Thursday, May 27, 2010

Future Plans for a Mosque in Ground Zero???

Plans to build a mosque two blocks away from ground zero have set off an emotional debate among area residents and relatives of victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Cordoba House project calls for a 15-story community center including a mosque, performance art center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces.

The project is a collaboration between the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, both of which work to improve relations with followers of the religion.

The two groups presented their vision to part of the Community Board of lower Manhattan on Wednesday night.

Ro Sheffe, a board member who attended the meeting, said the project did not need to get the board's approval.

"They own the land, and their plans don't have any zoning changes," Sheffe said. "They came to us for our opinions and to let us know their plans. It was purely voluntary on their part."

The 12 members who were at the meeting voted unanimously to support the project. Community board members are appointed by the borough president and serve as advisers to the borough president and the mayor's office.

Daisy Khan, executive director of the Muslim society, described her vision of a center led by Muslims, but serving the community as a whole.

"It will have a real community feel, to celebrate the pluralism in the United States, as well as in the Islamic religion," Khan said. "It will also serve as a major platform for amplifying the silent voice of the majority of Muslims who have nothing to do with extremist ideologies. It will counter the extremist momentum."

The need for the center is twofold, Khan said, because it will support the needs of the growing Muslim community.

"The time for a center like this has come because Islam is an American religion," Khan said. "We need to take the 9/11 tragedy and turn it into something very positive."

Sheffe said a community center for lower Manhattan residents is "desperately needed." The area was mostly commercial, Sheffe said, but as more people move downtown, the lack of residential amenities is a problem.

The project got mixed reviews from families and friends of September 11 victims.

"I think it's the right thing to do," said Marvin Bethea, who was a paramedic at ground zero. "I lost 16 friends down there. But Muslims also got killed on 9/11. It would be a good sign of faith that we're not condemning all Muslims and that the Muslims who did this happened to be extremists. As a black man, I know what it's like to be discriminated against when you haven't done anything."

Herbert Ouida, whose son was killed in the attacks, supports the project as a way to bridge cultural divide.

"I understand the anger, the bitterness and hatred, but it only generates more hatred," Ouida said. "Such a large part of the world has this faith, and to say anyone who has this faith is a terrorist, it's terrible."

Others decried the idea of building a mosque so close to where their relatives died.

"Lower Manhattan should be made into a shrine for the people who died there," said Michael Valentin, a retired city detective who worked at ground zero. "It breaks my heart for the families who have to put up with this. I understand they're [building] it in a respectful way, but it just shouldn't be down there."

Others such as Barry Zelman said the site's location will be a painful reminder.

"[The 9/11 terrorists] did this in the name of Islam," Zelman said. "It's a sacred ground where these people died, where my brother was murdered, and to be in the shadows of that religion, it's just hypocritical and sacrilegious. "

Read the rest of this story here.

By Nicole Bliman, CNN

So, what do you think about building a mosque at Ground Zero? Is this a disrespect to the people who lost their lives on 9/11? Is this a way to show the diversity of America? Is this "self promotion" of Islam? Tell us what you think...

Asalaamu alaikum
Nadira & Najwa

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ask M2M: Wait to Wear Hijab???

Sorry for delay in posting this weeks question. If you have a question send it to and it might be your question we answer on Sunday.

Our first Ask M2M question is from Kamilah, she asks:

Q: I'm 16 and was planning on waiting till marriage to wear a hijab, is that wrong?

A: Alhamdulilah we are happy to hear that you plan on wearing hijab. With that said you want to start observing hijab right away. You should start wearing hijab when you reach puberty. Abu Dawood narrates that `Aishah (raa) said: "Asmaa' the daughter of Abu Bakr (raa) came to see the Messenger of Allah (saw) wearing a thin dress; so Allah's Messenger (saw) turned away from her and said: O Asmaa', once a woman reaches the age of menstruation, no part of her body should be seen but this and that" and he pointed to his face and hands.

We have to be mindful that everything we do in this life should be fisibilillah(for the sake of Allah). Insha' Allah start wearing hijab now because it's what we are commanded to do by Allah(swt) as Muslimahs. You don't want to wait and do it because your married/for your husband.

Hijab is a source of protection for Muslimahs and it's something that once you start wearing it you will never want to go back. A good rule of thumb is to dress how you do for salah(prayer) all the time. If you cover for salah/to go to the masjid then this is how we should dress at all times.

May Allah make wearing hijab easy for you and all muslimahs - ameen

As usual any comments and words of advice/encouragement are welcome!!!

Asalaamu alaikum
Nadira & Najwa

Monday, May 24, 2010

Muslim Miss USA: Progress Or Immodesty?

Europe's burqa debate and a steady stream of media images showing veiled women have led to a widespread impression that all Muslims are obsessed with covering the female body.

It might be a surprise, then, that many Muslim Americans are toasting Rima Fakih, who made history on Sunday (May 16) by becoming the first Muslim crowned Miss USA.

Fakih, who donned a gold bikini and a strapless white dress for the pageant, will return to Las Vegas in August when she represents America in the Miss Universe contest.

"There's recognition among Muslims that this is not a traditionally Islamic way for a woman to dress," said Shahed Amanullah, editor at, a news and commentary website. "But in its own weird way, its progress."

Many Muslims are critical of beauty pageants as lewd and degrading to women. At the same time, Fakih, 24, is being hailed as a symbol of Muslim-American integration who shatters the stereotype of the cloaked and dour Muslim woman.

Fakih's family, which she said celebrates Muslim and Christian holidays, is from Lebanon. After living in Queens, N.Y., where Fakih attended a Catholic high school, the family settled in Dearborn, Mich., home to one of the largest Arab-American communities in America.

Now, Fakih is developing a fan base that includes not only Muslims who are less strict about religious dress-codes, but also those who don headscarves and watch what they wear.

"The crowning of Rima Fakih as Miss USA demonstrates the diversity of Muslims, not just in terms of ethnic diversity, but diversity of opinion and religiosity," said Tayyibah Taylor, editor and chief of Aziza, a magazine that caters to Muslim women, and always features cover models in headscarves.

"So often, people see Muslims as a monolithic group, and this shows that we're not all in one camp."

Laila Al-Marayati, of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Women's League, also said Fakih reflects the diversity in the Muslim- and Arab-American communities.

"It's true that many of us would not dress in a similar manner but, at least here in the U.S., it is a personal choice."

Other Muslims saw additional benefits to Fakih's coronation.

"People are so happy that the headlines about an Arab-American have nothing to do with terrorism," said Ginan Rauf, a progressive Muslim activist from New Jersey. "As a community, we're often targets of ridicule and hostility, so it's nice to see an Arab-American be the object of adoration."

But Fakih's victory wasn't welcomed by all Muslims.

Kiran Ansari, communications director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, said beauty pageants degrade women, are un-Islamic and that Fakih does not represent Muslims well.

"The route she took to get this fame is not in line with Islam. A Muslim woman can be beautiful, but walking around in front of millions of viewers in a swimsuit, is not in sync with Islamic values," said Ansari.

The Quran speaks of beauty and demureness, saying that Muslim women should "lower their gaze and guard their modesty," and should not "display their beauty and ornaments." It also cautions women to "draw their veils over their bosoms." Read the rest of this article here.

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

So... what do you think about this? Do you feel as though this is helping out the way people view Muslimahs? Do you think this is progression? Do you think it is making Muslimahs look bad? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think.

Najwa & Nadira