This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3281
December 12, 2007
This posting has been moved and expanded and is now an ongoing weblog.
This page appeared online before the posting was completed.
For complete posting see weblog page above:
Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul Haqq's radical Islamist ties run the gamut from CAIR to MANA, a black supremacist Islamist organisation founded at the behest of cop killer Jamil Al Amin and founded by Muslim Brotherhood adherent Imam Talib Abdur Rashid and Siraj Wahhaj (an unindicted co conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombings). Wahhaj was the keynote speaker at a recent event held by the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA) where Gamble was honored with a community service award. Wahhaj has expressed his intention of turning the United States into a Muslim country stating at an event in New Jersey that:
"If only Muslims were more clever politically, ..., they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate. "If we were united and strong, we'd elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him. . . . [T]ake my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us." http://www.danielpipes.org/article/77 (The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America)
. Another featured speaker was the extremist Imam Zaid Shakir ,whose views on black surpremacism and Islamism echo those of Kenny Gamble and his Universal enterprises.
"He said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law, "not by violent means, but by persuasion."
"Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country," he said. "I think it would help people, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be a Muslim. Because Islam helped me as a person, and it's helped a lot of people in my community." http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/us/18imams.html?pagewanted=print
MIM: Gamble is the founder of the black supremacist United Muslim Movement:
"[The]UNITED MUSLIM MOVEMENT, founded by the former record czar Kenny Gamble, has developed affordable housing for Muslims and non-Muslims within the Philadelphia area and assisted Islamic schools and businesses. UMM's vision is to build, from the ground up, a Central Masjid for the entire City of Philadelphia. UMM has acquired a site to build the Central Masjid along the prominent Avenue of the Arts. Meanwhile, it operates a radio program, runs special events like Islamic fashion shows and has a scholarship fund. http://www.ivc.org/religion
MIM:According to a Philadelphia Magazine article titled "King Kenny" by Matthew Teague:
"Some Philadelphia residents fear that Gamble's real life aims aren't aren't as inclusive [as his company name Universal suggests] "They fear that Gamble, a convert to Islam, is inclined toward racial and religious segregation which is creating tension in what once was an integrated neighborhood. And Gamble himself with his sweeping and sometimes outlandish views doesn't always help matters"... http://www.phillymag.com/articles/features_king_kenny/page2
MIM: What Matthew Teague names outlandish and sweeping views are a plan to Islamise the United States by establishing black/and Muslim enclaves in major cities such as Philadelphia.
South Philly activist Lisa Parsley also expressed fears of Gamble's Islamist motives.
"Sadly, Mr.Gamble's faith and some of his reported comments about preserving the African American community have been polarising"...particularly in our uneasy post 9-11 world." She said some people fear Gamble wants to build a black Muslim enclave. I promised to ask him about that.
MIM: In November 2007 Kenny Gamble was given a "Community Service Award" by MANA -The Muslim Alliance of North America.
7:30-10:30 Banquet (Ballroom B)
Key Note Address
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
Remarks: Our Marching Orders
Preacher Moss (MC)
Tyson (Remarkable Current)
Life Time Service Award
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Community Service Award
Luqman Abdul Haqq
Community Service Award
MIM: MANA was started by Abdur Talib Rashid an adherent of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamil al Amin aka H.Rap Brown who was jailed for killing a policeman.
The first concrete step toward forming the Alliance was taken by Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid (Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, NY) and Imam Jamil Al-Amin (may Allah grant him a speedy release) who organized a shura meeting of national Imams and Amirs in July, 1999 to form an Islamic Alliance of �collective leadership� for �operational unity.� (complete article below)
MIM: Talib Abdur Rashid is a Black Supremacist and Imam of the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood:
- Imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood
- Opposes the U.S. War on Terror
- Views America as a nation infested with white racism
Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid has been the imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, a Sunni house of worship in Harlem, New York, since 1989. The mosque's congregation was founded in the 1960s by followers of Malcolm X.
Born a Baptist in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1951, Abdur-Rashid was raised in the South Bronx during the social tumult and racial tensions of the 1960s. "I was heavily influenced by pan-Africanism, by black nationalism, by the antiwar movement, all of it," he says. "And then, I became a Muslim at age 20. And it played a great role in my grasp of the social-justice dimension of Islam."
In addition to his work with the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Abdur-Rashid is also the Amir (leader) of the Harlem Shura, a coalition of seven Harlem mosques; he serves as a chaplain to incarcerated Muslims in the city and state prisons of New York; and he works as a counselor to Muslims living with AIDS and to Islamic victims of domestic violence.
Abdur-Rashid is a board member or advisor to several interfaith organizations in New York City: A Partnership of Faith; the Temple of Understanding; the Interfaith Center of New York; the Bertram Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty; Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement; and the Chancellors Interfaith Advisory Committee of the New York City Board of Education.
Strongly opposed to America's post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, Abdur-Rashid helped organize a September 22, 2001 anti-war demonstration in Times Square. On several other occasions, he galvanized members of his congregation for anti-war rallies against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as well, coordinating his protests with Al Sharpton's National Action Network. Condemning what he calls the recent "anti-Muslim backlash" in the United States, Abdur-Rashid is a member of the National Committee to Free Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former 1960s radical, H. Rap Brown).
Abdur-Rashid is the host of a monthly Harlem-based radio program titled "Prophetic Echoes." He is also the author of the forthcoming books, Social Justice According to the Prophetic Paradigm, and Reclaimed Legacy: Muslim Indigenous and Immigrant Peoples and The History of Al-Islam in America.
On December 1, 2005, Abdur-Rashid penned an article titled "The Pre-Columbian Presence of Muslim Africans in America Is No Myth," where he wrote: "[T]here is such a constantly growing, extensive body of ... evidence of Western and Northern African Muslim pre-Columbian American (and Caribbean) presence, that those who study the evidence and continue to deny the obvious, reveal themselves to be rooted in old, racist, European renditions of American history." Abdur-Rashid depicts these "Muslim explorers" as people who "came to the land of the Original Americans, met them, peacefully interacted with them, traded with them, inter-married with them, and perhaps even gave another relative handful of them da'wa" [invitation to the faith]. He contrasts their purportedly peaceful actions in North America with those of white Europeans who "stole" from the continent's "indigenous inhabitants" their "God-given custodial land -- the land of the ‘Red Man.'" Whites, adds Abdur-Rashid, "committed genocide against [the continent's] true people, stole the ‘Black Man' from Africa and brought him to the stolen land against his will, and … populated the land from Europe."
Charging further that America has robbed native Africans and Muslims of their heritage, Abdur-Rashid writes: "Many of the people kidnapped to this country and sold into slavery were already Muslims. And then, we suffered psychic and blunt-force trauma to the head, and forgot everything, including who we are and what we are. We were told, 'Your name is not Ahmed, your name is Charlie. You don't worship Allah. You worship Jesus.' … Not only were there African Muslims who were here in America as explorers before Christopher Columbus, but a third of the African slaves who were brought here during the slave trade were Muslims."
Because he views the United States as a nation infested with all manner of injustice, Abdur-Rashid derides Americans' annual celebration of "so-called Thanksgiving." "When we look at the prosperity abundant in America for the past several years," he elaborates, "we realize that for one out of nine people, to be poor is not just a shame, it is also a sin. When we see the effects of unrepentant violence against poor people of color ..." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1564
According to Dr.Daniel Pipes
Aug. 18, 2007 update: ... Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid, about whom I have previously written (noting that he "belongs to the ‘National Committee to Free Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin'," a convicted cop-killer), turns out to be the "resident imam" of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem. The MIB's logo shows a sword with the words "There is no deity but God and Muhammad is his prophet." Yet more alarming, however, is the Muslim Brethren slogan, devised by Hasan al-Banna himself, printed right on the "About us" page:
Allah is our goal
The Prophet Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah is our leader
The Qu'ran is our constitution
Jihad is our way
And death in the way of Allah is our promised end.
Abdul-Rashid's bio also lists that he is a member of the "N.Y.C. Dept. of Education Chancellor's Interfaith Advisory Committee to the NYC Dept. of Education," pointing to the deeper state of rot in the whole of the DOE when it comes to Islam. That this man is on the KGIA board offers further confirmation of the school's Islamist quality.
Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Khalil Gibran International Academy advisory board.
Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Khalil Gibran International Academy advisory board.
Aug. 20, 2007 update: The Stop the Madrassa Coalition (whose advisory board I have just joined) today demanded that Talib Abdur-Rashid be dropped from the KGIA advisory board. (For the board's make-up, see the Apr. 28 entry.) A coalition spokeswoman described his efforts as "indoctrination in which they make everything Muslim- and Islamic-centric, at the expense of the rest of the world's contribution to history."
Logo of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem, complete with shihada and sword.
MIM: Excerpt from Dr.Daniel Pipes on Jamal Al Amin the co founder of MANA
Al-Amin, meanwhile, fled to White Hall, Alabama, and for the second time in his life made the FBI's most-wanted list. Four days later he was caught - this time by no less than one hundred well-armed police officers. Al-Amin was wearing body armor when apprehended. Police found in White Hall his black Mercedes - complete with a tell-tale bullet hole-two cartridge clips, a .223 caliber rifle and a 9 mm handgun. Ballistic tests showed the guns to be those used to shoot English and Kinchen.
In May 2000, the Fulton County district attorney announced that the state would seek the death penalty, for the murder of Kinchen and other charges. Al-Amin declared himself not guilty.
A celebrated former Black Panther on trial for killing a policeman guarantees a media circus. It will also prompt debate about gun violence; the National Rifle Association has blamed Kinchen's death on the casual way Al-Amin was released after his 1995 shooting arrest, arguing that a convicted violent felon carrying firearms "should have been in a Federal prison for up to ten years."
But the trial's real significance lies elsewhere - in Al-Amin's Islamic connections. His 1971 conversion came at the hands of Dar-ul-Islam, a Sunni organization of African-Americans. He went on pilgrimage to Mecca following his release in 1976, then settled in Atlanta, where he soon founded the Community Mosque. By 1980, Al-Amin had become spiritual leader-imam-of over thirty Islamic centers belonging to the Dar-ul-Islam "national community." Estimates of its total membership have run as high as 10,000.
The Islam that Al-Amin adopted is - no surprise - the radical variety. The transition was easy from the hate-America sentiments he had espoused as a black nationalist in the 1960s. "When we begin to look critically at the Constitution of the United States," he wrote in a 1994 book Revolution by the Book (The Rap is Live), "we see that in its main essence it is diametrically opposed to what Allah has commanded."
He chastises American blacks for being too integrated into their country's life: "The problem with African-Americans is that they are so American," he wrote. Men who belong to Al-Amin's Atlanta mosque wear either Islamic-style skullcaps and long robes or black-nationalist combat boots and fatigues. In 1995, two of its members were convicted of illegally shipping more than 900 firearms to groups in Detroit and Philadelphia, and to an Islamic gang linked to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh of New York. One young convert at Al-Amin's mosque subsequently joined Islamic separatists in Kashmir, where he was killed attacking an Indian army post.
Al-Amin has never been shy about invoking Islam in his struggle against white "ameriKKKa." Indeed, he falls into the usual trap of the extremist, mirror-imaging - he assumes that the U.S. government reciprocates his own fear and hate. "Islam is under attack on a global scale by those who wish to control the world" he wrote after his 1995 arrest. "The charges leveled against me are in direct relationship to the success that Islam has experienced in our immediate area. My persecution by the U.S. government is nothing new."
Al-Amin went on to call the United States a country "where Islam is under attack." Similarly, his first words in an Alabama courtroom, explaining his arrest in 2000 were: "It's a government conspiracy." http://www.danielpipes.org/article/97
MIM:Bio of Kenny Gamble from a webpage depicting "Famous Muslims":
Below some excerpt about Gamble's Universal company holdings and business activities:These days, Gamble, 59, is also known as founder and chairman of the nonprofit Universal Cos., the umbrella company comprised of a slew of real estate development, educational, and retail operations. In this post, Gamble is helping to redevelop his native South Philadelphia and is constructing a how-to model for urban redevelopment he hopes communities across the nation will adopt. From education and affordable housing to promoting entrepreneurship and creating jobs, Universal Cos. is looking to effect social change in these communities through economic and educational improvement, one neighborhood at a time. The company, which employs 180 people and grossed $15 million last year--75% of which came from government grants and private sector donations, with the remaining 25% coming from earned income--is on a mission to redevelop three neighborhoods within South Philadelphia: the 15-square-block area of Hawthorne, 40 blocks that constitute Southwest Central, and 72 square blocks that make up Point Breeze. Launched with $6 million to $7 million of Gamble's own money, the company's assets now include: * Universal Real Estate Development Co., which has a portfolio valued at $14 million. Its assets consist of 250 developed residential properties, an additional 300 units under construction, and approximately 250,000 square feet of commercial space. Some 450 people currently reside in housing provided by Universal Cos. * Universal Business Support Center, designed to foster business development within South Central Philadelphia. Some 40 businesses are enrolled in the center. * Universal Retail Cos., which operates two convenience stores, a barbershop, and several other locations under construction in South Central Philadelphia. * Universal Construction Co., the firm that manages the construction and contracting for the parent company. * Universal Education Management Co., which manages the Universal Institute Charter School in addition to three South Philadelphia public schools, totaling 2,500 students. * Universal Capital Investment Fund, a community development financial institution (CDFI) that has raised $300,000 to provide small loans and equity investment to businesses associated with the business support center. Universal hopes to expand the fund to $1 million over the next year. The company's operations also include a technology center to teach area residents about the benefits of technology, as well as a medical center, a housing facility for abused women, and a drug and alcohol program. All of these programs and businesses have a common theme. They address issues that cause, or are the result of, a shattered local economy. "It's not enough to deal with the symptoms," says Abdur-Rahim Islam, president and CEO of Universal. "We have to deal with the root cause--education and economics. Too long we've been saying we should do this and do that, but where's the model? So we're working on developing the model and hope it can be replicated." The first step in the Universal plan was to map out the area in which its redevelopment efforts would focus and conduct detailed studies. "We marked off an area of territory that's maybe 14 to 15 blocks," explains Gamble, who says in that area there are close to 100,000 people, 98,000 of whom are African American. "The businesses total maybe 1,500 to 2,000, and about one-half of 1% are owned by African Americans. These are the areas where Universal is concentrating."
Universal's housing redevelopment plan has shown the most dramatic results. Clusters of newly renovated, brick-face townhouses stand amid abandoned tenements like an oasis in a desert. Universal finds vacant lots or abandoned buildings and either purchases them from the owners or receives them gratis from the city. Afterward, Universal Construction Co. solicits contractors--in some cases manages them to form a joint venture--then renovates the properties and either sells or leases them. For commercial property, Universal rents locations to other businesses or opens its own business under the Universal umbrella. Total investments to date exceed $100 million. Redeveloped three-bedroom homes typically rent for between $500 and $750 a month. Houses can be purchased for anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000. The hope is that as Universal creates affordable housing and jobs, while educating the masses, many of the other social issues will resolve themselves. During an afternoon tour of Universal's operations, Islam stops his minivan and points to a row of newly developed homes on the corner on 16th and Federal streets. "This was the hottest drug corner in the city and it doesn't exist anymore," he says passionately. "Did we do a drug program? Did we do a crime prevention program? No, we just built houses and put people back here." On Point Breeze Avenue, Islam identifies the property where Universal plans to build a $12 million performing arts center. "We just got $6 million from the [state] government to do it," he says proudly. He expects to complete that project in two years. Simultaneously, the company plans to renovate the historic Royal Theater on South Street, which will serve as an entertainment venue for local and national talent.
When South Philly's native son returned to his roots, he inspired others to follow suit. Among them was Islam, a former transportation analyst for Sun Oil Co., who was looking to redevelop sections of his own Philadelphia neighborhood, Tioga. The two met in 1992. "I was basically trying to rebuild my home community, and he was trying the same for his," recalls Islam. "But he had more going for him than I did, so I thought my best shot to get this done was to partner with him." In 1993 the two men formed Universal Community Homes, a nonprofit community development corporation that provided low- and moderate-income families with homes built or refurbished by the corporation. By September 1999, the company became the umbrella entity Universal Cos., with Islam overseeing the operations as chief executive. But affordable housing was only a portion of the equation. Gamble and Islam decided to go into education as well. "Our goal was to make the cleanup of the ghetto a reality by improving the standard of living in the African American community," says Gamble. One of the results is Universal Institute Charter School, an academic program for students in grades K-6. The school is independently run and largely funded by taxpayer dollars and has more than 550 students. "Our goal was to deal with education in the area, so we started with kindergarten to third grade, and each year we added a grade," says Gamble, who says the school plans to add 7th and 8th grade over the next two years.
MIM: MANA started as an organisation to defend cop killer Jamil Amin aka H.Rap Brown.
The idea of an alliance, which would address the concerns of indigenous Muslims, sprouted up almost simultaneously among many different brothers. Imam Siraj Wahhaj remarked that �the founding of MANA is like the saying, �there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.�� As the idea of an alliance spread, there was a spontaneous enthusiasm and virtual immediate acceptance of the idea--demonstrating that the time of MANA truly had come.
The first concrete step toward forming the Alliance was taken by Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid (Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, NY) and Imam Jamil Al-Amin (may Allah grant him a speedy release) who organized a shura meeting of national Imams and Amirs in July, 1999 to form an Islamic Alliance of �collective leadership� for �operational unity.� At that time the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood and the Shaikh Utman Dan Fuduye Jama�ah under Shaikh Muhammad Shareef allied with the National Ummah.
On another front, in 1999 and early 2000 there were many separate, scattered conversations about starting some kind of alliance--conversations between Siraj Wahhaj, Ihsan Bagby, Amir al-Islam and Khalid Griggs; conversations between Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, Siraj Wahhaj and Muhammad Shareef in England.
All of these conversations and efforts had a common thread: a sense of urgency that something had to be done to address the many problems that African America/indigenous Muslim families, youth, communities faced; a sense of urgency that the work of building Islam in America was a job still half done. The problems are compounded because indigenous Muslims are not united and immigrant-dominated organizations are not focusing on the issues. MANA is the result of a sense of urgency that something must be done, and the frustration with immigrant organizations which focus on overseas agendas and strategies but have fail to reflect the concerns of indigenous Muslims. An age factor is also evident because many of the brothers are in their fifties, and there is a feeling that if this generation of Muslim leaders must accomplish something now, before it�s too late. The meetings leading up to the formation of the Alliance were remarkably devoid of complaints about the past and immigrant organizations. Conversations squarely focused on what indigenous Muslims should be doing.
The catalyst for the founding of MANA was the arrest of Imam Jamil in March, 2000. Imam Jamil�s arrest placed Al-Ummah (Imam Jamil�s organization) under intense pressure. In April, 2000 the leadership of Al-Ummah met in Philadelphia and decided that they needed to expand the base of the organization and to get more people involved to help in the efforts to free Imam Jamil and in the efforts of dawah and other Islamic work. In May 2000 Imam Mutawwaf Abdush-Shaheed of Cleveland hosted an urgent meeting of Al-Ummah and other national Imams to discuss the formation of a national alliance and to better plan efforts to respond to the jailing of Imam Jamil. In that Cleveland meeting, it was decided that an alliance-type organization would be formed and that a smaller group of brothers should work on developing the idea of the alliance. MANA sprang from that meeting in Cleveland.
Meetings were held in Baltimore (July), New Haven (July), New York (August), Chicago (September) and finally New York (November). The core brothers who attended almost every meeting were Talib Abdur-Rashid, Asim Abdur Rashid, Luqman Abdullah, Ihsan Bagby, Mukhtar Curtis and Siraj Wahhaj. Other brothers who attended one or more meetings were Khalil Abdul Rahman, Amir al-Islam, Khalid Griggs, Al-Amin A. Latif, Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf and Taifa Abdullah. All these meetings were remarkable in being extremely positive and productive, and, al-hamdulillah, through these meetings the idea of the Alliance took shape. The early discussion focused on the question of the Islamic basis of the Alliance. It was decided that the Islamic foundation would be the broad-based consensus of ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamaa`ah. Another early discussion was the issue of leadership; it was decided that the leader would have executive power but limited by the Shura of the Alliance. Discussion went on throughout all the meetings about the definition of �indigenous� and how inclusive the Alliance would be. The final decision, which was approved by the first meeting of the Shura, was that �indigenous� would include anyone who is native to America (thus including second generation immigrants) and that the Alliance would be agenda driven and would not exclude any Muslim. The end result of all the meetings was a draft constitution and mission statement. A meeting was called for February, 2001 to inaugurate the Alliance.
MIM: MANA just held their first annual conference in Philadelphia where Kenny Gamble received an award.
Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)'s first annual conference, "State of the Black American Muslim Community," will be held on Friday-Sunday, November 2- 4, 2007 in downtown Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. "It is an historic effort to build unity and to develop an agenda that addresses the issues facing the African American Muslim community. We encourage you to make every effort to join this assembly--not just to hear from the distinguished list of speakers--but more importantly, to take part in the effort to find ways to strengthen our inner-city Muslim communities so that they might better meet the challenges of living in urban environments", says MANA newsletter.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed will be among the recipients of recognition at an awards banquet to be held during MANA 1st Annual Conference, Saturday night November 3, 2007. Imam Mohammed will receive MANA's "Life Time Service Award" for his major contribution to Islam in America of bringing the Nation of Islam into the fold of Islam. Luqman Abdul Haqq (Kenny Gamble) and Judge Zakia Mahasa will both receive a MANA "Community Service Award."
Luqman Abdul Haqq is the President of Universal Companies, one of the most successful urban renewal projects in America. Zakia Mahasa is the first Muslim judge in America and long-time activist in the Muslim community). Native Deen will receive MANA's "Entertainment Award" for their outstanding contribution to raising Islamic awareness among our youth.
The Banquet will feature a Key Note address by Imam Siraj Wahhaj, entertainment by Preacher Moss, Tyson of Remarkable Current, and Basheer Jones, and remarks by Imam Zaid Shakir, Laila Muhammad and others.
The reduced rate early bird registration deadline is October 15. For Registration go to http://www.mana-net.org/pages.php?ID=&NUM=165
Dear Friends, As Salaam Alaikum (Peace be unto you)
I am writing to you to invite you to join United Muslim Masjid at its 11th Annual Awards Banquet and Fundraiser at the historic Holiday Inn, 4th and Arch St., Philadelphia on Saturday August 25 2007 at 6:00 PM
United Muslim Movement, Inc (UMM) opened its first mosque on October 11, 1994 at 810 South 15th street in Philadelphia. The mosque was developed after a group of individuals approached Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul-Haqq of Philadelphia International Records recording fame about using a building in which to establish prayer. The mosque was filled to capacity at the first Friday prayer service. In 1995, the mosque was expanded into 808 South 15th street. Although the capacity was doubled to hold about 350 people, the Masjid was filled to capacity at the first Friday prayer service after the expansion.
UMM is comprised of excellent people who have created a wonderful Muslim community in the heart of South Philly.
Please join CAIR-PA Board members in supporting this outstanding Muslim community.
Chairperson, CAIR-PA Philadelphia Chapter
The Universal Plan: Universal Companies, Philadelphia, PA
Within walking distance from the famed Avenue of the Arts, the heart of downtown Philadelphia , signs of urban blight and decay are evident. Just blocks from multi-million dollar hotels and entertainment venues are dilapidated houses and vacant lots--landmarks of urban areas in many major cities. In the heart of this blighted area lies one of the most comprehensive community development and revitalization initiatives existing in America today: Universal Companies.
The mission statement of Universal Companies reads: Universal Companies is in the business of helping people. Our mission is to create educational, cultural and entrepreneurial opportunities that will stimulate the development of wealth within historically disenfranchised communities. To accomplish this, Universal Companies focuses on the identification and removal of systemic barriers to wealth creation within urban settings. This is what we call the "Universal Plan".
Universal's vision statement reads: The vision for Universal Companies is to create a community redevelopment model, which rebuilds the infrastructure in the Greater South Philadelphia area by developing and implementing a comprehensive and holistic approach to community development that includes real estate and economic development, small business creation, k- 12 and adult education, social services, medical services and technology. The Universal motto is: promoting opportunities for positive community change.
Although in just ten years, Universal Companies has become one of the largest, most successful community revitalization efforts in the city of Philadelphia , it is also one of the best-kept secrets in Muslim America. Universal Companies--led and founded by a highly committed, dedicated and skilled core group of Muslims--is the vision of its founder and chairman Luqman Abdul-Haqq. Abdul-Haqq, also known as Kenneth Gamble, is a world-renowned lyricist, composer, producer and architect of what is commonly referred to as "the Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP)". His wife, Faatimah Abdul-Haqq, a savvy and successful businessperson in her own right, is the co-founder of Universal Companies. President and CEO, Abdur-Rahim Islam, a tireless, focused leader of more than 150 professionals--a harmonious blend of both Muslims and non-Muslims—working under the banner of Universal Companies in various areas, such as: real estate development, education, and workforce and economic development. Shahied Dawan serves as Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and is responsible for the fiscal management of all Universal's initiatives.
Working under a dedicated team of administrators, all members of the Universal "family" play important roles and serve important functions in various areas, and in the overall success of Universal Companies. However, to fully understand the significance of Universal Companies initiative, you must begin with a discussion of how it all began. You must be begin with Luqman Abdul-Haqq, affectionately known in the wider community as "Kenny" who, although Amir of the Philadelphia-based United Muslim Movement, is referred to in the Muslim community simply as "Brother Luqman".
The following quote, the Chairman's Message from the Universal Companies At-A-Glance Fact Sheet, sets the foundation for understanding the man and the mission. "We cannot control the color of our skin, the family we are born to, or our nationality. We cannot control life nor can we control death. This is why we focus on the things that we can control: quality of life, ignorance, and poverty. These are the things that impact our lives. Universal Companies has developed its mission around finding solutions to the problems that continue to devastate our neighborhoods, our communities, our communities, our cities, and our country".
Brother Luqman accepted Islam in 1975 , at the height of his success in the recording industry. Even before his acceptance of Islam, one could hear the influences of Islam in the songs that he wrote; songs dealing with themes such as brotherhood, unity, family development, social consciousness, and community responsibility. In 1977 , Philadelphia International Records, a recording label owned by Luqman and his partner Leon Huff, joined with another recording company and launched an urban beautification program. Together, they spearheaded the recording of a single called "Let's Clean Up the Ghetto", the proceeds of which were used to finance clean up and beautification projects in urban areas.
The following year, Luqman began his mission of rebuilding South Philadelphia by purchasing abandoned, dilapidated buildings. He often tells the story of driving through his old neighborhood as he traveled to and from his home in the posh Gladwyne suburbs. He would look at the blight and disrepair that dominated the landscape and say to himself, "I can buy up all these old buildings and rebuild this neighborhood myself". Over a fifteen-year period, he would acquire more than 150 parcels of property that included vacant lots and abandoned buildings.
Then in 1990 , in a move that demonstrates the level of sacrifice that can only be made by those with a deep and unwavering commitment, Luqman and his wife Faatimah moved from their spacious home in the suburbs, back to "the hood" in south Philadelphia. It is there that he took a hands-on approach to rebuilding his old neighborhood—a neighborhood that in addition to being a blighted landscape had become a crime ridden, drug and prostitution infested area.
Universal Companies Development
Brother Luqman began planting the seeds of what would become the Universal Plan by completing, at significant personal expense, complete renovations to more than ten properties, including his childhood home. Then, he began seeking consultation from the community for the purpose of developing a comprehensive community development plan. In October 1993 , Universal Community Homes was officially formed. In the ten-year period since it's inception, Universal Companies has made monumental strides. The revitalization process is concentrated within the South Central Philadelphia area, with the hope of building a workable model that can be replicated throughout the nation. This model is a comprehensive "holistic" model that not only rebuilds the physical environment, but also, more importantly, rebuilds confidence, hope and the spirit of its people.
Universal Companies has become an accomplished real estate developer of mixed income housing, multiple use facilities, and multiple financing source developments. Since it's founding, Universal Companies has developed more than 250 housing units (rental and homeownership) and 200,000 square feet of commercial space at a total development cost of approximately $ 90 million, with more than one billion dollars in real estate development projects in its pipeline.
Although Universal Community Homes was the initial entity of focus project, the need for a comprehensive approach was evident. Luqman know that you can't just fix and build houses and transform a community, that there are other challenges and factors that must be overcome as well. Universal Companies is a group of organizations that provide a wide range of comprehensive services designed to rebuild urban America . The range of programs and services include real estate development, construction, property management, vocational skill training, adult basic education, job preparation and placement, career one stop, case management, technology networking and management, business training, business service technical assistance, business office support, capital lending, elementary education, and after school programs.
The major accomplishments of Universal Companies over the last ten years include:
In addition to the considerable personal investment on the part of Luqman Abdul-Haqq in developing the foundation, many initiatives Universal Companies operate with a substantial amount of public funds and outside support. One of the challenges ahead is change the balance of outside support versus self-generated funds of revenue. Abdur-Rahim Islam states "We want to change things around so that 75 % of our income comes from fees and 25 % comes from public and grant sources, and we expect to do that over the next five years." The mission of Universal is so vast and comprehensive that Brother Luqman often remarks that we won't see the completed results in our lifetimes. He states: "We have a 50 - 100 year time horizon. That's how long it's going to take to get our communities right."
One has to visit what is commonly referred to as "the Universal campus" to fully appreciate and understand the impact that Universal Companies has on the community it serves. Aside from the signs with the black, red and white Universal logo visible everywhere, people in the community can attest to the overall improvement of the quality of life. To see Brother Luqman take the time to stop and engage everyone, from the common person seemingly undergoing some misfortune, to the array of public officials that he consistently meets with is truly an example of Islamic da'wah at an unprecedented level. To witness the drive, focus and professionalism of Brother Abdur-Rahim is to witness what the work ethic of the Muslim should be. In candid discussion with many Universal staffers, some of whom could easily work for the best companies in corporate America , they cite the mission of Universal and the example of it's leadership as pivotal factors in their decisions to join the Universal team.
By the Blessing and Mercy of Allah (SWT), the efforts of Universal Companies serve as a national model for what can be done with commitment, compassion, focus and careful planning and execution. Just another proof positive of the words of the Qur'an where Allah (SWT) states: Let there arise from among you a small group of people, inviting to all that is good. They enjoin the good, and forbid the evil, and it is they who attain success". ( 3 : 104 )
United Muslim Movement
As if the work of Universal is not arduous enough, there is yet another aspect of community development that emanates from South Philadelphia . On the "Islamic side", the complimentary entity to Universal Companies is the United Muslim Movement. Brother Luqman serves as the Amir of this organization, and is equally as passionate and committed to its success as he is to the Universal Companies initiatives. On many occasions he has remarked to this writer "We are not just here for Universal, we are down here for Islam". United Muslim Movement, commonly referred to as UMM, has defined itself as an organization "dedicated to establishing the religion of Islam with the clear representation of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (tradition) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). UMM has developed plans to address the many issues facing the Muslim Community. Our goal is to build both a strong Islamic educational system and a Central masjid in the city of Philadelphia . UMM is a strong organization responding to the social, economic, political, educational and religious needs facing our communities."
The motto of the United Muslim Movement is ‘progress through organization", and UMM certainly exemplifies that philosophy. It is comprised of an intricate system of four main committees, Islamic Standing, Communications, Fundraising and Membership, with a number of subcommittees under each of these areas. These committees are manned and "womaned" by a committed and dedicated group of volunteers. UMM views these committees as an essential function for the development and implementation of solutions to the many challenges and problems facing our community. The belief of UMM is that through the committee structure, a grassroots effort can grow and develop to assist the entire Muslim community in providing much-needed programs and services.
Although there is a mosque, the United Muslim Masjid, located on the same block of the Universal Corporate Center, from which many of the UMM programs originate, there is a unique distinction to be made: one does not have to be a "member" or regularly frequent the United Muslim Masjid to become a member of the United Muslim Movement. In realizing that the Muslim Community of Philadelphia needs to solidify itself as a unified body, the membership criteria of the organization is broad enough to accommodate every Muslim. To borrow from a well-known advertisement, membership does have its privileges. Aside from the day-to-day activities and programs connected with the masjid, membership entitles you to substantial discounts on the Madrassah--both the summer and the weekend programs—as well, other valuable community services.
Most importantly, membership in United Muslim Movement represents a major opportunity to help organize and mobilize one of America 's largest concentrations of Muslims in a geographical area, the estimated more than 250,000 Muslims in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area. With the many initiatives of Universal, particularly the housing component, which is open and accessible to all, Muslims can begin to develop a viable and productive community life that addresses all aspects of societal living. The possibilities are truly endless, and much can be achieved in the area of community and economic development from a broad Islamic perspective.
Our collective situation in America today mandates that we begin to investigate and draw from the best practices of models such as Universal and United Muslim Movement. One might argue that the very survival of future generations of Muslims and Islam in America may well hinge upon how we organize, strategize and mobilize to address the challenges that face us. MANA, as a movement and organization with an indigenous-based agenda, is committed to working with organizations such as these, and helping to echo the call for the development of viable, healthy and balanced Islamic communities. On a personal note, this writer is thankful to Allah (SWT) and honored to be a working part of all three organizations mentioned.
We ask Allah (SWT) to increase the good efforts of Universal Companies, United Muslim Movement, MANA, and others committed to helping our people, our communities and society-at-large.
(For more information, visit the Universal Companies website at http://www.universalcompanies.org and the United Muslim Movement website at http://www.unitedmuslimmovement.org.)
MIM: The MANA conference program where Kenny Gamble was a speaker reads like a Who's Who of radical Islamists.
Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul Haqq is involved with this organisation.
Health Issues in the Blackamerican Muslim Community: Solutions
Jaleel Abdul-Adil, Assistant Professor of ClincialPsychology, U. of Illinois at Chicago Saidi Liwaru, Professor of Psychology Cheryl El-Amin, LMSW, ACSW Rashid Flewellen (Facilitator) Young Adults and the Blackamerican Muslim Community: Solutions Su'ad Abdul Khabeer, Ph.D. candidate, Princeton University Hud Williams, former Youth Director, ADAMS Center (DC) Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Founder, Lote Tree Foundation Altaf Husain (Facilitator), MANA Diwan, former President, MSA-National Education and the Blackamerican Muslim Community: Solutions Daa'iyah Saleem, Professor of Early Child Education, Clark-Atlanta U Yusuf Saleem, Imam, Masjid Muhammad (DC) Abdul Alim Shabbaz, Professor of Mathematics Grambling State U Suad Islam, Principle, Quba Institute (Phila) Muhammad Khalifa (Facilitator) Ph.D. candidate, Education Administration, Mich. State U Community Activism: Creating social service/community resource/SHARE Centers Yasser Aman, UMMA Community Clinic (Los Angeles) Rami Nashashibi, Director of IMAN (Chicago) Jamilah Jihad, Director, ICERS (Atlanta) Rashad Birdsong, Director, Community Empowerment Center (Pittsburgh) Umar Al-Khattab (Facilitator), Imam, Masjid al-Fajr, Indianapolis Dawah Strategies for African Americans (Roundtable) Qasim Khan, Director of Fund Raising, MANA Basheer Jones, Spoken-Word artist Naeem Muhammad, Native Deen Abdul Malik Ahmad, Native Deen Tyson, Remarkable Current BLM (Anas Cannon), Remarkable Current Youth (pre-college) Luqman Abdus-Salaam, Co-Founder of Shehu Program (Pittsburgh) Hamza Perez, Co-Founder of Shehu Program (Pittsburgh) Halim Naeem (Facilitator)
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3281