Lilou: Reppin’ B-Boy Style

Anyone who says Muslims are stiffs must not have seen Lilou, the French-Algerian Muslim champion B-boy (breakdancer). Lilou, whose real name is Ali Ramdani, is a two time winner of the Red Bull BC One competition, having won in 2005 and 2009.  He has also won the 2003 Battle of the Year with his Pockemon Crew.  Lilou was featured in the movie Turn it Loose.  He also appeared on the Chemical Brothers’ 2010 video ‘Midnight Madness.’ 

Lilou is not only a break dancer, but a breaker of sterotypes.  True to his b-boy style, Lilou isn’t shy about his being a Muslim.  Many of his t-shirts have messages such as “I’m Muslim don’t panick” or “I’m Muslim every day” plastered on them.  As a champion breakdancer with huge audiences watching his breath taking moves, upbeat style and loud shirts – his impact is in your face. 

Lilou’s Red Bull page can be seen here and his Pokemon crew’s site is here.  His feature page for the movie Turn it Loose can be seen here
 
Special shout to Faiz and Adnan for telling us about him.
 

Lilou breakdances while donning his signature "I'm Muslim don't panic" t-shirt

USA’s First Female Muslim Fencer: Ibtihaj Muhammad

I was on Facebook  and I noticed a name that sounded awfully familiar commenting after me on a friend’s post.  My mind started to search through it’s memory bank and it recalled my days of fencing classes at NJIT.   I remembered reading about a remarkable Muslim fencing talent named Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Ibtihaj is the first female Muslim Fencer to have competed for the U.S.A. internationally.  She is a two time U.S. National champion and a Gold Medalist in the 2011 XVI Pan American Games.

Winning!

She is a New Jersey native and received an academic scholarship to Duke University.  She graduated in 2007 with a double major and was a 3 Time All-American.

She seems to be a bright, athletic, muslim sister.   Oh and fellas,  she can probably whoop you with a sword.  Now that’s cool!

Her sword of preference is the sabre.

Ibtihaj is truly an inspiration for many people around the world.  She is in London this weekend for the Women’s British Sabre World Cup.  We wish you the best of luck!

Qatar to host 2022 FIFA World Cup

Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This will be a first for the country, which beat out competing bids from countries such as the United States, Japan, Korea Republic and Australia to be named the host.

Qatar has a budget of $4 billion to build 12 stadiums for the event, 9 of which will be new and 3 renovated. Colombian architect Dario Cavidad will serve as the director of the effort, with an aim to provide a climate controlled environment conducive to playing soccer in an otherwise hot country where the average summer temperature is 45 degrees centigrade (113 degrees fahrenheit). Concerns regarding the temperature have raised speculation that FIFA may move the games to winter, although these have not been corroborated.

A futuristic rendering of one of the new stadiums Qatar is planning.

Judging from the fact that Qatar has its own ice hockey league, odds are it can handle designing a cool stadium for would-be spectators who don’t want to sweat too much.

Qatar is no stranger to making new sports their own.

News that Qatar is hosting the famous tournament has been met with excitement. The first FIFA World Cup to be hosted in the Middle East, it represents a positive sign of change to many. The famous France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who was part of the bid project for Qatar, had this to say:

Yes, it’s a victory for the Arab world. Qatar has received support from the Arab world as a whole and I think that’s been an important factor. Now they’ve got a little bit of time to get down to work and do what they have to do, which is to harness sport and football to achieve some big things. They’ve got ten years to put a team together and stage a wonderful World Cup.

The Emir of Qatar, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, added:

This achievement is a big one for all Arab countries and I hope that Qatar will successfully stage this tournament. We can promise that the infrastructure will be in place and that all Arabs will support our efforts… A lot of people think that we are a small country, but we can accomplish great things.

Qatar has the world’s second highest per-capita income and one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Sharif likes it, so get ready to rock the casbah for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Shahid Khan Promises New Kismet for Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville, Fl - Shahid Khan, the new owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, watches his team practice.

As the post-Superbowl buzz dies down, there will be alot more buzz surrounding the decisions made my the new owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, and his staff.  On January 4, 2012 Khan purchased the Jaguars from Wayne Weaver’s ownership group for $760 million dollars.  In doing so, Khan became the National Football League’s (NFL) first minority team owner.

Shahid Khan described his purchase of the Jaguars as the fulfillment of his “lifelong American dream.”  The son of a math professor and entrepeneur, Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan.  A young Khan immigrated to America at the age of 16 and enrolled in the University of Ullinois at Champaigne, where he studied industrial engineering.   As he told Peter King of Sports Illustrated in his podcast, he first stayed at YMCA and worked as a dishwasher, making $1.20 an hour.  Khan recounts how he became enamored with football during his fraternity days, in an atmosphere infused with the spirit of the “Red Grange” and the Chicago Bears.

Shahid Khan wants to start a winning tradition in Jacksonville, Florida.

Khan went on to becoming a success in the auto-parts industry, founding Illinois based Flex-N-Gate.  However, this did not satisfy the passion Khan had for football.  As Khan told King, “Everybody dreams about owning an NFL team.”  He had previously tried unsuccessfully with the St. Louis Rams, but was undeterred.  Eventually, Khan’s determination paid off when the opportunity to purchase the Jaguars arose.

Khan isn’t satisfied merely to own a team.  He wants to win.  He began shaking things up by replacing Coach Jack Del Rio with  Mike Mularkey, former offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.  He announced that the Jaguars plan to spend $130 million in the upcoming year, while the salary cap is $120 million.  Regarding the offense, Khan expressed to King the “need to [place] skilled players around him [Blayne Gabbert] that will help add potency to the offense.”  He also recently announced that the Jaguars will be donning a new all-black uniform next season.

Although much-to-do has been made of his signature handle-bar moustache and his mega-yacht named Kismet, Khan’s legacy as an NFL owner will be ultimately tied to his vision.  To this end, Khan has made public his intention to help the city of Jacksonville succeed - the Jaguar way.  According to Khan: “The bottom line is that Jacksonville should be using the power of the NFL and let the NFL work for Jacksonville.”

“Marriage, Jobs and Musa – A Unique Link” by Moutasem Atiya

By: Moutasem Atiya of Al-Madina Institute

 

Far removed from the comforts of the palace of Pharaoh he once called home, Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) now toiled in the desert of Egypt for days. As the blazing sun scorched his skin and his feet ached from the long journey, his stomach wailed of hunger and thirst. With the physical world exerting all of its weight on every inch of his body, he neared collapse and took refuge under the shade of a tree in the ancient land of Madyan.
 
He soon found two young women shepards fighting off crowds of men trying to water their sheep, and despite his exhaustion, he sprung to their aide. His nobility would not allow him to rest while he saw others in need, no matter how dire his own situation.  He fought off the crowds of men, watered the sheep of the women, and returned to his place of rest.  Musa had no one to turn to in the physical world. He was in a foreign land, penniless, and physically broken.  At this moment, he was inspired to turn to Allah the Most Generous and made a supplication to God that will forever be remembered in history:  

  فَسَقَىٰ لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّىٰ إِلَى ٱلظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَآ أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
So he drew water for them; then he turned away to the shade, and he said, ‘O my Lord, surely I have need of whatever good Thou shalt have sent down upon me.’ (Surah Qasas, verse 24)
 
The secrets carried in the simple words of Musa (peace be upon him) opened up the spiritual world, and caused an immediate impact on his physical existence.  No sooner did he utter this supplication that the two women returned to him carrying the news that their father would like to reward him for his noble act. 
 
As we know the story, their father offered Musa a job and one of his two daughters in marriage!  In nearly the blink of an eye, the circumstances of Musa were transformed by his spiritual words, words that were light on the tongue, but heavy in the sight of Allah.
 
The spiritual masters of the past, knowing that the Qur’an was the solution to all difficulties, would later encourage their students to often repeat this supplication of Musa (peace be upon him) when they were in need of a job or a spouse. Today, we find that this supplication is as important now as ever before.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.1% of Americans are unemployed.  Current economic woes in America and Europe are having a negative impact on most households.  Many people have lost, or are in fear of losing, their jobs.  The world is undeniably in a recession.  
 
Like everything else though, assistance can always be found in the Qur’an and the example of our Messengers (Peace be upon them). So while you  search for a job or seek out a spouse, remember to always rely on Allah first and continue to do so throughout the whole process.  Repeat the supplication of Musa (peace be upon), day in and day out, for by the will of Allah, there will be much unlocked for you!

Moutasem Atiya
www.almadinainstitute.org

American Dervish: Ayad Akhtar’s debut novel

One may now include “novelist”  when talking about Ayad Akhtar, who is already an accomplished playwright, screenplay writer and actor.  American Dervish is Akhtar’s debut novel.  It deals with the the subject of Muslim-American identity.  Says Akhtar of his novel:

 I wanted to drop the reader into a Muslim skin and make this a unique reading experience… I think it’s a reflection on faith and the different versions of approaching Islam. But it’s also a universal story about faith that can resonate across religions.

For more on American Dervish and Ayad Akhtar read here.

Atif Moon, A Profile in Courage

“It may be a tough time for the Muslim ummah (community) in the US right now, but nothing should stop you from achieving your goals.”  These words ring as true now as they did when spoken in 2009 by Atif Moon, then recipient of the Ten Outstanding Youth of America (TOYA) award by the United States Junior Chamber.  TOYA is a distinguished award that has amongst its alumni notables such as John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Christopher Reeve.

Moon is a nationally ranked tennis player in the WCWTA.

Moon was born with Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the spinal cord.  He underwent a series of surgeries and despite being confined to a wheelchair accomplished more than most dream of.  At the tender age of five Moon was already competing in wheelchair tennis tournaments.  Today, he is a member of The West Coast Wheelchair Tennis Association.  He took part in a 5k-wheelchair race and won his first tennis tourney in 1998.  Since then, he has been a nationally ranked player with the WCWTA.

Moon graduated from UCLA where he studied Business Economics.  Moon also had the honor of serving as a White House intern in 2006, where he felt the need to open doors for young Muslims to get involved in civic life.  This inspiration led to Atif Moon co-founding the Center for Global Understanding (CFGU), a non-advocacy, non-religious organization to encourage the Muslim American youth to participate in civic engagement.  According to CFGU’s website:

Moon’s focus has been to provide scholarships for college-level students to intern in Washington, D.C., to understand and learn about America’s institutions of democracy. With the ultimate goal of providing a way to bring people together and help Muslim Americans get engaged in public policy, poverty, health, and education issues, Moon feels that Muslim Americans should play a significant role to make this world a better place.

Today, Atif Moon manages his work with CFGU while also working in the sports and entertainment profession.  Moon’s example is an inspiration to all those who have or are suffering from a handicap and faced adversity in their lives, minorities and all youth.  Rather than thinking about his own condition, he focused on how to improve the condition of the world around him.  Moon’s example shines as a beacon of hope for young people never to give up on your dreams and to face life head-on.  His story is one of overcoming adversity, struggle, and courage – all qualities of a hero and role-model.

If you are interested in applying to the Center for Global Understanding, please visit the following link: http://centerforglobalunderstanding.org/how_to_apply.php

Atif Moon was named one of the Ten Outstanding Youth of America in 2009.

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