June Vol. 1, 2009
By Subhana A. Rahim
While recession woes and the economic crisis in the United States are at their greatest peak since the Great Depression, the need to find the source of America’s financial catastrophe and create preventative measures have become a necessity. The Senate responded to this need recently by adopting the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (FERA). This Act, which was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), broadens the scope by which the government can investigate and prosecute financial institutions in the mortgage lending business. Previous statutes generally impose sentences and fines for infractions relating to conventional banks and financial institutions. This most recent legislation widens the range of financial institutions that are affected, by specifically including mortgage lending companies. It also imposes stiffer penalties and fines for mail and wire fraud associated with financial institutions. One component of the act calls for a bipartisan Financial Markets Commission, whose mission will be to examine the economic crisis from both international and domestic aspectsand will have full subpoena powers as well.
While proponents for this endeavor claim that this well- honed legislation leaves no stone unturned in terms of prosecution, critics of this Act argue that portions of FERA are redundant, overreaching and highly unnecessary as there are laws that are already in place that address the specific infractions mentioned in the amendments. For example, the verbiage regarding “bribery” and “false statements” are already potentially punishable by hefty fines and extended jail terms of up to $1 million and 30 years respectively. Detractors are also concerned with the high costs that the government will incur for holding lengthy commissions thereby eating away at taxpayers’ money. The House of Representatives’ legislation is expected to mimic that of the Senate’s regarding the establishment of the commission.
June Vol. 1, 2009
Muslims of the Americas Representatives Relocate to the Frontier State; Welcomed with Open Arms and Friendship
By A. Abdul Qadir Qadri
Shuaib and Malika Ahmed recently departed to a new frontier in the Alaskan tundra to establish an independent, self-sufficient, purely Islamic village. They reported their first day in Alaska as being filled with blessings and guidance. The family’s intentions are to further the mission to unite Muslims and Christians on their similar values.
Mr. Ahmed reported making contacts immediately upon arrival at the airport, as the cab driver was a Muslim from Macedonia, in Eastern Europe. “Right away, common ground was established,” said Mr. Ahmed. “We were able to tell him of the support the International Quranic Open University gave to the Bosnian Ambassador to the United Nations, Muhamed Sacirbey, during the 1990s. This was the first person we met and he enjoyed hearing about this.” Bosnia and Madedonia are both Balkan nations.
Two very warm and welcoming receptionists met Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed at the hotel; as the couple introduced themselves, they gave each a copy of the Islamic Post as a token of appreciation. Shuaib Ahmed mentioned to the young lady that he and his wife were looking for a Church to attend Bible study class as part of their interfaith studies and efforts to build bridges between adherents of the two faiths, Islam and Christianity. One of the receptionists invited the Muslim family to her church without hesitation: the Antioch Church of God in Christ.
At the Bible study, they were each very well received. The Bible study related to the Honorable Messenger Jesus, peace be upon him, and his compassion for poor, the sick, and the suffering. The couple participated in the lesson and their input was appreciated throughout. After the study session, the group engaged in a warm conversation explaining that there is no reason for dissension, nor any segregating factor between Al Islam and Christianity. The Church’s Pastor, James Willis, expressed joy and a spirit of cooperation at the Muslim family’s sincere efforts for peace and unity.
Shuaib and Malika Ahmed were also fortunate to find an apartment quickly. As they explained their purpose for relocating to Anchorage, the leaseholders became overwhelmed with excitement and inspiration, and invited them to attend an election rally for Mr. Eric Croft, who is one of the upcoming candidates for Mayor of Anchorage. The couple attended the election rally with their new friends and neighbors who were excited to have them as part of the gathering. Malika and Shuaib Ahmed then met personally with Mr. Croft. The aspiring mayor was impressed by their presence and enthusiasm. In his speech, he expressed the desire to combat forces which keep people apart, such as prejudice and racism. “He seemed to be very sincere about making life better for all people,” said Mr. Ahmed.
Mr. and Mrs. Ahmed later contacted another church, which extended an open invitation for participation in their activities.
Having found employment opportunities, the couple will be continuing their work towards developing and improving their new local community, God-willing, and will be reporting to keep Islamic Post readers updated.
The Vice Chancellor of the International Quranic Open University, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani Hashmi, initiated the new project for the purposes of cultivating understanding of Islam and furthering interfaith dialog in what is known as the ‘Last Frontier State.’.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Yasmin A. Atheem
The State of Hawaii passed a resolution on May 6 marking September 24, 2009 as Islam Day. The resolution, known as HCR100, passed with overwhelming support in a 22-3 vote. The small island state, home to over 3,000 Muslims, passed the resolution in which it states the island will “recognize the rich religious, scientific, cultural, and artistic contributions” of Islam and the Islamic world.
Senator Will Espero of Hawaii told Fox News his supporting thoughts about the new resolution: “We are a state of tolerance. We understand that people have different beliefs. We may not all agree on every single item and issue out there, but to say and highlight the negativity of the Islamic people is an insult to the majority [of believers] who are good, law-abiding citizens of the world.”
The three declining votes included two Republicans who disagree with the declarations set forth in the resolution, and one Democrat who opposed on the grounds of separation of church and state.
Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, told the Honolulu Star Bulletin, “The legislators have done in one resolution more to plant seeds of understanding than anyone could dream.”
The “Islam Day” bill now moves to Hawaii governor Linda Lingle, for signing.
The following is the House Concurrent Resolution 100 (HCR100) in it’s entirety:
PROCLAIMING SEPTEMBER 24, 2009, AS ISLAM DAY:
WHEREAS, Hawaii is known for the wealth of its cultural and religious diversity and the harmony with which people of many cultures and religions live together; and WHEREAS, Muslims constitute an ethnically diverse part of Hawaii’s cultural fabric, with around 3,000 practicing members; and
WHEREAS, the Prophet Mohammad [peace be upon him] left his house to migrate to Madinah and reached Quba in the vicinity of Madinah on the 12th day of Rabi ul-Awwal according to the lunar calendar, or September 24th according to the Gregorian calendar, thereby marking the birth of Islam; and
WHEREAS, Islam, a religion with a long and noble history, is the second largest religion in the world, with over one billion followers spread across every continent, and including members of many nations and cultures; and
WHEREAS, the Islamic world preserved and made original contributions to works of science and philosophy during the Middle Ages when these disciplines were threatened by bigotry and prejudice in other parts of the world; and
WHEREAS, Islamic artists, scientists, and philosophers have a rich history of contribution to world literature and our collective scientific understanding; and
WHEREAS, the Islamic faith shares common teachings found in the texts of both Christianity and Judaism, whose followers are respected and considered “People of the Book;” and
WHEREAS, Islamic doctrine encourages generosity in its adherents, maintaining that those who possess much have a responsibility to care for those in need; and
WHEREAS, Islam, along with its monotheistic counterparts, holds that peace is a divine quality and necessary for collective human happiness; and
WHEREAS, Islam strives for a world-wide community which, in the words of one Islamic poet-philosopher, “does not recognize the superficial differences of race, or history, or nationality”; and
WHEREAS, the United States and countries of the Islamic world hold in common many beliefs and values including concepts of world community and mutual responsibility; and
WHEREAS, international understanding and peace, as well as understanding and peace in our local communities, are strengthened by free and open communications among everyone representing various cultural and religious traditions; and
WHEREAS, the 96th United States Congress officially recognized the noble qualities of Islam in a concurrent resolution on October 15, 1979 (SCR 43), honoring the religion’s 14th centennial; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Twenty-fifth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2009, the Senate concurring, that September 24, 2009, shall be known as “Islam Day” to recognize the rich religious, scientific, cultural, and artistic contributions Islam and the Islamic world have made since their founding; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to Hawaii’s congressional delegation, the Governor, and the Board of the Muslim Association of Hawaii.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Jameelah A. Aziz
The Constitution of the United States was developed by our founding fathers to ensure equality for all, indifferent to race, gender, age or religion. In the first amendment of the US Constitution it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. However, in certain instances it seems as if the rights of minors are not always equal to that of adults and therefore can, and have, been suppressed. This phenomena is seen at times within the public school system, where it can be said that students’ constitutional rights are being violated across the country.
This practice has been recently observed in the case of ten year old Adam Awwad, a Muslim student at the Albert Payson Terhune Elementary School in Wayne, NJ, who went through difficulty when looking for a place to perform his prayers which, in Islam, are made five times daily on a fixed, mandatory schedule, including during work or school times. For quite some time, Adam’s mother, Rola Awwad, had been seeking an appropriate environment in school for her son to pray. To accommodate Rola’s request, the Wayne School District offered Adam the time to pray outside at recess or inside the classroom while his classmates were there. Mrs Awwad found this arrangement to be “unacceptable” for her son. She wanted a quiet and clean place for her child to pray. The elementary school showed concern about the safety of Adam if he were to be left alone and unattended.
According to the school’s website, their mission is to “create independent thinkers and social problem solvers who are respectful of themselves and others.”
Muslim advocates were attracted to the situation at the school and made suggestions to the family of bringing their issue to the state for resolution.
Meanwhile, after concerns that other students would make fun of him, Adam took it upon himself to pray during lunchtime in the back of the classroom while the other students played games. Now he is joined by four other Muslim classmates. Mrs Rola Awwad’s seven year old daughter, Amana, also has similar arrangements in her second grade classroom.
According to North Jersey News, Mrs Awwad said the Council on American-Islamic Relations had considered bringing the issue before the state Board of Education. But Awwad said she wants to wait and see if the current arrangement continues to work for her children.
Muslims aren’t the only ones having difficulty exercising their religious rights in school, Christians are as well. In 2007, The Christian Post reported that twelve Christian students were suspended for holding a morning prayer meeting at the cafeteria of Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington. The suspensions were later retracted. Also in 2007, two students of the College of Alameda in California were threatened with suspension because they were praying on campus with an instructor. Bay Area News reported that Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga- were found praying with their ailing teacher. The two students are currently suing Peralta Community College District for violation of their civil rights under the premise that school administration and teachers are not only responsible to educate and provide a safe learning environment, but also must respect student’s individual rights.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Jannah A. Malik
Recently the House passed a bill for the purpose of modernizing, renovating, and repairing public school facilities. The bill, which encourages the creation of clean and healthy environments for schoolchildren, would also promote energy conservation, while at the same time producing thousands of jobs. Passing 275 to 155, the bill will now go to the Senate. If approved it would allot a starting amount of $6.4 billion within the first year and similar amounts throughout the next five years.
The bill states that the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, shall work with recipients of funds under this Act to promote appropriate opportunities for participants in a YouthBuild program, as well as using existing Job Corps members and individuals enrolled in a junior or community college. The text of the bill cites the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 as justification to offer “employment experience on modernization, renovation, repair, and construction projects” funded under the bill.
A separate $600 million would be approved under the act within a six year period for public schools in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi that were damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
By the year 2015, 100% of funds available for green building projects would have to meet ‘green standards’ for energy sources as well as construction materials. Amongst the companies that provide the necessary materials according to these standards or guidelines are: EnergyStar, Green Globes, and the Leadership and Environmental Design (Leed) Green building rating system.
Supporters of the bill spoke about the pressing need for funds for repairs in schools. Rep. John Hall (D-NY) stated: “America’s aging schools are in dire need of assistance. I am a former trustee and school board president. I have seen it. Buildings are crumbling while school districts are having trouble paying their energy bills. This bill would help school districts invest in repairs, construction and green modernization without passing the burden on to local taxpayers who in New York, I know, can’t afford any more property tax.”
In opposition some expressed great concern over the cost of the bill. “No one is going to argue in favor of a less-than-perfect physical structure for students,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) “But what I believe we need to argue is how do you pay for that. And again, I believe very strongly that we, as a federal government, have reached way too far into so many different areas.”
Allowing for oversight, however, the bill states in its text that: “Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study to determine, and report to the Congress on, the extent and types of projects in keeping with the uses of funds authorized under this Act being undertaken in schools around the United States, the geographic distribution of green, high-performing schools in the United States, including by urban, suburban, and rural areas, and the relative access to such schools of the demographic groups described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.”
Objecting to the cost of the new school construction plan, former President George W. Bush threatened to veto the bill last year. Similar legislation was also not passed by the Senate. The bill’s sponsors, however, are more hopeful of its enactment due to President Barack Obama’s making school improvement projects one of his many priorities.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Gregory Jones
Ann Wright, a retired United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War, recently spoke at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, at an event co-sponsored by Alaskans for Peace and Justice, and Alaskans for Palestine. The title of the program was “Heart to Heart Conversations: Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran.” Ret. Colonel Wright also made available her book, which she coauthored with Susan Dixon, entitled, Dissent: Voices of Conscience – Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq.
Ret. Col. Ann Wright encouraged the audience to speak with their elected officials about the injustices perpetrated by corrupt government officials. She also called for a stop to the unconditional support which the US seems to give Israel.
Having served 13 years active duty in the US Army and 16 years in the Army Reserve, Ms Wright then served as a US diplomat in Nicaragua, Somalia, Grenada, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Micronesia, and Mongolia. However, Ret. Col. Ann Wright is most widely recognized for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the Bush Administration 2003 invasion of Iraq.
During the past 6 years, Wright has been an influential spokesperson for the anti-war movement. “I knew that the invasion and occupation of an oil rich, Arab, Muslim nation would be a disaster,” Wright claims.
At the University of Alaska, Wright expressed regret about the innocent women and children being killed and injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. She spoke about the torture which took place at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons, and encouraged President Obama’s administration to punish those who authorized the torture.
Ten days after Israel’s 22 day offensive on Gazan citizens, Ms. Wright traveled to Gaza, along with Code Pink, an organization started by American women who were in opposition to the Bush Administration’s War Policies. The Egyptian border with Gaza, controlled by Israel since a 2005 peace agreement, was closed. Consequently, relief agencies and human rights organizations were denied access to aid the suffering people of Gaza. The retired colonel, however, was greeted at the border by the Red Crescent relief organization, and by special order of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his wife Suzanne Mubarak (President of the Red Crescent), Ms Wright and Code Pink were allowed to enter and report atrocities committed against the Palestinian population of Gaza, the majority which are women and children.
Ann Wright encourages Americans to become aware of what is going on. “The media has been unprofessional in covering and reporting the news,” Wright said at the Alaska event. She urged people to contact their congressional delegates in mass numbers to get their attention; but nevertheless stated her opinion that many politicians are afraid of the Israeli lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
As we stood at city hall marking the end of the Milad Parade and Festival procession, I glanced over to the women standing next to me with a homemade banner. After introducing myself and my Christian mother, I kindly asked Ann Clune if I could take a picture of her banner. Ann told me that her daughter had spent time making her the banner, which read, “True Peace Comes Not From Bombs, Change The Cycle.”
During a brief talk with Mr and Mrs Jim Clune, I learned that the two had done some online advertising for the event. The Clunes are Catholics and attend St. James Church in Johnson City, NY, and are members of a peace vigil group that has been meeting weekly with other groups in the town’s Federal Building for over 9 years now.
Another attendee, Ms. Grace Walter –who also attended last year’s program– had this to say: “It reminded me of the civil rights movement when blacks, along side with whites, marched for equality. I hope that Muslim-Christian dialogue continues.”
-Islamic Post Staff Writer, Jameelah Kareem