The MEP is a very inclusive and collaborative organization. Its purpose, as described by Executive Director Br. Saleem Khalid, is not to create a “separate group of its own followers” but rather to welcome and support new and returning Muslims. It does so by offering education and spiritual guidance and by helping them socialize and assimilate into their home communities. Therefore, the MEP is working on collaborations and partnerships with local mosques and community centers such as Tawheed Center, The Muslim Unity Center, The Muslim Center, Masjid Al-Falah, and more.
The four main areas of concentration of the MEP is to provide hands-on guidance or assistance by means of social support, educational support, referral to proper sources (i.e. family services, counseling, job assistance, etc.), a mentoring/buddy system so that there is always a person following up on the well being and welfare of a new/returning Muslim, and collaboration with mosques and other centers of resources.
Several examples were given throughout the event by Br. Saleem Khalid and fundraiser, Dr. Abdelmajid Katranji, to emphasize the importance and need of the services and programs the MEP is providing. A story was shared of a woman who converted to Islam and described her first Eid as the loneliest day of her life because she did not know anyone and no one invited her to any of the celebrations or festivities occurring on the day. Another story dealt with inmates who convert to Islam in jail, but when they are released they do not know where to go or what to do and can often end up returning to their original faith. As one such person, who is now currently an active pastor at a church, said, “Muslims are very good about telling people about Islam, but that’s as far as it goes.”
More prominent examples were also given, such as President Obama and Steve Jobs. Both were born to Muslim fathers, but for one reason or another – with a lack of Muslim community support certainly being a factor – have gone along their own ways. As Dr. Katranji stated, “We missed the boat when it came to the opportunity to say ‘the first Muslim president.’”
Thankfully, the MEP has made much progress by being able to establish classes in several locations such as Tawheed Center and the Muslim Center. They are also receiving increased invites to promote the organization at places such as the Unity Center, MCWS, and in Ann Arbor.
The MEP has several upcoming events planned. These include a community Jumah on Belle Isle on June 22nd followed by a community picnic. On June 23rd, the “Strengthening the Family” workshops will be hosted, featuring Muslim professionals. On the same day, there will be an International Dinner at 7PM at the Muslim Center. Everyone is encouraged to come and represent their heritages.
Part of the MEP’s future plans is to continue its monthly dinners and start bi-monthly dinners. It also aims to increase its class offerings at various locations. Br. Saleem also mentioned the importance of transparency and how all financial information regarding the use of donations is open to the public and copies can be retrieved simply by inquiry.
Before dinner, Sister Amirah also gave a few words on the importance of groups such as MEP and another organization called Project Unity, which emphasize unity and support amongst Muslims. She mentioned how it is easier for American youth growing up in this society to “relate to the dunya (world) than to Islam” and how we as the Ummah have the obligation to create an atmosphere that guides the youth and others along the right path.
For more information on the Muslim Enrichment Project, visit www.mepusa.org