Coverage of the 10th Anniversary Celebration of American Muslim 360
And give good tidings to those who believe and perform righteous deeds that theirs shall be Gardens underneath which rivers run; whenever they are with fruits therefrom, they shall say, ‘This is the provision we received before’; and they were given a likeness of it…—Qur’an 2:25.
Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure He provides for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, an purely for them on the Day of Judgment. —Al-Qur’an 7:3
National Intelligentsia Interfaith Cruise
INTERNATIONAL — May 22nd and 23rd were some special days of celebration during the already special days in the Blessed Month of Ramadan as Community Wide Shuraa Conference (cwsc.us) gave an early Eid Gift to communities by sponsoring live the 10th Anniversary Celebration for its broadcasting center, American Muslim 360 Radio (AM360.org).
The event celebrating ten years of broadcasting excellence in service to American Muslim communities and beyond, was a star-studded affair that began with a moment of silence in respect of families who have lost loved ones and communities that were impacted the world over by the COVID-19 pandemic and in commemoration of Memorial Day respecting and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation. The moment was followed by the uplifting rendition of verses from Sura Ar-Rahman by Qariah Naddiyah Ahmed of Houston, Texas reciting in the Arrabiyyah (Fusha) of Al-Qur’an that helped prepare hearts and minds to reflect upon all there was to be thankful for over ten years of AM360.
Naddiyah’s beautiful recitation opened a chapter and set the tone for back-to-back days filled with cultural arts performances that ranged from James Weldon Johnson’s anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, to lyrical poetry, music, and history, to some special guest appearances, honors, tributes, and recognition, including CWSC Lifetime Achievement Awards for some special believers who helped inspire and build the AM360 radio network to become the #1 Islamic radio station in the nation where your intellect is respected and your voice protected.
The final third of Ramadan, also known as the Days of Salvation, saw believers coming together from around the country without leaving the comfort of home to take a seat front and center via the technology of the AM360.org Studio to witness Part 2 of a Grand Gala Celebration that actually began back on March 4, 2020 in the famous port city of Tampa along Florida’s Suncoast. It was then that Part 1 of the 10th Anniversary Celebration for AM360 began with an unprecedented 20/20 National Intelligentsia Interfaith Cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, Western Caribbean, aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship Paradise for a wonderful 5-day, 4-night family and community cruise.
Believers from west coast to east coast and as far away as Senegal Africa joined the fun, re-creation and festivities that included a pre-welcome by the mayors of the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, the Honorable Jane Castor and Honorable Rick Kriseman. Fellow faith brethren and community leaders representing State of Florida institutions as well as regional and local organizations welcomed CWSC and AM360 to the area.
A wonderful Tampa-St. Petersburg reception was hosted by the historic Church of Scientology of Tampa at Ybor City. Attending and welcoming institutions included Metropolitan Ministries; Tampa Bay Area Muslim Association; Interfaith Tampa Bay; Florida Conference of Muslim Americans; Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida; Arqam’s Academy of Masjid Sunnah and Masjid Sunnah, St. Petersburg; Anisa Women’s Group, Clearwater, Florida; Open Partnership Education Network, University of South Florida, Ministry of Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil, St. Petersburg; Keisha Prime and Win Thompkins Performances, Tampa Bay, Florida, and Imam Dr. Talib M. Shareef, President Masjid Muhammad (The Nation’s Mosque), Washington, D.C. Imam Talib was a guest of honor serving as Khatib for the historic Jumah-at-Sea and Keynote Speaker for the Grand Gala.
the 10th Anniversary of AM360 presented the perfect opportunity to take a pause and say thank you…
Many believers began arriving in Tampa the night before the Cruise to fellowship together ahead of the Salaam bon voyage the following day. Tampa’s weather was perfectly accommodating for all events which included the Interfaith Reception; Neighborly Needs Community Outreach Project to feed the homeless and needy in collaboration with the Tampa nonprofit Metropolitan Ministries; prayers at the beautiful edifice and musella of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, and finally as the evening skies settled over the city, the believers dined at the halal restaurant Zekos Mediterranean Grill, a must stop if you’re in the area and have time for a bite of lunch or dinner.
There were warm embraces and lots of laughs as believers including AM360 national talk show hosts and other CWSC volunteers, began seeing each other in person after years of knowing each other only by voice and the volunteer work they did each day. Not since 2013 at its first organizational conference held in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Masjid Omar Ibn Sayeed followed by its first town hall held in 2014 and hosted in St. Louis, Missouri, had the CWSC hosted a national in-person event. According to CWSC executive director, Mukhtar Muhammad, “CWSC has been devoting great attention to putting into place the necessary infrastructure to create and sustain a national working intelligentsia and resource center in service to communities nationwide; that has meant a greater emphasis on strategic planning than on event planning. Both are important, but we needed to focus more on the former than the latter. Now that Allah (SWT) blessed us to meet many operational milestones, we felt the 10th Anniversary of AM360 presented the perfect opportunity to take a pause, get to know one another face-to-face, reflect and say thank you, while honoring the achievements of our founder Imam Thomas Abdul Salaam (R) and the work of Dr. Aisha Kareem and all our helpers and supporters around the country.”
The Prophet (SAW) said you don’t know a believer until you work with him or her and the pre-cruise Tampa events was certainly an early proof that most knew one another long before they ever met in person because they had been working together everyday! Tampa would just be the beginning of a union of hearts and faithful spirits as most of the believers converged on the Port of Tampa the following day to embark aboard the Paradise for a celebration of the ages.
Early morn Thursday, March 5th the sun seemed to say Salaam itself as believers arriving at the pier with luggage in tow began to identify one another by the colorful hijabs flowing gently in the breeze. And speaking of breeze, check-in was easy enough with passports and boarding passes in hand, all eventually made their way through security to the CWSC Interfaith welcome and reception site aboard ship where volunteers were waiting with a Remaking Our World welcome aboard package that included the 2020 Edition Calendar honoring the life and leadership legacy of Imam Dr. W. Deen Mohammed (R) and spotlighting AM360’s 10th Anniversary and all the CWSC national intelligentsia, Cruise Book, and some wonderful souvenirs including colorful floral leis worn by all for easy identification during the cruise. Now stay tuned because coming up is a story behind the leis you don’t want to miss…keep reading about the voyage of a lifetime!
It wasn’t long after boarding and a great lunch that we were soon underway with the grandest Salaam Bon Voyage. With all luggage delivered, staterooms unpacked, CWSC welcome packages distributed, and some rather curious and cute towel creatures in our cabins that just seemed to appear there every time we left and came back with beds turned down for the evening and mints perfectly placed. The day was simply beautiful out on deck and after our lifeboat briefing, we were free to enjoy ourselves.
Paradise was the first time Jumah and other congregational prayers were experienced on the high seas by the believers…
The weather in fact was great the entire time and one might even have forgotten he was at sea as cruise ships are like floating luxury hotels with just about every amenity you can think of, and the Paradise accommodating some 2000+ passengers and a crew of 920 was no exception with her many restaurants, hot tubs, pools, waterpark, spas, fitness center, theater, art galleries, shows, and shopping, just to name a few treats aboard, focsle to stern and in between with wonderful activities for children like Seuss at Sea with an interactive storytime and parade! There’s so much aboard for the whole family. And room service was pretty good too. In fact the stewards and all the crew and officers aboard were truly superb at welcoming and taking care of their guests. CWSC was assigned a wonderful service director named Precious; she was from the Republic of Zimbabwe and certainly lived up to her name making sure all CWSC’s group needs were met. She was so happy to meet and get to know the American Muslims and the CWSC. She enthusiastically received a gift of Remaking Our World Calendar 2020 Tribute to Imam W. Deen Mohammed, and promised to connect with us at AM360.org.
Our departure day, Thursday evening, March 5th kicked off the first of many intelligentsia presentations. AM360 national talk show host Mark Shaheed brought the weekly program The Courtship and Marriage Learning Lab live to the Rex Club. Then the featured authors for the Cruise, Latifah A. Hameen CEO for AM360, and Mukhtar Muhammad, CWSC’s executive director gave introductory presentations on their books When Hearts Connect and Genesis of New American Leadership respectively. There were lots of smiles and excellent advice and even a toast to Mark Shaheed that foreshadowed what was to come later in the week at the Grand Gala Black Tie Tux & Gown Awards Ceremony.
Then it was off to prayer and for almost everyone except some salty navy veterans, the Paradise was the first time prayers on the high seas were performed and certainly the first time for all that congregational prayer was experienced aboard ship. History was definitely in the making even as the most significant prayer Jumah-at-Sea was still ahead of us.
The believers enjoyed Allah’s Blessings and Mercies by accepting all allowances for salat at sea including determination of Qiblah and shortening of Zhur, Asr, and Isha and joining of prayers. Some chose stay on to chat late into the night in the library which was the group prayer center.
Thursday evening was a relaxing family and friends night with shipboard activities and some well needed rest especially for those traveling to Tampa the day before from various parts of the country, but not before we dined together at the CWSC group dinner for a five-star cuisine in the main dining room. Afterwards, a comfortable stateroom aboard a vessel gently rocking one to sleep fit the bill just fine.
Before dawn, prayers were underway again in the ship’s library followed by a halaqa session intelligentsia presentation this time led by AM360 national talk show host Imam Nazim Pasha. He brought the weekly show Financial Literacy Equals Financial Liberation live.
Guest Khatib Imam Dr. Talib Shareef led the Jumah Khutbah and Prayer reminding the believers of how significant the 10th Anniversary Celebration occasion was and also to be in Jumah at sea together demonstrating to all aboard, the importance of faith, obedience and service to the Creator. The Jumah-at-Sea was also a living testament that indeed the whole earth is Allah’s Masjid. AM360’s Programming Manager, M. Nailah Abdullah worked her technical wizardry and connected to the AM360.org Studio stateside U.S to live broadcast from aboard the Paradise.
from breathtaking sunrises to moonsets, we saw Allah’s magnificent handiwork from a different perspective.
The Cruise was history making again for AM360 as it marked the first time AM360 split temporarily into two operations configured for leadership continuity and succession: AM360 U.S Operations headed by Station Manager Imam Karriem Hameed who along with the bulk of the AM360 Team held down the fort while other senior staff and many hosts were abroad, and AM360 International Ops headed by CEO Latifah A. Hameen. It was a wonderful moment when connection was made and Mukhtar greeted AM360 listeners to introduce Imam Talib who gave greetings and congratulations to the entire CWSC family of hosts, staff, and listeners. Thank Allah (SWT) for the technology He’s gifted to help us remake the world!
Later in the day three more intelligentsia presentations followed including Estate Planning with Brother Mukhtar who is also vice president for famacopublishers.com and FAMACO Publishers, LLC; FAMACO gifts of the publication Islamic Estate Planner & Organizer were given to all cruise attendees; Technology Today was led by Brother Azim Aziz owner of AAA Computer Solutions, LLC of St. Louis, Missouri. Brother Azim is also the husband of AM360 national talk show host LPrincess Aziz who was present on this historic voyage. Brother Mark and Sister Latifah rounded out discussions with expanded presentations on the Islamic relationship and what makes a happy union.
Throughout the 5 day, 4 night excursion, there were plenty of conversations in small groups as believers shared reflections and enjoyed one another’s company from the formal Captain’s Ball to a memorable Motown Review, line dances and comedy shows to dining together with some surprise impromptu birthday celebrations.
As we navigated the Caribbean moving ever closer to our port of call, many meditatively took in the evening and morning skies enjoying some unobstructed views of breathtaking sunrises and moonsets, seeing Allah’s magnificent handiwork from a new perspective.
By Saturday morning after Fajr, we were again close to land and ready to hit the shore, but not before another powerful intelligentsia presentation with national talk show host and former executive producer for AM360, William Kareem, now A New Day for Al-Islam Radio’s director. Brother William assumed leadership of the halaqa circle to present on the importance of culture as one of the leading Four Bird institutions Imam Mohammed (R) encouraged us to develop. His presentation was timely as it also helped remind the believers of valuing and appreciating another’s culture.
Saturday morning’s port of call was to the beautiful island of Cozumel nestled about twelve miles off Mexico’s Yucatán coast; it’s also Mexico’s largest island and considered a Western Caribbean jewel with its pristine beaches, clear aqua blue waters, and mangrove forests teeming with many endemic animal species. Cozumel is a municipality in the Free and Sovereign State of Quintana Roo, one of 32 states comprising the federal entities of Mexico. We truly stepped off one paradise and set foot on land in another.
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