Chicago Roundup CIOGC Annual Community Dinner to celebrate 18 years of Activism
By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi

 

CIOGC Annual Community Dinner attracted 900 community members to celebrate 18 years of activism Chicago; May22nd, 2010: 900 community members showed up at Donald Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont Illinois to celebrate 18 years of community activism and to support the ongoing projects of the Council of Islamic Organizations in Greater Chicago. The program started with the recitation of Qur'an by Ammar Haq followed by the commentary by Professor Inamul Haq. First time people saw Muslim American Veterans Association presenting Color Guard. Tasneem Osmani, Vice Chair of CIOGC welcomed the guests and shed light on the achievements and progress of the coun cil. Margo Schlanger, Director of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of Homeland Security in Chicago commended the Council for partnering in the efforts of the government to create awareness of the efforts of DHS in the matter of national security. 29th District State Representative delivered a firry speech asking the Muslim community to get involved in the politics to take the State and the country to the next level. He stressed on the point that until the community stop being spectator and get actively involved in the affairs of the state and the country nothing is going to change. Terry Mazany, President and CEO of Chicago Community trust commended the work done by CIOGC in community empowerment and philanthropy. He said that he is satisfied that $ 160,000 provided in funds for the last 3 years by his organization is the money well spent. Governor Pat Quinn's Chief of Staff spoke on behalf of the Governor. He commended the Muslim community for organizing the successful Muslim Action Day a month ago and addressing some very important issues faced by the residents of Illinois. He said democracy is not spectator's sport and that's what Muslim Action Day did and delivered a message to the leaders to roll up their sleeves and to get engaged in the difficult challenges of getting the State Budget passed. Dr. Zaher Sahloul in his brief speech asked people to forget differences and get united to take the State and the country to the next level. He said that the council has brought people from the City, State and Federal government, Politicians from both major political parties and important civic and religious leadership together under one roof. He wished that this union would bring a good tiding for the State and the country. Rashad Hussain, US Delegate for OIC started his key note speech by recognizing Chicago, historically, as heart of the Muslim Community in the US in many ways. He said that Chicago many Muslim educational institutes and mosques which reflects the activism of the local Muslim community. Giving a brief account of his success story most of his speech was commending the President for his efforts of reaching out to the Muslim community. Quoting examples, Hussain masterly convinced the audience how president Obama is different from his predecessors and is very well educated about the issues of the Muslim world. He also commended the president for his recent speech at West Point in which he told the audience that 85% of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and that Islam don't teach extremism or terrorism. He said there are issues of civil rights and foreign policy and nothing wrong to address them. America gives that freedom, but he said these issues should not be presented as an excuse for radical extremist behaviors. He said this country gives you liberty of practicing your culture and religion which is not allowed in some other countries of the world. He said that Muslim community is now active in lot of main stream issues which make him proud like having safe neiborhoods, alleviating poverty and promoting health reforms.
Congressman Keith Ellison was the last speaker he told the audience that if you are not on the table of politics, you will be on the menu. He said that if the community doesn't get involved in active politics people would easily devour it. He commended the Council for organizing the Day on the Hill. He said that every state should have their Muslim day on the Hill. He said that it was Muslim who pointed out the car in Time Square and it was the father of Nigerian aboard the plane who informed the authorities to watch for him.

Earlier Imam Kifah of Mosque Foundation successfully raised the funds for the council. Safaa Zarzour, Secretary General of ISNA introduced Rashad Hussain. Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid offered prayers at the end.

Council Community Awards for 2010 were given to State Senator Christine Radogno from 41st District for her Excellence in Public Service, Jerome McDonnell and Assia Boundaoui for Excellence in Media. They Produced and presented "Islamic Reform" series on NPR's Worldveiw. Ahlam Jbara was awarded for her Excellence in Community Service as one of the active organizer of Muslim Action Day. Mary Ali was awarded for Excellence in Youth Development for taking Muslim children to one of the best and most balanced summer camps for more than two decades.
Outstanding teacher awards were given to Mrs. Christine Wagner of Glenside Middle School, Glendale Heights. Ms.
Aziz Sultana of Al Huda Academy, Schaumburg and Ms. Amal Mohamed of MAS Quranic Blossoms, Bridgeview.

Itehad Airlines give away two business class tickets for this occasion. These were auctioned for $ 10,000.

Speaking to the audience the Business Development Manager of Itehad Mr. Haitham Al-Subaihi, who specially came from New York to attend this program, commended the council for its efforts and pledged that Itehad will keep its standards high to serve the community better.

The event was emceed by Dilara Sayeed and LaDale George.

IQRA' honored Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Dr. Bashir Chowdhry at the Annual Dinner 2010

Chicago; May 23rd 2010: A large number of supporters of IQRA' International Educational Foundation gathered at the Monty's Banquet last Sunday to witness the achievements of the leading Islamic curriculum publishers of the Western World. The program started with the recitation of Qur'an by Shaykh Nasser Teleb Hussein Hussein.
Professor Marcia Hermansen welcomed the guests and gave an overview of the importance of the work IQRA' is doing. She said IQRA' need the help of the community to produce the next generation of Islamic Curriculum. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari explained in detail the projects and working of IQRA'.Secretary General of ISNA Dr. Safaa Zarzour spoke on the IQRA's contributions to the community and ummah. Quoting the history of Islamic schools in the US told the audience that Drs. Abidullah and Tasneema Ghazi dedicated their lives to Islamic education for the Muslim children when in 1969 they decided to start a Sunday School for their kids while studying at Harvard. He said it helped him to switch his carrier from trying to become an engineer to become an educator. He said Islamic schools around the country use IQRA' books and its curriculum. Hundreds of teachers are being educated by IQRA's Teachers' Manuals. He quoted a story of a family whose grandmother got influenced by a du'a one of her grand child was saying before going to the bed.
This made her ask her other children to send 16 of their children to Aqsa School in Bridgeview. He said the Du'a that child was reading was from a book written by the Ghazis. He then highlighted the struggle, IQRA' went through to be the leader in Islamic curriculum. He mentioned the online academy IQRA' is trying to establish and commended the work of IQRA's team and ask the audience to contribute. Imam Abdullah Madyun very effectively raised funds for IQRA' pending projects. Mr. Quader Hussein did the recitation of Qur'an before the delicious dinner. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi spoke about the growth of the Muslim community in the US and the generosity of this country in accepting new cultures and new religions. He mentioned the book "500 Most Influential Muslims of the World" and said that about 80 people from US are included in this list proving the extraordinary talent the Muslim community of US has. Dr.
Abidullah Ghazi is also one of the persons mentioned in that list. Dr. Shahid Siddiqi introduced Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi. Dr. Muzammil commended the contribution of IQRA in the development of Islamic Curriculum and said the Islamic Schools in America and Canada are indebted to IQRA for its contribution in their development. He said that Islamic Education is a great gift for the humanity. He added that it changes the civilization and it changes the way of thinking of the people. It brings balance between reason and revelation. He said that Islamic education built character of an individual and enriches knowledge and creates tolerance. He said Islam started with education. Allah Subhanahu Ta'ala by sending Qur'an through Prophet Muhammad gave us the Curriculum and the teacher together. He asked the audience to help IQRA" and donate generously for this cause. A trailer of the underproduction documentary "Football and Salat" was also projected.
This unique documentary is being produced by Rashid Ghazi and his team. It encompasses the life of Detroit Muslims in the post 911 eras and is focusing on Two high school foot ball teams. Awards were given to Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi and Dr. Bashir and Kausar Chowdhry from Las Vegas for their contribution to the cause of Islamic education.
Mr. Shamshad Hussain thanked the guests for their unconditional support.
Dr. Quadri and Aftab Baig of Monty's Banquet must be commended for excellent arrangement and delicious food.

Skokie Festival of Cultures attracted more than 300,000 visitors

Attendees enjoyed activities, games, costumes, dance, music and food Skokie; May 23rd 2010: Water Recreation Park at the corner of Skokie Blvd. and Oakton Avenue in Skokie was the venue of international cultural festival organized by the Village of Skokie since 1991. More than 300,000 people visited the festival last weekend. There were activities for all ages and booths representing nationalities and cultures with all of their paraphernalia. The festival book with all the information about the participating nationalities also presumed to be a passport to visit these countries. Visitors have to take this book on the booth and recognize few things mentioned in the book and get their passport (book) stamped.
There was a separate booth for kids' activities. Gain Peace a Muslim Dawah group affiliated with Islamic Circle of North America had a booth this year to give out positive educational literature about Islam. Participating nationalities were also given time to have their folk and cultural dance and musical presentations. Few of the political candidates also had their booths. People enjoyed food from different ethnic backgrounds.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky was seen in casual attire mixing and blending with the visitors. It was a surprise to see a member of congress without her deputies.

People enjoyed two days of ethnic folk music and dance, a wide range of food, unique arts and crafts, international children's games, a merchandise bazaar, and dozens of cultural booths and displays. Mark your calender for future. The Skokie Festival of Cultures is held the third weekend in May and is a free event.

Seattle raised funds for HDF. Inaugration of 13th US Chapter

Seattle, May 15th, 2010; Pakistani American community in Seattle raised money for the upcoming projects of HDF. The inaugural fundraising dinner of the 13th chapter in US attracted a good number of community members from all fields of life. After the recitation of Sura-e-Baqrah by Ahmed, Dr.Tabassum Saeed, Chairperson HDF Seattle, welcomed the guests and said that this inaugural dinner of Human Development Foundation is to support HDF's mission of improving quality of life for ordinary people. She emphasized that HDF is not a physician run organization but is supported and run by people from different professions and different backgrounds and this is true for Seattle also. She said that it is a non political and non religious organization. She shed light on ongoing projects of HDF Pakistan and later introduced the board members of 13th US chapter of HDF. They included Munir Rizvi Board Member HDF USA and Seattle Chapter, Aurangzeb Akbar Vice Chair , Saad Quadri Secretary, Naazish Murshady Treasurer, Dr. Saeed, Dr. Faiq Sheikh, Shafqat Mehmood, Qasim Ghaffar, Ausaf Ahmed, Dr. Akmal Yasin, Dr. Irfan Ansari and Dr. Raheela Saddiq Board Members. Supporter of HDF Ethan Casey who wrote two positive travelogues about Pakistan "Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004) and Overtaken By Events: A Pakistan Road Trip". Spoke in detail about his travels to Pakistan and his experiences with the Pakistanis which prompted him to write books on Pakistan. He said with so much negative publicity of Pakistan in the western media he brings the good of Pakistan to the American population. He asked the audience to support HDF. He further said that after the failed attempt of Time Square bombing, he wrote an article "Some of my best friends are Pakistanis" in an attempt to stand openly in front of the American media and public as friend of Pakistan and Pakistanis, who are so important to me and my education. He asked the audience to choose this moment to become more assertive in American politics. He said he will be assertive with the Pakistanis and on their behalf. A high school junior Amani Sheikh talked about a school project in Karachi. It is to convert an informal HDF school to Formal HDF school. She told the audience that it will require $ 67,944 to fund this project and she has taken this on herself to raise this money in the current year.
Dr. Atiya Khan, President of the HDF USA commended the people of Seattle to start the 13th chapter of HDF USA.
She recited the couplet of Faraz "Hum ko us sheher ki tameer ka soda hai jehan...Log Memar ko chun detey hein deewar key saath". She said out of 160 million people of Pakistan, 123 million lives in extreme poverty living for less than $ 2/day. 58 million people have no access to sanitation. 23 million have no access to any health care. 18 million have no access to clean drinking water.
She said that 370,000 children die every year or 40,000/month due to deficiency diseases. She said with all the globalization and communication how can we keep away from this and not respond to the cries of the poor and needy. She commended the people who were present to respond to this call of HDF. She said it is the love of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan which make people to do deeds like this. She talked in detail about the history and projects of Pakistan and asked people to invest in the future of Pakistan by helping the poor and needy and by elevating their lives.
Dr. Mujahid Ghazi then raised funds for the upcoming projects of HDF. Later after a delicious dinner famous singer Azhar Mahmud performed masterly to keep the audience absorbed in his melodies into the early morning hours.

 

Congressman Keith Ellison meets representatives of Pakistani American Community in Chicago

Chicago May 22nd 2010: The first Muslim congressman who insisted on taking oath on Qur'an visited Chicago to attend CIOGC fundraiser. During his stay in Chicago had an exclusive meeting with Tariq Siddiqi, Wahid Butt, Chairman of the Parade Committee for 2010 and this scribe. He talked in detail about the future of Muslim community in US. He explained policies of the government and commended President Obama for his dynamic leadership. Tariq Siddiqi who is a Pakistani American activist and has a fame of being close to President Obama during his campaign told the congressman about his efforts to involve the local Pakistani community in the main stream politics. He showed dissatisfaction on the strategy the Muslim organizations have adopted and stress on the possibility of improving it. This scribe commended the congressman for his true and just stance on various issues concerning the Muslim community and the nation. It was an informal meeting which ended with a pledge to join hands when and where the need arise.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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