The Northside Signpost Web Edition

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Understanding Islam

R.G., Placitas

This month is the anniversary of the infamous September 11 attack on America. As this date approaches, the heightened emotions and anger make many of us irrational. This is precisely what the enemies of our country want. Venting our anger on our fellow-Americans because of their nationality or religion further divides our communities and adds to the purpose of the perpetrators.

Today there are more than twelve million Muslims in America. The majority of these people are U.S. citizens who live and serve this country honorably. Contrary to the sensationalism of the media, who conveniently portray Muslims as villains, they are honorable and hardworking members of our society.

In Islam, self-promotion is forbidden. Thus true Muslims may not confront those who insult or admonish them. To us Americans who live on our media’s melodramatic portrayal of the news, this may look like admission of guilt, but I assure you it is anything but that.

Right here in our New Mexico community lives a large population of Muslims. They are business owners, doctors, dentists, attorneys, teachers. Anyone who has ever had any dealing with any of them can attest to their fairness, professionalism, honesty, and integrity. The accounts of September 11 hurt the American Muslims more than any other group except the families of the victims of this calamity. Let us not forget that more than eight hundred of those who died in New York’s World Trade Center were Muslims. That is nearly a quarter of the victims. The attacks on American Muslims that followed added to their injury. The most appalling insults have come from some of the clergy. I don’t know what religion these people’s religion is, but I am sure it is not Christianity, and they should know that there is not a single religion in the history of mankind that condones violence or aggression. All religions teach us to be tolerant, forgiving, kind, charitable, and benevolent.

Of all religions Islam is the most demanding in righteousness, morality and propriety. One of the five Pillars of Islam, for example, is giving alms and taking care of the needy in one’s community. Placitas is an intelligent and sensible community. Our population consists of professional and educated people. So it behooves us to act and speak knowingly and sensibly during these hard times, especially when talking to our children. Let us teach them the truth and guide them away from ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice.

Here are a few facts about Islam that we should all know:

    Islam is the second-largest religion in the world. the word “Islam” means peace and Muslims are very peaceful people.

    “Allah” is the Arabic word for God. In Arabic-speaking countries, even the Arabic-speaking Jews and Christian call God “Allah.” In non-Arabic-speaking Muslim countries, other words for God are used.

    Muslims believe in one god. The god of Muslims is the god of Abraham, the god of Moses, and the god of Jesus. Muslims revere and venerate all prophets. In the eyes of Muslims, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, along with all other prophets, are loved and cherished as much as Mohammed. The Holy Qur’an mentions the oneness of all religions of the book several times. For example, in 2-136, 3-84, and 4-152, the Holy Qur’an specifically instructs that: “Say: We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed upon Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed by their ‘Sustainer‘ unto Moses and Jesus and all the other prophets. We make no distinction between any of them. And unto Him do we surrender ourselves.”

    Only a small percentage of Muslims are Arabs. All Arab countries are U.S. allies, except for Iraq. The people of Iraq however, do not feel any animosity toward America—a fact that is not reported by our media. After the Gulf War, thousands of the Iraqi people who helped the U.S. were given asylum and relocated to the United States. Today many of these Iraqis are helping our government to change the regime in that country. Indonesia is the most populated Islamic country in the world. There are more Muslims in Indonesia than all the Middle Eastern countries combined. Indonesia is a U.S. ally.

    As for women in Islam, they are highly regarded. The Holy Qur’an for example, devotes an entire chapter to Virgin Mary. “Paradise is at the feet of mothers,” says the Holy Qur'an. No other religion supplies more complete instruction on providing for the rights and needs of women as does Islam. There are as many women converting to Islam in the western countries as they are men. In some communities in this country, there are more women converting to Islam than there are men. These women are converting to Islam because of Islam’s high regard for women. They would not convert to Islam if this religion demoralized them as is indicated in the media. In the covering of one’s body the instruction applies to men as well as women. Much of what the media exploits and portrays as restrictions for Muslim women are cultural and traditional, not Islamic. Remember that most of the Arab countries are barren, hot, dry deserts full of sand. Traditionally all Arabs, men as well as women, covered their faces and bodies to protect them from the harshness of the desert. It had nothing to do with Islam. In many non-Arab Muslim countries, the dress code is more liberal. But whatever the dress code, it applies to both sexes. In every exploited picture of a Muslim woman shown by our media, you can see men in the background. Every one of the men is completely covered with long-sleeve shirts and hats. Yet our attention is called to the covered woman. Why?

    Women are very involved in politics in Islamic countries. In many countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and others, women have served as prime ministers. Today, the vice president of Iran is a woman. The Western media never mentions this fact.

    Those who attacked our country were no more Muslim than Timothy McVeigh was Christian. Evil and terror have no religion. Murder of innocent people is a sin, no matter what your belief may be. The Holy Qur’an says: “In evil doing, leaders and followers, both will burn in the fires of hell.”

    Islam is a beautiful and peaceful religion. Those who study and learn about it are enlightened by it. The sheer number of believers is a good indication of its powerful message.

    Islam is a forgiving religion and Muslims are god-loving, down-to-earth, passionate people.

Let’s not mistake politics for religion. Get to know your Muslim friends and neighbors. Explore the similarities between your faith and theirs. You will be surprised at how little difference there is between them. Let’s build our communities on trust and friendship. An old proverb says that evil cannot be overcome in the world. It can only be contained in one’s self.

Concert to benefit land-mine victims

The Concert for a Landmine Free World, presented by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and hosted by Terry and Jo Harvey Allen, will bring together five extraordinary musicians for an intimate unplugged performance on September 27 at 7:00 p.m. in Santa Fe’s Lensic Performing Arts Center. Emmylou Harris, David Byrne, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Terry Allen will share the stage, and proceeds will benefit land-mine survivors and other war victims who undergo treatment and rehabilitation at VVAF’s overseas clinics.

Presented for the first time in the Southwest, this critically acclaimed musical event has toured annually in various regions of the United States since 1998 and made its European debut in January of this year. “The tragic events of September 11 and the U.S. military response in Afghanistan have brought the land-mine issue into focus for many Americans,” said Bobby Muller, president of VVAF and cofounder of the 1997 Nobel Prize-winning global campaign to ban land mines. “Humanitarian efforts in that country—let alone the survival of Afghan citizens—are severely hampered by the lingering terror of land mines.”

Gold-level tickets include premium reserved seating and a post-performance reception with the musicians at La Posada de Santa Fe. The cost is $200 each and can be purchased by calling Emily Alsen, 992-0244. General admission tickets are $55 to $95 and can be purchased in person at the Lensic box office or by calling them at 988-1234.


Attorney General warns of possible charity scam

Attorney General Patricia Madrid warned New Mexicans about a possible charity scam that has been reported in the state. Madrid advised New Mexicans to ask questions before giving away their money.

"Alert New Mexicans have contacted our office after receiving calls asking for money to help the police fight domestic violence. Unfortunately, domestic violence is such a pervasive problem in our state that caring New Mexicans may want to give money to the caller. One caller was told the money would help the Albuquerque Police Department in their fight against domestic violence while another was told it was a police association. Caller identification showed ‘out of area’ as the source of the call. We all want to reduce domestic violence in New Mexico, but be careful and ask questions to make certain the call is legitimate and your dollars will benefit New Mexicans," Madrid said.

Both the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Albuquerque Police Department have confirmed that they are not currently participating in any telemarketing effort for this purpose.

Many good causes and charitable organizations hire telemarketers to make their phone calls, and although that saves the organizations from having to recruit volunteers to phone, much of their cash goes to telemarketing companies instead of the to the cause or charity. This means it costs money to raise money. Money spent on fund-raising, while necessary, takes away part of your contribution for specific services. Before giving, consumers should ask telemarketers exactly what percentage of their donation goes to cover telemarketing and administrative costs.

"The number one rule about phone solicitations is to never give out a credit card number unless you initiated the call," Attorney General Madrid said. "And it helps if you ask them to send you written information, even though that is not a guarantee that they are a legitimate organization. It also gives you time to check them out and to think about your contribution carefully."

Attorney General Madrid advises consumers to use the following tips to help decide whether or not to give to a phone solicitor:

  • Research charities through the Office of the Attorney General at to see if they are a registered charitable organization in good standing.
  • Call the Better Business Bureau and check on any complaints about the organization (on-line at
  • Get the address and phone number of the organization and call them back later. Ask where they are located when you call them back.
  • Ask for written material on the campaign and the general organization.
  • Ask if the person you are talking to is a hired telemarketer, and if so, how much of the money raised in the campaign goes to the telemarketing company and not to the charitable organization.

Although these are good general rules, consumers are further urged to remember that an organization may be perfectly legitimate even though they have hired telemarketers to raise money for them. Several legitimate New Mexico organizations are using telemarketing firms to raise money.

"Be an aware and informed consumer," Attorney General Madrid said. "It is important to recognize that senior citizens are frequently solicited for donations. Discussing charitable giving with senior family members can help them develop ways to give wisely. When you give, remember that it is your money and your choice."


BioPark needs . . . Touchpoolers

Volunteers are needed. Rio Grande Zoo docents, Albuquerque Aquarium Touchpoolers, and Rio Grande Botanic Garden conservatory guides will be trained on Saturdays this fall. Anyone over eighteen years of age who is interested in conservation is welcome. No prior knowledge is required; all information necessary to do the jobs will be provided. Zoo docent training will continue until November 16. Conservatory guide training will be September 21. Call the education department, at 764-6214.


Lovatos raise funds to combat leukemia

Knowing that more than 60,300 Americans will die from leukemia or a related cancer this year—nearly 165 people each day—Tania Lovato of Bernalillo has made a commitment to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to participate in a 100-mile bike ride in Tucson in November. As part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training Program, the bike ride is a comprehensive endurance training program that helps raise funds while promoting fitness.

Tania said, “I will be riding in support of my ‘patient hero,’ six-year-old Anita Jimenez, who was diagnosed at nineteen months with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Thanks to research, her cancer is in remission. We are delighted she is doing so well, considering leukemia is the leading disease killer of children.”

Tania and Jake Lovato are also having a fund-raising garage sale to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Saturday, August 31, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 881 Camino Del Pueblo (Main Street, Bernalillo) and would like to thank Seferino Montoya for letting them use his parking lot for the purpose.

Jake said, “We will have many items for sale donated by friends and family to help us reach our goal of nearly $3,000. If you cannot make the garage sale, but still want to contribute, please write a 100-percent tax-deductible check to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and mail it to Tania Lovato, RR 1, Box 3191, Bernalillo, NM 87004.”

The society is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to curing leukemia and blood-related cancers while improving the quality of life of patients and their families.


County Fair sets record bids

The Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo drew record livestock bids while raising $37,245 for 4-H Club members who auctioned animals during this year’s festival.

The Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo is held annually during the first weekend of August at the County Fairgrounds near Cuba. This year’s event drew hundreds of visitors and participants, including fifty buyers who purchased nearly 100 animals. “We had great attendance and strong participation by 4-H Club members throughout Sandoval County. The variety of family events really displayed the wide mixture of cultures and heritage that make Sandoval County unique,” said County Fair board president Vince Sanders.

The fair’s Grand Champion Steer, raised by Kimberly Sanders of Cuba, brought $3,200 at auction, topping all sale amounts, and was purchased by Don Chalmers Ford of Rio Rancho. Joiner Construction of Rio Rancho purchased the Grand Champion Swine, raised by Melanie Montoya of Jemez Springs, for $1,600. Tires Plus of Albuquerque was top bidder at $1,400 for the Grand Champion Lamb, raised by Jacklynn Duran of Jemez Pueblo. Trees of Corrales bought the Grand Champion Goat, raised by Jacob Johnson of Cuba, for $1,050. New Mexico Real Estate Inc. was top bidder at $325 for the Grand Champion Rabbit, raised by Megan Stewart of Bernalillo. Ron Francis of Corrales was top bidder at $275 for the Grand Champion Poultry, raised by Dacia Pascoe of Cuba.

Chelsi Kannon, seventeen, of Cuba was crowned Fair Queen in ceremonies during the rodeo on Saturday. Kannon succeeded Kaycee Brown of Corrales. Tierra Pascoe, fourteen, of Cuba was crowned Princess; and Bailey Easley, eleven, of Rio Rancho was crowned Fair Sweetheart for the second consecutive year.

Betty Lou Leeson of Lindrith won the quilt competition for a quilt made by friends as a memorial to her husband, Ray Leeson, who died the day before last year’s county fair. “The judges’ comments were that it was unique and that they were won over by the spirit of it. It was a wonderful show of love and support,” Sanders remarked.


MRGWA Community Conversations 
continue on water planning

The Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly will once again host Community Conversations during September at several locations thoughout the area. Concerned citizens are urged to attend the meeting in their community in order to voice opinions about 44 alternative action descriptions that have been compiled by the water assembly. Public input is needed to find ways to budget our limited water.

The purpose of the Middle Grande Water Assembly, an all-volunteer, grassroots organization, is to develop a Regional Water Plan through an open, inclusive, and participatory process. The assembly is working in partnership with the Mid Region Council of Governments to carry out this purpose.

Community Conversations will be held on September 5 at Bernalillo Elementary School, 301 Calle de la Escuela, in Bernalillo. On September 16, the conversations will be held at the Rio Rancho City Council Chambers, 3900 Southern Boulevard, in Rio Rancho. Both meetings are take place from 6:30 to 9 p. m.

There will be a demonstration of the computer model being constructed with Sandia National Laboratories showing updates since the last Community Conversations as well as some of the details and issues involved when considering an alternative. For a copy of the draft for alternative action descriptions or for more information about the Community Conversations, call Bob Wessely, at 867-3889 or Mike Trujillo at 247-1750. You can also check out


Senior Connection helps caregivers and elders

Sandoval Senior Connection is a dynamic program that benefits elders and families in Sandoval County. Senior Volunteer Peer Counselors aged fifty-five or older help other seniors cope with the common emotional problems of aging: bereavement, loneliness, changes in health and relationships. The program’s purpose is to recruit, train, and supervise Volunteer peer counselors from each of fourteen sites to make supportive weekly home visits.

Families take on great responsibility when caring for relatives. The caregiver’s support group provides the opportunity to share challenges and joys of care giving. These groups offer support, encouragement, and training for taking care of yourself and creative ways of reaching out to your circle of family and friends. Individual and family counseling sessions are also offered.

All interested persons are welcome to attend. Sessions are ongoing and will be held at various sites within Sandoval County. For further information or to sign up, please call Elizabeth C. Etigson or Debbie Trujillo at 243-2551 or 800-677-2947.


Mayor’s Ball benefits select Rio Rancho organizations

The Rio Rancho Mayor’s Ball was established to help raise money for various nonprofit organizations in Rio Rancho. This year’s revenues will be going to Storehouse West, to Rio Rancho firefighters for equipment, and to the Rio Rancho Boys and Girls Club.

The ball will be held at Chamisa Hills Country Club on September 21. The masters of ceremonies will be Walter and Larry Brown from the country club, and the evening’s entertainment will be provided by the Pink Flamingos. There will be both a live and a silent auction. The theme of this year’s Mayor’s Ball is “A Night on Broadway.” Tables will be decorated with floral arrangements by Lori Apt of Le Fleur Etc.

Organizers hope to have seven hundred people attend this black-tie event and have lowered the ticket price to $75 from last year’s $90. Tables are filling up quickly and space is limited. Please contact Jeanie Donovan at 892-1533 to place your reservation.




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