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The Muslim Link

Community News
Break-In Hampers Muslim Youth Program In SE DC PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter   
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 10:05
"Them Muslims changed my kid. I am not Muslim but Allah sent them. 3 men into my house. So powerful they were, I could see his shoulders dropping. He was out of control. At 13, taking to drugs, no school wanted him, no program would accept him. Now he is going to go to National Collegian Prep School,” exclaimed Ms. Mooney.

"I am devastated, thieves broke into their office and stole the computers, laptops and the Wii. This was his safe place to go. They accepted him in their football program, the Benning Terrace Soldiers."

A break-in at the office of the Benning Terrace Youth Empowerment Initiative leaves coaches, staff and kids upset.  Michael Toland is the President, serves as a coach and mentors at-risk youths in the Benning Terrace public housing development in Washington, D.C.

Thieves took the cameras, the DVD player, audio-visual equipment, a couple of laptops, and a Wii game system.

“This is where we hold our anger management, teen issues, and Islamic studies sessions,” says Toland. This theft is especially damaging as grassroots programs such as the Benning Terrace Soldiers in Washington, D.C., have helped youth growing up in extremely challenging environments but these programs often lack the funding to meet their community’s overwhelming needs.

The community football program started in 1999 and serves youth ages 5 to 15.  Benning Terrace Soldiers, as the team in known, has helped thousands of youth. Each season upto five teams play and each team has 25-30 kids.

The last break-in was in 2010 when the office was vandalized and team uniforms were destroyed. ”We use the DVD player for videos for our all our classes, the cameras are used during games. “We take pictures of the kids playing games, receiving trophies,” decried Toland.

The facility holds group counseling sessions for the children within the community discussing different topics, such as anger management, life skills, bullying and peer pressure.

The police have registered a report but the staff haven't heard back.

"I trust them, as long as they are there I know my son is safe, doing positive things. The gangs have taken over our streets, they want to take away our kids,” shares Ms. Mooney.

“We work with the local elementary school; we attend the school PTA conferences instead of the parents as a lot of these youth have no male figures in the house,” said Toland.

Toland is attends Masjid Al Islam in Ward 7. “They have made small cash donations to our program.”

The group has had several success stories. “We had a young child when we started, he is  becoming a DC firefighter and assists the children who come into our program,” shared Coach Toland.

Just a few days ago two different parts of the neighborhood got into a turf war and Imam Aliyy calmed them down.

Br. Jamal teaches the children financial management. They buy cases of water and sell water for a dollar a bottle as a summer job. “We will teach them marketing skills and plan to get each of them a bank account’” said Aliyy.

Another mentor, Br. Abdul Malik teaches Conscious Chess Moves – each Wednesday so neighborhood kids can have a positive outlet. ”Some of his kids have competed in national levels and have won,” said Abdul-Aliyy.

Imam Abdul-Aliyy is on the staff at Masjid al Islam, he runs the Islamic Studies program on Mondays and Fridays from 5-7pm  Ten to fifteen students attend his classes. “We cover iman, salah, adab conduct & behavior, Quran recitation,” relayed Abdul-Aliyy,”one of our appeals is for Qurans and books of hadith, history books, Quranic tafseer.” 

“We would like to have volunteers to come and assist us especially for the girls as right now we only have male mentors,” he said.

The Soldiers will be hosting a tree-planting on October 12th from 9 am to 4 pm around the community.

Visit for more details on how you can get involved or to donate to this effort.

641 46th street South East Apt B1. 20019
Family, Friends Walk In Fairfax for Comatose 24-Year Old PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter   
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 09:49


A Northern Virginia man, 24-year-old Leeban was critically injured in a terrible accident in January, 2013 after he apparently fell three stories in Rochester, MN.

He was rushed to the hospital where he went through emergency surgery, but his injuries left him severely brain damaged, in a coma. A brother to six sisters and his mother’s youngest, he was studying marketing in college in Rochester. The investigation into his death is still open.

Leeban, known as Lee,  attended Annandale High School in Virginia. His sisters describe him as a caring, patient, dependable brother. A ‘friendly giant’, he loved playing basketball and football. “He has a way of effortlessly bringing people together with his infectious smile and laugh,” says his sister, Ubah.

Lee’s mother left her job as a translator in Virginia and lived with her comatose son for five months in the hospital.  She was the sole caregiver for her elderly mother who she left behind. The family attends Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. She wanted to bring Lee home so she can continue to take care of her son and her mother.

In an interview with Somali Public Radio she mentioned that she has learned so much about the healthcare system through her experiences with Lee. She pleaded with the Minnesota Somali community to visit the countless Somali young men and boys, who are in hospitals and struggle alone without any visitors.

“Lee had insurance but private insurance only pays for what is absolutely necessary,” says Ubah in an interview with the Muslim Link,“even while he was in surgery, we had a social worker calling my father about transferring him to a nursing facility.”

Expenses of traumatic brain injury (TBI) were beyond what insurance covers. Options for those who cannot afford it are extremely limited, which of course decreases the quality of care needed. Physical, speech and occupational therapy are all not covered.
Family and friends of Leeban held a successful 5K Walk at Lake Fairfax Park on Sunday, May 19, 2013 to bring Leeban home to Virginia. The man’s plight, who friends describe as soft hearted, pulled in walkers from Lee’s high school, childhood friends, and others from DC, VA, NYC and as far away as Ohio.
The family declared on Thursday, June 6, 2013  that they had raised enough money to fly Leeban home and announced that he will arrive home the following week.

Even though they raised $10,000 short of their goal of $20,000, the story had reached the ears of a Muslim brother who runs a charity in Minnesota, Abdi Maaxaay.

Through Somcare and the Mahaay Foundation, Maaxaay brings Somali patients to the US for medical treatment on an air ambulance. 

An air ambulance is a specially outfitted aircraft that transports injured or sick people in a medical emergency or over distances or terrain impractical for a conventional ground ambulance.  Most aircraft used as air ambulances are equipped for advanced life support. This is the kind of transportation that Lee needed.

According to Lee’s sister Ubah, he offered to a cheaper price for the flight and then surprised the family with a completely free plane trip.

Lee arrived in Virginia before Ramadan, sick from the flight from Minnesota. He is now in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

The family says that all the money collected will be used towards medical treatments which are beneficial for TBI patients but not covered by insurance (e.g., Hyperbaric oxygen therapy) and any additional costs associated with TBI's. The Walk4Lee team will also donate money to relief organizations who do work in Somalia.

In an example of universal Muslim brotherhood, the Walk4Lee campaign said that donations have come in from absolute strangers as far away as Australia and Brooklyn College Muslim Student's Association fund raised $469 on Monday night for Lee.

If you are interested in helping this cause please visit:

State, Local Officials Break Fast with MCC Community PDF Print E-mail
Community News - Community News
Written by Muslim Link Staff   
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 09:46
The Muslim Community Center in Silver Springs celebrated their annual Ramadan Iftar for the elected officials of the state of Maryland on Friday, July 26, 2013 with food and several proclamations.

The event was officiated by Zaffar Mirza, member of MCC’s board of trustees and current chair of the Public Relations committee.  “We do it every year and invite Montgomery county officials as well as elected officials from the State of Maryland,” said Mirza in an interview with the Muslim Link.

Guests started arriving at 7:00 p.m. After recitation of the Quran by the Imam of MCC, Muhammad Abdullahi, and a welcome address by Rasheed Makhdoom, president of MCC, Dr. Tahoora Khawaja, Chair of the Board of the MCC Medical Clinic gave an update on clinic.

Doug Gansler, Attorney General of the State of Maryland was the keynote speaker. Gansler is expected to run for governor in the next elections. He recently unveiled six ethics reform ideas aimed at increasing transparency on his website. “Maryland is consistently ranked in the bottom half of integrity reports. The status quo on accountability is not good enough," he said.

Councilman George Leventhal, Lily Qi, liaison to the Asian community for Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Rev. Tim Warner, Chief Engagement and Partnership Officer at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) also attended the event.

Councilman Leventhal presented a proclamation to MCC.  Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman, Interfaith Community Liaison, Office of Community Partnership, Montgomery County presented a proclamation on behalf of County Executive Leggitt. Judge Hasan El-Amin, Judge, 7th Judicial Circuit of Maryland was amongst those who addressed the gathering.

Karen Montgomery, Senator State of Maryland, State Delegates Aruna Miller and Craig Zucker were also present.  Iman Awad representing Gov. O’Malley’s Office presented a proclamation to MCC, as well as three citations.  Dr Asif Quadri, founder of the MCC Clinic, Dr. Sajjad Durrani, founding member of MCC, and Meme Hasnain, member of MCC’s PR committee received the Governor's citations.

Director James Stowe of the Office of Human Rights, Uma Ahluwalia, Director of Health & Human Services, John “Jay” Kenney, Chief of Aging and Disability, Amber Khan, Commissioner Anis Ahmed at Governors Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Jody Docca of MCPS and Diane Fink, Executive Director “Emerge Maryland” were also in attendance.

The Montgomery County police department was represented by Luther R.Reynold, Asst. Chief of Police, who spoke at the event as well as Darryl McSwain, Asst. Chief of Police, Patrol Service and Sharif Hidayat. Hidayat who is the Police Department Community Outreach officer was honored last September with an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) SHIELD Award.

The Chief of Police, J. Thomas Manger was out of town as was County Executive Leggett, so could not attend.

Also attending were Irma Hafeez  and Tofail Ahmed of MCMD, Hon. J. Dr. Odile Brunetto Ed.D Director of Area Agency on Aging, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, President of the World Organization for Resource Development & Education, Sara Rosen, Office of Congressman Chris Van Holen, and Beth Shapiro, LSW, Senior Services, from Rockville, MD.

Many guests were accompanied by their spouses gathered to celebrate the month of mercy. About 50 people were invited and joining them were several members from the MCC community. 

Rev. Mansfield presented a proclamation from County Executive Leggitt.  As the fast broke at 8:28 p.m. and the members of the community went to pray, the guests started their buffet style dinner. With closing remarks by Mirza at 9:50, some guests stayed on for socializing.

One group of guests was escorted to witness the salah and see the masjid and another group proceeded to visit the clinic. “Many of them said that they always wondered about the masjid when they drove past the dome on New Hampshire Avenue and were awestruck,” said Mirza. They were impressed and appreciated that the center hosted them.

“The clinic is a matter of pride for both the county and for us,” said Mirza,”we are planning another big project, a pioneer in [Muslim] senior housing.”

MCC hosted iftar everyday for the greater community serving 200-400 people.
Manassas Muslims Look at $3.5M Property As New 10-Acre Home PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Hena Zuberi, Muslim Link Staff Reporter   
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 09:19

Established in 2004, the Manassas Muslim Association is in search of a permanent home.  MMA was one of the original Muslim organizations, which started with a musalla at Maximum Deals, in the independent city of Manassas Park. It is a growing community and several other Islamic centers have been established in the vicinity since then.

In 2007, MMA moved to a musallah at Prince Williams Automotive facility.

Muneer Baig has been involved in the association since the inception. Hopping around from musallah to musallah has had an adverse affect on membership, says Baig. The need for an address is dire. “Right now we don’t have adequate parking or space, which is inconvenient for worshippers,” he says.

MMA purchased ten acres of land for $400,000 in 2009 with an intention to build a community center and masjid on it. They paid off the property as all operational costs until 2010 were covered by locally owned Muslim businesses and all donations went towards the purchase of the property. However, the cost of leveling the land and constructing from scratch was too formidable a task for the community. Prompted by the need to find a permanent address, the shurah shifted gears and started looking for a property with a standing structure.




They believe they have found it. A $ 3.5 million parcel of land located in Manassas Park. It is ten acres of developable land, with a 8600 sqft. building and 150 parking spaces. The property has a 3500 sq ft. hall they would like to make into a main prayer hall and another 3200 sq ft. hall that could be used as a daycare and/or an elementary school.  Large green fields run flat all the wy to the edge of the property.

As the property was a training center, four classrooms already exist. The bathrooms will have to be renovated, as will the tiles and carpeting. A full kitchen is also available on the premises. Baig and Mufti Asif Iqbal, imam of MMA, gave the Muslim Link a tour of the property.

The center currently offers daily 5 salah, Jummah, Taraweeh and Eid Prayers, Quran Tafseer, Sunday School, After-school Islamic Programs, Summer Camp and Community Get Togethers. In 2012, an adult alim course was started. Several other service projects are planned but are postponed due to a lack of space and address, says Baig.


Except for Baig, the members of the operations committee are all in their 30s. Involvement by the women in the community has been also been limited to offsite activities due to a lack of an address. In the last three years, a space was created for jumuah and iftar for sisters in the small temporary musalla. “Once we have this place, we have dedicated space for them and our sisters can develop the programs that they have been planning,” said Mufti Iqbal.

The owners are not Muslims but have offered a non-interest bearing loan payable in seven years to the community. “I wish Muslims did this,” jokes Baig. Located right next to the police station, currently the Arts Center is using the property as a staging and storage unit. 

An additional $200,000 will be needed to revamp the building to make it usable.


The local high school, top ranking in the state of Virginia, is a hop, skip and jump away. “It would be ideal for the high school students who want to make Jumuah,” says Baig, “we are really serious about our youth, we have a young imam and a young, diverse community.” He said that the shurah would cater to their needs, including having a second jumuah around the school’s schedule. “We can build masajid,” he contended,” but if there are no musallis tomorrow, what is the use?”

Two hearings are scheduled with the city before the sale can proceed. “The objective is not to make the space for just the Muslim community, but if we can provide a safe space for the wider Manassas community, it a great dawah opportunity,” he said. Community education and services open to the general public are also on the planning roster.

The other property on Grant Ave. is in contract for sale for $750,000.

Baig says that MMA could provide the greater Manassas community a service by making soccer fields on the property to rent out to the local public. This would also bring in sustainable income to the center. Soccer is extremely popular sport in the area with many local clubs and meetups.

A fundraising dinner held on Saturday, July 27th, 2013, in a temporary location next to BBQ Tonight in Manassas Park, raised $55,000 for the association.

Find out more at

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