar and occurs 10 days earlier every year. In the next few years, Ramadan will be observed during some very hot months.
For Ramzi Thabath, the owner Takbeer Fashions on Warren in Dearborn, suffering through the heat is part of the religious sacrifice that Muslims make during Ramadan.
Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to increase the awareness of God in their lives and for families to come closer when they gather for the nightly fast-breaking meal, or iftar, said Elturk.
"Family ties become closer during Ramadan when people get together for the meal," said Elturk.
Ramadan ends around Sept. 10 with a celebration called Eid-al-Fitr.
Warren affirms American 'core values'
Published: Sunday, July 04, 2010
By Norb Franz, Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Measure intended to improve city's reputation
Warren officials and local religious leaders want the public to feel that the city is a good place to live and work and that everyone is welcome in Macomb County's most populated community.
The Warren City City Council has adopted a resolution re-affirming the "American core values" of freedom, equality and justice. Copies of the document are expected to be posted soon at city-owned buildings including Warren City Hall.
"Arguably Warren, the third largest city in the state of Michigan, has been the poster child for racial and ethnic segregation that hampers metropolitan Detroit and the division between the city and suburbs," the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, told The Macomb Daily.
"Passing this resolution, therefore, marks a new day in the city of Warren and for the most segregated region in the United States."
The "living" document was requested in March by Curro, the Rev. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Church, Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America and Pastor Roger Facione of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church. They first approached Mayor James Fouts, hoping it would guide future development of the city while committed to those values. Fouts forwarded it to the council, which sent it to city attorneys for review.
City Attorney David Richards said he softened some of the wording to prevent misinterpretations, such as striking the term "social" from "justice."
"In the '60s, the term 'law and order' may be perfectly fine and something everybody wants," said Richards, adding that some people might construe it to mean "heavy handed enforcement of the law."
He also said Warren cannot guarantee that any person will not face discrimination in the community because of where they live or worship, but that the city is opposed to such harassment.
Rev. Schulte said he and other religious leaders have spoken with people of various ethic and religious backgrounds who frequently inquired about life in Warren. As a resident of Warren for more than 20 years, he said the city has become a "cosmopolitan" community over the years.
Over the years, city leaders have expressed pride in the number of immigrants from east Europe, including Germans, Poles and Italians. The city has a prominent Ukrainian population, and during the past decade witnessed a growing number of Asians, Indians, Pakistanis and Hmong in addition to people from the Middle East.
Demographers said the city long held a reputation — deserved or not — as biased toward minorities.
Schulte said Iraqis have needed reassurance that local police are not adversaries.
"We hope we did the best we could" as religious leaders, said Schulte. "We haven't had a piece of paper to say, 'This is what the vision of what Warren is."
Council members unanimously adopted the resolution and credited those who requested it. But some said another, centuries-old document serves the same purpose: the U.S. Constitution.
"I'm not against this (resolution) at
all, but we have documents that attest to what America is all about," Councilman Scott Stevens said.
He and Councilwoman Kathy Vogt suggested the city's document would have carried more weight as a proclamation from the mayor.
"What's the difference," said Fouts when reached for comment.
"It says to any newcomer who comes to the city we are an inclusive city, not an exclusive city," the mayor said.
He pointed out that he appointed Warren's first African-American fire commissioner, Wilburt McAdams, and three African-Americans to the Planning Commission and a man of Arabic descent to the zoning board.
Last year, Fouts, Police Commissioner William Dwyer and Deputy Commissioner Jere Green held the first of occasional meetings with a group of local Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Buddhist and other religious leaders to establish dialogue with city officials.
The mayor said there was apprehension in the community when a mosque opened on Ryan Road.
"The imam (Steve Elturk) feels Arab Americans are treated much better. He said when he first came here, he didn't feel that way," Fouts said.
In part, the resolution states that Warren "believes that all deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential and that all should have equal opportunity for access to education, health care, housing and employment."
According to the resolution, Warren "is united in speaking out against any expression of prejudice, intimidation, hate or violence that is aimed at hurting or excluding an individual, a family or group of people because of who they are" and that the council "stands together in support of freedom, equality and justice, and to speak out against prejudice, discrimination and violence..."
Several controversies that made headlines during the past four decades led to a reputation that the city was unfriendly to minorities.
In 2007, then-mayor Mark Steenbergh said that a projected influx of more than 15,000 Iraqi refugees to Warren and Sterling Heights would put a "burden" on his city's resources."
"This is not the time to add more peopel to a shrinking pool of employment," Steenbergh said at the time. His remarks angered the president of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, who called the comments bigotry and "very anti-Catholic."
In 2002, a 16-year federal court battle involving the city and the U.S. Justice Department over job discrimination wound down. Warren was among 17 cities sued by the federal government in 1986 over alleged discriminatory hiring practices. Justice Department lawyers claimed that the city's former pre-hire residency requirement was unfair to minorities. Sixteen other cities reached out-of-court settlements, but Warren chose to fight while widening its advertising to reach more minorities. In 1992, a judge ruled the city was not guilty of discrimination or harassment in 1,400 individual hiring decisions during a 5-year period. U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan allowed the Justice Department to seek people who felt victimized by the former residency rule even if they never filled out an application for a city job.
The advertising blitz drew 350 claims. Many were deemed frivolous. One man who insisted he would have applied to be a Warren firefighter was awarded $137,000. Eight other claims went before a mediator. Federal lawyers sought $1.3 million but agreed to settle the case for $120,000. In the end, the city's fees for outside attorneys who handled the case totaled about $5 million.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People urged Steenbergh in 1996 to temporarily step down while state police investigated allegations that he assaulted a 16-year-old black male. Steenbergh was charged and later acquitted by a Macomb County Circuit Court jury.
In the late 1960s, Warren fought U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plans for low-income housing that city official labeled as forced integration of minorities. In a 1970 referendum, residents rejected urban renewal. The federal government sued the city four months later, but later dropped the case.
During the 1970s, the city opposed cross-district busing to achieve racial integration. City officials spearheaded petition drives and rallies opposing a federal judge's ruling, although the issue involved many suburban communities.
In a July 1990 cover story titled "The Tragedy of Detroit," the New York Times Magazine carried excerpts from the book, "Devil's Night: and Other True Tales of Detroit." Author Ze-ev Chafets said blacks can purchase a house in the suburbs — but not without difficulty.
"Nowhere is this truer than in Warren..." Chafers wrote.
The city's reputation have may changed a bit when several officials from Warren and Detroit were present in 1997 for the dedication of Greater Miller Memorial Church of God in Christ — the city's only predominantly black church at the time.Charles Busse, who was the Warren City Council president at the time, sang "Amazing Grace" at the church with anassistant pastor in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Warren mosque looking to expand
Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010
By Jameson Cook
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
A Warren mosque has been so successful and accepted in the community that it is looking to expand in a new location.
Imam Steve Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America on Ryan Road near 12 Mile Road, said during the mosque’s second annual open house Saturday that its membership has quadrupled from 200 since opening four years ago.
He called the success “a miracle” in light of some of the opposition to the mosque since it opened in 2006. A Warren man was arrested in January 2007 for shouting obscenities and epithets at Elturk outside the mosque.
“That’s when people didn’t know much about us,” Elturk said during a tour of the facility. “We had to go through a lot of grief before” it was approved.
Mayor James Fouts visited Elturk and the mosque Saturday afternoon. He said Warren residents have accepted it.
Initial opposition occurred “because people didn’t understand Islam,” he said. “This is a friendly, peaceful place of worship. I don’t think people have any misgivings about it today.”
The IONA is located in a mid-sized building in a strip mall, but needs more space, Elturk said. The group mulled expanding the building onto neighboring land, but the owners of the two properties want a combined $750,000 for the nearly three acres.
“That’s way too much (money) in this economy,” Elturk said.
So the IONA is starting to look at other potential locations. Elturk said he hopes the group can stay in Warren. The mosque pulls many of its members from Warren, Sterling Heights and south Oakland County. A majority of its members are of Southeast Asian descent — Pakistan, India and Bangladesh — while a minority hails from the Middle East.
Fouts added he hopes the mosque stays in the city, noting it “has plenty of vacancies” due to the current economy.
Elturk said he would like to build a mosque with a dome and minaret (call-for-prayer tower), but that isn’t mandatory. The current building was remodeled, and extra architectural features weren’t affordable, he said.
The mosque is the only one in the county, and it draws many Muslims who work at places such as General Motors and Chrysler and need a place of worship on the day of worship, Fridays, Elturk said.
Saturday’s open house turnout was modest, 30 to 40 non-Muslims, but Elturk remained encouraged because it was an increase from last year.
“Hopefully people will go home and tell their families, and they’ll come next year,” he said.
Visitors received a gift bag containing The Quran, an audio CD of, “Was Jesus a Muslim?” and literature.
Maureen Kennedy and David Reed of Royal Oak were among those who viewed the displays and videos that explained history and details of the religion.
“It was very pleasant, and I learned a lot,” Kennedy said, such as the fact that women can earn and keep their own money and have a right to their husband’s earnings, and that Muslims invented many things.
She said the open house can help assure people American Muslims aren’t part of the radical Islam movement opposing the West.
“They really need to do that,” she said.
She said the Rev. Terri Bracy of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Warren, where she works as the choir director, announced the open house to the congregation.
The Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Mount Clemens-based Interfaith Center for Racial Justice, showed up for the open house.
“This is a great opportunity for people to learn about Islam and Muslims,” he said. “It breaks down stereotypes and fears.”
Curro and Elturk, who is the council’s president, along with the Revs. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Catholic Church and Roger Facione of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, both in Warren, have asked the Warren City Council to pass a resolution to “reaffirm the core American values of freedom, equality and justice,” Curro said.
Council members recently tabled the matter, which is supported by Fouts, apparently because it was the first they had heard about it. It is expected to be revived.
Curro said the measure is in reaction to some of the original opposition to the mosque and a nod to the city’s increasing ethnic and religious diversity.
“The religious community and the community of Warren need to speak out and denounce that,” Curro said. “This is a new day and new image for Warren. Warren has had an image of exclusivity when it should be an image of inclusion.”
City Attorney Dave Richards also attended the open house with his adult son on Elturk’s invitation. Richards tweaked some of the resolution’s language before it was presented to the council.
Richards said it was the first time he stepped foot in a mosque.
“It’s not as religious-looking as I thought it would be; it looks more like meeting places,” he said.
The open house came the same day a coalition of religious leaders — the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan — called on President Obama to start a civil rights investigation into the FBI’s role in the shooting death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdulla in October in a Dearborn warehouse.
Elturk, who supports the request, said, “There are so many questions” surrounding the shooting that remain unanswered.
The open house also came a day before a Dearborn woman competes in the Miss USA beauty pageant, hoping to become the first Arabic-American to win. Rima Fakih, 24, who has Lebanon roots, is Muslim.
Elturk said her participation violates Islamic principles. A woman can only expose her face and hands, and must wear loose-fitting clothing to hide “the figure of her body.”
“Not everyone is practicing their religion, whether it’s a Christian, Jew or Muslim,” he said. “Yes, you can still be a Muslim, but not practicing.”
The open house was one of about a dozen open houses in the Detroit area Saturday. Other sites included Rochester Hills, Hamtramck, Detroit and Bloomfield Hills.
Dr. Israr Ahmed Dies
April 15, 2010 by TMO
Dr. Israr Ahmed, (April 26, 1932 – April 14, 2010) died in Pakistan on April 14. He was a Pakistan-based Muslim religious scholar followed particularly in South Asia and also in the South Asian diaspora in the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. Born in Hissar, (today’s Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant, he is the founder of the Tanzeem-e-islami, an off-shoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He hosted a daily show on Peace TV, a 24 hours Islamic channel broadcast internationally, and until recently on ARY Qtv.
His supporters describe himas having spent the “last forty years” actively engaged in “reviving the Qur’an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view” with “the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah.” Ahmed is skeptical of the efficacy of “parliamentary politics of give-and-take” in establishing an “Islamic politico-socio-economic system” as implementing this system is a “revolutionary process”.
Dr. Israr Ahmad was born on April 26, 1932 in Hisar (a district of East Punjab, now a part of Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant. He graduated from King Edward Medical College (Lahore) in 1954 and later received his Master’s degree in Islamic Studies from the University of Karachi in 1965. He came under the influence of Abul Ala Maududi as a young student, worked briefly for Muslim Student’s Federation in the Independence Movement and, following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, for the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba and then for the Jamaat-e-Islami. Dr. Israr Ahmad resigned from the Jama`at in April 1957 because of its involvement in the electoral politics, which he believed was irreconcilable with the revolutionary methodology adopted by the Jama’at in the pre-1947 period.
While still a student and an activist of the Islami Jami`yat-e-Talaba, Dr. Israr Ahmad became a Mudarris (or teacher) of the Qur’an. Even after resigning from the Jama`at, he continued to give Qur’anic lectures in different cities of Pakistan, and especially after 1965 spent a great deal of time studying the Quran.
In 1967 Dr. Israr Ahmadin wrote “Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead”, a tract explaining his basic belief. This was that a rebirth of Islam would be possible only by revitalizing iman (faith) among the Muslims – particularly educated Muslims – and the propagation of the Qur’anic teachings in contemporary idiom and at the highest level of scholarship is necessary to revitalize iman. This undertaking would remove the existing dichotomy between modern physical and social sciences on the one hand, and Islamic revealed knowledge on the other.
In 1971 Ahmad gave up his medical practice to devote himself full time to the Islamic revival. In 1972 he established or helped establish the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an Lahore, Tanzeem-e-Islami was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan was launched in 1991.
Dr. Israr Ahmad first appeared on Pakistan Television in 1978 in a program called Al-Kitab; this was followed by other programs, known as Alif Lam Meem, Rasool-e-Kamil, Umm-ul-Kitab and the most popular of all religious programs in the history of Pakistan Television, the Al-Huda, which made him a household name throughout the country. His television lectures generally focused on the revitalization of the Islamic faith through studies of the Quran. Dr. Israr Ahmad also criticized modern democracy and the electoral system and argued that the head of an Islamic state can reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly. Although he did not like to receive it personally, Dr. Israr Ahmad was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has to his credit over 60 Urdu books on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, 9 of which have been translated into English and other languages.
Dr. Israr Ahmed relinquished the leadership of Tanzeem-e-Islami in October, 2002 on grounds of bad health and Hafiz Aakif Saeed is the present Ameer of the Tanzeem to whom all rufaqaa of Tanzeem renewed their pledge of Baiyah.
Supporters describe his vision of Islam as having been synthesized from the diverse sources. He has also acknowledged the “deep influence” of Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, the 18th century Indian Islamic leader, anti-colonial activist, jurist, and scholar. Ahmad follows the thinking of Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, concerning what his followers believe is the “internal coherence of and the principles of deep reflection in the Qur’an”. He follows Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi in regards to what he believes is the “dynamic and revolutionary conception of Islam.”
“In the context of Qur’anic exegesis and understanding, Dr. Israr Ahmad is a firm traditionalist of the genre of Maulana Mehmood Hassan Deobandi and Allama Shabeer Ahmad Usmani; yet he presents Qur’anic teachings in a scientific and enlightened way …” Ahmed believes in what he calls “Islamic revolutionary thought,” which consists of the idea that Islam – the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah – must be implemented in the social, cultural, juristic, political, and the economic spheres of life. In this he is said to follow Mohammad Rafiuddin and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. The first attempt towards the actualization of this concept was reportedly made by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad through his short-lived party, the Hizbullah. Another attempt was made by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi through his Jamaat-e-Islami party. Although the Jamaat-e-Islami has reached some influence, Ahmad resigned from the party in 1956 when it entered the electoral process and believes this involvement has led to “degeneration from a pure Islamic revolutionary party to a mere political one”.
The nucleus of Tanzeem-e-Islami, which Israr Ahmad founded, was created in 1956, following the resignation of Ahmad and some other individuals from Jamaat-e-Islami over its electoral activity and “significant policy matters. They came together and tried unsuccessfully to form an organized group … A resolution was passed which subsequently became the Mission Statement of Tanzeem-e-Islami.”
Later, disappointed with what he saw as the “lack of effort to create an Islamic renaissance through the revolutionary process” he again attempted to create a “disciplined organization,” namely Tanzeem-e-Islami.
Along with his work to revive “the Qur’an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view” Ahmed aims with his party to “reform the society in a practical way with the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah”.
According to the Tanzeem-e-Islami website Ahmed and the party believe “the spiritual and intellectual center of the Muslim world has shifted from the Arab world to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent” and “conditions are much more congenial for the establishment of Khilafah in Pakistan” than in other Muslim countries.
According to Tanzeem-e-Islami’s FAQ, while both Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tanzeem-e-Islami share belief in reviving the Caliphate as a means of implementing Islam in all spheres of life, Tanzeem-e-Islami does not believe in involvement in electoral politics, armed struggle, coup d’état to establish a caliphate, and has no set plan of detailed workings for the future Caliphate. Tanzeem-e-Islami emphasizes that iman (faith) among Muslims must be revived in “a significant portion of the Muslim society” before there can be an Islamic revival.
While Ahmad “considers himself a product” of the teachings of “comprehensive and holistic concept of the Islamic obligations” of Abul Ala Maududi, he opposes Jamaat-e-Islami’s “plunge” into “the arena of power politics,” which he considers to have been “disastrous.”
Nov 19, 2007 Ahmed warned that “the NATO forces are waiting on the western front to move into Pakistan and may deprive the country of its nuclear assets while on the eastern border India is ready to stage an action replay of 1971 events and has alerted its armed forces to intervene in to check threats to peace in the region.
Ahmed has also been criticized as making anti-Semitic and Islamic supremacist statements.
Canada’s National Post newspaper reported in 2006 that, according to Ahmad:
“Islam’s renaissance will begin in Pakistan… because the Arab world is living under subjugation. Only the Pakistan region has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony.
Asia Times reports that in September 1995 Israr Ahmed told the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America that:
The process of the revival of Islam in different parts of the world is real. A final showdown between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world, which has been captured by the Jews, would soon take place. The Gulf War was just a rehearsal for the coming conflict.
He appealed to the Muslims of the world, including those in the US, to prepare themselves for the coming conflict.”
On July 27, 2007, VisionTV, a Canadian multi-faith religious television channel, aired an apology for broadcasting lectures by Mr. Ahmad. The channel had taken Ahmad off the air earlier that week for his derogatory comments about Jews. In reply, Ahmed “strongly refuted the impression that he hated the Jews or he held anti-Semitic views,” according to the National Post, but a “written statement, issued by his personal secretary in Lahore, went on to explain Mr. Ahmad’s belief that the Holocaust was `Divine punishment` and that Jews would one day be `exterminated.”
The Post gave several quotes about Jews by Ahmed including
“It is apparent to any careful observer that the Jews have continued to suffer the floggings of Divine punishment in the present century – the Holocaust during the Second World War being a case in point.
[T]he conflict between the Jews and Muslims is going to result, ultimately, in the total extermination of the former, according to the Divine law of ‘annihilation of the worse.’”
Miss Shagufta Ahmad has submitted her master thesis entitled, “Dr. Israr Ahmad’s Political Thoughts and Activities” to the McGill University, Canada in 1994. The thesis discussed in detail the intellectual development of Israr Ahmad and the influence of Allama Iqbal, Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Maududi’s political thought, especially his theory of revolution and the activities of his three organizations, Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an, Tanzeem-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Khilafat. Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur’an published the thesis in 1996.
The veteran scholar died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Lahore on the morning of 14 of April 2010 between 3:00 and 3:30 AM. According to his son, his health detriorated at arround 1:30 in the morning with severe pain in the back, he was a long time heart patient.
His funeral (Namaz-e-Janazah) is planned after Asr (afternoon) prayers at Model Town Park, Lah
Religious groups at SJSU unite for change
Issue Date: 3/22/10
Could Jesus Christ become a focal point for both the followers of Islam and Christianity to work toward social change? asked a Christian scholar Thursday night.
An audience of 40 people, including a Christian scholar and the president of the Islamic Organization of North America, met to discuss how Christianity and Islam are working toward a common goal of improving social wrongs in society.
Robert Shedinger, an associate professor of religion at Iowa's Luther College, said Christ could become common ground for the followers of the two religions to work toward social equality in the world.
Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, said the two religions are similar and should work toward common goals.
Elturk said the two belief systems are natural partners for doing good in the world and when they come together, along with other politically active and religious groups, strides social justice can be made for all people.
"Social justice is work that involves everyone," he said. "Religion and what you believe in will be settled on the day of judgment. I should be open to work with anyone that shares the same concerns in the place where we live to come together to fight these injustices that go on everywhere."
Shedinger said this is a point he focuses on in his book "Was Jesus A Muslim?"
"If societal transformation towards greater levels of justice is inherent to what it means to be a Muslim and if societal transformation was inherent in the mission of Jesus, then guess what, Jesus was a Muslim," he said.
Shedinger said this concept is difficult for Christians to accept because of their views on Christ as a religious figure and on Islam as a religion.
He said this thinking isn't correct because Islam isn't so much of a religion as it is a way of life of working toward justice and that Christ was not only a religious figure but also a political activist.
Karimah Al-Helew, a senior social work major, said she thought Shedinger's ideas on religion were interesting because they mirror how Muslims view Islam.
"Hearing a Christian person speak about trying to take Christianity not just as a religion but rather as a way of life, which is how we view Islam," Al-Helew said. "As Muslims, that's how we view Islam. It's not just a religion, it's a way of life. Seeing that aspect presented from a person of the Christian faith was pretty cool. I like that."
Lukogho Kasomo, a senior political science major, said she thought the lecture was interesting, but she never thought Jesus as a political reformer.
"This was the first time that I've heard this concept of Jesus as a Muslim," Kasomo said. "Personally, I've, theologically I guess, seen Jesus as being radical in general. So, being for social justice in general."
Al-Helew said political activism is something that's a daily reality in the United States for the Muslim community and that others will work toward the common goal of bettering society.
"I hope that from this talk that people will see social justice and working for social change is a responsibility and not just an option," she said. "This is your responsibility, which is how I see it as a Muslim. Fighting for social justice, change and finding equal rights for people that's not something on the side, it's something I need to make time for every day."
Fr. Day pledges continued interfaith understanding effort
by Robert Delaney of The Michigan Catholic
Published March 19, 2010
DETROIT – Fr. Jeffrey Day assured area religious leaders on March 10 of his own and Archbishop Allen Vigneron's commitment to continue the work of fostering respect and cooperation between the Catholic Church and other faith communities.
"Archbishop Vigneron wants to continue what Cardinal (Adam) Maida did, what the late Fr. John West and Msgr. (Patrick) Halfpenny did," Fr. Day said, referring to his predecessors as ecumenical/interfaith advisor for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Archbishop Vigneron named Fr. Day to the position in January, in addition to his continuing duties as pastor of St. SebastianParish in Dearborn. Fr. Day spoke of his long admiration for the ecumenical and interfaith work of Pope John Paul XXIII during his remarks at a get-acquainted reception at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
"One of the things I admire about John XXIII is how he forged strong relationships with people of faith no matter where his assignments took him," he said, referring to the pontiff's career as a Vatican diplomat even before his election as pope.
And referring to the generally good ecumenical and interfaith relations prevailing in metro Detroit, Fr. Day added, "While those of us gathered here have our theological differences, we can be grateful that we can come together in the spirit of mutual respect."
And he expressed the desire that people of different faiths in this area would continue "to live together in peace." The reception was attended by about 20 local faith leaders, including representatives of other Christian faith communities and Muslims and Jews.
Imam Stephen Elturk, one of the Muslim clerics at the reception, said, "Generally speaking, interfaith efforts have improved quite a bit over the years."
Whereas the early years of interfaith dialogue tended to involve each participant primarily seeking to express what his own faith community believes, the imam said the dialogue is now more focused on "trying to solve issues in the community and what we can do together."
"As Fr. Day said, regardless of our theological differences, we should put that aside and concentrate on ways we can work together," said Imam Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren.
Catholic-Jewish relations are going very well in the Detroit area, said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
"In the five years I've worked here, I've been very impressed by the close and affectionate relations between the two communities," he said.
As to ecumenical relations – that is, among Christians – there was also a positive assessment given by faith leaders at the reception.
Metropolitan Nicholas, the local Greek Orthodox bishop, said Catholic-Orthodox relations locally have "always been very gracious" and characterized by a "mutual spirit of love and respect."
The metropolitan said he had known Archbishop Vigneron from his earlier time in Detroit as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese and attended his installation as archbishop. "I look on him as a brother," he said, adding that he intends to discuss possible joint projects with him."
Episcopal Bishop Wendell Gibbs said relations between the local Episcopal diocese and the Archdiocese of Detroit have been good. "I look forward to getting to know the archbishop," he added.
Recent events spur interfaith lectures
Published: Monday, January 25, 2010
By Frank DeFrank, Macomb Daily Staff Writer
A program that examines the different cultures represented in Macomb County and the religions that drive them returns in February with the first section, African Americans and the Black Church.
Other sessions will follow on Jews and Judaism; Islam and Muslims; Hispanics and Roman Catholicism; and Chaldeans and the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Prompted by changing demographics in Macomb County, the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice launched its Listen, Learn and Live program in 2007 to highlight the diverse cultures that now make up a significant portion of the county.
The goal is better understanding of the diversity in the county, and, initially, progress toward that goal appeared steady, said the Rev. Michail Curro, executive director of the Interfaith Center.
But recent world events, including the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by a Muslim man, have hindered progress, Curro conceded.
"It's like we've taken a great step backward," he said.
Each section, called "modules," consists of five weekly sessions of about 2-1/2 hours each. During each session, traditions, beliefs and other aspects of the different cultures are examined. Each module is highlighted by a visit to a worship service at a church, mosque or synagogue.
"If you take the religion out of most of these cultures, you kind of miss the culture," Curro said.
Since the program's inception, the study of Islam and Muslims has proven the most popular, so much so that organizers have scheduled two separate modules on Islam in April.
Imam Steve Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, tapped recent headlines — the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet — to underscore what can be a lack of understanding of different cultures. Elturk participates in the Interfaith Center's Listen, Learn and Live program.
The imam said Muslim-Americans are equally as upset as other Americans at such acts, but acknowledged they don't always express their outrage loudly enough.
"The outrage is there, without a doubt," Elturk said. "Within the family, within the community, it's talked about … (but) perhaps not enough to make the population comfortable."
On the other hand, Elturk continued, law-abiding Muslims shouldn't feel they must apologize for their faith every time an extremist commits a deplorable act.
"They may use the religion as a slogan … (but) in reality, they have nothing to do with our faith," he said.
The starting dates and locations for the Listen, Learn and Live modules for 2010 are:
African Americans and the Black Church, Feb. 2, St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Parish, St. Clair Shores;
Jews and Judaism, March 2, St. Michael Catholic Church, Sterling Heights;
Islam and Muslims, April 14, Christ Lutheran Church, Sterling Heights;
Islam and Muslims, April 15, Mount Clemens Public Library;
Hispanics and Roman Catholicism, May 2, St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, Shelby Township;
Chaldeans and the Chaldean Catholic Church, June 1, St. Mark Catholic Church, Warren.
The cost for each Listen, Learn and Live module is $30 or $125 for all five modules. For reservations or information, call (586) 463-3675 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Local Muslims, Nigerian Americans gather to denounce terror attack
Last Updated: January 08. 2010 7:52PM
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Detroit -- A large number of Muslims, Arab Americans and Nigerian Americans are standing together today outside a federal courthouse to condemn the alleged actions of a suspect accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian authorities say attempted to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with explosives hidden in his underwear, is to be arraigned this afternoon at the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in downtown Detroit.
Ali Fawaz, 30, of Dearborn held a sign today that read, "Not in the name of Islam," as he joined about 100 other demonstrators.
"I came out to show I'm against it (terrorism)," Fawaz said. "We're tired of Islam being hijacked."
Nigerian American Remigius Obi of Ann Arbor was also among the crowd. He held a sign that read, "Nigeria condemns terrorism. Nigerians disown Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Nigeria says sorry to America & the world."
"I'm here to tell the world that Nigerians don't support terrorism," Obi said. "Terrorism is not part of Nigerians' culture. We love America. We love life."
Earlier today, a group of Imams and other local Muslim leaders also condemned Islamist extremists and the Christmas Day attack.
Ten Imams held a news conference at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion offices in Midtown to condemn extremists and terrorists.
"Muslim Americans want to make it clear that Islam stands for life, not death," said Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.
A passenger on Northwest Flight 253, Hebba Aref, 27, Bloomfield Hills, was also at today's news conference. She expressed concern that her religion, Islam, was brought into the discussion about the failed bombing attempt.
Abdulmutallab was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges that include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which can bring up to life in prison, and attempted murder, a 20-year felony.http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20100108/METRO/1080422/Local-Muslims--Nigerian-Americans-gather-to-denounce-terror-attack#ixzz0egHSJnYs
1st Annual IONA Islam Conference
January 8. 2010
By Adil James, MMNS
Warren–January 2–IONA held its first annual Islam conference this past Saturday evening at IONA.
Two speakers were invited to the event, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, and Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Muslim activist from Oakland California.
They both spoke on secularism and American democracy, Dawud Walif focusing on how American democracy and history includes elements of Islam, and Ali focusing instead on distinctions and points of conflict between the Islamic and Western worlds and world views.
Both focused on Islam as a non-religion, which may be a thesis that most people would disagree with. The underlying argument is that Muslims must be involved in political life, because Islam is a “deen” which both speakers translated ast “way of life,” rather than as “religion.”
As a first such event from IONA, it was interesting that the underlying message echoed the previous speech at the center by a non-Muslim proponent of the thesis that Islam is not a religion, rather a kind of political awakening movement, Prof. Robert Shedinger (who spoke there on October 24th of 2009, reported on in TMO V11-I45). Shedinger argues that Jesus was Muslim, as a corollary to his argument that Islam is not a religion.
Shedinger’s companion argument is that the effort to define Islam as a religion rather than a way of life was imposed by non-Muslims in an effort to stem the efforts of Muslims to be politically involved, for example in combating colonialism.
It is surprising that the radical idea of Islam’s being just another worldly movement is gaining among Muslims, but apparently the IONA conference documents the spread of this idea.
Christmas terror suspect in court in Detroit
Muslims protest against terrorism outside
Saturday, January 9, 2010
By David Runk and Ed White, Associated Press Writers
DETROIT — A young Nigerian man, wearing a white T-shirt and tennis shoes, did not speak much Friday during his first public court hearing to face charges of trying to ignite a chemical-laden explosive on a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, Muslim leaders and other followers of Islam showed up outside the courtroom to denounce terrorism and violence and demand extremists stop "hijacking" their religion.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab gave a one word answer — "yes" — when asked whether he understood the charges against him. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Randon entered a not guilty plea for the 23-year-old, who could face up to life in prison on the most serious charge — attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Authorities say the young Nigerian with al-Qaida links was traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit when he tried to destroy the Northwest Airlines plane carrying nearly 300 people by injecting chemicals into a package of explosives concealed in his underwear. The failed attack caused popping sounds and flames that passengers and crew rushed to extinguish.
During his arraignment Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Abdulmutallab stood at the podium along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel and defense attorney Miriam Siefer and answered a few questions in English from the judge.
The longest answer came when the judge asked if he had taken any drugs or alcohol in past 24 hours. Abdulmutallab answered: "some pain pills." Siefer then said he was competent to understand the proceedings. Abdulmutallab, who is being held at a fede
ral prison in Milan, had been treated at a hospital for burns after the attack.
His attorneys then waived the reading of the indictment, and Randon entered the not guilty plea. It is routine practice in federal court for the defendant to allow the judge to enter a plea on his behalf rather than say anything himself.
President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, has said Abdulmutallab would be offered a plea deal in exchange for valuable information about his contacts in Yemen and elsewhere.
After the hearing, one of Abdulmutallab's attorneys, Leroy Soles, declined to talk about the case.
"It's just too soon in the process to make any comment," Soles said.
Maryam Uwais, a lawyer in Nigeria, and Mahmud Kazaure, a lawyer from Maryland, told The Associated Press before Friday's arraignment that they were sent by Abdulmutallab's family to observe the hearing. Neither have a role in the case, but both spoke briefly with the suspect's legal team. They declined to further comment.
At least one passenger from Flight 253 attended Friday's hearing. Hebba Aref, a Detroit area native now working as a corporate lawyer in Kuwait, said she sat six rows in front of Abdulmutallab on the plane.
Aref, who drew international attention last year after being refused a seat directly behind then-Presidential candidate Obama at a Detroit rally because she was wearing a headscarf, said she came Friday because Abdulmutallab "changed my life."
"I just wanted to see him again," the 27-year-old told reporters outside the courtroom following the hearing. "It's a historic moment, and I want to be part of it."
Outside the courtroom, several dozen protesters showed up, some carrying signs. One sign carried the message: "Not in the name of Islam."
Majed Moughni organized a Facebook group called Dearborn Area Community Members.
Moughni said Abdulmutallab's alleged actions do not represent Islam, and protesters intend to send a message to terrorists that "we're going to take our religion back."
About 50 men and women identifying themselves as Detroit-area Muslims chanted "We are Americans" as they marched behind metal barricades outside the courthouse to denounce terrorism. About a dozen of them carried U.S. flags or pro-U.S. signs.
Earlier in the day, 10 imams (clergy) representing Southeastern Michigan Muslims held a news conference to make a similar point.
Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, a Warren mosque, was among the news conference organizers. Elturk said Muslims are always outraged over terrorist attacks, but because Abdulmutallab's actions took place "in our own back yard," the imams felt it important to go public with their anger.
"We felt we had to go out and really express our outrage," Elturk said. "You're not going to hijack our faith and our religion."
Elturk predicted other Muslims — like those grassroots protesters outside the courthouse — will speak out even more loudly because they're tired of Islam being painted as a violent religion.
"It will spread," he said. "It may not be noticeable to the media. But my sermon (Friday) was solely on that subject."
Elturk also said Muslims don't feel they should have to apologize for their faith anytime an extremist commits a heinous act, and he hopes non-Muslims take the time to understand Islam is a religion of peace.
"They need to stop listening to the propaganda," Elturk said. "People of other faiths need to objectively study our faith and hear it from the horse's mouth — like from the imams.
Four Muslims who were part of the protest performed Friday prayers in the court's small museum located on the first floor. Protest organizer Majed Moughni said it was important to take time for Islam's most important prayer even with the events of the day.
"We have prayer rugs outside in the car. We could have done a show for the media," protest organizer Majed Moughni said. "We're doing this for God."
Obama considers the Christmas attack an attempted strike against the United States by an affiliate of al-Qaida. But he also has said the government had information that could have stopped Abdulmutallab, but intelligence agencies failed to connect the dots.
U.S. investigators have said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. His father warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son had drifted into extremism in Yemen, but that threat was never fully digested by the U.S. security apparatus.
Macomb Daily Staff Writer Frank DeFrank contributed to this report.
© 2010 macombdaily.com, a Journal Register Property
Fort Hood attack unrelated to Islam, local Muslim leaders say
November 13. 2009
By Jennifer Chambers, The Detroit News
Southfield -- Leaders of Metro Detroit's Muslim community gathered this morning to urge all Americans to view the Fort Hood shooting as a criminal act and unrelated to the faith of Islam.
"Islam opposes such actions as committed by Maj. (Nidal Malik) Hasan. The Qur'an considers human life sacred," Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Association of North America said Friday morning at a press conference called by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.
Army officials have said they believe Hasan acted alone when he jumped on a table with two handguns, shouted, "Allahu akbar," a common Arabic expression meaning "God is the greatest," and opened fire inside a building at Fort Hood, Texas.
The 13 people killed included a pregnant soldier and at least three other mental health professionals. On Thursday, Hasan was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.
"We called this meeting to discuss the heartbreaking event of a sick doctor who took innocent lives with his treacherous act. We are shocked, saddened and disturbed by these events," said Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman of the Michigan council.
Begg said Muslims find themselves in a defensive position whenever a person related to the Muslim faith commits an act of violence.
"These sick people go out and shoot people down. When it happens and a Muslim is involved, the focus is on Islam. We have to defend our faith. Wouldn't you?" Begg said. "It sounds like we are tried and convicted when people say Muslims don't denounce terrorism and we are called terrorism sympathizers. We are pushed into a corner."
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the Fort Hood shooting has been the most traumatic event for Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Many of us are on edge," Walid, a U.S. Navy veteran, said. "We get hate e-mails every day at our organization, and we've gotten more the last couple of days."
The group said the thousands of Muslim men and women who wear the U.S. military uniform must not be tarnished due to the act of one.
"We don't know why Maj. Hasan did what he did," Elturk said. "We don't know all the answers yet."
Visitors Throng to Southeast Michigan Mosques
October 22, 2009 by TMO
By Adil James, MMNS
Warren–October 17–Seven local mosques opened their doors to welcome non-Muslim community members and TMO was present at one of the mosques, IONA on Ryan in Warren.
The mosque was incredibly beautiful, looking like a museum. There were hand written copies of Qur`an, calligraphy, Islam-related videos playing, many items with Qur`an engraved in them.
Perhaps 1000 square feet were cleared and in that space were tastefully separated displays, with enough space to walk between them and enough displays to take a visitor perhaps 45 minutes to take in everything if they read everything.
There were several floor-stands chock full of calligraphy and explanations of Islam for the visitors, as well of course as tea and other refreshments.
“Many of the people asked us what Islam says about Jesus,” explained Waheed Rashid, one of the IONA volunteers/officials at the event. They were very surprised, he said, to learn there is a chapter of Qur`an named after Sayyida Maryam.
The visitors included one sociology teacher and two local pastors.
“If just one person had come, it would have been worth it,” said Amin Varis, IONA’s outreach director.
An interesting idea was IONA’s giving of Sunnah-related foods on its table, with explanations of each of the ahadith about the items. There was honey, black seed, and dates, as well of course as Middle Eastern refreshments like baklava, other sweets, and tea.
“Eat olive oil and anoint yourself with it since it is from a blessed tree.”
“Honey is a remedy for every physical illness and Qur`an is a remedy for every spiritual illness. Therefore I recommend to you both as remedies–Qur`an and honey.”
“Feed your pregnant wife with dates, she will surely give birth to a baby who is patient, well-behaved, and intelligent.”
“Use this black seed regularly, because it is a shifa for every disease except death.”
About 35 local people visited IONA during the course of the day, leaving behind their signatures in the welcome book.
Amin Varis explained that the mosque had arranged for recent converts to welcome each of the visitors and guide them around, explaining the displays. “People more like Americans, converts… understand” the visitors better.
“We were really surprised,” he said, “some people were here for an hour–they showed lots of sincerity.”
Other mosques were also very successful in the outreach effort, with Canton’s MCWS mosque receiving over 100 visitors.
1st Annual IONA Street Fair
August 20, 2009 by TMO
By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Warren–August 15–Many local mosques have made an effort to reach out to their local communities, and just such an effort was this past weekend’s street fair at the IONA mosque in Warren.
The mosque blocked off its large parking lot and hosted vendors of food and clothing, and provided health screenings to fair attendees.
Dr. Naseer Ahmad, who provided glucose diabetes screenings, explained that as of early in the afternoon he had screened 51 people for diabetes.
In part the purpose of this street fair was to break any ice remaining with local neighbors of the mosque, some of whom vociferously opposed the mosque. The fair bore fruit, as the Warren mayor and several city councilmen attended early on Saturday.
The mosque’s imam, Mustapha El-Tourk, explained that several other local non-Muslims had attended as well.
“This is our first year–we hope to continue the tradition,” he explained. “We want to draw the non-Muslim community so they will know who we are–we don’t discriminate against other cultures and religions.”
“This is a changing community,” he went on to say, pointing out that just a few years ago Warren was overwhelmingly white and Christian, while now there are many different ethnicities and religious communities who have made the Detroit suburb their home, including a Buddhist community, people from the Hmong community, and of course many Muslims from the subcontinent and from the Arab world. As evidence of this and of the mutual goodwill in the area, Reverend Curro (Exec. Director of the ICRJ) and also two Buddhist monks in saffron robes were at the fair.
Imam El-Tourk is very involved in local Muslim organizations and interfaith groups, including the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) which has its office in the IONA buildiing, and he has just been nominated president of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice (ICRJ), of which Rev. Curro is the executive director.
The imam explained IONA would follow the FCNA pronouncement regarding Ramadan and ‘Eid, therefore tarawih will begin Friday night insha`Allah, and fasting Saturday.
Speaking on the FCNA/ISNA pronouncement regarding moonsighting, Imam El-Tourk explained that “there is enough evidence for both sides, and Prophet (s) used to take the easiest way, as long as there was no sin in it. Let’s be merciful in our communities–one ‘eid and one Ramadan.”
Imam El-Tourk said ‘isha prayers would begin at 9:45pm, followed by tarawih prayers, and he explained that each tarawih session would begin with a ten minute description of the Qur`anic passages to be covered in that session.
Faith -- even different ones -- can bond people
PUBLISHED: Thursday, May 15, 2008
By REV. Lawrence Ventline
Special to The Oakland Press
One people, same needs.
A band of 12 people from the four winds of the metropolitan Detroit area gathered last winter in the Islamic Organization of North America of Warren.
They aimed to build bridges among all religious traditions and foster recognition and esteem for all God's inhabitants on earth.
On May 4 an interfaith event reached out with the initial group to help with the all-too-common personal crises of home foreclosures, depression and drug dependency, stress among children and family as well as marital difficulties amid a very flat economy.
Like the ever-so-slow birth of a baby in a mother's womb, this first-of-its-kind All Faiths Festival in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville built rapport and trust among representatives of the world religions.
Rabbi Marc Waldman's horn and cap, Imam Steve Elturk's long, white robe, and Rev. David Kasbow's way of building bridges as co-chair of the American Clergy Leadership Conference based in Warren, attracted curiosity and conversation as we came to know each others faith, tradition, policies, scriptures and Koran.
With support from the other students in that Saturday morning class in the Warren mosque last winter, this historic story further unfolded May 4 with song and breakout sessions to serve hope and help for persons at risk in a shaky economy.
With help and hope the original group of Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Totty, Lauren Sackey, Marge Hallman, Olga Dudun, Mary Ann Reaume, Rev. Donald LaLonde, Janet Seefeld, and Carol Sharber, the 12 have swelled with Margaret Demery and Dee McCardle.
A neighbor recently told of her disappointment over the indifference she experienced from those who knew she was experiencing a mortage foreclosure on her home.
"They acted like I didn't exist," she cried. "All I would have appreciated was a word of support but got nothing."
Multiply that example these days. Add the frustration felt by children in the stresses that come with recession. A dose of hope will do a world of good, for sure.
From Windsor, East Pointe, Berkely, Clinton Township, Redford, Livonia and more, this venture has been more than a class. Along with Edna Jackson of Detroit's Focus: HOPE, for whom the program is dedicated on its 40th anniversary of re-training, providing food, senior citizen and child help since 1968, folk singer David Reske and 88-year-old Father William McGoldrick on harmonica, along with a Japanese and Gospel Choir inspired the unusual mix and harmony of a diverse and colorful assembly.
The late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis, with others, founded the civil and human rights organization in response to a racially-divided and hostile metropolitan Detroit.
Through history, faith traditions have founded hospitals with nuns, nurses and nations throughout the world to heal wounds. Schools have been raised through various faiths.
Some will say religions have done harm. The great good in serving humanity looms large across the globe, however. Where ever people are, there will be some bad apples, as we know. The good reign.
Bands and bonds of interfaith solidarity are unbreakable. The May 4 union of all faiths is an unstoppable wind for positive action. This band came together when we all need some hope and help.
Thanks be to God, Allah, Yahweh! We hope those who govern will hear us.
The Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline is a licensed mental health counselor, a Catholic priest and the author of seven books on human development, as well as a certified health fitness instructor. He has offices in Roseville and Royal Oak. Reach him at sacred firstname.lastname@example.org, www.careofthesoul.org or (586) 777-9116.
All Faiths Festival set to help people in need
Sunday event in Roseville will include free counseling
BY CHRISTY ARBOSCELLO • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • May 1, 2008
One people, same needs.
That's the message metro Detroit religious figures of different faiths are delivering to people who need help with a variety of issues.
In the first-of-its-kind All Faiths Festival at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Roseville, Christian, Muslim and Jewish representatives are rallying together to reach out to area residents seeking spiritual guidance during tough economic times. They will provide free counseling to individuals and families who have experienced hardships ranging from unemployment, depression, substance abuse and mortgage foreclosures.
By addressing issues that extend beyond religious boundaries, the organizers hope to foster understanding among the various spiritual beliefs.
"Our objective is also to bring the faiths closer in terms of building bridges and helping one another," said Imam Steve Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren. "Basically, the message that we'd like to get across to them is that we're here to help."
The idea for the festival came about earlier this year when a group of religious men gathered to discuss concerns that have been brought to their attention in recent years. Among the group: the Rev. Lawrence Ventline on behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Elturk, David Kasbow from the American Clergy Leadership of Warren and Rabbi Mordehi Waldman of Mt. Clemens.
The group decided the event, which includes a panel discussion on faith and breakout sessions on various topics from financial problems to one that Ventline will lead for children coping with emotions in stressed families, could serve as a starting point.
The group is exploring the possibility of hosting a similar festival in the fall in another metro Detroit city.
As director of a program called Care of the Soul, Ventline counsels Catholics on their religion as well as mental and physical health. He said the event comes at a good time because he's noticed some alarming trends tied in with the depressed economy.
He has seen about a 50% rise in prescription drug and alcohol abuse along with people contemplating suicide in the past couple of years. While some people are referred to a psychiatrist, Ventline generally encourages them to take care of their bodies with healthy diets and exercise while turning to God.
"It's like a counter stool people sit on -- three legs: physical, emotional and spiritual," he said.The free festival can accommodate up to 500 guests.
FBI Meets with Local Area Muslims
By The Muslim Observer (TMO) | November 1, 2007
By Sadaf Ali, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Warren-October 30—"Muslims did not attack the World Trade Center, extremists did," said Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge.
Approximately 50 people gathered at the Islamic organization of North America (IONA) for a Town Hall meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to discuss the concerns and fears of the Muslim community in Michigan.
"It's very important for us to hear the Muslim community," said Arena, "Hopefully we can learn about one another."
Six years after September 11th, many American Muslims believe that they remain under siege with profiling, discrimination, raids on Muslim charities and the defaming of local area mosques.
For example, in early March worshippers at a mosque in Hamtramck were attacked with shoes while praying, with two members being physically attacked outside.
The Islamic House of Wisdom, in Dearborn, was also vandalized in September. Many believe the rising tide of Islamophobia has been intensified by the war in Iraq and U.S. government measures at home. However, Arena says many of the problems are fueled by the mainstream media.
"An FBI agent helping a person is usually not considered a good story," he said, "It's the perception and what is put out by the media."
However, a major hot-button issue at the meeting was airport security at Detroit Metro.
Dr. Farah Iftikar, a Southfield resident, attended the meeting and voiced concerns about the way her thirteen-year-old son was treated by airport security.
With a tear-laden voice she talked about how her then ten-year old, was flagged by security on a trip to Hawaii.
"I have concerns for my son. He's an American citizen and it's torture for him. He was going on a school trip to Florida and he was singled out by security. All of his classmates had their boarding passes and he was standing and waiting," she said.
Iftikar says that despite repeated attempts there has been no resolution to the situation.
Arena said that although he did not know why Iftikar's son was flagged, he did say that the FBI does have individuals of interest and airport security helps keep track of those people.
"We are not investigating Muslims. We are investigating crooks who mean to do harm to American's like you," he said.
Another issue presented was the use of wiretaps in mosques. "Under the United States Constitution we do not have the authority to bug places, especially a religious institution," said Arena.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Kowalski says it's a money issue, as well as, "The FBI does not have the resources to wiretap every other person," he said, "If we did that, the Michigan FBI would have to shut down."
Kowalski also says that a mosque would not likely be used for recruitment. "Someone who is an extremist does not usually come to a facility like this. Their usually recruiting in someone's garage or basement," he said.
Besides a physical location, IONA Ameer Mustapha Elturk says the Internet is also posing a huge problem for Muslim youth. Elturk says terrorist organizations are now using the World Wide Web as a tool to propagate their "holy war."
"Many youth are influenced by these websites calling for jihad, especially when they see their parents' homelands being shattered," said Elturk.
Although it is useful, if usage is not controlled, Arena says the Internet can be a dangerous place.
"They see what is happening in their homelands and they're interested. So it's easy for them to get sucked in," he said, "Watch what your kids are doing and keep the computer in a public space in the house, because once they're caught it's tough to get them out."
Arena says the FBI is continuing its efforts to improve understanding within their own organization.
"I won't tell you we don't have ignorance on our side. It's an
Mosque doors open to all
Warren facility aims to educate
May 26, 2007
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Through 15 months of ethnic intimidation, Steve Elturk maintained that the good would outweigh the bad when he could finally open Warren's first mosque.
On Friday, as he watched worshipers and visitors filter into the mosque's open house along Ryan Road, his wish may have come true: A Warren resident apologized for Elturk's difficulties.
“I know you've had a hard time," the unidentified woman said as she began to cry. "I'm sorry."
The Islamic Organization of North America opened its headquarters to a crowd of about 200 Muslims and others who didn't know much about Islam at all.
"I always thought we would live to see this day through the grace of God," Elturk said. "Hopefully, with the education we are going to give to the community, everything will be OK."
To that end, at the open house, Elturk said he tried to create an environment where everybody was welcome to pick up literature about Islam and ask questions about the faith. Additionally, several local political leaders made remarks during an opening ceremony about unity and tolerance.
The event was the culmination of the efforts of Elturk, a Troy resident who's battled naysayers since he announced plans to open the mosque.
He first ran into roadblocks when residents were concerned that the call to prayer would be announced over a loudspeaker. Elturk assured them there would not be a speaker.
Then, several instances of vandalism followed, including paint splattered on the back of the building.
Frank Zak, 80, who lives a mile from the mosque, said he knew the building had been the target of vandalism, but personally had nothing against it opening.
"I don't see anything wrong with this place," said Zak, who attended Friday's event. "They're human, just like everybody else."
While Elturk, a native of Lebanon, was encouraged by people's reaction to Friday's event, he said there's more teaching to do, particularly in Warren. His organization plans eventually to offer semester-long classes about Islam.
But in some ways, the teaching has already begun. On Friday afternoon, a mother and her son attending the mosque's event converted to Islam.
"We've made quite a bit of progress, but we've got a long way to go," Elturk said.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or email@example.com.
New mosque opens in Warren
By: Khalil AlHajal / The Arab American News
WARREN — The first mosque in the city of Warren was opened on Friday nearly two years after the Islamic Organization of North America acquired the building and began struggling to gain acceptance in the community.
The city's Planning Commission voted down the organization's initial proposal to establish the mosque, and residents have expressed intolerant sentiments and suspicions since the beginning of the process.
Head of the organization, Imam Steve Elturk, said the U.S. Justice Department became involved in the case to protect the civil rights of Elturk and the group. He said they even promised a federal lawsuit if the city continued to illegally reject the center.
In April, 2006 the commission approved the plan 5-3, but bigoted remarks, demands and accusations continued.
Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dawud Walid, at the time compared the atmosphere to the "Jim Crow South of the 1950s and 1960s."
More recently, the mosque has been vandalized on several occasions (as have several in the Detroit-area in the past months), and a drunk man, later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, threatened and cursed at Elturk outside the building, using racial epithets.
Elturk, who has also repeatedly been the victim of apparent ethnic profiling, having been detained by authorities at the Canadian border on four occasions and twice at the airport, said that Warren residents have expressed "strange, bazaar accusations" and worries about what would go on at the center "like harboring terrorism and performing animal sacrifices."
He said that the Justice Department told him they got involved after reading about the city's negative response in the news media.
Describing himself as an optimist, Elturk persevered and, with the help of interfaith groups and initiatives, was finally able to open the center on Friday.
He and Walid met with local FBI officials on Wednesday to discuss remaining concerns about vandalism and discrimination, and for the Friday grand opening, the center held an open house, inviting the community and people of different faiths to tour the building and learn about Islam.
Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh and Senator Debbie Stabenow and other officials were expected to attend.
Elturk said he wants the community to understand the organization's simple intentions to "serve God, and serve the community."
Joint resolve gets mosque open
Multifaith effort pushed project past obstacles
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
WARREN -- By dint of persistence by Muslims, activists and clergy of other faiths, the city's first mosque opens Friday after years of fits and starts.
Leaders for the Islamic Organization of America faced a no vote at their first hearing last year before the Planning Commission. Some intolerant words were uttered, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to send representatives to the next meeting.
Months later, a drunk accosted the leader of the mosque in the parking lot. Then someone splashed paint on the back wall, in one of a series of recent incidents of vandalism at local mosques.
But as local Muslims busy themselves preparing for the opening, they and others say more Warren residents seem to be coming to an understanding of the Islam in their midst.
"I think that people have a tendency to be somewhat anxious about what they don't know," said Joseph Munem, communications director for the city. "And, actually, we have had an ongoing dialogue about the mosque. Imam Steve Elturk is committed to the notion of educating non-Muslims about Islam.
"I think that with the incessant media attention to terrorism that people tend to use terrorism and Islam rather interchangeably, and I think that is creating some of the misunderstanding here," Munem said. "We support Mr. Elturk's efforts to disabuse people of that notion."
After the first prayers are said in the new mosque on Ryan on Friday -- beginning with the call to prayer at 1:10 p.m. and an open house for the community at 3:30 p.m. -- Mayor Mark Steenbergh and other dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, or members of her staff, and local residents will attend a grand opening at 5 p.m.
"It's a mosque, and it's in Warren," Art Trinova, a delivery truck driver and former resident of the city, said as he unloaded fresh loaves of bread at a nearby market one recent morning. "I guess that concerned some people.
"But something tells me it's going to be professional people, you now? Some engineers from the (GM) TechCenter and probably a few doctors and pharmacists from around Macomb County, you know?" Trinova said. "What's the big deal?"
It almost did not happen. But a strong push by local religious leaders, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Bahia's, Hindis, Sikhs and others, helped win the day.
"Although we had some mishaps along the way, I am an optimist," said Elturk, who is originally from Lebanon, although the largest segment of his congregation is of Pakistani descent. "I normally tend to kind of put these kinds of things behind me and concentrate on more positive things.
"We are closing an old chapter and, with the grand opening, we are opening a brand-new chapter and hopefully the relationship between us and the community will build understanding and trying to learn from one anther rather than having bigotry and hatred," Elturk said.
There are an estimated 125,000 to 250,000 Muslims in Metro Detroit, according to a 2003 study of mosques in the area. Elturk expects to have about 30 to 40 families in his new congregation, for starters.
For some of the pious of other faiths, the establishment of Islam in America is all a bit inspiring.
"I think it is certainly a challenge, because it reflects how America is changing," said Steve Spreitzer, the interfaith coordinator for the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion.
"We in the interfaith movement see Islam as a gift as a blessing and a religion that has a lot to offer, and it is most profoundly experienced by meeting Muslims."
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MACOMB COUNTY -- WARREN: Mosque to open soon
May 24, 2007
Imam Steve Elturk, the head of the Islamic Organization of North America, met with local FBI officials Wednesday, two days before the organization opens Warren's first mosque.
Elturk and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, met with FBI officials so both groups could get to know each other.
Islamic leaders to meet with FBI before mosque's debut
May 23, 2007
By DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The head of the Islamic Organization of North America is scheduled to meet with local FBI officials this afternoon, two days before the organization opens its mosque in Warren.
Imam Steve Elturk, head of the organization, and Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, were set to meet with the FBI. Walid said the meeting served as a way for both groups to get to know each other and talk about what the Islamic organization has planned for the mosque.
“We want to have good relationships with law enforcement,” Walid said.
Elturk has spent the past year remodeling a building on Ryan Road, just south of 12 Mile, and plans an open house Friday that will allow residents to learn about Islam and tour the mosque.
The mosque has had to deal with several incidents of vandalism since its plans were announced. Elturk was confronted by a man earlier this year who was shouting ethnic slurs.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or email@example.com.
Warren Mosque Target Of Vandalism
POSTED: 10:10 am EDT May 15, 2007
WARREN, Mich. -- A local mosque was a target vandalism on Monday.
Someone smeared white paint over walls of a mosque in Warren.
In the past, the electricity meter has been shattered, security lights have been stomped, and the mosque spokesperson, Steve El Turk, said he was threatened outside of the building.
"I was personally threatened by a man who came to us, and I called Warren police," said El Turk.
Police said this isn't the first time a religious building has been vandalized.
St. Mary's Assyrian Church in Warren was also on the list, with graffiti spray-painted on the building.
Police arrested the suspects who they said are responsible for the destruction at St. Mary's Assyrian Church and will focus on locating the person or people responsible for damaging the mosque.
"Our faith teaches us to turn the other cheek," said El Turk.
El Turk told Local 4 News that they will heighten security around the building.
An investigation is under way.
Macomb County news briefs
May 10, 2007
WARREN: Blight cases back to district court
The City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to override a mayoral veto and return oversight of blight court cases back to the 37th District Court.
The mayor and council have spent months quarreling over the blight court and whether it was effective in cleaning up the city. The council dismantled the court and its two departments -- the Administrative Hearings Bureau and the Department of Property Maintenance Inspection -- in February after seven months.
The council rejected an additional $135,000 requested by the departments to keep the court running.
Several council members have said that blight violations should be handled by the district court.
But Mayor Mark Steenbergh, who said the blight court was a success, issued a veto last month to keep oversight in the hearings bureau.
He also has organized a petition drive that is trying to get the issue onto the November ballot. If enough signatures are gathered, voters would decide whether to amend the city charter to mandate that the city have a blight court.
Renovated mosque plans open house May 25
The city's first mosque will hold an open house May 25.
The renovated Islamic Organization of North America will open its doors on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile, from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be information about Islam as well as opportunities to walk through the building.
Imam Steve Elturk, a native of Lebanon who lives in Troy, is the president of the Islamic organization and will be on hand. Members of other religious organizations will also be at the opening.
Elturk has faced opposition to the mosque project.
At a city Planning Commission meeting last year, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations.
He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.
The U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials in April 2006, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.
CLINTON TOWNSHIP: Hackel to honor deputies and others at ceremony
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel will honor deputies, corrections officers and civilians at the annual Awards Day.
The ceremony is at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Macomb Intermediate School District, 44001 Garfield.
Compiled by Christy Arboscello and Dan Cortez.
Warren's first mosque to open May 25
May 9, 2007
By DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The first mosque in Warren will hold a free Open House for the public on May 25.
The Islamic Organization of North America will open its doors on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile, from 3:30 – 8:30 p.m. There will be information about Islam, as well as opportunities to walk through the building that has undergone nearly a year of renovations.
Imam Steve Elturk, a native of Lebanon who lives in Troy, is the president of the Islamic organization and will be on hand.
Elturk has faced plenty of opposition to the mosque project.
At a planning commission meeting last year, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations. He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.
The Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials last April, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.
Members of several different religious organizations also will be at the opening.
Feds fail to clean up faulty terror list
Friday, April 20, 2007
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
Some people of Arab descent and Muslims say they are repeatedly detained for hours as they cross the border from Canada to Michigan because a terrorist watch list is not accurate.
Homeland Security officials say they are aware that innocent travelers are often detained, but that little can be done in the short term to clean up the lists -- and there is no official appeals process for those who feel wronged.
"You have to prepare yourself and go through all sort of psychological work to think: OK, what am I going to say when they handcuff me?" said Imam Steve Elturk, the leader of the Islamic Organization of North America, a mosque in Warren. He has crossed the border a few times in the past two years and was stopped all but once.
U.S. immigration and customs officials say they use watch lists to help them identify potential terrorists. They won't reveal the names on their lists, but more than a dozen people interviewed by The Detroit News say they were told at the border their names are the same or similar to those on the list used at the border in Detroit and Port Huron.
They say they are stopped repeatedly, usually handcuffed -- often in front of their anxious families -- and detained for up to five hours, without explanation.
When they are freed, although it has been established they are not suspected terrorists, they are informed that they are likely to be detained again. They say they are also told they can obtain no record of their detention, or information about why they were held.
Detentions likely to continue
Ibrahim Dabdoub, a plant manager for an auto supplier, was held so often he became acquainted with the border guards -- but the familiarity bred no resolution.
"I even called ahead once to let them know I was coming," said Dabdoub, who used to live in Metro Detroit and now resides in Ohio. Dabdoub, who has Canadian and American citizenship, frequently crosses the border at Detroit, returning from visiting his family in Ontario. He says he has been detained 15 times, for up to two-and-a-half hours.
"It did not matter that I called," Dabdoub said. "When I got there, the border guy said, 'You're the guy who called, right? Sorry, you'll have to come " with me, again.'
Federal officials say 3,700 people have complained about the detentions since February. Groups like the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, the Arab American Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union say the problem is growing.
Federal officials say that while they are aware of the problem, the detentions are likely to continue, even if it means innocent people are sometimes held. Unlike the Transportation Security Administration, which uses a similar list to secure airports, there is no appeals process for those stopped at border crossings.
"We want to see the system work efficiently and effectively," said Daniel Sutherland, director of the office of civil rights and civil liberties for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "But this issue encapsulizes the complexity of the world in which we operate."
Sutherland said it has been difficult for customs and immigration officials to set up an appeals procedure like the Transportation Security Administration because information gathered about air travelers is already in place when they arrive at airports, while border officials begin the process when they first see travelers face-to-face.
The General Accountability Office reported last year that various watch lists promulgated by the FBI for several government agencies are filled with the names of people who are not terror suspects.
Bringing back bad memories
Civil rights advocates have been seeking a remedy for so long, they say they doubt federal officials will move anytime soon.
People want to be cooperative during border stops, said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "However, we need to make sure when people are facing these frequent stops, there must be something to bring that issue to a close."
Sharif Gindy, an engineer who lives in Macomb Township, has stopped trying to cross the border to do business in Canada with an automobile manufacturer because of an incident in June in which he was rousted from his automobile, frisked and handcuffed, whisked off by border guards and detained for five hours -- while his wife remained at the crossing, wondering about his fate.
The detentions are especially ironic, Gindy says, because some of the high technology equipment for which he has obtained patents is used by the federal government on military aircraft and by NASA on the space shuttle.
Gindy, 60, says that as an American, he understands the need for security. But as an immigrant from Egypt, his treatment at the border conjures bad memories.
"I was taken out of the car, frisked, and then when he is frisking me, he is not asking me to put my hands on the car, he is kicking your feet apart and treating you like you have already committed a crime," Gindy said.
"Egypt is a great country, but the system of government started to choke liberties and that is the reason for young engineers, doctors or whatever to leave," he said. "To tell you the truth, I now feel like I have gone back 50 years. This reminds me of the martial laws in Egypt, when such rules are applicable to free citizens, good and bad alike, and there is secret evidence."
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mosque expects worship, peace
Organizer has worked to allay neighbors' perceptions
April 13, 2007
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
All signs of intimidation toward the Islamic Organization of North America and its president, Imam Steve Elturk, have stopped.
No more broken lightbulbs on the back of the Warren mosque. No more drunkards showing up at night to confront Elturk. And no more residents demanding he prove that he isn't a terrorist.
"We had to go through a lot, and we're still not there yet," Elturk, a Lebanon native, said Wednesday.
A year after Elturk's plans to open Warren's first mosque drew outrage from some residents who didn't want it in their neighborhood, the Troy resident is preparing to open next month to 200 Muslim families.
To counter any lingering negative feelings, Elturk plans an education campaign for the mosque's neighbors that will include an open house and pamphlets about the mosque.
Barbara Sollose, who lives near the mosque, said neighbors are accustomed to the idea of having a new house of worship nearby. But, she said, neighbors will feel better after looking inside.
"I think that they would like to go in and see what is going on," said Sollose, who heads the Central Homeowners of Warren. "I think, now that the shock is over, everything is going to be fine."
Elturk has spent the last year fighting opposition.
Some residents feared a loudspeaker attached to the building would blare calls to prayer. To quell those concerns, Elturk signed documents saying he'll never have a loudspeaker.
Last June, several glass bottles were broken in the mosque's parking lot, and a floodlight and electric meter were shattered.
And in January, Elturk was at the mosque when a man started shouting racial epithets at him. The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 days in jail.
Although Elturk has had fewer problems in the last couple of months, he had a harsh reminder this month of how intolerant some people can be. The Assyrian Church of the East, a Catholic church, was vandalized with anti-Arab graffiti. Two men were charged Tuesday with the vandalism.
"It tells me that there's still racism, and it is not just against Muslims but against Arabs, too," Elturk said.
Michail Curro, director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice who recently led a five-week session in Warren to educate about 50 residents about Islam, said the ignorance is hard to break through. Some people, he said, will want to lump all Muslims with a small number identified as terrorists.
"There's an unfortunate lack of knowledge about the diversity within Islam," said Curro, who previously headed a Christian church in Mt. Clemens. "You could never pinpoint Christians as one person acting out. People tend to want to do that when they think about another religion."
Steve Spreitzer, director of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, agrees, saying that many non-Muslims have limited knowledge of the religion, which can lead to assumptions that might not be accurate.
"There is a good deal of ignorance because of isolation," Spreitzer said. "The days we're most segregated is when we worship. Get to know the members of that mosque. A lot of the fear and anxiety will yield."
Elturk said a learning center in the mosque will help answer people's questions about the religion.
"We're here to make things better," he said.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or email@example.com.
Police to patrol Warren churches after vandalism
April 3, 2007
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Warren police plan to increase patrols near houses of worship after a church on the city’s north side was spray painted with ethnic slurs on Monday.
St. Mary’s Church, 4320 Fourteen Mile, was vandalized sometime Monday. The church is not scheduled to open until May. City spokesman Joe Munem said the vandalism was derisive toward Arabs and non-Christians.
What the vandals didn’t realize is that the church is expected to serve predominantly Christian of Assyrian descent. The church sits along the northern border of the city.
Chief Jere Green said neighboring police departments, including Sterling Heights, are helping with the investigation.
Monday was not the first time that a house of worship intended for people of Middle Eastern descent has dealt with vandalism. Steve Elturk, whose Islamic Organization of North America is opening the city’s first mosque, was confronted in January by a Warren man shouting racial epithets. The man, 37-year-old Terry E. Brown, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh was outraged at the incident.
“This kind of vandalism sickens me,” he said.
Anyone who has information about the vandalism at St. Mary’s should contact Warren Police Detective John Barnes at 586-574-4776.
Religions stand united
Christians, Jews join Muslims
Metro religious leaders decry mosque vandalism, attacks
Friday, January 26, 2007
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- In a striking display of determination to stand against hatred and bigotry, about 30 leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in Metro Detroit gathered Thursday to say that vandalism and other incidents at four mosques in the past month are attacks not only against Islam, but against all faiths.
Religious, civic and law enforcement officials met at a former mosque, the old Islamic Center of America, on Joy at Greenfield, to decry the vandalism that occurred there sometime Sunday night, and at least four other incidents in Dearborn, Detroit and Warren since late December.
"We stand together with our Muslim sisters and brothers and point to the antidote to this bigotry and vandalism: Our relationships and learning to care about each other," said Steve Spreitzer, director of the interfaith division of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, which helped to organize the event.
The religious leaders said they are concerned that the incidents may be a sign that hatred directed at Muslims, especially since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may be taking a new, nasty turn in Metro Detroit. The region, home to about 125,000 to 200,000 Muslims of mostly Arab and South Asian descent, has been largely immune from the vandalism against mosques that has plagued other areas of the country, particularly in the two years after the attacks, civil rights leaders and observers have said.
"I think it's important for all of us people of faith to stand together in solidarity when we're attacked in physical ways like this," said Michael Hovey, assistant adviser in the Department of Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "We had to stand together as friends and allies to say that this is unacceptable to treat people of faith in this way."
There was an arrest in the incident last week in Warren, at the Islamic Organization of North America, in which a man took a fallen tree limb to a sign at the mosque and later brandished it against a Muslim leader. But other recent incidents in Dearborn and Detroit, at the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center and the former Islamic Center of America, remain unsolved.
It was the second time in recent weeks that Muslims and Jews, in particular, joined to protest religious bigotry. Earlier this month, Muslim leaders traveled to the
Holocaust Memorial Center in West Bloomfield to criticize an international conference on the Holocaust, called by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
"This is an act that anyone of good faith has to condemn, no matter which group it is," said Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Council, an umbrella group of about 200 Jewish organizations in Metro Detroit. Gail Katz, a vice president of the council, Rabbi Josh Bennett of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, and David Henig of the Michigan Board of Rabbis also attended the session.
Police in Detroit and Dearborn said Thursday that they continue to investigate the series of incidents.
"The Muslim community is grateful," said Victor Ghalib Begg of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan. "You are giving a clear message that defacing or destroying a facility where the name of God is recited inside will not be tolerated."
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elturk said a ban on racial profiling would be a welcome development for him
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Muslim man harassed over mosque in Warren
January 19, 2007
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Steve Elturk knows there could be some backlash when he opens Warren's first mosque later this year. He learned Wednesday he may not have to wait that long.
Elturk was at the mosque -- the Islamic Organization of North America, on Ryan south of 12 Mile -- about 8:15 p.m. when a man started shouting racial epithets at him.
"He was standing by the sign, and he said he was going to desecrate the sign," Elturk of Troy said Thursday. "He said, 'I hate you. I hate Muslims.' "
Elturk said the man took off a jacket and moved toward him in a "threatening way."
The man, Terry E. Brown, 37, of Warren, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 21 days in the Macomb County Jail, Warren police said.
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he will ask the county Prosecutor's Office to file an ethnic intimidation charge.
"In light of the circumstances ... we're going to ask that the man be charged with a hate crime," Walid said.
Jim Langtry, the prosecutor's chief of operations, said the office doesn't condone Brown's behavior -- "It was deplorable," he said. But, he added, Brown was too drunk to form a specific intent to intimidate Elturk.
Elturk, a native of Lebanon, has faced plenty of opposition to the mosque project. At a planning commission meeting in May, he was asked to prove that his group did not have ties to terrorist organizations. He also found broken glass and encountered other vandalism in the back of the building last summer.
The Justice Department sent a letter to Warren officials last April, informing them that it was monitoring the situation.
Elturk, who was working inside the building when Brown arrived, hopes to open the mosque next month. He said he's planning an open house for nearby residents when the building is complete.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or email@example.com.
Man gets jail time for drunken tirade at Warren mosque
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
WARREN -- After shouting epithets and obscenities at the leader of a mosque established on Ryan Road amid some controversy last year, a local man admitted today that he engaged in disorderly conduct and he was sentenced to 21 days in jail.
Police say Terry Brown, 37, was drunk and disorderly when they responded to a call Wednesday at about 5:30 p.m., at the Islamic Organization of North America.
Imam Steve Mustafa al-Turk called police and said a man was beating a sign at the mosque with the branch of a tree, police said. Al-Turk said that when he approached Brown, Brown moved toward him with the tree limb, uttering slurs and obscenities, and saying that he intended to desecrate the mosque, police said.
When police arrived, according to Detective Sgt. Michael Torey, Brown was in the parking lot at the mosque, clearly drunk, and shouting at al-Turk and another man.
"The officers could hear profanities directed at the individuals," Torey said.
Police held Brown overnight, considering charges of both disorderly conduct and ethnic intimidation. After consulting with the office of the Macomb County prosecutor, Torey said, police were told the evidence did not support a charge of ethnic intimidation.
Officials in the prosecutor's office were not immediately available to comment.
Some Muslim leaders questioned why Brown was not charged with ethnic intimidation.
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or gkrupa@ detnews.com.
Part 4: A terror suspect's mentor
Published: Thursday, September 07, 2006
Three months after the RCMP began arresting 18 suspects accused of plotting terror attacks in Canada, an investigation by the National Post has uncovered a web of links to Pakistan. Today, in the last of four parts, a Toronto terror suspect's ties to a hardline Pakistani Muslim group.
LAHORE, Pakistan - An elderly man with a snowy beard, a black Jinnah cap and a well-honed gift for oratory, Dr. Israr Ahmad is one of Pakistan's best-known Islamic revivalists.
With the help of a weekly television show, a Web site and a seminary in Lahore's Model Town neighbourhood, the 74-year-old exhorts Muslims to strive for the "global domination of Islam."
In his books and recorded lectures, sold online and at his small shop in Lahore, he spells out his views about "conspiring" Jews and the need to treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens.
"Under the existing state of affairs, which is both distressing and disheartening, we must keep reminding ourselves that the ascendancy of Islam over the entire globe is bound to come," he writes.
Dr. Ahmad does not advocate violence; his message is that change will only come once Muslims individually adhere to the principles of their faith. But one of his disciples may have gone too far.
Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the eldest of the 18 terror suspects arrested in the Toronto area this summer, was a student of Dr. Ahmad's and a member of the "revolutionary" organization he founded, Tanzeem-e-Islami.
In an indication of his reverence for Dr. Ahmad, days after he was arrested by the RCMP on June 2, Mr. Jamal sent a message to his wife, Cheryfa, asking her to get in contact with his "old mentor and teacher."
"All my husband had wanted from me was to get this simple message to his old friend: 'I need your [prayers],' " Mrs. Jamal says on her Internet blog, adding, "Dr. Ahmad asked me to fax my request as it was difficult for him to hear me on the phone."
According to Tanzeem officials, the mosque where Mr. Jamal preached, the Ar-Rahman Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ont., was once affiliated with the Pakistan-based organization but was expelled three years ago.
In 2003, the Tanzeem-e-Islami branch in North America broke away from its parent organization in Pakistan, partly due to ideological differences with Dr. Ahmad. Mosques in Canada and the U.S. were required to pledge their loyalty to a new North American leader, rather than to Dr. Ahmad. The Ar-Rahman centre did not do so and its membership was therefore revoked.
"He is not considered a member and thus his membership is nullified and he is no longer a member of our organization," said Steve Elturk, president of the U.S. Tanzeem affiliate, now called the Islamic Organization of North America.
He added that Dr. Ahmad "never advocated terrorism, never advocated any violence, as a matter of fact his movement is a peaceful, non-violent movement."
The terrorist plot that Mr. Jamal stands accused helping foment in Ontario has been widely described as a "homegrown" Canadian conspiracy, but there are also a web of ties to Pakistan, and Mr. Jamal is among them.
Some of those associated with the Toronto cell allegedly traveled to Pakistan for terrorist training; some are accused of links to a Pakistani militant group called Lashkar-e-Tayyiba; and some are of Pakistani heritage.
Five years after 9/11, the suspected connections between Pakistan and what could have been Canada's worst act of domestic terror is seen by some as an indication that while terrorism has changed dramatically since 2001, Pakistan's role as a hub of global terror remains unresolved.
At the Society of the Servants of the Koran, Dr. Ahmad's seminary near Punjab University, a sticker on the window reads: "Destiny of Pakistan: Caliphate," the term for the Islamic nation imagined by some Muslims.
"Yes, I heard about him," one of Mr. Ahmad's friendly aides, Sardar Awan, said of Mr. Jamal in an interview with the National Post. "Our party is Tanzeem-e-Islami. He was in that," he said.
"Recently when he was arrested one of our previous members of Tanzeem-e-Islami informed us. And his wife ... she is alone there so we contacted the emir [the Tanzeem leader] in America to help."
Dr. Ahmad could be called Mr. Jamal's teacher "in the sense that Dr. Israr taught [the] Koran to people and gave [the] message of [the] Koran to [the] people of Pakistan, in the sense that he learned Islam and Koran from Dr. Israr," he said.
He said he read about the Toronto terror plot in the newspaper, but added he has his own views about who is and is not a terrorist. "As far as I understand, I don't think any organizations are terrorist organizations, are really terrorist, even in Afghanistan or in Iraq.
"They are poor people. I don't think they are terrorists."
But he said his organization would not condone bombings in Canada. "We don't encourage that. We try to make our country according to the system of Islam."
Asked if he was concerned that one of the Tanzeem's followers might have taken things too far, he said: "Yes, we will try to clarify our position more frequently and we will tell people that this is not what we are aiming [for].
"This is not at all our mission, our struggle."
The "message of [the] Koran and Sunna and our organization is not that complicated. Maybe he misapplied that message or he could not judge that this message is not applicable to where he is staying."
In an e-mail sent to the Post, Dr. Ahmad said he was out of touch with the Tanzeem, having relinquished his leadership of the party in 2002 due to health problems.
"Since I am not in touch with the Tanzeem members for last many years, it would be difficult for me to offer any thoughtful comment about the arrest of a former Tanzeem member, Qayyum Jamal, in Canada whom I do not remember at the moment," he said.
"We do believe in a struggle as a Tanzeem for the establishment of a system of social justice of Islam in a country of our origin, rather than in a host country and that too collectively under the leadership of Tanzeem in an organized manner.
"If the man has indeed engaged in the terrorist activities in Canada as the police have alleged, there must be some misunderstanding."
How Mr. Jamal came to embrace what Canadian authorities have described as the ideology of al-Qaeda is an open question that may not be answered even at his trial. But his involvement in Tanzeem-e-Islami and study of Dr. Ahmad's teachings may provide a glimpse of his worldview.
In Pakistan, Dr. Ahmad's conservative brand of religion and his opinions about Jews and the West are everyday fare. But his ideas would likely be troubling to many Canadians.
He writes that it is the duty of all Muslims to strive for "the ascendancy of Islam over all other systems of life," and that the dominance of Islam will come in three stages: passive resistance, active resistance and armed conflict.
Islam's renaissance will begin in Pakistan, he writes, because the Arab world is living under subjugation. Only the Pakistan region "has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony," he writes.
The Tanzeem-e-Islami, which he formed in 1975, is an "Islamic revolutionary party whose goal is to establish the system of social justice of the Caliphate [Islamic state] firstly in Pakistan and then in the whole world."
In his booklet Khalifah in Pakistan: What, Why and How?, he outlined the three principles of his ideal state: "(1) Sovereignty belongs to Almighty Allah alone; (2) No legislation can be done at any level that is totally or partially repugnant to Koran and Sunnah, and; (3) Full citizenship of the state is for the Muslims only."
Another of his books repeats the Jewish conspiracy theories popular among neo-Nazis, claiming that Jews have "a deeply ingrained tendency to conspire and to maneuver things surreptitiously for their own gain."
The Jews exert a "wicked web of control and exploitation" through their ownership of banks, insurance companies and stock exchanges, he claims.
He compares Jews to parasites, calls the Holocaust "Divine punishment" and foresees the "total extermination" of Jews at the hands of Muslims.
"Let us say some young, impressionable extremists in Canada were to read that," said Bernie Farber, executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress and a court-recognized expert on hate literature.
"Who am I or you to say that they're not going to take the actions suggested in these writings? It's pernicious and it's potentially very dangerous."
Read passages of Dr. Ahmad's writings, Mr. Farber called it "anti-Semitic garbage" that he said "adds to the concerns that we've been expressing for years, that anti-Semitism that is injected into the minds of young people here in Canada can potentially have very dangerous effects."
A 43-year-old school bus driver known for his fiery sermons, Mr. Jamal had been under scrutiny by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for the past two years, his wife said in a posting on her blog.
"We knew they were asking our friends and their parents about us, even telling them that Abdul Qayyum was recruiting teens for jihad, but everyone knew this was untrue," she said.
"We knew they were tapping our phones and watching our every move."
Liberal MP Wajid Khan has said he once heard Mr. Jamal claim that Canadian troops were only in Afghanistan "to rape Muslim women."
Mr. Jamal's exact role in the group accused of plotting to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto and behead hostages on Parliament Hill until Canada withdrew from Afghanistan and released Muslim prisoners has not yet been disclosed.
But he has been charged with three counts under the Anti-terrorism Act: participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorism and intent to cause an explosion.
His bail hearing is scheduled to resume this month.
Warren mosque seeks acceptance
Leader works on minds as building is under way
August 18, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Steve Elturk strokes his salt-and-pepper beard as he recalls the incident a few weeks ago that reminded him the task of opening the first mosque in Warren is just beginning.
Elturk was headed to his mosque, the Islamic Organization of North America Masjid & Learning Center, on Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile. While in traffic on Ryan, he looked over and was greeted by a scowl from a man who seemed to disapprove of Elturk's presence in Warren.
"You can tell he's full of rage," Elturk of Troy said Thursday. "I wasn't surprised. You're going to encounter people who don't know and are ignorant of the situation. That has been very stressful."
Stress is something Elturk, 51, got used to last spring, when he fought disapproving residents and city officials who made wild accusations about the group, including suspicions it might be tied to terrorism. After securing permits, construction on the mosque began earlier this month. Elturk wants to open the building in late November.
Donations from members are covering the estimated $250,000 in construction costs.
There are still signs that trouble could be lurking. In June several glass bottles were broken in the parking lot, a floodlight was broken and an electric meter was shattered. Elturk initially blamed the incident on teenagers with nothing better to do, but then he reconsidered.
"Maybe I do want to believe it was just kids," Elturk said with a cautious smile. "I am anticipating something worse."
The recent crisis in the Middle East has left Elturk wondering whether uninformed residents might blame him for the situation. And Elturk still has family -- his mother and a brother and sister -- living in Lebanon.
To try to combat the negative vibes, Elturk has met regularly over the past several months with other church leaders in Warren.
"We're trying to bring together the hearts of all the churches in Warren," Elturk said.
The Rev. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Church in Warren met with Elturk for lunch Thursday. Schulte said any fear in the Warren community comes from misinformation about Muslims. Pamphlets explaining the Muslim faith that Elturk gave to Schulte were quickly snatched up at St. Sylvester.
"People want to know what it's all about," said Schulte, who wants to organize some community roundtables to discuss Islam. "People don't understand it. I think people in Warren make that mistake."
Zahid Sheikh, 46, of Sterling Heights said the Muslim community in Macomb County is looking forward to a second mosque in the area. Sheikh, a doctor, said he regularly worships in Detroit and Rochester Hills. Sheikh said he'll attend the new mosque because he works at 15 Mile and Ryan.
Sheikh said Warren has not always been accepting of minorities, but that has to change due to the shifting demographics.
"It's an uphill struggle. ... Now you have a lot of people from the Middle East and it's going to be more diversified," Sheikh said. "It has to change."
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mosque raises interfaith issues 'Meet Your Neighbors' symposium aims to calm fears about new house of worship in Warren.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
WARREN -- Some people believe Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God. And some make it their business to spread the word.
Muslims and city officials in Warren have cleared the way for the first mosque in the city, on Ryan near 12 Mile. The process is smoother now than it was a few months ago, when the Muslims who are establishing the mosque were confronted by intolerance at a municipal meeting and elsewhere.
Much of the improvement is due to a dedicated interfaith group of activists who helped to assuage fears about the mosque and Islam. Today, those activists are asking residents to "Meet Your Neighbors," at a symposium on the shared heritage of faith.
The event is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Warren Community Center Auditorium, 5460 Arden.
"Unfortunately, many Christians are having trouble with this issue of the mosque," said Steve Spreitzer, the director of Interfaith Partners for the National Conference of Community and Justice, who helped organize both the symposium and the months-long interfaith support for the Islamic Organization of North America Mosque of Warren. "One guy always tells me, 'Every time I see a " Muslim, I think they are here to take over the country.'
The Rev. Sharon Buttry will moderate the symposium. Guest speakers include the Rev. Gary Schulte, of St. Sylvester Church in Warren; Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Michigan; Barbara Sollose, president of the Central Home Owners of Warren; and Imam Steve Mustapha Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America.
"I think the way people get over that is to engage in personal contact," said Buttry, a Baptist minister and director of Reaching for Excellence and Community Hope (REACH) at the Acts 29 Fellowship in Hamtramck.
"Once you are face to face with someone, it is hard to have some hate or fear for them."
"To see our brothers and sisters from different denominations come forward and support us was astonishing in some ways but no surprise, in others," Elturk said. "I came across a verse in the Quran that explains: 'If it had not been for God repelling some people by means of others, we would have seen monasteries, " churches, synagogues and mosques destroyed.'
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or email@example.com.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Warren - Mosque to educate public about Muslims
An informational meeting to educate residents about Islam and Muslims is being offered this week in the wake of controversy over a new mosque in Warren.
The "Meet Your Neighbors" symposium will be held from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden. Religious leaders with the city's newly established mosque, the Islamic Organization of North America, hope to clear up misunderstandings about their religion. The symposium is also sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Muslim leader embraces challenge Warren presents
May 9, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
As some of his future neighbors flung hate-filled comments about Islam and cursed Muslims last month at a Warren Planning Commission meeting, Steve Elturk listened quietly.
The rude welcome showed him that getting formal approval from the commission that night to open Warren's first mosque was probably the easy part. Winning acceptance from skeptical neighbors in a city known for its resistance to change is the bigger challenge.
Elturk hopes to ease the lingering tensions with an open symposium intended to correct misperceptions about Islam and the Islamic Organization of North America. Elturk, from Troy, is president of the nonprofit organization, which wants to open the mosque and learning center in an existing building his group bought on Ryan south of 12 Mile.
"We seem to have the support of the majority of the residents," Elturk said. "There are a few individuals who are still uncomfortable with us. We have to deal with that."
Elturk met last Tuesday with representatives of civil rights groups to organize the meeting, planned for early next month. He hopes it will include officials from several religious and civil rights groups. The city has offered to host the symposium at the Warren Community Center.
"I think if we all talk, it will go well," Elturk said.
Elturk has played the parts of peacemaker and teacher since getting approval for the mosque last month.
He asked Harry Bissell, a Royal Oak resident who converted to Islam 13 years ago, to speak to concerned residents on his behalf a couple of days after the Planning Commission met. Bissell spent two hours answering questions from members of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren, whose homes surround the site of the proposed mosque.
It was a dramatic change from the Planning Commission meeting, where some residents asked if Elturk's organization had ties to terrorist groups and a commissioner asked if Elturk planned to offer sacrifices at the mosque. Some exchanges became vulgar.
Barbara Sollose, president of the homeowners association, said 80 residents attended Bissell's forum, and 79 had positive impressions from it.
"I think they feel better about it," Sollose said. "I think they were happy with what happened."
Bissell said last week: "I was expecting that there might be a lot of hostility there. But the association was very receptive and more than anything else, curious. They weren't against it, they just didn't really understand it."
The rough welcome raised eyebrows throughout the city. Stan Newman, 75, who lives a few miles from where the mosque will be built, said he heard of residents who grumbled about increased traffic and parking problems.
"My concern was they were using parking as an excuse," he said. "I'm concerned with what the fuss was. Muslims deserve a place to worship."
Elturk said no people have threatened him or told him that they oppose the mosque since he received approval for it, but he knows some still will not welcome it. A U.S. Department of Justice official told him not to lose her number, just in case.
Planning Commissioner Alan Casmere, 54, has lived in the area surrounding the planned mosque for 38 years. He voted against Elturk's plan in March, but voted in favor of it in April. From the outset, he said, the opposition was largely a result of concerns that the mosque might use a loudspeaker to announce calls to prayer.
"I know the neighbors," Casmere said Tuesday. "They weren't against the mosque, they were against the loudspeaker."
Late last month, Elturk and Sollose signed an agreement that ensures an external speaker will not announce calls to prayer. Elturk has said he never had any plans to use such a speaker, but decided to offer the pact as a sign of good faith. Sollose will talk about the agreement at an association meeting Wednesday.
"I think they put the first step forward and I admire them for doing that," Casmere said.
Elturk said he has heard from Muslims in Warren who are eager to begin worshiping at a mosque in their own city. He plans to get permits by the end of May and begin construction soon thereafter.
"I would love to have it by September," he said, when Ramadan begins. "That would be a real gift for the Muslim community."
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mosque plan spurs effort to reach out
Warren project sparks worry, underscores need for dialogue about faith, Muslim leader says.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News
WARREN -- Steve Elturk says he was shocked at the reaction he received over his request to establish the first mosque in Warren.
The controversial project approved by the Warren Planning Commission ignited concerns from residents and commission members over traffic, ties to terrorists and religious sacrifices.
The mosque would be at Ryan Road south of 12 Mile.
"It's horrifying," said Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America. "Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between understanding other faiths and other cultures among the people in Warren.
"It is our challenge now to make sure that the residents, No. 1, are comfortable with us."
Education efforts have already begun by Elturk and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The chapter, based in Lathrup Village, is planning to organize a symposium this summer with religious groups in Warren to discuss intolerance.
"We believe that through discussion and respectful dialogue, this will turn people who have bad feelings about others into possible friends," said Dawud Walid, executive director of the local chapter. "People are the enemies of that which they do not know."
Meanwhile, Elturk said he's planning an open house for the community once building renovations are completed.
The five daily calls to prayer will not be broadcast over a loudspeaker because Warren's Muslim families are scattered in the community, he said. Also, an organizationrepresentative met with a group of about 90 residents to answer questions about the project and religion.
"(The residents) were able to ask everything they've ever heard, seen or thought of about the religion," said Barbara Sollose, president of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren. "Everybody felt better."
Planning Commission member Phillip Camarda still has his doubts. Although Camarda said he's not prejudiced against the religion, but he does think a mosque would be better suited to a neighborhood that had a larger concentration of Muslims.
"If you have a Christian community, you would be a church," he said. "I don't think Christians would build in a place where they weren't wanted."
Also, Camarda said he doesn't believe it's the best location for a religious facility.
"It's a strip mall," he said. "I wouldn't let a Catholic Church move into a strip mall."
Elturk said there are about 200 Muslim families in Warren. He expects only about 20 of those families, which include Mirza Ahmed, to attend worship at the mosque.
"It's great news," said Ahmed, who's lived in Warren for 26 years. "We are really pleased to have, at last, a place for our own worship. We've been wishing for that all this time."
You can reach Christina Stolarz at (586) 468-0343 or email@example.com.
Warren should welcome new mosque
By Alexandra Cervenak | Assistant Opinions Editor
I had a touch of déjà vu today when I heard that the city of Warren had just approved a plan that would allow for the opening of the city’s first mosque. My déjà vu was not necessarily related to the opening of a new mosque, but to the comments of some Warren residents I read in both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News—which I have to say appalled me.
I have heard disparaging remarks like this before; I hail from Hamtramck where there has been an ongoing debate for nearly two years about the right of mosques to play a call to prayer.
I remember when the issue came to a head in Hamtramck—whether several of the city’s mosques were within their legal right to play the five-times-daily Islamic call to prayer over a loudspeaker. I remember Hamtramck’s newspaper was deluged with letter after letter from residents either for or against the measure, some more informed than others. Hamtramck finally permitted the call to prayer to be played, but that hasn’t stopped residents from still debating whether or not it really should be allowed. Personally, I was one of the people who saw no reason why the mosques should not be allowed to play the call to prayer.
I was always glad that I grew up in Hamtramck, because it meant that I was a Polish girl who attended traditional Catholic school, but went to the parties that my Filipino neighbors threw, and yes, was used to the fact that there was a mosque down the street. I only thought that being able to hear the call to prayer would add to Hamtramck’s mix of cultures and people that I found so appealing.
After the call to prayer had been approved, I remember standing on the steps of one of Hamtramck’s old Polish Catholic churches during an early morning Mass, when on the wind came musical strands of the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. Some people thought it interrupted the Mass, but I thought it was beautiful. It was one of those rare moments where for a second I regained the long-lost hope that maybe, just maybe, there might be a time when we really could all just get along.
Perhaps this is why I was so shocked when I heard about the situation in Warren—the planning commission wasn’t debating about anything like a call to prayer that might be disruptive, but simply on whether or not a mosque could be built. I was even more shocked to learn that this would be Warren’s first mosque, so perhaps I should pay more attention when I go out into the suburbs.
But as I said before, the most disturbing aspect of this is the comments made by several Warren residents at the planning commission’s meeting, as Dan Cortez of the Free Press said, there was “a series of ill-informed, fear-tinged and derogatory comments from residents and city planning commissioners.” For instance, the Free Press asserts as well that there was applause when a resident demanded proof that the Islamic Organization of North America, which plans to open the mosque, didn’t have connections to terrorists. And in the Detroit News, Warren resident Olga Soroka, who is concerned that the new mosque may cause noise problems if it ever broadcasts a call to prayer, is quoted as saying of her and her husband: "We don't feel too good. We're probably going to sell our house."
So, to all the residents of Warren who are wary of the new mosque for whatever reason, whether it be noise or traffic worries or terrorism concerns, I have seen people with your fears before. And I have seen people with your fears live through them. I applaud the Warren Planning Commission for approving the plan for the new mosque even if many residents were opposed to the idea. Even in Hamtramck, where there have been mosques for many years and a call to prayer for about two years, some residents still share your fears. I am in no way any sort of expert on Islam, but I do know that my city wasn’t worse off for allowing a call to prayer. So residents of Warren, welcome this new mosque into your neighborhood, and you might just see that you have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Warren approves plan for the city's first mosque
Some neighbors are concerned calls to prayer five times a day will disrupt neighborhood.
Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News
WARREN -- John and Olga Soroka have enjoyed living in their quiet Warren neighborhood for about 26 years.
But the couple is afraid that noise will become a problem now that the city's Planning Commission has approved a plan by the Islamic Organization of North America to build the first mosque in the city at Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile -- just down the street from their home.
The organization promised to not broadcast the five daily calls to prayer over a loudspeaker, but Olga Soroka is not convinced. She's afraid that the noise will become a problem in the next year or so.
"We don't feel too good," she said. "We're probably going to sell our house."
The city cannot legally tell the organization to not use a loudspeaker for calls to prayer "just like we can't tell (churches) to stop church bells," said Joe Munem, spokesman for Mayor Mark Steenbergh.
Initially, the Planning Commission voted 4-4 Monday on the issue, but after a short recess, they approved the religious facility 5-3, he said. Planning Commission members Maurice Daniels, Philip Camarda and Daria Brown voted against the measure.
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the matter to ensure the civil rights of the organization and its president, Steve Elturk, are not violated, Munem said.
Elturk did not return repeated calls by The Detroit News.
The organization purchased the building at 28630 Ryan Road -- which is zoned for commercial use -- in August to be used as a mosque and religious education center.
The Planning Commission denied the proposal last month because of concerns over traffic and the external loudspeaker.
However, Elturk resubmitted his plan after addressing the board's concerns, Munem said.
"They met all the legal terms to go into this place," Munem said.
"As long as their complying with our laws, we're not in the position to discriminate against them.
"The administration will not do that."
You can reach Christina Stolarz at (586) 468-0343 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mosque exposes fears in Warren
Plans OK'd over residents' worries
April 12, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The plans for Warren's first mosque were approved, but a series of ill-informed, fear-tinged and derogatory comments from residents and city planning commissioners Monday night still echoed a day later.
"It's reminiscent of the Jim Crow South of the 1950s and 1960s," said Dawud Walid, executive director for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who attended the meeting Monday night.
"There were blatant Islam-ophobic comments made by two members on this board," he said, adding that he is happy the plan was approved. "But we're also very discouraged by some of the comments from both the residents and the commissioners."
During the two-hour session, one Warren resident was loudly applauded for demanding that the developer prove the Islamic Organization of North America won't have ties to terrorists. Planning commissioner Maurice Daniels asked if sacrifices would be made. The planning commission rejected the plan a month ago, and nearly tabled it Monday before giving it the OK. Steve Elturk, the 50-year-old Troy man who proposed the project, did not return messages Tuesday to comment about the meeting, but he is going ahead with the project.
Crews already have started renovating the old office and retail building on Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile, and Walid said Elturk plans to host an open house at the new mosque in order to promote a better understanding of Islam.
"What I saw were not only anti-Islamic sentiment, but anti-minority sentiment," Walid said. "We are hopeful that there are no types of retaliatory actions taken against the mosque. One positive is that there are people in the academic and religious communities in Warren that spoke out in favor of the mosque."
Walid said he wants to hold symposiums on race relations in Macomb County in response to Monday's raucous meeting.
Similar wild insinuations from residents and commissioners when Elturk originally was denied approval drew the attention from the U.S. Department of Justice. Stephen Thom, spokesman for the Justice Department, said Tuesday that a federal mediator was following the situation to ensure Elturk's civil rights are not violated.
Walid said he was told the Justice Department will review tapes from Monday's meeting.
Warren spokesman Joe Munem said Elturk worked hard to accommodate the requests of the planning department. City planning director Ed Bayer told the commission that Elturk met all of the city's requirements. He added that the administration was appalled at the comments of Daniels and some residents.
"We welcome any house of worship that complies with our codes and ordinances," Munem said Tuesday.
Barbara Sollose, 68, is president of the Central Homeowners Association of Warren, which has 80 members living near the mosque site. She said they still are concerned that traffic will become an issue.
"It's not a religious thing, not with our group. It's not," Sollose said. "It's that the place is so small."
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Warren board approves mosque plan
It would be first in city's history
April 11, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
THE WARREN PLANNING COMMISSION VOTED 5-3 MONDAY NIGHT TO APPROVE THE ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION OF NORTH AMERICA'S PLAN TO BUILD THE FIRST MOSQUE IN THE CITY.
The vote came minutes after an initial 4-4 vote that would have led to an automatic tabling for two weeks until the next commission meeting. The matter is being monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure the civil rights of the organization and its president, Steve Elturk, are not violated.
Nearly two hours of discussion from residents and commission members preceded the votes. One resident wanted a guarantee from the organization that it wouldn't have ties to terrorists.
The Islamic Organization of North America bought the building in August, and received a variance on Jan. 25 from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to open the center in a commercially zoned area. That variance also said the center could not place a loudspeaker on the building to broadcast the five daily calls to prayer.
Despite the written agreement, at the March 13 planning commission meeting, several residents and commissioners cited the external loudspeaker, parking and traffic concerns. It rejected the proposal, 6-3. Elturk addressed some of the concerns and presented his plans to the board again.
City spokesman Joe Munem said Monday that the Justice Department sent a letter to the city, informing it that the situation was being monitored. Elturk said two members of the department called him after his first proposal was rejected.
Commission members voting against the mosque said there was no discrimination, but that they were worried about traffic issues. The site is on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile.
Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trying again for Warren mosque
Group to ask city panel tonight to approve its plan
April 10, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
Steve Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America, said Wednesday that he plans to go before the Planning Commission tonight to seek approval to build a mosque and the organization's headquarters on Ryan Road, just south of 12 Mile. The commission voted 6-3 against the proposal on March 16.
The commissioners who voted against the proposal said their concerns included traffic, parking spaces and the possibility that the mosque would broadcast calls to prayer that might disrupt the neighborhood. Elturk said he had no intentions of using a loudspeaker to announce the calls to prayer. He said the commission was discriminating against him and the organization.
Elturk declined to comment further until after the meeting.
He previously said he was considering filing suit against the city on grounds that the commission violated his civil rights. No suit has been filed. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is aware of the situation.
Planning Commissioner Alan Casmere said last week that was surprised by the accusations of discrimination from Elturk.
Last year, Elturk wanted to build the mosque in Hazel Park, but city officials would not rezone a piece of property to accommodate him.
Elturk and the organization bought the former strip mall on Ryan in August, and had already agreed in writing to not broadcast the five daily calls to prayer outside.
The meeting is to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden Road. The public is welcome.
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Warren rejects mosque proposal
Planner says he may take city to court
March 16, 2006
BY DAN CORTEZ
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER