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December 2, 2004

by Nadia Khan

Present State of Affairs
Aisha came with her entire family from Pakistan as her father found a job in U.S. It was Aisha's life long dream to come to U.S in order to acquire higher education. Five years later, when Aisha went with her family to INS office to get their passports stamped for permanent residency, she was pulled out of the isle because the INS/BCIS authorities told her that since she turned 21, she is denied the green card. It has been three years ever since and Aisha is sitting home with a Bachelors degree in Physics since she cannot work or gain further education. Because she is 24, she will like to get married soon but her options are quite limited because due to her turning out-of-status, she can only look into U.S citizens. She does not even have any health insurance and her driving license is soon to expire. Aisha is drowning slowly but steadily in the quagmire of depression since she does not think that she is worth anything anymore. Her case is clearly the fault of the INS because back then, they did not have a law to protect the children who turn 21 during the application process. Any reasonable lawyer can appeal on her behalf to remind the system of major loopholes that take a toll on the self-esteem and well-being of people. She was hoping that a good Muslim lawyer will be able to help her and fight her case but in the whole U.S, there doesn't seem to be any who can rescue her of her hopeless situation!

Aisha's sister, Rida, wants to become a doctor and after studying hard, she has gotten admission into a well-established medical school. However, her medical school. like many other medical schools, only gives out loans and does not provide any financial grants/ scholarships. She shivers on the thought of getting out of medical school with a baggage of 150k loans plus high interests. She is in dire need of an interest-free loan because she knows that if she deals with interest, her duas won't be accepted by her Creator. However, despite her relentless efforts, she could not find even one Islamic bank who could give her a loan without Rib'a.

A Ray of Hope: M.E.S.I.T.W.A
M.E.S.I.T.W.A, which stands for "Muslim Employees Serving in the way of Allah (swt)", is a coalition of Muslims . This coalition is just a thought as of now which recently raised its head in Rida's head after she saw the troubles which she and her family are facing. Rida knows that Muslims are nowhere to be seen when they are needed the most despite being present in heavy numbers. On the other hand, she sees all other sects of religion such as Jews, Christians and Hindus helping each other out and trying their best to serve their communities and their people. Rida is very sad because she sees that despite the golden example of Ansaars which her religion beholds, Muslims are mostly scattered, each selfishly trying to earn money for their own shopping lists and countless bills. What's even worse is that she sees Muslims competing against each other and being envious of each other's status; she has even seen the shocking examples of Muslims looking down upon each other and using their positions to exploit their fellow Muslims. This depressing state of affairs has inspired her to bring M.E.S.I.T.W.A into realization because she knows that there are many youths like her who want to do something for their religion, who wish to pursue careers which can bring rewards from Allah (swt), who want to pool their struggles with those of other fellow Muslims and come out as top-notch professionals just in the service of their religion and Allah (swt). All they need is a platform where they can bring their ideas and efforts together, where they can direct other youth into earning solely for meeting the satisfaction of their Khaliq and Raaziq. She wants to bring this idea of M.E.S.I.T.W.A into creation so that, if not in her generation of Muslims, at least in the next generation, there are many sincere Muslims with excellent positions, making the best use of their titles, striving selflessly to help each other out and most importantly, serving their religion and consequently pleasing their Creator.

Now that Rida has found a title for her think-tank, she needs to chalk out a charter which fulfills all the goals and makes up for all the deficiencies that she has been a recent witness to. While she is thinking hard on what should be some of the goals for this platform, she will welcome all kinds of ideas, (including the feedback for the title she thought of) and the needs of Muslims and Muslim youth for guidance that this coalition can meet. Before she comes up with the final constitution of such a school of thought, she wants to make sure that she integrates other solid ideas which many of her other fellows have since they must have felt the need for such an organization at some point as well.

So while Rida is jotting down her own ideas for her think-tank, all of you can keep her posted here with your suggestions before she comes up with the final sheet of goals next Thursday Inshallah.

of and relating to...
Blazing said


Few things that your friend Rida may consider in her Grand Plan;

1-The name of this Forum or Think tank should not be MESITWA (and what it spells out).
Need a more concise and appropriate name for this group that will have broader appeal.
For instance, MAPS (Muslim Association of Professional Service/s).
OR something similar.

2-The charter and goals of the forum can have two (and not limited to just 2) Department based on the article.
a)One being of providing Professional Services to the Muslim community (Mainly in man-hours, and monetary assistance as needed).
b)The other of providing Financial Options or Support to a qualified muslim Students (such as Scholarship/Grants/Loans/Funds).

3-That being said, what we will need next is to define the parameters of the membership that represents the word "professional" in the Associations name.

Professional doesnt only means Doc, Eng, Social Scientist, Academia, R&D personnals, but also Business Owners/Professionals (like Franchise owners, Company Executives, and Wall Street Analysts/Traders).

4-Membership qualifications will have to be discussed further with specific guidelines to define:
a) Define types of membership; for instance, Individual, Business.
b) What contributions (in man hours, and financial incentives) will be provided by each members/membership.

5-Heavy marketing/advertising via the existing network of Islamic centers, Universities and Islamic seminars/conferences, before launching.

6-Obviously, define the target for the Educational/Scholarship Fund. I Strongly, believe the minimum target should be $10 million....details to be sorted later.

7- Define The fund/pool of Man-Hours for this Association. I suggest 100000 hours. That means if we have membership of 500 professionals in the first year of launch it would come close to 8.3 days/year for each professional. If we have 1000 professionals the days are 4 days/week. But the details can be sorted out later.

What else?..hmmmm

8-DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT count on Muslims overseas to fund this effort. This should be home grown here in US.

9-In the Marketing part, we may need a very credible spokesperson (like a Governor/Senator, and I personally would like the White House representation or endorsement)...Yes this is all very doable.

10-Provide Scholarships to atleast 1000 Students Who are next generation leaders. That would mean each student get assistance up to $10,000.00 per year. (yes that means we need to keep on contributing to the gene pool of muslim ummah to supply the need).

11-This is a MUST, it should not only be restricted to Muslim students or folks. We have to reach out, and the only way is to realize that these issues not only plague us Muslims but all humans around us in this community of USA. Otherwise you wont get squat of an endorsement from a Governor or White house.

OK...thats all I can think as of now.


on December 2, 2004 3:59 PM
Blazing said

Salaam...few more additional comments:

A) On Scholarship/Educational Assistance:
I believe this Foundation/Association/Society should offer FULL tution for Qualified students who want to pursue career in LAW, Journalism, Public Health Administration, Social Sciences, and other Programs where we have acute shortage of qualified professionals. For those who want to be Doctors, Engineers, MBAs will have assistance in terms of Halal-loan or Aid.
There will be a mutual understanding between a student recieving the AId or Scholarship and the Foundation is that the students will contribute perhaps 6 months of Professional time towards the Foundations outreach programs, be they doctor, or lawyers, or Tax experts.

B) On Community Outreach/Assistance Program:
In addition to the muslim professional members, the fresh grads from this program, there is another pool of professionals that can be tapped; they being the non-profit groups that already cater to such outreach program....and there are plenty of them.

C) Solicit Corporate Donors for the outreach/scholarship programs. Obviously, Corporate America looks at ROI (Return On Investement, and this Think Tank needs to develop programs in adjacent communities.

Well, most of the folks will say how is this different then other public/private programs that already addresses these issues throughout America? Well, there is a reason why with all this money and effort that is being put on these public/private programs we still dont see significant gains on these social evils/issues, and the reason is simply because every private group has the wrong intentions.
What do I mean by that? Well remember when RIDA had the initial suggestion to name this group, that emphasied on one concept that makes all the difference, and that is to Serve in the way of ALLAH.
The US govt, the Red cross, The Salvation Army, THe Unitedway and all the rest are not doing this to Please ALLAH (SWT), but this GROUP/Foundation will...Insha'ALLAH.

That will be the Deal Breaker!
Thats the Edge this Group will have to serve the community, and Insha'Allah they will make a difference and huge gains in relatively short time.
This will all be Dawah (Fi-Sabilillallah).


on December 2, 2004 7:02 PM
Talal said

Putting together a good response is gonna take more time than I currently have...

BUT, I just wanted to say that mashaAllah I love it when people think and AIM HUGE!
And that the aim is a focused one, despite the misgivings of others, and going completely against the defeatist attitude found among people today.

Meseeeeetwa... wa bhai wa as the subcontinentals would say...

"She wants to bring this idea of M.E.S.I.T.W.A into creation so that if not her generation of Muslims, at least in the next generation, there are many sincere Muslims having excellent positions, making the best use of their titles, striving selflessly to help each other out and most importantly, serving their religion and consequently pleasing their Creator."

Awesome.. mashaAllah simply awesome.

on December 2, 2004 11:43 PM
ibtisam said

Count me in, I would like to join the organization. May Allaah help Rida and her family and we need something like that here in the USA. I am all for joining this organization. The ideas listed are excellent. email me and include my email address.

on December 3, 2004 9:17 PM
Rami (Public Service Announcement) said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

For anyone who has extra clothes, toys, or shoes:

The will be a shipping crate at Masjid El-Aman in middletown from today (12/3) until Wednesday(12/8) which will be sending them insha Allah to the ghettos of cairo. I have been to these places before with my own eyes...I have seen children pickng for food through the garbage barefooted at one of these ghettos.

Please put any items (clean please) in a garbage bag or boxes.

Islamic Society of Monmouth County
496 Red Hill Road,
Middletown, NJ 07748, USA

btw, In the spririt of MESITWA, this is not run by any big organization but is a grassroots effort made by a retired brother from our community who recieved a plea from a Masjid in Egypt which takes care for the people in these communities. He does not take any money for himself and hopes that if this time around goes succesful we can make it a permanant effort from the muslims in America to give our exceses to those around the world in need insha Allah.

Waslaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on December 3, 2004 9:24 PM
Jannah said

One suggestion- don't use an acronym for the group. There are too many Muslim organizations that do this. If you want to draw attention to your own group and distinguish it from others create a name that will do that for you. Just think of all the names we already have like that in the Muslim community (or even Masjid names)- MCMC,ISCJ,ICJC,ICPC,ICNA,ISNA,MAS,CAIR,MSA...I think you get the picture.

*this tip learned in the Fiqh of Dawah seminar, through Al Maghrib Institute. If you've missed out on the courses offered in Jersey be sure not to miss the next one:

The Purification Act: Fiqh of Worship I
Jan 7-9 14-16, 2005 New Brunswick, NJ

http://almaghrib.org/tpa.php *

on December 3, 2004 9:56 PM
Nadia said

Jazakallah khair Br.blazing for your in-depth suggestions. I am sure even Huda would not have realized that her plan requires so much thinking and involves such minute details which can be beyond one's imagination.
I have to agree, the title is lousy but then again, that's why there is need for our reader's suggestions.
And for Br. Talal's "Meseeeeetwa... wa bhai wa as the subcontinentals would say...", all I have to say is hehehe.

on December 8, 2004 7:33 PM
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