Chicago Roundup
If We Can Do It Here Why Can’t We Do It There?
By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi


Human rights in Islam come under focus with the American Islamic College hosting a lecture by Professor Cherif Bassiouni

Human rights in Islam come under focus as the American Islamic College hosts a lecture by Professor Cherif Bassiouni.

Moderating the lecture series at the American Islamic College (AIC), Dr. Wasiullah Khan, Chancellor, East West University, said that AIC is the gift of Muslim ummah to the Chicago Muslim community. He said it was an ‘Ammanah’ with us and if we fail in our duty to nurture it and to protect it and to make it flourish then we will be accountable before Allah Subhanahu Ta’ala. He said that this is a befitting first lecture of this series by a befitting Professor Cherif Bassiouni who is a great citizen of this world and a great performer of service to the human kind. He recognized the effort of Ali Yurtsever and other members of the host committee.

Professor Cherif Bassiouni said that it was a very complicated and complex topic. He said right by its very nature is a covenantal relationship or it is a social contract relationship. He said the rights we have are subject to responsibilities. He said within the context of our social contract with our ummah, our rights are subject to responsibilities. In Islam the notion of rights is essentially a consequence of responsibilities and not the other way around.

He said a right can never be examined in its isolated context from what it detracts from the community and what it gives to the community. The relationship of the individual to Allah (SWT) and the relationship of an individual to ummah as well as the relationship of the individual to others varies enormously. He said he is particularly attracted to the first two years of the Prophet’s life in Medinah. He analyzed the state of human relationship during that time in that diverse pluralistic society. Quoting the life o Prophet Mohammad (SAW) he said that his act of assuring security to the Quresh who during his return to Mecca were told to go into their houses and be secured and then when he forbade the Muslim warriors from going in and taking booty. He asked if the prophet (SAW) was conferring or recognizing a right of the others. He claimed it was the combination of two things. It was the recognition of the rights of others but above all it was a limitation of responsibility and obligation upon the Muslim world. He quoted the document of Syedna Abu-Bakr Siddiq (RA) which contained the directives given to the Muslim army before it was dispatched to Syria and Lebanon to fight the Byzantine Empire in 637 CE. He said the document provided all of the protections that are contained in the Geneva Convention of 1949. He said this document is still available in good condition. He said apart from providing protection to civilians, women, children, senior citizens a clause prohibits the cutting of fruit-bearing trees because by doing so you may deprive people of eating the fruit in the future. He said you cannot cut plants producing any kind of food. He said it is a right but it is more of a limitation. From the Islamic perspective, one has to relate to this as his or her obligation, not someone else’s right because of the covenantal relationship of you and God and you and Ummah. What appears to be someone else’s right becomes your obligation. In the dynamic relationship that we have between rights and obligations, it starts with the internalization of certain moral values which transfer themselves into social obligation that the Muslim has within the Muslim community and in relationship to non-Muslims. This becomes the collective or cumulative reservoir of rights and obligations from which we as individuals have to assess our rights and obligations. He discussed in detail the various aspects of this subject, comparing the present-day situations with the history of Islam.

For complete transcript of this interesting lecture visit Mujahid Ghazi on the face book.

There was a Q and A session after the lecture. Dr. Tipu Siddiq and Dr. Arshad Mirza asked questions pertaining to the topic. Afterwards, Ali Yurtserver offered gifts to the learned scholar and the moderator.

 

Political Empowerment: Understanding the Political Process, Volunteering and How to Get Involved

 


Political Empowerment: Understanding the Political Process, Volunteering and How to Get Involved

The Community Builders monthly forum attracted a large number of community members on January 15. Addressing a packed gathering of Community Builder’s monthly forum at Northwest Suburban College, Mayor William McLeod stressed the importance of political activism. He said it is important to engage in the political process and run for offices or volunteer for community work. He said United States is a democratic country and gives freedom to every individual to speak and to act. It is incumbent upon every individual to use his/her right of vote and choose the best candidates to public offices. He commended the South Asian community for its contribution in the American society. Ken Nelson, Mayor of Rolling Meadow,s also commended the Muslim community living in his village and stressed the importance of political participation.

Samreen Khan, representing Governor Pat Quinn, highlighted a few of the outstanding achievements of his government. She also gave a brief account of what the Governor intends to do once he is elected for this office. She said that Governor Pat Quinn believes in good and transparent governance. Responding to a question she said that it is important t not only to keep our jobs from going overseas but also to keep them from crossing the state borders. She said Governor Pat Quinn has done that and has brought 7000 jobs to the Joliet area with the Union Pacific facility. She said he has also brought Decatur Pharmaceuticals in the Deerfield area which has brought another 500 jobs. She announced that the governor has an Illinois job program, which will bring the unemployment rate down in the State of Illinois.

Mike Boland, candidate for Lt. Governor, denounced the religious and racial profiling and said some have to stand against discrimination, prejudice and fear mongering. He claimed that some politicians are promoting fear of different people. He said we are a great nation and we cannot let this happen. He said America is people working together. Paul Froehlich, State Representative District 56 mentioned his ties with the Pakistani- American community of his district and mentioned the Independence Day festival of Pakistan which he attends every year in Hoffman Estates. Mentioning the Christmas Eve bomber he condemned religious profiling at the airports and quoted some letters published in the newspapers and on the Internet which depicted the ignorance of the writers and contained hatred and discrimination against Muslims and Islam. He said this kind of prejudice should not be tolerated. He said it is incumbent upon public officials to stand up and publicly denounce it. Fred Crespo, State Representative District 44, gave an account of how his political activism began. He said on the invitation of Mayor McLeod of Hoffman Estates he became the board member of a much diversified village body. He said that people need to get involved in the politics and become representatives of various public offices. Raja Krishnamurti is an American-born Indian running for State Comptroller. In a very confident tone he said he was born for this position. He said he was raised in Peoria and became an attorney. He was Barack Obama’s Policy Director for his US Senate campaign. He said after that he was appointed member of the Board of Illinois Housing Authority, which finances the low and moderate income housing. He said he was later appointed a special assistant to attorney general anticorruption unit at Lisa Madigan’s office. Lastly, he was appointed Deputy Treasurer of the State of Illinois in 2007 becoming the highest ranking South Asian in the State Government. He gave a long list of endorsements he had, including Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times. He said he is proud to state that during his public service career he has not been indicted for anything. He said if he gets elected he will report to no one but his voters. He said by becoming Comptroller of State of Illinois he wants to bring more openness, more transparency, more disclosure to the State’s financial and contractual system. He claimed he wanted to bring more diversity to the State government. George Durham advised the audience to volunteer for public service departments and get to be known. He said by volunteering you can also find out what is going on in the local government. Could learn how and why local governments do things. Greg Brownfield, candidate for state representative Dist. 55, Michelle Mussman candidate for Dist 56, Mariana Spyrapoulos, commissioner water reclamation and Gertrude Rudy Zaja gave their opinion about political empowerment and what they want to do when elected. Salman Aftab advised the Muslim community to get out and vote. This scribe was also invited and got a chance to commend the community builders for the excellent program and to recognize Mayor McLeod, Fred Crespo and Paul Froehlich for their commitment and dedication to the community. It was also the first official announcement of this humble self-running for the office of the Alderman 50 th Ward in 2011. Farooq Patel gave an account of his relationship with Mayor McLeod of Hoffman Estates and said that it was him who invited him to be the commissioner in his village government, where he served for 6 years. He urged the attendees to become politically active and get registered to vote.

Dr Niazi did excellent compeering. Food was simple but tasty.

Indian American Community Organizes Rally to support Raja and Brown


Rally to support Raja and Brown

The Indian-American community organized  a Campaign March and Community Rally on Saturday to support   Hon. Dorothy Brown who is running for Cook County President and Raja Krishnamoorth,i an Indian-American candidate ,running for Illinois Comptroller.

The rally started from 2100 W. Devon Avenue and ended at Fairfield Avenue. In the cold freezing weather it marked a real show of support. The supporters were chanting slogans to support the candidates and were displaying placards with their names. They stopped at various points to introduce the candidates to the local community and businesses. After the rally the candidates and their supporters gathered inside the Northshore Banquet.

Addressing the rally Iftekhar Shareef and Keerthi Ravoori welcomed the candidates and announced their full support for them. Both Dorothy Brown and Raja Krishnamoorti thanked the South Asian community for their support. Both candidates claimed that if they got elected they would bring clean and transparent governance. Dorothy Brown asked the audience to get out and vote in the early voting. She asked the members of the rally to go out in their neighborhoods and get the people out to vote. Prominent leaders of the Indo American community were present at the rally and included Babu Patel, Balvinder Singh, Ram Gajjela, Mafat Patel, Sunny Ghabawala, Sohan Joshi, Iftekhar Shareef, Naren Patel, Ajai Agnihotri, Dr. Hyder Mohd., Sher Rajput, Keerthi Ravoori, Subhash Bhat, Sanhita Agnihotri, Rohit Maniar, Hetal Patel, Kanti Patel, Beena Patel, Ranjit Ganguly, Anil Pillai, Sitaram Patel, Pramod Shah, Jaswant Singha and Arvind Joshi.   

  APPNA Community Health Center and “Aman Ki Asha”

APPNA Community Health Center and “Aman Ki Asha”

In cold freezing temperatures last Saturday I saw about twenty patients waiting to see the physician at the APPNA Community Health center in Westmont, Illinois. Dr. Imtiaz Arain was very carefully and kindly checking every person who came to seek help. These patients were either uninsured, visitors or poor and needy. Some were paying a nominal fee of $ 10 for checkup and prescription while some might not be paying at all and were also being helped with free samples for their symptoms. This scribe took one of the uninsured Muslim Indian individual from Rogers Park area who had initially consulted Dr. Imtiaz Arain during the Free Health Fair organized by President Todd Stroger couple of weeks ago. It hardly took 15 minutes to see the physician and seek his further advice. My patient had skin disorder and unfortunately could not be helped at the community clinic. We had done his blood tests at the health fair through Northshore Labs, some free and some subsidized. Dr. Imtiaz Arain gave the name of an Indian dermatologist who has a practice in Bolingbrook, Illinois. This scribe called Dr.Bharati Chittineni and asked her if she could help the person who had been suffering for along time because of no insurance and lack of approach. Without any hesitation she asked me to come over. To my surprise she checked the patient right away free and also loaded him with free samples!

Jang Group and Geo are running a campaign in partnership with Hindustan Times called “Aman Ki Asha”, which could be roughly translated as ‘desire for peace and harmony’ or ‘a wish for peace.’

We have that peace and compassion here in Greater Chicago. When it comes to help the humanity, a Muslim Indian seeking help from a Muslim Pakistani physician was referred by him to a Hindu Indian dermatologist who without asking a question about his religion, cast or creed helped him right away.

If we can do it here why can’t we do it there?

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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