Westchester Muslims to pay tribute to leaders

By GARY STERN
gstern@thejournalnews.com
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: June 15, 2005)

For the first time, Westchester’s Muslim community will honor its top leaders and student volunteers. A ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Scarsdale Public Library.

“We want to pull the community together and motivate others to get involved,” said Asad Jilani, a board member of the Interreligious Council of New Rochelle, who helped organize the awards ceremony. “The Muslim community really wants to give something back to the community. It’s important that we show people what others have done.”

Groups participating are: two mosques, the Westchester Muslim Center of Mount Vernon and the Thornwood-based Upper Westchester Muslim Society; a planned Muslim center in Yorktown, the Hudson Valley Community Center; two schools, the Islamic School of Upper Westchester in Mount Kisco and the Andalusia School of Mount Vernon; and two advocacy groups, the Westchester American Muslim Association and the American Muslim Women’s Association.

The community leaders who will be honored are:

• Dr. Saleem Mir of Cortland Manor, medical director of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow. He is a past president of the Westchester Muslim Center and a founder of the Center for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Understanding, based in Irvington.

• Omar Rangenewala of Yonkers, a recent graduate of SUNY Stony Brook. He has been a Westchester coordinator for the Young Muslims organization since 1995.

• Dr. Mahjabeen Hassan of Pleasantville, a senior attending plastic surgeon at St. John Riverside Hospital in Yonkers and Phelps Memorial Hospital Center. She is a founder of the Center for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Understanding and the American Muslim Women’s Association.

• Syed Alirahi of Elmsford, a private businessman. He is a past president of the Westchester Muslim Center and is active in the Islamic School of Upper Westchester.

• Zeeshan Qadir of Chappaqua. A recent graduate of Pace University, he organized interfaith programs there and a program on “Islam and Democracy.”

The students being honored are:

• Fahad Gilani, 16, of New Rochelle. He has participated in a mentoring program at New Rochelle High School and volunteered at the HOPE soup kitchen in New Rochelle.

• Anas Shohal, 17, of Rye Brook. He is active in the Westchester Muslim Center youth group.

• Nasser Mikdadi, 16, of Dobbs Ferry. He has participated in several interfaith events and has helped create Web sites for the American Muslim Women’s Association, the Islamic Cultural Center of New York and others.

• Sida Javed, 17, of Cortland Manor. She is on the board of the Ossining-based Interfaith Youth Corps and is Young Muslims coordinator at her high school.

• Saif Khan, 17, of Armonk. He has been involved in several interfaith programs.

• Saaniya Contractor, 15, of Chappaqua. She is a founder of the Young Muslims girls group in Westchester.

• Ayesha Khan, 15, of Armonk. She has been a member of the Walking Together interfaith program and recites the Quran in churches and synagogues.