By Nabila Ikram
It is that time of the year again when children, families, and schools throughout the nation are getting ready for the start of the new school year. This means having to purchase backpacks and school supplies, which unfortunately, many schools and families cannot afford due to budget cuts and financial situations. Therefore, ICNA Relief USA stepped up to the challenge. As ICNA-VA President Rameez Abid stated, “Education is a key element to a lasting, fulfilling, and successful life and ICNA fully supports it with a passion. We believe every child should have the opportunity to get a good education, even the less fortunate among them, and a lack of school supplies should not create a barrier for that goal.”
Throughout August and September, ICNA Relief and its many divisions and branches started the Back-2-School Giveaway where thirty-thousand total backpacks filled with basic school supplies were given away to children in low-income areas. The giveaway events took place in over 21 states, including Michigan.
Muslim Family Services, a division of ICNA Relief, held a giveaway at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy in Detroit. Al-Ikhlas is a K-12 Islamic school that serves one of the deprive areas of Michigan. Although tuition is expected in order to attend the school many, if not most of the families are unable to afford it. But nonetheless, the school accepts these children and families are content with the thought that they are raising their children in an Islamic environment.
The giveaway was held as part of the student assembly in which MFS Director, Sheikh Ali Suleiman, and Administrator, Yousuf Vaid, along with the Al-Ikhlas Training Academy Director, Nadir Ahmed and Principals, Nafeesa Mahdi, Sayeeda Rashid, and Assistant Principal, Abdul Latif Alkusari, gave short speeches and words of encouragement to the students. All the speakers insisted on the students to do their best in school, attend college, to dream big and to make sure their dreams come true. Sheikh Ali also encouraged the students to refer back to the past when Muslim scientists and other professionals led the world in advancements and how they should believe they could do the same.
At the end of the assembly, the students lined up to receive their backpacks from MFS staff and volunteers. Eleventh and twelfth graders received ICNA Relief polo shirts in addition to backpacks. Smiles were abound throughout the prayer hall where the giveaway took place. Children immediately opened their backpacks to look at the school supplies within.
It was an atmosphere of positive energy and one with hope that this small act will allow these children to have a comfortable and productive school year. See photos from the event below!
To learn more, please visit the following links:
- ICNA Relief’s National Giveaway Campaign- www.back2schoolgiveaway.com
- Al-Ikhlas Training Academy- http://www.al-ikhlastrainingacademy.com
By: Ahmed Abdelkader
On the 3rd day of the holy month of Ramadan, East West Link covered the annual Islamic Relief fundraising dinner. East West Link would like to dedicate special thanks to the MCWS youth program for their organization, for Br. Muhiuddin for his presentation and introduction about the great efforts and achievements of the USA chapter of Islamic Relief, and another special thanks to Brother Farhan Abdel Aziz for his speech and talented fundraising efforts. Jazakum Allah Khyran to all volunteers for your work. May Allah bless you and your good deeds.
The annual dinner was supported by MCWS and our generous Muslim brothers and sisters from the community. This year, however, owing to uprising events in the Middle East, specifically in Syria, the dinner was dedicated to the people of Syria who need every single moment of our prayers.
On July 22nd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem with warnings in case of the collapse of the Syrian regime, or if the regime used any kind of chemical weapons and missiles. On the other hand, the people are still suffering from the current regime, and they cannot even practice and enjoy worshipping during the holy days of Ramadan.
On the same day, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for an emergency Muslim summit and directed a national campaign across the Middle East to collect donations to support the people of Syria. May Allah raise our deep intentions from far lands and unite our efforts.
The fundraising dinner was the least Islamic Relief could do. The organization is considered to be one of the most successful and reachable charity organizations across the nation and the world. Islamic Relief was founded in California in 1993 as a 501 tax exempt charity involved in international humanitarian relief efforts. Their mission is to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy, and diseases worldwide regardless of color, race, religion, or creed, and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner. Islamic Relief USA aims to provide rapid relief in the event of human and natural disasters and establish sustainable local development projects allowing communities to help themselves.
You can easily recognize that most of the organizers were young sisters and brothers, handling and organizing the whole event, starting from arranging the hall with seats and tables, supporting food for iftar and making sure it is hot and ready. While collecting funds and calling for support to our brothers and sisters in Syria, maybe we think we’ll never meet them, but our intentions and good hearts cause us to be connected, and feel others’ situations and pray for others’ suffering. Jazakum Allah Khayran MCWS youth! We are looking forward for more achievements!
By: Tasnim El Mezain San Diego State University
Envision being a part of planning an event, working months and months with effortful preparation. The day finally comes and after the event you realize everyone is walking out with smiles filled with happiness and joy. Was the effort worth the outcome? This is only one type of volunteerism. Volunteerism is essential in our communities for several reasons.
Let’s start with the literal definition. According to Dictionary.com, volunteerism is “the policy or practice of volunteering
one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community
”. This can include simply volunteering at a food bank or being part of an organization.
Either way, volunteering in itself is tremendously worthwhile. The main reason is because it’s actually part of Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged these actions. “The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘What actions are most excellent? To gladden the hearts, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured’” (Bukhari).
There are many opportunities in volunteerism to accomplish these goals. For example, volunteering at a homeless shelter or a retirement home can bring smiles to these individuals. It also brings the aspect of feeding the hungry and removing sufferings. There are many Muslim and non-Muslim organizations that support the cause of feeding children, including Islamic Relief, Muslim Family Services, and the Food Bank.
Another way to volunteer and accomplish these goals is to join youth related organizations such as local youth groups or the Muslim American Society Youth, which has chapters nationwide. Alhamdulilah, we have so many opportunities to fulfill these great actions, and connecting with the youth is a bonus. Becoming, for example, a youth leader, no matter what age range, and being able to positively influence your fellow brothers and sisters in Islam is a blessing.
As an experienced youth worker in various organizations, I realized all these actions can be accomplished by volunteerism. With the help of Allah, I was blessed to volunteer and still volunteer with organizations like the Muslim Students Association, Muslim American Society Youth, Islamic Relief, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim Legal Fund of America, Student Nutrition Organization, Muslimahs In Search of Knowledge, and many more.
From all my involvement and years of experience, I would recommend every individual to give it a chance and stay consistent with volunteering because it is worth the experience. It doesn’t matter what skill you have, volunteerism can utilize a variety of tasks, so anyone and everyone can be qualified.
There are many different chances in society to reach out and give back to the community. So whether showing up at an event or being part of planning, taking time out of the day to help people for the sake of Allah is always worth the effort. In addition, we would all be following that which is considered to be the best of actions.
There is always community service hours that are offered, but the hours spent are also recorded with Allah SWT, so if asked on the Day of Judgment, “What have you done for your people?” you will have a resume of volunteering on its own. So volunteer and give back to your community, so you can “gladden the hearts, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”
Tasnim El Mezain
By: Sara Khan Wayne State University
Wayne State University’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) held its 16th annual dinner on Friday, March 9th. The dinner, entitled “Courage to Lead”, reflected the theme of the night. It was held at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. An amazing speaker, delicious food, and side-splitting entertainment made the night unforgettable.
The sponsors that helped make this dinner possible included Islamic Relief, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, Muslim Legal Fund of America, and many others.
The keynote speaker for the event was Rami Nashashibi. He holds a PhD in Sociology and has been a professor at various universities. His lectures are normally centered on American Muslim identity, community activism, and social justice issues. This seemed to fit the theme of the event very well, as it was encouraging the youth to get engaged in the community and rise up as leaders.
According to Rami, to become worthy leaders, we must be cognizant of the times we live in, just as the Prophet (pbuh) was during his time. In fact, this isn’t only necessary to become a good leader; it is also our duty as Muslims. However, there is one basic concept Islam teaches us that is the most essential in becoming a good leader and a Muslim. This concept is love. As Rami stated in the conclusion of his speech, “We must be able to lead with love.”
Following soon after Rami, was light-hearted and hilarious entertainment by comedian Preacher Moss. Preacher Moss is known for having worked with The Damon Wayans Show, Saturday Night Live, and George Lopez. In addition to all this, he was also one of the organizers of the comedy tour, Allah Made Me Funny. These accomplishments already hint at what a great comedian this man is. This was proven during the dinner when he had the entire room filled with laughter throughout his performance.
Preacher Moss incorporates his background as a Muslim convert into his comedy, which makes it even more enjoyable for the Muslim audience. He constantly came up with spontaneous jokes that fit very well with the current situation and setting. Preacher Moss had a unique way of interacting with his audience, which was one of the things that made his act unforgettable. This being my first time listening to Preacher Moss, I found it to be an exceptional performance.
The last item on the agenda was the presentation of a couple of videos put together by MSA members. The brothers and sisters separately filmed their own videos showcasing different aspects of student life and had a friendly competition to decide which was better. The audience voted on their way out at the end of the night. The sisters’ video took a humorous approach, while the brothers’ video had more of a serious tone. Regardless, I found both to be very enjoyable and a great ending to a wonderful evening.
During the night, we also got to hear from some of the MSA board members. These members worked very hard and did an amazing job putting together this extraordinary evening. Lots of thanks also went out to the volunteers who helped make the evening possible. I, for one, loved the event and will be looking forward to attending the next one as well.