Promoting unity among people of faith (or no particular faith) in the 21st Century.

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Giving thanks for another ‘Models for Interfaith Dialogue & Unity’ gathering at 1st UU of the Palm Beaches

June 26th · Focolare, Interfaith, Unitarian Universalist

Great Connections (R-L): Judy Bonner of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches, and Lume Cargille of the Focolare Movement.

Thanks to the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches — “the congregation of loving hearts, open minds and helping hands” — and the venue for today’s DVD & Discussion session among more than 30 area folks: UU, Jewish, Focolare and other Christians, Baha’i, Muslims and others.

Thanks for the Focolare video, Journeying Together,” featuring the 1999 Interreligious Assembly of more than 20 different spiritual traditions.

Thanks for the folks who found this important enough to take the time, for the attentiveness to the video — and for the sharing afterward.

Thanks for all our friends and well-wishers who share this interest, but could not be present. And thanks to my New Africa of the Palm Beaches colleagues for providing the backbone of this collaborative interfaith effort.

As always, I learned a lot. But it’s the conversations around the room at the conclusion, the relations built between folks of varied ethnicities, cultures and spiritual traditions — most of whom didn’t know each other when they entered the room — and the collaborative, community building projects that ensue, that I always find most rewarding.

As we continue to expand the network of friendship, and widen the circle of unity, here are more scenes.

Oh, and thanks to my sweetie, Aneesha, for capturing most of them 🙂 :

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In Loving Memory: Judith Sabreen Sharif (1947-2011)

June 19th · Interfaith, Islam

“Magnificent sister” was one of the many accolades heard. My favorite: “There are very few souls who can pull us together around the yard like this.”

On a wonderful Saturday, June 18, an amazingly diverse, overflow crowd of the South Florida Muslim community, family, friends and students paid last respects to Judith Sabreen Sharif (October 17, 1947 – June 16, 2011), of the Republic of Panama, Brooklyn and Miami.

If there was any doubt how beloved was this wife, mother, businesswoman, teacher and education chair of The International League of Muslim Women’s South Florida Chapter,  a double sign appeared as the sun set at Miami’s Masjid Ibrahim:

The spiritual significance? One interpretation might be two pots of gold at the rainbow’s end. A better interpretation: good and more good, a double portion of the Mercy and Peace that our Maker has promised — for our dear Sister Judith, and us for whom she so faithfully and tirelessly cared.

More scenes:

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Lifetime of faith leads to Islam (LifePoints)

June 17th · Imam W. Deen Mohammed

We sat under the wonderful teaching of Imam W.D. Muhammad, and came into Islam with knowledge based only on Quran and Sunnah, unaffected by centuries of cultural strife and sectarianism. We became liberated. We could then embrace the Muslims of other countries, but still value our unique heritage…

Thank you Marilyn Lewis-Alim (and The Huntsville Times) for this inspired essay.

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Honoring Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad and Family

June 5th · Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Islam, Muslim

Last night was an awesome evening of excellence and elegance, as a galaxy of friends and admirers gathered for an appreciation banquet in well-earned recognition of the longstanding contributions and sacrifices of Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad, his wife Haleema and their family.

Not many families can boast of mother-and-daughter doctors — much less such a pair who also are among the most humble of human beings.

But that’s also a reflection on “Imam Nasir,” the leader of Miami’s Masjid Al-Ansar, and the beloved brother, friend and teacher of countless Muslims and others from here in the  South Florida to around the world. As much as he abhors attention on himself, the evening was an opportunity to show our love. And so he submitted.

Appreciation abounds for the tireless work of Hanan Ali, who with her husband Harold and their family led the charge in pulling the evening together, along with their Masjid Al-Ansar team. Getting the word out so broadly — thus ensuring a capacity crowd — while keeping the evening a surprise for Imam Nasir (who thought he was heading to another interfaith meeting), was a major feat.

Appreciation too to Imam Fred Nuriddin, another longtime Masjid Al-Ansar leader who along with is wife Debra helped make the mosque such a venerated South Florida institution.

The elegant evening at the Signature Grand in Davie included fine dining, time for prayer (naturally), and another amazing jazz band performance led by composer / arranger / producer / trumpeter and Florida Memorial University music professor Melton Mustafa.

We even learned a few new things about our dear Imam Nasir during Imam Qasim Ahmed’s stirring keynote.

Among fellow imams  trekking to the event were Baltimore’s Imam Earl El-Amin and Houston’s Imam Eugene Farooq. Imam Mikal Saahir of Indianapolis, IN, signed copies of his newly released book The Honorable Elijah Muhammad: The Man Behind the Men. (An outstanding piece of scholarship, I can say, having served as one of its editors.)

Once again, Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad has cemented and invigorated our local, statewide and national community, simply being himself.

It goes without saying that countless more of his friends, students and admirers wanted to be present last night. For those and others, we hope to follow with more photos. Meanwhile, perhaps the scenes above and below will convey some of the flavor and spirit.

(I tried scanning the program, which depending on your browser should be clickable to enlarge.)

More scenes:

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New Medinah’s 25th: Mississippi Muslim milestone

June 2nd · Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Islam, Muslim

For me, the most enduring image from the 25th Annual New Medinah Islamic Retreat was the youngsters, blissfully enjoying the sun and fun, engrossed in their safe, stimulating, loving-and-learning environment. It was a reminder of times gone by, when elders provided the same for us — who now have a responsibility to do even more for the generations to come.

Yet the contented youths were among many memorable images from  this 120-acre educational, agricultural and farming community in Southwest Mississippi, founded in 1987 by Muslim American students of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.

I’d heard much regarding the vision, commitment and diligence with which New Medinah’s hard workers were establishing the rational spirituality and model community life for which our Creator made us, and to which our late leader Imam Mohammed pointed us. (See backgrounders here, here, here, here and here).

But during New Medinah’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, May 27-29, with the theme, “All ‘Roots’ Lead to Education,” I saw for myself the land, the wonderful spirit and why all the kudos.

For the youngsters were the hay rides, horseback riding, water slide, story telling, bonfires and kosher marshmallow roasts, swimming, sports, games, Children’s Village, jump house, youth workshops and youth social.

For all, there was the Friday congregational prayer. Three days of presentations by some of the world’s most knowledgeable and insightful imams. Family breakfasts and luncheons. An inspirational banquet, with live entertainment.

For visitors choosing to forgo a hotel room, there was room to pitch a tent under the stars. Or roll in an RV.

And much more:

A Grand Bazaar featured outstanding food and merchandise — including honey from New Medina bees.

There was the groundbreaking for the W.D. Mohammed Boarding School. And the dedication of Ayesha K. Mustafaa Road, honoring the tireless editor of our international weekly Muslim Journal.

Plus, ladies’ sessions on “Hajj — Journey of a Lifetime,” and a “Healing Circle.” A talent/fashion show. A singles social & workshop. The “New Medinah Games.”

There was our meeting of the Southern Association of Masajid and Centers, comprised of my fellow imams and others in positions of leadership in our communities.

Also, a special business session. And a meeing of the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA).

As always, I learned much to take home from our sessions, and from conversations with our community’s pioneers.

There also was time for private conversations with the Divine, while strolling the rolling land that echoed its past even as it fulfils the Almighty’s promise for the future.

In between were scenes such as the med-school bound college ladies receiving encouragement from our beloved Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad of Miami’s Masjid Al-Ansar — one of whose own daughters recently completed her medical school training.

There were second-, third- and fourth-generation Muslim teens…

… Little ones cozy in their mothers’ arms …

… and young adults born into or new to our balanced Muslim community.

Long-timers told me New Medinah’s inaugural celebration featured fields full of tents. Today there are Masjid Al-Halim, the Dr. Rashad Ali Community Center and other sturdy buildings.

Thus I thank our Maker — “The One Who takes you from nothing, and brings you to maturity,” as one imam put it — for the organizational diligence and hospitality provided by Imam Alvin Shareef, his wife Rosa and the New Medinah team.

This was the most time I’ve spent in Mississippi. Given the historical legacy, it was a revelation. I’m not ready to pick up and move. Not yet. But G-d willing, my wife and I plan to be regulars in New Medinah each year.

More scenes:

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Still giving thanks for Harry and Harriette Moore: civil rights martyrs before the Civil Rights Movement

April 16th · Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore

At the Moore Cultural Complex in Mims, FL with the Rev. Dr. Randolph Bracy, past president of the Orange County Branch (Orlando) NAACP and guest speaker for this year's Moore Heritage Festival Gala Awards Dinner.

The 8th Annual Moore Heritage Festival of the Arts and Humanities was another huge step in bringing to the world’s attention the unimaginable sacrifices of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore. My deep appreciation to Board President William E. (Bill) Gary, to festival Co-Chairs Gloria Bartley and Melanie Hinkson, to Juanita Barton of the Brevard County Parks & Recreation Department, to Henry and Tracy Moore and to other dear friends for all their dedication and hard work. And always to Evangeline Moore for her grace and dignity, through which — like her parents’ lives — so many of us draw much inspiration. More scenes:

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Muslims in Memphis still slammin’, jammin’ (scenes)

March 26th · Islam, Muslim

Our annual trek to visit my wife’s family in Memphis has been tempered by her dad’s illness, though his spirit is ever good. Meanwhile another joy continues better than ever: the city of Memphis’ annual salute to its Muslim community.

Masjid Al-Mu’Minun is in its ninth year of spearheading this monthlong series of “Muslims in Memphis” activities. They peak with the “Slammin’ Jammin’ Finale” weekend whose highlight is the banquet at which I sit as I write. This always wonderful evening will conclude with many of the Muslims and non-Muslims, family and friends on the dance floor. (No, these Muslims are not too holy for the Electric Slide.)

Not only do my wife and I plan our annual trek to coincide with this weekend. So do Masjid Al-Mu’Minun’s friends and family from around the country, as well as the Southern Association of Masajid and Centers, an organization of my fellow imams and others in positions of leadership in our communities. Our SAMC meeting earlier today included another excellent session by Imam Qasim Ahmed, an internationally noted scholar of Arabic from our community. We heard too from the Coalition for Good Government.

But this is not the time for me to wax at length on “Muslims in Memphis.” For now we pray the Almighty’s Peace and Blessings upon the outstanding work being done here by the Masjid Al-Mu-Minun team.

More MIM scenes:

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At FAU’s Lifelong Learning Society with Tom O’Brien and Rabbi Howard Shapiro: more Model Dialogue & Unity

February 12th · Interfaith, New Africa of the Palm Beaches

Rabbi Howard Shapiro, Imam C.B. Hanif and Tom O'Brien at Florida Atlantic University's Lifelong Learning Society. More scenes and upcoming area events below.

What a joy — as one may glean from the additional photos at the end of this post — to share perspectives on Islam and Muslims for The Lifelong Learning Society at Florida Atlantic University’s Honors Campus in Jupiter.

Deep gratitude to Rabbi Howard Shapiro and Tom O’Brien, my hosts and co-presenters for the very rewarding Feb. 10 session, part of their World’s Religions series. A slide featured during our presentation stated: “Dialogue Requires Trust.” My kind hosts fostered both. Our high-intelligence-quotient, capacity audience also was wonderful, as was the LLS staff.

As always, there is never enough time for all the questions, or for all that could be said. But once again, new friends were made. Insha’Allah — G-d Willing — we’ll be sharing and caring again soon, as we expand the circle of Unity.


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New Africa hosts ‘Where Malcolm X was heading…’

February 6th · Interfaith, New Africa of the Palm Beaches

Welcoming all to the monthly "Model Dialogue" programs is NAPB's organizing team: (R-L): Aneesha Hanif, C.B. Hanif, Jaabir Muhammad, Otis Salahuddin.

New Africa of the Palm Beaches’ “Model Dialogue” series continues with:

“Where Malcolm X was heading…”

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2-4 p.m.

In recognition of Black History Month and on the anniversary of the assassination of El Hajji Malik Shabazz, a retrospective: Imam Jaabir Muhammad shares unique experiences from the original Nation of Islam and unique insight on Muslim Americans today.

Imam Jaabir Muhammad


“Constantine’s Sword”

Sunday, March 20, 2-4 p.m.

James Carroll’s compelling documentary exposes religiously inspired violence and intolerance in his personal search for a better future.


10th Annual Family Interfaith Picnic

Sunday, April 17, 2-4 p.m.

(Dyer Park, West Palm Beach. More details to come.)

Programs 2-4 p.m. at

The United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches

900 Brandywine Road, West Palm Beach 33409

Moderator: C.B. Hanif, multimedia journalist

No admission fee; donations accepted

Join our gatherings featuring remarkable cultural diversity and exemplary models for interaction and cooperation.

Directions from I-95: Exit #71 west onto Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. Turn right at third traffic light and left at stop sign. UMCPB is on left. More information call 561-309-5476.

BELOWScenes from last month’s highly enlightening “From King to…Cosby?” forum, Jan. 23., which featured the unique perspective of Edith Bush, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee, 2011 recipient of Palm Beach State College’s prestigious MLK Individual Leadership Award.

(L-R): Edith Bush and Hope Kramer, Jane Tierney and Tee Jackson.

Ms. Bush and Hanif with Robert Hazard.

— C.B. Hanif

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Chabad community welcomes all to plaza center

February 3rd · Jewish, The Coastal Star

“We really did try to create that feel,” said Rabbi Leibel Stolik. “We wanted it to be an inviting, warm, welcoming atmosphere, so that people can feel welcome, walk by and feel that everybody and anybody can come in. And this includes Jews and non-Jews as well.”

— from my latest InterFaith21 essay in The Coastal Star.

The Chabad of South Palm Beach’s new center in Manalapan’s Plaza Del Mar is just plain welcoming.

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