Weekly Classes Enliven IMAN’s Ceramic Studio

During the spring months, IMAN hosted weekly classes helping visitors of all ages to hone their creative expression inside the Beloved Community Ceramics Studio. Led by newly hired Ceramic Studio Coordinator Ariya Siddiqui, the classes encourage mutual connection and mindfulness. Students are asked to put away their phones, ground themselves in the space, and engage their classmates by learning more of their stories. “Not only is art healing, when we create art, things buried deep within us manifest to express something essential and beautiful,” said Siddiqui. By infusing IMAN’s relational ethos into the ceramics curriculum, participants are able to become more comfortable expressing the highs, lows, challenges and successes informing their art.

IMAN ensures that its arts programming is socially conscious in an accessible, relevant way for community members. This spring’s ceramics classes have integrated a wide range of students’ interests: from indigenous rights struggles to familial bonds, and from love of jazz to favorite foods. Participants in the studio are encouraged to holistically engage with each other, and also with their projects.

Classes are offered seasonally at the Beloved Community Ceramic Studio, and the Summer Session will begin Monday, July 29. There is a small tuition charged for classes, but limited scholarships are available. Stay connected to all the latest IMAN Arts & Culture updates by following us on social media @imancentral and with the hashtag #IMANArts. Interested ceramics students may learn more about upcoming classes and register by contacting arts@imancentral.org

IMAN Reaches 2019 Ramadan Fundraising Goal

The “One Link, One Chain” mantra, coined by IMAN’s Green ReEntry cohorts in both Chicago and Atlanta, has come to define our continued efforts to unite hearts and help positively transform communities. During Ramadan, we embarked on the “One Link, One Chain” Fundraising Drive to deepen our model for inner-city health, wellness and healing across the country. Thanks to The Most High, and to your extraordinary generosity, we were able to meet and exceed our $1 million fundraising goal!

Reaching that landmark will enable us to expand access to holistic health care services for visitors to our Community Health Center, engage even more communities with spiritually rooted and socially conscious artistic expression, and strengthen the organizing campaigns addressing critical issues of criminal justice reform and food justice. With your support, our Green ReEntry program is better positioned to flourish–training and equipping dozens of new cohort members for success, including the first-ever women’s cohort.

The blessings of Ramadan were felt through many inspiring and spiritually rejuvenating events. In Atlanta, staff and organizers hosted neighbors and partner organizations for a public iftar, in addition to constructing a community garden with Roswell Community Masjid. Both Green ReEntry cohorts gathered in Atlanta for an iftar and a two-day summit, which demonstrated the transformative power of the “One Link, One Chain” ethos. In Chicago, hundreds of people attended the annual Community Iftar, weekly Ramadan Reflections, and various ‘Refresh the Hood’ events.

IMAN again thanks its supporters for their sincere generosity, inside and outside of Ramadan. Please follow us on social media @imancentral and @imanatlanta, and continue to keep our work in your prayers.

Cohorts Gather in ATL for Green ReEntry Summit

During Memorial Day weekend, IMAN brought 70+ young men from six different Chicago organizations to Atlanta for a transformative and healing Green ReEntry Summit. The summit was largely made possible through the sponsorship of Chicago CRED, one of our closest community partners. Last Memorial Day weekend, Chicago saw a devastating 39 people shot, with seven ending in fatalities. In an effort to proactively minimize their exposure to such violence, these men were given the opportunity to travel for the weekend and temporarily escape the perils of Chicago summers.

Each of these six groups were brought to IMAN Atlanta’s newest development site, a 10-unit apartment building, currently in its final phases of renovation. The guests from Chicago received a full tour of the facility, and an overview of the project’s vision and its projected community impact. They were also immersed into the typical daily routine of IMAN Atlanta’s Green ReEntry cohort. They participated in Tai Chi, stretches, drills, and shared personal “Words of Wisdom”–an exercise through which both cities’ cohorts could exchange reflections and realize commonalities between themselves.

During the opening session– resembling a reunion of long-lost brothers– the cohorts from Chicago and Atlanta bonded over their shared struggles through the process of transformation and empowerment. The groups then spent the evening breaking bread together at an interfaith ‘BBQ Iftar’* for Atlanta community members. It was only fitting that such an impactful day concluded with an evening of Southern comfort food and uplifting artistic expression performed by cohort members themselves.

This summit, the first of its kind, provided a safe and restorative space for 70 men during a notoriously violent weekend. Continuing this tradition of a yearly summit has great potential to save lives, prevent men from becoming “another statistic”, and deepening a brotherhood.

*An ‘iftar’ is the meal which concludes the daily fasts for Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan.

Seen and Heard

Thanks to the brilliant work, heart and commitment of filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the story that defined a significant part of my life and the lives of four other young men from Harlem is now being witnessed across the world through the Netflix series “When They See Us.”

At the heart of our story and our longing for justice is a larger message about the invisibility of the wrongfully incarcerated and tens of thousands of others across the country who find themselves criminalized by structural racism and lack of opportunity.

That’s why IMAN’s work has resonated so deeply with me ever since I was introduced to it by my friend, IMAN Atlanta Director, Mansoor Sabree. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of engaging their work on the ground in Atlanta, and have been inspired from afar by its holistic model continuing to flourish in Chicago after 21 years.

Through efforts like IMAN’s Green ReEntry and criminal justice organizing campaigns, I know that thousands of powerful stories are now being seen and heard in very impactful ways. As we close out the final hours of this blessed month, I know that the Most High has seen all of you supporting this special organization, and pray that Divine Love and Mercy descends upon all of you.

If you didn’t get an opportunity to donate during Ramadan, please do so during these celebratory days of Eid and help IMAN successfully close out its “One Link, One Chain” Ramadan Drive with a generous zakat-eligible and tax-deductible donation.

Yusuf Salaam