Fresh Beats & Eats Enlivens Southwest Side Streets

For the third consecutive summer, IMAN’s Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers Market has enlivened West 63rd Street with vibrant tables of fresh organic produce, various vendors offering homemade treats, and exciting artistic expression. This year’s market season kicked off with a special musical guest all the way from New Orleans: Amir Gray & The Tubatones.

Amir and his band not only rocked the Fresh Beats & Eats stage, they also gave local residents a taste of Louisiana with a walking procession throughout the neighborhood. Children along California Avenue followed behind the “second line” and drivers honked along with the beat. This performance was the first of many efforts at “creative place-making” by IMAN’s Arts & Culture department, bringing new artistic experiences (quite literally) to the front doors of residents and connecting them to things happening in their community. IMAN leaders handed out Fresh Beats & Eats flyers behind the procession and encouraged community members to visit the market to purchase their weekly produce.

The farmers market will be held every Friday through the month of October. This initiative is a crucial component of IMAN’s mission of inner-city health, wellness and healing; each individual and family who visits the produce stand and pulls up a chair to enjoy the music serves as a proof of concept, and a small but impactful building block along the path to more dignified and healthy community life.

Interested in volunteering or vending at Fresh Beats & Eats? Email us at farmersmarket@imancentral.org to join the team!

Trump’s Forgotten Muslims & Terror–Fighting Back

While many across the US were celebrating the legacy of Malcolm X, President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia ironically—or conveniently—omitted the historic and dynamic role of Muslims in America. The effects of this omission were exacerbated by the recent horrific attacks in Manchester, London, and other cities carried out by violent extremists determined to perpetuate the false perception that Muslims are agents of terror and barbarity.

I continue to believe that neither a mere condemnation of these acts, nor publicly aligning ourselves with President Trump’s message to Muslim-majority countries, would do much in the way of fighting back against those who pervert our faith and seek to manipulate fear and hate against Muslim communities. Instead, I believe with great conviction that the type of work we are blessed to do at IMAN matters more now than it ever has.

This work commits itself to making a real difference on the ground in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Chicago and now Atlanta. This work seeks to operate in alignment and alliance with diverse communities to creatively re-imagine our communities, city and world as they could be. This work is, in every way possible, antithetical to the acts of terror that deranged individuals associate with our faith.

As IMAN celebrates its 20th year, I couldn’t be more inspired by the work that our dynamic team of leaders and staff are driving everyday. This Ramadan, IMAN publicly launched an exciting $1,000,000 Ramadan Drive. We thank our supporters of all backgrounds across the country and the globe. We ask you to keep this work in your prayers, and help us to meet and exceed our aspirations via your generous zakat-eligible and tax-deductible donations.

At a time when divisive conversations about Muslims, Islam and terror continue to circulate worldwide, I hope you believe as deeply as I do that supporting this type of work is one of the most powerful ways to push back against the pervasive forces of hate, terror and despair.

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me

Award-winning Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg recently wrote a column about his reflections on IMAN’s Green ReEntry program saying:

“Many Americans seem to form their impression of Islam solely from terrorist acts abroad. But if they spoke to the men at Green ReEntry, they’d see an opposite image: of the faith as a force leading away from violence.”

We have all spent the last week reeling after one of the worst mass shootings in our recent history. The unfortunate but unsurprising rush to connect this horrific act of terrorism with the larger American Muslim community dominated the news cycle.

SunTimes March 16 Green ReMany of our Muslim organizations and leaders (IMAN included) naturally responded with unequivocal condemnations of the shooting and heartfelt condolences for the victims and their families. Yet, it often feels that such statements fall on deaf ears. The fact is that most of us would prefer to be shown rather than told what the “real” expression of our faith looks like in action.

For me, that was the power in the Steinberg quote listed above. Nothing speaks more to the redemptive, life-giving and violence-reducing power of our faith than programs like IMAN’s Green ReEntry. I wish I had the ability to show more of my friends, family and colleagues across the country the power of IMAN’s work in some of our hardest-hit neighborhoods in Chicago.

For now I’m asking you to help us deepen and expand our impact by making your zakat-eligible, tax-deductible donation to our Ramadan Drive and help us reach our $500,000 goal before Eid. Together we can make this work speak to all those in need of seeing a real model of our community’s commitment to stemming the tide of violence, poverty and injustice in our inner cities.

With Peace,

Alia Bilal
Director of Community Relations

Katie & Ramadan

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 6.02.28 PMKatie Marciniak got her start with us during last year’s Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers’ Market. Along with other leaders and staff, she ran organic produce stands and engaged residents around healthy eating habits. As a performer, planner and ambassador for Fresh Expressions—our grassroots, youth open mic program—Katie quickly became a mainstay at IMAN.

As a student at local Gage Park High School, Katie helped with extraordinary student research exploring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Chicago Freedom Movement’s 1966 march through Marquette Park. Moved by the discovery of such a profound moment in her own neighborhood, Katie has embraced a key role on the MLK Living Memorial Planning Committee, serving alongside high-level executives and public figures from across the Chicagoland area. In recognition of her achievements, Katie was on of two IMAN youth leaders publicly awarded by the Office of Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 6.21.34 PMThis summer, Katie’s journey has taken even more exciting turns. She is currently enjoying the sweetness of her first Ramadan, and will soon take her talents to the prestigious Princeton University Summer Journalism Program.

With the help of your prayers and contributions, IMAN continues to be able to offer brilliant youth leaders like Katie an outlet to express their creativity, organize their communities, and continue to flourish in a truly holistic way. As this blessed month continues, we ask that you make your zakat-eligible, tax-deductible donation to our 2016 Ramadan Drive and help us reach our ambitious $500,000 goal. May the Most High continue to make us worthy of your support, and may your month be full of blessings and mercy.