IMAN Health Clinic: Making Connections, Moving Forward

IMAN’s work of service and organizing in Urban America is part of a long tradition of such work by the American, especially Blackamerican, Muslim community. The IMAN Health Clinic and our other health care work are also connected to and build on similar work being done in other cities. One such model that continues to inspire us is the health care and policy work being done through the growing efforts of the Health Unity on Davison Avenue (HUDA) Clinic run by the Muslim Center of Detroit.

HUDA Clinic was founded in 2004 to serve the uninsured population of Detroit and is run by physicians, medical students, nurses, social workers and other members of the Detroit Muslim community. Inspired by the Muslim principles of compassion and service, HUDA Clinic’s mission is to promote health and wellness by providing quality and free health care, pharmaceuticals, and preventative services to the uninsured. While the Clinic provides services to the uninsured from the entire Detroit metro, it is located in the inner-city, in a community that has long suffered neglect and marginalization leading to extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and poverty. For many of these working poor and unemployed who have no health insurance, the HUDA Clinic is literally a lifeline.

As IMAN moves toward broadening both its services/expertise in health care delivery and its impact on health care policy/debates, two separate delegations from IMAN have visited HUDA Clinic in the last three months. In August, leaders from IMAN took a tour of the Clinic and met with its Board members, while Rami Nashashibi, IMAN’s Executive Director, was a speaker at a fundraiser for the Clinic earlier in October. These recent contacts and meetings have reinforced earlier contacts between IMAN’s Health Clinic and the HUDA Clinic. Beyond a solid commitment to basic health care accessibility being a human right for all that can’t be compromised, IMAN’s leadership believes that there is also a shared understanding between the two Clinics that our health care work has to be both holistic–including culturally competent services, prevention, education–and systemic–including policy, advocacy and legislative work.

Largely thanks to the critical support provided by Islamic Relief USA, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the Health Clinic’s first Medical Director, Dr. Altaf Kaiseruddin, and we are moving ahead in both the holistic and systemic directions. Under the leadership of Dr. Kaiseruddin, the Clinic is on pace to expand its operations to 5 days/week and increase the number of patients by 67% by the end of this year. Efforts aimed at preventative care and community education are also picking up pace, with the second installment of the BodyWorks health and wellness classes offered at IMAN having just concluded.

Another impact of this funding from Islamic Relief USA and the leadership of Dr. Kaiseruddin may be seen in the policy and advocacy work that IMAN is planning to do in the health care arena. “By allowing us to bring in the leadership of Dr. Kaiseruddin, Islamic Relief has helped to increase IMAN’s overall expertise in health care and, therefore, our ability to contribute to the broader conversation around health care options and policy,” said Mark Crain, IMAN’s Communication Coordinator.

Making connections with HUDA Clinic will help IMAN’s health care work as we move forward to meet the challenge and the opportunity that awaits the Muslim community: increasing our participation as a voice for the core principle of human dignity in the ongoing debates

A Reflection on Detroit from Brother Ubayd

Ubaidullah Evans is IMAN’s Scholar-in-Residence. He is currently completing his studies at Al Azhar University and periodically delivers khutbas at IMAN, as well as leads an annual series of reflections during Ramadan.

There are a lot of reasons to love the American Midwest. However, breathtaking scenery full of alternating types of natural beauty isn’t one of them. The camaraderie and bonding fostered by road trips aside, when I learned I would be traveling by car with a small group of IMAN staff to Detroit and Saginaw, Michigan for a series of community events, I didn’t expect much from the journey. Topographically, the Great Plains are, well, plain! This trip was about Detroit and Saginaw and their respective Muslim communities.

The fact that rivalry exists between Chicago and Detroit is hardly lost on anyone; just pick up a newspaper on the eve of a Chicago vs. Detroit sporting event! Yet, upon comparison, what may come as a surprise to many is the way ‘The D,’ as my friends and I affectionately referred to the Midwest’s Second City growing up, holds its own in the shadow of a bigger, and it can be argued, culturally more important city in ‘Chi-Town.’ And while one can certainly count the perennially pivotal role of the American automotive industry in the world economy, Berry Gordy’s iconic Motown record label, or even the three consecutive NBA playoff drubbings the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” issued the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls throughout the late eighties and early nineties as examples of Detroit’s influence matching or outstripping that of Chicago, I had something different in mind as we set out on the road. Both illuminating conversations with pioneers (the early converts to Islam and proto-Islamic movements who make up the First Resurrection) and some academic literature on the subject point to Detroit as the true Mecca of Islam in America . And though it may be said that Chicago is one of its most important ‘Medinas,’ visiting Detroit does make for an interesting bit of historical perspective.

On Saturday morning, after finishing an appetizing breakfast at the home of one of our gracious hosts in the nearby suburb of Dearborn, we began to make our way into Detroit for a fundraising luncheon. The streets of Detroit revealed most of the maladies plaguing America’s urban centers writ large: the disappearance of jobs, urban decay, rampant foreclosures, the inaccessibility of healthy foods, etc. The heightened visibility of these pathologies in Detroit lent the luncheon we attended to raise funds for the establishment of the Muslim Center of Detroit health clinic a special kind of urgency. Located at the site of the future clinic, in the heart of an affected, inner-city neighborhood, the Muslim Center fundraiser represented a diverse collection of Muslims’ desire to make a difference in areas often neglected by others. Although the host community was the predominately African American Muslim American Society (MAS)—formerly under the leadership of the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed—the attendees represented many different ethnicities and religious orientations. Beginning with our stately M.C., an older black woman, each speaker that took the stage referenced the Islamic ethic of community service, and the precedent of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). The unifying force of Islam was in full flower on that afternoon. As the affair drew to its climax and the actual appeal started I was amazed by the generosity of the attendees. Unemployment, falling wages and property values, and social slippage have exerted their influence on the Muslim community like everyone else. Yet, the pressing need of providing high-level healthcare to the uninsured and underinsured was highlighted in a compelling appeal which moved many of those in attendance to ‘dig a lil’ deeper,’ and I think the fundraising wound up being highly successful. We capped off the afternoon by taking a guided tour of the clinic. Briskly strolling through the vacant rooms of the newly proposed clinic, we were a portrait of smiling faces and nodding heads. I think there was a sense that we were on the cusp of a new wave of Muslim investment in America; one that seeks its returns in positively affected lives as opposed to monuments. Contributing to the health and wellness of the most vulnerable members of our community represents the finest traditions of Muslim civic-mindedness and engagement. It not only draws upon a longstanding tradition of philanthropic endowments and free hospitals that have existed in the central lands of Islam from our Golden Ages until present, but is also in direct alignment with the spirit of community service and social relevance that introduced Islam to America. Detroit is still holding its own!
Ubayd

A Celebration With Soul: 2011 End of Year Fundraising Dinner

IMAN will close out 2011 with a fundraising dinner on December 11, 2011 at the Harold Washington Library Center Winter Garden honoring one of the most prolific contributors to American culture of the past half century and one of the most successful community developers of the last two decades. Kenny “Luqman Abdul-Haqq” Gamble, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is an icon and a legend in American pop music and an inspiration for everyone working in the fields of urban renewal and community development. He will be joined by our Special Guest Imam Suhaib Webb, Special Honorees Rabbi Robert Marx and Jane Ramsey, musical trio Three Generationz and renowned street artist El Seed. Blessed by the presence of scholars, activists and artists, the event will be, in true IMAN form, A Celebration With Soul.

Over the course of three decades Kenny Gamble became, along with partner Leon Huff, one of the most prolific and influential song writers this country has ever known. Together they penned over 3000 tracks, producing dozens of #1 R&B and Pop singles and over 150 platinum and gold records. Gamble’s work ethic and commitment to his art has earned him an induction in the National Academy of Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. With his musical legacy solidified, in 1993 he co-founded Universal Companies with his wife Faatimah and embarked on creating a multi-faceted community development and urban renewal program that is reshaping an entire neighborhood.

The efforts of the Gamble family have helped produce Universal Business Center, a small businesses support center, Universal Institute Charter School, which opened in September, 1999 with 300 students and the Universal Community Employment Training Center skills-training and job placement service for adults. Additionally, with his Jamiyat Construction Company, Gamble has already helped build one mosque in the neighborhood and is currently planning a second. (Read more on Kenny Gamble)

Also speaking at A Celebration With soul will be Imam Suhaib Webb. Webb is a dynamic young American Muslim cleric who has spent the last several years helping build community in the Bay Area. He is an Al-Azhar trained scholar who has gained a reputation for speaking to and about the American Muslim community honestly, critically and courageously. He is one of many young leaders at the forefront of building an inclusive Muslim community that is empowered by the best aspects of American culture. (Read more on Imam Suhaib)

Lastly, IMAN will take this opportunity to recognize and honor a stalwart of the civil rights and organizing movement in Chicago, Rabbi Robert Marx. Rabbi Marx founded the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and in doing so developed an intrinsic model for community development that has served as an inspiration for IMAN. In 1966, Rabbi Marx walked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Marquette Park marching for fair access to housing throughout Chicago. Today, equitable housing access continues to be a critical issue on Chicago’s Southwest Side and is at the heart of IMAN’s partnership with JCUA in the Multifaith Housing Reclamation Campaign. Alongside Rabbi Marx, IMAN will recognize JCUA’s long-time Executive Director Jane Ramsey. (Read the letter from Rabbi Marx explaining his decision to march with Dr. King in Marquette Park on August 5, 1966)

On December 11, IMAN will bring together a group of dynamic leaders whose community service has spanned the last 50 years. The night will be complemented by the smooth jazz of Zzaje, the inspiring visual displays of eL Seed and the beautiful voices of our Native American Muslim sisters of Three Generationz. Purchase your ticket today and join us for A Celebration With Soul.

Purchase Your Tickets Here!

Visionary Artist, Businessman & Community Servant: Kenny Luqman Abdul Haqq Gamble

Long before IMAN conceived of projects like Green Reentry, there was an individual in the American Muslim community who used his stardom, passion for justice and love for the community to launch one of the most impressive urban renewal programs in the country. Kenny Gamble, also known as Luqman Abdul Haqq, has been a stalwart in the Philadelphia community for nearly 50 years. Beginning as the lead singer of the harmony group “Kenny Gamble and the Romeos,” he became, along with partner Leon Huff, one of the most prolific and influential song writers this country has ever known, penning over 3000 tracks, many of which became #1 R&B and Pop singles. His work ethic and commitment to his art earned him an induction in the National Academy of Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. Along the way, he helped produce such historic musical acts as The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle and Teddy Pendergrass.

However, while his music legacy is certainly still revered, Luqman Abdul Haqq is known in Philadelphia today for his contributions to the uplift of his community. In 1993, he co-founded Universal Companies with his wife Faatimah and embarked on creating a multi-faceted community development and urban renewal program that is reshaping an entire neighborhood.

After opening one restaurant in South Philadelphia under Universal Companies, Gamble then opened a bookstore. He eventually purchased over 100 condemned and vacant properties and provided construction jobs to local residents to rehabilitate the properties and make them available for rental to low and middle income families. With his Jamiyat Construction Company, Gamble has already helped build one mosque in the neighborhood and is currently planning a second. The efforts of the Gamble family have helped produce Universal Business Center, a small businesses support center, Universal Institute Charter School, which opened in September, 1999 with 300 students and the Universal Community Employment Training Center, skills-training and job placement service for adults.

“I remember coming back from South Philly and talking about Kenny “Luqman Abdul Haqq” Gamble to everyone who would listen. I was simply blown away and was even more shocked that many in the Muslim community hadn’t heard about this extraordinary story,” remembers IMAN’s Executive Director, Rami Nashashibi.

IMAN will be celebrating the legacy and paying tribute to Gamble for his work as both a visionary music mogul and co-founder of Universal Companies on Sunday December 11th when he visits Chicago to serve as keynote speaker for the organization’s end of year fund raising dinner at the Harold Washington Library’s beautiful “Winter Garden” hall.


One of Kenny Gamble’s proudest moments in Philadelphia International history involves a song and album he recorded with the entire Philadelphia International Records roster, “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto.” The song featured the vocal talents of Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, The Intruders, Dee Dee Sharp and Archie Bell. As part of the project, young people were hired to pick up garbage, paint over graffiti, and sweep dirty streets in their neighborhoods. After endorsement by the mayors of Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis and Atlanta, the successful initiative was adopted by states throughout America. Among the proclamations the project received was one from Pennsylvania governor Milton Shapp, who reserved one week in August each year for “Clean Up The Ghetto Week.” “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto” became an inspiration for Universal Companies.