MANA's First SHARE™ Center Underway
by Tariq Nelson
PHOTO—Back row standing left to right: Sahir Rashid, Muhammad A. UsSabur, Yussef Johnson, Mika'il Saadiq (Vice Chair), Akil Fahd (Chair), Siddeeq Jihad, Front row seated left to right: Cheryl El-Amin (Secretary), Jacqueline R.Waters, Chris Lovelace (Treasurer)
For the past couple of decades across the country, the decline in labor market contribution among Blackamerican men has been accompanied by an increase in the number of Blackamerican men in prisons. In 1980, only 0.8% of Blackamerican men were incarcerated, but by the year 2000, that number had increased to 9.6%. Additionally, the condition of the Blackamerican family is in shambles as we now see that some 70% of Blackamerican children are born outside of the bonds of marriage. Also, with the economy not being in good health there is a dire need for action in the communities by the Muslims.
After November’s historic MANA conference, groups of brothers and sisters across the nation returned to their hometowns ready to take on these problems and begin working on the exciting MANA initiatives. One such group has really “hit the ground running” in Detroit, Michigan.
Since the end of the MANA conference, the Detroit Muslim community has been working hard to establish a SHARE™ Center, which serves as a vehicle for the MANA Community Re-entry Program and Healthy Marriage Initiative. This Center will help to transform lives, families, minds, and, insha Allah, the entire community at large as they help to create and maintain a wholesome Islamic environment that provides unwavering support, emotional and otherwise.
Upon returning from Philadelphia, the conference attendees and other concerned members of the Detroit Muslim community called for a series of meetings at the Muslim Center to discuss and assess MANA’s SHARE™ center initiative, its goals , mandates and networking capabilities in light of the local needs of the Detroit Muslim Community. Long time community workers, students, family members and other concerned members of the community came from various Muslim communities around the Detroit area to these meetings to begin the process of taking on the challenges for prisoner reentry, such as substance abuse, physical and mental health, employability and workforce participation, and housing. Those that attended the MANA conference, shared notes and information with those unable to attend about the various initiatives and discussed how the programs could be implemented.
After the first meeting, the group formulated an email group to facilitate the action plan, assign tasks, list the masjids that would possibly be interested in participating and exchanged further information. As they held more meetings and continued to build momentum, members of the committee went to other area masjids to speak to them about joining this honorable task.
During the weekend of December 14-16, 2007, Dr. Ihsan Bagby and Abu Jamal Teague – in a show of full support of this amazing effort - visited Detroit to brief everyone on the process of establishing a SHARE Center. Dr. Bagby returned on December 23, 2007 and they elected a provisional board and voted to ratify a board of trustees and elected officers. Chaired by Akil Fahd, they officially formed SHARE Detroit, Inc., a non-profit organization, and are applying for 501c3 status with the federal government. They have also acquired an Internet domain and are planning their first fundraiser, scheduled for March 15, 2008, to introduce the Center’s vision, goals and mission to the larger community.
Masha Allah, this is an excellent start to this important effort MANA is taking up to confront the challenges facing our communities and the Muslim community in Detroit is leading the way. With the City of Detroit having faced many obstacles and now making efforts toward a comeback, it is moving to see the Muslims joining in accepting the challenge to make their city a better place. Make du’aa for their continued success as this effort will rely heavily upon the local masjid communities to provide a wide range of volunteers to assist in this effort.