An Evening of Remembrance and Hope . America and the West Is Darul Islam, Says Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri . “Fordson” Gets Record Audience across the Country . Bone Marrow Donor Registration and Food Drive at MCC and MEC . American Association of Retired Asians (AARA) Acquires Land for Senior Facility . Community Eid Milan at Anmol Restaurant
By Dr. Mujahid Ghazi
An Evening of Remembrance and Hope
Chicago, September 10, 2011: People of diverse faiths and beliefs got together to attend a memorial meeting to remember the lives lost on 9/11 at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago. This unique 10 th anniversary event was jointly organized by Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (CRLMC) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC).
Mentioning the losses on 9/11 and post- 9/11 era Imam Kareem M. Irfan, President of Council of Religious Leaders of Greater Chicago and Ex-President of CIOGC, said, “Those evil attacks have also unveiled an unprecedented outpouring of selflessness, of caring, of togetherness, of courage and heroism.” He further said, ”We have seen America’s faith communities coming together as never before in ways that have been especially gratifying for those of us toiling away for decades at improved understanding and bridges of collaboration amongst the diverse faith traditions which make up America’s unique tapestry of religions and cultures.” He added, “Tonight the two Councils provide a stage for remembrance and recommitment to remember all the victims of 9/11.”
He recognized the presence of Amina Saeed, President of Muslim Bar Association (MBA) and Director of Community Relations of CIOGC, who lost her cousin Nasima Seemji when the South tower of WTC collapsed. Recognizing the courage, selfless dedication, sacrifice and heroism of the first responders, the police, the firefighters, the nurses, the doctors and the emergency medical staff, he acknowledged the presence of Dr. Omar Lateef who was one of the first responders by assuming the leadership role while working as senior on call physicians at a hospital across the Twin Towers. He and his team received and treated the victims for three days. He is currently the Director of the ICU at Rush Hospital in Chicago.
Addressing the audience Governor Patrick Quinn said, “We need to remember every day those who lost their lives on September 11 th, 2001. We mourn their loss. We will never forget their heroic and purposeful lives. They touched our hearts and that’s why we are here tonight.” He further observed, “It is so important that we understand our democracy is based on volunteerism. The heart of America, the heart of Illinois is a heart of a volunteer.”
Toni Preckwinkle, President of Cook County said, “9/11 changed everyone’s life. 3000 Americans were killed that day during the deadliest attack on American soil in history.” She further said, “That day we also experienced a profound sense of community. Knowing that although we may be divided by gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, we are one people and one country.” She remarked, “On this day we renew our commitment to all those who serve and protect us.”
Remembering the victims of 9/11 Dr. Balvant Singh Hansra, Co-Founder, Sikh Religious Society said, “Memorials like these will assure the survivors and their relatives that the loss will never be forgotten.”
Dr. Bombade Shakoor-Abdullah, Founder and Director of Leadership Development Institute and CMECCA School, said, “Let us sow the seeds of love, tolerance and acceptance because love is stronger than hate, Tolerance is more powerful than prejudice and acceptance is a powerful feeling even for an aching heart.”
Recognizing the Responders Rev. David C.Coleman, Jr. Presiding Elder Emeritus, African Methodist Episcopal Church, prayed for the first responders, the firefighters, police and members of the medical corps who lost their lives or got injured during the 9/11attack on the twin towers. Rev. Jorge Morales, Conference Minister, Illinois Conference, United Church of Christ also quoted from the Bible mentioning the reward from God for those who sacrifice their lives.
Rabbi Michael Balinsky, Executive Vice-President, Chicago Board of Rabbis and Sister Joan M. McGuire, O.P. Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Chicago talked about resolving to work together for peace. They projected the values of love, peace, unity, tolerance between the faith groups.
Giving the Closing Words of Hope, Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, said, “What we heard and have seen tonight is the true spirit of our nation. The true spirit of our state. The true spirit of our city. Hope in the face of darkness. Unity in the face of threat and resilience in the face of tragedy.” He added, “9/11 changed our lives. It made us rethink major issues. It made us rethink security, fear, openness, justice, civil rights, war and peace. It made us think differently about the stranger among us, the immigrant among us and the Muslim among us.”
Poetic creative expressions highlighting the pain and agony of 9/11, promoting the values of love, peace and tolerance in the post-9/11 era were presented by Leena Suleiman and by Jacqueline Williams and Anish Jethmalani, both artists from Goodman Theater.
In between the speeches motivational music and songs were presented by Elizabeth Norman, Kiel Williams and Brian Rice.
At the end of the event the audience lit the candles and pledged never to forget the sacrifices of the heroes of 9/11 and to promote an environment of peace, love and tolerance to build a united nation free of hate and biasis.
America and the West Is Darul Islam: Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri
Chicago, September 8 th, 2011: Speaking to a houseful audience at the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel in Elmhurst, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri said America and the western countries are Darul Islam because they fulfill the criterion of this designation as opposed to some of the Muslim countries where basic civil rights of the people are compromised by dictatorships, corrupt governments and Kingdoms.
He said Muslims in the West enjoy complete liberty and freedom to practice their religion and express their opinions. He said Muslims in the West and America have no restrictions to build mosques, Islamic schools and other religious institutions. He further said that these societies provide protection,
security, social benefits and civil rights.
He was speaking at the Annual Al-Ghazali Lecture, a regular event organized by Elmhurst College. To a packed crowd and thousands of viewers in 99 countries through a live stream he explained the meaning of Islam and said Islam has three levels; Islam, Iman and Ihsan. With the help of quotations from the Holy Qur’an and Hadith he explained all three of them.
He said Islam is compassion, peace, love, dedication, tolerance and submission. He condemned the people who misrepresent Islam by their violent and extremist behavior. He gave the example of the Prophet’s life in Madina and the rule of engagement in wars in those days. He said Prophet Muhammad (PUH) had instructed his companions not to harm women children, and elders, sick and weak and non-combative civilians during war with the enemies of Islam. He said when the Prophet and his companions didn’t do it in wars then how can we justify killing of innocent citizens during peace. He further said that the word Jihad has been misrepresented as Holy War. The correct word for war in the Qur’an is Khital and even that has to be done in defense and not as an aggressor.
Earlier Dr. Alzada Tipton, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, welcomed the audience and the distinguished speaker.
Professor Inamul Haq, Coordinator of Islamic Studies and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, gave an extensive introduction of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri.
In his closing remarks Rev. Dr. Ronald Beauchamp, Director of Niebuhr Center, thanked the distinguished guests and the audience for making the event a great success. He presented a gift to the speaker on behalf of the students and faculty of Elmhurst College.
“Fordson” Gets Record Audience across the Country
Chicago, September 11 th, 2011: A full length documentary “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football” got a huge response from the cinema goers across the US. It had showings at multiple AMC Theaters including two in the Greater Chicago area.
This Slamdance Special Jury Award-winning documentary is about a high school football team from Dearborn, a working class suburb of Detroit, Michigan and addresses the stereo-typing, post- 9/11 fear and sense of isolation among Muslims. It portrays the American Muslim youth going through psychological stress and tensions and trying to prove their American identity in the post-9/11 era.
Director and Executive Producer Rashid Ghazi follows the players, coaches and family members in Ramadan as they practice their faith along with football for a rivalry game with another high school football team across town. It is a North Shore Films production in association with Quraishi Productions. (Produced by Ash’ar Quraishi andBasma Babar-Quraishi. Executive Producer: Rashid Ghazi. Director: Rashid Ghazi. Screenplay: Ruth Leitma. Cast: Osama Abulhassan, Bilal Abu-Omarah, Yusuf "Big Joe" Berry, Imad Fadlallah, Baquer Sayed, Foud Zaban and many residents of Dearborn, Michigan)
Muslim Women’s Alliance organized a free viewing of this documentary on September 11 th followed by an Interfaith Memorial Meeting to commemorate the 10 th Anniversary of the tragic 9/11 incident.
Executive Director and Founder of Muslim Women Alliance Anisha Ismail Patel welcomed the guests and said, “As a nation we have risen high above the calamity and have shown that our diversity is our strength.” She further said,
“We have to build powerful and positive relationships between our communities.”
Rabbi Amy Memis-Foler from Temple Judea Mizpah in Skokie with Dale Primer on Jewish blowing horn “Shofar” presented reflections on 9/11. She started by saying, “On this 10 th anniversary of 9/11 may the blast of the Shofar serve as a sharp reminder of each of the 2973 lives that were taken that day.” She continued with statements of remembrance and prayers with Dale Primer blowing the Shofar masterly in between.
Rev. Dr. Kirsten Peachey, referring to the Christian teaching, explained the importance of relationships. She said, “The story of Christianity teaches her to yearn for relationship and love, especially in the post-9/11 era.”
The audience formed into groups and talked about the issues they felt important to promote understanding and tolerance among their communities.
Basma Babar-Quraishi, co-producer of “Fordson” explained in detail the making of the documentary. She said the idea of producing “Fordson” was conceived by the producer Rashid Ghazi and it took eight years to get the permission for filming at Fordson High School. She talked about her experience with the youth and their families portrayed in the documentary. She said the movie has already got recognition and praise in several film festivals across the country.
Ali Quadri masterly emceed the event.
Bone Marrow Donor Registration and Food Drive at MCC and MEC
Chicago, September 9 th, 2011: Members of the Muslim Community Center (MCC) in Chicago remembered the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11/2001 by organizing a Bone Marrow Registration and Food Donation Drive at MCC in Chicago and MEC in Morton Grove. About 27 people registered and sampled at MEC and five at MCC. Bone Marrow Registry is a national organization which helps the patients suffering from various blood cancers to get matching stem cells from the marrow or blood of a donor. Out of nine million registered donors only 135,000 are South Asians.
Canned and packed food was also collected for Sabeel Pantry to feed the poor and the needy.
American Association of Retired Asians (AARA) Acquires Land for Senior Facility
Carol Stream, September 10 th, 2011: In a dramatic turn of events Carol Stream-based American Association of Retired Asians acquired a land in Streamwood on the main Irving Park Road just before holding its Third Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner on 16 th of September at Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove. Planned for completion in 2014, the land will hold a huge senior complex with assisted living and senior daycare. It will have all the geriatrics needs under one roof. AARA is a 501 (C) registered organization run by dedicated volunteers who want to bring a change in the lives of hundreds of Asian seniors who are suffering from depression due to isolation and in some cases parental abuse.
Dr. Talat Razvi, the Executive Director of AARA, has appealed to the South Asian community to support the noble cause and attend the fundraiser on 16 th September, 2011. She can be reached at 630.803.8130 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. The dinner will be followed by entertainment by famous singers Laiba Ali and Iqbal Qasim.
Community Eid Milan at Anmol Restaurant
Chicago, September 8 th, 2011:A community Eid Milan was organized at Anmol Restaurant. The attendees enjoyed the food and talked about their Eid activities and many issues of mutual interest. It was one of the hundreds of Eid Milan parties thrown in different restaurants and banquets in Greater Chicago. Restaurants like Anmol, Sabri and Usmania were especially the center of attraction for these party goers.