Alderman Debra Addresses Media . Al-Furqaan Foundation Moves to New Location in Bolingbrook . Urdu Times Foundation Celebrates Evening to Remember King of Ghazal Mehdi Hasan . Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Meets to Discuss Community Issues . Supporters of 50 th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Ahmed Khan Raise Funds . 50th Ward Aldermanic Candidates Forum
By Dr Mujahid Ghazi
Alderman Debra Addresses Media
The 50th ward in Chicago is in the media limelight because of an expected close race between the candidates for the coming elections in February. Debra Silverstein is running for this office. She is the wife of Ira I. Silverstein, who is a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 8th district since 1999 and also the committeeman for the Democratic Party.
Speaking at a packed press conference she said that she will work for the betterment of the ward and will increase the transparency and accountability in the working of her office. She said she will follow an open door policy and welcome any one who would show any concern about this neighborhood. She promised she will have members of the community who speak multiple languages in her office. She addressed the parking meters and zone parking issues and said she will work to correct the present unjust system. She also stated that she will address the problems of the residents and business owners to rectify the damage done by the incumbent Alderman Bernard Stone.
She gave a detailed account of her past community services. She said she had organized the very successful "Movies in the Park", "Winterfest", and the 50th Ward's participation in Breast Cancer's "Network of Strength - Walk to Empower" on Mother's Day. She mentioned that she was a co-founder of the Libenu Foundation, an organization facilitating supervised housing for adults with developmental disabilities in the 50th ward.
Answering to this scribe’s question on the disparity in distribution of development funds she gave an assurance that under her leadership parity in the developmental projects will be maintained. She claimed that in the past these funds were mismanaged and there was a lack of transparency and accountability in this regard.
The youngest reporter of Asian Broadcasting Network, Ibrahim Khan, gave a moving speech in support of Debra Silverstein. He said he felt a new energy in his body when he spoke for her. He asked the Indo-Pakistani community to support Debra Silverstein. Earlier, Senator Ira I. Siverstein and Salman Aftab introduced Debra Silverstein and spoke on the need of supporting and electing her for the office of Alderman 50 th Ward.
The event took place at A-1 Carpet. Balvinder Singh of A-1 Carpet has been a leading political activist in the 50 th Ward.
Al-Furqaan Foundation Moves to a New Location in Bolingbrook
A grand opening ceremony was held last Saturday at the new location of Al-Furqaan Foundation at 519 East Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook. A large number of Muslim community members showed up to support the mission of the organization.
Furqaan Academy has been functioning as a full-time Islamic school for less than three years, within which time their popularity and growth have been exemplary. They succeeded in generating enough support from the community and bought a three-story, 18,000 square foot building in Bolingbrook IL. Besides, they opened another branch in Colin County, Allen TX, as part of their on-going expansion project. Between the two locations they have bagged an enrollment of over 200 children and have been attracting new students from the neighboring suburbs, thanks to the excellence of their program and well-qualified faculty. Their very unique features include the State curriculum. Also, every child goes through an elaborate Hifz Program, becoming Hafiz or a Hafiza, learn Arabic as a second language, read write and speak fluently and cover traditional Islamic Studies to develop a Muslim identity, ready to flourish in any challenging profession of the individual student's choice. Their classes range from Pre-K to 8th grade, with the addition of the next grade every year, till they reach the State High School level within the next four years.
The ceremony began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by a student of the Academy, Obaid Razi, who explained the verses of the Qur’an emphasizing the importance of charity in Islam. Wajahat Saeed, president and founder of Al-Furqaan explained in detail the mission and vision of his organization. Resident scholar Sheikh Omar Baloch spoke on the importance of education in Islam. Carlos Jimenez, a local pastor from the next door church, also spoke to demonstrate the support of faith groups for the community. Before lunch was served, the executives and staff of the Foundation led by Tariq Hussein conducted guided tours of the new location and took a lot of pride in showing off the well-decorated class rooms of Furqaan Academy.
Urdu Times Foundation Celebrates Evening to Remember King of Ghazal Mehdi Hasan
A spell-bound audience heard Kamran Mehdi Hasan for hours last Saturday at the Monty’s Banquets in Bensenville. He was supported by his brothers Imran and Faizan Hasan on tabla and keyboard. Nostalgia was in the air and Mehdi Hasan in mind when Kamran masterly recreated his father’s melodies. Classical and semi-classical along with some popular Indian songs, all were sung by the heir of the musical treasure of a family which has performed in the subcontinent for almost a century.
The audience included an equal number of city dwellers and suburban Pakistanis and Indians. They all came to pay tribute to the great maestro, King of Ghazal Mehdi Hasan. Though it is hard to replace the original artist and sing his songs with the same diligence and expertise but Kamran Hasan did his best to be as near as possible to his father’s tunes.
The delicious food was catered by Parvaz Restaurant of Masood Sheikh. Dr. Qaudri and Aftab Beg of Monty’s Banquets didn’t leave a loose end in the arrangements of this program. Tariq Khawaja, Masroor Qureshi, Javed Riaz and Anjum Gohar deserve to be commended for providing a great evening and a great event. Due to the severe weather a good number of guests didn’t show up but still the event attracted a good number of the King’s followers.
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Meets to Discuss Community Issues
The House of Representatives of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago met at the Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville to discuss community issues and plan for the Illinois Muslim Action Day or IMAD as it is called.
This year saw the third anniversary of IMAD. The meeting started with two presentations, one by Kristin Szremski, Director of Media and Communication, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). She made a presentation about her recent visit to Palestine. With the help of pictures she explained what the life of the Palestinians under oppression is. She specifically talked about Al-Quds and Ibrahimi Mosque and shared her experience and sentiments about plans of the Israeli government to transform these holy sites.
Mazen Asbahi, a young attorney from Chicago who is on the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), gave a detailed presentation on the think-tank. He introduced the office-bearers and contributors and gave an outline of the research studies done in the past by ISPU, influencing the mind set of the Muslim Americans and mainstream Americans as well.
Bashiru Habib, Treasure of the CIOGC, presented the budget for 2011 and gave an overview of the accounts for 2010. Ahlam Jbara, an associate and activist at the CIOGC, talked about the upcoming Illinois Muslim Action Day on March 9 th, 2011. She mentioned that the number of participants doubled from 500 to 1000 during the last two years and the number is expected to increase this year as well.
During the meeting the Vice Chairman of CIOGC Mr. Tariq Malhance was recognized and congratulated for achieving the position of CFO in the Cook County Government. A congratulatory card, signed by all member organizations of CIOGC, was given to him. The meeting was conducted by Dr. Zaher Sehloul, Chairman of CIOGC. At the end, prayers were offered by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid.
Supporters of 50 th Ward Aldermanic Candidate Ahmed Khan Raise Funds
Hundreds of supporters of Ahmed Khan, a young Indian American candidate for the office of Alderman of the 50 th Ward, gathered at Holiday Inn Skokie to raise funds for his campaign. In spite of freezing cold weather, families with kids as young as 10 months, came to listen to the young political activist to show their support. “50th Ward is most diverse ethnically than any other ward in the city of Chicago but the communities here are often neglected,” Ahmed claimed in his speech. He said his short-term goal is to get our communities energized and mobilized for himself and his elders to demonstrate that “We can do it” for the sacrifices they have made and the struggles they have gone through. He said, “This is my country. I want to be part of the process.” He said God willing if he succeeded he would be the first Asian American, first South Asian and first Indian Muslim American to be in the City government. He said, “My campaign is about independence, progressivism and reform. Independence from political corruption and political clout. My campaign is for the community, by the community and about the community,” he said.
Later Mr. Habib Abbasi raised funds for the campaign.
50th Ward Aldermanic Candidates Forum
The West Rogers Park Community Organization (WRPCO) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization, which encompasses the 50th Ward and adjacent areas. Founded in 2005 by local residents, its mission is to improve the quality of life and enhance the diversity of the West Rogers Park/West Ridge neighborhood. Ashish Sen is the Chairman of this organization. Speaking at the Aldermanic Forum WRPCO organized last week, Sen laid out the rules of engagement for the five candidates who were taking part in the debate as well as for the audience.
This forum was moderated by Ben Joravsky, noted political journalist, who writes for Chicago Reader.
All the candidates were good at presenting their campaign’s major goals. Debra Silverstein talked more about the welfare of children living in 50 th ward and their education. Alderman Stone spent most of his time in responding to allegations about him and telling the audience that nothing was ever wrong in his Ward. Michael Moses was more emotional and aggressive than logical. Greg Brewer refrained from accusing or negating anyone and talked about his plans to work with the community with the help of an advisory council. Ahmed Khan also talked about an advisory council and how he was from the grassroots being part of a family who ran a small business in the ward.
Overall, it was a well-planned and well-organized event.