A few verses from God in the Qur’an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and lastly 2pac about the importance of Mothers. Always be good to your mothers y’all.
“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” [Noble Quran 46:15]
“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” [Noble Quran 17:23-24]
A companion of the Prophet came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I want to perform Jihad in the way of Allah. He asked, “Is your mother alive?“ I replied, “Yes.“ The Prophet then said: “Cling to her feet, because paradise is there.“
A man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me? He replied: “Your mother.” The man asked: Then who? So he replied: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So the Prophet replied again: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So he replied: “Then your father.” (Sahîh Bukhârî 5971 and Sahîh Muslim 7/2)
“And there’s now way I can pay you back, but my plan is to show that I understand. We all appreciate” (2pac)
I recently got the opportunity to do an interview on 91.7 WVXUwith Mark Perzel, host of “Cincinnati Edition.” The focus of the interview was Elementz Urban Arts Center and our progress in changing the lives of inner city youth through urban arts. This was my first time being featured on Public Radio and my first time in the studio’s of WVXU.
When it comes to Radio, WVXU is pretty much all I listen to now a days so it was a pleasure for me to be able to tell the story of Elementz with Mark.
4/12 - Owning Our Islam: A Conversation on American Muslim Identity
Join Salaam Community Network this Friday for the second of our quarterly conversation series of 2013. Usama Canon will be our guest speaker as we explore a conversation on American Muslim Identity. The program will be followed by tea and dessert.
Born and raised in California, Usama Canon embraced Islam in 1996 and has been a student of the tradition ever since, studying various Islamic Sciences both stateside and abroad under some of today’s foremost scholars. During the last decade, Usama served as the Outreach Director and an Arabic Instructor at Zaytuna Institute, as well as a Muslim Chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Usama is the Founding Director of Ta’leef Collective, a community based non-profit focused on assisting converts to Islam and creating healthy social and sacred spaces.
THE STORY BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF ELEMENTZ 8 YR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
On Thursday 3/21 Elementz held an Open House to celebrate its 8th year of service to inner city youth. We were embraced by a full house of youth and supporters.
This was the first event of 2013 in which every member of our team played a role. Our program instructors organized repeat youth performances that were held throughout the evening. We held an Open Mic on our first floor “Street Stage” and Hip Hop Dance & Step performances on our 3rd floor “Sky Stage.” Our board members did everything from helping us serve food to getting our story out to local media.
My co-director and I in particular each spent a great deal of time planning this event. We listened to feedback of our Staff & Board in regards to how to make the Open House successful. Neither of us are graphic designers but we were able to worked together to create a poster that was both cool and representative of Elementz. We also got new decals made for both the inside and outside of our building. And of course we both made a lot of personal invitations to our supporters.
It felt really inspiring to see that all of our collective efforts lead to us producing a successful celebration that also captured the feeling of “family” that our organization is known for. God has willed it.
Local 12 Video Segment on Elementz Giving Youth Positive Outlet
Local 12 News Reporter, Angela Ingram, recently produced a remarkable video about the positive work that Elementz is doing in the inner city. The video features footage of performances taken during Elementz 8 year Anniversary Open House as well as interviews with our talented young artists Tafari McDade, Courtney Wilkinson and yours truly (Abdullah Powell, Creative Director of Elementz).
I actually was completely unaware of IHL or common practices that Countries are supposed to follow during war time situations with regards to soldiers, sailors, prisoners of war and civilians. We learned how soldiers are supposed to distinguish between which targets of war are lawful and unlawful. We also learned how respected the Red Cross is around the world as a neutral party.
This was a good first training for our leadership group with IYDE. Now the group must use their creativity to come up with a new project that relates to the IHL training. I intend to make posts about our #journey so stay tuned…
“GAME NIGHT” WITH FAMILY AND NEIGHBORS IN HOLLEYDALE
The other night my step mother and father-in-law hosted “Game Night” in their home in Holleydale, Cincinnati. ”Game Night” consists of family, friends and neighbors coming together to play a variety of board and card games in order to socialize. The kids are usually playing Nintendo Wii while all the adults are upstairs competitively playing games Spaids & Scrabble.
I had to make a post about this because I’ve never seen any thing like this hosted in someone’s home. The entire house was packed with people like it was a recreation center or hangout spot. I spoke to the founder of Game Night about why this gathering was established and she said that it started years ago so that family and friends would stay connected and so that her children and other family members children would have something to do that would keep them away from the streets.
I was very impressed by everyone’s friendliness, and to see everyone having clean fun. Folks were playing very competitively but there wasn’t any swearing, gambling, or arguing amongst each other. Although a few of the sisters did get roused up a little while discussing the validity of a few words in scrabble. When I think of the word “community” these are the type of functions that I think of. Families and neighbors knowing each other and staying connected to one another.
Recently I helped organize two seperate meetings with members of what I call “Team Elementz” which consists of the staff and board of Elementz. Both of these meetings were equally important to me as I felt the need for the various members of our team to bond and renew our passion for Elementz in this new year of 2013.
My agenda for the staff meeting was set with the intention of creating a stronger bond between new & veteran staff members by having food catered from a local soul found restaurant called Rasheeda’s and allowing for everyone to break bread and socialize. Following the dinner staff discussed what some of their passions were outside of Elementz, and shared their individual ideas of “what Elementz is today.” Our arts instructors then shared their future plans and goals for their programs in 2013.
On a separate evening myself and others from Elementz’ board of directors gathered for a meeting in the home of our board president, Peter Block. For additional facilitation of this meeting I worked with Senior Learning Facilitator, Liz Kitchell, who also happens to be the wife of our board secretary, Fred Neurohr. Our night started with a wonderful dinner prepared by Peter and several board members. Afterwards me and my fellow co-director, Tom Kent, laid out our vision for Elementz in 2013. This was followed by breaking out into small groups to brainstorm ways that we all could contribute to a shared vision, possible ideas for Elementz events in the new year and ways to further connect Elementz to the community.
After both meetings we took group pictures of both the Elementz staff and board for this first time in the history of Elementz. Its truly a pleasure for me to work with a dynamic team that is passionate about serving urban youth. We all are very optimistic about the future of Elementz and ready to work together towards having a successful year.
Video from Elementz’ recent experience with the Jewish community of Temple Sholom. This was our 2nd year of collaborating with T.S. and this year they came to visit us on our home turf in Over the Rhine. The theme of the day was “Doing Justice”, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..
During this experience Elementz instructors taught urban arts to nearly 50 youth and adults from Temple Sholom. This included stepping, hip hop dance, visual art, and spoken word. Myself along with two youth leaders from Elementz (Tafari Mcdade, Damon Hoskins) also facilitated a presentation for adults of Temple Sholom in which we shared perspective on what its like to grow up in the inner city and why its important to have positive outlets for expression like Elementz.
Towards the end of the gathering Temple Sholom lead organizer Chris Kraus and I shared a few words for the everyone in attendance to reflect upon. Chris shared insight from the chapter of Micah 6:8 in the Torah which reads: “Only to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.” I focused on reminding everyone of the importance of “doing justice” by stepping outside of yourself to walk in your neighbors shoes.
Through this program and continued collaboration, Elementz and Temple Sholom hope to contribute to the idea of what justice is in our community.
I had a very inspiring weekend recently with my teammates from the Salaam Community Network (SCN) and Usama Canon who is the founding director of a similar organization in Fremont, California called Ta’leef Collective.Over the last decade Ta’leef Collective has been paving the way in America for their work in providing a safe space for seekers of Islam, new Muslims, and Muslims who are recommitting to their faith. Because SCN is aiming to do similar work here in Cincinnati we sought out consultancy with Ta’leef.
On Saturday we spent a full day of consultancy with brother Usama and Sulaiman Arancibia of Ta’leef, all of which was hosted in one of the conference rooms of Elementz. Throughout the day Usama and Sulaiman challenged us to really think about the core purpose for “why” each of us were involved with SCN and they also stressed the importance of us holding each other accountable as leaders of SCN. With the facilitation of Ta’leef we also laid out our goals and strategy for the rest of 2013.
Usama Canon is also becoming one of the many renowned voices of inspiration within the Muslim community here in America. Because of this the Salaam Community Network hosted a program on Friday night at the Clifton Mosque on the topic of “Creating Safe Community Spaces” which featured brother Usama as the guest speaker. During the event SCN volunteers made effort to create a welcoming environment and towards the end of the program we served Moroccan tea to everyone. Our goal was to create a unique experience for those who attended. The program attracted about 100 people from the community and was well received by the audience.
As a team all of us from Salaam Community Network felt more connected and re-energized from our weekend consultancy with Ta’leef. Through my interactions with brother Usama and Sulaiman I am even more-so looking forward to traveling to Ta’leef in California later this year to experience their organization and take part in their Mu’alif Mentorship Training Program.
I was also very grateful that we were able to host our consultancy with Ta’leef at Elementz as it allowed for me to talk the group about my passion for our work with urban arts & youth. Towards the end of our consultancy everyone expressed their support for my work at Elementz as I gave the group a tour of the building and explained the core of Elementz mission. It felt good to hear brothers Usama and Sulaiman say positive things about Cincinnati as a result of spending time with SCN and the Muslim Community and visiting Elementz. Lord willing, our #JOURNEY has only begun.
SCN - Creating Safe Community Spaces w/ Usama Canon
Today the Salaam Community Network (SCN) and I are excited to have Usama Canon with us to host our first community program of 2013 themed on the topic of “Creating Safe Community Spaces. Usama Canon is the founding director of Ta’leef Collective, an organization out of Fremont, California that provides its Muslim community with an alternative “social & sacred space” that is relevant to the American cultural context.
Our program tonight with brother Usama is free and will take place at 6:30 pm at the Clifton Mosque (3668 Clifton Ave). Earlier today at 12:50 Brother Usama will also be giving the weekly address (Khutbah) during Juma Prayer at the Clifton Mosque. Click here to Facebook RSVP
WatchCelebrate Mercy’s short video below which features Usama Canon speaking on the importance of Muslim Communities providing safe places for converts, disenfranchised Muslims, & seekers of Islam.
The photography was taken by my wife, Nazeerah Abdullah, and arabic calligraphy in the 2nd picture of the video was created by Isa Abdul Wali. The calligrapy is from one of the most renowned chapters of The Qur’anentitled, Surah Ikhlaas, which is a short declaration of the absolute oneness of God.
Years ago in Columbus the three of us were making names for ourselves in basketball & getting into other things that teen’s get into but now its about serving God and handling our responsibilities as men. Here we are together at the Clifton Mosque in Cincinnati. Its amazing where many of us end up on our journey’s. #MenSharpenMen
YOUR SUPPORT REQUESTED FOR MY WORK WITH URBAN YOUTH AT ELEMENTZ IN 2013…..READ, SHARE & #GETINVOLVED
Greetings of Peace,
“God’s work is being done through Elementz,” said an alumnus of Elementz who had recently returned for a visit while on a college break. After almost eight years of working with youth, I am encouraged to see our alumni in college, finding jobs, and starting to raise families of their own. When I visit with our alumni and hear about their progress, I understand that real progress is happening here and this gives me hope when I look at the new generation of youth that we are now serving.
As we come up to the end of an amazing year of growth and change here at Elementz, I am coming to you to request your financial support for this wonderful organization that represents young artists from the urban core. Read on to see why I am so enthusiastic about the work Elementz is doing.
This has been a year of expansion, innovation and risk-taking for Elementz. The most significant decision of this year was our relocating from the West End to a new location in the heart of Over-The-Rhine. With our move we are proud to say that we’ve been able to stay on course and stay connected to youth in the neighborhood, while connecting to an entirely new group of youth who commute to Elementz from other areas surrounding the inner city. Most importantly we’ve still been able to maintain the “family-like” environment that youth have known us for over the years.
With our new location we’ve also expanded our mission to become a neighborhood urban arts center that engages young people in a safe space, where they can develop skills in a variety of urban art forms. We still offer the core programs of recording arts, djing, hip hop dance, and graffiti but now we are also offering lessons in spoken word, stepping, R&B, musicianship, and video production. Our focus is to engage teens and young adults into these programs but we’ve also started teaching adult dance classes on weekends as well as day to day after-school programming in urban arts with elementary-aged children.
Part of our goal this past year was to have a more balanced number of young male and females from the urban core. Our “Beats & Rhymes” program still mainly attracts young men from the urban core giving them a positive outlet to express themselves through producing music and record songs. On the other hand one of our newest program “Generation Steppers” focuses on giving young women lessons in stepping, while developing character qualities like self-esteem, teamwork.
This year we’ve also made an intentional effort to be “thought leaders” and to help our community understand the perspective and life of the urban core. We’ve hosted a variety of workshops themed around urban issues with organizations and religious institutions like Public Allies, Temple Shalom, The League of Young Voters & the Christ Church Cathedral. Topics of these workshops have included racial profiling, getting to know your neighbor, youth leadership and civic engagement, and perspective into the lyrics of Elementz songwriters. These workshops have been meaningful experiences both for the outside community as well as our staff and youth at Elementz.
All of the good things that I’ve mentioned above have helped me maintain my passion for Elementz and the youth that we serve. Although I struggle with wanting to make more of a difference in the lives of our members, I am often reminded that one of the most important things that we are accomplishing is creating an additional support network for our youth.
One of the most important things that we are accomplishing is creating an additional support network for our youth. Through interviews and daily interaction with our members we’ve discovered that many of them come into Elementz with a support system that may include only one or two people. Many of our youth are dealing with issues of being nearly homeless, constantly transferring to different schools, and the big challenge of figuring out what goals to pursue in the future. However young people find in Elementz staff, board and volunteers caring people who are committed to helping them navigate through their lives.
Your contribution at this time will help us continue to make a difference in the lives of urban youth. Any contribution, large or small, will make a difference. You can mail your check, payable to “Elementz” to Elementz, 1100 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202, or, to make a donation by Credit Card, visit our website www.elementz.org and click on “Donate Now.”
This past weekend the Salaam Community Network and I organized a community potluck Dinner & Dialogue themed on helping Muslims keep ties to relatives who practice other faiths and who celebrate holidays outside of the Islamic tradition. This subject is an important one for our Muslim community here in America where there is much diversity and a number of holidays and celebrations some of which are religious and others that are secular.
The community dialogue was facilitated by me (Abdullah Powell) and featured guest panelists Nashid Shakir, Riyad Shamma, and sister Sakina Grome all of whom are active in our local Muslim community. Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the community dialogue and shared their experience in keeping ties to their non-Muslim relatives around holidays. The central theme that each panelist emphasized was the importance that our Islamic faith places on keeping ties to our relatives even if they practice different faiths, and the importance of honoring and respecting relatives while abstaining from taking part in any “religious” activities that lie in the traditions of non Islamic holidays ourselves as Muslims.
After the dialogue we all ate homemade food, socialized, and made prayer together. It was encouraging to hear some of our attendants say that they felt more at ease in responding to their relatives of different faith’s around the upcoming holidays.
In 2013 the Salaam Community Network and I intend to organize several Dinner & Dialogue events throughout the year focused on relevant social issues in our Islamic community. We pray that Almighty God accepts, guides and blesses the efforts of SCN.