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Articles about ISNA in the media!!
« on: September 04, 2007, 05:30:20 PM »

 
Kind of a strange article??


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

September 4, 2007
Abandon Stereotypes, Muslims in America Say
New York TIMES

ROSEMONT, Ill., Sept 3 — It is time for the United States to stop treating every American Muslim as somehow suspect, leaders of the faith said at their largest annual convention, which ended here on Monday.

Six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans should distinguish between mainstream Muslims and the radical fringe, the leaders said.

“Muslim Americans feel an increasing level of tension and scrutiny in contemporary society,” said Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in the United States and the convention organizer.

The image problems were among the topics most discussed by many of the 30,000 attendees. A fresh example cited was an open letter from two Republican House members, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Sue Myrick of North Carolina, that attacked the Justice Department for sending envoys to the convention because, the lawmakers said, the Islamic Society of North America was a group of “radical jihadists.”

The lone Muslim in Congress, Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, the keynote speaker here, dismissed the letter as ill informed and typical of bigoted attacks that other minorities have suffered.

Leaders of American Muslim organizations attribute the growing intolerance to three main factors: global terrorist attacks in the name of Islam, disappointing reports from the Iraq war and the agenda of some supporters of Israel who try taint Islam to undermine the Palestinians.

American Muslims say they expect the attacks to worsen in the presidential election and candidates to criticize Islam in an effort to prove that they are tough on terrorism.

Zaid Shakir, an African-American imam with rock star status among young Muslims, described how on a recent road trip from Michigan to Washington he heard comments on talk radio from people who were “making stuff up about Islam.”

Among the most egregious, he said, was from a person in Kentucky who denounced the traditional short wood stick some Muslims use to clean their teeth, saying, “They are really sharpening up their teeth because they are planning to eat you, yes they are.”

Representatives of at least eight federal departments and agencies attended the convention, their booths sandwiched among hundreds of others from bookstores, travel agencies, perfumeries, clothing designers and real estate developers.

Mark S. Ward, who runs programs in Asia and the Middle East for the Agency for International Development, said Washington had to compete for influence abroad with militant groups that are expert at delivering humanitarian services.

Mr. Ward said he hoped more American Muslim organizations would apply to help distribute overseas aid.

A few people approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation booth to voice dismay at its presence, said a recruiter, David Valle, but most expressed pleasant surprise.

“A lot of folks think we want to hire them to spy on their community, spy on their families,” he said. “We want to dispel any myths they might have about the F.B.I.”

The Justice Department responded to Mr. Hoekstra and Ms. Myrick’s letter by noting that broad community contact in areas like voting rights was an important part of its mission.

That theme was echoed by Daniel W. Sutherland, chief officer for civil rights and liberties at the Homeland Security Department. Mr. Sutherland told a luncheon audience that the government needed to dispel prejudice and misconceptions to steer the public discussion about fighting terrorism to “a higher level.”

Sometimes frustration with the government boiled over. At a seminar on charitable giving, Ihsan Haque of Akron, Ohio, asked a Treasury Department representative, Michael Rosen, how to avoid being prosecuted for donating to Muslim charities. When Mr. Rosen said the government did not have the resources to check the million or so charities in the United States, Mr. Haque shouted, “And I do?”

Muslim leaders described the government relationship toward Muslim organizations as contradictory. The government seeks to foster greater civic engagement, because a lack of engagement is widely considered a big cause of Muslim extremism in Europe. A Department of Homeland Security official moderated a panel on aiding engagement.

Muslim groups are often treated as suspect, speakers said. In a trial that started in July in Dallas, federal prosecutors named the Islamic Society of North America as part of an effort to raise money for groups the government considers terrorists, but did not charge it with wrongdoing.

The Justice Department has to decide on its law enforcement side what it considers a target, said Khurrum Wahid, a prominent Muslim defense lawyer.

“Are they going to continue to say that the higher degree of religiosity you have the higher likelihood that you are a threat, because that’s the message they’ve sent,” Mr. Wahid said.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, denounced by name Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham, as well as Dennis Prager, a well-known radio host who is Jewish.

“The time has come to stand up to the opportunists, the media figures, the religious leaders and politicians who demonize Muslims and bash Islam, exploiting the fears of their fellow citizens for their own purposes,” Rabbi Yoffie told the opening session.

The Koran tells Muslims to abstain from drinking alcohol and to lower their gaze in modesty when meeting a member of the opposite sex, but some college-age Muslim men and women at the convention stayed up late into the night drinking, talking and getting to know one another.

“If you keep your gaze lowered all the time, you might just walk into a wall,” said Hazem Talha, a high school senior from Atlanta who said he was here for the religious lectures.


   
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Jannah
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Re: Articles about ISNA in the media!
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2007, 02:05:10 AM »

Here's another weird one??

=====================

Spirituality and shopping at US Muslim convention


Riazat Butt explores the annual Islamic Society of North America gathering

Monday September 3, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

It started as a forum to discuss how to spread the message of Islam, but after more than 40 years the biggest Muslim gathering in North America has become a magnet for consumerism.

Around 40,000 people poured into the Islamic Society of North America's 44th annual convention in Rosemount, Illinois, over the weekend. The huge convention centre was packed with 333 stalls catering for the modern Muslim's every need, including a digital Qur'an audio player, festive Ramadan lights, a pre-packed funeral kit, halal jerky and a mobile phone application that provides daily prayer times for more than 12,000 cities worldwide.

Article continues
Among the entrepreneurs using the opportunity to market Muslim products was 32-year-old Mansoor Basha, from Chicago, offering a satellite navigation system for Hajj. The Lubaik system aims to help pilgrims locate tents, campsites, hotels, places of interest and hospitals in Mecca and Medina.

Mr Basha says: "I went for Hajj and I had many problems. You don't know Arabic and not everyone speaks English, so it's difficult if you get split up from your tour group and want to find your way back to your hotel. Plus, not all the streets are named, and have you ever tried to find your tent when it looks the same as five million others?"

The handheld device does not have a patent but, he says proudly, it has a registered trademark.

Mr Basha, who visits the convention every year, rejects the idea that the convention is more about shopping than spirituality.

He says: "There are lots of interesting talks and workshops. I don't have time to go because of this stall, but people are there."

The theme for this year's convention was Upholding Faith, Serving Humanity and featured panel discussions and seminars on reinventing the mosque, civic integration and intra-faith dialogue between Sunni and Shia communities.

Despite the array of social, political and religious debates on offer, the bazaar and the 2,500-square-metre food court were consistently packed, and the matrimonial banquet - essentially speed dating with chaperones - pulled in more than 300 Muslims and their parents at $75 (£37) a head.

A single ticket to the annual convention cost $95, a husband-and-wife ticket was priced at $165 and students paid $40. Stallholders are charged around $500 for a pitch.

The economic potential at stake was not lost on 36-year-old Khalid Goncalves, from New York.

Mr Goncalves, who was promoting the Qur'anic iPod at $140, says: "There's nothing wrong with making money out of business. We're not gouging people's eyes out or taking advantage.

"Embracing commerce and technology shows we're not as backward or monolithic as people think. We're not in the seventh century and young people, who are the children of immigrants, have a better understanding of marketing. ISNA is a chance for Muslims to progress."

Other innovations at the convention's bazaar included a Qur'an in Arabic braille and a Muslim punk stall inspired by The Taqwacores, a novel about a fictitious Islamic punk scene.

But for the mostly conservative ISNA crowd, Muslim punk appeared to be a step too far.

A veteran convention visitor, Fawad Siddiqui, 28, says the best stalls were the ones that show how activities, chores and rituals can be "Islamicised", and recalls how an alarm clock that emitted a call to prayer five times a day was an instant hit when it was unveiled.

Mr Siddiqui, whose parents were among the early ISNA activists, describes the event as a "big family reunion".

"Muslims in North America are scattered and they rarely meet up, so there's a lot of catching up to do. More importantly, there's a lot of shopping to be done."

Many south Asian Muslims visit Chicago to buy their clothing and jewellery from specialist retailers.

At convention time, he says, "it's a two-for-one scenario: you do your ethnic shopping in town and your religious shopping at ISNA.

"The Muslim American community is commercially motivated - that's why they're in the US, for the economic opportunity, and they're frank about that. Muslims here want to be upwardly mobile. They don't see it as an evil."

It is this prosperity that has led to greater cohesion and participation in society. A study from the Pew Research Centre showed Muslims in America to be middle class, mainstream and integrated.

"They say green is the colour of Islam and in the US it's taken on a literal aspect - and not in a bad way."
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Speed dating at ISNA!
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2007, 03:46:35 AM »

Muslim group sets the table for marriage

Islamic Society of North America hosts 'matrimonial banquet' to help singles find partners within the faith

INDY STAR

September 3, 2007

Rosemont, Ill. -- In the quest for love and a lifelong mate, Ednan Sheikh wouldn't seem to be a guy who would struggle for prospects.
Tall, dark and, well, handsome, he has broad shoulders and is about to become a doctor.

But Sheikh traveled from Philadelphia to a crowded hotel in suburban Chicago this Labor Day weekend to take part in the most popular Muslim matchmaking event in America.

The "matrimonial banquets" hosted by the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic Society of North America draw eligible Muslims from across the country.

More than 700 Muslim singles paid $75 apiece to get a seat in a crowd of mostly well-educated young professionals determined to marry within the faith.

Many like Sheikh have been limited by too little time or too few Muslim prospects in their home communities.

While finding girls hasn't been a problem, finding Muslim girls has.
"I'm 31," he said. "It's time for me to settle down."

ISNA tries to help that happen through a banquet that has evolved during the past 30 years into what might now be best described as speed dating, Muslim style.

The candidates are seated boy-girl-boy-girl in groups of 10. They get up to five minutes to chat and make first impressions with the people around them. Then the men pick up and move to the next table.
Everyone wears a name tag, and participants are encouraged to jot down phone numbers and e-mails for those who spark their interest.
That is all pretty conventional. What is uniquely Muslim is that four rows of parents and other relatives are seated in the back of the ballroom, watching anxiously and praying as the mingling goes on.
Dating, in the sense of two kids spending time alone, is officially frowned on by the socially conservative Muslims who make up most of ISNA's membership.

Many grew up in places where gender mixing was taboo.
"In Islam, dating is impermissible," said Altaf Husain, a former Muslim Student Association president who gave the singles at the banquet a pep talk on seeking their true soul mate. "It is considered an inroad to greater sin."

Even so, many banquet-going singles, most born in America, say dating is common.

"They just don't know about it," said Yasmeen Khan, a 35-year-old anesthesiologist from Minneapolis.

In either case, the ISNA matrimonial banquets are set up to enable mixing under closely supervised circumstances.

Even news photographers were asked to leave after some parents objected. Organizers said some feared their daughters might be stigmatized if they were publicly held up as single and seeking, but without success.

Ariena Rashid, an Indian-born Muslim from Virginia, seemed less concerned Saturday night about stigmas than in getting her 26-year-old daughter interested in marriage.

"All mothers are interested in seeing their daughters find a husband," she said.

Her daughter, who asked not to be identified, is an engineer who isn't clamoring to be married. After the banquet, in which she landed several phone numbers and e-mail addresses, she seemed to warm to the idea of marriage.

Despite generational differences about dating and marriage timetables, Muslims young and old say the business of choosing a mate is a serious matter for everyone involved.

The banquets even feature a time at the end when parents and singles mingle together. As the young begin to pair up, they introduce mom and dad to the prospects.

"For us, it is not just about two people," said Sadiqa Bokhari, a married Muslim woman from New Jersey who brought her younger brother to the banquet. "It's about two families."

Born in Pakistan, Bokhari met her husband through the traditional family networking, even though she had grown up in America.
She sees the ISNA banquets as part of Muslim America's evolution.
Even so, Muslims here are not as keen on that ultimate 21st-century matchmaking tool: online dating services. Many say they simply don't trust them.

ISNA has an online service, too. But its banquets have a reputation, at least anecdotally, for successful matches.

Upfront, participants must provide biographical information, including ethnic background and citizenship status. And then there are the telltale personal encounters.

But the main thing ISNA's matrimonial banquet has going for it is numbers.

Mohammed A. Khaleel, a 29-year-old resident cardiologist from Detroit, came away with two dozen phone numbers and e-mail addresses scribbled on hotel stationery.

His goal going in was to find someone nice-looking, tall, educated and religious -- but not "maniacal."

In the end, the names he was taking back to Detroit seemed promising.

"Anytime when you have a high concentration of people of your ethnicity or persuasion of thinking," he said, "your chances of finding someone are good."
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Re: Articles about ISNA in the media!!
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 03:51:47 AM »

Muslim event 'like a giant support group'

September 1, 2007
Chicago Sun Times

Here's one way to kick off the Labor Day weekend: Put a Muslim rap group, a prominent rabbi and a top guy from the U.S. Department of Defense under one roof.

Friday's eclectic mix of activities is why the Islamic Society of North America's convention in Rosemont is a must-do event for many American Muslims. Student and youth groups are holding gatherings, too.

Up to 40,000 attendees are expected at the family-friendly event that draws a who's who of religious leaders and scholars, as well as parents and children. It ends Monday.

» Click to enlarge image
Imad Achmar of Des Plaines looks to his boys, Mustafa, 5, center, and Hamza, 10. The 44th annual gathering of the Islamic Society of North America begins with the Friday juumah prayer at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Friday afternoon.
(Richard A. Chapman)

"Our convention is a microcosm of mainstream American Islam," said ISNA President Ingrid Mattson. "You find Muslims of all viewpoints."

ISNA denounces terrorism and promotes peace, she said. But American Muslims suffer fallout from violent extremists and critics who "misuse the name of Islam."

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, told attendees about a new initiative to start conversations between mosques and synagogues.

"We will help you to overcome the stereotyping of Muslims, and you will help us to overcome the stereotyping of Jews," he said.

Muslims applauded the rabbi.

"It was a refreshing statement and warmly received," said Janaan Hashim of Chicago.

Talking with people of other faiths is key to building harmony, said Kareem Irfan, an ISNA board member from the Chicago area.

"Diplomacy and understanding are paths to peace," he said. "We can have different points of view but be respectful."

The society's event is social, spiritual and educational. There are prayers, music, films and workshops on topics ranging from civil rights protection to Islamic financing.

Imani Aziz, 17, of Johnson City, Tenn., says it's an opportunity to hang out with other Muslim girls who wear head coverings.

"There aren't many Muslims where I'm from," she said. "This is like a giant support group. I love it!"

At the top of her list to attend Friday: a concert by Islamic rap group Native Deen.
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Re: Articles about ISNA in the media!!
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2007, 03:56:05 AM »

Dean tells Muslims: Run for political office

ROSEMONT | 'Stand up and say who you are and be proud of it,' he tells packed house

September 2, 2007

Chicago Sun Times

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told American Muslims gathered in Rosemont to think beyond voter registration drives.

"You need to run for political office," Dean said Saturday. "The only way you can achieve your goals is to stand up and say who you are and be proud of it."

Those in the packed house rose to their feet and applauded.

Dean was one of several prominent Democrats on Saturday to address the nation's largest gathering of American Muslims. Republicans declined invitations, organizers said.

The annual Labor Day weekend gathering of the Islamic Society of North America is expected to draw up to 40,000 Muslims before it ends Monday.

It's a family event full of spiritual and educational seminars. Saturday, many Muslims found inspiration from politicians.

"Be heard. Don't be silent. Tell it like it is," said Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

"If you don't tell your story, someone else will. And you may be the villain in their story," the Minnesota Democrat said.

Ellison, too, received a standing ovation.

While Muslims are changing America's religious landscape, they're being encouraged to find their political voice, too.

"There are people who want to see Muslims not only at the table but on the ticket," said Malik Mujahid, president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, which sponsored the "Take Back America Rally" involving Dean.

Nabeel Razzaki, a financial analyst from Portland, said many American Muslims became fearful of political participation after 9/11.

"I've thought about it for a long time, but I was scared," Razzaki said after hearing Dean. "Now, I feel inspired to run for a local office."

Muslims here say they share a common faith, but their religious and political views are hardly monolithic. Some want to concentrate only on local politics. By building slowly at the grass-roots level, the day will come when Muslims can influence the bigger races, they say.

But Omer Abid of west suburban Lyons said now, more than ever, Muslims need a voice in national politics.

"We can't sit back. We must speak up," Abid said. "The current president led America to war in Iraq, which was a huge disaster for the world. We can't stay silent."
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Jesse Jackson was at ISNA!
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 02:10:08 PM »

Jackson urges unity
Chicago Sun Times

September 3, 2007

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson used an impromptu appearance at ISNA's convention Sunday to urge American Muslims to work with blacks and other minorities in their shared fight against discrimination.

"Fight for the civil rights of all, not just Muslims," Jackson said in a short speech at the convention of the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic Society of North America.

"You cannot survive alone. We need each other to survive."
Jackson likened Islamophobia in America today to the problems faced by Mexican immigrants and blacks during the 1960s.
Jackson, a longtime civil rights activist, is president of the
Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, based in Chicago.

He used the venue to speak about some issues dear to the hundreds of Muslims in his audience, including their opposition to the war in Iraq, ethnic-based profiling of Muslims by law enforcement and what Jackson referred to as "fear-mongering."

"We must end fear," he said. "Go forward by hope and not backwards by fear."
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