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Author: iqradotca

White House Senior Official Addresses ISNA convention

(July 6, 2009) – Valerie Jarrett was the keynote speaker on Friday at the inaugural session of the 46th Annual Convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Ms. Jarrett, who serves as a Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Obama for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, was introduced to the Convention’s participants by ISNA President Dr. Ingrid Mattson. Citing President Obama’s Cairo Speech, Ms. Jarrett acknowledged the Contribution of American Muslims to the overall development of American society and the strengthening of American institutions. She commended ISNA for addressing many critical issues in the convention: “increasing civic engagement and interfaith cooperation, protecting the rights of the disabled and elderly, addressing domestic violence, improving education and health care, expanding renewable energy, and protecting the environment.” Ms. Jarrett paid a tribute to the diligent work of Muslim Americans on behalf of the country. “As this Convention demonstrates,” she noted, “ gone are the days of describing distinct sets of ‘Muslim issues’ and American issues.’ Your work here is crucial in confronting the challenges that all Americans are facing. And you help advance the new beginning between the United State and Muslim communities around the world that the President called for in Cairo.” ISNA Convention attracted around 35,000 participants from around the country. The Convention featured 70 sessions, giving the participants the opportunities to address issues of Muslim and national...

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IQRA Blogging from ISNA This Weekend

(July 3, 2009) – The 46th Annual ISNA Convention is set to begin in the US capital this weekend. The theme of this year’s gathering is ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ IQRA will be blogging from this year’s convention – check for regular updates at the Editor’s Blog...

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Courageous people committed to peace

Hussein Hamdani (July 2, 3009) – Two inspirational men visited southern Ontario earlier this year. They came independent of one another, but their message was the same: The importance of peace and building bridges, and lessons for local communities. I was invited to a luncheon to meet and listen to Dr. Faisal Azaiza. Azaiza is the head of the Jewish-Arab Centre at the University of Haifa, and is vice-president of the public council for the Abraham Fund, which supports programs of co-existence between Arabs and Jews. He is an extremely impressive man with a heavy weight on his shoulders. As a Muslim, Arab man working at an Israeli university trying to build bridges between the Arab and Jewish communities in Haifa, he faces many challenges. But his intelligence and commitment to the cause is inspirational. The centre runs many programs and projects, but he chose to speak to me about the Social Leadership workshop. In this workshop 25 Muslim and Christian-Arab students and 25 Jewish students are paired with one another. In this course, the students learned to move from alienation to openness and acknowledgement of the other. This was achieved by the students getting to know each other’s culture, including identity and religion; and learning to cope and deal with conflict. He commented that the more the students interacted with one another, the more they realized that they...

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Legally blind Muslim student delivers commencement address at prestigious US College

(June 29, 2009) – On June 5, Mona Minkara stood before 600 fellow members of the class of 2009 at graduation from Wellesley College and delivered the commencement address. Mona Minkara is legally blind. “It’s an honor,” said Minkara. “I hope disabled students around the country can realize you can make it even though you might be blind, or deaf, or whatever your story might be.” A devoted Muslim who has worn the hijab head cover since sixth grade, she sometimes felt different and isolated from other schoolmates due to her blindness and minority status. But that didn’t crush her drive to succeed. “It’s made me stronger and taught me to be who I am,” said Minkara. At Wellesley, Minkara has served as president of Al-Muslimat, Wellesley’s Muslim student group, where she has focused on interfaith outreach. “It gave me a chance to be a liaison with other religious groups,” Minkara said. “It’s important to learn about each other, considering the 9/11 backlash and the awful things other Muslims have done around the world. It’s good to show that’s not what (Muslims) are all about.” A chemistry and Middle Eastern studies double major, Monkara will continue this summer at Wellesley as a researcher with assistant professor of chemistry Mala Radhakrishnan through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The daughter of Lebanese immigrants Fida El-Jamal and Samer Minkara...

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Toronto Maple Leaf’s Muslim Draft Pick

(June 28, 2009) – The Toronto Maple Leafs has drafted its first Muslim player. Nazem Kadri, a centre with the London Knights. is of Lebanese origin and will probably remain with the Knights for another season before joining the Maple Leafs. “A lot of Muslim kids are going to start playing hockey because they see someone like them be successful in that area,” Kadri told the Toronto Star. Kadri was the president of the Muslim Students Association in his local high school. “If this has a ripple effect on the young players in the Muslim community to take up hockey, then that’s a wonderful side effect. If that increases our player pool in a part of society we’re not touching right now, that’s great,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke told the...

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