Frank Islam speaks at the event at which he was awarded the MLK Award. Photo Credit: Frank Islam.
Maryland based entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the Memorial Foundation for his outstanding contributions in international service and civil engagement. The award was presented by the foundation’s president Harry Johnson at a ceremony in Washington D.C. attended by more than thirty ambassadors among other dignitaries.
Speaking to TMO Islam mentioned the relevance of the award to his faith:
“I am also equally grateful to receive this award as a Muslim American, at a time the Muslim faith is hijacked by those who practice radical Islam, which is not a religion but a cult of those who are alienated from society and carry violence and hatred in their hearts for those who are different from them. This is a sad and sorry perversion of the Muslim faith.
My being given this award as a Muslim acknowledges the fact that the overwhelming and huge majority of Muslims are advocates for brotherhood and unity in a conflicted world.”
In his acceptance speech the India born Islam talked about the connections between the civil rights movements in India and the US.
“King visited India in 1954, studied the non-violent movement and patterned the protests he led after those of Gandhi.
As an Indian-American, I am proud and humbled to receive this award which honours the memory of one great man directly and another indirectly,” he said.
“King and Gandhi have been beacons to me in my personal life and charitable and philanthropic involvement. I have given to numerous causes to support humanitarian efforts and to advance the interests of the under-served in the world,” Islam said.
Islam is a board member of several think tanks, academic and cultural organisations including Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts, the Brookings Institute and US Institute of Peace.
A self-made man Islam came to the US at the age of fifteen and succeeded through sheer hard work. He bought a struggling IT company in Maryland in 1993 with $50,000 raised by mortgaging his house.
He turned it around to make it a 2000 employee company with annual sales of over $300 million. He sold the company in 2007 and is now fully devoted to philanthropy.