Tag Archives: Muslim

Metro Detroit man to recite Muslim call to prayer in 50 mosques in 50 states in the U.S. Islam

Jameel Syed, 40, of Auburn Hills is embarking on a 35-day spiritual journey to become the first person to give the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, in all 50 states.

Read the full story here at the Detroit Free Press:  http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/04/03/muslim-call-prayer-states/25273397/

Watch video I shot of Syed giving the Musilm call to prayer

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Muslim athletes in metro Detroit balance sports and faith during Ramadan fasting

The 2014 World Cup poses challenges for observant Muslims as Ramadan starts this weekend.  In 2007, the Detroit Free Press wrote about how local Muslim athletes observe Ramadan.

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Fordson High School football team prays before game in 2007

Fordson High School football team prays before game in 2007

 

THE RAMADAN FAST | A TEST OF BODY AND FAITH

MUSLIM ATHLETES SACRIFICE SUNRISE TO SUNSET

Published in Detroit Free Press, Oct. 5, 2007, Page 1a.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071005/NEWS05/710050338/0/RSS07

By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer


 

Hunched over, clutching his stomach, Saeed Saleh gasps for air. The cross-country runner has stopped suddenly during a practice sprint around the track at Fordson High in Dearborn.

“I couldn’t breathe, ” the senior panted. “It came out of nowhere. I wasn’t able to keep on going.”

That’s understandable, given that Saeed, like thousands of Muslims across metro Detroit, abstains from all food and liquids during daylight hours for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that started in mid-September.

For high school athletes, the 30 days are a special challenge, one that puts their faith to the test as they balance America’s tradition of school sports with their religion.

Far from a clash of civilizations, what plays out on fields and courts across Michigan is a blend of cultures that complement each other, reinforcing their common values of sacrifice, discipline and hard work.

Islam’s emphasis on forbearance overlaps with the lessons learned on American playgrounds, say local imams, athletes, players and coaches, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

“The philosophy of Ramadan … is the same thing we’re teaching these kids on the field, ” said Hussein Berry, who founded a junior football league in Dearborn. “It all comes together.”

Some Muslim football players got dispensations this fall from local Islamic scholars to break fasts early on game day – not unlike the time when a Detroit rabbi cited a Talmudic verse that allowed Tigers slugger Hank Greenberg to play on Rosh Hashanah (but not on Yom Kippur) during the 1934 pennant race.

Other Muslim athletes eschew food and water even on the day of competitions. A top runner, Saeed placed first in a meet in Ypsilanti the week before Ramadan started. But during a Thursday practice after two weeks of fasting he pondered whether his abstaining would affect his time in a coming meet.

“Sometimes, you just die out, and you just can’t take it anymore, ” he explained while massaging his cramped right side. “Sometimes, you just feel like, keep on going, you know? … We’ll see what happens.”

 

Football and Islam

Last season, Fordson High’s football team, which is about 95% Muslim, started 4-0.

Then Ramadan came.

The team lost its next four games, all held during the holy month. After Ramadan, the team won its last regular game of the year, squeaking into the playoffs.

Did the fasting affect their performance? Maybe.

But this season, new head coach Fouad Zaban isn’t making it an issue.

“It became an excuse, whether legitimate or not, ” said Zaban, a former star running back at Fordson. “It became a distraction, something we had to deal with the last four to five years. …But our motto this year is: ‘No excuses.’ We will not bring the issue up, and we haven’t.”

Zaban is a devout Muslim and fasts. But he’s leaving the choice up to his players: There’s water on the sidelines if they want to drink during workouts. During a practice last Thursday, though, the players chose to sweat it out.

“I got to follow my religion, ” said Mohammed Bazzy, 17, the team’s quarterback. “It’s very hard during football, but there’s no excuse … you got to do what you got to do.”

For athletes, the first days of Ramadan are often the toughest, as the body tries to cope with no food or water from sunrise till sunset. To Bazzy and other students, avoiding liquids is particularly tough.

But they say it’s worth it.

“It makes me feel strong knowing that I can fast and go through football, ” he said. “Fasting makes you a stronger person, a better person.”

Scholar’s advice

Before Ramadan began, some of Fordson’s starters met with Imam Abdul-Latif Berry, a Shi’ite Muslim scholar who heads the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn. They asked him: Can we eat and drink before the game?

Imam Berry advised them: It’s OK, but they must make it up after Ramadan. Also, they must travel on game days at least 22 miles outside their home city before afternoon prayers, and break the fast there.

So on game days, several Fordson players drive out near Ann Arbor before 12:30 p.m., gulp down some water or Gatorade, and then drive back to eat before the 7 p.m. kickoff.

There are other Islamic interpretations of when and how Muslims can break fast early, a reflection of the diversity within Islam. One general rule scholars teach is that if someone can’t handle fasting and playing sports without harming themselves, they must break fast, said Khalida Beydoun, an Islamic teacher at the institute who advises young women playing sports.

“You need to look at the individual situation, because each person goes by what they can tolerate and do, ” Beydoun said.

Ali Reda, 15, a sophomore on Fordson’s varsity tennis team, said he usually can survive the first two sets of matches. But then he hits a wall.

“You feel exhausted, ” Ali said. “You can’t run as fast to get to the ball. You lose a step.”

Before Ramadan started, Dearborn schools reminded principals and teachers that many students would be fasting. It asked them to consider how that might affect students during tests and physical education.

Hamtramck schools face a similar challenge, said athletic director Jeremy Cartwright. During football games, the coach calls a time-out at sunset so his Muslim players – who make up about half the team – can eat and drink.

Because Ramadan starts 10 days earlier every year, coaches are worried about years when the holy month will overlap grueling summer workouts and later sunsets.

Game day

Like last year, Fordson’s football team started 4-0 this season. But also like last year, they dropped the next two games, both played after a week of practices during Ramadan. Even if the kids break fast early on game day, abstaining during the week may catch up with them, said Fordson athletic director Mark Shooshanian.

Still, Fordson’s opponents – Allen Park and Monroe – were tough and both were favored to beat Fordson.

Fasting all week didn’t appear to hurt the cross-country team at all.

At a meet Saturday morning at Dearborn High School, Fordson came in first, beating 20 other teams from across the region. And four of the top five runners were from Fordson. All were fasting Muslims.

It was a joyous morning for the team’s runners, who have become good friends after years of racing together.

Saeed, the senior who cramped up two days earlier in practice, came in first, recording a personal best of 16 minutes, 20 seconds in the 3.1-mile race. Teammate and senior Samer Ilayan came in fourth and also recorded a personal best.

“It’s all mental, ” Samer said. “We don’t go around saying, ‘Oh, we can’t do good, we’re fasting.’… When we’re racing, we don’t think about food … we just make sure we give it 100%.”

 Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 248-351-2998 or nwarikoo@freepress.com.

Fordson High football player takes water break

Fordson High football player takes water break

 

( below is sidebar:)

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

The general idea is that Muslims should focus on their faith instead of being distracted. It’s also to remind followers of how poor people feel.

How do they cope while playing sports?

Some gulp down a gallon of water before sunrise to help keep them hydrated through the day. Many say that mental focus is the key.

Can Muslims break the daytime fasts to play sports?

It depends. Some Islamic scholars say they can if fasting may adversely affect their health. Others say it’s permissible if the athlete travels a certain distance and makes up the fasting after Ramadan.

How have other religious minorities dealt with playing American sports?

Jewish athletes have long grappled with how to deal with holidays and Sabbath days that overlap with game day.

During the 1934 pennant race, Detroit Tigers star Hank Greenberg was thinking of sitting out games during the Jewish high holy days in September.

A Detroit rabbi said it would be OK for him to play on Rosh Hashanah, which Greenberg did – and went on to slam two home runs in a 2-1 victory. The Detroit Free Press ran a front-page headline – in Hebrew – that read: “Happy New Year, Hank.”

When Greenberg sat out for Yom Kippur, the Detroit Free Press poet wrote:

“We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat

“But he’s true to his religion, and I honor him for that.”

— By Niraj Warikoo

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Arab-Americans and Muslims call for peace; plan memorial at Dearborn mosque

As Arab-Americans and Muslims across metro Detroit urged unity and peace, one of Dearborn’s biggest mosques is holding a memorial service Saturday for the victims of the Boston terror attacks

“As Muslims, this is not how we’re supposed to be acting,” Bilal Amen of Dearborn, who’s helping organize the memorial service, said of the attacks in Boston and other places around the world. “We want to stand united for all people who are victims of terror.”

The Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn plans to hold the event at 9 p.m. Saturday as a way to express solidarity with terror victims in Boston, as well as in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where terrorists have killed civilians. The two Boston attack suspects are reportedly Muslim.

Amen said that Islam teaches its followers to respect the laws of any country you live in.

“We’re Muslims, but we’re American,” he said. “The Quran tells us to abide by the laws of our land…we’re in America and follow American laws.”

Today, the Dearborn-based National Network for Arab American Communities released a statement saying “our thoughts and condolences continue to be with the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. We are grateful to the brave first responders and law enforcement officers, who endangered their own lives.”

It also said that “we urge the media and the public to refrain from scapegoating or turning against our fellow Americans based on their racial, ethnic, religious or immigrant identity.”

Amen and others said they were concerned about potential backlash towards Muslims and others after the Boston attacks. A contributor to Fox News wrote online on Monday of Muslims: “Let’s kill them all.”

Amen said such remarks reveal a misunderstanding of Islam.

“Anyone who knows the Muslim religion knows that we don’t preach hate,” Amen said.

Arif Huskic, a Muslim leader in Hamtramck, said that like other Muslims, “I feel really bad” about the Boston attacks. “I never thought something like could happen, repeating 9/11.”

Also today, the director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has a Michigan chapter, strongly condemned the attacks and called for unity.

“Americans are united today in condemning terrorism and in the conviction that those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Boston must face justice,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council. “We reiterate the American Muslim community’s consistent condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.”

Awad added that “America will stay united. We will not turn on each other.”

Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan branch of the Council, said “we don’t have a high level of fear of backlash against the Muslim community, but…there is always the possibility of a few loose cannons who could seek vigilante justice against a random Muslim.”

Amen said that one of the themes of Saturday night’s banquet in Dearborn is: “Terrorism has no religion.”

 

 

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Interview with Rev. Gary Hall, Episcopal priest who’s new dean at Washington National Cathedral

Rev. Gary Hall, new dean of Washington National Cathedral. Photo credit: Washington National Cathedral

The new dean of Washington National Cathedral, Rev. Gary Hall, made headlines in recent weeks with his calls for gun control and announcing that the cathedral – considered America’s house of worship – will perform gay marriages.

His previous position was rector of the biggest Episcopal church in Michigan, Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills. Before he left, Rev. Hall spoke with Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press on a range of issues.
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Cranbrook rector bound for D.C. talks religion, politics

 By Niraj Warikoo

Free Press Staff Writer

Published in Detroit Free Press on Sunday, 10/7/2012

Page: 7A

     Raised in Hollywood amid celebrities as the son of a noted actor, Rev. Gary Hall wasn’t into church during his early years.  But that changed after he learned about the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. He remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visiting southern California and hearing Malcolm X speak when he was a teenager. He once wrote jokes for TV host Steve Allen, who influenced his social views. And during his freshman year at Yale, the university’s chaplain was arrested on the steps of the Pentagon, another act that drew Hall to liberal Christianity.

Last week, Hall, 62, became dean of Washington National Cathedral, the national seat of the Episcopal Church and considered America’s house of worship. The move came after he served as rector at Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, the biggest Episcopal Church in Michigan. He was also the chaplain at Cranbrook’s high school.

“There are people in this parish that think I have dangerously, crazy ideas about things, ” he jokes about his progressive beliefs.

Hall’s new position will put his liberal views on the national stage at a time when religion and politics are hotly contested issues. He wants to make the cathedral a place of interfaith dialogue and “conversation about the role of religion in public life, ” Hall said.

There are churches that “show you a kind of angry, not welcoming Christianity, ” Hall explained from his office. “We want to be the other side of that, to show there’s a humane, hospitable, inclusive, tolerant Christianity.”

Hall, who received a doctorate in English, spoke with the Free Press on a range of topics, from marriage to politics to other religions.

Among the conversation topics:

On religion and public policy: “I’m a believer in the separation of church and state. The First Amendment says: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof…. It’s a very hard case to make that America ever was a Christian nation. I think it’s naïve to say the founders were Christian, that biblical values are behind the Constitution…. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean (religious people) shouldn’t have a voice in public policy. Faith communities taking positions on public policy matters is an important and established part of our public life.

“What I don’t think is appropriate is for one tradition to try to impose its own moral point of view on the populace.”

On the role of religion in presidential politics: “I get nervous when certain religious groups want to make religious faith a sort of litmus test. The religious affiliation of any candidate is unimportant to me. And whether or not God is mentioned in (either) party platform is unimportant to me. What’s important to me are the social values that are being advocated in that platform.”

On non-Christian faiths: “I do believe there is truth in every tradition. I’m not about trying to convert someone to Christianity. I don’t feel I’m supposed to convert Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Native Americans to Christianity so that they can be saved. That’s not an issue for me….

“I have much more in common with progressive Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists than I do with certain people in my own tradition, with fundamentalist Christians. The part of Christianity I stand with is the part in which we can live with ambiguity and with pluralism….

“I taught at Cranbrook a class (this year) where I had to teach the Quran, which I read for the first time in my life. I was stunned by how beautiful it was.”

On gay marriage: (Hall edited and contributed to a 2009 book used by Episcopalians: “Christian Holiness and Human Sexuality, ” which supports gay marriage.) “I don’t understand the argument when people say: ‘Gay marriage threatens your marriage.’ I want to say to them: ‘No, Britney Spears being married for a day and a half threatens your marriage. Or these reality TV shows. The gay and lesbian people I know take marriage as seriously as straight couples….

“I think straight people have a lot to learn from gay and lesbian families, about what real mutuality and real sharing is. (With gay couples), things are much more mutual and shared and equal. And I think that’s a powerful witness that straight people like me can learn from.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com or Twitter.com/nwarikoo

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Advocate for Arab-American and Muslim causes dies. Was former editor of Arab American News in Dearborn

Kay Siblani, former executive editor of the Arab American News, died on Jan. 1, 2013.

By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Marianna Kay Siblani, a former nurse and executive editor of the Dearborn-based Arab American News who advocated for Arab and Muslim causes, died Tuesday at her mother’s home in Warren after battling breast cancer. She was 64 and previously lived in Dearborn Heights.

“She’s always been a fighter,” said Osama Siblani, her ex-husband and publisher of the Arab American News. “She fought very hard — for her health, her family, for the community.”

Ms. Siblani was not of Arab descent and had no family ties to the Muslim community. But as an adult, she became “amazed by the Middle East, its history, very attracted to the culture, the food, the music,” said her former husband, to whom she was married from 1992 to 1995.

She was born Marianna Kendall in Detroit and worked at St. John Hospital in Detroit as a nurse, Siblani said.

In 1984, she helped him when he started the Arab American News, which today is the biggest Arab-American newspaper in Michigan and one of the biggest in the U.S. The early years were challenging, but she worked long, hard hours to keep it going, Siblani recalled.

Ms. Siblani was active in Arab-American and Muslim issues. She traveled around the Middle East with Siblani, and was at his side when he interviewed leaders such as Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

She set up Oasis Communications in the early 1990s, serving as a consultant on health care issues related to Muslim-American communities. She also worked at the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, helping it set up in 2000.

In 1987, Ms. Siblani was hit by a drunken driver while walking in Dearborn and suffered a collapsed lung. She later was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was removed. She developed breast cancer about two years ago.

“I always depended on her,” Siblani said. “I’ve known Kay for 36 years. … I don’t know who I’m going to call on now for advice.”

Ms. Siblani is survived by her mother, Anna Leota Kendall; daughter Michelle Marshall; brothers Kenny and Keith Kendall; sister Cathy Jones, and three grandchildren.

Visitation is 2-8 p.m. Saturday and 1-8 p.m. Sunday at Verheyden Funeral Home, 28499 Schoenherr Road, Warren. The funeral is set for 10 a.m. Monday at the same location. Burial will be in Christian Memorial Cemetery in Rochester Hills.

Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@gmail.com or Twitter.com/nwarikoo

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5,000 Shias walk in religious procession in Dearborn today for Arbaeen

Imam Husham Al-Husainy of the Karbala Islamic Education Center in Dearborn speaks to crowd at Arbaeen rally in Dearborn on Jan. 5, 2013.

Imam Husham Al-Husainy of the Karbala Islamic Education Center in Dearborn speaks to crowd at Arbaeen rally in Dearborn on Jan. 5, 2013. Photo by Niraj Warikoo

 

Shias pray during Arbaeen rally in Dearborn on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Photo by Niraj Warikoo

Shias pray during Arbaeen rally in Dearborn on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Photo by Niraj Warikoo

 

By Niraj Warikoo

About 5,000 Shia Muslims walked through the streets of Dearborn today in a religious procession to mark a holy day, calling for an end to oppression.
The 10th annual parade and rally in the eastern part of Dearborn mostly consisted of Iraqi-American Shias, who revere Imam Hussain, a 7th century leader killed in battle by an unjust ruler. Arabeen, which means 40th, marks the 40th day after the death of Hussain.
In addition to the procession, thousands of other Shias gathered today in mosques to mark the holiday with special lectures and services. Shias see the day as a time to remember the importance of standing up to oppression.
“This is to support the oppressed people around the world, whether they are Christian or Muslim, Sunni or Shia, Arab or non-Arab,” said Imam Husham Al-Husainy, head of the Karbala Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, who led today’s procession and rally. The walk started at the Karbala Center and ended at Hemlock Park, where Shias gathered to pray and chant praises of Hussain. Tea and some food were served from a makeshift kitchen in the park as worshippers waved large, colorful flags with images of Hussain.
“We want to renew our commitment to God, to the messengers, to the oppressed people,” Al-Husainy said. “We are with them, wherever they are.”
Members at the Shia rally criticized Sunni rulers and extremists in countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, saying they were repressing people, including Shias.
Al-Husainy said there was a “double-standard” in how the U.S. deals with the opposition in Syria compared to the opposition in Bahrain. The U.S. has generally been supportive of Bahrain’s government, but not Syria’s.
“We ask the U.S. government to be fair with the Muslim world…no double-standards,” Al-Husainy said.
He said that supporting justice is in keeping with the message of Moses and Jesus. The U.S. should do “what the Bible taught us, what Moses and the Torah taught us. God taught us to be just and fair.”
Al-Husainy also said he’s “worried about war.”
“We want to stop the war, stop the fighting, stop the killing. We belong to one God, one creator, so why are we so divided?”Image

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