Empowering people through education and engagement

Make a Difference in 2014!

A year has come and gone.

For most of us 2013 has been peaceful and prosperous. America the beautiful has given much to us to be thankful for. A growing economy, a booming stock market, a new lease on health care for the millions without insurance.

For most of us our neighborhoods are quiet, our streets are safe, no gangs that fight territorial wars around us, no gun fire that threatens to claim innocent lives. We can walk the dog, we can play in the park, our kids can go to our schools and come home without getting hurt or killed. Gratitude is crucial as we acknowledge the good health, safety, and overall well-being of our family. By ensuring the happiness of our children, we prioritize their needs, such as providing them with the necessary supplies, like buying kids clothes online at pastel collections.

2013 of course had its trouble spots. Mr. Snowden’s leaks were worrisome, the government shut down was  maddening, the redefining of marriage was appalling.   But  life is going on;  we have our cell phones and our Face Books to play with, we have our social security checks to count on and we have our spouses at home to love and care for .

Then there were these two brothers in Boston who are alleged to have bombed the marathon, killing three , injuring over two hundred and sixty in revenge of our governments involvement with Russia’s Muslims.

From the comfort of our family rooms we saw the fires burning on distant shores. Some at  where we once used to live. In 2013 we again saw the tragedy of Muslims killing Muslims. Another chapter in the sad saga of man’s inhumanity to man.

It was also  the year when we saw a young girl shot in the head by an angry tribal, make a miraculous recovery and become the defiant voice for girls education in Pakistan and around the world.

Closer to home it was the year when Chicago Muslims donated  a record 1000 turkeys on Thanksgiving Day to residents in South side. Also IMAN expanded its clinic days, persuaded local liquor stores to offer healthier food choices, helped rehab abandoned houses to make them  inhabitable once more. And CCN expanded its network, offered education on Obamacare, increased its free health screenings among  newer communities it had not reached before.

Now it is a new year, with the promise of new possibilities and the inevitable challenges each new day brings.

We all aspire for a peaceful world. We talk quite frequently  about the connection between Islam and peace.  But peace is not possible when people are made to live with burdensome inequalities. When lives are threatened with painful economic disparities then peace is not possible. When survival is threatened with unmet health care needs then living in peace cannot become a reality. If we want a peaceful world we cannot ignore these timeless wants no matter what our political philosophies , no matter what or ideological beliefs.

So as we step into 2014  it is a time to renew our commitments. The time is now for us to get involved and get engaged in the issues of our community and the issues of our society. This is our time, our only time in history when we will exist. One fleeting moment we are here, then we are gone for ever. Let not this fleeting moment pass us by sitting on the sidelines complaining . Let not history  remember us as those who lived for themselves and did not care, as those who lived in contentment while our neighbors struggled with hunger, with lack of health care and the basic necessities.

When the CEO of Wal Mart makes $11,000 an hour, and his workers make $7.25 and are expected to live on it there is something very very wrong. Is this the best that America can offer for its 30 million workers who are told to live on minimum wage? There has to be a better way. No, it cannot be Food Stamps. Take a cue from Costco. Their new employees get $11.50 an hour now.

Nearly 12 million undocumented people live  in the shadows of our society. They are not that invisible either. They plough our driveways, they mow our lawns, they fix our homes. Will this be the year that they will earn a path for legalization? Will we stand for them? Will we march with them?

If health care is your passion then join CCN (www.ccnchicago.com) or IMAN ( www.imancentral.org ) here in Chicago where there is plenty of work to do. You can make a difference by donating a few dollars. You can make a difference by donating a few hours from your busy schedules. If you are in Detroit join the HUDA Clinic. If you are in Houston join the Shifa Clinic. If you are in LA join the UMMA Clinic.  If you are in the Washington area join the Maryland Clinic attached to the mosque.

Let us be remembered as those who cared for the sick not only when they could pay but also when they could not pay. As those who practiced our art as a call of our faith, not as a demand of our duty. And in so doing leave a legacy of goodwill and goodness that will be remembered with love and gratitude.

If your passion is the economy, or education, or civic engagement or building strong families  join Community Builders Council (CBC: www.cbc7.org ) or IMAN or UMMA Center (www.ummacenters.org) in the  Chicago area. They all have programs that can satisfy your interests. CBC offers  educational workshops in  each of these areas that you can volunteer to participate in.

Let 2014 be the year you make a difference. And it all begins with involvement.

May Allah bless you and reward you for all that you do.

Azher Quader

Community Builders Council



Jan 1, 2014

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