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American Muslims to train as Imams in UAE

December 25, 2007

image American Muslims Selected for UAE Imams training program and Hajj pilgrimage

by Curtis Sharif Oct. 5 2007

A COMPREHENSIVE Imams Training and Hajj Program is being held for American Muslims, in the United Arab Emirates. Fifteen participants were chosen for the program, which is being sponsored by the American Congress of Muslim Youth and the Zayed House for Islamic Culture. It has the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The program, which is the first of its kind, will certify those who successfully complete it, as Imams.

The program is specifically targeted and designed for the indigenous American Muslim community. Participants include a large representation from the growing Latino American Muslim community, Ahmed said. Participants in association with the leadership of Imam W.D. Mohammed include: Imam Khalid Shaheed, Resident Imam of the Dallas Masjid of Al-Islam, Hannibal Shabazz, Masjidullah, Phila (youth), Akmal Muhammad, Chairman, The Islamic Freedom Foundation, Silver Springs, MD, Adil Woods, Wilmington, Delaware, native, currently studying and teaching in Damascus, Syria (youth), Brother Cuirtis Sharif, of Houston, Texas Sharif said he sees the program as a valuable asset to help advance the development of standards for, and the elevation of performance in , the office of Imam in America.. It can also help eradicate the continuing practice of "My way, or the highway" rule from our model Islamic communities, he said. Sharif made his first Hajj in 1992, and Inshallah, plans to perform this Hajj for a deceased Houston Masjid of Al-Islam ummah member.The program begins with a reception in honor of the participants at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC; continues November 1, 2007,. with the six-week Imams Training Program at the Zayed House for Islamic Culture in Al Aini, UAE; and ends after the Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. All travel, housing, meals, program and Hajj costs are being underwritten by the UAE government, which is also providing stipends for program participants.

The Imam Training curriculum includes courses in:

Basic Arabic Instruction

Khalid A. Ahmed, President of the American Congress of Muslim Youth, coordinates this program. His educational background includes graduation from Sister Clara Mohammed School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The program evolved, over the last several years, from a series of invitations from the UAE government's Public Affairs Section, for Mr. Ahmed to speak on "Islam in America".. The audience for these talks has included ministers, under secretaries and senior officials from the UAE Presidential Court. He has lectured at the UAE Ambassador's residence, and has addressed students at the American University of Sharjah and the Arabic and Islamic College in Dubai. His UAE speaking engagements include banquets, press conferences and media interviews. This Imams Training / Hajj program is the fruit of Mr. Ahmed's efforts to develop educational and cooperative exchange programs between the UAE and America. The program has benefited from the tremendous support it has received from the United States Embassy in Abu Dhabi , Mr. Ahmed said. The program is designed to fulfill the dual purpose of establishing an ongoing academic religious studies curriculum and initiating a cultural exchange program. "The UAE was selected because it is a unique example of a tolerant, multi-cultural society,. It is a cosmopolitan nation, that has held on to traditional Islamic values." Ahmed said. Mansoor Al Minhali, chairman of the Zayed House for Islamic Culture, said he was extremely happy that the house will provide training to the American Imams. "The Zayed House for Islamic Culture, thanks to the continuous support of the UAE leaders, endeavors to promote tolerance and co-existence among Muslims and non-Muslims. " The development and facilitation of inter-faith dialog is a key objective of the program. Khalid Ahmed, president of the Washington-based congress said the primary objective of the program is to educate the imams in moderate Islamic ideology. "The imams will be equipped with knowledge to spread Islam's universal message of peace and tolerance to their respective communities. They will also be equipped with tools needed to engage in meaningful inter-faith dialogue," he said. Program activities include cultural events outside of the classroom. These include:
  1. Visiting secondary schools and colleges to lecture students about Islam in America and personal journeys that led to Islam.
  2. Spending time in the desert with camels and Bedouin Arabs.
  3. The pairing of each participant with a UAE citizen, who will introduce them to their family, friends and ways of life.
  4. Delivering Jumah Kuttbahs at English Masajid.
  5. Visiting Abu Dhabi and Dubai Islamic Banks, to discuss and learn the principles of Islamic banking and finance.
  6. Visiting the Zakat Authority to discuss and learn the rules of Zakat and how to establish a wafq (endowment).
  7. Meeting with the rulers or deputy rulers of the various emirates (states) within the UAE.
  8. Visiting a mortuary to learn the proper way of preparing the deceased for Janazah.
The Hajj Pilgrimage begins in mid-December 2007, at the conclusion of the Imams Training Program, and includes visits to the Holy cities of Medinah and Mecca.. Hajj is a major pillar of Islam, and program participants will complete their obligation as Muslims to make the Hajj Pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Hajj is the largest annual religious convention in the world, drawing over 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world, to Mecca, Saudi Arabia each year.

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