Chicago Roundup
OIC Secretaty General Meets Prominent Muslim Leaders

By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi

As summer runs into fall and the color of the leaves turns from green to red and then yellow, the communities in Chicago are trying to catch the crowds in their events before the yellow leaves vanish from the trees and the chilly cold of harsh winter steps in. The Organization of Islamic Conference which represents 59 Muslim countries was in Chicago, represented by their Secretary General H E Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. He came to straighten the structure of American Islamic College on Lake Shore Drive.

He appeared in three different events in the community and held meetings with prominent Muslim leaders. Indian Muslims Educational Fund of North America (IMEFNA) raised funds for their projects and paid tributes to their deceased founder Dr. Ateequr Rehman. Muslim Educational Center had a Free BBQ to attract the community to support the Expansion of the school and mosque which is in the last stage of completion. Association of Qur’anic Understanding is preparing for the grand International Conference on 30 th, 31 st of October and 1 st of November 2009. The theme is “Building our Relationship with the Qur’an”.

 

Secretary General OIC HE Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu Meets Muslim Community Leaders in Chicago

 

Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Conference HE Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited Chicago and met the leadership and members of the Muslim community in Chicago. Besides participating in the Executive Council meetings of American Islamic College, he addressed a meeting of top Muslim education experts in Chicago. This meeting was part of developing consensus and confidence in the community regarding the matters of American Islamic College. Speaking on the occasion he said the world is seeing a new chapter in the US-Muslim world relationship. Referring to President Obama’s speech in Cairo he said that it had initiated a new era of relationship. He mentioned that he had written an article in the New York Times on the 20 th of January in which he invited President Obama to develop new relationship with the Muslim world based on two basic principles: mutual respect and mutual interest. He said that the election of President Obama has created an opportunity which we Muslims should seize. He said that America and the Muslim world both need to develop a partnership. He said that he hosted a meeting in Washington and met the Muslim leadership from all walks of life. He mentioned that the meeting was attended by the chief executives of Muslim organizations, Imams, think tanks, Muslim congressman and their staff. He said about forty Muslim leaders who were attending the meeting agreed to meet with each other on an annual basis.

 

He mentioned the American Islamic College was established under the umbrella of OIC. He said OIC has established a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Seema Imam who will work on transforming AI College into an educational institution according to the need of the Muslim community in Chicago. He said Mr. Khateeb, college administration and ‘I look forward for your support and cooperation.’ Responding to a question of Dr. Abidullah Ghazi about the specific efforts for the transformation of American Islamic College, he said that he has asked the executive council to make an assessment of the requirements of the community. He mentioned that he himself was a professor for a long time and based on his experience he believe that the institution should be transformed to serve the community here. For this purpose Dr. Seema Imam presented a report based on multiple surveys she carried out before this meeting. He said the ultimate goal is to establish a university, but to reach this goal; we have to go through building blocks. He further said the objective is to gain community trust by promoting social and academic activities. He said that he is confident that this executive council is capable of developing this institution. Prior to this Dr. Seema Imam introduced the honorable guest and welcomed the community leadership.

Next day Chancellor of East West University Dr. Wasiullah Khan and Professor Zafar Malick organized a brief meeting with the Board of Trustees and prominent members of the Muslim community at East West University. Dr. Wasiullah Khan welcomed HE Dr. Ekmeleuddin Ihsanoglu and informed him about the achievements of the EW University. He also introduced the participants. Dr. Ihsanoglu in his brief address said that it is great pleasure for him to visit EW University. He said that he was in Chicago 30 years ago when the initial planning of establishing the university were being discussed. He said he had known Dr. Wasiullah Khan, Dr Ziauddin Sardar and Dr. Umer Naseef whom he appreciates for his leadership. He said Dr. Naseef is a true enlightened Muslim leader of all time. He said that he is glad to see the achievement of EW University. He congratulated the members of the board of trustees and Dr. Wasiullah Khan for the progress in establishing this exemplary institution. He said that he clearly remembers the time when few hundred and few thousand dollars were needed for the projects of Muslim community and when he heard yesterday of Muslim leaders, in charge of various institutions, give him satisfaction that Islamic identity, Muslim community and Islamic culture will flourish in this fertile land, like any other culture and religion which flourished since day one of establishment of United States of America, a country which was established by the settlers, who came from all over the world. He said that he find here a land of freedom and a land of fulfilling dreams and ambitions.

 

Annual Banquet and Fundraiser of Indian Muslim Education Foundation of North America - A Tribute to Late Atiqur Rehman

 

IMEFNA held their Annual Banquet and fundraiser at Ashiana Banquets last Sunday. A large group of prominent Indian and Pakistani Muslims showed up to show support for the ongoing projects in the underprivileged Muslim areas in India. Mr. Mohammad Abdul-Haque, vice president of the organization, welcomed the guests and briefly introduced IMEFNA. Recitation of the Qur’an and translation was done by two very young brothers, Muhummad Mallick and Yusuf Mallick. Emcee of the event Mr. Sher Mohammad Rajput further introduced the organization and its mission and vision. Quader H. Khan, member, board of directors, shed light on the ongoing projects of IMEFNA. He said an “Upward Bound” program is being carried out in multiple cities and rural areas of India to help students to use resources to enrich their knowledge and skills to become future leaders of the community. He said that this was done with the help of the existing coaching centers. He said selected students are being sent to these coaching centers with full financial support. He further added that under other program primary schools and madrasah are helped to elevate their standards and madrasah students are provided help to study secular subjects. He said there is also a self-study program and we are trying to establish guidance centers for carrier planning. He said the number of students who got our scholarships in the academic year 2008-2009 was 90. In the current academic year, 90 students have been awarded scholarship but this number is going to go up. There is a Research Assessment and Monitoring Unit operating in Aligarh and is headed by Dr. Zainuddin. Talking about the future programs, he said the “Upward Bound” program will soon be started in Ahmedabad Gujrat. Guidance centers in Hyderabad and Delhi are under consideration. He showed pictures of the projects. One of them was the inauguration of Late Atiqur Rehman Learning Center in Delhi. He said late Atiqur Rehman provided tremendous and enormous leadership for these programs to uplift socially and educationally the Muslim minority in India. He said Late Atiqur Rehman was an inspiration for all of us. Mr. Imtiazuddin emceed the session to remember the late Atiqur Rehman who was also the founder of IMEFNA.

First to speak was Masoodur Rehman. He spoke tearfully about his experience with his father. He said his father until the end was thinking about the community. He said his father showed enormous patience and calm during his last painful days. He said late Atiqur Rehman always emphasized that we are all human beings and we are not perfect and that conversing with Allah (SWT) and questioning Allah (SWT) and looking for answers is part of human condition not trying to be perfect human being with perfect faith that cannot question anything. He said his father always asked us to question and find answers from Qur’an and Sunnah. He said he was a big believer in Shura and was of the opinion that programs done with Shura will pay off in future.

Dr. Abdul Waheed Faqri recalling his relationship with him said the late Atiqur Rehan was a perfect example of iman, honesty, integrity and hard work. Above all he was a learned scholar of Qur’an. Dr. Wasiullah Khan, Chancellor East West University, said Atiqur Rehman was a saint or wali. He was the leader of human beings. He said, “I never saw him angry or lose patience in front of opposing opinions.” He said late Atiqur Rehman was a great inspiration in establishing East West University and was always by his side advising him. Dr. Naveed Mallick who took care of late Atiqur Rehman in his last days said that he was a great teacher and mentor. Professor Aqeel Alam Khan who is also the brother-in-law of the late Atiqur Rehman spoke about his interaction with him. He said he had never heard him complain about his bad health and suffering. He said he had always given priority to the community. Until his last breath he was concerned about the present crisis of the Muslim Ummah.

Mr. Azmatullah Khan said that late Atiqur Rehman inspired him and made him increase his commitment to do Islamic work. He said, “I found peace and closeness to Allah (SWT) in his company.” Late Atiqur Rehman was instrumental in designing MCC by-laws. He further said that he worked behind the scene and was never interested in position. He was a great unifier. He said Atiqur Rehman was a man of compassion, dedication, humbleness and great patience. Mr. Imtiazuddin, summing up this session, said that listening to the tributes paid by the acquaintances of late Atiqur Rehman made our hearts heavy yet inspired by the multifaceted personality. We are at a great loss and we miss him very much. Dr. Khursheed Mallick, president of IMEFNA, before his vote of thanks spoke about his experience with late Atiqur Rehman and said the best thing he learned from him was the belief and practice of democratic principles. He said after a visit to Pakistan, Bangladesh and India he came up with the idea of the “Upward Bound” program which is now the hallmark of IMEFNA’s projects. He thanked the guests for participating in the event.

 

Muslim Educational Center Invites the Muslim Community to free BBQ  

Last week a free BBQ party was organized by the fundraising committee of MCC to raise awareness in the community of the expansion project of the full time Islamic school in Morton Grove and the Mosque. Food was abundant and a large number of community members and their families showed up to support the expansion project. Habib Abassi and his team did a great job. Besides chicken tikka and beef burgers, regular food like rice, daal and Haleem was also available. People were also given a tour of the newly constructed mosque. President of MCC and the board members were also present at the event and responded to the questions and concerns of the community.

MEC mosque had to go through multiple hearings and court proceedings before the project got started. There is an element in the Village of Morton Grove, who had opposed the construction of the mosque. It was the leadership of people like Qaiseruddin and Azmatullah Qadri which made community win the case. There are still some red necks in the neighborhood who try to create problems for the Mosque and MEC. During this BBQ one of the neighbors repeatedly complained about the noise. Although it was a Sunday afternoon and the speakers were not that loud and not directed towards any residential area, the Morton Grove police came and harassed the organizers and gave a ticket for $ 250.00. The MCC administration is filing a protest with the village on this biased behavior of the police.

 

 

Muslim Community meets to give shape to the upcoming International Qur’an Conference

 
Muslim community meets to give shape to the upcoming International Qur’an Conference

A group of select community leaders met at the IQRA’ International Educational Foundation to give final touches to the planning of the International Qur’an Conference due to be held on 30 th, 31 st of October, 2009 at Holiday Inn Skokie. Nearly thirty international, national and local speakers are participating in this conference. The theme is “Building our Relationship with the Qur’an”. Among the expected scholars are some big names like Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Ishtiaq Zilli, Israr A. Khan, Siraj Wahaj, Zaid Shakir, Zainab Alwani, Tasneema Ghazi, Nauman Ali Khan, Omar Baloch, Abdullah Idris Ali, Aslam Abdullah and Prof. Marcia Hermansen. The Conference is being organized by the Association for Qur’anic Understanding and has been co-sponsored by IQRA’ International Educational Foundation and Al-Furqan Foundation. To register at the conference visit www.thequranconferenc.com.

At the planning meeting community members commended the efforts of Dr. Irfan Ahmed Khan on his success in gathering almost thirty known scholars of Qur’an from here and abroad.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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