Chicago Roundup
The Busiest Social Weeks in the Windy City

Last two weeks were the busiest social weeks in the Windy City. From entertainment to social events and fundraisers every weekend was filled with two-three events taking place at the same time. For people like me it became impossible to cover all the events.
Although I was invited to almost all the events, it was physically not possible for me to be present at three or four events at the same time. The events I could not make do deserve to be mentioned in the roundup. I will try to get the information and put it in the next week's issue.

The First Annual Qur'an Conference Concludeded on Collective Prayer for Peace and Prosperity of the Ummah November 1, 2009: The First Annual Qur'an Conference concluded at Holiday Inn Skokie with prayers for the Ummah. Hafiz Ikhlas of IQRA' prayed at the end of the final session that Allah (SWT) give every Muslim a desire to understand and own the Qur'an as guidance for individual and collective well-being.

Attracting scholars from all over the world the conference proved to be a big success. The turnout of local Muslims was also phenomenal.
A large number of high school kids from Niles West and Niles North Schools volunteered for this threeday conference. Vendors like Amana, Al-Furqan and IQRA' had their booths in the lobby. Muslim women also participated as speakers and attendees.

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi in his inaugural speech termed the day as a historical one. He said this is a day when we are in the light of our glorious history of Islamic education which started with the word "IQRA'".
He said we are here to know about the wonders of the book which followed it. To seek its relevance with our life, and, to see how it can guide us through the difficult course of life that the Ummah is facing across the world. He stressed the need of availing the opportunity of freedom of speech and activity that America provides. He asked the audience to understand and learn the teachings of the Qur'an and use that knowledge to make this community a viable and successful one in this land of freedom and liberty.

Gregory Abdullah Mitchell, chairperson of the Qur'an Conference, said that we as Muslims have a responsibility, not to merely sit and listen and memorize when others tell us what the Qur'an means but we as individuals have an obligation and duty to use our intellect to understand this book.

Dr. Irfan Ahmed Khan welcomed the guest scholars and attendees. He said that this conference is unique in several aspects. It has been designed to address multifaceted approach to the Qur'an and its teachings. He said the scholars who are invited excel in their respective fields. He said that Islam is a process of understanding Qur'an. He said Mohammad (SAW) through his life and through his work explained it.
He said that Muslims were chosen to lead the world but with time they have lost that role and now they are at the level of an abyss. He said the time has come to prepare ourselves for that role and it is only possible by learning the Qur'an and getting guidance from it and from the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and Sahaba (RA).

Mawlana Abdullah Salim speaking on "The Place of Qur'an in the Life of a believer" said that the reading of Qur'an is not like reading any book; he added that Qur'an need to be read with Tajweed.

Other speakers who spoke at the conference were Sheikh Omar Baloch, Imam Khlifah Islam, Dr.
Israr Ahmad Khan, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad Zilli, Dr. Zainab Alwani, Dr.
Muzammil Siddiqui, dr. Mujahid Ghazi, Prof. Inamul Haq, Dr. Daoud Nassimi, Dr. Marcia Hermansen, Dr.
Tasneema Ghazi, Dr. Khalid Mehmood Sheikh, Prof. Nouman Ali Khan, Dr. seema Imam, Shafiq Hossain and Sister Saba Khan, Imam Abul Fazl Nahidiyan, Dr. Ahmad Murad, Sr. Mary Ali, Dr. Mohammad Ismail, Sr. Humera Hai and Dr. Zainab Alwani.

The Qur'an Conference was organized by the Association of Qur'anic Understanding in collaboration with Iqra' International Educational Foundation and Al-Furqan Foundation.

Anwer Maqsood's "LOOSE TALK 2" Gets a House Full in Chicago November 2, 2009: In the midst of horrifying stories transmitted through the media about Pakistan's present crisis, Anwer Maqsood paid a visit to Chicago with his team of talented actors and entertainers from Pakistan to stage his famous TV show. It was titled Loose Talk 2.
About a thousand people showed up at a Chicago theatre to witness the masterpiece.

The main attraction was the "Loose Mushaira". It was satire written in a loose format poetic spirit, which might not be up to the standard of literary principles and bindings but was definitely full of humor.
This is the second time in two years that this show was presented and the best thing about this mushaira was that apart from addressing the socio-political ills of Pakistan, it addressed issues which confront the Pakistani-American community. It even touched the Kerry-Lugar bill.

The poets were played by Moeen Akhtar, Qazi Wajid, Behroz Subzwari, Shehzad Raza, and Ayaz Khan. Moeen Akhtar with his witty remarks got the maximum applause.
Famous singers of Pakistan Aziz Warsi and Sadia Malik were also part of this successful show. Sadia Malik sang some famous numbers of late Iqbal Bano. She moved the crowd by singing Faiz Ahmed Faiz's famous nazam "Hum Dekhen Gey. Lazim hai key hum bhi dekhen gey". Anwar Maqsood's nizamat was exemplary.
His powerful scripts and delivery will be remembered for a long, long time. The local sponsor Sarwat Siddiqi and his team, including young Pakistanis from Asian Broadcasting team Sadiya and Hassaan, deserve commendation.

Pakistan Physician Society Hosts Annual Dinner at Rosemont Convention Center October 31, 2009: Pakistan Physicians Society of Illinois (Illinois Chapter of APPNA) held its Annual Meeting on October 31 at the Rosemont Convention Center.
It was attended by more than 300 guests. After recitation of the Holy Qur'an and national anthem by a group of children, the state of the society was presented by the secretary, Dr. Zubair Syed, and Treasurer, Dr. Waseem Kagzi. Dr. Fatima Ahmad, president of PPS, welcomed the guests and thanked the executive committee for helping her organize this grand program.

In their reports Dr. Zubair Syed, secretary of the organization, Dr. Waseem Kagzi and Dr. Imtiaz Arain told the audience of the activities of the PPS through out the year. They said PPS was involved in volunteer work in the form of Community Health Awareness Program (CHAPS), which has provided vaccination for Hujjaj, besides other services to the community. APPNA Health Center in Westmont is another major project managed by PPS, which is a welfare health clinic.
It provides free health services to the needy and uninsured members of the community.

The business meeting was followed by dinner and an excellent entertainment program by comedy legend Omar Shareef. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all guests.

Kashmir Day Observed in Chicago October 29, 2009: The Consul General of Pakistan Dr. Aman Rashid hosted a luncheon at Sabri Nehari Restaurant. The attendees were all journalists from different Pakistani newspapers and electronic media. It was more of an informal meeting as opposed to a formal one.
The attendees discussed the present political situation between Pakistan and India in the backdrop of the Kashmir conflict.

Dr. Aman Rashid who was deployed in New Delhi at the High Commission before coming to Chicago as Consul General told the audience of his experiences in India and also talked about the mindset of the Indian diplomats. The meeting took notice of the increasing number of Indian Army personnel in Occupied Kashmir and the atrocities caused by their presence in the valley. Again the UN resolution for an independent plebiscite was discussed and the stubbornness of the Indian government in this regard was condemned.

Dr. Aman Rashid informed the journalists about the efforts of the present government for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. He said Indian diplomats want to stay away from this issue during the IndoPak diplomatic talks. The meeting prayed for the people of Kashmir and showed their solidarity with the Kashmir movement.

Shehzad Roy Receives Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs October 29, 2009: Acclaimed Pakistani pop star and president/ founder of Zindagi Trust was invited as the Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, to speak to a packed audience at Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Established in September 2006, funded by the Koldyke family, this visiting fellowship recognizes a leading social entrepreneur from any region of the world who is working in economic, education, health, government, development, media, or cultural realm.

Marshall Bouton, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, welcomed the guests. He said each year a Koldyke fellow is selected by a committee composed of the representatives of the council, the Koldyke family and a number of outside experts. He further informed that this year the Council decided to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan, precisely, because those societies are in the midst of very important change and even turmoil. The challenge of imparting education is more important and more difficult to meet in these countries. He said the purpose of the Koldyke fellowship is to recognize an emerging leader who is making a transformative impact on his or her community. To connect that individual and his or her work to Chicago, its people, leaders, institution, business community, media and government and nonprofit sectors is an objective.
He explained that this is done by a week of very intensive interaction between the fellow and the individuals in various institutions. He said in the process it is hoped that over time this fellowship will help connect our city to important parts of the world, which are bringing a change in the 21st century. He said that Shehzad Roy was selected from a very competitive group of applicants for this year's Koldyke fellowship.

Patricia Blunt Koldyke, who is also the board member of the Council, introduced Shehzad Roy. She said that she is grateful for spending this time with Shehzad and his beautiful wife Salma, reminding that only through human contact and understanding, can we find our way in this increasingly dangerous world.

Shehzad Roy spoke on "No Difference Makes All the Difference: Quality Education for All Children in Pakistan." He talked in detail about the disparity and corruption in the Education System in Pakistan. He told the audience about his "I am paid to learn" program. With the help of Power Point and pictures he walked the audience through the tedious work his organization has done to transform a nearly failed government secondary school into a very well managed, clean and outstanding teaching institution whose students are excelling in not only education but also extra-curricular activities. To the audience's surprise he showed the picture of the girls rowing team that had won the race competing with top private schools' teams. He said his goal is to transform all the government schools in Pakistan. He was very critical of the curriculum in the government schools. He said the curriculum should be more interactive and in keeping with the modern-day trend.

After the lecture Salma, a graduate of University of Illinois, joined her husband to respond to the questions from the audience. It was noticed by many who were present there that she tried to answer most of the questions aimed at Shehzad Roy. No doubt she is very eloquent and well versed. It also showed that though she is by Pakistani standards still a new bride, she is working hard by her husband's side.

After the Q and A session Shehzad with his long time companion Imran on guitar sang a few of his popular numbers. The audience, including the white elderly American elite, joined by clapping to his rhythm of "Lal Mery Pat Rakhio" tune. As Marshall Bouton said later, it was the first time that any singer has performed during a somber meeting of the Council. Later a select audience was invited to a private dinner where Shehzad was presented with a beautiful water color painting of the Chicago skyline.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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