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Dawah and Interfaith

“How Islam Perfected Thanks Giving” with Imam Siraj Wahhaj with Queens College MSA

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The recap is a bit dated now. We apologize to the writers for the delay in this article’s posting.  -MM

The Muslim Students Association of Queens College had planned determinedly for months to bring Imam Siraj Wahhaj for an event on being grateful. It was scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 19, 2009.

A week prior to the event, Imam Siraj Wahhaj was in two newspapers after a meeting he had with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Other Muslim leaders and Imams from New York were also present. This was an outreach effort the Mayor organized to help ensure the well being and concerns of Muslims after the tragic shootings at Fort Hood.

NY Daily Times
presented the issue of Imam Siraj allegedly being an “unindicted co-conspirator of the [1993] World Trade center bombing” in New York. They also reported that he was a character witness of Sheikh Omar Abdur Rahman, the convicted mastermind behind the bombings.

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With this media representation of Imam Siraj, the Young Republicans Club on campus opposed bringing him to speak at our College. Incidentally, two weeks before our event this very club decided to show the anti-Islamic film entitled, Fitna. Naturally, this sparked a controversy on campus.

The week before our event, The NY Post published an article on the front page of their website regarding our event. They criticized our speaker (Imam Siraj) and brought up Omar Abdur Rahman as supposed evidence against his character.

The college security department decided that in order for us to have our event with Imam Siraj Wahhaj, we would need security present. There would also have to be a metal detector. We tried to convince them to reconsider their view of the security issues, but they remained adamant.

Imam Siraj also had his security with him at the event.

With this last minute security issue, our MSA members worked tirelessly to make sure everything went as planned.

Our Student Life Administration supported the MSA throughout so that we could have our event and bring Imam Siraj Wahhaj to our campus. We also had support from many other clubs.

Alhamdulillah, we were able to pull it off with an even higher turnout than we had anticipated. Nearly 400 people, mostly students and young professionals, showed up for the event.

By: Hasina Islam and Sarah Embabi

On the evening of Thursday, November 19, just before the Thanksgiving holiday recess, the Muslim Students Association at Queens College (QC MSA) warmly welcomed Imam Siraj Wahhaj to an event entitled “How Islam Perfected Thanks Giving.” Thanks to the QC MSA team’s effort and hard work, the evening could not have been more organized. Due to profound advertising on and off campus, the audience turnout was remarkable. In addition, the event was co-sponsored by Christians on Campus, the Guyanese Students Association, the Political Science Club, and Queens College Golden Key. Guests strolled in to be met with heavy security and a metal detector. Extra security precautions were taken by the college due to negative press reports about the event and comments community members made against the students. However, neither the rain nor the security stopped guests from attending, with over 300 people from all faiths and backgrounds in attendance.

Imam Siraj Wahhaj is an African-American Muslim convert to Islam. He is the founder and Imam of At-Taqwa Mosque in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and the leader of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA). Praised as one of the most dynamic and charismatic Muslim leaders in the U.S., Imam Siraj travels widely, lecturing at various universities, conventions, and fundraisers.

As much as this Imam of America is one of the most positively influential and well-known Islamic leaders, there have been quite a number of unfortunate misconceptions about him. As a result of a series of accusations by the media, Imam Siraj has become known as a controversial character nationwide. Authorities have called him a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, when in reality, he was merely one of the 171 names that appeared on a list of those who were un-indicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators. Thankfully, before giving his short yet moving talk about being thankful, the imam made it a point to clear up any misunderstandings during his visit to Queens College. “For the record, let me set it straight: I have never plotted anything against the government,” Imam Siraj told his audience. He also told the audience that they must not be gullible and believe everything they hear or read, but rather they must find out the truth for themselves. He reminded the audience, “the honorable Martin Luther King Jr. was once on the FBI watch list. Do they still think he’s a terrorist?” Such reminders helped generate a common understanding amongst the audience.

The program began with a beautiful Qur’an recitation by Mohammed Enamul Haque, Associative Director of MAS Youth Queens and student of Sheikh Hassan Saleh. Zakir Ahmed, President of the QC MSA, then called upon the Rabbi of the Queens College Hillel, Moshe Shur, to give a few words of wisdom. Due to the immense support that the administrative staff of Queens College displayed towards the event despite the negative accusations by the press, staff members were presented with certificates of appreciation on behalf of the QC MSA by none other than Imam Siraj Wahhaj himself. Director of Student Life, John Andrejack, and Vice President of Student Affairs, Joe Bertolino, shared a few words expressing their admiration of the hard work and commitment the MSA exhibited. Mr. Andrejack said, “I was really impressed with the perseverance displayed by the MSA throughout the planning of this event… [The MSA] handled each new challenge with such professionalism and maturity, that [it] managed to raise the profile and the reputation of the MSA.”

After presenting certificates, Imam Siraj delivered an inspiring, heartfelt talk to the diverse crowd about how one should be thankful to have all the opportunities and accessibilities that many others around the world lack. Imam Siraj particularly discussed the importance of water as a vital resource many take for granted without even realizing how much of it humans consume on a daily basis. Quoting directly from the UN Blue Book, he stated, “40 billion hours a year are spent searching for water in sub-Saharan Africa. And we [in America] just turn on a faucet.” Following this simple, yet significant, example, Imam Siraj quoted an ayah (verse) from the Holy Qur’an which reads, “And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.”

Following the talk, audience members were encouraged to ask questions directly to the Imam. Most of the questions were from curious non-Muslims about opening dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims on campus, which the Imam strongly encouraged. Zakir Ahmed then presented the Imam with tokens of gratitude: a beautiful fruit arrangement, a decorative Qur’an, and a thank-you card signed by the MSA board members. The Imam, who recovered from cancer, has started to change his lifestyle by eating healthy, and the gift was an encouragement for him to continue on this path.

Long after a dinner of turkey sandwiches and snacks, much healthy, energetic dialogue occured between guests from various backgrounds and faiths, including Muslims and Jews. The MSA has always believed in fostering a community at Queens College of respect, tolerance, and friendship towards people of all backgrounds. Many who attended claimed this was the best MSA event yet, and they could not wait to attend another. Joe Bertolino even considered this to be one of Queens College’s most successful events. One attendee revealed this was the first Islamic event he had ever attended, and that he wholly enjoyed himself. The QC MSA had been dreaming to have Imam Siraj Wahaj speak at their event as far back as July. The executive board spent months planning and perfecting every detail so that this event would run smoothly. They were not disappointed, as they were showered with compliments from community members long after the event was over.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P_3xutpl9c[/youtube]

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Tariq

    February 7, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    SsubhanAllah! I’m reminded of the bad press that was given before sheikh ahmed deedat’s (rahimahullah) talk in Australia, What makes good friday good?

    • Nabila

      August 10, 2010 at 10:07 AM

      Salam alaikum,

      Anyone knows about Imam Siraj Wahhaj’s illness?

  2. akhan

    February 8, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    I was there. MashAllah it went really well. Good job QC MSA!

    On another note, I remember that in the Young Republicans Club fliers (which they did not put their club name on) had unindited in small letters and had coconspiritor in bold letters. Obviously not very honest

  3. Mark Bernadiner

    February 25, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil. Thomas Mann

    Muhammad, founder of Islam and author of Koran, was mentally sick psychopath, could not read and write. While in seizure, he uttered disjointed phrases, which his followers represented as Allah divine afflatus. This is the history of Islam that muslims and “honest and free” western media would not like you to know. These facts show that islam is not a religion, but a cult.
    Read: “History of Middle Ages” Professor Nikolay A. Osokin, Textbook (in Russian), Publishing house: Imperial University Printing Office, Kazan, 1888, 771 pp.; Publisher: ACT, Harvest, Moscow, 2008, 672 pp. (reprint)
    “Great” arab inventions. Obama’s Cairo speech.
    In his Cairo speech, Obama accredited to arabs all fundamental inventions human race made over centuries. None of the Obama mentioned is true, as every person graduated from credible high school knows. However, it does not mean that arabs, great nation with centuries of history, has no inventions critical for human life. They have and here they are:
    1. Ethnic Cleansing – invented centuries ago, implemented over 2000 years ago in Israel when they occupied Israel and disseminated Jews around the world; from 1948 through 1953 arab countries expelled a million Jews and stole their properties; in 1974, Turkish armed forces invaded Cyprus, captured 36 percent of its territory, partitioned the island, implemented a policy of “ethnic cleansing” and sent close to 200,000 Greek Cypriots southward as refugees who lost their property, desecrated churches and cemeteries, and in 1983 declared the northern Turkish Republic of Cyprus; in 1999, Kosovo Liberation Army stormed homes of the last 15 Jews in Kosovo’s capital, who had to clear out, with just the clothes on their backs; recently, Jews in Yemen were under attack and have been relocated to Britain.
    2. Genocide – invented by Turks and implemented in 1915–1917 in Armenia: over 1.5 mln. Armenians, including children, died.
    3. Holocaust – invented by Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, in 1920s in Palestine (occupied territory of the State of Israel); implemented in Palestine in 1920s-30s; in 1941, Haj Amin al Husseini brought the Holocaust idea to Hitler and helped him to implement Holocaust in Europe 1941-45; he organized in Europe two islamofascist brigades that operated under SS control, had their own concentration camp, and killed tens of thousand of Europeans, including Jews.

    Islam is based on three fundamental principles:
    1. Stealing
    2. Killing, and
    3. Lying

    Koran says:
    “Slay them wherever you find them. Fight against them till idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme” (Sura 2:190),
    “Seek out your enemies relentlessly” (Sura 4:103),
    “Make war on them till idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme” (Sura 8:36),
    “When the sacred months are over slay the unbelievers wherever you find them. Arrest them, beseige them and lie in ambush everywhere for them” (Sura 9:5),
    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you” (Sura 9:121),
    “When you meet the unbelievers on the battlefield strike off their heads” (Sura 47:3),
    “Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate” (Sura 66:7).

    Koran is Islamic Mein Kamf. Islam is fascist cult and must be eliminated from the earth.

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