Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mosque arsonist: Fox News made me do it! /

Saturday, Dec 22, 2012 10:00 AM EST
An Indiana man says he was spurred on by news reports suggesting Muslims were "killing us"
By Bill Morlin, Southern Poverty Law Center
This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

An Indiana man who pleaded guilty yesterday to setting an Ohio mosque on fire told a judge he was motivated by media accounts – specifically those on Fox News – suggesting Muslims were threatening Americans and were in control of parts of the federal government.

Details made public at the plea hearing also revealed that the arsonist, Randolph Linn, was carrying a pistol when he entered the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo on September 30, only minutes after several worshippers had left, and that he had more guns in his car.

Linn, a 52-year-old truck driver from St. Joe, Ind., expressed no remorse when he admitted trying to burn down the third largest mosque in the United States. Under the terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors and Linn’s defense attorney will recommend a prison term of 20 years when he is sentenced early next year.

Accounts of the federal court hearing were provided to Hatewatch by Mahjabeen Islam, president of the mosque, who was present along with 10 other members of the mosque.

When U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary asked Linn about his motivation, he responded that he was spurred on by newspaper, radio and Fox News accounts suggesting Muslims were killing “us” and were in control of the Department of Homeland Security and the White House, Islam recounted.

“When asked if he knew any Muslims or about the Islamic faith, he said he did not; he knew only what he got from Fox News, and he did know that ‘they don’t believe in Jesus Christ as the savior,’” Islam said.

“Randy Linn’s statements clearly incriminate the media,” Islam said. “We call on print, Internet and broadcast media to educate the public about various cultures and religions and promote the strength of diversity, rather than whipping up hatred that leads to such destruction. Fox News, in particular, needs to reset its course and policies very quickly.”

The fire caused an estimated $1 million worth of damages.

“We are grateful that no one was injured or killed when Randy Linn came to the Islamic Center,” Islam said. That kind of tragedy, she said, “was a major possibility” because Linn entered the mosque carrying a gun in his hand and had three other firearms in his car.

“The prospect of Randy Linn finding anyone in the Islamic Center is spine-chilling, and we appeal for attention and action on the easy availability of these deadly weapons,” Islam said.

Court documents say Linn left his Indiana home on Sept. 30 in a red four-door Chevrolet Sonic, stopping at a gas station near Perrysburg, Ohio, to fill three gas cans he had in the vehicle, before driving on to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. The mosque in Perrysburg is the third largest in the United States, a 70,000-square-foot landmark, visible for miles, with 3,000 members who celebrated the center’s 32nd anniversary in October.

Linn made numerous efforts to enter the Islamic Center before finally gaining entry, walking through several rooms with a pistol in his left hand before exiting and then returning with a gas can, the court documents disclosed. He entered the mosque’s prayer room on the second floor and poured gasoline on the prayer rug used by worshippers during prayer services. Linn then set fire to the rug and fled. His actions were caught on surveillance cameras, and he was arrested a few days later after the photos received media coverage.

Islam said attending the hearing and seeing Linn left her “numb and overcome.”

“At no point during the hearing did Randy Linn reveal any remorse for what he had done,” she said. “He pled guilty to all three counts but took no responsibility.”

Linn pleaded to intentionally defacing, damaging and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property; using fire to commit a felony; and using and carrying a firearm to commit a crime of violence.

“His guilty plea, acceptance of a binding plea agreement with no chance for appeal and a prison sentence of 20 years, sends out a clear message to future criminals that our society will not accept hate and violence,” she said.

Islam’s comments were echoed by U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio, who said, “Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants. This was a true joint effort to seek justice for these victims.”

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the freedom to worship in the manner of one’s choosing is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans.

“The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute hate-based attacks on houses of worship,” Perez said in a statement. “I commend the cooperative efforts of local and federal law enforcement officials to ensure justice in this case.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just another mosque burning

October 11, 2012
The Joplin City Missouri Mosque burned to the ground on August 6 this year. On September 30 the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo would have as well had it not been made of brick and mortar. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed since the suspect entered at a time when the mosque was empty. Is that why our nation does not notice? Or do we feel that Muslims deserve this?

The 60,000 square foot Islamic Center of Greater Toledo sits beside Interstate 75 and has the distinction of being the second oldest and one of the largest mosques in the United States. It is one of only two mosques in North America where men and women pray side by side, separated by a short partition. It also has a female president-me-and an executive committee that is three-quarters female.

I was rounding at the hospital and rushed to the mosque thinking it was a false alarm or maximally an electrical fire. The smoke was so thick that entry for investigation could not be accomplished for two hours. Why were there so many fire trucks and even more police cars? I had left a busy Sunday at the mosque just three hours ago. My mind still tries to absorb the State Fire Marshal’s statement that it was arson. I wondered whether the creepy Joker-style letter sent in mid-August with the word “stopped” written in Arabic and a smiley face drawn in grease was connected.

The video surveillance system caught a middle-aged white male entering the mosque and within twelve hours of the publication of this photograph, a woman identified him and reported that he had made many anti-Muslim statements. At the time of arrest he said “(expletive) the Muslims”. He also had 3 guns in his car and the video shows him walking the hallways of the mosque with a revolver. Randy Linn, age 51, has been charged with a hate-crime.

How did Linn enter the mosque? The bravado to pour gasoline on the carpet in the center of the prayer hall and set it alight contrasts with his seeming ignorance of the security cameras.

The walk-through of the mosque before it was given back to us by the authorities will remain etched in my mind. The power had been shut off so the trek was murkier. Soot floated in black puddles in ankle high water, ceiling tiles swelled with the sprinkler water, some already giving way to hanging wires. Smoke layered the books and blackened the wall hangings. Even the inside of the high dome had punched out areas in it. In a localized fire how could he have disabled the entire building?

Did Linn learn the geography of the building during the guided tours at the time of the International Festival in mid September? Some members seem to remember him wanting to come into the mosque in the summer, but he looked suspicious so they said the mosque was closed.

The days have just blended together and during the Friday prayer attended by Muslims all over the Greater Toledo area, grown men from dentists to retirees have sobbed. Many members don’t want to see the prayer hall and when they get the courage to, their faces pale as though it were a grave. A sickening testimony to overpowering hate.

The support from the multi-faith community of Toledo exactly one week after the attack has been heartwarming. And though these prayers and moral support go a long way to balm our wounds there is this constant unease within me: who will be next?

And while I’m relieved that he has been apprehended and one more hate-crazed man is off the streets, I’m unable to comprehend why this did not get national attention. In barely a 2 month time frame there have been nine attacks on Sikh and Muslim places of worship. Wade Michael Page who killed six in the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin was an army veteran and allegedly had links to a white supremacist group. Similarly, Randy Linn is an ex-Marine who feels that Muslims “get a free pass”. It is unknown whether Linn acted alone or not.

Local television stations had to disable comments on the reports about the Islamic Center attack for the refrain of many was that “the Muslims deserve this”. Our nation is being saturated with hate speech. Anti-Muslim remarks like those of Senator Joe Walsh (R., Ill) or the vitriol of Michelle Bachman (R., MN) serve to enrage and stir violence in probably war-scarred individuals like Page and Linn.

Wires and hoses criss-cross the Islamic Center now and yellow scaffolding extends the length, breadth and height of the prayer hall. I remember the magnificence of the prayer hall and the glorious stained glass windows and then the black crater at its center and now bare floor with areas where the padding sticks obstinately to the floor. The pristine exterior belies the ravages within.

Though the questions stream endlessly the solutions seem crisp. We must call out Islamophobia when we see it; just like anti-Semitism, it starts with words and ends in deaths.

The attack on the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was not an attack on Muslims but on our constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and protection of all citizens. I’m stunned by the attack on the Islamic Center but even more grieved by the collective national shrug in response to these tragedies: it’s just another mosque burning.

Dr. Mahjabeen Islam is president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Area Muslims deplore embassy attacks, deaths

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An annual chance to connect

Effective worship is supposed to change you; especially annual acts like fasting and the once-in-a lifetime ones like Hajj. Fortunate are those of us who are changed for the better after each unit of prayer. At the outset a 16-hour fast feels overwhelming and intimidating. And yet fasting in Ramadan brings a palpable physical strength and great spiritual vigor.

Every Ramadan is an opportunity to connect; to our Creator, to ourselves and to our fellow beings. Allah provides us with opportunity after opportunity to know Him, feel His presence, praise and adore Him. “When My servants ask you O Muhammad concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way”. (Baqara 2:186). And then in Surah Qaf (50:16) “It was We who created man and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.”

In the busy-ness called life we tend to forget that the One who is our best friend and the most constant companion is an entity that we are heedless about. Every Ramadan can serve as spiritual polish that can shine up our hearts and create and reinforce a strong bond with Allah.

Prayer remains the best zikr or remembrance of God as well as providing moments of calm and peace. With its infinite blessings Ramadan provides an even greater opportunity to connect and reinforce the connection with God. A beautiful Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “worship Allah as though you are seeing Him and while you see Him not, yet truly He sees you”. Reminding oneself of this touching Hadith is an effective way to magnetize your mind to prayer and to concentrate; soon you will feel an amazing peace descend on you and when you finish, the struggles of the day will seem minuscule.

Another connection to forge in Ramadan is with yourself. Being in touch with yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually can go a long way toward achieving success in this world and the next. The changes that the body feels during a long fast force us to pay heed to our physical selves. It is important, especially in a summer Ramadan, to hydrate yourself well at suhoor and iftar. During Ramadan (and even otherwise) avoid sodas, highly sweetened beverages and too much caffeine.

One of the great tests of Ramadan is sleep deprivation; so reduce your caffeine use and concentrate it at suhoor so that the reduced sleep that you do get during Ramadan is a rested one. Caffeine, especially when taken late in the evening, is very disruptive to good restorative sleep.

"(Fast for) a certain number of days. But whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) the same number of other days, and for those who are able to fast but with hardship, (there is) a redemption by feeding an indigent.” (Baqarah 2:183) People with uncontrolled chronic diseases should not be fasting, for example patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetics who are on insulin. Your doctor is the best resource to determine your fasting suitability.

“God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship” (Baqarah 2:185) so it is important for us not to become “Ramadan warriors” and fast a 16-hour fast when we are not in good health. It is indeed true that Ramadan is physically rejuvenating for the body, but only for bodies that are healthy. When health is questionable, the dehydration of Ramadan alone can accelerate kidney stones and seriously lower blood sugar in uncontrolled diabetics among many other issues.

Try to avoid suhoor and iftar meals loaded with sugar or simple carbohydrates. Try to have protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish and eggs, and complex carbodydrates such as whole grain bread and vegetables; this way you will avoid your blood sugar going suddenly high and then immediately dropping causing drowsiness, fatigue, headache and severe hunger pangs. Breaking your fast with dates that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) loved is a good way to give you immediate energy. But again avoid overindulging.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that Islam was the deen (religion) of muamila or how you treat other human beings and deal with them. We are instructed to be observant of all rules of good conduct even more carefully during fasting. And Ramadan provides us the annual opportunity to connect with our families, our friends, our neighbors and co-workers and hone our skills in treating them well.

The greatest measure of our success in Ramadan is whether we can continue our connection with Allah, maintain harmony with our physical and emotional health and retain the kind consideration to those around us that we learned in Ramadan.

Mahjabeen Islam M.D. is an addictionist and family physician in practice in Perrysburg. She is also president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo

Saturday, May 5, 2012

An emotional pendulum

I’ve always preferred non-fiction. Ayad Akhtar’s entrancing novel American Dervish has caused me to shift a bit toward fiction. The protagonist, like the author, grows up in America’s Midwest and the passion and certitude in the pages makes the reader consider, that perhaps, the novel is a bit of an auto-biography.

The charms of the book are many. Akhtar is a maestro with language; his style flows despite the usage of several words that one doesn’t come across generally. One feels this superb sculpting of a story without a hint of verbosity, just a draw to pick up the book again quickly.

The incredulity and innocence of a ten-year old is another winner. The simplicity with which Hayat Shah reports arguments and events in his family underscores the very convoluted nature of adults. The small Midwestern Pakistani-American family’s life changes rather dramatically with the arrival of Mina, Hayat’s mother’s best friend. Hayat’s mother for some reason has a masculine name, Muneer, and interestingly his father’s is a unisex one, Naveed. It might have been less jarring to have transposed the names, but no matter.

Ayad Akhtar depicts the culture well, but “behta” is phonetically incorrect; the word for child is beta or baita in Urdu. Initially I found “bhaj” confusing and then realized that he was using the short form for baji, or sister. It should have been abbreviated baaj and not bhaj for the latter spelling sounds like a short-form for a vegetable.

Hayat’s infatuation with Mina and how a ten-year old deals with its turbulence is poignantly portrayed. Ayad Akhtar is deft at this and the reader acquiesces as it were to what would be classified as an unnatural relationship. And what is more, in the detail of this relationship, all others that we have had, however odd and unconventional, find a strange vindication.

The story does not build up, the book is a veritable pendulum of emotions; taking the reader from one crisis to another storm. And perhaps this is why it just doesn’t drag.

Besides the language Ayad Akhtar is very grounded in his knowledge of the Quran and in page after page, events in Hayat’s life are correlated with Quranic verses smoothly. And the reader senses Hayat’s tender wonderment vicariously. The verses appear, sometimes in such profusion and detail, though, that it almost has a proselytizing feel.

The spectrum of opinion with regard to Jews is delivered very aptly. Muneer typifies Muslims that love and respect the Jews, especially Jewish men and then there is the venom that Imam Souhef and Dr. Ghaleb Chatha spew. This is so palpable in the American-Muslim community; rarely are people indifferent; they follow the all or none law-effusively awed by the Jews or tightly wrapped with antipathy. The ill-logic is even starker when seen through the eyes of a child.

Patriarchy, male chauvinism and domestic violence are alive and practiced with impunity by Chatha and Mina’s first and second husbands. And Dr. Chatha’s wife pulls in a literal interpretation of a Quranic verse to become not just a willing victim but desirous of a beating for in her mind she “needs it”.

Mina’s God-centered life-view and her capsules of Sufism provide for the deep joy in the narrative. “To be a Sufi means to depend on nothing, to want nothing and to be nothing. A Sufi is a day that needs no sun, a night that needs no moon, no stars. A Sufi is like the dust on the ground that no one knows is even there.” And amazingly: “This is what life is behta. It grinds us to dust. The Sufi is just someone that does not fight it. He knows that being ground to nothing is not bad. It’s the way to God”.

American Dervish is one of those books in which the end is essentially disclosed at the start of the book. The narrative is magnetic and yet before you’re quite ready, it’s done. Every chance I got, I found myself reading the book, loving the roller-coaster feel, and suddenly one feels like a giant wall accordions you, and it’s over. The languid feel of the book should have been carried right to the end. I didn’t like the wall. And yet I know that my mind is spinning from the story and not the sudden end.

Ayad Akhtar is an actor, playwright and novelist and American Dervish was his debut fiction. He is working on his second novel while he continues to direct plays in New York City. Till his second novel appears, I just might go for a second helping of American Dervish. So much for not liking fiction.

Mahjabeen Islam is an addictionist, family physician and columnist. She is also president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From ephedrine to Ecstasy

The powerful in Pakistan don’t just indulge in designer items that cost more than an average person’s monthly income, they seem to promote designer drugs.

The current alleged Rs. 7 billion ephedrine corruption case involves Prime Minister Gilani’s son, Ali Musa Gilani and his principal secretary Khushnood Lashari. In October 2011 two firms from Multan were granted export quotas far exceeding those normally allowed for the drug which was then sold locally. Lashari made a furious cover-up attempt by transferring the Anti-Narcotics Force investigating team. The Supreme Court of Pakistan acting rapidly, reversed the transfer and reinstated the investigation. The ANF’s Regional Director Brig. Fahim Ahmad Khan made the stunning revelation to the Supreme Court that Lashari had advised him to leave Ali Musa Gilani out of the investigation and if he did so an investigation could be conducted against the two pharmaceutical companies, Danas Pharmaceuticals and Berlex Labs, which could then be “ruined and the state machinery will be with you”.

The powerful in Pakistan are not only oblivious to the hunger, homelessness and economic deprivation of a massive number of Pakistanis; they are clueless to the scourge of rampant drug addiction within it. Time was that marijuana was all that addicts used. But thirty years ago the Russian invasion of Afghanistan caused not just the influx of refugees to Pakistan but opium as well and Kabul became the opium capital of the world.

Marijuana is classified as the gateway drug and the stage was well set in Pakistan. Morphine is obtained from opium and the cheaply available acetic anhydride is used to convert morphine into heroin. Almost overnight intravenous heroin and cocaine users mushroomed all over Pakistan. The 2006 National Report on Drug Use in Pakistan estimates that there are 628,000 opiate users in Pakistan, out of which 77% are heroin users. According to the Report, the prevalence of opiate use is 0.4% in Punjab and Sind and 0.7% in NWFP and 1.1% in Baluchistan; the higher prevalence in the last two being due to the border sharing with Afghanistan.

Serious health issues are common among opiate users: 8% reported HIV infection, 11% reported Hepatitis C and 18% reported tuberculosis. Most opiate users use other substances on a daily basis. As naturally derived drugs such as marijuana and opiates became entrenched in Pakistan, synthetic or designer drugs made their entrance.

Amphetamine likes substances such as Ecstasy or MDMA, Crystal-Meth or methamphetamine and MDA are synthesized from ephedrine in “meth-labs”. Ecstasy and Crystal-Meth increase alertness, reduce fatigue, and lead to feelings of increased physical and mental powers, and euphoria. MDA is also known as the "love drug" because of the feelings of intense euphoria and desire to be with others that it produces.

Besides their addictive nature these amphetamine like designer drugs can cause severe agitation, life-threatening increases in heart rate and blood pressure as well as bleeding in the brain, heart attacks, tearing of the aorta, irregular heart rhythms, seizures and death.

Chronic use of Ecstasy, in typical recreational doses, can lead to a paranoid psychosis that is clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia. A recent important study reveals that MDMA use (possibly in conjunction with marijuana) can lead to cognitive decline in otherwise healthy young people.

According to the 2006 National Report on Drug Use in Pakistan, amphetamine like synthetic drug use was low in Pakistan; Ecstasy was the most common and was imported into Pakistan from various countries. The recent dramatic according of ephedrine to Danas Pharmaceuticals and Berlex Labs allegedly by Ali Musa Gilani and Khushnood Lashari, is evidence that Ecstasy users need not rely on imported Ecstasy; our home-grown meth labs can easily fill the demand.

The Anti-Narcotics Force seized 13 tablets of Ecstasy in 2005 and, get this, 8326 tablets in 2006, an increase of 63,938%! Difficult to wrap one’s mind around these statistics; was it truly a dramatic increase in the abuse of Ecstasy or did the ANF get a shot in the arm or both?

Ecstasy is more expensive than other drugs of abuse in Pakistan and is used largely in parties by young people, ages 16-25 belonging to upper-class families. These young people, high on Ecstasy, also indulge in risk-taking behavior such as car and motor-bike racing among a host of other activities.

Drug addiction knows no boundaries of class, wealth, race, age, profession or education. Like the chronic relapsing disease that it is, akin to diabetes and high blood pressure, with worse socio-economic issues, it eats at the fiber of society at every level.

All that an addict worries about is his next fix and all means to that end seem justified be it cheating, lying, robbery, prostitution or murder. With its widespread unemployment and economic decline the last thing that Pakistan could have afforded was its large addicted population. That the powerful and privileged of Pakistan would become sickeningly wealthy through untold corruption is bad enough; to think that those billions have the stench of deaths and destruction from Ecstasy use allegedly manufactured by the ephedrine scam of Ali Musa Gilani is a travesty.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inaccuracies and generalizations increase hatred

A letter writer to The Blade in his irritation with columnist Amjad Hussain paints with a broad brush: “But citing the misdeeds of a few practitioners of Christianity and Judaism relative to the atrocities committed by entire Muslim nations in the name of Islamic jihad, promoting global terrorism, suicide bombings, execution of nonbelievers, mass murder, and the constant threat of genocide against their Israeli neighbors, pales by comparison”.

Which“entire Muslim nations” have committed atrocities, promoted global terrorism, suicide bombings, execution of non-believers and mass murder in the name of jihad? Groups like the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have hijacked Islam and can be implicated in the above as well as the gross distortion of the most basic teachings of Islam.

The dispossession of the Palestinians and their continued dehumanization by Israel in flagrant violation of international law as well as the Sabra-Shatila massacres by the American tax-payer financed 5th most powerful military in the world, is more reminiscent of a “threat of genocide” than is vaguely possible by minimally armed Palestinian militia and rock-throwing teenagers.

Should the March 11 gun-rampage by a US serviceman in Afghanistan that killed 16 Afghan civilians be blamed on American hegemony or the result of a disturbed mind?

In a world beset by serious and extremely complicated issues, we are in need of the balance and calm of Dr. Amjad Hussain’s articles. As Americans and practitioners of our personal faiths, we must separate the actions of individuals from the practice of entire nations and especially from the teachings of their religion, that many have possibly studied little or not at all. Dr. Hussain skillfully graphs not just these individual actions but also the way they are perceived and how they can be manipulated, distorted and generalized to tar entire religions.

Our national socio-political conversation should be dispassionate and based on evidence and fact rather than wild, blinkered and baseless imaginings. These just serve to marginalize and inflame and conglomerate to become the problem rather than the solution.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Islamic Center of Greater Toledo Monitor editorial & President's message

Our wonderful religion emphasizes niyyah, good intentions and hard work. And it seems we don’t do too well if both are not present in good proportions. Taking from this premise 2012 insha’Allah will be a year of energy, activity and unity.

The focus shall be on raising membership of the ICGT, reinvigorating the Youth Club, reorganizing the Ladies Auxiliary, having regular events at the Center as well as visitation to the community. And the wonderful news is that many of these aims are well on their way to being fulfilled!

Membership to the Islamic Center is as fundamental as clients are to a business. Many of our community members enjoy the fabulous facilities that the ICGT provides, for it is a birth to death resource. Membership is nominal at $150/person or $300/family and you can pay this in installments as well. We now have new membership boxes, reminiscent of the Star Wars R2-D2 robot, at the entry of the ICGT and in the foyer area upstairs. The form can be filled and deposited with either a check or credit card info into the boxes. A membership form is also included in this edition of The Monitor as an insert.

The Youth Club has been formed and has already had a few meetings and activities. If your over 12-year old child or relative wishes to join they can contact the Youth Club coordinator Faiza Husain at They plan to have events like Meeting of the Minds, Spelling Bee, Math Bee, debating competition, Quran tafsir groups, sports, movie night, game night and ice-cream socials.

The Ladies Auxiliary had dissolved in 2011. The President, Mahjabeen Islam, Treasurer S. Saeed Zafer and Council-member Shabana Farooq met with community ladies on January 22, 2012. The meeting was emotional and the ladies raised many issues of the past and fears for the future. Most issues were addressed and we were able to accomplish elections of the officers that very day. Rabha Saie was elected President Ladies Auxiliary, Lisa Alcodray Vice-President, Reema Andrabi Secretary and Faye Sugheir Treasurer.

For far too long our community has been riddled with politics and agendas. Insha’Allah with this New Year and new Council, it is our resolve to work toward healing and unification. To help all of us toward the realization that we are but an Islamic Center, rather than the grandiosity in some minds of engaging in politics and division as though this was a country! To that end visitation to members of the community is planned by a small Visitation Committee consisting of the Imam, the President and a Council or community member. The purpose of this visitation is manifold: to engage the community and inform it of the many programs that are going on in the Center, that an effort is being made to “de-politicize” the Center and accommodate all shades of opinion and to increase membership and donation to the Center.

Regular events are already being held at the ICGT. On January 28, 2012 Mawlid-al-Nabi was held in the Social Hall which was packed with over 250 people. Do view the photos and the program in this Monitor edition. Hamd in praise of God and qaseedas in praise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) were recited in Arabic and Urdu by several wonderful voices. Speeches extolled the life and beauty of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) character.

You will want to follow the Visiting Scholars Lecture Series. On February 18th Dr. Mounir Elkhatib will be speaking on “How to use your food as medicine” and on March 24th. renowned North American scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi will be speaking about the Sharia and misconceptions about Islam.

It is my heartfelt appeal for all of us to work for revitalizing the ICGT in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation, keeping the interest of the ICGT and service to Islam as our main focus. Life should not be a spectator sport, but a participatory one. Join us on Fridays, Sundays, and during all events at the ICGT and remember to become a member and give your zakat, sadaqat and donations to the ICGT.

Mahjabeen Islam M.D. is President of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. She is an addictionist and family physician in practice in Perrysburg.