Monthly Archives: June 2009

Michigan Lawmaker Represents Diverse Populations, Islam

Rashida Tlaib is the first American Muslim woman state legislator.

Rashida Tlaib is the first American Muslim woman state legislator.

By Nargis Rahman

Michigan lawmaker Rashida Tlaib, 32, said she could not picture herself as a state legislator if she was not Muslim.

“I truly love Islam. If I didn’t have prayer everyday and some of the teachings and beliefs, I don’t know if I would be a legislator,” Tlaib said.

Tlaib became the first American Muslim woman in Michigan state legislature, last January.

Tlaib credits her love of Southwest Detroit and encouragement from her former boss, Rep. Steve Tobocman, as factors in her decision to run for office.

Tlaib met Tobocman while working for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. He was working on changing legislation for undocumented children that were not able to further their education past high school.

Tlaib said it was a personal issue for her. Her friends were unable to attend college.

She joined his cause, helped knock on doors for his campaign, and became politically active.

After working for Tobocman for two months, he asked her to run in the upcoming election.

Tlaib said she laughed at first, not knowing he was serious. Tlaib said he had several friends talk her into running.

She won the November election with 90 percent of votes against Republican Darin Daigle.

Tlaib graduated with a bachelors’ degree in political science from Wayne State University in 1998, and a law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in 2004.

Tlaib comes from a family of Palestinian parents, who did not graduate high school. She is the eldest of 14 siblings.

While growing up, her grandfather would share stories of international laws affecting immigrants, especially Palestinians.

“I grew up in the summer hearing my grandfather’s stories, wanting to do something amazing,” Tlaib said.

“I’m a very passionate person. I’ve been working on social justice issues for a while and I went to law school.”

“Majority of freshman law students say they want to change the world, and I was one of those who sincerely wanted to change the world.”

Tlaib said although she is a lawyer, she likes to be known as a normal person.

“I hate being called a politician. I so happen to be a state rep,” she said.

Tlaib said she is grateful for the opportunity to serve others.

Alhamdulillah [praise be to God] it’s just blessings. Look at our lives, we are blessed American Muslims. It’s not just giving back to Americans, Muslims or the causes we support, it’s giving back to those who are in need,” Tlaib said.

“If I can help all those in need; Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and improve their quality of life, that makes me a better Muslim.”

Tlaib has been married for twelve years, and has a 3-year-old son. She is proud to raise her child in the neighborhood where she grew up and now serves.

“I’m so happy to raise my child in a place where there’s people from all walks of life… backgrounds, and an acceptance of different nationalities,” Tlaib said.

The community is made up of approximately 40 percent Latinos, 3 percent Arab-Americans and 3 percent African-American, among others.

“The community has made me the woman I am today.”

Tlaib is working on four legislations: environmental justice, social literacy, consumer services and protection, and access to human services.

Tlaib said her life is busier since she started her job.

“Before I ran for public service, I told my family they’re going to have to share me with 95,000 other people,” she said.

Tlaib said although her job is a tremendous responsibility, she does not plan on failing.

“My accomplishments reflect all American Muslims,” she said.

Tlaib said people need to work on the ground, not just the media, to erase negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims.

“The media continuously falls into the trap – intentionally or not – to train communities into falling for the stereotypes,” she said.

Tlaib loves when people find out she’s Muslim. “They learn more about our religion.”

CAIR-MI awarded Tlaib for her services at the CAIR’s annual banquet in March.


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Detroit Mosque Hosts Weekly Soup Kitchen

By Faiz Ahmed

Executive Director of the Detroit Muslim Mission, Mitchell Shamsuddin, has operated a soup kitchen for two decades from two Mosques,currently using Masjid Wali Muhammed as the base of operations. As a social activist and community leader, Shamsuddin has devoted his life to mentally and emotionally uplift those in poverty.

The mosque was establishedin the 1930s by Wallace Fard Muhammad and TheHonorable Elijah Mohammed. It was known as Mohammed’s Mosque No.1. It was renamed by ImamWarith Deen Muhammad when he assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam. Located off of Linwood Ave. in Detroit, the mosque is a center for religious activity, with a social reform message, and social services.

Mitchell Shamsuddin

Mitchell Shamsuddin

Individuals and families in need line up inside the mosque to pick up boxes of household provisions including toiletries, baby supplies, and canned foods. Boxes are distributed by priority to households with children, seniors, and unemployed adults. The Detroit Muslim Mission distributes around 3,600 food boxes every year. The soup kitchen provides meals to those in need from the Detroit community every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food is distributed inside the mosque for children and adults of all ages.

The Detroit Muslim Mission is to break the feeling of helpnesses for Detroit residents below the poverty line.

The soup kitchen runs with volunteers from the Detroit Muslim Mission and the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA).

The Detroit Muslim Mission aims to extend the days per week the soup kitchen operates. More volunteers and funding will be needed to accommodate the growing number of participants at the soup kitchen.

Patrons of the Soup kitchen

Patrons of the Soup kitchen

The soup kitchen is federally funded through the City of Detroit, food donations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and money from community members during fundraisers.

Shamsuddin, a man of great patience and strong will, takes on the task of mentally, morally, socially, and economically uplifting the community with ease.

“We are motivated to help people as an expression of our faith,” Shamsuddin said.

If you would like to volunteer or donate, please contact Mitchell Shamsuddin at

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Rutgers’ Senior Sends Facebook Messages to Spread Islam

Ali said "Allah Bless America" represents two parts of himself; being American and Muslim.

Ali said "Allah Bless America" represents two parts of himself; being American and Muslim.

By Nargis Rahman

A Rutgers University senior, Rizwan Ali, Facebook-messages narrations of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, to help Muslims and non-Muslims learn more about Islam.

The group, “Ahadith Per Day Keeps Shaytaan Away: part 2!!” was created as a reminder for people to learn, understand and teach others about basic principles in Islam on the widely-used online network.

Hadith are the narrations of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. According to Ali, “shaytaan,” or satan, is what is kept away with a hadith a day.

After being a member for some time, Ali, who is also MSA President at Rutgers University, realized messages were not sent everyday. He knew the creators and a year and a half ago decided to become a part of the team.

The group uses Riyadh-us-Saliheen, a collection of hadiths or oral narrations from the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, covering topics such as good character, basic daily activities, self discipline, and helping others.

Through his work, Ali said he tries to clear up misconceptions about Islam. He wants to spread the true message about Islam but foremost wants to learn about it himself through lectures, Islamic classes, and reading circles.

Ali said politics aid in the negative portrayal of Islam and Muslims.

He said people are starting to realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.

“There are a small percentage of those who are nut jobs, but they’re only a very, very small percentage and do not portray Islam as a whole.”

“In fact, since 9/11…hundreds of thousands of people have entered into Islam all across the world.”

“People are educating themselves about this beautiful religion. The more people learn about Islam, the more they’ll understand it. And our group is here on Facebook to help.”

Over 2,000 members have joined worldwide from Europe, Australia, and India. There are concentrations in Arizona, Michigan, California, and New Jersey.

Not all members are Muslim.

“These reminders are very practical and Muslims and non-Muslims alike will benefit from them, God willing, so I encourage all to join,” Ali said.

Ali sends emails to family and friends who are not on Facebook, but sticks to Facebook where the online trend started.

Ali said Facebook could be a waste of time if it distracts you from remembering God. He said Facebook is not full of reminders about Islam.

“Anything that keeps a person away from remembering [God] is a waste. But to have this group which reminds you daily of Islam and gives you good and helpful messages, I think that’s important.”

Ali did not start the group. He’s following in the footsteps of others; Ambreen Raqib, Sitwat Hashmi, Samir Hashmi, and Saima Khan,” from New York and New Jersey.

He said he enjoys sending out the messages.

“I’m very, very happy each time I hit the “send” button because I know that I’ve done whatever I can to help spread something good,” Ali said.

Ali said he gets the most feedback for clarifications on hadiths. It makes him dig deeper and learn a lot in the process.

“When group members reply back to me after I send out a particular hadith and tell me how much they appreciate it, or how much these beautiful reminders help them or that a certain hadith that was sent was just what they needed, that feels good.”

Ali is an English major who hopes to go to Law School to help Muslims.

“In the future if I’m a lawyer I see myself helping Muslims as much as possible,” Ali said.

He started working with Muslims as a founder of Muslim Students Association at Richfield Park High School during his senior year. The group was organized following a request for Zuhr, midday prayer break during school hours so students could pray on time. Ali said that led to weekly discussions about Islam and the MSA group.

“We had a good amount of Muslims in our school, no one prayed Zuhr on time. My friend and I went to the principal and said we’re Muslim, we need to pray and we need a designated place to pray,” Ali said.

Ali is a youth leader for Young Muslims, a national youth initiative to keep the youth in the Masjids and among good role models.

He is one of the co-founders in his community. The group meets once a week for discussions.

Ali said he was pushed into the program when he was 14-15, and realized there was a need for good role models. He now helps run the program.

“I see myself kind of an like an elder guy in the community.”

“A lot of kids don’t have anyone to look up to. Instead of going out on Friday nights, we bring them to Masjid.”

Ali interns for CAIR-NJ. He puts the weekly newsletters together.

“There’s a point in my life where deen (faith) is very important, education and family is important in my life. All three of that goes together in one.”

Visit, to join “Ahadith per Day keeps Shaytaan away: part 2!!”


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