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WASHINGTON DC – January 24, 2024 – Today, on the auspicious occasion of the 13th of Rajab, the Shia Muslim Foundation joins millions of Shia Muslims around the world in celebrating the blessed birthday of Imam Ali (AS), the first cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Imam Ali stands as a towering figure in Islam, revered for his unparalleled courage, unwavering loyalty, exceptional wisdom, and profound knowledge.

A Pillar of Islam

Throughout Islamic history, Imam Ali played a pivotal role in shaping the course of the faith. He was a close confidante and advisor to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), accompanying him in pivotal moments like the migration to Medina and the conquest of Mecca. His unwavering support and dedication earned him the title of "Asadullah," meaning "Lion of God."

Imam Ali's contributions extend far beyond his military prowess. He is renowned for his intellectual depth and is considered a fountainhead of knowledge in Islamic jurisprudence, theology, and philosophy. His wisdom and eloquence are captured in his sermons and sayings, which continue to guide Muslims today.

The First Imam

For Shia Muslims, Imam Ali holds an even more profound significance. He is considered the first divinely chosen successor to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the rightful inheritor of his spiritual mantle. Shias revere him as the Imam, a divinely guided leader who possesses infallible knowledge and embodies the perfect example of Islamic conduct.

Commemorating His Birthday

The celebration of Imam Ali's birthday is not merely a joyous occasion; it is a time for reflection and rededication. Shia Muslims around the world participate in congregational prayers, processions, and gatherings to remember his virtues and seek his blessings. They strive to emulate his unwavering faith, his commitment to justice, and his unwavering love for humanity.

Spreading the Message of Imam Ali

The Shia Muslim Foundation is committed to sharing the message of Imam Ali with the wider community. Through educational programs, interfaith dialogues, and community outreach initiatives, we aim to bridge understanding and highlight the universal values of justice, compassion, and service that Imam Ali embodied.

On this blessed occasion, the Shia Muslim Foundation extends its warmest wishes to all Muslims and people of goodwill celebrating the birthday of Imam Ali (AS). May his life and teachings continue to inspire us to strive for a more just, peaceful, and compassionate world.

About the Shia Muslim Foundation

The Shia Muslim Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of Shia Islam. We serve the community through educational programs, interfaith dialogue initiatives, and social service activities.

Houston, TX (January 20, 2024) – Two remarkable teams of young Shia Muslim girls from Al-Hadi School in Houston, Texas, defied stereotypes and ignited the Future City Competition at NASA's Johnson Space Center this past weekend. Their electrifying city design for "Nyanza-Sagara" (NYS) captivated the audience and showcased the power of inclusivity and innovation in STEM fields. This holistic approach to urban planning, prioritizing both environmental and human well-being, earned them well-deserved recognition for their "Best Transportation Ideas," a testament to their meticulous planning and creative ingenuity.

"It's huge to have Shia representation here. It means the world to me. It's such an honor, we're the only Muslims here, and to be Shia," expressed Sr. Siddiqua Shahnawaz, an educator with five years of experience in the competition. Her pride is palpable, reflecting the significance of seeing young Shia girls excelling in a traditionally non-inclusive space.

The Future City Competition challenges middle school students across the nation to design a fully electric future city powered by clean, green, and renewable energy sources. Amidst this prestigious competition, Mariam B (grade 8), Maryam E, Sabira, and Fatima B (all grade 7) stood out not only for their exceptional talent but also for being the only Muslim and all-female team present. Their groundbreaking representation proved that the future of STEM belongs to those who dare to dream and defy expectations.

The impact of these young women transcended the realm of technical brilliance. As the only Muslim and all-female team amidst the competition, they shattered stereotypes and defied expectations, proving that young women from minority communities can not only thrive in STEM fields but also become trailblazers, paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future. Their unwavering confidence and independent spirit shone through, as exemplified by Sabira's dedication, staying up at 2 am while on vacation to attend a crucial meeting – a testament to their unwavering passion for the project.

Their captivating presentation transported the audience to NYS, a city pulsating with vibrant sustainability and cutting-edge technology. Every building boasted LEED Platinum certification, humming with self-sufficiency while producing net-zero carbon emissions. Inspired by their African heritage, the girls seamlessly blended traditional Rugo styles with futuristic elements, creating an architectural tapestry both energy-efficient and culturally distinct.

But NYS wasn't just about beauty – it was a tangible vision for a seamlessly accessible and environmentally conscious future. Designated lanes for pedestrians, cyclists, and autonomous cars formed a harmonious network, while high-speed maglev trains and futuristic hover-tech water taxis glided silently through the cityscape. Vertical farms soared skyward, maximizing space and minimizing environmental impact, while precision farming and aquaponic systems nourished the city with locally grown, sustainable food.

"This will make the girls so strong. I'm so proud of how they did everything on their own, when there tends to be so much spoon feeding," shared a Future City mentor, a testament to the girls' independent spirit and self-reliance.

Fuelling this vibrant ecosystem was RIS(E)², a groundbreaking framework for clean energy developed by a dedicated council of young scientists and engineers. This innovative system harnessed the power of nature, transforming sunshine into solar energy, wind into kinetic power, and the rushing waters of Lake Tanganyika into hydroelectric might. This ambition resonated not only in NYS's self-sufficiency but also in its message of a future free from fossil fuel dependence.

But NYS extended far beyond blueprints and models. It stood as a testament to the girls' unwavering dedication to creating a city for all. Advanced healthcare systems utilized wearable chips for real-time health monitoring and integrated practices for holistic well-being. Cutting-edge education employed Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, offering immersive and interactive learning experiences. Drone monitoring, Internet of Things integration, and robust cybersecurity measures ensured the safety and security of every citizen, forging a community where technology empowered rather than divided.

The NYS presentation was not just a showcase of technical prowess and creative vision; it was a beacon of hope and an embodiment of unwavering representation. These young Shia Muslim girls did not just compete; they inspired. They shattered stereotypes, defied expectations, and proved that passion, perseverance, and inclusivity can light the path towards a brighter tomorrow. NYS may not have claimed the top prize, but its impact resonates far beyond the walls of the competition. It stands as a vibrant testament to the future these brave young women are already electrifying.

The Shia Muslim Foundation is proud to celebrate the achievements of these remarkable young women and applauds their commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and environmental sustainability. Their journey serves as an inspiration to young Shia Muslims everywhere, demonstrating that anything is possible with dedication and a passion for shaping a better future.

Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2024 – Rahat Husain, Executive Director of the Shia Muslim Foundation, participated in a briefing today hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement, alongside Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Neera Tanden and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain. The briefing focused on the ongoing development of a National Strategy to Combat Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination.

This briefing marks a significant step forward in the Biden-Harris administration's efforts to address the rise in hate crimes and discrimination targeting American Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, and South Asians. The strategy builds upon the foundation laid by the United We Stand Summit in 2022 and the subsequent release of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Anti-Semitism, which also acknowledged the need to address Islamophobia and other forms of hate.

"The Shia Muslim Foundation welcomes the development of this comprehensive strategy," said Mr. Husain. "Islamophobia has far-reaching consequences, impacting not only individuals and families but also hindering our nation's ability to live up to its ideals of inclusivity and equality. We are hopeful that this strategy will pave the way for concrete actions and meaningful change."

The briefing highlighted several key points about the National Strategy:

* Community Engagement: The strategy will prioritize engagement with affected communities, ensuring their voices and perspectives are heard throughout the development and implementation process.

* Long-Term Vision: The goal is to develop a strategy that stands the test of time and drives lasting change within federal government agencies, influencing their policies and practices towards communities facing discrimination.

* Addressing Specific Needs: Recognizing the unique manifestations of Islamophobia, the strategy will tailor its approach to effectively address the challenges faced by American Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, and South Asians.

* Interagency Collaboration: The Interagency Policy Committee, established in December 2022, plays a crucial role in coordinating efforts across various government departments and agencies, ensuring a unified response to combat Islamophobia and related forms of bias.

The briefing also acknowledged the recent rise in anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Sikh hate incidents surrounding the conflict between Israel and Palestine. This underscores the urgency of developing a comprehensive national strategy to address these issues.

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