Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Message from Brother Ashfaq

Are we prepared for Ramadan?

With the start of the Islamic month Jamadi ul Awwal, we are less than four months away from the beginning of Ramadan. Let us put plans together to start getting prepared for Ramadan by engaging in the sunnah of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, along with a frequent recitation of Quran. May Allah make us among those who will be witnessing the month of Ramadan. O Allah, make us among those whose fasting and good deeds are accepted and be among those who have been forgiven. Ameen.

Do we have Bullying Problem in our Community?

In my December message, I talked about internal challenges the Muslim community faces. These challenges are often more demanding than the external challenges. Yet, we spend a lot of resources and energy in combating external ones and are very oblivious to the perils of what is happening in our backyard.

Parenting is a “cradle to grave” responsibility and cannot be delegated to others. Masjids and Islamic schools can serve as a complement and supplement to the efforts made by parents. I will address one of the many evils we face as we raise our children, bullying. I am not talking about the bullying by the racist and bigoted people, although that is a problem. I am talking about the subtler, and sometimes ignored, bullying that is a result of “self-righteousness”. Bullying is not just a phenomenon of physical and verbal abuse, but a result of an environment created to look down at those who in their physical manifestation do not appear to adhere to the religious practices. Our body language and demeanor are the reasons that are responsible for creating such an environment. Either directly or indirectly, we often pass on this trait to our children to be “self-righteous,” and sadly judging others has become the norm.

Surat Al-Hujra, a moral compass for the Muslims, among addressing many other moral values, give us a guidance on being humble.

Is it not time that the hearts of all who have attained to faith should feel humble at the remembrance of God and of the truth that has been bestowed [on them] from on high?” (57:16)

The best man who walked on the earth, Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him) was never arrogant nor made others feel inferior by his actions, his demeanor or his words.

One of the golden rules that we should follow is, “Catch people doing right” instead of being the “Haram Police.”

To address this very important concern, BIS will be holding a “Bullying Prevention Workshop” on February 24. This workshop is for parents only, and will give us tools to prevent our children from being the victims and yes, the aggressors. Please register here to attend the workshop.

Little Free Library at HCIC by Kirin Nabi

Have you seen the little white masjid with the golden dome as you leave the HCIC and wondered what it is? It’s a Little Free Library (LFL) and it really is what it says it is. You can take a book if you see one you like, you can leave books for others, and if you don’t have one to leave right away, that is ok, you can return the one you took when you are done reading it, or you can donate one later. You can even decorate a rock at home and put it at the base, the library belongs to us all.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. One of the most successful ways to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to books, especially at home (McGill-Franzen & Allington, 2009). Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. While we have wonderful libraries here in Birmingham, sometimes it might be hard to get to them, so inshaAllah, our own LFL will help bridge the gap.

All books are welcome, as long as they are not deliberately disrespectful, unIslamic or in disrepair. Many of the books are stamped, to avoid people trying to resell them at second hand shops and deprive others of the Little Free Library experience. So, stop by, browse, take a book, spread the word, and enjoy. The library is open to everyone, and inshaAllah the more it is used, the more baraka it will bring.

Marble Painting Demonstration at HCIC by Fariha Shaukat

A fun filled family night organized by the Birmingham Islamic Society at HCIC on Friday, January 19, 2018, involved food, prayer, a talk by the Imam, an art demonstration and an art sale benefitting the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The evening started off with dinner at 6:30 pm which was served by BIS’s ever enthusiastic volunteers. This was followed by Isha prayer after which Imam Sameh delivered an Islamic talk. The most awaited part of the family night was the demonstration of the marble painting. This was conducted by Sr. Aysegul, a very talented artist and a Turkish community member.

Marble painting is a method of aqueous surface design that produces patterns similar to that on a smooth marble. The paints used by Sr. Aysegul were ebru paints which are all natural, earth based paints. To make the colors float and spread out well on the surface of the water, she added gall, a surfactant or a wetting agent, into the paints. Although this technique can be used on any absorbent surfaces like paper, fabric and even carpets, Sr. Aysegul used paper as her material for marbling.

The evening concluded with an art sale where Sr. Aysegul displayed her art work. All the proceeds from the art sale went to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Interfaith Clothing and Essential Item Drive for Rohingya Refugees held at HCIC by Janan Abdein

On Saturday, January 6, 2018, Human Rights Committee of the Birmingham Islamic Society, and the Universalist Unitarian Church Justice Committee teamed up with Helping Hand Charity to hold a Clothing and Essential Item drive for the Rohingya refugees at the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center. 

In addition to volunteers from these organizations, over 25 local volunteers from both the Muslim and Christian communities worked together to sort and package enough excellent quality clothing, shoes, medical equipment and blankets to completely fill a large 27 foot U-Haul trailer. The trailer will be combined with goods from other drives around the region and will be shipped to Burma in mid-January with an expected March arrival in Burma, inshaAllah.

January's Blooming Fun Boys and Girls Classes

Twice a month at HCIC children ages 4-8 can gather to learn Islamic concepts through puppet shows, crafts, games, and snacks. The Blooming Fun Classes meet on Sunday from 3 to 5 pm and registration for the month’s classes (2) is $20. The dates for February are the 4th and 8th, in March they will meet on the 4th and 18th. For a complete schedule or to register your children, you can contact Sr. Roula Hakim at (205)-706-9969.

IAA 8th Grader Takes 2nd Place in District Spelling Bee by Janan Abdein

The Islamic Academy of Alabama takes pride in its students’ achievements and success. Every year IAA’s English Department organizes an annual Spelling Bee, in which students compete by displaying their intensive vocabulary and spelling skills against other students school-wide. The winner of the school then goes on to compete in a district-wide Spelling Bee against other Homewood schools.

This year, after a fierce display of friendly rivalry, eighth grade student, Talal Naser became IAA’s champion. On the district level he competed against seven Homewood City schools and with the support of IAA’s principal and Language Arts teachers cheering him on made it to the final round. Br. Ziyad, IAA’s Principal, was proud to witness Talal’s competitive spirit. After an impressive twenty rounds, Talal won second place, demonstrating extraordinary knowledge and academic success.

Congratulations Talal!

IAA School Spelling Bee participants

A New Masjid in Jasper, Alabama

A new masjid is coming to the greater Birmingham area in the city of Jasper, inshaAllah. Located at 218 30th Street W. Jasper, AL 35501, the masjid hopes to be up and running by March 2nd, 2018, and serve not only as a masjid to the Walker County Muslims, but as a community center, meeting a variety of different needs. The space plans to offer a free medical clinic, and a food pantry, in addition to religious worship services.

Stay tuned for great things from the Jasper Community Center and may Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward those working to make this happen. To donate to the center you can visit the BIS website and specify the Jasper location in your contribution.

Flower Girls Fun Club Starts at HCIC

Building friendships and personality in an Islamic and artistic environment, is the goal of the Flower Girls Fun Club that started this month. Meant for girls ages 9-15, the group meets twice a month on Sundays at HCIC from 3-5 pm. Membership is on a month by month basis and each month includes two classes for $30.

The first class involved nail color with design, cake, games, and small gifts for the girls to get the group going. Future activities scheduled are pajama parties, movie night, dancing, yoga, cooking, crafts, dancing, swimming, cake decorating and more. To see when the group meets or to register, please contact Sister Roula Hakim at (205)-706-9969.

24k Raised to help Palestinian Students by Khaled Sakala

On January 20th, at the Pelham Civic Center and Ice Arena community members gathered to help Palestinian students reach their dreams. The event was organized by Reach Education Foundation, REF, a non-profit organization whose vision is to help support Palestinian students who are high achievers to complete their college education in Palestine.

Four students, Odai, Bassel, Sujood and Evelyn, came from Palestine to visit 14 cities and bring awareness, raise funds, and meet people. Alhamdulillah about $24,000 were raised. We hope to see more participation from our community next time. If anyone would like to donate to this organization, they can do so online at the organization website

The event was kicked off by Evelyn reciting from the Quran, then followed by the two speakers. Waleed Mizyed who is the founder of REF and Sheik Monzir Taleb who conducted the fundraising.

REA extends its appreciation to our community members who came and supported this great cause.