Association of Retired American Muslims ( ARAM) Revives Muslim Database Project
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
The ARAM meetings provide opportunities to the seniors to exchange views on various issues impacting the community
There are a number of American Muslim cultural and civil advocacy groups and organizations serving various needs of the seven-million-strong American Muslim community. These groups are holding cultural shows, religious gatherings and political forums. However, the Association of Retired American Muslims (ARAM) has a unique mission. It is dedicated to enlighten the community on the expertise and experience of professionals in various fields. American Muslim community is blessed with a large number of professionals – bankers, financial experts, doctors, engineers, and scientists.
ARAM was founded some 13 years back by Dr. Waheed Siddiqee, a long time San Francisco Bay Area resident, and his friends to provide a forum for the community members to share their expertise and knowledge with the community. Dr. Siddiqee, who got PhD from Minnesota University, says that the Silicon Valley has many Muslim professionals and scientists in various fields and he wanted to tap their expertise for the benefit of the Muslim community.
ARAM ’s monthly meetings are devoted to an important issue related to the community and society in general. For example, one of its gathering focused on “ handling difficult conversations and how to discuss what matters most.” ARAM also organizes cultural gatherings, mushairas and religious gatherings for the benefit of the community.
Dr. Sidduqi has been involved in the founding and running a number of Bay Area Muslim organizations. He is the former president of the United Muslims of America (UMA). He encourages retired seniors to volunteer in social and educational projects. For the last 12 years, Dr. Siddiqee has been volunteering to teach math at the Muslim Community Center (MCA) in Santa Clara and the South Bay Islamic Association (SBIA) in San Jose. He is helped by two other volunteer teachers, Reshma Mazhar and Ibrahim Khatri.
One of ARAM’s ambitious projects is to develop a database of American Muslims. It is now planning to restart its dormant project to develop a database of American Muslims. This project was initiated by Dr. Sddiqee a few years back but the effort did not continue due to time constraints and other limitations.
ARAM gatherings usually focus on the current issues. Recent national and local mid-term election and its impact on the current challenges facing the country was the topic of discussion of ARAM’s gathering held in Sunnyvale, CA on December 4. Syed H. Husaini, an engineering management professional, gave a detailed commentary on the elections. On the Democratic Party’s debacle he said that midterms are always not good for the party in the White House, but this election was the worst.
He believes that the political parties are not strong – and the elections become individual elections. “There is no strong ideology or an agenda of both main parties. These are umbrella organizations giving voice to a range of individuals. The nation is angry and shell shocked.”
Husaini was of the view that the mid-term election was a vote by confused and ill informed voters who in most cases have voted against their own interests in anger. “The Republican Party did not win on any agenda or program because they offered none, yet people voted for them because of sheer impatience and frustration at un-employment hovering around 10% and no short-term solution in sight.” Husaini said the voter was swayed by emotions on social issues and there was just plain opposition to President Obama, with a subtle racism.
Recitation of Qasidat al-Burda Sharif was another feature of ARAM’s program. Qasidat al-Burda Sharif – an ode of adoration for the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) - was composed by the eminent Sufi Imam Al-Busiri. It is said that the Prophet (PBUH) appeared in his dream and wrapped him in a mantle or scarf. The poet was cured of paralysis when he got up in the morning.
Qasidat al-Burda Sharif was recited by Azeem Syed, an active member of the Bay Area Muslim community since the late-1970s. Currently, he is serving as a member of the Muslim Community Association Board of Trustees.
ARAM 's gatherings are hosted by various families. Everybody is welcome to attend these sessions. Once a year, ARAM holds an annual dinner where everybody is invited to come on stage and share talents.
For information about ARAM’s programs please contact: MWSiddiqee@sbcglobal.net