ONE REGION

“Nor say of anything, ‘I will be sure to do so and so tomorrow,
“Without adding, ‘God willing’. And call your Lord to mind when you forget and say, ‘I hope that my Lord will guide me even closer than this to the right way.’ ” (18:23-18:24)

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submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin

For the past year, besides enjoying a somewhat elusive retirement, five grandchildren, World Pilgrims, and my blog partners at Higher Ground, I have also been involved with a wonderful initiative called One Region. The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta provided matching funds and it’s expertise to partner with a donor that was interested in increasing interfaith and cross-cultural relationships, with an emphasis on the engagement of Muslim Americans.

The primary vision is to enable Metro Atlanta Muslims to fully embrace their civic rights, opportunities, and responsibilities, while increasing and deepening the interactions and relationships with neighbors, local governments, educational and cultural institutions, and faith communities. The four basic strategies and tactics are:

Community Building through Arts, Culture, and Public Dialogue

Leadership Development through Youth Engagement

Civic Engagement via Education and Training, and

Capacity Building through Sponsorships and Grants

The Community Foundation has involved it’s Neighborhood Fund to expand the reach and benefits of One Region into the interfaith, cross-cultural, and immigrant communities. It’s Council of Advisers includes members of the non-profit, faith, civic, corporate, public, and grassroots sectors.

In the past year, One Region has helped sponsor “Muslim Day in Grant Park”, the Georgia Humanities Council’s “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys”, “Soccer in the Streets” in Clarkston, “The Islamophobia Conference on Muslim Women”,”Atlanta Celebrates Photography”, and the theatrical performances of “The Guys”, “Third Country”, “Harabel”, and “The Best of Enemies”. We have partnered with The Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Islamic Speakers Bureau, Families First, Welcoming America, the 5th Annual Neighborhood Summit, Dekalb Library, Azizah Magazine, Higher Ground, and Eboo Patel.

What is most exciting to me, One Region has a youth competition that begins April 1st called “Ideas Challenge”. We ask college, high school, and middle school aged young people this question: “How would you use $5,000 to bridge cultures and faiths in your community?”. The 3 young people with the best ideas and plans to help their Metro Atlanta community or neighborhood become more inclusive will not only receive a $500 cash prize, but we will partner them with a non-profit and $5000 to bring their idea into reality!

Insha-Allah (God Willing), One Region will fill a void and help everyone it touches to deeply appreciate and benefit from the beauty and richness of diversity. To view the rest of our story, go to oneregionatlanta.org.

A POTENTIALLY GREATER PURPOSE FOR THE POTENT PIG, 6:145

 

“Say, ‘I do not find in the message I received by inspiration anything forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it is animals found dead, or blood poured out, or the flesh of swine, for it is an abomination, or what is unclean, or that on which a name has been invoked other than God.’ But if a person is forced by necessity, with neither outright rejecting, nor transgressing due limits, your Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Mercifully Redeeming.” 6:145

Pigs are currently thought to be the best candidates for organ donation. The risk of cross-species disease transmission is decreased because of their increased phylogenetic distance from humans. They are readily available, their organs are anatomically comparable in size, and new infectious agents are less likely since they have been in close contact with humans through domestication for many generations. Current experiments in xenotransplantation most often use pigs as the donor, and baboons as human models. (read more).

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Man in Body Bag Not Dead Yet, 3:145

“Nor can a soul die except by God’s permission, the term being fixed as by writing. If any desire a reward in this life, We will give it to them, and if any desire a reward in the hereafter, We will give it to them, and swiftly will We reward those who serve us with gratitude.” 3:145

Coroner: Man’s return from death a ‘miracle’*

Howard and Byron Porter from Porter & Sons Funeral Home in Lexington, Mississippi, drove to Williams’ home to collect the body for funeral preparations. Howard checked Williams’ pulse about 9 p.m. and pronounced him dead.

“There was no pulse. He was lifeless,” Howard said.

The coroner completed his paperwork, placed Williams in a body bag and transported him to the funeral home, he said. There, something strange happened: The body bag moved. Read More on CNN

*I just hope it was not gross oversight
submitted by Bilal

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NEW COUNTRIES, NEW PEOPLE (MATTHEW 5:5, QURAN 21:44)

“No, We gave the good things of this life to these people and their fathers, until the period grew long for them. Do they not see that We gradually reduce the land in their control from its outlying borders? Is it then they that will win?” 21:44

While reading the verse above it came to mind that 15 new countries* became independent with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Do the corrupt from the ruling elite not see that their land is gradually being reduced out of their control from its outlying borders?

“And blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5).

“Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the reminder, ‘My servants the righteous will inherit the earth.’ ” (Quran 21:105)

*The 15 new countries
1. Armenia
2. Azerbaijan
3. Belarus
4. Estonia
5. Georgia
6. Kazakhstan
7. Kyrgyzstan
8. Latvia
9. Lithuania
10. Moldova
11. Russia
12. Tajikistan
13. Turkmenistan
14. Ukraine
15. Uzbekistan

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submitted by Bilal

THERE IS HOPE FOR RUSSIA, 27:65

“Say, none in outer-space nor on earth except God knows what is hidden, nor can they know when they will be raised up.” 27:65

Reading this verse with Russia in mind, we should remember that the first manned spaceflight* was launched by the Soviet Union. And since none in outer space nor on earth except God knows what is hidden, nor can they know when they will be raised up, we should be able to imagine, pray for, and perhaps even work for, Russia becoming a place with leadership and policies that reflects the best of its actions.

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds, from them We will remove all problems that may be in them, and We will reward them according to the best of their deeds.” 29:7

* If the first manned spaceflight was not launched by the Soviet Union until 12 April 1961 then how could this verse have been interpreted prior to 1961?

submitted by Bilal

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Dr. King and Quran (Repost)

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When reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr., the following interpretations of Quran come to mind…

“And why should you not civilly disobey or become politically engaged in the cause of God and for those who lack governing power and are discriminated against or are underrepresented? Men, women, and children whose chant is, ‘Our Lord, cause us to emerge from this place whose people are obstructionist, and raise for us, from You, one who will represent, and raise for us, from You, one who will make progress.’ ” 4:75

“… And in devotion alongside those believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because among these are scholars, and those who live the Gospel, and who show restraint.” 5:82

“O you who believe, if any among you turn back from his faith, soon will God produce a people who He will love, as they will love Him. A people gentle with the faithful, firm against the opposition, striving in the way of God, and never fearing the bigot’s criticism. That is the grace of God which He will bestow on whom He pleases, God encompasses all, and He knows all things.” 5:54

“Say, ‘I have no power over any harm or profit even to myself, except as God wills. To every people is a term appointed. When their term is reached, not an hour can they delay it or advance it.’ ” 10:49

Submitted by Bilal

The Earth Teems With Prayer, 1:6

“…Your aid do we seek.
Guide us the straightway.” (Quran 1:5-6)

If you were asked to guess the number of people asking God for guidance (in their own way) the last time you asked, what number would you guess?

Imagining that number of people praying with you can enhance your prayer experience especially when you say the word “Us” as in “Guide us the straight way”.

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Pray for me? Pray for you? (Exodus 8:10) (Quran 9:103)

“The king answered, “Pray for me tomorrow.” Moses said, “I will do as you ask, and then you will know that there is no other god like the Lord, our God.” (Exodus 8:10)

“… and pray on their behalf. Indeed your prayers are a source of peace for them, and God is One that hears and knows.” (Quran 9:103)

I have never felt completely comfortable when people volunteered to pray for me because I have yet to see anything in Scripture that would lead me to believe that their prayer should positively effect me, nor have I seen anything that would lead me to believe that their prayer will in any way affect God. However, after considering the above verses, I do feel more comfortable when others asks to prayed for because I now understand that it gives them comfort.

submitted by Bilal

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Mandela the Magnanimous, (5:8)

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for G-d as witnesses to fair-dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Be just, for that is next to piety and be regardful of G-d, for He is well-aware of all that you do.” Qur’an 5:8

None of us can say enough or give too many compliments or accolades to President Nelson Mandela. Such an amazing and extraordinary life and history that we all, to varying degrees and awareness, witnessed. Madiba was the spirit and inspiration that brought an end to apartheid and racial oppression in South Africa, and he was the political leader and statesman who navigated the high road to peaceful co-existence through the path of Truth and Reconciliation, raising the world bar of peaceful possibilities.

President Mandela also fought against suppression of religions and discrimination against women. For 300 years in South Africa, it was illegal for Muslims and various other faith adherents to openly practice or declare their religion. Many of Mandela’s fellow anti-apartheid prisoners over the 27 year period were Muslim, Hindu, and Indian, along side of the African activists. He valued and was influenced by that diversity, and as President, his Cabinet was composed of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Christians, African Traditionalists, women, Whites, Blacks, and even rivals. He said:

“We can count amongst us Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews,- all of them
united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this Country.”

“Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression…Our endeavors must be about the liberation
of the woman, the emancipation of the man, and the liberty of the child.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or background or his religion. People must
learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human
heart than its opposite.”

Speaking of his release from prison after 27 years, he stated:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and
hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

This was one special human being who leaves an extraordinary legacy behind. May we remember him and may we each, in our own way, strive to emulate, even more than we admire, his life, character, humility, commitment, patience, determination, compassion and forgiveness, as best we can.

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for G-d as witnesses to fair-dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Be just, for that is next to piety and be regardful of G-d, for He is well-aware of all that you do.” Qur’an 5:8

submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin

Watch Nelson Mandela Documentary (2:207, 5:82)

“And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God, and God is full of kindness to the devotees.” (2:207)

“..And devoted alongside those believers will you find those who say, “We are Christians,” because among these are scholars and those who engaged in service to God and humanity, and they show restraint.” (5:82)

 

Watch PBS Frontline’s intimate portrait of one of the 20th century’s greatest leaders.

Click and watch
Click and watch
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Women Are Not Men, 3:36

Once she delivered she said, “O my Lord, behold, I have delivered a female child.” But God knew more about what she delivered. And the male is not the same as the female. “I have named her Mary, and I commit her and her offspring to Your protection from Satan, the Rejected.” (Quran 3:36)

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Commentary of Quran can come from almost anywhere and from almost anyone (whether they know it or not). I heard this interesting Freakonomics podcast titled “Women and Not Men” and it reminded me of the phrase in the verse above “And the male is not the same as the female.”

Below is the intro to the podcast that you can listen to here.

“Women are different from men, by a lot, in some key areas. For example, data show that women don’t: drown, compete as hard, get struck by lightning, use the Internet, edit Wikipedia, engage in delinquent behavior, or file patents as much as men do – and these are just some of the examples. Another way women are different from men? They have made significant economic gains and yet they are less happy now than they were 30 years ago. So, how do we explain this paradox? In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, Stephen Dubner looks at some of the ways that women are not men. Later in the hour, Dubner talks to Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his research on the history of violence. Pinker has a surprising and counterintuitive thesis: violence has declined and the world is a much more peaceful place than it has ever been.”

submitted by Bilal

A Matching Donation From God, 4:39-40

“And how will it harm them if they had faith in God and in the Last Day, and if they spent from what God has given them for sustenance? And God has full knowledge of them.” “God is never unjust in the least degree. If there is any good, He doubles it, and gives from His own presence a great reward.” 4:39-40

When we, for example, give to support the United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) work in Syria and the refugee camps where thousands of Syrian families are arriving each day, by doubling our good, God is effectively matching our donation.

Read more about the present Syria Refugee Crisis, Donating, and 9 Other Ways You Can Help Right Now

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The Homosexual/ Incarceration Connection, 4:15 -16

“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four witnesses from among you, against them. And if they testify, confine them to houses until death claims them, or God ordains for them some other way.” “If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and change, leave them alone, for God is Oft-Returning, the Merciful Redeemer.” (4:15-16)

The suggestion of homosexuality (4:16-17) and incarceration (4:15) so close together makes me wonder what connection there is between homosexuality during incarceration and homosexuality in the free population. And perhaps since prisons are separated by gender, and most sexual activity in prisons is conducted with a same-sex partner, often in contradiction to a person’s normal social sexual orientation, then perhaps diverting men and women from incarceration will help bring down the homosexuality rate (read more).

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I Believe You Will Live Again, 75:36-40

“Does the human being think that he will be left without purpose?

Was he not a drop of sperm emitted?

Then he became a clinging clot that God made and fashioned with proportion;

And made from it two sexes, male and female.

Has God not the power to give life to the dead?”

Qur’an 75:36-40

Submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin:
So many today seem to doubt the reality, or even the possibility, of life after death. We are so engrossed and enamored by the material life that many of us can’t seem to fathom anything else. Yet, most of us know we are so much more than skin, bones, blood, cars, and houses; that we all have a spirit or soul that is more inherently us than is our flesh, and that spirit is our true essence.

Oftentimes, we are conscious of that spirit leaving the body, in our thoughts, imaginations, dreams, and anticipations. We can move back into the past, up into the future, and through apparent barriers in the present while our bodies remain stagnant. Do we really think that the death of our lesser selves requires the demise of our greater self?

And why does it matter? When one accepts that life doesn’t end with death, your perspective of the life on this side broadens and deepens. The mad pursuit for the immediate, the temporal, the superficial, and the egotistical subsides. When we embrace the faith that this life is connected and interwoven into the next, and how we live here affects our circumstances in the next life, then our efforts here become more authentic and altruistic.

The verses above bring to mind the unimaginable wonder of human life development which we take for granted, but if a sperm drop can become a man and a women, and it certainly does, how can I intelligently reject the possibility of life beyond death. Of course, it would be difficult to describe life in this world to a baby still in it’s mother’s womb: ‘there’s going to be air, light, food, and people who love you out there’, ‘yeah, sure’. But there is, and thank God that nature gets the baby prepared.

The gift of free-will and choice obligates us to get ourselves ready for the life beyond. And we do so by choosing to live upon those principles that are essential, yet transcendent, such as Truth, Justice, Freedom, Love, Mercy, and Peace.

You will live more than once. May you believe it and make the most of this life and harvest the best of the next.

Strike the Assad Military in Syria? 4:75

“And why would you refuse to fight in the cause of God and for those who lack power and are oppressed?- Men, women, and children whose cry is, ‘Our Guardian Evolver, rescue us from this place whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, from You, one who will protect, and raise for us, from You, one who will help.’ ” (Quran 4:75)

Watch the Video of Asad gassing his own people.

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“Fifty Years” Dr. M.L.K. Jr., 5:82

 

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“..And devoted alongside those believers will you find those who say, “We are Christians,” because among these are scholars and those who engaged in service to God and humanity, and they show restraint.” (5:82)

Submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin

It has been fifty years since the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s soaring and simultaneously sobering “I Have A Dream” speech. Fifty years! I was only 13 years old and just entering the last eighth grade class at Booker T. Washington High, here in Atlanta. That speech, tragically framed with the murders of the four young girls in the Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church bombing the next month and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy two months after that, permeated the next five years of our high school lives. Every graduation and yearbook reflected on that speech during the next five years of those troubling and changing times. One month before our graduation, Dr. King was murdered. Our graduation theme became “The Impossible Dream”.

”I Have A Dream” has been an integral part of my life and who I am, but there are two other King Speeches that have impacted me and my sense of being just as much. One year exactly before his assassination, Dr. King delivered one of the most riveting, thoughtful, and global perspectives at Riverside Baptist Church in New York, entitled ‘Beyond Vietnam’. If you haven’t heard or read this speech lately or ever, it is a must! It was this speech, explaining in precise factual, philosophical, and scriptural detail why he was against the war in Vietnam and American aggression, that illuminated and actualized a revolutionary worldview for me and so many others. Dr. King said, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.”

He insisted that America needed to have a true revolution of values, to shift us from a thing-oriented society to a people-oriented society, to make us uncomfortable with the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth, to enable us to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas exploitation, to ward off the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism, and to “call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation”. If you wonder what Dr. King would be saying in 2013, re-read that speech!

The third of the three speeches that shaped and guided my life and energies was his last. A few hours before his assassination in Memphis before a packed church of sanitation workers and brave souls, Dr. King spoke of the otherside. He said he had been blessed by God to go upon the mountain and see the Promised Land. That speech expanded my world and my reality beyond what I could touch, taste, smell, see, or hear. That speech opened the door for me to the spiritual realities of our existence and the inherent interconnectedness of this world with the next. It liberated me from the fear of death and the myths of purposelessness and meaninglessness. It restored and expanded my soul.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was indeed a Dreamer, but he should never be regarded as a Sleeper. He was awake to G-d, to justice, to decency, to truth, and to humanity. May his words stay alive within us and may his legacy obligate our Nation.

Submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin

Pornography, 6:120

“Avoid harmful deeds, open or secret. Those who earn sin will get due reward for their earnings.” 6:120

Research concerning the effects of pornography is concerned with multiple outcomes. Such research includes potential influences on rape, domestic violence, sexual dysfunction, difficulties with sexual relationships, and child sexual abuse. Viewers of novel and extreme pornographic images may become tolerant to such images, which may impact sexual response. Viewers may also become addicted to pornography. [read entire article]

Books of Translation + Online Commentary

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