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NAJEE’S NOTES: Muslim community gathers for national conference

The South Los Angeles Muslim community will be joined by thousands of Muslims from across the nation as they convene for the Muslim Journal’s 16th annual “A Time to Be Grateful” national conference at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel near LAX.

The three-day conference begins Dec. 13. The Muslim Journal is the voice for the African American Muslim community and was initially called “Muhammad Speaks.” It was founded by Malcolm X in 1960 and was one the most widely read newspapers ever produced by an African-American organization.

It was the official newspaper of the Nation of Islam until 1975. After Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, it was renamed several times after his son and successor Imam W. Deen Mohammed moved the Nation of Islam into mainstream Sunni Islam, culminating in The Muslim Journal, under the steady hand of its longtime editor Ayesha Mustafa.

The conference is open to everyone and has more than 30 different workshops, with dozens of vendors, a cultural night of entertainment and its Saturday night awards banquet which will honor Muslims for their work in the community.

Imam Abdul Karim Hasan will receive the lifetime achievement award. Hasan has been a prominent figure in the Muslim community for decades. Selected personally by Elijah Muhmmad to lead the Los Angeles community in 1971, he has been a part of significant changes in our community.

These changes include creating the first Muslim Prison Ministry program, becoming the first Muslim member of the State Advisory Committee for Institutional Religion, and maneuvering the Muslim faith and community into the larger mainstream Islamic community.

Imam Hasan’s actions have been so impactful that in 2007, the location of the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center was named Imam Abdul Karim Hasan Square by the city of Los Angeles. He has even been honored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

He has dedicated his life to bringing our community together acting as a role model and helping those around him. He is dedicated to pushing the Southern California Muslim community toward a positive future.

On a personal note, this man has been more of a father figure than brother to me. It was 20 years ago I successfully graduated from the Imam’s class he taught.

Last month, he named me his official representative and spokesperson for Bilal Islamic Center. That’s a major role and responsibility in our community. I couldn’t believe my ears when he told me and announced it at our worship service to the rest of the community.

I thought about how Malcolm X possibly felt when the Elijah Muhammad appointed him as his representative. I onced asked my dad Imam W. Deen Mohammed who he trusted the most in our community he responded Imam Hasan who traveled the world with him. I’m grateful to him and this legendary figure is Los Angeles’ Imam.

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Leave Michael Vick alone. The former NFL all pro quarterback has come under fire from animal rights activists. 

In November, the NFL announced that Vick would join Terrell Davis, Darrell Green and Bruce Smith as honorary captains for the 2020 Pro Bowl. That announcement was met with several Change.org petitions being launched by animal rights activists calling for Vick to be removed because of his federal conviction for dog fighting, for which Vick served two years in prison for. As of this writing, they had accumulated nearly a million signatures against Vick.

For the record, the Ali household has a dog and a cat. We love animals. We also love black people. That’s why when I see nearly a million people signing a petition against Vick, I say that’s some low-key racism at its best.

Vick committed a crime and went to prison. But this petition is selective outrage. Show me the petition started and signed by white people to have Colin Kaepernick signed to an NFL team.

What I see is white folks’ obsession with dogs. That’s why black folks like myself who normally really could care less about Vick are circling the bandwagon on his behalf.

The petition against Vick is continuing a racist message that black men don’t matter. A dog is worth more than a black man’s redemption. To those people of faith who went to their various houses of worship last week and signed the petition against Vick: Don’t you see your hypocrisy in asking God for forgiveness of your sins. But you don’t want Vick to be forgiven for his.

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