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Islamic Congregation Continues Its Reach

The Islamic Congregation of La Cañada Flintridge (ICLCF) held a potluck dinner meeting last Friday night at the Roger Barkley Community Center. It was the second meeting of this newly formed group and the atmosphere was relaxed and inviting.

The ICLCF had its first meeting in December. The organization’s main goal at that meeting was for La Cañada residents of the Islamic faith to get know each other and to introduce them to the ICLCF goals of community awareness and service. Although many had met throughout the years, the organizers wanted Islamic faith community members to join as one voice to promote understanding and philanthropic service. That first meeting was cordial as participants introduced themselves and gave a brief history of their background. Their meeting last week was much more relaxed.

When ICLCF member and master of ceremony for the evening Levent Akbarut asked everyone to introduce themselves, laughter and jokes seemed to be the key component. There were many members of the medical profession who offered their services as they introduced themselves. This became a running joke around the room until another member introduced himself as a consultant for McDonald’s.

“So, if your kids need a Happy Meal … ,” the man joked.

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“Finally, a service we can eat,” Akbarut said. Laughter roared through the center.

Like at their December meeting ICLCF members invited representatives from other faiths to speak to the membership in an effort to find ways they can work together. St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church sent representatives, as did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We want to join hands with all the community of La Cañada Flintridge,” Akbarut said. He added there are many misconceptions of the Islamic faith. “With the conflicts in the world and even in our country [it is important] to promote mutual understanding and peace.”

Another goal of the group is to promote community service.

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“We are not a self-serving organization,” Akbarut said. “We want to come together in service.”

In that light, representatives from non-profit organizations were invited to the meeting, including Emily Mullranin from the San Gabriel Habitat for Humanity and Naim Shah Jr., executive director for ILM (Intellect, Love and Mercy), a Los Angeles group.

Shah said that from a South Central point of view, La Cañada has a reputation as a closed community.

“We are here to dispel that notion … to bridge that gap,” he said.

Members watched a video of ILM volunteers distributing clothes, food, backpacks and other items to those who call L.A.'s skid row home. Shah explained how his organization is reaching out to those who need the most help.

“Downtown LA is changing, but this is the hidden reality,” he said.

As the meeting ended it was obvious connections had been made and while some stereotypes had been broken.

For more information on ILM go to www.ilmfoundation.com; for Habitat for Humanity, www.sgvhabitat.org; for ICLCF, www.iclcf.org.

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