The ballroom was marvelous. The tables were elegantly set and sumptuously supplied. Chicago’s Muslim community turned out in sharp dress for an evening dedicated to IQRA’s past, present, future and, most of all, its leadership in supplying Islamic Education materials for the past 27 years.
IQRA’ International Education Foundation hosted its annual fundraising dinner on Oct 29, at the Drury Lane. A video retrospective of IQRA’s history reminded the audience of the unfulfilled need that Drs. Tasneema and Abidullah Ghazi’s sought to meet by starting one of the first Islamic Sunday School programs in the USA at Harvard back in the late 60s. The growth of IQRA’s mission from that of educating local Muslim children to that of providing the means for children worldwide to come to know Islam unfolded in a series of photos that reminded those watching of the importance of the continuing mission.
IQRA’s co-founder, Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, then warmly welcomed the attendees, bringing them on a speedy trip from those humble beginnings to IQRA’s current status of having published over 170 books, employing over 20 full-time employees and consultants and substantial real estate assets. He also laid out the future, which includes a new, diverse team of Board of Directors, new departments such as a literature, print on demand and eBooks for iPad, Kindle and other eReaders, all with the help and participation of the dedicated people in the audience.
Those people were soon captivated by the evening’s main speaker, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, leader of the “Ground Zero Mosque” and founder of the Cordoba Initiative – a multi-national, multi-faith organization dedicated to improving understanding and building trust among people of all cultures and religions. The Imam spoke about merging our American and Muslim cultures until, just like Malaysians, Syrians or Pakistanis, we feel Islam is a natural part of our American identity and vice versa. Kiran Ansari, the evenings co-emcee and IQRA Board member noted that the Imam’s words left the audience enlightened.
Dinner guests were also honored to hear the inspirational speech of Sister Mary Ali, the recipient of the IQRA Education Leadership Award that the organization has instituted to honor the memory of Dr. MAW Fakhri, its founding Chairman.. Some people have a talent for bringing others together for the sake of Allah. Everything they do seems to be blessed with barakah, and those around them can just feel the light of their faith in everything they do. Mary Ali is one such person. From organizing events to teaching classes, she is always busy working. Young sisters grow into community leaders under her tutelage, and converts take their all-important first steps in the faith with her help. In her acceptance speech, Sr. Mary honored the many she worked with and especially her late husband, Amir Ali. Her humility and determination to continue her important work despite health challenges set the bar high for the gathered audience to pursue their own efforts at serving Allah.
IQRA’ International Educational Foundation has always been at the forefront of not only Islamic education, but also the organization is fully engaged with the community at large. IQRA’ is a founding member of CIOGC, World Council of Muslim Interfaith and the Chicago Coalition of Inter-Religious Learning. The Coalition has sponsored seminars of administrators and teachers of Jewish, Catholic and Muslim schools in Chicago.
The message from Dr. Abidullah Ghazi was very clear, “Today we have a unique opportunity to build our personal and professional lives and contribute to the mainstream with our value and expertise. We invite you to become IQRA’s partner in our pursuit to build a wholesome future for humanity”.