MCN 5th Annual Gala
Muslim Community Network’s Annual Gala is a ticketed event where we gather friends and supporters to share our successes from the previous year and our vision for the year to come. We honor individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to strengthening and empowering the New York City community and beyond in diverse capacities. Proceeds from this year’s gala will go towards expanding our hallmark program, the Muslim Youth NYC (MY NYC) Leadership Program, which cultivates the next generation of leaders by providing them with the opportunity to learn valuable leadership skills, develop their confidence and identity as leaders, and enable them to become social justice advocates seeking justice for the marginalized and needy of New York City.
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 5:00pm
4 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
Meet Our Honorees
Meet Our Honorees
The Interfaith Center of New York, founded in 1997, works with hundreds of grassroots and immigrant religious leaders from 16 different faith and ethnic traditions including Afro-Caribbean, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Jain, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Taoist and Zoroastrian in New York City. We bring together religious leaders, judges, social workers, and other civic officials to address shared concerns including domestic violence, healthcare, affordable housing, and financial security. Our institutional partners include the New York Unified Court System, Catholic Charities, United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York, the Harlem Community Justice Center and six social work schools in New York. Our long term goal is to help New York City become a nationally and internationally recognized model for mutual understanding and cooperation among faiths.
Zainab Ismail has over 20 years of experience as a movement therapist, nutritional coach, personal trainer, and national speaker. Prior to coming to Islam, she worked with top level athletes, celebrities, and notable business people from around the world. Zainab teaches the popular “Fit For Allah” women’s fitness class at Mecca Center in NYC. Zainab is also the Vice President of Nadoona, a fitness movement based in the U.S geared to helping Muslim women in fitness and nutrition and who under Nadoona Extreme have released a 2 DVD fitness series. As a full-time therapist, she integrates an eclectic approach of soft-tissue therapy, movement conditioning and nutrition coaching in New York City.
The Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI) is a religious, educational, community institution catering to the spiritual, educational, social and cultural aspirations of a growing Muslim and non-Muslim community. The Center reflects the diversity of the Muslim Ummah. Its activities are organized under the Islamic principle that learning is a lifelong process for men and women and is best accomplished in an environment of freedom and openness. Allah commands in the Qur’an: “Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher.” 96:1, and Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” ICLI provides a forum for an open exchange of diverse viewpoints of Islamic way of life and different schools of thought. Lectures on varied topics — from spiritual, scientific, historic, economic, social to nutritional points of view — are presented by prominent speakers.
The Islamic Center of Long Island welcomes groups and individuals from all walks of life including schools, colleges, private and government institutions in order to learn more about Islam, the world’s fastest growing religion and Muslims — about one-and-a-half billion worldwide; over six million in the United States, over a million in the New York tri-state area and about 30,000 on Long Island. Many non-Muslim groups and individuals visit ICLI on Fridays to observe the weekly congregational prayer at noon and listen to the sermon. ICLI is known for its inclusiveness and promotion of greater greater social cohesion and respect for diversity amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim community.
In early 2015, the Islamic Center of Long Island elected its first female Board President, Dr. Isma Chaudhry, setting a precedent of increasing women’s leadership roles in Muslim institutions in the Muslim community of New York and beyond. To read more about ICLI, please click here: Islamic Center of Long Island intro. Purchase your tickets today to make sure you have the chance to meet Dr. Chaudhry at the Gala!
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an African- American Muslim leader and scholar, exemplifies – trust (amanah); maintains his role as a leader yet, is also humbly conscious of the importance of working with those within his community fairly and in a socially just practice. Imam Siraj has over the years, worked to invigorate his community around him and actively organizes to make positive changes to society as a whole.
Brooklyn born and bred, first as a Baptist, Imam Siraj accepted Islam in 1969. In recognition of his commitment to the faith and studies, he was afforded the opportunity to complete studies at the Ummul Qura University’s Imam Training program based out of Makkah in 1978.
The African- American Muslim community was experiencing many changes in the late 1970’s, with many looking for new communities to join and practice their faith. In 1981 Imam Siraj and a team of dedicated brothers and sisters joined ranks to start their own mosque (Islamic place of worship), Masjid at-Taqwa. The humble beginnings were first in a friend’s apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Persevering, they later bought an abandoned clothing store, and it is in that location in Bedford-Stuyvesant where Masjid At-Taqwa still resides today. The Masjid has expanded since then and is usually overcrowded on days of Jummah (Friday prayer).
From its inception, Masjid at-Taqwa worked to improve the community and under the leadership of the Imam and supported by the original members, launched an aggressive community anti-drug campaign that resulted in the elimination of 15 drug houses and prostitution rings by 1988. The efforts of their neighborhood clean-up campaign began during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and the neighborhood has since become a safer place to live. The commercial businesses affiliated with the Masjid set the trend for the area, which one can still see today.
In 1991 Imam Wahhaj was the first Muslim to offer an opening prayer to the United States House of Representatives. Imam Siraj has been active in many Islamic organizations over the years. Since 1987 he has been on the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Majlis Ashura, a consultative council of Islamic Scholars, and has previously served as the Vice President of ISNA. Imam Siraj currently serves as the resident Imam at Masjid At-Taqwa and the Amir (Leader) of the Muslim Alliance in North America’s (MANA) Executive Committee. He is also a current member of the Majlis Ashura Council of New York City and a Board Advisor of the North American Islamic Trust. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the American Muslim Council.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj is a revered and much- anticipated spokesman for Islam in the United States and around the world. His words have had life changing affects upon both Muslims and non-Muslims around the world as his energy and passion for Islam inspires others to reach for truth and the greater good. Imam Siraj is quoted as once saying, “It’s not contradictory for me as an American to be a Muslim. Nor is it for an American to be a Christian or a Jew or a Sikh or a Hindu or even an atheist, for that matter. That’s what makes America what it is.”
MCN is proud to honor Imam Siraj Wahhaj – a leader who demonstrates by example how to maintain one’s faith and purpose in service of the greater good.
Meet Our Master of Ceremonies
Peter Casey is a passionate life-long student of Global History who teaches high school in New York City. During college, Peter started a YouTube channel called Dawah Addict through which he seeks to reach out to both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences with the hopes of increasing awareness of the true teachings of Islam and providing support for those who are considering becoming Muslim or who have recently accepted the faith. After interacting with numerous new reverts who shared similar questions and concerns, Peter created a private online group exclusively for reverts called ANSAR: Alliance of New Shahadahs and Reverts in order to connect very new Muslims with reverts who have been practicing for many years in order to provide a safe online space where reverts could meet and communicate in order to provide each other with advice, support, and a sense of community. Peter is also a co-founder of Lighthouse Initiative, a community-based organization created in 2013 that is dedicated to fostering a greater sense of community among Muslims on Long Island and in the surrounding areas. Lighthouse runs monthly events of a social and spiritual nature as well as a weekly Quran discussion program called Quran Cafe. Peter‘s YouTube channel was profiled by the New York Times, and Lighthouse Initiative was recently featured in the documentary UnMosqued.
Meet Our Keynote Speaker
Born in the great State of New Jersey, Dean’s comedy comes in large part from his unique background of being the son of a Palestinian father and a Sicilian mother. Dean, an award winning comedian who was at one time a practicing attorney, has appeared on ABC’s “The View,” Comedy Central’s “Axis of Evil” Comedy special and is the co-creator and co-producer of Comedy Central.com’s critically acclaimed Internet series “The Watch List,” featuring a cast of all Middle Eastern-American comedians performing stand up and sketch comedy.
Dean has also appeared on numerous international and national programs including CNN’s “American Morning” and “The Situation Room,” PBS’ “Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” Air America Radio, “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen,” ABC News, HD’s “Dan Rather Reports,” NPR, Fox News Radio, ABC’s “20/20,” “Al Jazeera,” “Democracy Now with Amy Goodman” and CNN International’s “Inside the Middle East.” In addition, he has been featured in numerous publications including Time magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.
Dean is proud to have received the first annual “Bill Hicks Spirit Award” for “thought provoking comedy” (named after the late comedian Bill Hicks) from the NY Underground Comedy Festival and the Hicks’ Family.
He also co-created the comedy show “Stand up for Peace” along with Jewish comic Scott Blakeman which they perform at colleges across the country in support of peace in the Middle East and fostering understanding between Arab and Jewish-Americans. (www.standupforpeace.com) His one-man show, “I Come in Peace,” was an official selection of the 2006 NY International Fringe Festival.
Dean is proud to be the co-founder and co-executive producer of the annual NY Arab-American Comedy Festival. In addition to performing comedy throughout the US, Dean has performed in the Middle East in Beirut, Haifa, Dubai and Ramallah.
Join the Conversation! Follow the hashtag #MCNgala2015 to learn more about our honorees.
Early bird tickets are $100 per person until April 20th and will be $125 thereafter. Tables of 10 are available for $1000. 50% of your ticket purchase is tax deductible. Congratulate an honoree by placing a quarter, half or full page ad in our program journal. Proceeds will go to our Muslim Youth NYC (MY NYC) youth leadership programs. To purchase tickets or an ad please contact Maryam.Said@mcnny.org.
Please note that tickets will not be sold at the door.
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