Tag Archives: Detroit

Another screening of Journey into America in Michigan

The University of Michigan will hold a screening of “Journey into America”, hosted by the International Institute on April 19 at 12:00. For all of the friends we met in Michigan, please come out and see the film.

More details on the screening here. Click here to pre-order the book Journey into America at Amazon.

Film screenings and Book update

Several film screenings to report on recently. Two of them were held in Ann Arbor, Michigan by our friends in the area. Thanks to Dawud Walid for taking part in the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice screening in February.

Another was held this past weekend at the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown branch where “Journey into America” was screened in an event  co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan.

Randolph College

Finally, Frankie and Jonathan traveled down to lovely Lynchburg, Virginia to take part in the opening night of the Randolph College Film Festival “Spring Into Action: Documentaries to Change the World,” sponsored by the Driver Lecture Series. We had an incredible time and were on hand to talk about the making of the film and answer questions from the audience. “It was great to get out of the city where we have been working on the book throughout the bitter winter. The weather was wonderful and the landscape beautiful. We were received warmly and the response to the film was overwhelming. It provoked a lot of debate and discussion and I was delighted that the students enjoyed it so much”, said Frankie. Special thanks to Professor Jennifer Gauthier, who organized the festival along with the Festival Planning Committee and members from the campus student groups UMMAH and Bridges.

As Frankie mentioned, we are working hard on Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam and are in the final stages of editing. We are set for an early June release date and we are really excited to turn our attention to promoting the book and sharing more about what we found on the journey. Stay tuned to the blog as we will soon be writing more about the issues raised by the book. As always, thanks for visiting.

Click here to pre-order Journey into America at Amazon.

A year after the death of WD Mohammed

One year ago today we were in the Dearborn/Detroit area in the fist stages of our trip when we heard the news of the passing of WD Mohammed. Madeeha wrote beautifully about it then. We visited the Muslim Center of Detroit that evening for Iftaar and a special prayer for WD Mohammed.

A year later, I am still struck by the man. We asked people throughout the country who their role models were. Many African American Muslims said WD Mohammed. After a year of hearing about the man, his legacy and all that he did for the country, I would put him at the top of my list as well.

Before the trip started, I knew very little about the impact of WD Mohammed. I knew his history and when he died , I knew it would be a big deal. But his cultural import, and the direction and heroic vision he gave to African American Muslims have been staggering to me.

He changed the direction of the African American Muslim community, led them from his father’s Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam, and encouraged Muslims to integrate into American life.

One Imam told me that WD Muhammed is the reason that he and many other African Americans “are not on the street selling drugs, hangin’ with the gangs. People don’t understand what he did for America in taking African Americans to mainstream Islam.  We could have been gangbangers; instead we live the best life we can”.  We heard this same sentiment over and over—that he saved peoples lives, kept them off the streets, inspired many to work in the community instead of being part of the destruction of the community.

The communities that followed his examples were, to me, the most inspiring that we met. His impact on the Muslim community is rivaled by none as far as I can tell and yet the  anniversary of his death is nowhere to be found in the mainstream media while we are on our third month of Michael Jackson memorials. Today, I think we should remember the man and be thankful for his extraordinary legacy.

Jonathan Hayden

A Hard Goodbye

Woman praying at Muslim Center of Detroit

Woman praying at Muslim Center of Detroit

When I woke up Wednesday, it seemed like every other morning – the bright blue sky, strong stench of coffee in the hallway, and of course, our super early team meeting. After a visit to Professor Saeed Khan’s classes for questionnaires, I came back to make my routine calls to schedule, reschedule, confirm, and reconfirm meetings of the next few days in Dearborn. After making a few calls, I spoke to Imam Abdallah El-Amin, our host for the dinner that evening (video below). Imam ran the mosque known as the Muslim Center of Detroit which had been predominantly serving the African American community in Detroit for the past 30 years. As usual, I was expecting a powerful, enthusiastic, warm voice to be on the other side of the phone. However, there was something different about the voice this time. There was something somber in the Imam’s tone and that is when I knew at once that something was wrong. After conversing with me for a bit about the schedule for the night, Imam finally broke the heart-wrenching news to me…. The American Muslim superhero, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad had just passed away.

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Dresden or Detroit?

By Craig Considine

I returned back to the hotel in Dearborn, Michigan completely and utterly exhausted. We had just visited the ‘Grand Circus Park’, an area that epitomizes the impoverishment of downtown Detroit. Parts of the city have characteristics of a ‘Third World’ country. Large skyscrapers are completely vacant, with their windows either smashed or non-existent. Its old brick buildings are half in-tact reminiscent of a bombed Dresden, Germany after World War II. In my estimation, three of every five business stores are either empty or boarded up with plywood. Homeless people appear defenselessly sprawled out on its vacuous sidewalks. The atmosphere is so dull and depressing that one wonders if it has any vibrancy or pulse at all. Even a whisper can echo and bounce of the barely standing homes on the deserted streets of Detroit.

As a deeply patriotic American concerned for the well-being and happiness of my fellow citizens, I was baffled that such a historically important city could deteriorate into such a miserably depressed and impoverished environment. How our political leaders could let ‘The Motor City’ slide so deeply into the depths of ‘Third World’ poverty without any large scale governmental intervention to transform conditions on the ground is still beyond my comprehension. Instead of diverging in foreign wars that are arguably of no real threat to our national security, the government could re-appropriate the billions of wasted dollars to help its own American citizens.

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