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South Florida News, Vol. 8 Iss. 41

MSA Florida Council hosts Islamic Weekend Intensive Oct. 13-15

Miami/Ft.Lauderdale–The MSA Florida Council will be presenting “The Sunnipath Study Tour *Miami*” featuring speakers Faraz Rabbani and Zaynab Ansari from Oct. 13-15 in a number of events in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

Entitled “The Fiqh of Life; How to Submit to Allah in your Social Dealings, Work, Rest, and Play” the tour will start on Oct. 13 with a Friday Khutba by Rabbani at the Dar-ul-Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines. It will continue with a weekend intensive on Oct. 14-15 at the Green Library Room 100 at Florida International University.

A well-known and increasingly popular “online Islamic academy”, SunniPath offers online educational courses on a wide-variety of Islamic subjects from a “traditional” Sunni perspective, taught by a faculty of traditionalist Muslim scholars (think turbans). This year, the academy is organizing its first face-to-face, real-world learning events as part of this, its “first North American Study Tour”. Other stops on the tour will be New York, NY, Austin, TX, Hamilton, ON. More information on the academy can be found at www.sunnipath.com, which also offers an Islamic question and answer service.

Registration for the weekend intensive will begin at 10 AM that Saturday and sessions will run from 11 AM-5 PM on Saturday and 10 AM-5 PM on Sunday. Pre-registration will be $30, and on-sight will be $35. Online registration is available at www.msanational.org/florida.

The event is also sponsored by new local Muslim charity, Project Downtown.

Islamic School of Miami needs more help for Earthquake Victims

Miami–Since the deadly earthquake of October 8, 2005, in northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, volunteers with the Islamic School of Miami (ISOM) have been engaged in hands-on relief, reconstruction, and rehabilitation activities in the region through a number of trips to the area and on-going programs, according to ISOM Earthquake relief coordinator Mohammad Javed Qureshi.

Immediately after the earthquake, the school provided 1,000 blankets, rations, medicine, and medical care to numerous severely injured and disabled people in the area. It also provided for the construction of shelter homes and a school in a remote village called Kumi Dunna, located in the mountainous Mansehra district of Tehsil Balakot. The ISOM has three local contacts in Pakistan who are working to coordinate its relief activities there and its efforts extend to numerous villages.

Despite these successes, thousands of families are still without adequate shelter and requests for aid have started to come in to ISOM volunteers from the villagers of Nathiagali and Murree for construction materials to build shelters to help save their families.

Throughout the past year, Qureshi has organized a number of informational and relief visits to the region, including bringing American doctors, such as Dr. Birgis Alam, to help treat those afflicted in the region. Now, the ISOM is again inviting donors to visit their projects in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

“This is an urgent appeal for donations,” said Qureshi, a veteran of numerous local relief efforts and a native of Pakistan, like many in the South Florida Muslim community. “Thousands of earthquake survivors desperately need rations, medicine, shelter, schools and masjids. The upcoming winter is forecasted to be a brutal one and snowfall has started far earlier than usual in many northern areas.”

Qureshi explains that the compensation being paid by the Pakistan government is insufficient to construct the number of shelters and houses needed.

Regular updates about ISOM relief activities in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir can be found at www.pakistani.com, by following the link entitled “Latest News About Relief Efforts.” And for further information on ISOM relief activities, Qureshi can be reached at mohadq2003@yahoo.com.

The Islamic School of Miami is a non-profit organization established in 1994. All donations are tax deductible and receipts can be provided. Its tax exempt number is 65-056591. Checks may be made payable to Islamic School of Miami, with the note “Earthquake Pakistan” in the memo area. ISOM’s contact information and the address to which to send donations is: 11699 SW 147th Ave, Miami, FL 33196 (Tel: 305.408.0400 Fax: 305.266.1778).

Egyptian imams refused entry at MIA, returned to Egypt before Ramadan

Miami–Four visiting Muslim scholars from Al-Azher University in Cairo were sent back to Egypt after being detained for 24 hours by U.S. immigration authorities at Miami International Airport and allegedly receiving no explanation, no beds, and no access to a phone during their time here. The incident happened just before the start of Ramadan in Sept.

Local Muslim group the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) had invited the scholars to lead prayers at area mosques during Ramadan according to AMANA director Sofian Abdelaziz. Abdelaziz decried the incident, saying it thwarted efforts to provide religious opinions against terrorism and extremism.

The Sentinel quoted Abdelaziz as saying: “I consider this a big disaster for our community this year.” “We are against extremism, and we are not dealing with sheiks and imams who have a policy to teach extremism.” “We lost four good educators.”

Al-Azhar is the preeminent Islamic university in Egypt and perhaps the world.

The Sun-Sentinel also printed an editorial on the incident on Sept. 26. “It’s tough to be a Muslim in America these days,” read the sympathetic editorial, which focused on the irony of the scholars being sent home since they were here to “lead prayers at mosques and preach against Islamic extremism, as they have in past years during Ramadan,” according to their supporters.

“It’s just the sort of preaching all Americans need to hear,” it stated. “Of course, Muslims must understand that it is the violence practiced by many of their coreligionists that leads to incidents such as this. Still, U.S. officials must be careful not to lump all Muslims together. The law-abiding ones, which make up the vast, vast majority, can greatly assist the war on terror.”

The incident was initially covered by Sentinel reporter Ruth Morris.

CAIR-FL helps Muslim Med Students avoid Expulsion at Nova Med School

Group assists School in updating Dress Policy, accommodating Muslims

Ft. Lauderdale-Four female Muslim medical students faced expulsion from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Ft. Lauderdale this September for refusing to undress in front of male colleagues for examinations during a training class.

CAIR Florida held a press-conference at the school about the issue on Sept. 15, and was then successfully able to encourage the med school to update its policy and accommodate the Muslim students.

“We call on Nova Southeastern University to comply with the law by providing these medical students with reasonable accommodation for their religious practices and beliefs,” CAIR-FL Legal Advisor Areeb Naseer had said before the initial press conference. Naseer said other American medical schools have accommodated religious beliefs while maintaining high standards of training.

CAIR assisted in review of NSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-COM) religious accommodation policy.

For more than seven years, the NSU-COM had maintained a policy to reasonably accommodate and respect students who closely adhere to their core religious beliefs. This policy was implemented in recognition of certain religious beliefs that prohibit female students from revealing parts of the bodies in public. The policy is reviewed every few years with religious scholars and leaders, as well as with health professionals and community members who are representative of certain faiths.

This year’s review was made in cooperation with CAIR. Changes to the policies were agreed upon and implemented to better accommodate the students.

“We thank Nova Southeastern University for accommodating the religious beliefs and practices of Muslim students,” said CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali. “We believe this updated policy meets the needs of Muslim students while maintaining the high standard of instruction we have come to expect from the university.”

The NSU-COM was established in 1979 and is currently ranked as the 15th largest medical school and the 5th largest osteopathic medical school in the nation. It has become the main private college in the Ft. Lauderdale area in recent times. An on-campus Muslim student group, called IMAN, has also become active at the school in recent times.


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