Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition Opens First Resource Centre


First ever Islamic resource centre opens in Wisconsin

PIctured: Samira Hassan, 12, tosses a globe to another girl of Somali-Bantu background Tuesday during an exercise to get know one another, part of a class on American culture at the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition, 5235 S. 27th St. in Greenfield.

The Islamic resource center is the first of its kind in Wisconsin and will have a library and sponsor programs meant to educate others about Islam.

For 17 years, the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition has worked to dispel myths and educate the public about Islam through outreach, interfaith dialogue and informational programs. But it never had a home of its own.

That officially changes next month with the opening of the coalition's newest venture, the Islamic Resource Center for Community Outreach at 5235 S. 27th St. in Greenfield.

The 5,000-square-foot center, in addition to housing the coalition offices, will serve as a first-of-its-kind clearinghouse locally for all things Islam - offering a lending library, Arabic language classes, and an array of cultural programming from lectures and films to cooking classes.

"We want to be accessible to the general public, to public school teachers, anyone who just wants to learn about Islam," said Janan Najeeb, president of the coalition who with her husband, physician Waleed Najeeb, invested nearly $1 million of their own money into the project.



Ornate composition
The Milwaukee area is believed to be home to as many as 15,000 Muslims, representing one of the most diverse faith communities in the state with followers from every corner of the world.

That diversity is celebrated in the art and artifacts behind glass in the resource center lobby: ornate silver jewelry boxes from India; Egyptian and Palestinian pottery; an intricate wooden carving from Indonesia - many of the items embellished with verses from the Qur'an.

Work in progress
Though the official debut is weeks away, some limited programming has begun.

On Friday, about 50 people attended the opening of an exhibit of paintings by Syrian artist Adib Fattal. On Tuesday, girls from the local Muslim Somali-Bantu community gathered for a coalition program aimed at keeping them in school and off the path to early childbirth.

At the same time, the work of getting the center up and running is ongoing.

On Monday, a library science intern from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee worked on cataloging the lending library.

Najeeb said the goal is to amass about 500 titles by the end of the year and begin lending in 2012. Until then, readers are welcome to peruse the volumes on site at the center [...]

For more information on the resource center, as well as Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition programs, go to {www.mmwconline.org}.

Images: Journal Sentinel Online


From JSOnline | Annysa Johnson

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