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Author Topic: A Place Away from Bigotry  (Read 938 times)
jannah
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« on: Sep 12, 2011 12:29 AM »

Salam,

If you guys remember this story is from the night I said my "nightmare" came true in my Ramadan Diary and reporters came to the mosque when we were all crazy lol. But alhamdulillah the article is very nice and doesn't mention any of our ghettoness Wink

ps momma and poppa are both found somewhere in the pics, reps if u can find them Smiley

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A place away from bigotry
Members of the Capital Region Muslim community say they feel safe here

Published 01:10 a.m., Sunday, September 11, 2011

 

ALBANY -- At sundown, the imam stepped to the front of the room and delivered the call to prayer. His rhythmic intonations rose above the chattering of worshippers seated on the floor picking at plates of fruit, chicken and curry-flavored rice.

About 300 Muslims had gathered for dinner and prayer on this Friday evening at the Masjid As-Salam mosque in downtown Albany.

When the mosque first opened in the former Central Avenue storefront 11 years ago, it counted only about 150 members. Now the community is flourishing, so much so that it may begin searching for a larger space.

"Muslims are in a very comfortable situation here," said the mosque's president, Shamshad Ahmad. "We are much better off compared to Muslims around the country."

As the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, Ahmad is worried for his fellow American Muslims, but much less so in the Capital Region, which he views as an oasis of tolerance and understanding.

The past decade has seen a public increasingly wary of Islam, its misgivings igniting a fierce debate over a mosque opening near ground zero in Manhattan and even the threat of a Koran-burning in Florida.

But here in the Capital Region, a new Islamic Center opened in Colonie without a trace of opposition. An act of vandalism to a Hudson mosque quickly was decried.

When two Masjid As-Salam community members were caught in an FBI counterterrorism sting, their arrests not only galvanized the local Muslim-American community; they also garnered criticism of the government and shows of sympathy from a cross-section of faiths.

"There is lot of bigotry from the extremists, the tea party," Ahmad said. "But this area, the Tri-City area, I find to be exceptionally good for interfaith relationships."

As Ahmad spoke, members of the community passed around bowls of dessert, a sweet rice, and cups of chocolate-flavored tea. Men sat on the floor, cross-legged, deep in conversation as children chased each other around the carpeted floor. Outside, about 20 businesses around the mosque are owned by Muslims.

The community had worshipped at the mosque in relative anonymity until the 2004 arrests of Yassin Muhiddin Aref, from Iraq, and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, from Bangladesh. They were convicted two years later of participating in a plot to launder money made from selling a missile launcher.

Ahmad wrote a book about the case and accused the government of entrapping the two men with underhanded tactics.

Sympathizers, some non-Muslims, even formed a Muslim Solidarity Committee, which offers support to the convicted men's families.

"I would hesitate to say anything good came out of the case," said Jeanne Finley, a member of the Muslim Solidarity Committee.

"But without the case, there wouldn't be the heightened consciousness about discrimination Muslims have faced and continued to face. It shocked everyone."

She agreed Muslims face less discrimination in Albany than around the country.

"If I were to give it a grade, the country gets an 'F,'" she said. "Here, more like a 'B.'"

Still, the Capital Region has not been immune to isolated instances of vandalism and intolerance. Most notably, last year three men pleaded guilty in connection with the scrawling of an anti-Muslim epithet on the wall of an Islamic Center in Hudson.

Then there are the more subtle examples: the wary glances in malls and airports, the overheard whispers and jokes.

Khalida Husain, from Slingerlands, said her son was working at a hospital when a woman saw his name tag and said, "I would have slapped your face, if you were not a doctor!"

She recalled "one of the bluest moments" of her life was when the FBI once came to her home to inquire about relatives visiting from England for a wedding.

"The images of WTC burning were horrifying and depressing enough for us, and on the top of it we were blamed for the act," she said. "Our religion was portrayed, by some, as an evil religion."

Reyaz Shaik, a member of the Albany mosque, was carrying a box outside the building one evening when he heard a bystander say, "What are you carrying, a bomb?"

"I try to ignore them," Shaik said. "I personally feel there are ignorant people everywhere. Here is no exception."

He and others pointed to last September's opening of a Muslim Community Center in Colonie, which drew an interfaith crowd of about 400.

The center, which had been six years in the making, never drew any opposition from the community, president Tariq Niazi said.

Shaik said the Quran teaches: "If someone addresses you in a bad way, you should respond in a beautiful way."

So his response to bigoted comments is to offer an invitation.

"Come and join us," he said, looking around the room full of Muslims representing about 30 different nations. "Look and see what we do, how we do it."



Ramadan around the NY Capital Region...

mosque1: Muslim men pray during Ramadan on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque2: Muslim men share a meal at the end of the day's fast during Ramadan on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque3: A Muslim man continues to pray between group prayers during Ramadan on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque4: Mosque president Shamshad Ahmad, left, as mosque members line up for a meal on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y

mosque5: Children join their fathers as they share a meal to break the day's fast during Ramadan on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque6: Aaminah Afzal, 7, right, has her meal on the women's side of the mosque on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque7: Women pray on their side of the mosque where they can join the men via television on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.

mosque8: A woman reads the Koran on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Masjid Al-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y.
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akhan
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 12, 2011 01:54 AM »

Quote
ps momma and poppa are both found somewhere in the pics, reps if u can find them
Is there something like half a rep? I can only find poppa
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jannah
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 12, 2011 05:34 PM »

Is there something like half a rep? I can only find poppa

lols i gave u 1 point. i'm actually in the pics too !!
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akhan
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 12, 2011 05:54 PM »

Wild guess - blue hijab?
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