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World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Update from World Faith Chicago: Refugee Assistance Programs 23 January , 2012

Filed under: Chapter Reports,News — Administrator @ 8:32 am
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A Note from Regional Director Naazish YarKhan:

As the New Year begins, I’m writing to thank you for your generosity with your time, cash, in-kind donations and patience. We are very, very pleased to welcome Br. Moinuddin who will be our new treasurer and Madiha Haroon who will handle our food vouchers.Madiha came by way of Talat Aalia, so inshallah every good that Madiha does, Aalia inshallah will get a share of the reward. Ameen. Farzana has been a great help as Treasurer, and also came by way of Aalia. She will be in touch with RAP, though not in a formal capacity. Jazak Allah Farzana for everything. Sarah Husain who has managed our website so far is due to have her baby any day now. I am looking forward to hearing whether it’s a girl or a boy. Please keep Sarah in your duas.

As We Sow, So Shall We Reap
This week I had the pleasure of working with two Iraqi families – one of whom wants to set up a business fixing garage doors and the other who wants to drive a taxi. It was so good to see them find out  details – whether for taxi driving, or links to the items the garage door man needed to start his business.  It is a HUGE blessing that RAP today has the money to help these people. Secondly, those things cost so much less than rent payments but will have so much more impact.
I was only too happy to introduce the garage door man to http://www.Vistaprints for free biz cards andblogspot.com, facebook, wordpress.com to make a free website. Even better, within hours, he had made his business card which RAP will sponsor ( shipping). His high school aged daughter is helping him with all this, and that too is such a rewarding thing to witness.
The person who wanted to be a taxi driver, originally wanted to be a security man. Since he’s had a knee operation, I told him to check whether that would be an issue.Alhamdollilhah, he and his wife did and they discovered he’d have to stand for long hours. So instead he decided to go the taxi driver training route. His wife is a civil engineer and is currently working at O’Hare with handicapped passengers who need help getting around. Please pray for her. Her husband speaks little English and she is his main pillar of support. She is looking into a nursing program.
Kiran has sent out a check to a Dentist who is doing his Kaplan program, so as to enter dental school here. We also sent out his CTA pass bus, this week. Alhamdollilah. Similarly, we’re paying for college for another man who had to make up the difference that his school loan didn’t cover.
Another lady we’d sponsored has now completed Part 2 of her coursework to be a dental assistant. I am going to be in touch with her to see what her next steps are.
Fatima Hindi and the lady with cancer who have been collaborating on a sewing business since 2011. We were able to find an Iraqi (coincidentally) store owner in Chicago who sells used industrial sewing machines who has promised to help these ladies.  Fatima Hindi has been doing good things – and not just for herself but for other widows and single moms, as a caterer and with the sewing. We are looking to support her with a car once our $5000 from Zakat Chicago materials, inshallah.
Alhamdollilah, it feels so good to see that we are making a difference in these lives. And to actually now have the time to talk to these people, I am realizing that half of one’s strength in life comes from just feeling heard and understood. Listening is an act of Ibadath, really.
For every time these families make dua for me and thank me, I remind them that it’s not just me but all of you, that have helped make this happen.
Jazak Allah everyone. RAP is what it is because of you.
On that note, onward, stronger, better. Ameen.
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Refugee Assistance Programs Join World Faith! 20 April , 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

We are delighted to announce that Refugee Asistance Programs (RAP), a Chicago-based initiative, is joining World Faith as a Chapter.  The service-driven mission of RAP exceeds our standards of community service, and their attention to the religious needs of refugees creates a beautiful partnership that we believe will continue both missions into the coming years.

Frank Fredericks, the founder of World Faith, shared, “We are very excited about this new partnership, and we believe it will allow us to actively engage in the greater Chicago area, while also putting RAPs fine work into a global context.”


Naazish YarKhan, the found of RAP, is happy to share that 0n Saturday May 15
th, RAP will host a community-supported  Kitchen Kit Drive for Refugees, from 9 a.m. to Noon, at ISNS in Rolling Meadows, Ilinois.

RAP has helped over 500 families from Africa, Myanmar, and Iraq.  Last year, the community raised 1,300 toys for RAP during its “Eid is for Everyone” toy and winter- wear drive. It received the CIOGC “Excellence in Community Service Award” in 2010.

“What would be the first thing you would look for in a completely new country? A hot cup of tea? A pan to warm milk for your child? A bed or a couch are secondary when a refugee mom has nothing in her kitchen. New refugee families arrive every week and, as an interfaith community, we want to transform their empty apartments into cozy homes,” said Kiran Ansari, a RAP Boardmember.

To volunteer, email: empoweringrefugees@gmail.com . Donations can be mailed to Refugee Assistance Programs/ WF, 1146 Coventry Circle, Glendale Heights, IL 60139. Please indicate whether it’s a general donation or zakat.  Donations can also be collected by World Faith, with the donation specified for RAP.

More at RAP’s blog, and website.

 

A Christian’s Response to Anti-Islamic Extremism 2 October , 2008

This is an op-ed I am distributing.  We will see if it gets picked up.

For those of you who missed it, a Dayton, Ohio mosque was attacked by a chemical irritant that a was reportedly sprayed into a window during a Ramadan prayer of 300 people, many of which were women and children.  It has so far received little media attention.  Occurring last Friday, September 26, it came at the end of a week where Dayton saw thousands of copies of the anti-Muslim “documentary” Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West was distributed in major newspapers city-wide.  This demands both some critical thought, and a clear response from the those who passionately abhor communal hatred and violence, no matter who’s the victim or perpetrator.

So a little more back story for those of you who didn’t see Obsession.  I remember when I first saw the film at New York University, with fellow interfaith activists Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi    Yahuda Sarna.  Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike were appalled at the constant abuse of history to lump secular independence movements with religious, Sunni with Shiia, and Political Islam with Terrorists’ Extremism, giving a message that, “They hate you, so you should hate them.”

Us v. Them

This dialectal rhetoric has been used on all parties to demonize “them,” victimize “us,” and create a common enemy by abusing religious language for political gain.  Obsession gives light on the domestic example of this, where presidential and senatorial candidates encourage fear-mongering to bolster support.  Ignorant Fear breeds ethno-religious hatred, which in turn inspires communal violence.

As an American, I am ashamed.  Our American values does in fact have influence from religious traditions, and those traditions were used to inform equality, securing freedoms for minorities, whether religious, political, or ethnic.  Many of those victims of the Dayton Mosque attacks were Iraqi refugees, who came to the US to escape a regime that used chemical gases their own citizens.  One mother asked, “If not here, where can I go where my children will be safe?”

Countering this, we need to challenge ourselves, both personally, and as a nation.  With some estimates counting over 5 million Muslim Americans, it is time we include this diverse group of South Asian, Arabs, and African Americans into the fold of the American identity, as we have with Irish, Polish, Chinese Americans, and more.  Those of us of the Christian faith do not have a monopoly on religious values that promote freedom and equality, but share them with our fellow Muslim Americans, among others.  It is time we acknowledge our shared values (including freedom and democracy), respect our differences (like culture), and celebrate our common humanity.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a faith-hero of mine, is the quintessential voice on the matter.  His relevance to those times and now is because he did not simply write off on Jim Crowe laws as some morally-ambiguous “wrong,” but addressed the issue by expounding how such laws were unAmerican, and that continued inactivity was unChristian.  His letter from Birmingham Jail was written to religious leaders, which inspired even non-Christians, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who soon joined the movement.

Taking action in my own life, the post-911 world inspired me to begin filming a documentary while on a 6-nation Middle East tour developing projects for the NGO World Faith.  The premise was conversations between me, the white Christian American, and different people from various communities, mostly Muslim and Arab.  What ensued are conversations that leave me with a general message from the Middle East:
“We don’t hate you, and we love your democracy, we are just completely frustrated by the American foreign policy, don’t trust you to spread democracy (with US support of such non-democratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt), and feel humiliated by the western ignorance of our religious and cultural identities.”

The worldwide Gallop poll, representing the thoughts of a billion Muslims, support these findings.

Eboo Patel, my friend and a leader of interfaith activism, defined the issue of the Faith Line: it’s not a divide between those of different faiths, but between anyone that uses faith to divide and those to heal.  As comedian Maz Jabroni says it more simply, “There are haters of all kinds…”

So the question is, are you a hater?  Then let’s see some love.  Start with your neighbors, and maybe we can replace “us and them” with “now and then,” making Islamophobia a brief chapter in American history.

About the Author
Frankie Fredericks is the Executive Director of World Faith, a youth-led interfaith community service non-profit active in five countries.  Frank was featured on Good Morning America with Eboo Patel as a Fellow of the Interfaith Youth Core, and interviewed by Al-Akhbar Magazine in Lebanon, Al-Jadid TV, and Nile FM in Egypt.  Residing in New York City, he works as an Online Marketing Consultant, runs the independent label Conar Records, and is an active member of the Grammy Association.

blog:  worldfaith.wordpress.com            www.worldfaith.org