Muslim Civic Coalition marks historic firsts

  • Nabeela Syed

    Nabeela Syed

  • Abdelnasser Rashid

    Abdelnasser Rashid

  • This 13-acre site at 3540 248th Ave. will house the Islamic Center of Naperville's new 28,000-square-foot mosque, multipurpose center, school and gymnasium. The project is expected to be completed by next winter.

    This 13-acre site at 3540 248th Ave. will house the Islamic Center of Naperville's new 28,000-square-foot mosque, multipurpose center, school and gymnasium. The project is expected to be completed by next winter. Courtesy of Islamic Center of Naperville

 
 
Updated 12/5/2022 7:38 AM

The Muslim Civic Coalition hosted its annual State of the Coalition Brunch Saturday, marking a year of historic firsts for the community and its successes of the past year.

The celebration recognized the election of 23-year-old Palatine native Nabeela Syed, the first Indian American woman and, along with state Rep.-elect Abdelnasser Rashid of Justice, one of the first Muslims, to the General Assembly. Syed will represent the 51st state House District. Rashid is the first Palestinian American to be elected to the state legislature, representing the 21st House District.

 

The coalition also noted the release of its first comprehensive Illinois Muslims Report and the systematic passing of several new laws created by Muslims to benefit all Illinoisans. Among those laws are ones ensuring student athletes can't be punished or kept from play by choosing to wear a head covering (hijab) or other articles of religious clothing during sports activities and games; recognizing the contributions of Muslims in the education system through an inclusive curriculum; and establishing Jan. 17 as Muhammad Ali Day in Illinois.

The coalition now is taking its social and civic efforts nationwide, working on behalf of Muslims and diverse and underrepresented faiths, races and communities.

Dilara Sayeed
Dilara Sayeed -

"2022 was truly a historic year for not only the coalition and Muslim communities throughout Illinois, but for many other groups that are too often invisible," said Dilara Sayeed, coalition president. "Our successes were no small feat, achieved through collaboration with our numerous partners in the Illinois state legislature, faith communities, philanthropic organizations, advocates, allies and more. As we reflect on these victories, we recognize the hard work ahead and look forward to all we can accomplish together in 2023 and beyond."

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Protecting migrants

Haitian-American Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to redesignate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status to keep U.S. residents from being forced to return to potentially life-threatening conditions.

"Conditions in Haiti have deteriorated due to governmental instability, public health concerns and violence," Raoul said. "Haitian immigrants have risked their lives to escape those dangers."

Federal law provides for temporary lawful status to foreign nationals in the U.S. from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disasters or other extraordinary conditions that prevent their safe return.

On Aug. 3, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security designated Haiti with TPS. That designation was extended through June 2024. It protects certain Haitian migrants from removal and authorizes work permits while here. However, migrants who arrived in the U.S. after August 2021 are ineligible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Construction has begun on the Islamic Center of Naperville's new mosque on 248th Avenue.
  Construction has begun on the Islamic Center of Naperville's new mosque on 248th Avenue. - Robert Sanchez | Staff Photographer
Mosque project

The Islamic Center of Naperville is seeking donations to support its Masjid Al-Nur construction project.

The center's first mosque is being built from the ground up, after overcoming unprecedented opposition, officials said.

Officials broke ground in September on the five-phase, 40-year construction project on the south side of the city. They envision it will accommodate the rapidly growing Muslim population in the Naperville area, which has increased more than 20% in the last three years.

The 13-acre site at 3540 248th Ave. will house a 28,000-square-foot mosque, multipurpose center, school and gym. The total project cost is roughly $11.5 million, of which officials have $3.9 million cash in hand. To sponsor a $100 brick, visit islamiccenterofnaperville.org/bricks/.

DEI facilitator sought

The city of Geneva is seeking competitive proposals for a facilitator to assist its Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

The selected firm or individual would help the task force with a directional plan, looking at key areas of focus, developing goals, objectives and action items, and articulate an overall vision of work.

Key areas of focus are ADA accessibility, city practices, community partnerships, community policing, economic empowerment, gender/sexual orientation, health care, housing, language access, public engagement, race and ethnicity, senior citizens and youth.

The task force would create a DEI plan addressing internal city practices, council and commissions make up and policies, and general community strategies.

For details, visit geneva.il.us/Bids.aspx? BidID=261.

Lincoln Laureates

Two suburban students -- Elmhurst University senior Hiba Anees of Woodridge and Benedictine University senior Hiba Durrani of Aurora -- received the 2022 Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement and Student Laureate Award.

They were among the outstanding students representing Illinois' colleges and universities recently honored by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Each student laureate received a $500 Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award, a Lincoln medallion and a certificate of merit signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Dr. Annette VanAken, from left, Hiba Anees and Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken celebrate Anees' selection as the university's Lincoln Student Laureate.
Dr. Annette VanAken, from left, Hiba Anees and Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken celebrate Anees' selection as the university's Lincoln Student Laureate. - Courtesy of Elmhurst University

Anees, a special education major, has served as president of the Student Government Association, as a member of the executive team on the Union Board, and is a Student Ambassador. She also is a member of the Muslim Student Association, a peer adviser for first-year students, and a life coach and adviser for students in the Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy.

After graduating next May, Anees plans to become a special-education teacher and advocate more strongly for students with disabilities.

Hiba Durrani of Aurora is Benedictine University's Lincoln Student Laureate.
Hiba Durrani of Aurora is Benedictine University's Lincoln Student Laureate. - Courtesy of Benedictine University

Durrani is a health science major who plans to attend medical school after graduating next spring. She is involved in the Benedictine University Doctors Without Borders club and engaged in a research project on the effects of probiotics on bile acid-induced dysfunction. The goal is to identify novel therapeutic strategies to target diarrheal symptoms in patients with irritable and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Sign-language Santa

Educators dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus will use American Sign Language to "talk" Christmas wishes with 35 suburban deaf and hearing-impaired children from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Aurora Noon Lions Club will host its 12th annual party for students and caregivers from East and West Aurora public school districts at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 28 S. Edgelawn Drive in Aurora.

Mrs. Claus and Santa will be played by Oswego residents Shelley and Keith Strnad. Shelley teaches deaf and hearing-impaired students in third through fifth grades at Prairie Point Elementary School in Oswego. Keith teaches deaf and hearing-impaired students in sixth through eighth grades at Traughber Middle School in Oswego.

Each child will receive a gift from Santa. Children and caregivers are invited to share in the pizza dinner, said Dick Schindel of Aurora, party coordinator and a retired East Aurora High teacher.

The annual celebration is a partnership of Noon Lions and Sycamore-based Northwestern Illinois Association, a regional special-education cooperative.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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