By Aysha Jamali
Ramadan around the corner means another occasion for Detroit’s Day of Dignity to provide the city’s needy with clothes, hygiene packs, food and health checks. The well-attended program is one of many supported by member organizations of the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, or ISCOM.
ISCOM, established in 2005, is a non-profit umbrella organization with the mission of providing coordination between and building cohesiveness among the Islamic centers, Mosques and organizations in Michigan.
“Its mission is to work to bring the community together for the goodness of the community at large,” said Mouhib Ayas, chairman of ISCOM. “Basically, we want people to work together on those projects that actually belong to the community.”
Ayas said the Council’s support of the Day of Dignity every year, and other programs like it, is important because those are projects that should belong to everyone and not one organization.
Sharmin Hakim, a Wayne State University student studying education, said she’s participated in the Day of Dignity for three years and has never been to an event like it where there were more than enough volunteers.
“Charity is a big part of our religion, and it’s our duty to help people,” Hakim said. “It’s so important that we incorporate those types of things into our everyday lives.”
Charity being so pivotal to Muslims, Ayas said that many people sometimes feel they are getting pulled from too many directions when asked for their support.
“We believe that our role also is to provide tools to help get all those projects together to streamline the process,” he said.
Ayas said there are a couple meetings throughout the year where member organizations have the chance to hear and discuss proposals of support for new projects. Once a project is approved the Council will provide financial assistance as well as publicity.
“My favorite one so far has been the Food Pantry program,” Ayas said. “I have a lot of good feelings about it, and alhamdulillah [praise be to God] I’m really blessed to be involved in this activity.”
Ayas said the Michigan Food Pantry Program is a Shura Council initiative with the goal of purchasing food for the use of various local distribution centers year-round.
“This program is up-and-running due to the Shura Council network and leadership in this area,” Ayas said.
For this program, the Council is partnered with Gleaners Community Food Bank, which works on distribution and approves distribution sites.
John Kastler, vice president of Information System Services at Gleaners, said they welcome the Council’s support.
“The ISCOM always works on distributing food throughout the year, as well as providing financial support,” he said.
Kastler said they especially appreciate the lamb donations because lamb is a special item that they don’t get a lot.
“The lamb donations are a wonderful source of protein,” he said.
The donations are a part of the Council’s annual Oudhia program, which distributes lamb and other types of meat to needy families and soup kitchens across southeast Michigan.
“I do believe we have a positive impact on the image of Muslims,” Ayas said about the Council’s work in the community.
And it is, according to the Web site, a part of the Council’s mission to work for the betterment of all Muslims, to advance Muslim interests and to promote Islamic values.