Community News (V10-I8)

Muslim legislator feels religion less a political factor

MONTGOMERY – The only Muslim in the Alabama Legislature said he hopes he is an example of how religion is becoming less a factor as people judge political candidates and that some of the paranoia caused by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is evaporating, the Clanton Advertiser reported.

State Rep. Yusuf Salaam, D-Selma, said he believes he has helped make the religion of a politician less of an issue, much like Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has removed race as an issue for some voters.

“I hope the average Alabamian can now overlook my religious label and see me as what I am’ a strong patriot and a supporter of the American way of life,” said Salaam.

Salaam said that’s not the way he felt when he came to Montgomery in 2003 as Alabama’s first Muslim legislator and felt like there were 104 sets of eyes watching him in the 105-member House of Representatives.

But he said eventually other House members discovered he was “just another human being.” They also discovered that as a Muslim, he has many of the same conservative views on social issues such as gay marriage and posting the Ten Commandments in schools as his mostly Christian fellow lawmakers.

Salaam is a Selma attorney and former city council president who ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2004. He is now beginning his sixth regular session in the House and has worked to become known more for his legislation than for his religion. Last week, he was the sponsor of ethics legislation that was the second bill considered in the 2008 session.

He received his A.B. Degree in History from the University of Georgia, Juris Doctor from the University of Miami, and L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin. Representative Salaam is a member of the Alabama Trial Lawyers, Alabama Bar Association, Alabama Democratic Committee, Dallas County Bar, and Coalition for Good Government.

Abdul Malik Mujahid appointed to DNC

CHICAGO,IL–Prominent Chicago area community leader Dr.Abdul Malik Mujahid has been appointed to the Democratic National Committee. He was named to the credentials committee which coordinates the selection of convention delegates and alternates.

Dr.Mujahid is the founder of Sound Vision Foundation which produces Islamic educational material and is also the producer of daily Radio Islam show. He serves as the Chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and has served in several community and interfaith organizations. He also serves as a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Democratic National Committee.

Last year Dr.Mujahid was honored by Mayor Daley in Chicago for his contributions to the city.

Dr.Malik is a graduate of Darul Uloom Shah Waliullah and holds a doctrate in political science from the University of Chicago.

Rochester Muslims help build a home

ROCHESTER, NY–Muslims in Rochester are playing their part in building an equitable society by helping build homes for people of all faiths. They recently helped in building a three-bedroom, two bathroom residence for a needy family under the aegis of the Flower City Habit for Humanity’s Interfaith Partnership.

Helping others who need shelter is a “mission of Muslims in Rochester” and is a tenet of the Quran, said Muhammad Shafiq, imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester and a member of the Interfaith Partnership.

Efforts like these are helping transform neighborhoods. The city is working with Flower City Habitat and the Rochester Housing Authority to rehabilitate the neighborhood by building rental and owner-occupied housing.

As the Habitat volunteers are working in the community, “the (Jay/Orchard) neighbors come over to us and thank us for being there,” said Arthur Woodward of Penfield, CEO of the Flower City Habitat for Humanity.

Eight congregations from the city and suburbs comprise Habitat’s Interfaith Partnership.

The group is charged with providing volunteers and raising the $65,000 necessary to purchase the materials and fund other expenses associated with building the Habitat home.

Muslims in Ohio appeal rejection of mosque

DAYTON,OH–Attorneys for the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton are appealing in court a zoning appeals board decision to disallow the construction of a mosque on South Alpha-Bellbrook Road in Sugarcreek Twp., the Dayton Daily News reported.

The Sugarcreek Twp. Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5-0 on Jan. 10 to deny a conditional use that would have permitted the building of a mosque for up to 975 people and a family center for an additional 400 on a 15-acre site zoned estate-residential.

The appeal, filed Tuesday in Greene County Common Pleas Court, stated that the Islamic Society is “appealing the factual determinations regarding the sewage and traffic issues and the legal issues” surrounding the township’s zoning ordinances and master plan.

Thomas P. Whelley II, the attorney representing the Islamic Society, said the appeal was filed within the 30-day deadline “to keep that part of the case alive.”

The Islamic Society wants to work with Sugarcreek Twp. officials “to address their concerns about the mosque,” Whelley said. “We’re hoping to be able to build the mosque right there on South Alpha-Bellbrook Road once those concerns have been taken care of.”

However, Sugarcreek Twp. Administrator Barry Tiffany said the court appeal could impede talks between the two parties.

Islamic Center Burned, Defaced in Tennessee

NASHVILLE,TN–The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the FBI and Tennessee law enforcement authorities to investigate a fire and hate graffiti at a mosque in that state as a possible bias-motivated crime.

An official of the Islamic Center of Columbia told CAIR that the fire was discovered Saturday morning and “pretty much destroyed” the mosque. Several Nazi swastikas and the phrases “white power” and “we run the world” were sprayed on the outside walls of the mosque. The center had been clearly identified as a mosque. Local, state and federal investigators are at the scene.

The Islamic Center of Columbia is located about 45 minutes south of Nashville, Tenn.

“We urge the FBI to add its resources to those of local and state authorities in this investigation,” CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Whenever there is hate graffiti of this type, the possibility of a bias motive should be explored.”

Because of similar incidents nationwide, the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group is urging Muslim individuals and institutions to review security procedures using advice contained in the “CAIR Muslim Community Safety Kit.”

Honesty is the best policy

AUSTIN, TX–Asia and Imran Khan run a dry cleaning business in Austin. Last month they found $900 stuffed inside one of their customer’s suit pants pockets. Instead of pocketing the amount themselves the honest Khans did the right thing by informing the customer.

For the two Pakistani immigrants, keeping the cash was not an option.

The couple could be excused, perhaps, for thinking they might have had some right to keep the money for themselves. Around eight years ago, when they first came to America and were preparing to be married, Asia left her purse, containing $1,000, on a counter in a store while shopping. When she returned a short while later, the owner told her he hadn’t seen the purse.

The grateful customer peeled off several bills and offered it as thanks to the Khans, who declined the reward. “They didn’t want to accept anything,” he said.

Hardman looked down at the Khan’s 8-year-old son, Fayaz, who was playing at a table behind the counter.

“I asked him what he liked to do, and he said he liked to play with clay.” So Hardman offered the boy $50 to buy art supplies for school.

“He froze stiff as a statue and looked at his dad,” recalled Hardman, laughing again.

This time the Khans relented. “I think that’s more than enough for $900,” Asia said.

The Khans said their response required no hard thought. “Honesty is not the kind of thing you adopt. It’s in you; you’re born with it,” she said. “I learned from my mom and my brothers and sister just to be honest.


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