Friday, February 23, 2018

A Message from Brother Ashfaq

We are in the month of Jamadi ul-Aakhir and every passing day brings us closer to the month of Ramadan. The Executive Committees at all our masajid are fervently working to make our Ramadan a special event both spiritually and socially. Inshaa Allah we are individually hyping ourselves to get mentally and physically ready to be the winners in this Ramadan.

In one of the hadith (partial), we see the importance of gaining forgiveness in the month of Ramadan,

“. . . Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and he is not forgiven, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away…”

Operations Fundraising:

May Allah reward all those who participated in the fundraising for the operation of the three masajid. We are still compiling the pledges, but it seems that we are a little short of our goal. We trust Allah and then our community that we will have enough to continue to maintain the house of Allah and serve the community.

HCIC Construction Update:

If last Ramadan is any indication, we are expecting record crowds participating in our iftaar and taraweeh. To prepare ourselves, you will see an additional pavilion next to the existing one. In addition, we are also adding another shed to accommodate other social activities. Architects and contractors are finalizing the drawings to add storage and a warming kitchen on the southside (grassy area) of our building. Let us make dua that we get this completed before Ramadan.

Homewood Masjid Update:

Like HCIC, last Ramadan brought record crowds. Inshaa Allah, it is in our plan to put a tent in the area behind the kitchen for iftaar. We are going to be working with Islamic Academy of Alabama to see the possibility of expanding the Musallah.

Westside Masjid Update:

Here we are working on a short and long-term plan. Our immediate plan is to work with the landlord and get the roof repaired. Depending on the financial health, extend the bathrooms, make the sister area more comfortable by adding an air conditioner and work on the aesthetic of the general appearance.

In the long term, we are working on the property we own to build a more permanent masjid in that area.

Islamic Will and Testament Workshop by Ashfaq Taufique

"It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequest not to let two nights pass without writing a will about it." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Often, the only time we think of making a will is when we travel or are having a medical procedure done. From the above hadith, it is very clear that it is our duty to have a will.

BIS, working with CAIR-AL, organized a “Last Will and Testament” workshop at the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center. We are very thankful to brother Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Executive Director of CAIR-GA, who took time out of his busy schedule and traveled to Birmingham to conduct this very important workshop.

The Muslim community’s response was remarkable, and the workshop was one of the best attended programs we have hosted. CAIR-AL, also provided notary public services and many walked out of the workshop with an executed will, alhumdulillah.

Rise Against Hunger Packaging Program Greatly Aided by BIS Volunteers by Robbie Conley

Every year, BIS organizes a team of volunteers to participate in the Rise Against Hunger, formerly known as Stop Hunger Now, meal packaging program.

This two-hour fun, fast paced event helps feed the hungry around the world, while also serving as a platform for outreach to show the beauty and love within Islam. BIS has been participating in this event for several years at Canterbury United Methodist Church and they have come to expect us as a staple in their event.

Last year was Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church's inaugural year in organizing this event, and they too have reached out to us to participate. Their event is in April so be on the lookout to sign up, help, and get involved, inshaAllah.

 Covers Red Crescent Clinic at HCIC posted this article on February 7, 2018 on their site

Muslim-led free clinic helping recent immigrants, the uninsured and the poor in Hoover

By Jonece Starr Dunigan

While filling out the paperwork to see a doctor at a free clinic in Hoover, Semina Tawar sat in a Hoover waiting room that becomes a melting pot of cultures every Sunday.

The multilingual staff speaks English, Urdu and Arabic. Spanish interpreters are available when needed. Since Tawar's family legally moved from India to the United States a few years ago, their health insurance options are almost nonexistent due to their immigration status. After years of relying on home remedies, like turmeric and aloe vera, Tawar was able to communicate her eight-year-old daughter's needs in Hindi, her native language.

"Here, they can understand me," Tawar said. "If I can't speak (English) very well, they can't understand me."

Many Muslim doctors across the nation have opened their own facilities funded primarily through donations to help the poor and the uninsured. The trend, which started a little more than a decade ago, is taking root in Alabama. The Red Crescent Clinic of Alabama operates out of the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center on Hackberry Lane. From 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. every Sunday, classrooms are converted into healthcare hubs where flu shots, vaccinations and lab work costs are nonexistent for patients. Prescriptions can be found at a steep discounts. A team of 16 Muslim physicians sees patients for free regardless of income, religion. The philosophy allows the clinic fills a gap for people who have limited medical options in the greater Birmingham area.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 420,800 Alabamians, or nine percent of the state's population, were uninsured in 2016. Aly, who didn't give his last name, started visiting the clinic after hearing about the facility from a friend. Aly said he is on a strict budgeted income and can't afford insurance, yet.

"This is good," Aly said about the clinic. "With all the free services and all the professional doctors, it's just nice to be here."

'We were taught to be compassionate'

Like many Muslim-led clinics across the nation, the creation of Red Crescent was a response to the negative social climate towards the Islamic faith.

Co-founder Talha Malik immigrated to New York City from Pakistan in June 2001 to study internal medicine. Seeing foreign-born residents running hospitals was an inspiring sight and a different environment from his home country where someone's future is determined by their socioeconomic status, ethnic group and religion, Malik said.

Just a few months after his arrival, terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers. Details about the 9/11 attacks fueled hate crimes against the Muslim community that Malik would rather not speak about. He said the discrimination was sometimes subtle, and other times brutal. But that didn't stifle Malik and other Muslim doctors' passion to want to help indigent patients.

"I don't think that the negative perception of Islam is driven by ill-will in everybody. It's kind of misperception that Islam teaches violence or there is violence in Islam," Malik said. "But we were taught to be compassionate to help the widow, poor and those who have less than us in the same way any civilized society would bring their kids up."

In 2011, Malik said a group of Birmingham doctors of Pakistani descent gathered for dinner to discuss opening a clinic. Providing free services would allow them to illustrate the servitude of their faith by helping those who couldn't afford primary healthcare. After receiving support from the Birmingham Islamic Society and other donations from the Muslim community, the clinic was opened in 2012.

"A physician can basically see patients and helps them," Malik said. "To do it for compensation or reimbursement is just doing your job, working and making money to take care of your family. If we take time away from our families and actually serve the community, that to me is noble and representing something good."

Being the safety net for those in need

What started as a mission to dispel negative stereotypes, soon expanded. The clinic saw 396 patients in 2017. Malik said 40 percent of the patients are non-Muslims. The number of non-Muslim clients has grown over the years as they started to add psychiatric and pediatric services that complement the community's needs, Malik said.

Sammy Kaphner was able to detect a medical condition during an annual health fair organized by the doctors. Dozens of people filled the Hoover mosque to receive free glucose tests, blood pressure checks, doctor consultations and other primary needs. Kaphner was diagnosed with high cholesterol, which can cause severe heart problems if left untreated. He was able to make follow-up appointments at the Red Crescent Clinic.

The clinic's philosophy keeps people like Kaphner from slipping through the cracks of the healthcare system. Gallup, which has been measuring the national uninsured rate since 2008, saw an increase from 10.9 percent in 2016 to 11.7 percent in 2017. Kaphner, who is a U.S. citizen, has children who are covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as ALL Kids. But Kaphner is in between jobs and has to provide his own insurance - a $1,000 monthly expense. He said the clinic fills an important gap for his family.

"It's a good safety net knowing that someone has your back if you don't have a private clinic," said Kaphner during a recent visit. "My situation is not unique. It's probably more common than people think."

Primary care as the core of healthcare

Most of the kids seen at the clinic are children from refugee families or families who recently immigrated to the U.S, Malik said. A pediatrician started seeing patients once every three months in 2016.

Zeenat Islam, who trains volunteers, said the clinic is providing free services to those who face barriers when it comes to healthcare. On a federal level, non-citizens qualify for Medicaid and CHIP coverage five years after they receive legal immigration status. Exceptions are made for refugees, asylees, or lawful permanent residents who used to be refugees or asylees.

Alabama isn't one of the 25 states which expended CHIP to children who are lawfully in the U.S. or one the six states which give CHIP to children regardless of their immigration status.

"Recent immigrants, generally, do not have access to proper medical services due to not for qualifying for many healthcare measures whether that be as part of Obamacare or Medicaid," Islam said. "This is either due to many have temporary status and/or otherwise can't afford many of the healthcare costs."

Ehtsham Haq, one of the clinics founding members, has worked in psychiatry since 1998. What was once a service that was provided as needed at the clinic became a necessary service that Haq now provides once every three months. He said the clinic needed someone to diagnose, prescribe medication and provide follow-up care to patients. Most of his patients who have insurance have high deductibles, which creates high copays. Along with that, Haq said there isn't enough people providing outpatient mental health care.

"There is a shortage of psychiatrists in this state. There are about 400 psychiatrists and there is a need of 700 plus," Haq said. "So if some of them serve at a clinic for free or somewhere else, that will be helpful statewide."

Malik said the clinic will continue to build its services as the years go on. The staff would like to add subspecialties like oncologists and cardiologists to their rotation and provide imaging services, such as ultrasounds. Malik said clinic staff have actively talked about having a mobile clinic that will travel across the state once a month and provide free healthcare in the parking lot of churches, synagogues and other Islamic centers.

Red Crescent is taking shape of what primary care should look like in the United States, according to Malik.

"By practicing screening and preventive measures that are wholly practiced in primary care, we have been able to increase the lifespan of people by about 20 years," Malik said "By keeping primary care at the core of all healthcare in this country and trying to ensure that we can provide good-quality healthcare to as many people in this county regardless of their ability to pay to for it, we will not just save billions of dollars in healthcare. We will also save millions of lives and we'll increase our lifespans and will productivity of each human being as well."

Lunar Eclipse Khutbah Given by Sheikh Tariq Mango and Information about the Lunar Eclipse by IAA Middle School Students Ahmad and Seema Hakim

Text from the Khutbah given by Sheikh Tariq after Salat al Khusuf during the time of the Lunar Eclipse on January 31, 2018.

Praise be to Allaah.

“And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate yourselves not to the sun” nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allaah Who created them, if you (really) worship Him” (Fussilat 41:37)

When the sun was eclipsed at the time of the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), he went out rushing nervously to the mosque, and led the people in prayer. He told them that the eclipse was one of the signs of Allaah, with which Allaah makes His slaves afraid, and that it may be the cause of punishment coming upon the people. He commanded them to do that which could prevent the punishment, so he commanded them to pray when an eclipse happens, and to make du’aa’, seek His forgiveness, give charity, free slaves and do other righteous deeds so that the punishment would go away and not befall the people. So the eclipse is a reminder to people, making them afraid so that they will turn back to Allaah and pay attention to Him.

During the Jaahiliyyah (before Islam), people used to believe that eclipses happened to mark the birth or death of a great person, but the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) declared this belief to be false and explained the divine wisdom behind the occurrence of eclipses:

Imaam al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated that Ibn Mas’ood al-Ansaari said: “the sun was eclipsed the day Ibraaheem the son of the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, and the people said, ‘The sun is eclipsed because of the death of Ibraaheem.’ The Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The sun and the moon are two signs from Allaah, and they do not become eclipsed for the death or the birth of anyone. If you see that, hasten to remember Allaah and to pray.’”

It is sunnah to pray Salaat al-Kusoof in jamaa’ah (congregation), because this is what the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did, but it is permissible to pray it individually, as with all other naafil prayers. However, praying it in congregation is better.

May Allah protect and bless all of our beloved community.

The Lunar Eclipse

On January 31, 2018 we saw the power of Allah (SWT) when the lunar eclipse occurred. We understand that the eclipses are from the power of Allah (SWT), but we also believe that Allah has set rules and laws in this universe, and they do not change unless Allah (SWT) specifically wills them to. We humans interpret these rules as the sciences, so it is important to also learn them. The lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects the moon. It can only occur at a full moon. The sun, earth, and moon must perfectly line up. There are 3 types of lunar eclipses; total (umbral shadow), partial, and penumbral (penumbra shadow). Unlike for a solar eclipse, special glasses, telescopes, or other fancy devices aren’t needed to watch it. The event usually takes a couple of hours. There are also different colors and shades to the moon. The blood red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth's atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. While other colors in the spectrum are blocked and scattered by Earth's atmosphere, red light tends to make it through easier. The blue moon, as the name implies has a bluish tint to it and is the second full moon in a calendar month. It occurs about every 2.7 years. A supermoon is when the moon is the closest to earth compared to its entire orbit which makes it seem brighter than usual.

On January 31, we witnessed a super blood blue moon, which is a combination of theses 3 different moons, this occurrence is quite rare and last occured 150 years ago. On that day, IAA invited the community to pray salat-al-khusuf and Fajr salah together in jamat. It was also a great way to kick off IAA’s Fajr Program that encourages students and their parents to pray fajr prayer as a community. High School students are encouraged to attend the Friday Fajr in the Homewood masjid, while the Middle School students are encouraged to attend the Saturday and Sunday Fajr in either the Hoover or Homewood masajids. We hope to see you there InshaAllah.

Flower Girls Get Makeovers by Roula Hakim

The Flower Girls Club had a lot of fun at their last meeting, alhumdulillah. The program included a makeup party, hairstyle designs, and games. An expert with makeup and hair styling came and dolled the girls up and the girls were told to attend in nice outfits.

Mashaallah, they look all looked so pretty as they played makeup and bubble games and enjoyed some cookies and cupcakes.

The Flower Girls Club is for girls ages 9-15 and they meet every other week at HCIC. For dates, information, and costs contact Sr. Roula Hakim at 205-706-9969.

BIS Volunteers Help Mercedes Marathon Runners by Megan Dubeansky

On Saturday, February 11, a team of BIS volunteers came out in the early morning to support the annual Mercedes Marathon. Our volunteers had a variety of duties, from passing out water to runners, to facilitating team member exchanges for the relay race. With cheery attitudes, our volunteers turned what could have been a dreary, rainy, February morning, into a fun environment for all who attended.

A sincere thanks is sent to all who participated and Alhamdulilah for the opportunity to serve.