This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3283
December 13, 2007
Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul Haqq's radical Islamist ties runs the gamut from CAIR to MANA, a black supremacist Islamist organisation founded by cop killer Jamil Al Amin and Muslim Brotherhood adherent Imam Talib Abdur Rashid. Siraj Wahhaj (an unindicted co conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombings) was the keynote speaker at a recent event held by the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) where Gamble the president of Univeral Companies, was honored with a community service award. Gamble is a member of MANA's Majlis As Shura (religious council) and the founder and Amir of the United Muslim Movement the Islamist da'wa wing of his Universal Companies enterprise. (see below).
Wahhaj (who is the Amir of MANA) has expressed his intention of turning the United States into a Muslim country. His remarks at the award ceremony were titled "Our Marching Orders". Wahhaj advocates the overthrow of the United States government and the establishment of a Caliphate. At an an event in New Jersey he stated 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/Islamic 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:The United Muslim Masjid in Philadelphia founded by Kenny Gamble just held their 11th annual dinner. Ifthekhar Hussain the head of CAIR Philly and CAIR board members attended. Hussain wrote about it on his blog.
"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".
MIM:According to a 2007 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.
MIM: The YMCA and Vicinity "referred to as Corporate by branch members" also fears an Islamisation of the neighborhood as expressed in this article in 2002.
"Because of Kenny's huge community involvement, Corporate fears a ŚMuslimization' of the neighborhood," Lee says. "You look up and down the street and see men, women and children in traditional Muslim dress everywhere, you see the masjid right across from Kenny's house and security guards on the corners in kufis...
...A walk around the neighborhood serves as a quick illustration. There is a large man in traditional Muslim clothing at the corner of 15th and Catharine chanting prayers in Arabic. Dozens of kids from the Universal Charter School spill out onto the sidewalk after school, dressed in their green school uniforms with traditional Islamic head scarves. Minutes later, the large man on the corner and several others pull out prayer mats, face east and pray on the sidewalk. Neighbors don't seem to mind the Muslim presence. They're just happy to see the drug dealers gone and the streets cleaner and safer, and they don't care who does it, as long as it gets done...
For more on Gamble's business holdings and the Universal Institute charter school see: http://www.phillymag.com/articles/features_king_kenny/page5
MIM: The Universal Charter School lists it's enrollment as 99% African American and Universal Companies CEO's Kenny and Fatimaah Gamble are on the board. Universal Companies Vice President Abdur Rahim Islam is the president and CEO of the school and Fatimaah Gamble is the co founder. (See page 15 of the html). For more on Fatimaah Gamble and her business and property holdings see: http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/south-west-center-city/18793-rally-saturday-5-20-7pm-16th-cath-should-we-put-cameras-there.html
According to an article from 2002:
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: Things were not going well for Universal Institute and two other schools run by Gamble's company according to this 2003 article.
The three public schools managed by the company are among the state's poorest, and have had some of its worst-performing students. Some critics said Universal hasn't yet shown it can do a better job managing them than the city did.
"They have not brought a lot of change," said Barbara Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. "It's been an uneasy transition." http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/31/entertainment/main546974.shtml
Pennsylvania Department of Education Charter Annual Report
|File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML|
Universal Institute Charter School, (hereafter referred to as UICS) located ... Â To accomplish this mission, the Universal Institute Charter School will be ...
MIM: Gamble has openly stated that his Universal Companies has an Islamist agenda.
"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".
"[The]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.
"...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 )
http://www.mana-net.org/pages.php?ID=activism&ID2=&NUM=18 (complete text below)
MIM: Like all Islamists Gamble sees 9/11as the best thing which could have happened to enable the spread of Islam.
Whatever else has resulted from the terrorist attacks, says Kenny Gamble, a Muslim community activist and former owner of Philly International Records, the events of Sept. 11 have brought about change in America.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Gamble says. "But out of it comes a world that is looking to God for answers. That has to be good for the whole of humanity because everyone is looking to God for help." http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=992&highlight=
MIM: Kenny Gamble also has ties to the black supremacist group The Nation of Islam and was cited in the NOI paper "The Final Call" as one of the people praying for the recovery of NOI leader Louis Farrakhan last year.
Luqman Abdul-Haqq (Kenny Gamble) of Philadelphia said that he was praying for the Minister before he went into surgery and asking Allah to bless him with a successful and a speedy recovery. Bob Law and Viola Plummer (New York) offered their prayers for a speedy recovery of Minister Louis Farrakhan. http://www.louisianaweekly.com/weekly/news/articlegate.pl?20070129p
For more on Kenny Gamble and the NOI see the entry about the 10,000 Men : A Call to Action initiative below.
MIM: In November 2007 Kenny Gamble was given a "Community Service Award" by MANA -The Muslim Alliance of North America.
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. http://www.mana-net.org/pages.php?ID=&NUM=165
MIM: An article about the conference highlighted Kenny Gamble's plans to turn Southwest Philadelphia into a Muslim enclave.
For instance, the Masjids and Economic Development section spotlighted the achievements of community leaders such as Earl Al-Amin of the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore, and Luqman Abdul-Haqq, the CEO of Universal Companies.
Their presentations highlighted the work done to revitalize the economic health of inner city communities and to provide needed core services. Al-Amin underlined the importance of safeguarding the economic and social health of the Muslim neighborhood.
"The masjid is a filter for influencing the neighborhood's environment," he noted. http://www.muslimlinkpaper.com/mybo2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1223
MIM: Note the militant theme of Wahhaj's remarks titled "Our Marching Orders"
Except from the MANA conference program.
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 Siraj Wahhaj and Abdur Talib Rashid an adherent of the Muslim Brotherhood at the urging of 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
MIM: More on the formation of MANA by WRMEA 2001noting that Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul Haqq is on the Majlis Ash Shura Council.
On April 22, 18 Muslim leaders met at the Philadelphia Masjid in Pennsylvania to establish a new national organization called the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA). MANA's purpose is "to pursue an agenda that reflects the points of view and experiences of the indigenous Muslims of North America and addresses their needs and aspirations."
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, the elected leader of MANA, commented that "MANA is open to all Muslims, but the focus of the Alliance is on the issues and problems that indigenous Muslims deal with in America, and by indigenous, we mean all Muslims raised here in America."
Six organizing meetings were held in 2000 to lay the foundations of the Alliance—drafting a mission statement, charter and action plan. MANA was officially formed on Jan. 27, 2001 at an historic meeting of the new organization's founding Majlis ash-Shura (consultative council). At that time, Imam Siraj Wahhaj was elected the leader of the new organization and Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid (Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, NY) was elected as his deputy.
On April 21 an executive committee was elected, which included: Imam Siraj and Imam Talib, in addition to Luqman Abdul Haqq, Asim Abdur Rashid, Amir al-Islam, Ihsan Bagby, Zaid Shakir and Hamza Yusuf. To receive more information on MANA contact the Assembly at P.O. Box 47-3135, Brooklyn, NY 11216, (718) 906-1064, e-mail <email@example.com>.
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 whose arrest was the catalyst for the founding of MANA. (For more about MANA see below).
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":
MIM: Below is the mission statement of Universal Companies which receives financial support from major businesses,corporations, foundations,government agencies and politicians. They are in reality financing an Islamist plan for a Muslim/black enclave in Philadelphia under the aegis of Univeral Companies and The United Muslim Movement whose "vision" is to" establish Islamic life within Philadelphia through schools, businesses and a newly acquired central masjid along the Avenue of the Arts." http://www.southphillyreview.com/view_article.php?id=3104
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."
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 holistic approach to community development that includes real estate and economic development, small business creation, K-12 education, social services and technology. http://www.universalcompanies.org/mission/default.htm
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Universal has also partnered with other community development organizations in the Greater South Philadelphia neighborhood on various projects.
Community Development Partners
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." (complete text below)
Below some excerpts 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: More on Gamble's plans for a black/Muslim enclave. Note that the majority of the money is coming from the public and private sector.
Cleaning Up the Ghetto
by Jonathan Tuleya 2003
Universal Companies is taking a giant step toward restoring some deteriorating parts of South Philadelphia to the way the organization's founder, Kenny Gamble, fondly remembers them.
The urban redevelopment conglomerate unveiled its $100-million plan last Thursday. It includes construction or renovation of 400 homes on blighted blocks west of Broad Street over the next four years.
Gamble made the announcement standing before a banner that read: "Come Home to South Philadelphia."
"Pray for Universal so we'll be a success," he implored, "because if we are successful, everybody wins."
The music mogul-turned-community savior was accompanied by Mayor John Street, Council President Anna Verna, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and officials from Citizens Bank, Fannie Mae and The Reinvestment Fund, which are financing the work.
The project will focus on neighborhoods between South and Federal streets west of Broad to 19th. About 100 of the new residences will become apartments. The remainder will be sold as single-family dwellings.
About 125 of those will be sold at market rate, priced from $225,000 to $275,000. The rest will be listed from $80,000 to $150,00, which is more in line with the budgets of average city wage-earners, said Universal president Abdur-Rahim Islam.
Citizens Bank, Fannie Mae and The Reinvestment Fund -- a Philadelphia-based community-development financial institution providing capital for low- to moderate-income projects -- will loan Universal up to $12 million. Citizens also has committed to lending $80 million to people purchasing the homes.
Another $8 million will come from federal tax credits for construction of low-income housing and $3 million will be drawn from the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative to pay for the demolition and acquisition of abandoned and vacant properties.
Street proclaimed Universal's project a victory for both the $300-million NTI program and Operation Safe Streets, which has stationed additional police in the city's worst neighborhoods to deter crime.
"If we are going to bring back the neighborhoods of this city, we are going to have to clean out the crime and the blight," Street said, "but then we have to bring capital money back into the neighborhoods of this city."
The mayor also reassured potential homeowners that the city's focus on neighborhoods is here to stay. "The people who line up to buy those 400 houses will know that there is no chance that [they] will buy property today and ... later some thugs will decide to set up an open-air drug market."
Universal envisions constructing as many as 2,000 homes in the communities surrounding its headquarters near 15th and Catharine streets. Two weeks ago, company officials celebrated the completion of the first phase of 49 rental units at the site of the old Martin Luther King Towers, near 13th and Fitzwater.
The city imploded the housing project's four towers in 1999 after years of crime and decay in and around the buildings. Universal intends to complete 247 rowhomes on the site by 2004. The new $74-million neighborhood will be a mixed-income community and include 109 homeownership units.
Gamble made last Thursday's announcement from Broad and Fitzwater streets, where Universal intends to open a commercial center that could include a satellite school for Washington, D.C.'s Howard University -- whose president is H. Patrick Swygert, a South Philly native and Gamble's close friend.
In his comments, Gamble also emphasized the important role of education in community redevelopment -- another area in which Universal has been making significant inroads.
Last summer, the School District of Philadelphia hired Universal to manage William S. Pierce Middle School, 24th and Christian streets, and
Edwin M. Stanton Elementary, 17th and Christian. The district also awarded the organization the charter for Edwin H. Vare Middle School, 24th Street and Snyder Avenue.
That is in addition to the organization's own Universal Institute Charter School, on the 800 block of South 15th Street, which opened in 1999. And Universal is the frontrunner to build and manage a new Audenried High School.
"Universal Companies is a movement that is going to bring love to people that have not been shown much love here in America," Gamble said. "We are going to help America change." http://www.southwestphilly.org/view_article.php?id=368&highlight=vare
MIM:The Muslim Alliance in North America [ MANA] started as an organisation to defend cop killer Jamil Amin aka H.Rap Brown. They advocate an Islamist takeover of the United States using cultural jihad i.e.pushing for black/Muslim special priviledges under the guise of civil rights and equal opportunity. Gamble is exploiting this tactic to the hilt in his effort to create a black/Muslim enclave in Southwest Philadelphia. MANA rewarded him for his efforts by giving him a "Community Service" award. The community meant here is The Ummah.
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 a Community Service 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
MIM: The head of CAIR Philadelphia, Iftehkar Hussain urged members to attend the UMM banquet.
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
MIM: The United Muslim Masjid has a da'wa committee to spread Islam and "establish Islamic life in Philadelphia through schools, businesses and a newly aquired central masjid along the Avenue of the Arts.
United Muslim Masjid, 810 S. 15th St.
Denomination and tenets of faith: Muslim; members believe in Allah and follow the teachings of the Koran.
Imam: Luqman Ahmad
Size of congregation: 300
Origins and history: In 1993, Luqman Abdul-Haqq (the Muslim name of music/development magnate Kenny Gamble) formed the United Muslim Movement (UMM) to offer society an Islamic perspective and solutions to the many ills facing Americans. UMM opened the masjid, or mosque, in October 1994 at 810 S. 15th St., and it was filled to capacity at the first Friday prayer service. The following year, the masjid was expanded into 808 S. 15th St. Although the capacity was doubled to hold 250 people, the worship site was immediately filled once again.
Inside the masjid, the windows are shaped like domes and trimmed with gold. There is green wall-to-wall carpeting. Muslims remove their shoes before entering the prayer area.
UMM's vision is to establish Islamic life within Philadelphia through schools, businesses and a newly acquired central masjid along the Avenue of the Arts.
Special causes/ministry: The Islamic Scholarship Fund was created to increase access to Muslim education and secondary schools in Philadelphia and to boost the number of Muslims attending college locally. The scholarship fund offers several financial-assistance programs for students.
The UMM Dawah Committee hosts "What is Islam?" seminars at local libraries. The congregation also sponsors local block cleanups. The UMM prison committee holds monthly Islamic-education seminars for inmates.
-by Bill Gelman
MIM: The Universal plan openly states it's Islamist agenda and is interwined with the United Muslim Movement, more proof that Gamble plans to build an Islamic enclave in Philadelphia.
For more on Muslim enclaves see:"Permit Muslim Enclaves?" by Dr.Daniel Pipes http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/316
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 as a member of the Majlis Ash Shura (religious council). Note that the name is the Muslim Alliance in North America indicating that their very existence as a group is already an indication that the Islamisation of America is underway from within.
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)
What is MANA?
MANA is a national network of masjids, Muslim organizations and individuals committed to work together to address certain urgent needs within the Muslim community. These needs include the great social and economic problems that are challenging Muslim communities especially in the inner city; the need for the involvement of masjids and Muslims in community service projects which are aimed at improving society as a whole; the need for systematic and effective dawah programs to help bring more non-Muslims into Islam; the need for new Muslim programs that will help them to grow in Islam. MANA is therefore an open organization that is agenda driven.
What are the Goals of MANA?
The primary goals of MANA are (1) to establish the strong presence of viable, healthy and dynamic Muslim communities, neighborhoods and institutions that meet the religious, social, economic and political needs of the Muslims in this land; (2) to call humanity actively and systematically to the life-giving message of Islam with wisdom and beautiful teaching; (3) advocate and work for just and righteous remedies to ills impacting North American society in general and Muslims in particular.
What is the structure of MANA?
MANA's governing body is the Majlis ash-Shura (Shura), which sets policy and agenda. The Shura elects an Amir, Deputy Amir, and Diwan (Executive Committee), which implements the policies and agenda set by the Shura. A General Secretary is appointed by the Shura to oversee the administrative functioning of MANA under the direction of the Amir. A Leadership Council constitutes basically the general body of MANA. The Leadership Council includes representatives of all member masjids/organizations and prominent Muslim individuals who are appointed by the Leadership Council.
MANA'S DIWAN (Executive Committee)
In alphabetical order:
Ihsan Bagby, General Secretary
Qasim F. Khan, Director of Fund Raising
Waheedah Muhammad, Director of Communication
By Imam Zaid Shakir, Zaytuna Institute
Like any fledgling organization, the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) faces many challenges. MANA must simultaneously define its base constituency, develop its agenda, articulate its vision, and build the organizational and administrative infrastructure needed to function day to day as a viable organization. These fundamental organizational challenges are compounded by the fact that MANA must function as an Islamic organization in an environment where organized Islam is increasingly identified as a systemically threatening phenomenon.
Are the challenges facing MANA insurmountable? Certainly not! Faith, coupled with determination, and purposeful, focused work, augmented by the divine facilitation of Allah, can overcome any conceivable obstacle. However, there are certain realities, which MANA must come to grips with it is to have any chance of succeeding.
1. Flexibility. MANA must have the organizational flexibility to be a reflection of the strengths of its many constituent organizations. MANA has to have the ability to recognize and emulate the successful programs and policies of those organizations while avoiding their many blatant failures. This makes the human element of prime import, for at the end of the day, we will all have to drop the open or subtle advocacy for the implementation of the particularistic aspects of the agendas of our parent organizations for the advancement of a greater, mutually beneficial good. If MANA opts to attempt to become a larger version of any one of its constituent organizations, it will merely become a poor caricature of that groupâ€™s failure.
2. Demographic Change. MANA must recognize and accommodate, in the fullest possible manner, the new demographic realities that face the Sunni Muslim community in North America. The former numerical preponderance of African Americans is gone, and in coming years our percentage in the overall Sunni population will decline even further. Considering many of the functional bases of power; knowledge, wealth, status and authority, in the near future the children of Sunni Muslims who have migrated to this country will be one of the most powerful groups in this country. Culturally and linguistically those children are indigenous Muslims, and therefore, must be acknowledged as a key element of MANAâ€™s power base. The presence of Colin Powell and Condeleesa Rice in the inner sanctums of the White House, even if we may clearly question their role, and the ascent of African Americans to the stewardship of Time Warner/AOL, Merrill Lynch, and American Express, indicates that this country, to a large extent, has become a knowledge-based meritocracy. Certainly racism, and race-based oppression continue to be nagging issues, however, for our purposes we can confidently say that sociologically speaking, knowledge is power. In that regard, the second-generation immigrant Muslims mentioned above are, as a group, among, if not the most educated segment of this countryâ€™s population. This is true in both secular and religious studies. That knowledge will eventually be translated into power. Either MANA will harness that power by accommodating that group at every level of its organization, or it will marginalize it, leaving it to benefit other possibly more perspective agendas.
3. Our Sisters. MANA will have to accommodate and fully utilize the talent and energy of our sisters, the Muslim women. As we have stated previously, it is not a question of our sisters leaving the kitchen or the nursery to serve our organizations. It is a question of them leaving the universities, schools, corporations, and public and private bureaucracies to serve our organizations. This reality reflects the unique American context we are trying to develop an Islamic society in. Our understanding of Islam will have to be properly contextualized if the religion is to retain its relevance. We have to acknowledge this fact and then view Islam through the widest possible lens provided us by the Shariâ€™ah to put our sistersâ€™ talents, skills and energy to work for us. Here, no amount of tokenism or marginal auxiliary organizations will suffice. At this infantile stage of development, we need to fully harness all of our available resources if we are to move confidently into the future. Again, our failure to act decisively and boldly in this area could well lead to our loss of the valuable wealth of human resources that our sisters represent.
The broad base of indigenous Muslims that MANA is trying to reach mandates that it serves and represents that constituency as effectively as possible. This will require effective action in the three areas mentioned above. Wise, visionary, and indeed bold steps taken by MANA today, will go a long way towards determining where MANA will be tomorrow.
Muslim alliance of North America conference- a brief report
When the phrase "Muslim issues" or "Islamic concerns" are mentioned, what generally comes to mind is the problems facing the Islamic world, from Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine, Darfur, and so forth. While there is nothing wrong with this, as this is in compliance with the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, :saws: that The Muslim Ummah [ Community ] is like one body, when a part hurts, the whole is in pain, it is also true that Islamic concerns also exist in the United States itself among Muslim Americans, concerns which form an existence unique in the American life.
This seems to have been the focus of the MANA conference held recently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate enough to attend the conference, along with other members of the Islam in View forum. I found the participants, as well as the presenters, to be quite serious in their concerns.
Imam Zaid Shakir gave a presentation in which he asserted that African-American Muslims have been been following "failed models of Islamic example" in the sense of attempting to duplicate the behavior and views of others from overseas, completely ignoring their realities and their surroundings.
He also made reference to the traditional Muslim world and its problems, beginning with colonization, stating that "instead of calling the Non-Muslim colonizers to Islam, the colonized people ended up calling each other to their versions of Islam"
He believes Muslims in America have the same mission Moses had to the Egyptians, reminding the audience that Moses was raised by the Egyptians, in their society, and thus would hold an intimate knowledge of their needs, which is quite helpful in giving the guidance they need. Outsiders cannot be expected to understand the struggles and issues facing Americans, and should not be seen as "ideal".
Another presentation by Imam Luqman Ahmad of Sacramento, California, asserted that "every people have their own pathologies" and that Islam- as found in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, has the answers to deal with those pathologies.
A leading figure in MANA is Altaf Husain, perhaps showing that this organization does not seek to be an exclusively African-American product, or as one presenter puts it "a Black ISNA"
I also met with many of the leading members, such as Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Qasim Khan, informing them of our writings and website. It was a good event in terms of addressing the needs of the muslims in terms of education, reform and assistance for former prisoners, the problems of quick marriages and divorces, and so forth...
Imam W.D. Mohammed shared the stage with the other leading figures, and in an attempt to dismiss any lingering notions of sectarianism actually said "I am a follower of you [Imam Siraj Wahhaj] and he is a follower of me". He was presented with a lifetime achievement award.
I look forward to the next conference, insha-Allah.
MIM: More on Siraj Wahhaj's (and MANA's) radical Islamist agenda.
Wahhaj's good cop bad cop strategy and civic involvement to promote Islamism is the same formula being used by Kenny Gamble aka Luqman Abdul Haqq. Note that both Siraj Wahhaj and Zaid Shakir spoke at the November '07 MANA event (see above) where Gamble was given an award for community service. (Wahhaj ,Abdul Haqq and Zaid Shakir are converts to Islam).
The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America
by Daniel Pipes
In the aftermath of the violence on September 11, American politicians from George W. Bush on down have tripped over themselves to affirm that the vast majority of Muslims living in the United States are just ordinary people. Here is how the President put it during a visit to a mosque on September 17: "America counts millions of Muslims among our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads." Two days later, he added that "there are millions of good Americans who practice the Muslim faith who love their country as much as I love the country, who salute the flag as strongly as I salute the flag."
These soothing words, echoed and amplified by many columnists and editorial writers, were obviously appropriate at a moment of high national tension and amid reports of mounting bias against Muslims living in the United States. And it is certainly true that the number of militant Islamic operatives with plans to carry out terrorist attacks on the United States is statistically tiny. But the situation is more complex than the President would have it.
The Muslim population in this country is not like any other group, for it includes within it a substantial body of people—many times more numerous than the agents of Osama bin Ladin—who share with the suicide hijackers a hatred of the United States and the desire, ultimately, to transform it into a nation living under the strictures of militant Islam. Although not responsible for the atrocities in September, they harbor designs for this country that warrant urgent and serious attention.
In June 1991, Siraj Wahaj, a black convert to Islam and the recipient of some of the American Muslim community's highest honors, had the privilege of becoming the first Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the U.S. House of Representatives. On that occasion he recited from the Qur'an and appealed to the Almighty to guide American leaders "and grant them righteousness and wisdom."
A little over a year later, addressing an audience of New Jersey Muslims, the same Wahaj articulated a rather different vision from his mild and moderate invocation in the House. If only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, 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." In 1995, Wahaj served as a character witness for Omar Abdel Rahman in the trial that found that blind sheikh guilty of conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States. More alarming still, the U.S. attorney for New York listed Wahaj as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the sheikh's case.
The disparity between Wahaj's good citizenship in the House and his militant forecast of a Muslim takeover—not to mention his association with violent felons—is only one example of a larger pattern common to the American Muslim scene. Another example, about which I have written recently elsewhere, involves the American Muslims for Jerusalem, an organization whose official advocacy of "a Jerusalem that symbolizes religious tolerance and dialogue" contrasts markedly with the wild conspiracy-mongering and crude anti-Jewish rhetoric in which its spokesmen indulge at closed events.1 At a minimum, then, anyone who would understand the real views of American Muslims must delve deeper than the surface of their public statements.
Doing so, one discovers that the ambition to take over the United States is hardly a new one. The first missionaries for militant Islam, or Islamism, who arrived here from abroad in the 1920's, unblushingly declared, "Our plan is, we are going to conquer America." The audacity of such statements hardly went unnoticed at the time, including by Christians who cherished their own missionizing hopes. As a 1922 newspaper commentary put it:
To the millions of American Christians who have so long looked eagerly forward to the time the cross shall be supreme in every land and the people of the whole world shall have become the followers of Christ, the plan to win this continent to the path of the "infidel Turk" will seem a thing unbelievable. But there is no doubt about its being pressed with all the fanatical zeal for which the Mohammedans are noted.
But it is in recent decades, as the Muslim population in the country has increased significantly in size, social standing, and influence, and as Islamism has made its presence widely felt on the international scene, that this "fanatical zeal" has truly come into its own. A catalyzing figure in the story is the late Ismail Al-Faruqi, a Palestinian immigrant who founded the International Institute of Islamic Thought and taught for many years at Temple University in Philadelphia. Rightly called "a pioneer in the development of Islamic studies in America," he was also the first contemporary theorist of a United States made Muslim. "Nothing could be greater," Al-Faruqi wrote in the early 1980's, "than this youthful, vigorous, and rich continent [of North America] turning away from its past evil and marching forward under the banner of Allahu Akbar [God is great]."
Al-Faruqi's hopes are today widely shared among educated Muslim leaders. Zaid Shakir, formerly the Muslim chaplain at Yale University, has stated that Muslims cannot accept the legitimacy of the American secular system, which "is against the orders and ordainments of Allah." To the contrary, "The orientation of the Qur'an pushes us in the exact opposite direction." To Ahmad Nawfal, a leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brethren who speaks frequently at American Muslim rallies, the United States has "no thought, no values, and no ideals"; if militant Muslims "stand up, with the ideology that we possess, it will be very easy for us to preside over this world." Masudul Alam Choudhury, a Canadian professor of business, writes matter-of-factly and enthusiastically about the "Islamization agenda in North America."
For a fuller exposition of this outlook, one can do no better than to turn to a 1989 book by Shamim A. Siddiqi, an influential commentator on American Muslim issues. Cryptically titled Methodology of Dawah Ilallah in American Perspective (more idiomatically rendered as "The Need to Convert Americans to Islam"), this 168-page study, published in Brooklyn, remains largely unavailable to general readers (neither amazon.com nor bookfinder.com listed it over a period of months) but is widely posted on Islamist websites,2 where it enjoys a faithful readership. In it, in prose that makes up in intensity and vividness for what it lacks in sophistication and polish, Siddiqi lays out both a detailed rationale and a concrete plan for Islamists to take over the United States and establish "Islamic rule" (iqamat ad-din).
Why America? In Siddiqi's judgment, the need to assume control here is even more pressing than the need to sustain the revolution of the mullahs in Iran or to destroy Israel, for doing so will have a much greater positive impact on the future of Islam. America is central not for the reasons one might expect—its large population, its wealth, or the cultural influence it wields around the world—but on three other grounds.
The first has to do with Washington's role as the premier enemy of Islamism (or, possibly, of Islam itself). In Siddiqi's colorful language, whenever and wherever Muslims have moved toward establishing an Islamic state, the "treacherous hands of the secular West are always there . . . to bring about [their] defeat." Nor are Muslim rulers of any help, for they are "all in the pockets of the Western powers." If, therefore, Islam is ever going to attain its rightful place of dominance in the world, the "ideology of Islam [must] prevail over the mental horizon of the American people." The entire future of the Muslim world, Siddiqi concludes, "depends on how soon the Muslims of America are able to build up their own indigenous movement."
Secondly, America is central because establishing Islamism here would signal its final triumph over its only rival, that bundle of Christianity and liberalism which constitutes contemporary Western civilization. (One cannot help noting the irony that Siddiqi's tract appeared in the same year, 1989, as Francis Fukuyama's famous article speculating that, with the collapse of Communism and the apparent triumph of liberal democracy, we had begun to approach the "end of history.") And thirdly, and still more grandly, the infusion of the United States with Islamism would make for so powerful a combination of material success and spiritual truth that the establishment of "God's Kingdom" on earth would no longer be "a distant dream."
But this dream will not happen by itself. To American Muslims, writes Siddiqi, falls the paramount responsibility of bringing Islam to power in their country; and to this goal, Muslims must devote "all of their energies, talents, and resources." For this is how they will be assessed on judgment day: "Every Muslim living in the West will stand in the witness box in the mightiest court of Allah . . . in Akhirah [the last day] and give evidence that he fulfilled his responsibility, . . . that he left no stone unturned to bring the message of the Qur'an to every nook and corner of the country."
How this desired end is to be achieved is a question on which opinions differ in Siddiqi's world. Basically, the disagreement centers on the role of violence.
As has been made irrefutably clear in recent weeks, there are indeed some, not just abroad but living among us, who see the United States as (in the phrase of Osama bin Ladin) an "enemy of Islam" that must be brought to its knees and destroyed. In its broad outlines, this judgment came to be solidified during the crisis over Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in the early 1990's, when militants like bin Ladin discerned a historic parallel between the presence of American troops on the soil of Saudi Arabia and the brutal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's. In their dialectical view, as the New Yorker writer Mary Ann Weaver has explained, the United States, just like the Soviet Union before it, represented "an infidel occupation force propping up a corrupt, repressive, and un-Islamic government." And just as the Islamist mujahideen in Afghanistan had succeeded in defeating and driving out their occupiers, and thereby played a role in the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union itself, so Islamists might cause the collapse of the United States: one down, one to go, as it were.
To the blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who after bin Laden is perhaps today's most notorious enemy of the United States, bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 was part and parcel of this revolutionary strategy to "conquer the land of the infidels" by force. The idea, as one of his followers put it, was to "bring down their highest buildings and the mighty constructions they are so proud of, in order thoroughly to demoralize them." 3 And this was a duty that Islamists saw as incumbent on all Muslims; having helped humiliate the Soviets in Afghanistan, they now, as one native-born American convert to Islam proclaimed in July 1989, must "complete the march of jihad until we reach America and liberate her."
But there are several problems with the approach of revolutionary violence, even from the perspective of those who share its goal. The most obvious has to do with its impact on American society. Although attacks like the 1993 bombing or the suicide massacres of September 11 are intended to demoralize the American people, prompt civil unrest, and weaken the country politically, what they do instead is to bring Americans together in patriotism and purpose. Those who mastermind them, in the meantime, are often caught: Abdel Rahman is sitting out a life sentence in a federal penitentiary, his campaign of violence stillborn, while Osama bin Ladin is the object of a massive manhunt to get him "dead or alive." Unlike in the very different case of the Soviet Union, it is very hard to see how the use of force will succeed in wearing down this country, much less lead to a change in government.
Besides, as a number of commentators have recently pointed out, in targeting all Americans the perpetrators of Islamic violence do not bother even to discriminate between non-Muslim and Muslim victims. According to preliminary estimates, several hundred Muslims died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. This is not exactly calculated to enlist the participation of most resident Muslims in a campaign of violent insurrection. 4
For all these reasons, the non-violent way would seem to have a brighter future, and it is in fact the approach adopted by most Islamists. Not only is it legal, but it allows its enthusiasts to adopt a seemingly benign view of the United States, a country they mean to rescue rather than to destroy, and it dictates a strategy of working with Americans rather than against them. As a teacher at an Islamic school in Jersey City, near New York, explains, the "short-term goal is to introduce Islam. In the long term, we must save American society." Step by step, writes a Pakistan-born professor of economics, by offering "an alternative model" to Americans, Muslims can transform what Ismail Al-Faruqi referred to as "the unfortunate realities of North America" into something acceptable in God's eyes.
Practically speaking, there are two main prongs to the non-violent strategy. The first involves radically increasing the number of American Muslims, a project that on the face of it would not seem very promising. Islam, after all, is still an exotic growth in the United States, its adherents representing just 1 to 2 percent of the population and with exceedingly dim prospects of becoming anything like a majority. Islamists are not so unrealistic as to think that these numbers can be substantially altered any time soon by large-scale immigration (which is politically unfeasible and might anyway provoke a backlash) or by normal rates of reproduction. Hence they focus most of their efforts on conversion.
They do so not only as a matter of expediency but on principle. For Islamists, converting Americans is the central purpose of Muslim existence in the United States, the only possible justification for Muslims to live in an infidel land. In the view of Shamim Siddiqi, there is no choice in the matter—American Muslims are "ordained by Allah" to help replace evil with good, and otherwise "have no right even to breathe." "Wherever you came from," adds Siraj Wahaj, "you came . . . for one reason—for one reason only—to establish Allah's din [faith]."
This imperative, relentlessly propagated by authoritative figures and promoted by leading Islamist organizations like the Muslim Student Association, has been widely adopted by Muslim Americans at large. Many attest to the sense of responsibility that flows from being an "ambassador for Islam," and are ever mindful of the cardinal importance of winning new adherents. And, given what they hold to be the truth of their message and the depravity of American culture, Islamists are optimistic about their chances of success. "A life of taqwah [piety] will immediately attract non-Muslims towards Islam," writes Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, an important Indian Islamist, in his "Message for Muslims in the West."
He has a point: the more readily the message of Islam is available, the more converts it is likely to win. In making headway in the United States, Islam has largely depended on hands-on contact and personal experience. According to one survey, over two-thirds of American converts to Islam were motivated by the influence of a Muslim friend or acquaintance. The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1964), with its moving account of redemption through Islam, has had a wide impact on American blacks (and even some whites), causing a substantial number to convert. Similarly not to be discounted are the efforts of the various Muslim organizations in the United States, whose "attempts at educating the American public about Islam" may be responsible, according to one observer, for "Islam's increasing numbers."
But if increasing numbers are necessary, they are also not sufficient. After all, whole countries—Turkey, Egypt, Algeria—have overwhelmingly Muslim populations, but Islamism is suppressed by their governments. From an Islamist point of view, indeed, the situation in Turkey is far worse than in the United States, for it is a more grievous thing to reject the divine message as interpreted by Islamists than merely to be ignorant of it. Therefore, in addition to building up Muslim numbers, Islamists must prepare the United States for their own brand of ideology. This means doing everything possible toward creating an Islamist environment and applying Islamic law. Activities under this heading fall into various categories.
Promoting Islamic rituals and customs in the public square. Islamists want secular authorities to permit students in public institutions, for example, to recite the basmallah (the formula "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") in classroom exercises. They also want the right to broadcast over outdoor loudspeakers the five daily Islamic calls-to-prayer. Similarly, they have agitated for publicly maintained prayer facilities in such institutions as schools and airports.
Privileges for Islam. Islamists seek public financial support for Islamic schools, mosques, and other institutions. They also lobby for special quotas for Muslim immigrants, try to compel corporations to make special allowances for Muslim employees, and demand the formal inclusion of Muslims in affirmative-action plans.
Restricting or disallowing what others may do. Islamists want law-enforcement agencies to criminalize activities like drinking and gambling that are offensive to Islam. While seeking wide latitude for themselves, for instance when it comes to expressing disrespect for American national symbols, they would penalize expressions of disrespect for religious figures whom Islam deems holy, especially the prophet Muhammad; punish criticism of Islam, Islamism, or Islamists; and close down critical analysis of Islam.
Some of these aims have already been achieved. Others may seem relatively minor in and of themselves, implying no drastic alterations in existing American arrangements but rather only slight adjustments in our already expansive accommodation of social "diversity." Cumulatively, however, by whittling away at the existing order, they would change the country's whole way of life—making Islam a major public presence, ensuring that both the workplace and the educational system accommodate its dictates and strictures, adapting family customs to its code of conduct, winning it a privileged position in American life, and finally imposing its system of law. Steps along the way would include more radical and intrusive actions like prohibiting conversion out of Islam, criminalizing adultery, banning the consumption of pork, formalizing enhanced rights for Muslims at the expense of non-Muslims, and doing away with equality of the sexes.
A Muslim majority? Islamic law the law of the land? Even the most optimistic Islamists concede the task will not be easy. Just as Muhammad confronted die-hard opponents in pagan Mecca, writes Siddiqi, so pious Muslims in America will face opponents, led by the press cum media, the agents of capitalism, the champions of atheism (Godless creeds) and the [Christian] missionary zealots." Doing battle with them will demand focus, determination, and sacrifice.
And yet Siddiqi also thinks Muslims enjoy advantages undreamt of in Muhammad's day or in any other society than today's United States. For one thing, Americans are hungry for the Islamist message, which "pinpoints the shortcoming of capitalism, elaborates the fallacies of democracy, [and] exposes the devastating consequences of the liberal lifestyle." For another, the United States permits Islamists to pursue their political agenda in an entirely legal fashion and without ever challenging the existing order. Indeed, precisely because the Constitution guarantees complete government neutrality toward religion, the system can be used to further Islamist aims. Democratic means are at hand for developing an active and persistent lobby, cultivating politicians, and electing Muslim representatives. Nearly a million legal immigrants arrive in the country each year, plus many more through the long coastlines and porous land borders. The courts are an all-important resource, and have already proved their worth in winning concession after concession from American corporations and public authorities.
Even so, the road will not be completely smooth. A delicate point will be reached, in Siddiqi's mind, as society polarizes between Muslim and non-Muslim camps "in every walk of life." At that point, as the struggle between Truth and Error "acquires momentum and the tension increases along with it," the "Wrong Doers" are likely to take desperate steps to "eliminate the Islamic movement and its workers by force." But if Islamists tread cautiously to navigate this point, taking special care not to alienate the non-Muslim population, eventually there will follow what Siddiqi calls a general "Rush-to-Islam." It will then be only a matter of time before Muslims find themselves not just enfranchised but actually running the show.
How much time? Siddiqi sees Islamists in power in Washington before 2020. For Wahaj, implementation of the shari'a in the United States "appears to be approaching fast," and in contemplating what that means his language grows ecstatic:
I have a vision in America, Muslims owning property all over, Muslim businesses, factories, halal meat, supermarkets, all these buildings owned by Muslims. Can you see the vision, can you see the Newark International Airport and a John Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia having Muslim fleets of planes, Muslim pilots. Can you see our trucks rolling down the highways, Muslim names. Can you imagine walking down the streets of Teaneck, [New Jersey]: three Muslim high schools, five Muslim junior-high schools, fifteen public schools. Can you see the vision, can you see young women walking down the street of Newark, New Jersey, with long flowing hijab and long dresses. Can you see the vision of an area of no crime, controlled by the Muslims?
It hardly needs pointing out that this vision is, to say the least, farfetched, or that Islamists are deluding themselves if they think that today's newborns will be attending college in an Iranian-style United States. But neither is their effort altogether quixotic: their devotion, energy, and skill are not to be questioned, and the larger Muslim-American community for which they claim to speak is assuredly in a position, especially as its numbers grow, to affect our public life in decisive ways. Indeed, despite persistent complaints of bias against them—more voluminous than ever in the wake of the airplane hijackings on September 11—Muslim Americans have built an enviable record of socio-economic accomplishment in this country, have won wide public acceptance of their faith, and have managed to make it particularly difficult for anyone to criticize their religion or customs.
Whether and to what degree the community as a whole subscribes to the Islamist agenda are, of course, open questions. But what is not open to question is that, whatever the majority of Muslim Americans may believe, most of the organized Muslim community agrees with the Islamist goal—the goal, to say it once again, of building an Islamic state in America. To put it another way, the major Muslim organizations in this country are in the hands of extremists.
One who is not among them is Muhammad Hisham Kabbani of the relatively small Islamic Supreme Council of America. In Kabbani's reliable estimation, such "extremists" have "taken over 80 percent of the mosques" in the United States. And not just the mosques: schools, youth groups, community centers, political organizations, professional associations, and commercial enterprises also tend to share a militant outlook, hostile to the prevailing order in the United States and advocating its replacement with an Islamic one.
Not all these organizations and spokesmen are open about their aspirations, though some are: for example, the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia, proclaims its academic purpose to be nothing less than "the Islamization of the humanities and the social sciences." But the best-known organizations—the ones whose members are invited to offer prayers and invocations before Congress or to attend White House functions, or whose representatives accompanied the President on his September 17 visit to a mosque—tend to hide their true colors behind arch-respectable goals. Thus, the American Muslim Council claims to work "toward the political empowerment of Muslims in America," the Council on American-Islamic Relations is "putting faith into action," and the Muslim Public Affairs Council seeks only to make American Muslims "an influential component in U.S. public affairs."
But as I have documented at greater length on other occasions, 5 much if not everything about the conduct of these organizations points to their essential agreement with the "conquer America" agenda, and from time to time their leaders—including Al-Faruqi and Shakir—have even said as much. As for Siraj Wahaj, he is a top figure in the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Alliance in North America, and the Muslim Arab Youth Association, and his views contaminate every single one of them. It is not accurate to say, as President Bush said of the Islamist leaders with whom he met on September 17, that they "love America as much as I do."
That a significant movement in this country aspires to erode its bedrock social and legal arrangements, including the separation of church and state, and has even developed a roadmap toward that end, poses a unique dilemma, especially at this moment. Every responsible public official, and every American of good faith, is bent on drawing a broad distinction between terrorists operating in the name of Islam and ordinary Muslim "moms and dads." It is a true and valid distinction, but it goes much too far, and if adhered to as a guideline for policy it will cripple the effort that must be undertaken to preserve our institutions.
What such an effort would look like is a subject unto itself, but at a minimum it would have to entail the vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country, the active recruitment of moderate Muslims in the fight against Islamic extremism, a keener monitoring of Muslim organizations with documented links to Islamist activity, including the support of terrorism, and the immediate reform of immigration procedures to prevent a further influx of visitors or residents with any hint of Islamist ideology. Wherever that seditious and totalitarian ideology has gained a foothold in the world, it has wrought havoc, and some societies it has brought to their knees. The preservation of our existing order can no longer be taken for granted; it needs to be fought for.
1 "Islam's American Lobby," Jerusalem Post, September 20, 2001.
2 Here are two: http://www.islambook.com/dawah.htm and http:// www. halalco.com/dawah.html.
3 These words were found in a notebook kept by Sayyid Abd al-Aziz Nusayr, the Egyptian immigrant who assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane in a New York hotel in November 1990.
4 Upon hearing an immigrant Islamist speaker instruct an audience of Muslims that they were "obligated to desire, and when possible to participate in, the overthrow of any non-Islamic government—anywhere in the world—in order to replace it by an Islamic one," one American-born convert remembers protesting in dismay that this would involve people like himself in political treason. "Yes, that's true," was the lecturer's blithe response. (Jeffrey Lang, Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America, 1997.)
5 See, in Commentary, "Are Muslim Americans Victimized?" (November 2000), "How Elijah Muhammad Won" (June 2000), "‘How Dare You Defame Islam'" (November 1999), and "America's Muslims Against America's Jews" (May 1999).
MIM: Gamble is the co sponsor of the "10,000 Men: A call to Action" initiative. It is being overseen by Abdur Rahim Islam a CEO with Universal Companies and One Companies which he cofounded with Gamble. http://www.onecompanies.com/02b-Islam.htm
The call to action is based on the NOI's Million Man March. Note that Gamble is the co chair of the Millions More Movement an NOI initiative. See their website for more information on how they are connected toe NOI. http://www.millionsmoremovement.com/index_noflash.html
Below: Excerpts from an article in The Final Call about The "Call to Action" initiative - The Final Call is the official news organ of the Nation of Islam and is virulently anti semitic, anti white and anti American. http://www.adl.org/main_Nation_of_Islam/default.htm
FinalCall.com - On Oct. 21, over 10,000 Black men filled Philadelphia's Liacouras Center responding to a call made by Dennis Muhammad, founder of ENOTA (Educating Neighborhoods to Obey Those in Authority; local Millions More Movement (MMM) Chair Kenny Gamble, entertainment promoter Charlie Mack, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and radio executive E. Steven Collins. The call, in part, is to create a significant presence of Black men on the streets of Philadelphia patrolling "hot spots" or high crime areas deemed by the Philadelphia Police Department. During an exclusive interview with Final Call Contributor Jehron Muhammad, operations manager of the MMM and former managing director of the City of Philadelphia, Joe Certaine, outlined the call to action.
FC: Now let's talk about the role you're playing in this initiative, including background info to justify that role?
JC: I was the coordinator for the original call by Min Farrakhan for the Million Man March. In 1995 I coordinated Philadelphia and the region and worked with people at the national level on the overall coordination for bringing people. I also worked with (Rev.) Willie Wilson and the Nation of Islam on the 10th Anniversary of the MMM, which evolved into the Millions More Movement. I helped set up Philadelphia operationally and helped develop the current infrastructure for the (local) Millions More Movement. Operationally the chairman, Kenny Gamble called me when it was time to begin operations.
That's where we are now. We've been working for the last month and a half to plan for the kick off for the mobilization that was held at the Liacouras Center at Temple University. From that we held orientation sessions in all areas of the city.
FC: This sounds like Minister Farrakhan's primary message from the Million Man March.
JC: Absolutely! The pledge we took at the Million Man March was to go back into our community and to individually honor the pledge by becoming better husbands, better fathers, better teachers, better leaders. As individuals we did that. When we came back 10 years later, the charge was that we'd done what we need to do as individuals, now we needed to work collectively to do what was required in our community (and) to join together and get rid of the egos and the pretentiousness that we seem to entertain and (to) work together to improve the community. It's taken us two years to put together the infrastructure for that, but now we're launching that.
MIM: Kenny Gamble and Universal CEO Abdur Rahim Islam are both quoted in a Final Call article on November 17th about the genesis of the "10,000 Men A Call to Action" movement.
Excerpts from "Over 10,000 Black Men Answer The Call in Philly"
Charles "Charlie Mack" Alston, hatched the idea for the Call to Action along with men such as Dennis Muhammad, Nick Reed, and Darryl Robinson, in the living room of his Delaware home. Since that day, many people had come aboard to make October 21, 2007 a day to remember. ..
Mr. Alston told the Final Call. "I know I felt the same way in 1995, when I looked out across the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and saw that sea of Black men, who had come for the Million Man March," Mr. Alston admitted...
What was my initial feeling seeing how many men showed up on [October] 21?" stated Kenny Gamble, chairman of the Philadelphia Millions More Movement, in response to a Final Call question. "The spirit of the Million Man March was alive and well," that's what I said to myself, Mr. Gamble replied.
"The MMM was our precedent—it just took this long to get it organized—to realize that we must come up to this universal level of thinking. No more excuses," Mr. Gamble opined.
Rodney Muhammad, the Delaware Valley Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam at Muhammad's Mosque No. 12 in Philadelphia, said he was overjoyed that Mr. Gamble compared the gathering of "10,000" to the Historic gathering of nearly two million men at the Million Man March in 1995."The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in his call for the Millions More Movement, stressed that no one organization had the answer to our problems—so, a call for 10,000 men in Philadelphia was placed—and they came," Mr. Muhammad said, stating that Philadelphia has become a "lightning rod" for the nation, igniting a movement which can further inspire Black men to take responsibility for solving their own problems.
"Ten-thousand Black men have shown that solving the overwhelming problems of our community is doable,' he added.
Abdur-Rahim Islam, a Philadelphia real estate developer, is an integral part of the grassroots alliance that bought into Mr. Alston's vision to put peacekeepers into the streets. "We want to do three things," he told the historic gathering, according to press reports. "We want to inspire, educate and instruct." Mr. Islam told The Final Call that there was a goal of bringing 350 organizations under the "call for action" umbrella, which 1,000 have already joined.
"The key message to the organizations was you have to change the thinking on the ground, bring about a paradigm in our community from dependence on others to ‘do for self,'" Mr. Islam noted. "Violence is just the symptom which comes at us from our blighted neighborhoods. But, not to worry—it is coming together," he said...
According to Mr. Gamble, it has been coming together for the past two-and-a-half years with a lot of hard work; and a lot of hard working, dedicated people. He said over 1,200 men had shown up for the orientation.
"We work from what we call a logic model, which is decrease the violence and increase education. That is the solution to most of our problems. Education will help us to understand the need for morality and the need to raise our standard of living—how to protect our families," Mr. Gamble stressed.
"Please do not write your story and not share how Minister Farrakhan inspired me," insists Mr. Alston to The Final Call...
url for complete article:
MIM: The 10,000 Men initiative was touted with great fanfare by Gamble and city officials including police chief Slyvester Johnson, a Muslim who came to Islam via the NOI.
From their posts onstage, Johnson and other organizers repeatedly shouted, "It's a new day!" The contingent included a slew of political heavyweights, including Mayor John Street and Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter. Pennsylvania State Rep. Dwight Evans and U.S. Reps. Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady were also on hand to kick off the initiative. http://media.www.temple-news.com/media/storage/paper143/news/2007/10/23/News/A.new.Day.Dawns-3048495.shtml
The first of the "10,000 Men" step out for some "field training."
Taking peace to the streets
By Andrew Maykuth 11/25/07
Inquirer Staff Writer
With enthusiasm that belied their numbers, the first 100 men committed to encouraging thousands of African Americans to become community activists took to the street yesterday in a "field training" exercise.
> On a sunny, brisk day, the initial public patrols of "10,000 Men: A Call to Action" set out from the Vare Recreation Center at 26th and Morris Streets to canvass about 16 blocks of South Philadelphia and Point Breeze.
> Trained to be polite and nonconfrontational, the men walked the neighborhoods and distributed printed door-hangers introducing the outfit, which was organized in reaction to a violent crime wave that has affected black neighborhoods more than most.
> "There won't be conflict," said Anthony Murphy, one of the leaders of the organization's field operations. "We're going to be friendly black men. It's important."
> The organizers said they were not disappointed at the turnout; about 200 men who were trained as "vanguard" leaders had been expected to show up for the initial outreach. The men who patrolled yesterday are expected to supervise squads of about 10 men in the coming months.
> "We want to be a positive force in the community," said E. Steven Collins, a radio personality and spokesman for the organization. "This is systematic. It's not just for show."
> The 10,000-men organization was introduced to the public last month amid substantial fanfare - and some skepticism that the effort would be short-lived and fizzle. Using volunteer labor and private contributions, organizers are methodically building the group as quickly as possible, they say, to prevent a loss of fervor among the more than 11,000 people who have registered with the organization.
> "It takes time," said Murphy, the head of the city office that oversees town watch groups, who is helping former City Managing Director Joe Certaine organize the field operations. "But now, as you can see, it's actually taking place, and we're moving out. This is the beginning."
> Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, who said he was committed to helping the organization after his retirement in January, said the group was determined to live up to the mostly positive attention it had received.
> "We know the whole nation is looking at us," he said. "We want to do it step by step, do it correctly."
> Johnson's successor, former Washington Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, also endorsed the effort recently. "It's a heck of an idea," he said. "I'm glad to see it moving forward."
> Encouraged to wear black, the men yesterday were fitted with armbands and baseball caps that sported the organization's red-black-and-green logo, an African shield with crossed spears.
> The logo is intended to be nonpolitical and nonreligious, said Abdur-Rahim Islam, the organization's general manager. "The common denominator for us all is that we're all from Africa," he said.
> The organizers say their aim is to encourage African American men to take a more active role in their neighborhoods and families.
> The unarmed field patrols will function as a kind of hybrid town-watch organization that will patrol neighborhoods and encourage young men - who commit much of the violent crime, and are its victims - to put down their arms and pursue a more productive path. The volunteers will attempt to steer the men toward services such as job-training programs.
> "We want to set an example, interacting with the young men, giving them a positive message, and giving them a better outlook on themselves," said Wayne Rahman, a Marine veteran who is president of the South Philadelphia Black Association. "These guys need to be educated as to who they are, just good human beings."
> Islam said the organization was struggling to overcome some perceptions that it is a paramilitary force or an extension of the Nation of Islam, whose Million Man March and its offshoots did provide some inspiration.
> The "glue" of the organization, he said, is music producer Kenny Gamble, a prominent Muslim who is providing much of the manpower for the outfit; the organization will open offices soon in a Gamble property in the 1500 block of Christian Street. In the work world, Islam is also chief executive of Universal Cos., Gamble's community-development enterprise.
> But Islam said the 10,000-men organization was nonreligious.
> "People are just looking for things that are going to divide us," he said. "Sometimes the negative grows faster than the positive. But nobody . . . has ever said anything about religion. We have Muslims, non-Muslims, Christians, non-Christians, the whole gamut."
MIM: Philly Blog asks the question: "The Nation of Islam to patrol the streets?"
The problem is that the main security guy overseeing training is NOI and a quasi- paramilitary Fruit of Islam guy. One of the main "community leaders" pushing himself as the face of the program is Kenny Gamble of Philly International Records fame. Gamble is a very close associate and a spiritual follower of the formerly-NOI Muslim cleric Shamsud-din Ali. Ali was reacently convicted of a boatload of corruption charges that involved close poltical ties to the Street administration and Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller's office. According to wiretapped cell phone tapes played by the FBI during the trial Ali is also a current leader of the Junior Black Mafia, an organized crime syndicate excercising significant influence in Philadlephia's drug trade. The tape included him collecting mob "street taxes" from one of the most insanely murderous wholesale level cocaine distribution operations in Philadelphia history. Some of the people taped discussing droppping payments to Ali were recently convicted for example for ordering the setting fire to a row house killing the entire extended family of a potential witness and bragging about it. The lieutenant in this drug ring, Dawud Bey, was officially an employee of Universal Properties, Kenny Gamble's property development company that has recieved alleged favoritism in the reciept of land from the city in South Philadlephia, at the same time he was allegedly setting up these murders and discussing dropping of payment to Ali - which in one tape Ali bragged about having to delvier to City Hall. Bey is also the son of one of the founders of the Junior Black Mafia dating back to the late 60's and was a member of Ali's congregation along with Kenny Gamble. http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/general-discussion/43665-nation-islam-police-streets-12.html
There is a pretty fascinating thread with lots of news articles documenting all the connections between Ali and the various players here ->http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/pol...h-mafioso.html
Some of the allegations about Ali are quite eye-opening. What do people make of this man, Shamsud-din Ali?... What about his close personal relationship both as a friend and personal religious advisor to Kenny Gamble?
MIM: For more on Shamsud-din Ali see: "Philly Imam Shamsud-din Ali sentenced to 87 months on municipal corruption charges- linked to Mayor Street's office" http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1097
MIM: The same Philly blogger detailed some of the problems with Universal involving vacant properties and empty promises.
"Universal-Will it, Can it develop? and "How connected is Gamble with [Shamsud din] Ali? http://www.phillyblog.com/philly/south-philly/7125-universal-will-can-develop.html
Universal's TroublesActually, Universal is a sore subject for some of us who have lived here a while. The Royal Theater properties were sold to Universal by the Preservation Alliance in the late 1990s with the promise that Universal/Gamble was ready to go with an entertainment complex. After many community meetings, nothing much has been done.
But the property was recently in the news as though this entertainment complex is a new idea. It isn't.
Universal may have trouble getting contractors and funding for the large projects. Why?
1. Universal's partnership with Pennrose, Uni-Penn, created to build MLK Plaza just east of Broad and Fitzwater area, declared bankruptcy. Uni-Penn is being sued by several larger contractors according to the Philadelphia civil court docket. Looks like any judgement will be difficult to collect on a technically bankrupt entity, so future contractors will avoid working for managers who don't pay unless sued.
2. The Royal Theater properties defaulted on the mortgage held by the Preservation Alliance, making the four or so Royal properties eligible for Sheriff sale. Who will build or partner with anyone to create an "entertainment complex" and museum to Kenny Gamble if the building can be sold right out from under them?
3. Universal has a few properties listed on Trend for sale that were not meant to be sold. They are sold before any renovation occurred, or are being sold after public funds were used to create a business that was meant to exist to train and employ the disadvantaged or those working on life skills. I refer to the former "Universal Minimart" now an African themed restaurant/deli. Built with Community Development Block Grant funds of about $150K, the structure is now to be sold. While I support this sale, the private market could have funded and built the same thing at no cost to the taxpayer.
4. Universal's Real Estate Office at 15th and South is being rented out it seems, which is a new, unannounced thing. Universal's business development area experienced a downsizing recently. There are some Gamble owned lots, that were conveyed by the RDA, that are being sold now on Trend. While I support this sale to a private owner, it would have been better for the neighborhood if this property was offered at auction competitively by the RDA instead of conveyed to Universal and held for years. The private market can be forced to build or sell sooner. Any partner looking to develop in earnest will wonder what the heck is going on.
5. Universal's PAC, NUR-PAC, is a Street and local Dem party top contributor. Pay to play is when a nonprofit gets goodies such as cheap property and kicks back contributions to the party that orchestrates this. Nonprofit contributions should be addressed in ethics reform legislation. Meanwhile, serious partners in real renovation will be put off in the new climate of reform.
6. Universal's rate of development to their rate of holding undeveloped properties seems to be about one in four or five. I can't tell entirely, since the organization refuses to make any annual report available. However, the federal 990s filed show that the top managers make from $75K to $110K plus benefits per year. Wow. Yet Rahim Islam, head of Real Estate, claims the group "can't afford annual reports," even if made available electronically. Hmm.
7. Kenny Gamble is buddies with Shamsud-din Ali aka Clarence Fowler.
8. The most druggie area of the 30th Ward now is the area where Universal owns the most properties. Universal's model of development does not improve the climate and equity much. The private market is achieving more in terms of cleaner, safer streets and diversity. I've heard Universal referred to as a publicly financed Sam Rappaport, who held crappy properties for years until the area around it improved, then sold as is and cashed in. This is not
progressive minded redevelopment. Speculation without renovation should be stopped whether by a for profit or nonprofit.
9. Universal is a religious entity that is indigenous black muslim in focus. The Philadelphia black muslim movement has had a storied connection with drugs and organized crime. See the several academic books on the subject, especially those by Sean Patrick Griffin, who wrote "Philadelphia's 'Black Mafia:' A Social and Political History." Griffin notes that a non profit known as "Black Inc." at 1433 South St. was firebombed some time ago. Black Inc. was disbanded after law enforcement linked it to the drug trade. Such an ugly past and a geographic and religious similarity begs the question: Were members of Universal involved in crime? Should those who get valuable city goods have a clean record? Should redevelopers and nonprofits be prohibited from getting city contracts and property if members have felony convictions or were on probation for some serious crime? A review of the civil court docket shows that some current members of Universal have been under probation.
10. As to quality of work, Universal was recently featured on NBC10 for severe mold problems and shoddy workmanship at its development on Cross St. This can occur when wooden materials are left to the elements for long periods, as seems to be the case in the new Universal development in the Federal St area, where the sticks and plywood went up but then there was no activity for a long time. Experienced builders will try to avoid cash flow problems that result in work stoppage.
That said, every builder has problems and makes mistakes. Don't let it stop you from investing in the area. But be an informed owner. Go to community meetings. Ask tough questions that the Universal dittoheads avoid. Put the pressure on Universal to build or to sell. Complain to politicians and the RDA. Look up on Hallwatch the empty Universal lots and complain to Anna Verna, ccing Rahim Islam.
Everyone will benefit from your diligence, your equity most of all.
MIM: Excerpt from "Soul Searching" a 2005 article detailing Gamble's plans to construct a black entertainment district which was dubbed "Souladelphia".
"As the founder and chairman of Universal Companies, Gamble is well positioned to make this ambitious project fly. He formed the nonprofit development company in 1993, with the goal of revitalizing the South Philly neighborhood of his boyhood, near 15th and Christian.
Over the past decade Gamble and partner Abdur-Rahim Islam have snatched up hundreds of properties-often with the help of eminent domain and government subsidies-from 11th Street to Grays Ferry Avenue, and South Street to Point Breeze Avenue. They've built 450 low-income housing units, and a retail center is in the pipeline for Broad and Catharine streets. Universal also runs schools, a health clinic and a job training center.
MIM: Governor Rendell gave Gamble $250,000 in state funding to help move the Rhythm and Blues Foundtion from New York City to Philadelphia and promised $150,000 more to "finance building designs for a hall of fame".
But Gamble insists the timing is right to create a tourism strategy centered on an R&B theme. As the first step toward "branding" Philly as a music city, he has wooed the Rhythm & Blues Foundation here from its current home in New York City. The five-person staff will move in April.
The third major concept is an annual R&B music festival-probably to be held in conjunction with the Sunoco Welcome America! July 4th celebration. Both the R&B Foundation and SWA! committee members are already booking bands for this year's event, says Kendall Minter, chair of the R&B Foundation.Once these three main attractions are in place, Gamble believes other R&B-themed retail shops and restaurants would naturally spin off. He's not concerned about oversaturating the market. "The more you have, the better," Gamble says, noting the success of both Restaurant Row and Jewelers Row in Center City. "You want that concentration." Such a designated entertainment district would have to be developed jointly by the public and private sectors-similar to other "branding" initiatives like the Avenue of the Arts.
Gov. Ed Rendell has already hit the play button. The state is awarding a $250,000 economic development grant to help cover the R&B Foundation's moving expenses. Rendell has also promised a $150,000 planning grant to help finance building designs for a hall of fame.
"We lost American Bandstand and-no offense to Cleveland or Mayor Goode-but we should have gotten the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," Rendell says. "If there's going to be an R&B hall of fame, it belongs in Philly."
For more on Gamble's project and the estimated costs, most of which would come from federal and state and private funding see: "South Street R&B district poised to cash in on arts heritage".
The so-called South Street Entertainment District would aim to create a visitor destination built around the R&B center, condominium development and related venues, pumping an estimated $125 million a year into the economy, according to a 52-page report by Econsult Corp. and released by music producer Kenneth Gamble's Universal Cos., the chief proponent of the proposed enterprise.
The report does not spell out how the proposal would be financed, though the document will be used to secure a combination of public and private financing -- potentially tapping into the city, state, developers, private investors and Universal itself, according to spokesman Joel Avery.
The $20,000 study was paid for by the city Commerce Department.http://philadelphia.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/stories/2006/07/03/story12.html
MIM:The website of the Avenue of the Arts Inc. provides this information about Universal Companies.
At Universal Companies, we are in the people business, the business of rebuilding people, families and communities within urban communities. Our Mission is to create educational, cultural, and economic wealth within historically poor communities by tearing down systemic barriers to community wealth creation – We call this the Universal Plan.
The vision of Universal Companies is to create a community re-development model, which rebuilds the community systems (infrastructure) in the Greater South Philadelphia area. By developing and implementing a comprehensive and holistic approach to community development that addresses issues of real estate and economic development, small business creation, k-12 and adult education, social and supportive services, medical and health services, and technology.
The Family of Universal Companies consist of the Following Divisions:
Universal Companies is a not for profit "Community Development and Community Management Corporation" formed under the efforts and direction of one of Philadelphia's greatest talents, Mr. Kenneth Gamble, world-renowned musical writer, composer, producer and founder and CEO of Philadelphia International Records. Mr. Gamble has been credited for being a pioneer in the development of soul/rhythm and blues music in America. Since 1960, Mr. Gamble has written, produced, and recorded more than 3,000 songs performed by numerous artists and is credited as the creator of "THE SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA (TSOP)." TSOP has placed Philadelphia on the International Map as a Mecca for the music industry and promoted Philadelphia worldwide.
For more information about Universal's Services
Universal Corporate Center
800 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146
"Promoting Opportunities for a Positive Community Change"
MIM: In 2006 The Bank of America gave Gamble and Universal $50,000 dollars for their "community development and revitalisation efforts".
Bank of America brings Higher Standards in financial solutions to Philadelphia
Market president presents $50,000 grant to Kenny Gamble
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Consumers in Philadelphia will enjoy the next generation of banking as Bank of America opens the doors of its new Columbus Commons banking center (1950 South Columbus Boulevard). The center features Bank of America's new design and cutting edge technology and offers customers the highest standards of service, access, and convenience.
To mark the opening, Bank of America Pennsylvania Market President Daniel K. Fitzpatrick presented $50,000 in grant funding to local legend Kenny Gamble on behalf of the Bank of America Foundation. Gamble, founder of Universal Companies, will utilize the funding to bolster his community development and revitalization efforts.
At today's official ribbon-cutting ceremony, customers and others enjoyed a celebration featuring the music of the Mummers with the award-winning Quaker City and Fralinger string bands, face painting, games, and other activities.
Representing the Official Bank of Baseball, 30 associate volunteers from Team Bank of America, the franchise's volunteer corps, worked to revitalize the Edward O'Malley field (Front and Moore Streets), home to three Little Leagues.
"At Bank of America, we are exploring every opportunity to expand our presence and commitment to our customers and our community,‿ said Fitzpatick. "This commitment is not only symbolized by our employing new, cutting edge design and technology to serve our customers more effectively, but also through our work in the community with civic leaders like Kenny Gamble.‿
The Next Generation of Banking
The Columbus Commons banking center -- which looks and feels more like a retail establishment than a bank -- follows the design standard for all new Bank of America banking centers opening nationwide. Its open floor plan includes a section where customers can relax in a sitting area that features a media wall with periodicals, financial planning resources, and a television.
Upon entering the bank, customers are greeted at the door by a host who determines their needs. They are then guided to the teller line, a glass-enclosed conference room for private financial discussions, or one of several innovative technology stations that offer such features as multilingual telephone banking and web-based computer terminals providing access to account information and other products and services. Safe deposit boxes are now accessed through an electronic palm reader feature that provides a higher standard of convenience, safety and security.
The center is a full-service facility conveniently located at South Columbus Boulevard and Snyder Avenue. The office has over 4,500-square-feet of space and features seven teller stations, two customer service units, four personal bankers and a customer assistance station. The exterior also includes a walk-up and drive-up ATM and a night depository.
The banking center is designed to be efficient, functional and more accessible, with plenty of room for parking. Its hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Customers will be able to access their accounts in-store, online, by phone, or through a network of more than 16,000 ATMs across the country – including over 100 in the greater Philadelphia area.
A Tradition of Community Support
The $50,000 grant to Universal Companies follows a history of philanthropic commitments to the Philadelphia community by Bank of America and the predecessor Fleet organization. Last year, Bank of America donated over $1.1 million in grants and sponsorships to local organizations:
· Improving nutritional offerings in urban neighborhoods through a $500,000 grant to The Reinvestment Fund's Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative
· Key support through a $50,000 grant for the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society's Philadelphia Green program, one of the nation's most comprehensive efforts to care for urban gardens, parks, and green spaces
· Bolstering of Project H.O.M.E.'s efforts to break the insidious cycle of poverty and homelessness through comprehensive care with a $50,000 contribution
About Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving 33 million consumer relationships with more than 5,800 retail banking offices, more than 16,700 ATMs and award-winning online banking with more than twelve million active users. Bank of America is the No. 1 overall Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in the United States and the No. 1 SBA lender to minority-owned small businesses. The company serves clients in 150 countries and has relationships with 98 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 85 percent of the Global Fortune 500. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. http://bankofamerica.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=6931
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Urban Greening and Land Stabilization Efforts Receive $4,000,000 Boost from Mayor Street's NTI Initiative
PHILADELPHIA — Mayor John F. Street has launched a citywide effort with The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to implement a "Green City Strategy" as part of his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). The $4,000,000 project began in July 2003 and calls for a variety of services to be delivered to neighborhoods over the next year.
Mayor Street says of the Green City Strategy, "My administration is committed to greening as an important tool for revitalizing Philadelphia's neighborhoods. Bringing green space, gardens and foliage into our neighborhoods is in the original spirit of William Penn's ‘Green Countrie Towne' and makes our neighborhoods more beautiful, desirable and livable! The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has designed an effective, proven strategy for getting the job done. This is a wonderful partnership for our neighborhoods and our entire city."
NTI is Mayor Street's unprecedented commitment of resources to neighborhoods. Through NTI, the City of Philadelphia is taking aggressive action to address physical needs in its communities through better land management, code enforcement and the elimination of blight. The effort will also give attention to essential elements such as public safety, recreation facilities, retail opportunities, transportation, secure streets, cultural outlets and quality schools that are necessary for a neighborhood to thrive.
With more than 31,000 vacant lots in the City of Philadelphia, the Green City Strategy will focus on stabilizing 1,000 parcels totaling more than 1,000,000 square feet of land over a one year period and providing greening services to areas citywide. This ambitious effort will leverage the 30 years of experience PHS has in working with public and private groups to green derelict spaces with the NTI goal to stem the growth of blight in Philadelphia and begin the process of rebuilding communities.
PHS, through its Philadelphia Green program, has been investing in Philadelphia neighborhoods since the ‘70s and is excited at the prospect of working in close collaboration with the City.
With three decades of expertise in revitalizing communities through greening, PHS is embracing this opportunity to effect change on a scale greater than anything it has done before. This new partnership will expand greening projects, existing workshops, events, training sessions, programs and redirect them to overlap with other elements of the city's NTI program to enhance the actions and quality of the city's efforts. The Green City Strategy calls for three primary focuses of work:
Working with the Mayor's Office and key neighborhood stakeholders, PHS will identify strategic corridors as well as sites adjacent to schools, churches, commercial and housing developments and gateways for land stabilization. The work will take place in six target areas located in Eastern North Philadelphia, Frankford, Mt. Airy, North Central Philadelphia, West Philadelphia/Mantua and South Philadelphia. The vacant land work will include clearing land of debris, replacing topsoil, planting grass seed and trees and erecting post and rail fencing.
Outside of the six target areas and along commercial and transportation corridors throughout the city, a variety of greening projects will be developed and implemented. These projects include work on neighborhood blocks, in gardens and parks. A series of educational programs for residents and community development organizations will support the effort.
As an approach to vacant land maintenance, PHS will manage a pilot program that will test the viability of hiring community organizations to maintain recently cleared land. More than 50 individuals have been hired by eight organizations. Participating in the program are: Centro Pedro Claver, New Kensington CDC, Ready, Willing and Able, Self, Inc., Tioga United, University City District/Mantua Improvement Assn., Universal Companies and Village of the Arts.
Recognizing that resources are finite, the site selection process combined need with the potential for redevelopment. The process also considered citywide areas where PHS has a proven track record of success with local community organizations and where the City has committed NTI resources for demolition, housing preservation, small business development and new home construction.
Following this initial investment of resources in greening activity, additional funding will be required to maintain this work and continue these efforts.
J. William Mills III, President of PNC Bank, a strong supporter of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, also lauds this partnership, "PNC Bank, as a presenting sponsor of the Philadelphia Flower Show for the last 12 years, has seen the positive effects that Philadelphia Green makes in the local communities. Proceeds from the Flower Show are used by Philadelphia Green and invested back in the neighborhoods. It is an investment we can all embrace."
For information on getting involved or supporting these efforts, residents are urged to contact their local City Council representative.
MIM: An official city government press release from 2003 gives an example of the kind of funding Universal has and is continuing to receive.
The City of Philadelphia, Universal Companies, Fannie Mae, and Lender Partners Announce Initiative to Revitalize One of Philadelphia's Most Distressed and Historic Neighborhoods
PHILADELPHIA, PA - In a vacant lot on South Broad Street, Mayor John F. Street joined state and local officials, Universal Companies Founder and Chairman Kenneth Gamble, Fannie Mae Vice Chair Jamie S. Gorelick, and several key lender partners today to launch a significant urban redevelopment initiative in South Philadelphia designed to complement the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). NTI is a bold and historic five-year action plan to preserve and rebuild Philadelphia neighborhoods through blight elimination, improved city services, and residential and commercial redevelopment.
Universal Companies plans to build or renovate nearly 400 homes in South Philadelphia over the next three to four years. The revitalization of this community is part of an ambitious plan by the city of Philadelphia to restore the vibrancy of the 5th largest U.S. city by attracting workers and families back to downtown, as well as retaining existing residents and many of the young people who attend the city's colleges and universities.
Universal Companies, founded by legendary music producer Kenneth Gamble, is leading the nearly $100 million effort. Since 1993, Universal Companies has helped strengthen the South Philadelphia neighborhood, where Gamble was raised, by providing educational resources, economic development, and affordable housing for the community.
"This is a great day for the city and South Philadelphia. This initiative represents several milestones and a new beginning in turning our community around," said Gamble. "Homeownership and affordable housing are fundamental for thriving neighborhoods and this partnership with the city, Fannie Mae, The Reinvestment Fund, and Citizens Bank will not only help restore blighted neighborhoods in South Philadelphia, but serve as a model for revitalization for communities throughout Philadelphia and across the nation."
The initiative will enable Universal Companies to leverage investments and financing for the construction of new and renovated homes and apartments. The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a Philadelphia-based community development financial institution that provides capital for low- and moderate-income developments, through its subsidiary The Collaborative Lending Initiative (CLI), will provide development financing for this redevelopment effort. Fannie Mae, through its American Communities FundTM (ACF®), and Citizens Bank each have committed to purchase a one-third participation interest in the loans originated by CLI for the first phase of the redevelopment, which will result in the renovation or new construction of approximately 160 homes. As the initiative moves forward to subsequent phases, further investments are anticipated that would result in the completion of additional housing units, bringing the total to 400 affordable housing units for South Philadelphia. In addition to its commitment for the participation interest in the current phase, Fannie Mae anticipates that it will be able to make additional investments under this initiative, particularly the purchase of eligible mortgage loans made to home buyers, that will result in an aggregate investment of nearly $100 million. Fannie Mae (FNM/NYSE) is the nation's largest source of financing for home mortgages.
"NTI has provided us with a unique opportunity to rethink our neighborhoods and develop well thought out solutions to 50 years of decay and neglect; it was intended to be a catalyst, to help foster change, to spur development, to forge much needed partnerships with great organizations such as Universal Companies," said Mayor John F. Street. "Kenny and I have been talking about this Philadelphia renaissance for more than two decades. I am thrilled that our strategy to preserve and rebuild Philadelphia's neighborhoods as thriving communities with clean and secure streets, a world-class education system, vibrant retail, recreational and cultural outlets, and quality housing is becoming a bigger and bigger reality every day. I am grateful for the invaluable support we are once again receiving from Citizens Bank, TRF, and Fannie Mae. Today's announcement marks yet another opportunity for government, citizens and the private sector to work together, restoring civic pride and building community spirit for all Philadelphians." The city of Philadelphia, through the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, will make available $3 million in an NTI subsidy loan for the acquisition of properties to facilitate development.
The neighborhood targeted by Universal Companies encompasses an area west of Broad Street and south of South Street. Once a lively and diverse community adjacent to Center City, this section of South Philadelphia fell victim to a decline in population and suburban flight following the 1960's. While many residents and businesses remained committed to the community, more and more homes and storefronts became vacant eyesores, leading to increased crime and neglect.
Citizens Bank pledges $104.3 million for City's revitalization efforts
The Citizens Bank Neighborhood Investment Program will support The Neighborhood Transformation Initiative
PHILADELPHIA – Citizens Bank announced today that it is pledging $104.3 million over five years to support revitalization efforts in Philadelphia's most economically depressed neighborhoods and to help turn those areas into thriving communities with clean and safe streets, quality housing, small business development and job creation.
This partnership represents one of the largest and latest long-term initiatives that Citizens Bank has formed under its Citizens Bank Neighborhood Investment Program. This initiative will provide more than $50 million in residential mortgage and home improvement loans, and $25 million in small business loans as part of Mayor John F. Street's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI).
The residential mortgage loans will be offered at below market interest rates, targeted at low-and moderate-income census tracts. An additional $26 million in project financing for community development and property acquisition related to community development will be available over the five-year period.
"We believe this major, long-term program will help serve as a catalyst for the ongoing renaissance of our City's neighborhoods," said Stephen D. Steinour, Chairman Ąof Citizens Bank.
This particular Citizens Bank Neighborhood Investment Program will also provide approximately $850,000 in grant money for technical assistance for small businesses, initiate the development of the "Clean and Green" project and support an anti-predatory lending campaign entitled "Don't Borrow Trouble".
The Small Business Technical Assistance Program will provide ongoing consultation sessions and seminars to businesses located in the 26 NTI planning areas. The seminars are intended to help make businesses successful, sustainable and better able to meet their financial obligations. The program will make use of neighborhood business associations and community development corporations.
Another important neighborhood element will be the development and implementation of a "Clean and Green" beautification program using a model for reclaiming neglected land that has been created by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Citizens Bank volunteers will work on these important neighborhood projects.
The "Clean and Green" program in its first year, will focus on five community groups and/or neighborhoods: H.A.C.E, Hawthorne/Universal Companies, East Mount Airy, Frankford and Point Breeze. Projects will include clearing debris, spreading topsoil, planting bulbs and trees, building fences and development of long-term maintenance plans for reclaimed acreage.
Under the new anti-predatory lending campaign, Citizens Bank will help expand the City's existing program to educate the public about the practice of charging excessive interest rates and up-front fees on loans secured by the borrower's home. Lenders often foreclose on their homes, increasing vacancy rates and abandoned properties throughout the City.
Steinour announced the partnership along with Mayor Street at the offices of H.A.C.E., the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises Inc., a non-profit community economic development corporation which has developed a revitalization plan for two of Eastern North Philadelphia neighborhoods that include the commercial district, "Centro de Oro" surrounding Fifth Street and Lehigh Avenue. Since its formation, H.A.C.E. has invested and leveraged over $50 million in affordable housing and business development activities in both neighborhoods.
The 5th and Lehigh neighborhood is one of 26 targeted for revitalization when Mayor John Street unveiled his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative in April 2001. NTI has as its goals blight elimination, blight prevention, redevelopment through land assembly, housing investment and neighborhood preservation, community-based planning, and leveraging resources.
"Citizens Bank's unprecedented $104 million commitment certainly exemplifies why it has earned the tremendous reputation of being a 'not so typical bank,'" said Mayor John F. Street. "On behalf of my administration and the residents of this City, we want to thank Citizens for sharing in our vision, supporting our Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, and making a long-term commitment to the revitalization of our City. The giant
step Citizens is taking today represents a unique partnership that will greatly expand our ability to help residents and neighborhood businesses while at the same time beautifying and greening our communities."
Neighborhood Investment Program
Guillermo Salas Jr., President of H.A.C.E., praised Citizens Bank for its commitment to Philadelphia's neighborhoods and noted the partnership as a source of much needed private capital in the revitalization of our neighborhoods.
"We want to commend Citizens Bank for planting seeds of hope in some of Philadelphia's most troubled neighborhoods by being a catalyst for positive change. H.A.C.E. has been working in the heart of the Latino community to empower people and improve their quality of life. This commitment provides much needed capital to leveraged NTI resources in many neighborhoods that are struggling in the rebuilding process," said Salas.
This initiative with the City is the largest Citizens Bank partnership to date. In March 2003, Citizens Bank announced a $1 million, ten-year grant to Universal Companies in South Philadelphia. In January 2003, Citizens Bank announced a $2.5 million, ten-year grant to Philadelphia's Nueva Esperanza, Inc., a Hispanic faith-based community development corporation and in November 2002, Citizens Bank announced a sweeping, $28 million neighborhood revitalization program for University City and the surrounding area. Last summer, Citizens Bank invested more than $6 million in affordable housing construction, small business growth, childcare and education initiatives through a new partnership with The Reinvestment Fund, aimed at stimulating economic development in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
About Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania is a $22 billion bank with more than 390 branches, 640 ATMs and a convenient network of commercial banking offices throughout Pennsylvania. It also operates four retail branches and four ATMs in southern New Jersey. It has more than 5,000 employees. Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $64 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. Citizens has more than 850 offices and approximately 1,700 ATMs, operating as Citizens Bank in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Citizens is one of the 20 largest commercial banks in the United States. It is owned by The Royal Bank
of Scotland Group plc. The Citizens website is at www.citizensbank.com.
MIM: The poster for the 11th annual awards banquet where Kenny Gamble received a community service award. The poster reads "Serving Our Youth with Islam" -"Proceeds will benefit the madrassa Summer Camp After School and Weekend programs for children". To view the poster in its entirety click on the link below.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3283