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A Movement to bring Unity

By Dr. Tasneema K. Ghazi

I was filled with hope and exhilaration when I heard the news that a group of young Muslims from the famed indian university Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi) are working to bring understanding and unity between Sunni and Shi’i Muslims.

Growing up in India during the 1950s and 1960s I had never heard of tensions between these two communities, at least not in the scale we see in modern times. My cousin married into a Shi’i family, our favorite tutor Mustafa Saheb was Shi’i.  I remember “Aapa jaan,” our primary school principal, with such love and affection.  My mother’s best friend was Shi’i and we loved her and her entire family.

Reading about unspeakable atrocities committed by ISIS, the Asad regime and all the other players in the tragic civil war, it breaks my heart even further to see for the first time the foul element of fanatic sectarianism being thrown into the mix. The brutality that Muslims have committed on each other and on Yazidis and Christians has reached such a level that it will take generations to wash way resentment and antagonism. Centuries it took to build harmonious inter-communal life have been have been swept away.

Therefore, it gave me a ray of hope to read about the efforts of these young people in New Delhi  working to establish a community of Muslims who pray, live and work together in peace.

The group is called “Shoulder To Shoulder.”  They arranged joint Sunni-Shi’i Eid ul-Fitr prayers in at the univeristy’s mosque.  It is an initiative conceived by a group of friends in Jamia Nagar in the face of growing hostility between the two sects of Islam.  More than 10, 000 Shi’i and Sunni Muslims offered their Eid ul-Fitr prayers together.

The group intends to make joint prayer a permanent feature in every city in near future.  Their second big event was the celebration of Eid ul-Adha prayer in the city of Lucknow.  Shi’is and Sunnis prayed Eid ul-Adha together at the Imambara Sibtainabad Lawn, one of the main centers of Shi’i Islam in Lucknow.  This even again proved to be a great success and recieved support from Indians of all walks of life. People from Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali Sistani to All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat extended support for the event.

“Shoulder To Shoulder” plans to take their initiative forward.  In the words of one of the organizer, “We plan to take this forward.  From salah/namaz to other humanitarian gestures, we will bridge the gap between the wo sects until both sects are shoulder to shoulder.”

On the same note, a group of Sunni and Shi’i Muslims in the Greater Chicago region have formed the Shia-Sunni Unity Council (SSUC), and they have been working together since 2013 in order to establish harmony and cooperation between the two most important denominations of Islam.  The following points are the stated objectives of SSUC:

  • Promoting mutual understanding between mainstream Sunnis and Shias with respect to differences, and building on common ground.
  • Promoting joint religious, educational and social activities.
  • Promoting peaceful co-existence of the two communities by mitigating derogatory behavior.

Let us pledge that during this month Muharram we will all do our job together to bring peace and harmony between Shi’is and Sunnis, between Muslims of all stripes, between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between all of humanity.

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Back to School Special Edition


Islamic Studies Aug-NL

IQRA’s core curriculum embraces all the constituent elements of what has traditionally been labeled “Islamic Studies.” This means that its syllabus encompasses the study of the Qur’an, Aqidah, Akhlaq, Fiqh, Sirat un-Nabi, Ulum ul-Hadith, Islamic history and the Arabic language. Furthermore, each of these subjects is taught in separate grade levels (Pre-K to 12) at the appropriate level of understanding. This is an extremely important point, because it’s commonplace for Islamic Studies classes to be taught using books that are not only contextually unsuitable for 21st century Muslim children living in the West, but written far above the readability of a particular age-level, thereby preventing students from digesting and connecting with the goals of instruction. IQRA’s textbooks and workbooks are written and edited by professionally-trained educators who apply uniform readability grids to the instructional material and this allows students to fully absorb and appreciate a lesson’s goal.

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Terri’s Book Corner – February Book Pick

Zooey The ZebraI’m Learning the Names of Allah (II) – Zoey the Zebra

Author/Translator/Orator: Nur Kutlu

Zoey the Zebra learns that as-Sani means that Allah makes everything in its best shape and form. We are all made differently but are all creatures of Allah. This story helps our children to understand and appreciate our differences and similarities. The books of the series, “I’m Learning Allah’s Names” each take one of the ninety-nine names of Allah and explain them to children through animal characters and their adventures. The child then forever has a very clear story to which they can connect the meaning. At the end of each book, there is a paragraph of explanation about the story and questions to make sure that the children understands the content and the meaning of each name.

Publisher/Manufacturer: Timas Kids

Purchase: $5.36 + Tax & S/H

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5 Ways to Teach Muslim Children Tolerance

February is Black History Month, or National African-American History Month.  Since 1976, this month has been designated to celebrate the social, cultural and political achievements made by African-Americans and recognize the role they have played in American history.

Nearly every teacher in the United States devotes lesson plans designed to educate children on the importance of Black History Month.  Here’s what you can do as a Muslim parent:

Right click and download the activity.

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Kids to Kids

We are starting a new section where we will select one writing from children and print it in our NEWS Letter.  Please ask your students and your children, Grand children to get creative and write a short story.
We invite your comments about the News Letter.  Please leave a comment to this post.
Here is the story of “The Cat Who Did not Want to be a Cat” by Isa Ameen.   Please read it and share with your young friends.
1 ISA Ameen Kids to Kids
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8 ISA Ameen Kids to Kids
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DIGITAL CAMERAWritten by Terri Arain

All children, no matter how creative, imaginative and self-sufficient, will at one time or another experience a case of boredom or restlessness.  Here are some suggestions to help you alleviate boredom in your little one on those snowy days.

  1. Washing Windows
    Fill a spray bottle with water and ¼ cup white vinegar.  Give your child the bottle and cleaning cloth and let her help you wash the windows, bathroom counters, or kitchen appliances.  She will love to be your helper and work alongside you while you do some of your own cleaning. (My 10 year old loves this!)
  2. Sharpen a Pencil
    Although you may not think that this activity would hold your child’s attention for long, you may be surprised!  Your preschooler will no doubt have a lot of fun sharpening pencils.  Give him a pencil sharpener, all of the pencils in the house, and a small plate or bowl to catch the shavings.
  3. Write a Story
    Look in your local library for information on making books with children.  This was one of my favorite childhood activities growing up.  Stories turned into books will be treasured for years to come.  Write a story with your child about events in her life-a story in which she is the central character.  Begin the story by saying, for example, “Today is a special day for (child’s name) because she is going to _____________.”  Write the story down, including your child’s responses, and illustrate the story with drawings, photos, or pictures cut from magazines.  Your child can help you choose and glue the pictures.
  4. Indoor Tent
    Every child loves camping inside the house!  My children have spent hours playing in the living room while I am cooking dinner.  Place a sheet or blanket over a table to make the indoor tent.  The more creative option is to stabilize the four corners of a sheet on different objects in a room such as couches, chairs, and tables. Place books on the corners or simply tuck them in the creases of the couch.  Put a special snack inside and give your child a flashlight.  If you like, furnish the tent with pillows and a blanket, and let them camp out all morning while you are making the pancakes!
  5. Living Room Picnic
    Brighten the coldest days by having an indoor picnic.  Spread a tablecloth on the floor of your living room and use outdoor dishes or paper plates.  Don’t forget your sunglasses!
  6. I Love You Because…
    Ask your child, “Why do you love Daddy?” Write her responses on a sheet of plain or construction paper, and have your child decorate it with crayons or markers.  Place the “love note” as a surprise in Dad’s lunch the next day.  You can vary the questions you ask your child, such as, “What’s the funniest thing Daddy ever did?” Or do this for friends or grandparents and other relatives.  Some of the answers you get may be priceless!
  7. Play With Boxes
    Your child can put boxes of all sizes to good use.  My kids have made trains and forts for themselves and their stuffed animals.  My 8 year-old created a claw machine and a basketball game where you can earn homemade tickets to win a prize. They have built dollhouses and cars.  You can be sure she will think of something new every time she plays with these boxes.
  8. Fruit Kebabs
    Have your child create fruit kebabs by putting pieces of fruit onto small wooden skewers, wooden Popsicle sticks, and plastic coffee stirrers.  As your child works, talk to him about the different types of fruit, their colors, smells, and tastes.  Serve kebabs for dessert or a tasty snack.
  9. Fabric Fun
    Call me a hoarder but I love fabric!  I have a garbage bag of stained clothes that were not suitable for goodwill but I couldn’t bring myself to throw them in the landfill either.  Give your children a pair of scissors and a needle and thread.  Ask them to cut squares of fabric, all the same size if possible, out of the collection of shirts that you have spread out on the floor.  Some may have cute patterns or appliqués that would make for really interesting squares.  When they are finished cutting, have them sew the squares together the best that they can.  If your children are older, you may be able to keep this as an ongoing project and make a blanket.  If your children are younger then maybe frame what they have cut and haphazardly sewn together. Artwork is artwork!
  10. Snow Graffiti
    Give in and venture outside!  Give the kids spray bottles full of water that’s tinted with food coloring to decorate the white canvas in your backyard.
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Dr. Maher Hathout (1936-2015)

Hathout IQRA’ International Educational Foundation mourns the loss of one of the pioneer organizers of American’s Muslim community, Dr. Maher Hathout, who succumbed to liver cancer on January 2, 2015 at the age of 79.

Born in Egypt in 1936, Dr. Hathout moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s. He began volunteering at the Islamic Center of Southern California, became its chairman and spokesperson. He went on to work with the center’s founders on several initiatives, including the Islamic Information Service, “The Minaret” magazine and the New Horizon full-time Islamic school system. He also co-founded the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Religious Coalition Against War in the Middle East and Claremont Lincoln University. He was a charter member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the western partner of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

Dr. Hathout was the first Muslim invited to give the invocation at the Democratic National Convention in 2000. He received several awards over the course of his life, including the George Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Lifetime Service Award, the South Coast Interfaith Council Award and the Los Angeles County John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations.

Dr. Hathout was a heavily involved in interfaith activities and he worked with many organizations and individuals to promote causes for peace and justice and he served on the board of directors of the Interfaith Alliance.

Dr. Maher Hathout is survived by his wife, Dr. Ragaa Hathout, two sons and several grandchildren.

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