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Our Muslim Neighbours

TV PROGRAM of TELECARE—Oct 2003 to May 2005

Brief Background. Prof Faroque A Khan. Chair Interfaith Institute of Long Island E-mail: faroquekhan@outlook.com This program was initiated by Monsignor Thomas Hartman—RIP-- who publicly expressed his concerns about the negative portrayal of Muslims on TV and media in general post 9/11. He wanted to portray the Muslims as he saw them on Long Island and beyond. This led to a collaboration between Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury and the Catholic TV channel Telecare. The program hosts were the well-known God Squad team of Monsignor Thomas Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman. The program addressed the commonly asked questions like the role of the mosque, women in Islam, the five pillars of Islam including, Prayer, Ramadan, Hajj, Zakat, Sharia law, life cycle events, prophets –Moses, Noah, Jesus, Mohammed, role of Quran, life in college campuses, Muslim outreach to the larger community, contributions of Muslims in America and finally a session of question and answer with members of other faiths. This program, in my view played a big role clearing up many misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. Special appreciation and thanks to Mike Geoghan the executive producer of the Our Muslim Neighbor program.

Visit to the Mosque and Overview

Almost 17 years ago, Msgr. Thomas Hartman was introduced to Rabbi Marc Gellman and they quickly began a friendship. That partnership has come to be known as “The God Squad”. The very first television episode of “God Squad” included Father Tom’s first visit to a Jewish synagogue and a new interfaith dialogue between Jews and Christians was born. Today, Fr. Tom and Rabbi Gellman hope to extend their friendship and open dialogue to the Islamic community through a dynamic new program called “Our Muslim Neighbors”. With this new program, “The God Squad” hopes to learn about the Muslim faith and traditions as well as teach the viewers about tolerance and acceptance. They begin their journey just as the first episode of God Squad” began over a decade ago…with a visit to the Islamic Center of Long Island’s mosque.

Women in Islam

Many Americans misunderstand the role of Muslim women in today’s society. This episode of “Our Muslim Neighbors” focuses on clarifying the role of “Women in Islam.” : Four Muslim women from different walks of life all residing in New York present us with the real face of Muslim women in America. Aisha AL-Adawiya, Founder/Director of Women in Islam, Inc.; Hoda Spiteri, Accountant; Dr. Arfa Khan, Professor of Radiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Peggy Iamunno, mother of two; join us. Questions on the Islamic covering (Hijab), women’s rights and roles and polygamy are dealt with in depth.

Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage

This show focuses on the Muslim pilgrimage known as the Hajj. It shed’s light on the importance and significance of this fifth pillar of Islam to Muslims. Our guests for the program are: Anisa Mehdi, the producer and director of “Inside Mecca” and she is the first American woman to cover the Hajj for television; Al-Hajj Ghazi Khankan, who has performed the Hajj three times and give’s us his personal thoughts on the experience; and Kaleem Kamboj, a teacher at I.C.L.I. who share’s his feelings on the importance of performing the Hajj and his anticipation for performing it in the near future.

The Prophet Muhammad

This show’s focus is on Prophet Muhammad, we learn in detail about this central figure of Islam through a documentary titled “Muhammad, Legacy of a prophet”. Our first guest for the show Alexander Kronemer, the creator and producer of the documentary shed’s light on how the task of exploring Muhammad’s life through the documentary was tackled. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a prominent religious and spiritual leader in the Muslim community of New York will help explain Muhammad’s importance and significance within Islam. Lastly, Professor Daniel Martin Varisco, anthropology professor at Hofstra, who also has taught the Islam course, will shed light on Muhammad and his importance in conveying the real essence of Islam.

The Holy Month of Ramadan

The concept of fasting intimately ties the Abrahamic faiths together. Ramadan, the month of fasting in Islam is considered holy and Muslims wait anxiously for its arrival. This show will focus on Ramadan and the sacrifices that Muslims make during this very special time of year. We’ll see what their duties are during this time and how it affects their lives here in the fast-paced society of America. The panelist include Daisy Khan, Executive Director, ASMA Society, Saleem Niazi, a student at Stony Brook and Hamza Eric Byas a recent revert to Islam.

The Holy Quran

This show focuses on the Holy Quran, the Muslim book believed to be the Word of God revealed through Muhammad. We’ll discuss its similarities and differences to the Holy Bible and find out what viewers would like to know about this spiritual text. Sheikh Abdullah Adhami and Sanaa Nadim are the panelists.

Growing up Muslim in America

On this episode of “Our Muslim Neighbors”, we will chat with a number of Muslim grade school kids. 11 ethnically diverse Muslim children from different parts of New York, including Brooklyn, Queens and Long island share with us their thoughts on growing up in America during these very difficult times.

The Muslim Life Cycle

All faith traditions have special celebrations marking many different passages of life. The birth of a child, marriage ceremonies and the passing away of elderly are all phases of life that religion plays an important role in. In this episode we learn how the Muslim life cycle celebrates and marks these various stages with a focus on one family—Obaid, Yaqoot and Zain Khan and additional comments from Ahmed Mahmoud and Dr Faroque Khan..

Prophets In Islam: Abraham and Moses

On this two-part special of “Our Muslim Neighbors”, we focus on the Prophetic Tradition within Islam. We find out how Islam views the concept of Prophethood and focus on the stories of Abraham and Moses, who are among the prophets mentioned most frequently in the Quran. We explore the similarities and differences in the stories of these two revered personalities among the Abrahamic faiths. On this 1st part of our special, our guests include: Dr. Jerald F. Dirks, a frequent lecturer on Islamic awareness and author of several books including :Abraham—The Friend of God. Other panelists include Habibeh Rahim Professor of Psychology and Religious Studies Professor at St Johns University and Alexander Kronemer, the creator and producer of the documentary—“Muhammad, Legacy of a prophet”.

Prophets in Islam: Noah and Jesus-Part 2

On this two-part special of “Our Muslim Neighbors”, we focus on The Prophetic Tradition within Islam. We continue our conversation on the rich tradition of Prophethood in Islam with focus on Noah and Jesus--the prophets mentioned most frequently in the Quran. We will explore the similarities and differences in the narratives of their stories as they appear in each Abrahamic faith. In this second part of our special, our guests include: Sohaib Sultan, an author and frequent writer and lecturer on Islamic awareness, and a student of Hartford Seminary and Laura Maksoud a mother and educator at the Islamic Center of Long Island and Alexander Kronemer, the creator and producer of the documentary—“Muhammad, Legacy of a prophet.”

Muslims Reaching Out

What are Muslims doing to reach out to their non-Muslim Neighbors in America? This episode highlight’s some of the on-going local and national initiatives in place. Our guests include Dr. Kushalata Jayakar Ahmed, Bobbie Rosenzweig Member’s of AMJID—American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue--Dr. Mushir Hassan, Muslim Adult Coordinator of Milwaukee Interfaith Youth Forum,Dr. Humayun Chaudhry member of Multi-faith Forum and Dr Hafizur Rehman, President of Masjid Dar-ul-Quran, Bayshore. In this episode we witness an insiders’ view from a local Islamic Society about their interfaith activity, and involvement with local churches and synagogues. An interfaith youth forum from Milwaukee will demonstrate how the younger generation is participating and learning to work together across religious differences.

The Muslim Experience on College Campuses

Most College campuses in New York as well as other major cities in North America have active Muslim Student Associations—MSA’s. This show presents a chance to meet with some Muslim Students and learn about them. Our guests include: Maher Samra Vice President of an Islamic Center, Lina Sayed President of Arab Students United, NYU, Sammy Hito student of Hofstra University and Nada Ebrahim Student of S.U.N.Y Stonybrook. The role of the Muslim Students Association on campus is explored. We discuss how MSA’s meet the needs of Muslim students and what services it offers to them. The student panelists discuss what issues and challenges the Muslim student body faces in American colleges today.

The Sunni and Shia Sect’s Of Islam

This episode explore’s the two major sects within Islam, the Shia’s and the Sunni’s. Professor Caroline Sawyer take’s us through the historical and political formation of the factions. Other guest in this episode include: Sajjad Chowdhry, MA. Islamic Studies & Christian-Muslim Relations Hartford Seminary, Muhsin Alidina Program Coordinator & Director Educational Service Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center .The representatives from each tradition elaborate upon the theological similarities and differences and how these affect practitioners of each tradition today, in their practical lives will be demonstrated.

Muslim Artists

As American Muslims become part and parcel of American culture, their influence and unique background leads to interesting niche developments in the music and performing arts. In this episode we meet American Muslims who draw inspiration from their faith to offer the American audience a fresh perspective. Maysoon Zayid an actress, activist and comedian who performs regularly in New York will show us how she makes light of the socially tough situation Muslims find themselves in. Playwright, Mark Sickman will then tell us what compelled him to write a play on Muslims--an outsider’s perspective. And Joshua Salaam will share his band, ‘Native Deen’s’ unique perspective on music and their experience playing for the niche Muslim Audience.

American Muslim civil liberties after 9/11

How have government legislations since 9/11 impacted the Muslim Community in America? What kind of affect has the Patriot Act and Special registration had? The Interfaith Alliance, the ACLU, and numerous other Muslim groups have been protesting the targeting of Muslims and their civil liberties. This episode will attempt to bring to light the stories of the people who have been directly impacted. Pastor Mark Lukens will discuss the intimate nature of the relationship of religion and politics. Theresa Thanjan and Naeem Mohaiemen will share with us the stories they came across and were compelled to publicize.

Sharia: Islamic Law

The word Sharia has and continues to adorn many a headline in American news. It appears often in stories about politics, crime, feminism, terrorism and civilization, yet many people and even Muslims misunderstand it. What does the word actually mean? Is it important to Muslims? Is Islamic law relevant to the lives of Muslims in America? Mohammad H Fadel, President American Muslim Lawyers Association and Dr. Faroque Khan, President Islamic Center of Long Island introduce to us the meaning of Sharia and all that it entails.

Frequently Asked Questions for Muslims

This show attempts to capture questions still on the minds of Americans about Muslims and the Islamic faith. A collection of questions from the general public will be put to Imam Feisal a prominent Imam of the NYC mosque, Masjid Al-Farah and Dr Faroque Khan, president of the Islamic Center in Long Island. The panel will attempt to provide complete but concise answers.