Local Muslims Gather for Annual Celebrations of Prophetâ€™s birth and life
At locations throughout South Florida this April, traditional Milad-un-Nabi programs were held to celebrate the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad. The events coincided with the Prophetâ€™s birthday on the 12th day of Rabbi-ul-Awwal, third month on the lunar Muslim calendar, which this year fell on April 12.
In Muslim countries, the event is marked by numerous festivities, including devotional song, poetry reading, religious devotion, lectures and get-togethers and feature large scale TV and media coverage. In the states, though overseas TV coverage is now present thanks to satellite TV channels, broadcasting Milad-un-Nabi coverage from back home, events here tend to be more subdued, owing in part to the views of some communities and community members that such celebrations are unlawful innovations, religiously speaking.
Despite the misgivings by some, though, manyâ€”perhaps the majorityâ€”continue the colorful and joyous observances of what all in the community agree was one of the pinnacle moments in human history, the prophetâ€™s birth.
One such program was held at the Miami Gardens Masjid in Miami-Dade County on Saturday evening, April 8, which annually marks the occasion with either lectures, traditional Urdu-poetry in praise of the prophet, or dinners.
Open to men and women, the program featured a lecture by visiting speaker Faisal Abdur Razzaq of Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of families and community members were in attendance for the annual event which included dinner after the sunset prayer of Salat-ul-Maghrib.
Abdur Razzaq received his Islamic studies at the Umm-Al-Qurra University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah from 1977 to 1986. He is currently the President of the Islamic Forum of Canada, and the Vice-President of the Islamic Council of Imams of Canada. He served as Imam Khateeb of several mosques and Islamic Centers there including the Islamic society of Peel, the Islamic Centre of Brampton, and the Toronto and Region Islamic Center (TARIC).
Razzaq also conducted a workshop for Muslim Youth on Sunday April 9th at Miami Gardens entitled â€œSacred Knowledge Training Program concentrating on Fiqh and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.â€
The mosque has been hosting a number of guest lecturers since the departure of its regular imam Abdul-Hamid Samra in March.
Zaid Shakir Speaks in South Florida
Tall and soft-spoken with a slow, deep, and rhythmic speaking style, Zaid Shakir is an African American Muslim community leader perfectly at ease amongst the immigrant origin segments of the community. Over the years, on his journey from an urban northern California youth to Muslim convert and toward the highest rung of Muslim community speaker and leader, Shakir has continually earned respect though humility, hard work and community efforts around the country.
But that doesnâ€™t mean he canâ€™t get loud and passionate when he needs to. Now at the head of one of the most well-known Muslim educational groups in the countryâ€”the Zaytuna Institute in his native northern Caliâ€”this past month, Shakir visited South Florida for a number of events.
On Thursday, April 6th at 7 pm Shakir spoke on the subject of â€œMuslims in America: Challenges and Opportunities,â€ at the University of Miamiâ€™s Learning Center building, co-sponsored by the schoolâ€™s Department of Religious Studies and the Islamic Society at UM.
Then on Friday, April 7, the Madinah Foundation presented â€˜A Night of Reflection; The Ethical Standard of the Prophet Muhammad; Controlling Anger, Promoting Understanding Through Wisdom,â€™ a lecture by Shakir. The free event was that time held at the Darul Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines.
Both events were well-attended with positive reaction from attendees.
At UM, Religion 101 students received extra credit for attending the Shakir lecture thanks to longtime ISUM supporter and head of the schoolâ€™s Religious studies department, Dr. Stephen Sapp.
ISUM president Sarah Uddin greeted the Shakir visit with excitement and praised the turnout.
â€œWe had an awesome turnout! Iâ€™m really happy with the program last night. Imam Zaidâ€™s speech was super engaging. He was able to reach so many non-Muslim students and ISUM alumni, in addition to the rest of the ISUM gang, who all came out,â€ she said.
A mainstay at such prominent national Musilm community events as the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North Americaâ€”where he often speaks at the main stage in front of tens of thousandsâ€”Shakir was born in Berkeley, California. He accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force and obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at the American University in Washington D.C. and an MA in Political Science from Rutgers University.
Spending time overseas in Egypt, Syria, and Morocco, Shakir studied Arabic as well as the traditional Islamic sciences including Islamic law, Quran, and Islamic spirituality. Upon returning, he co-founded Masjid al-Islam in Connecticut and taught Political Science at the Southern Connecticut State University. He has translated several books from Arabic into English including â€œThe Heirs of the Prophet.â€
Since 2003, he has acted as a professor and scholar-in-residence at the Zaytuna Institute & Academy, alongside fellow well-known Muslim community speaker, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, also from Northern California.
The Madinah Foundation, which was largely responsible for Shakirâ€™s visit, is the local Zaytuna Affiliate in South Florida, staffed by former community youth and college activists who grew up attending Islamic studies programs around the country and listening to speakers such as Shakir and Hanson as role-models, and also organizes annual Islamic study retreats in Zaytunaâ€™s â€œDeen Intensive Styleâ€â€”part nature retreat/camp, part traditional Islamic educational experience trying to recreate pre-Colonial modes of Islamic educationâ€”throughout the state.
CAIR-FLORIDA: â€˜Urge Legislators to Oppose Billâ€™
â€˜BILL WOULD CUT FUNDING FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTSâ€™
CAIR-FL, along with groups such as Florida Immigration Advocacy Center (FIAC) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa called for the withdrawal of proposed legislation that would prohibit state funds from being used to provide financial aid to university and college students on visas. The statement came on April 24.
Florida House Bill 205 and Senate Bill 458 target students that hold visas and receive financial support from Florida to attend state schools. A similar bill 2003 HB 31, introduced by Rep. Dick Kravitz, R-Jacksonville three years ago targeting some Muslim countries was defeated during the senate hearing.
FAU Students hold Annual â€˜Scholarâ€™s Nightâ€™
The Muslim Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University held itâ€™s seventh Annual Scholarâ€™s Night on Saturday, April 22nd, at the Life Long Center Auditorium on the FAU Campus in Boca Raton. Entitled: â€œBelieve it or not, you were born Muslim!â€ and featuring a lecture by local speaker Fadi Kablawi, the event was of a preaching nature, its flier posing the question: â€œWhat do you call a religion whose beliefs, practices and followers are being bashed and bad-mouthed in practically every sphere of activity, in almost every corner of the globe, yet it attracts ever-increasing number of people? A Miracle? A Paradox? or simply THE TRUTH: ISLAM.â€ Such straightforward, declarative and reactionary themes have become more rare in Islamic events in the post-9/11 environment. The lecture featured free admission and dinner and was open to all interested. The FAU MSO has seen a resurgent past semester of activity.