Blessed Ramadan!

By Imam Fajri Ansari

The month of Ramadan began on May 27th 2017. It is the month of fasting observed by 1 billion Muslims around the world. Ramadan is scheduled on the lunar calendar which begins and end at the sighting of the new moon in your region. Ramadan moves up approximately 10 days each year. All who are at the age of puberty, in good health, not traveling (or in case of women), not pregnant or on their menses are required to fast. Muslims will fast for a period of 29-30 days from sunrise to sunset abstaining from all foods and drinks and marital relations. In addition to abstaining from physical foods, Muslims are to be on their best behavior. Abstaining from negative environments, arguments, bad behaviors, bad deeds etc. which are equally important in that it could cause Muslims to break their fast mentally and spiritually.

Ramadan derives from a term which means “burning” or purification. It is a time to burn off your sins and get a complete cleansing. It is said by Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him that “whoever intends to fast the month of Ramadan and completes the fast that all his/hers sins from the previous year will be forgiven”. 

Qur’an 2:183

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was to those before you that you may (learn) self restraint”

There are many benefits to fasting the month of Ramadan. The individual(s) who fast are drawn nearer to Allah (God) by increasing their sacred regard and reverence for The Creator and Sustainer of everything. There are great health benefits by allowing the digestive system that is usually overworked to thoroughly digest and clean waste out its system. The discipline of maintaining the fast increases ones patience and tolerance when socially interacting. Your senses are sharpened as well as your consciousness.

What is the fast for? Allah (God) says fasting is for Me! This serves one’s logic because God is the only One who knows whether or not you are keeping your fast. 

The focus on the fast should be to help those who do not have what others have. There are people who involuntarily fast throughout the year because they do not have food and even shelter. Muslims are to be more charitable during the month of Ramadan. Good deeds in AI-Islam are multiplied by 10 times…in Ramadan those good deeds are multiplied by a minimum of 70 times and greater.

The late Imam W. Deen Mohammed said regarding the fast of Ramadan,”It is to have us share what we have with those who have little or nothing. It is to go to the aid of the hungering and those who are poor and destitute who need help. It opens our heart to them and we help them. So fasting is for God. If the believer keeps his fast that way, then he benefits his own life more and he benefits the community more. But if he fast just because he says this is a law I have to fast or if he fast just because he knows when he comes off the fast after the month of Ramadan he feels better health-wise or he just feels good, that is not it…the purpose is too serious. The seriousness is a healthy community where people register the hurt and suffering of their brothers and sisters, so that is what God means.”

Fasting in Ramadan should not be an emphasis on how long you are fasting each day but more so on how well you are fasting each day. Prophet Muhammad said “Perhaps a fasting person will receive nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst.” “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward; each good deed receiving ten times it’s like, up to seven hundred times. 

Allah the Most High said except fasting, for it is for Me and I give recompense for it, he who leaves off his desires and his food for me, for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk. “

During the month of Ramadan Muslims also commemorate the time The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel (Jibril). The entire 114 Chapters would take a little over 23 years to be revealed. Muslims are encouraged to read at least 1/30th of the Qur’an each day in Ramadan in order to complete the entire reading by the end of the month. The purpose of reading the Qur’an is to become closer to Allah’s (God’s) words. Muslims read to gain direction and instructions for Guidance, Forgiveness and for Mercy. At the end of the month of Ramadan it is expected the fasting believer is renewed and looks to begin life on a new start. There is a three day celebration called Eid al Fitr which means a “reoccurring happiness” and a return to your original human nature. Muslims have a feast and share gifts with families, friends and neighbors.

We encourage all to make prayers and supplications for those who are suffering from hunger, oppression, discrimination, violence, homelessness, ignorance and lack of education. Ramadan is an excellent time also for Muslims to educate family, friends and the community at large about the true tenants of Al Islam. Suicide bombings, kidnapping, forcing religion against one’s will, murdering innocent people etc. cannot be substantiated by Qur’an and or the life example of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).  One example is the term “Jihad”, which means a personal internal struggle to surrender your will to do God’s will, has now been redefined in the media as “Holy War”. Every person who identifies with a faith is to be measured by the revealed Book and God’s messenger they profess to follow. Not by what they do in the name of religion that’s merely self-serving. Temperatures for the month of Ramadan are expected to be hot and the fasting days are on average 16 hrs. Allah does not intend for the faster to have difficulty but to complete the fast. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before and after day light hours. Remember that those who are ill, diabetic etc. are not too fast. Instead you can feed a poor person and stay in compliance with the fast.

 This year’s Eid al Fitr celebration is anticipated to around June 26th or 27th. Please look out for our celebration and join in with us as we plan to feed the neighbors at Masjid Nu’Man.

Ramadan Mubarak! Blessed Ramadan to all!

Memorial Day Has Roots In Black History

GAIL WELLS copy.jpg

According to Yale University historian, David Blight, former Black slaves honored dead Union soldiers in a ceremony that is seen as the precursor to the observation of the modern Memorial Day. When one says that Black History is American history, truer words were never spoken.

Although the exact origins of Memorial Day are disputed, the earliest recorded observation occurred on May 1st 1865 in Charleston, SC when 250-257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp were honored. Lead by freedmen, they dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, "Martyrs of the Race Course." Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen's schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field The ceremony was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the "First Decoration Day" in the North. 

A subsequent memorial service was organized in 1866 in the village of Waterloo, NY by Henry Carter Welles and General John B. Murray to honor those who fought and died in the Civil War. The House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed Resolution 587 on May 17th and May 19th, 1966 respectively that reads in part as follows: “Resolved that the Congress of the United States, in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion one hundred years ago in the Village of Waterloo, NY, does hereby officially recognize Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day…” Despite these early memorials some claim that the modern Memorial Day originated with an order issued in 1868 by Major General A. Logan, a Union soldier, who declared May 30th as “Decoration Day”. Decoration Day was renamed Memorial Day which was established as a federal holiday in1971 by Congress. Yet David W. Blight described what occurred in 1865 this way: "This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”

Interestingly, “Decoration Day” was so closely linked with the Union cause that many Southern states refused to celebrate it. They acquiesced only after World War I, when the holiday was expanded beyond honoring fallen Civil War soldiers to recognizing Americans who died fighting in all wars. Some critics say the original focus — on, as Frederick Douglass put it, the moral clash between "slavery and freedom, barbarism and civilization" — had been lost. 

According to the 2000 National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was passed to emphasize the meaning of Memorial Day.  All Americans should "voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps.”

Please join the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Jesse Clipper Post 430, the Copper Town Block Club and the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor on Monday May 29th at 2pm in the Jesse Clipper Park (William and Michigan) in a Memorial Day Service honoring Jesse Clipper and the African American soldiers from WNY who fought and died in combat. The ceremony will include a military honor guard, the playing of “Taps”, a twenty-one-gun salute, and the laying of a wreath by a Gold Star mother. The park will be decorated with American flags and light refreshments will be served. Historian, Eva Doyle will provide information on the life of Jesse Clipper. All are invited.

 Gail V Wells isMarketing Director, Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor

References: Wikimedia Foundation 204 37th Avenue North Suite330 St. Petersburg, FL. 33704

African American Registry www.Aaregistry.com

Time.com “A Brief History of Memorial Day”, by Laura Fitzpatrick, Sunday, May 24, 2009

 

Duncan Kirkwood

Declares His Candidacy in Race for Erie County Legislator

Says focus will be on building bridges and bringing together diverse coalitions of supporters

                          Duncan Kirkwood 

                          Duncan Kirkwood 

I, Duncan Kirkwood, am running for Erie County Legislator in District 2 in the 2017 Election. As we enter the 2017 campaign, the focus will be on building bridges and bringing together diverse coalitions of supporters. 

I was born to Iris and Marvell Kirkwood, the last of three children. We were raised in Central Park on the Eastside of Buffalo, a place where crime and violence was the norm. My parents were determined to make sure that I lived to the age of 18 and had a chance at life. They exposed me to creative writing classes, a traveling chess team with St. John Baptist Church, an African Rites of Passage program with Jack and Jill Inc. and other diverse opportunities. 

After graduating fromhigh school, I accepted and committed to the Historically Black College, Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. There, I learned Black consciousness and the importance of fighting together to win in a system that is oppressive. While there, I sued the city of Montgomery to protect student voting rights. I used my ability to write and pass three State Laws while starting a statewide movement demanding excellence in education for all children. In broadening my global consciousness, I also led a Christian trip to Jerusalem. This led me to enlist in the Army National Guard so that I could serve my community. 

In 2015, my wife Carolyn and I decided that we would start our life here in Buffalo. I decided I would use the skills and knowledge acquired to make Buffalo better. I was heartbroken to find when I returned, in the midst of a sea of prosperity, the neighborhood I grew up in was still filled with blight and hopelessness. As I became involved with a variety of organizations fighting for justice and equality, it was clear Erie County could do more for its citizens.

 If elected,

   1. I will push to allocate an additional $4 million to expand wrap around services in our public schools. I will render support to the Buffalo Public School’s mission and vision under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Cash and the New Education Bargain.

   2. I will assure the Erie County Legislative staff will be diverse and representative of the face of the people. 

   3. Due to the high percentage of children of color removed by Child Protective Services, I will call for a detailed analysis of data and demographics and what agencies financially benefit from it. 

   4. Erie County provides funding to over 60 non-profit organizations, with a handful being minority led. If elected, I will work to make sure the County allocates funds for more non-profits that represent the diversity of the county.

   5. One of the least funded departments in the Erie County budget is Veterans Affairs. As someone who has served in the military, I will work to expand current and future transformations to support our Veterans across Western NY.

   6 .I want to create a payment plan protocol for paying warrants and fines so the County does not harshly harm those in poverty who can't afford to pay. 

   7. I will work to transform the Erie County Holding Center to a place where citizens are treated with respect, and where they receive the physical and mental health care services they need. 

 Our elders have done incredible work in the community and we can never thank them enough. My generation can honor them by stepping up to carry the legacy forward. Research and policy change are necessary and I carry those strengths, and I believe I can affect great change. Lawmakers should write laws that significantly impact the community. If elected, I intend to do just that.

I have been a Democrat my entire life and believe in the principles of our party now more than ever. As an adult, I learned the “D” by someone’s name is important. What is more important, is a legislator’s ability to deliver lasting change for the community through legislation. “LET’S REACH FORWARD AND PUT PEOPLE OVER POLITICS!” Please visit my website: 

www.DuncanKirkwood.com  

Jeff Sessions is rolling back basic rights

by Jesse Jackson 

As Donald Trump nears the end of his first 100 days, media commentary focuses primarily on how little he has achieved in comparison to other presidents. It’s a mistake, however, to discount the threat that the Trump administration poses to our fundamental rights. His attorney general, former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a case in point.

Sessions has set out with a vengeance to transform the Department of Justice into a Department of Injustice. He’s been hindered by the incompetence that characterizes this administration. He’s home alone in his department, with no nominations offered for the heads of top DOJ units — the civil rights, criminal or national security divisions. His deputies — Nos. 2 and 3 in the DOJ — have been nominated but not confirmed.

That has slowed but not stopped Sessions’ efforts to rollback basic rights. He’s reversed the Justice Department’s position of challenging voter identification laws; he deems the Voting Rights Act too “intrusive.” Now the DOJ will intervene in favor of states that pass discriminatory measures to restrict access to the ballot. The right to vote — the fundamental right of a democracy — will now depend on the willingness of judges to stand up for the truth, as U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos did in ignoring the DOJ intervention and ruling that the Texas ID law was “passed, at least in part, with a discriminatory purpose.”

Sessions has issued orders to revive the old, failed war on drugs. The promising bipartisan efforts to reform sentencing provisions to end the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders are to be abandoned. Sessions wants to revive private prisons and insure them a steady stream of prisoners. People of color, particularly young African-American men, will be the greatest victims of this injustice.

Sessions has called for a “review” of all the reform agreements that Obama’s Civil Rights Division has reached with police forces. His DOJ sought to delay implementation of a consent decree reached in Baltimore in the wake of the Freddy Gray killing. Sessions scorns these agreements as “political expediency” that will “handcuff the police.” In Baltimore, the judge ignored the DOJ’s efforts to impede reform. But despite the outcry at the killings of young black men and women, Sessions is clearly telling police they can act with impunity once more.

And Sessions has been point on the administration’s efforts to ramp up deportation, terrorize immigrants and defend the president’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. He expressed amazement that a “judge sitting on an island in the Pacific” could overturn the president’s order. That judge was a federal district court justice in the state of Hawaii, part of the union for 58 years.

Sessions has issued letters to nine sanctuary cities, counties and states, including the state of California, New York City, Chicago and Cook County, threatening to deny federal grant funds — largely funds for local law enforcement — unless they commit to cooperating with the administration’s sweeping assaults on immigrants. This arbitrary assertion of federal power is particularly remarkable from Sessions, who as a senator declaimed endlessly about the glories of states’ rights. Luckily, Sessions wasn’t at Herod’s side when Mary and Joseph sought sanctuary in Egypt with the baby Jesus.

The sanctuary jurisdictions have vowed to resist Sessions edicts. Speaking for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spokesman Matt McGrath noted: “The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional, and Chicago is proud to stand with 34 cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to prevent the federal government from illegally withholding federal funds.”

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared that New York City will “remain a city welcoming of immigrants who have helped make our city the safest big city in the nation. Any attempt to cut NYPD funding for the nation’s top terror target will be aggressively fought in court. We won’t back down from protecting New Yorkers from terror — or from an overzealous administration fixated on xenophobia and needless division.”

The assault on rights — for the LGBT community, for people of color, for women, for immigrants — is clear. Efforts to rollback voting rights, civil rights, police reform and sentencing reform have already begun. The resistance — from courts, from decent public officials, from activists and citizens of conscience — has been and will be fierce. Sessions’ Department of Injustice is measure of the damage that Trump can do. Instead of making America a more perfect union, Americans will have to mobilize to defend their rights from the very department that is tasked with protecting them.

The sanctuary jurisdictions have vowed to resist Sessions edicts. Speaking for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, spokesman Matt McGrath noted: “The administration’s plan to deny federal funds to cities that are standing up for their values is unconstitutional, and Chicago is proud to stand with 34 cities and counties across the country in asking a federal court to prevent the federal government from illegally withholding federal funds.”

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared that New York City will “remain a city welcoming of immigrants who have helped make our city the safest big city in the nation. Any attempt to cut NYPD funding for the nation’s top terror target will be aggressively fought in court. We won’t back down from protecting New Yorkers from terror — or from an overzealous administration fixated on xenophobia and needless division.”

The assault on rights — for the LGBT community, for people of color, for women, for immigrants — is clear. Efforts to rollback voting rights, civil rights, police reform and sentencing reform have already begun. The resistance — from courts, from decent public officials, from activists and citizens of conscience — has been and will be fierce. Sessions’ Department of Injustice is measure of the damage that Trump can do. Instead of making America a more perfect union, Americans will have to mobilize to defend their rights from the very department that is tasked with protecting them.