On Saturday, May 24, 2014, the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) held a Community Service Award Ceremony, honoring two companies and three individuals for their volunteer work. State Senator Steven Bieda and Mayor James Fouts from Warren attended as honorary guests. The ceremony commenced with a verse from the Qur’an (chapter 3:177) that highlighted righteousness and its relationship with serving the community.
Steve Mustapha Elturk, Imam and President of IONA, gave a brief presentation on IONA and its activities. “IONA has grown from 200 families to nearly 1000 families since IONA established its first Mosque and Learning Center in the city of Warren in May of 2007,” Imam Elturk stated. He further explained, “The principle by which we live is verse 13 from chapter 49, ‘O mankind, We created you from a single male and female (Adam and Eve), and made you into nations and tribes so you may know one another.’” He also said, “We don’t simply tolerate people of other faiths, we accept them, we are brothers and sisters in humanity.” IONA has consistently been assisting and meeting the needs of the community (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) through its outreach and community service programs.
James Fouts, the Mayor of Warren, in his speech said, “I commend Imam Elturk who is a tireless worker for the organization and a strong advocate for human rights and fairness in this community…you are letting the people of Warren and in the United States know that Muslims are no different than anyone else.”
In acknowledging the efforts and hard labor bringing the community together, Mayor Fouts quoted the resolution that was unanimously passed by Warren City Council in 2010, ‘Re-affirming the American Core Values of Freedom Equality and Justice.’ He quoted, “WHEREAS, the City of Warren is united in speaking out against any expression of prejudice, intimidation, hate, or violence that is aimed at hurting or excluding an individual, a family, or a group of people because of who they are. We are committed to nonviolent solutions to human suffering and injustice, and join together to work for economic well-being and social justice for all.”
The Mayor welcomes with open arms the hundreds of new families that moved to the city of Warren and recognized the many free programs IONA offers all residents of Warren, including assisting neighbors in need and the bi-weekly free medical clinic. The Mayor ended his speech by saying, “Let’s keep building the bridges of understanding so that any fears or comments made toward one group or another will be permanently eliminated.”
Senator Bieda in his brief remarks acknowledged those who serve our country, who have come from different ethnic backgrounds and faith traditions including Christians, Jews and Muslims. He admires the diversity of our country. “The diversity makes us stronger,” he affirmed. Inspired by the saying of Muhammad (peace be upon him) which was the theme of the ceremony, “The best of people are those who are beneficial to others,” Senator Bieda was reminded of John F. Kennedy’s quote from his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” He acknowledged, “…the folks we are honoring here today… gave to the community, they participated and made life better for everybody else… this is a very high calling for somebody to become involved.”
The Senator commended the Mayor for his support in response to the controversy over the mosque. He called Imam Elturk a friend and said that it was his honor to invite him to the State Capitol where he recently gave a wonderful invocation to the State Senate during Muslim Day at the State Capitol (May 13, 2014). Senator Bieda thanked the volunteers for being part of the community and for working with others to help build a better community, city, state and better country.
iona-community-service-award-ceremonyThe awards were then presented by the Senator and Mayor to Mr. Terry Hamilton, President of St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital, for their support in providing staff and lab work to the annual IONA Free Medical Clinic open to the public, Mr. Mansoor Ahmad from Dazzle printing who supported IONA’s printing needs free of charge, Dr. Taufiq Ahmad Khan for giving back to the community free medical checkups, and Dr. Sirajul Haq for the bi-weekly free medical clinic at IONA. The last award went to Mr. Jamshed Malik for his IT support to IONA.
Imam Elturk explained that in the Islamic tradition Muslims don’t usually like to be recognized since the work they do is for the pleasure of God, however, Imam Elturk recalled the saying of Prophet Muhammad, “Whoever does not thank people has not thanked God.” The awards were simply a token of appreciation.
The event was well attended. Members from many chapters of IONA as well as other guests including Karen Smith, the Executive Director for Leadership Macomb and her husband were among the attendees.
____________________ IONA’s mission is to transform its members and help transform the surrounding communities to righteous, God-fearing people, who collectively strive for the highest moral standard and constantly seek forgiveness from our Creator to earn His pleasure. We seek His compassion and mercy in this life and in the hereafter. We rejuvenate our soul through internal struggle and spiritual exercise in worship of our creator God. The strength of our belief in God gives us the courage to establish good and forbid evil, thus promoting a system of justice for all mankind.