Tributes to Fannun Kanan

Tributes to Fannun Kanan
by Zulfiqar Ali Malik, Overland Park, Kansas. February 11, 2013

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..

Heartland Muslim Council presented the "Community Leadership Award to Ahmed Fannun Kanan in 2005.Photo: (L to R) Rushdy El-Ghussein, Sheikh Fannun Kanan, Dr. Abdul Rauf Mir

Heartland Muslim Council presented the “Community Leadership Award to Ahmed Fannun Kanan in 2005.
Photo: (L to R) Rushdy El-Ghussein, Sheikh Fannun Kanan, Dr. Abdul Rauf Mir

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!

How I Overcome the Biggest Challenge in My Life


Overland Park, KS (913) 314-807

I am a Muslim, an American Muslim and that identity itself has become the biggest challenge for me. I am a naturalized citizen, I but my children and grandchild are born in America. Just because we are Muslims, we cannot be treated as foreigners. We do not seek special favoritism but do expect an equal treatment allowed by the U.S. constitution. Muslims are not ‘children of lessor God’.

The negative portrayal of Muslims the mainstream media incites the Islamophobia. Anti-Islam groups are rising in popularity. Some politicians particularly in the election year are spreading the fear of the Shariah law. Discrimination and hate crime against Muslims are on the rise. Our holy book Qur’an and several mosques have been desecrated. Seems to me that kicking around the Islamic values is the favorite game in town.

The challenge to me is how to fight bigotry, remove the paranoia and change the American consciousness. Then I remind myself of the  command of the God Almighty  in the Qur’an:
“Goodness and evil can never be equal. Repel evil with what is better (or best). Then see: the one between whom and you there was enmity has become a bosom friend.” [41:34]
I practice patience, tolerance and respect for others. I forgive wrongs done to me and my community. I try to be modest, gentle, friendly, and helpful to others. I participate in several social, cultural, charitable and interfaith activities and events.

Offering prayers and keeping a positive attitude has always been helpful to me. I make efforts to keep the same positive attitude during editing my weekly online newsletter Muslim News Digest. I try to inspire Muslims and cultivate understanding and build bridges between Muslims and my fellow Americans of other faiths.

American Muslims are as American as baseball and apple pie.

Fordson, The Arab American Movie about Faith, Fasting & Football

For many years Muslims took our place in American society for granted. We went to work, raised our kids, and for the most part kept quietly to ourselves. Then 9-11 happened. Since we had been so quiet and unobtrusive, we had to spend a lot of time trying to convince people who we weren’t. We weren’t radicals, we weren’t violent, we weren’t members of sleeper cells. Now, a decade after the tragic events of that autumn morning, many forward-thinking American Muslims have dedicated themselves to showing people who we are. Through community involvement and the talents of Muslim musicians, writers, artists and filmmakers we are telling our own story.

This week, AMC Theater released in select city the documentary “Fordson: Fast, Faith and Football”. Fordson follows high school football players as they strive – physically and spiritually – through the rigors of preparing for their season while fasting. The struggles and triumphs of their Dearborn, MI community reflect those of many American Muslims who strive to hold onto their faith, their heritage and their American birthright. Uncompromisingly Muslim and unquestionably American, the young people of Fordson High School show the world that Muslims are a vibrant, down-to-earth part of the American mosaic.

Many community will have chance to be a part of sharing this side of our story with the community at large.

The Kansas City Film Festival hosted this unique documentary this year. After the showing filmmaker Rashid Ghazi told the audience of 200, all decked out in bright spring clothes including many headscarves, that his goal was to allow Americans a look through all the rhetoric to the human side of Arabs and Muslims. “When you watch the Olympics, everyone hates the Russians until they do a three-minute expose on one Russian weightlifter who lost his parents and has to walk 10 miles each day to work out, even in the harsh Siberian winter… Then everyone sees our common humanity and no longer considers that guy the enemy. No one was doing that for Arab Americans. I wanted to show the reality of this community’s dedication to its kids, it’s football program, its faith and its country.”

You can view the trailer and reviews of Fordson here.

Running Time:
99 minutes

Bilal Abu-Omarah, Ail Baidoun, Hassan Houssaiky, Baquer Sayed, Fouad Zaban, Imad Fadlallah

First Time AMC Showing:
Kansas City, MO – FilmFest, Apr 2011

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