Ahmed Fannun Kanan (at age 84) passed away in Joplin, Missouri on February 5, 2013. A devout Muslim, he was a leader, motivator, businessman, philanthropist and activist. He was a model family man, friend, neighbor and a patriotic Arab Palestinian American..
Tributes to Fannun Kanan
Tributes to Fannun Kanan
by Zulfiqar Ali Malik, Overland Park, Kansas. February 11, 2013
Even at few hours notice the Janaza was attended by about 200 people from across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and beyond. “Uncle Fannun” as he was commonly known to hundreds or maybe thousands of youths and adults alike had touched many lives and communities in the USA and the Middle East. He had worked for many charitable causes around the globe. Many communities considered him part of them. Finally Joplin where he lived for the last 60 years had the honor to hold his final reception in this mortal world. May Allah receive him granting highest rank in Paradise.
The teachers and students at the Islamic Academy in Lexington, Kentucky performed “Salat Janaza Gha’ib” for “Uncle” Fannun.. Academy’s Principal Dr. Abdul Mun’im Jitmoud, Ed.D; recalled “I gave my first Friday Khutba at the Islamic Center of Greater Kansas City in summer 1989 on the ‘Importance of Islamic Education’. After Salat he hugged me tightly and said with tears in his eyes ‘We will build our Islamic School together and you will find my support’. Since then he has been true to his dedication and commitment to the Islamic School. He also took care of me in a family level. We shall miss him very dearly. We love him, but Allah loves him even more.”
Asma Rehman of Kansas City called Uncle Fannun as the pillar of our community. She reminded the young ones “He was the uncle who always came to the Mosque and Islamic School with a smile and a magic trick up his sleeve that always ended in finding lots of cash behind kids’ ears.” She prays “May Allah enter him into the highest ring of Jannah, accept all his good deeds, continue to bless through his Sadaqa Jariah during time on this earth, and give peace and ease to his family.”
Tadar J. Wazir of Marshall, Missouri made dua’h for Fannun, his family and those he touched by self example. Br. Wazir said “I’ve known him and talked with him on several occasions since 1981. I was impressed how he would relate to people in public addresses about how he came here virtually a shirt on his back with next to no money or knowledge of anyone here. And how, with Allah’s help (and his lifestyle) he turned his situation of poverty into success. He was closely allied to Missouri Senators and helpful to those who needed help. May Allah bless him and have mercy upon him and grant him with a position in the highest heaven?”
Abdel Karim Tayiem MD; of Leavenworth, Kansas said “He was the true ambassador to Islam and Muslims in America in general and our region in particular. He was the Muslim hero and role model for all of us who knew him for many decades. He will be missed by all of us. May Allah grant him better place and better company in Paradise.”
Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah,The International African University, Khartoum, Sudan wrote: “We belong to Allah and to Allah is our return. That is our beloved Rasul Allah’s (PBUH) teaching. Our dear brother Fannun Kanan returned back to Allah, but his deeds are alive and their reward will reach him InshAllah. May Allah the Rahman, and the Raheem have mercy upon our brother Sheikh Fannun Kanan. I came to know Sheikh Kanan through my dear friend Dr. Abdul Rashid Qureshi, in 1990 when I moved to St Louis. When we started our new Masjid project he was part of our community. I remember we (Sheikh Fannun, Dr. Qureshi, Dr. Humayun Quadir and I) went to Ummrah and did some fundraising. He was so helpful and we started our al Salam Day School. In most of our fundraising he was with us. I was Imam to the community and he used to ask about children and their needs, and he was always there to help. May Allah have Rahmah and Maghfirah upon our dear brother Sheikh Ahmed Fannun Kanan. May Allah grant his wife our sister Elma and their children and grandchildren sabr and make it easy for them. We will miss you our dear brother Fannun , Inshallah we shall meet you in Jannat al Firdous.”
Fannun was a patriotic American and served in the 203rd Unit of the Missouri National Guard “to protect the United States, I love this country” he said. He was a successful businessman and a real estate developer. He loved children and supported several youth organizations and schools. Missouri Senate recognized and honored his services to the communities in the state.
Fannun was a loving family man. His wife Elma V. Kanan converted to Islam and was his right hand person in the community work. They have a son Raaji and daughter Renee. Raaji Deen Kanan is a prominent attorney in Joplin, married to Rebecca and have 2 daughters. Renee J. Kanan MD, MPH; is the Chief Quality Officer for California Correctional Health Care Services.
Fannun migrated to United States in 1951 from Bethlehem. When he landed in Kansas City, his first prayer was “Ya Allah help me build a mosque in this town”. His prayer was answered in 1981 when the Islamic Center of Greater Kansas City was built. He also provided major assistance in establishing the Mid America Muslim Cemetery and the Islamic School of Kansas City. He proudly announced “Kansas City is now the center of Islamic education.” In his 60 years in Missouri, he saw the community grow beyond his dreams. He supported mosques across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and beyond. In 2005 the Heartland Muslim Council presented him the “Community Leadership Award”. He was appreciative and supportive of the work of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He was profiled in the May/June 2003 edition of the Islamic Horizons magazine.
Fannun performed Umrah and Hajj several times. He visited the Afghan refugees camps in Pakistan and the refugee camps in Palestine. He opened the doors of his house to accommodate some of the victims of the May 2011 catastrophic tornado in Joplin.
Fannun Kanan’s business affiliations included the following:
President, Roadside Investments, Inc.
President, Canaan Land Development Co.
Vice President, Martin Oil Company,
Board of Directors, Commerce Bank of Joplin (1989-2008)
Co-developer of ATT&T Call Center in Joplin. A facility for 600 employees.
Fannun volunteered as adviser, consultant and benefactor to several mosques and Islamic Schools in the region. He was on the Advisory Board of the Missouri Southern State University. For many years he served on the Board of Directors of Ozark Center- a residential care ranch for children.
I had known Fannun for the past 40 years. He was a man of principle, well disciplined, positive thinker and a motivator. In August 2012 when the Joplin mosque was completely destroyed due to suspected hate crime, Fannun consoled the community, saying “Allah will bless us with a bigger and better mosque. Joplin community has drawn out plans for the new mosque, but Fannun will not be around for the ground breaking and grand opening ceremonies. May Allah grant him bigger and better place in Paradise. Ameen!