Good News Stories About/By/For North American Muslims in 2013

Good News Stories About/By/For North American Muslims in 2013

collected by Sheila Musaji


Good News Stories About/By/For North American Muslims in 2012 here and in 2011 here.

In 2011, my introduction to that year’s collection read:  “If you type ‘Muslims ‘or ‘Islam’ into any google search, most of what comes up will be something negative.  If any Muslim, anywhere, does something criminal, or just stupid, that story will be written about and reposted so that hundreds of articles will come up on that negative story.  These are a few of the stories about Muslims during the past year of 2012 that did not receive nearly as much coverage, but were more important, and also more representative of the Muslim community.”

In 2012, I added:  “Most people are not aware that: a Sacramento Christian congregation was invited to hold their Easter services at a mosque auditorium when they lost their building: that an East Bronx Jewish community was invited to hold their services in a mosque when they lost their building; that a Northern Virginia Jewish community invited local Muslims to pray Jumah in the synagogue; that a Virginia mosque held an interfaith Jewish Seder.  All of those things and more happened this year.  These are the stories that need to be shared widely.  The fact that few people within or outside of the Muslim community know about these positive stories has something to do with media focus on the negative, but it also has something to do with our failure as a community to magnify these voices.

We are living in difficult times, and all too often those who get the most attention from the media are those who least deserve any attention at all.  I encourage everyone to write notes of encouragement and support to those engaged in these positive efforts.  Get involved with ongoing efforts in your area, or begin new ones.  Help to magnify the positive voices in any way you can.  Tweet them, post on Facebook, share or re-post articles.  Include the information in articles, talks, etc.

I would very much appreciate hearing about other stories that I might have missed.  The 2013 collection of positive news begins today.  Please help by sending me information.  You can send these to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Here is the 2013 collection.  I am certain that there is much more that could be added.  Please send me information about anything that should be included.


UNITED STATES & CANADA

ANNIVERSARIES

– Masjid Muhammad in Washington, D.C. had it’s 75th anniversary in February **
–ISNA held it’s 50th annual convention in Washington, D.C.  President Obama sent a congratulatory message


ANTI-RADICALIZATION AND EXTREMISM EFFORTS

— TAM has a collection of information about many of these efforts here
— MPAC released a “Declaration Against Extremism,” authored by MPAC’s co-founder and senior adviser Dr. Maher Hathout, which defines the dangers of extremism and issues a clarion call for action.  The Declaration will serve as a launch pad for upcoming projects and campaigns MPAC will launch in the coming months, including a toolkit which will empower communities to better organize and address the potential for violent extremism. We encourage leaders, activists, students and all concerned Muslims to share the document with their congregations and facilitate discussion on this important topic. **
— ISNA Delegation Met with President of Senegal, Plans for 2014 Religious Freedom Conference on citizenship and rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority countries **
— MPAC created a series of free, three-minute videos titled, “Islam: Questions You Were Always Afraid to Ask.” In the videos, Dr. Hathout, a long-time leader in the American Muslim community, answers point-blank questions about some of Islam’s most controversial subjects, including women’s rights, homosexuality and ideological violence.  These videos are meant to counter extremist messages **
— MPAC held a community forum From Despair to Hope: Connecting the Dots between Gangs & Violent Extremism **
–  50 American Muslim leaders met with Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the newly elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Among the leaders present was Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America and Salam Al-Maryati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The leaders discussed areas of concern for American Muslims in particular, including the crisis in Syria and growing sectarian tensions worldwide.  Imam Magid and Al-Marayati spoke about the growing concern regarding atrocities in Syria, and raised the issue of Iran’s role in this turmoil. ISNA and MPAC delivered a letter to the Iranian president calling on him to work toward an end to the atrocities and conflict in Syria, and preparation for a post-Assad Syria. It stresses the need for leadership to promote sectarian unity globally to counter divisions and violence that is on the rise.  In addition to the four points related to Syria, the letter also calls for a legal process to be clearly outlined for the release of political prisoners in Iran, such as Amir Hekmati, an American Marine who has been held in Iran for over two years.  **
–  ISNA Condemned Terrorist Attacks Against Pakistani Christians and Innocent Civilians in Kenya **
– ISNA condemned terrorist attacks on Egyptian Christians **
– MPAC Condemned Brutal Murders over Sectarianism in Egypt **
– Muslims gathered at the ISNA Convention in Washington, D.C. enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of an agreement of mutual respect and unity between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, reached between prominent leaders of the two groups.  ** (See more about previous Sunni-Shia efforts here
– The Michigan Muslim Community Council’s (MMCC) Imam’s Council along with community leaders and activists from across the country gathered together at the Islamic House of Wisdom for a discussion on Rejecting Sectarian Influence in our Communities.  **
–  Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America, joined other top religious leaders, activists, and religious scholars, representing more than 15 countries and over 35 faith-based organizations, universities, and religious bodies, for a conference entitled “Mobilizing Faith for Women: Engaging the Power of Religion and Belief to Advance Human Rights and Dignity.”  The event was organized by The Carter Center under the leadership of former US President Jimmy Carter.  The conference highlighted the influence of religion on women’s rights and called on people of faith and religious leaders to assume their responsibility to advance equally the well being of all members of society. Discussions focused on aligning religious life with human rights, stopping human trafficking, connecting religious study to advocacy, and the impact of war on women.  **


AWARDS AND HONORS

— Dr. Maher Hathout, senior advisor of MPAC was honored along with Rabbi Leonard Beerman and Eisha Mason with George Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award **
— Ameena Matthews received the “Freedom from Fear” Medal at the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards for her work as an “interrupter” against violence in inner city communities. Her work was documented in the acclaimed documentary The Interrupters. **  She also received the Black Girls Rock Award in Chicago **
— Two blind Canadian Muslim sisters, Khedr & Uzma Khan, have been recognized with Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals for their efforts in advocating for disabled people **
— Sakinah Mujahid and Mohammad Zafar received the Minnesota Humanities Centers’ 25 Veterans’ Voices Award.  Sakinah Mujahid and volunteer Mohammad Zafar for receiving the Minnesota Humanities Centers’ 25 Veterans’ Voices Award. **
— The Anwar family of South Windsor was honored by the ADL with a Torch of Liberty award for their commitment to public service.  **
— Kasar Abdulla of Tennessee was honored as a “champion of change” by the White House.  **
— Mussarat Chaudhry is a recipient of the Capital Area Council of Churches’ Carlyle Adams Ecumenical/Interfaith Award. Chaudhry is the first Muslim to win the Carlyle Adams Award since its inception.  **
— Mohamed Elibiari of Plano, Texas honored by the FBI with the Louis E. Peters Memorial Award for extraordinary citizen contribution to the agency and the country in his work countering radical messages.  **
— Fanta Ongoiba of Toronto-based Africans in Partnership Against Aids which educates Muslims in the city and her home country of Mali about the importance of protection from sexually transmitted diseases was honored for her work by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.  **
—  Feeding Forward, founded by Komal Ahmad, is an online platform that fights hunger locally by connecting food shelters with the abundant supply of consumable food in San Francisco.  It won the Roselyne C. Swig Innovation Prize.  **
–  Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  Prof. Yunus is the first Muslim to be awarded what is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. Congress. Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate presented Professor Yunus with the medal at the U.S. Capitol for his hard work to implement the creative idea of microcredit throughout Bangladesh and globally.  His work helped millions of impoverished people, especially women, take charge of their lives to overcome devastating poverty.  **
— The 2013-2014 edition of The Muslim 500 lists the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.  This list has been published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman and Georgetown University’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.  The list once again includes a large number of individuals from the U.S. and Canada although the actual population of Muslims in North America is small compared to the rest of the world. **
— Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame **


COMMUNITY SERVICE

— Habibe Husain has devoted her life to feeding the needy in Santa Clara, California. From a warehouse in Santa Clara, Rahima Foundation now distributes nearly 10 tons of food a month. **
— Members of the American Interactive Muslim Network (AMIN) and several volunteers gathered at the home of AMIN’s founder Hazami Barmada in Arlington Sunday morning to assemble several hundred lunches which were later distributed to members of the homeless community throughout many parks in downtown Washington, DC. The event occurs annually during the month of Ramadan **
— Ehab Sadeek, Muslim Bagel Shop Owner, Donated Profits from his business until last Boston Bombing Victim Left Hospital **
— Leaders of many faiths held a press conference at the University of Miami to demand fair wages for the university’s food service workers. **
— Memphis Muslim Medical Clinic next to Masjid As-Salam is staffed primarily by Muslim physicians. But there are no cultural or religious requirements for patients — only that they lack private insurance, TennCare, Medicare or Medicaid. **
— Rahma Free Health Clinic opened in Syracuse, NY to offer care for uninsured adults. **
— Muslims Against Hunger Project is a north American network of volunteer communities to help the hungry and homeless in our backyard. it is a volunteer run grass root effort to mobilize and educate the Muslim community and the community-at-large about the problems of Hunger, Poverty, and Homelessness. Muslims Against Hunger Soup Kitchen and 1 World Community Cafe projects are feeding hot lunches and dinners to homeless, hungry, and working poor in 20 plus cities with the help of 3000 plus volunteers from various faiths. **
— Winnipeg Muslim group donates food to Attiwapiskat First Nation.  This is the fifth year they have been helping **
–  ISNA cosponsored and participated in a meal packaging event held at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri (ICCM).  Volunteers packed 30,000 meals for the needy.  **
–  At the 50th anniversary ISNA National Convention in Washington, DC, this past Labor Day, a service project was hosted to provide meals for needy children around the world. ISNA partnered with Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief agency, and was joined by co-sponsors Islamic Relief USA, the Islamic Circle of North America and the Zakat Foundation. 200 volunteers worked tirelessly for nearly 3 hours to package 40,000 meals for needy people around the world. **
–  Members of the Muslim Community of Nassau County, a group of six Islamic centers in Nassau County, made a pre-Christmas donation of 260 blankets and 300 pounds of nonperishable food to the Long Island Council of Churches to help the needy during the winter season. **
– This year, as in past years, Muslim students at Universities across the U.S. held FastAThons during Ramadan to raise money for local charities.  Some examples: University of Michigan **, Penn State **, Texas A & M **, University of Washington **, NYU **
– This year, as in past years, Muslims and Jews across the U.S. came together for a day of service on Christmas day.  A few of the communities who participated were St. Louis, MO **, Atlanta, GA **, Detroit, MI **


ENVIRONMENT - ECOLOGY - FOOD JUSTICE EFFORTS

— ISNA is involved with the “Fighting Poverty with Faith” interfaith initiative.  Many university MSA’s have annual Fastathons and donate the money raised to local food banks.  Ibrahim Abdul-Matin has published “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet”.  There are a number of Muslim environmental groups.  Khaleafa.com ran a successful Green Khutbah Campaign to coincide with Earth Day which garnered the support of over 75 Imams/Organizations across North America, Europe and Africa. This campaign encouraged mosques, schools, universities and Islamic Institutions in North America to devote their Friday Khutbah (sermon) to raising awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity. An interfaith event was also hosted recently by Khaleafa to highlight the sanctity of water and provide practical information to help faith groups preserve water. The event drew over 50 attendees from a variety of congregations and faith groups.  The Inner City Muslim Action Network in Chicago lists food justice as one of its 4 primary issues.  There are Muslim family organic farmers across the country who could share their expertise, e.g. Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh in New York.


EXHIBITS - FILMS - DOCUMENTARIES - BOOKS - ART - PUBLICATIONS

— The International Museum of Women (IMOW) announces the debut of MUSLIMA: MUSLIM WOMEN’S ART & VOICES ( http://www.muslima.imow.org ) a groundbreaking international collection of artwork, stories and ideas from contemporary Muslim women. The free online exhibition features exclusive interviews with leading women’s rights advocates from countries including Iran, Afghanistan, and Bosnia and showcases the barrier-breaking creativity of female artists from every region of the world. **
— The Muslims Are Coming documentary comedy film was released in theaters in September **
— The Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project at UC Berkeley announces the launch of Islamophobia Studies Journal, a a bi-annual peer reviewed academic periodical focusing on emerging research on and analysis about the nature of Islamophobia and its impact on culture, politics, media, and the lives and experiences of Muslim people. You can download the first issue of the journal in PDF here
— Marvel Comics will begin a series whose lead character, Kamala Khan, is a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City.  A female Muslim Superhero.  **
—A documentary film about “A Common Word” interfaith initiative premiered at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.  **
— “One Film 9/11 Interfaith Initiative”: Building Bridges screened Akbar Ahmed’s Journey Into America in many communities on 9/11/2013 **
–  The one-hour documentary, “Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives”, was broadcast on NBC-TV channels across the country. The program examines courageous threads of peace quietly being sown around the world by people of faith.  **
— UnMosqued is a documentary film which aims to highlight the growing need for reform in many of the mosques found in America. The purpose of the documentary is to engage a group of people who have been disconnected from their local mosque and explore the various reasons that have led to this sentiment.  UnMosqued aims to explore this growing unease with the masjid space and why it exists. One clear factor is the cultural divide that pervades the American Mosque landscape.  **


FIRSTS - HISTORICAL EVENTS

— Tahera Ahmed became the first woman to recite Qur’an at an ISNA Convention.  This was ISNA’s 50th annual convention.  **

This year saw a number of efforts to document the history of the American Muslim community:
— In January, 2013, Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim (TAM) published a collection of historic events and people who influenced the American Muslim community
–  In February, MPAC published “Muslims & the Making of America”, a 92-page PDF report by Precious Rasheeda Muhammad which contains a great many details about particular incidents in the history of Muslims and America.  Precious Rasheeda Muhammad also began a blog on Patheos called Muslim History Detective
— Islamic Networks Group (ING) published an excellent resource A History of Muslims in America.  This curriculum was designed to supplement content standards in social studies and world history as it relates to the study of American history. The curriculum is made up of eight individual lesson plans, each of which focuses on different parts of the accompanying digital presentation, A History of Muslims in America. Each lesson includes detailed notes that describe each slide in the presentation. In addition to the notes, each lesson also features post-presentation discussion and test questions. The curriculum also includes links to related films accompanied by follow-up questions. Each lesson concludes with further resources and references.
— Indiana University Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis began a digital Archive of Muslim American History and Life.   In collaboration with the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, this digital archive collects and preserves documents related to Muslim American history from the colonial era to the present. It includes memoirs, newspapers, books, reports, speeches and other documents that reveal the place of Muslims in American social, political, religious, cultural, and economic life.


INTERFAITH EFFORTS

— NewGround Jewish-Muslim interfaith effort continues to grow and receive recognition **
— Jews and Muslims Worldwide Attending The Event “Mission of Muslim Leaders and Jewish Leaders from Southern Hemisphere Countries“ in Washington D.C. [url=http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=175533#.UieXKVQo5mM]
— US Jews Celebrate Muslim Heroism **
— The Adams Center in Virginia held its third annual interfaith Passover Seder at the mosque **
— Christians, Jews and Muslims gathered at the Islamic Center of Claremont, CA for the third annual Interfaith Passover Seder Experience. **
— The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) has teamed up with the Montreal Dialogue Group (MDG) and the Canadian Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights to bring Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours and its New York-based director Jacob Bender to Montreal. **
— A number of religious and interfaith organizations participated in planning a multifaith peace picnic in Palo Alto, CA in remembrance of 9/11 **
— A coalition of faith and religious freedom groups prepared a pamphlet containing FAQ’S: “What is the truth about American Muslims?”  The pamphlet is available in PDF here
— 8th annual 9/11 Unity Walk held in D.C. including a Muslim call to prayer in DC’s largest synagogue and Amazing Grace being sung at the Islamic Center and FREE delicious Indian food at the Sikh Gurdwara. **
— Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago held an “Iftar in the Synagogue: Neighbors against Bigotry” interfaith event to oppose Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism **
— ISNA Stop Hunger Now Project brought together volunteers who packaged 40,000 meals for the needy during the ISNA convention.  **
— Muslims, Jews and Christians come together to help the homeless at Portland’s ‘Day of Dignity’ **, and at Dallas’ Day of Dignity **
— A group of interfaith activists established a crowdfunding effort to respond to anti-Muslim ads.  They put up a billboard saying “hate has no place in our city” in San Francisco.  **
– Thousands of people of diverse faiths joined the 9th annual 9/11 Unity Walk, an event which takes place along Embassy Row in Washington, DC.  Walkers united to put an end to misconceptions about religion and to condemn violence in all its forms.  On the walk, they visited Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh houses of worship, celebrating both diversity of practice and unity in faith. **
–  Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director for Interfaith & Community Alliances, joined an Interreligious Prayer Gathering for Religious Freedom organized by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.  Representatives of Lutheran, Anglican, Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist, and other faith traditions were also present. **
– The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) hosted a delegation of Muslim and Jewish leaders from three countries—South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand—for a two-day mission to jump-start dialogue and cooperation between the Muslim and Jewish communities in those countries.  This Mission was the third of its kind; ISNA and FFEU previously hosted a Muslim-Jewish Mission from Europe in 2009 and one from Latin America in 2012.  The ultimate goal of these efforts is to facilitate the creation of a global movement of Muslims and Jews committed to communication, reconciliation and cooperation.  **
–  Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA National Director for Interfaith and Community Alliances, participated in the 4th Annual Vaishnava/Hindu-Muslim Dialogue in Washington, DC.  The topic was Sacred Aesthetics, with presentations on the concept of God, and an introduction to the concepts of art, music, and poetry etc., from both Islamic and Vaishnava traditions. **
– The website of “A Common Word” asked Muslim and Christian scholars to put together recommended reading lists.  Some of the reading lists have been compiled according to levels, others according to categories, while others remain as one list. It is hoped these lists will serve as a guide, lighting the way to a better understanding of each others Tradition.  You can find these recommended reading lists here.  You can also find the TAM recommended reading list here


MUSLIM COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

— Hind Makki established the ‘Side Entrance’ project to increase community awareness and increase pressure to change the sub-par women’s sections in many mosques **.  You can see 2013’s most talked about photos on “Side Entrance” here
— The documentary “Unmosqued” mentioned above also aims to provide actual information that will be useful in making mosques more friendly to populations that are currently not participating in community activities.
— Aleef, Lam, Meem, the first Muslim college fraternity in the U.S. was established this year.  **
— Shia and Sunni Muslims came together during the ISNA convention to release The Washington Declaration:  For the Protection of Nations and Societies from the Menace of Sectarian Violence **
— the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley (ICSGV) and MPAC partnered to host a packed community forum called “Let’s Be Honest: Getting Beyond the Taboos of Our Community.” Moderated by MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming, Edina Lekovic, the conversation featured Sheikh Said Seddouk, imam of the ICSGV, South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC) Executive Director Milia Islam-Majeed, ACCESS California Executive Director Nahla Kayali and Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC’s Senior Adviser. **
–  More than 70 national leaders and speakers came together to participate at the 1st Annual ISNA Masjid Forum in Plainfield, Indiana.  The forum was held from November 8 – 10, 2013.  At this conference the board members, mosque leaders, and Imams presented papers and discussed various topics on Masjid Development in areas of Governance, Women leadership, Youth Leadership, and more.  **

REPORTS, POLLS, STUDIES, & INFORMATION

—ISPU released “The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community”.  The study is available in PDF here
— See the TAM list of reports, polls, and studies here


INTERNATIONAL

BRITAIN:
— In Bradford, Muslims led a fund raising effort to save a 132-year old synagogue ** and ** and **
— Mohammed Baobaid founded the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration. to help counter domestic abuse **
— The Muslim Council of Britain developed a program PROTECTING ALL OUR CHILDREN: Tackling Grooming, Safeguarding Children in all Communities **
— Family Links parenting courses for Muslims developed by family support worker Arifa Naeem aim to untangle culture from religion [url=http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/may/30/parenting-courses-for-muslims[/url]
— 16 Muslims named in Queen’s birthday Honours **
— The York Mosque reacted to an EDL protest in front of their mosque by inviting the hate group in for a cup of tea and a custard cream. GQ got in touch with Professor Mohamed El-Gomati, the York Mosque senior who hosted the year’s most unusual tea party. **
— After some Muslims formed vigilante groups, Shaikh Shams Ad Duha, a young British imam who runs the Ebrahim College in Whitechapel, was one of those leading the charge against the fundamentalists, issuing a stinging critique of the vigilante groups.  **

FRANCE: — Averroès High School in Lille was France’s first private Muslim school to follow the national curriculum. Now, it’s one of the country’s three top-rated schools **

INDIA:
— Muslim parents married the Hindu girl they had adopted to a Hindu groom **
— Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslims participate in yearly Hindu yatra **

IRAN: — Iran’s new Pres. wished Jews a Happy Rosh Hashanah **
LIBYA: — The Noor Campaign appeals to Muslim scriptures to condemn widespread violence against women in Libya. **

PAKISTAN: 
— The Burkah Avenger animated television series debuted in Pakistan.  The heroine is a role model for girls and a defender of girls’ education and women’s rights **
— Muslim scholars joined worshippers at the St Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi as part of the Sunday Mass.  Pakistan for All – a collective of citizens concerned about the growing attacks on minorities – had invited Pakistanis of all faiths to observe the next Sunday as ‘national day of prayer and resistance’ in what could be termed as a rejoinder to the blasts at All Saints Church in Peshawar a week earlier. **
— Human chain formed to protect Christians during Lahore Mass **



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