In the nearly 30 years that the Al-Aziz Islamic Center has held its annual dinner honoring the community's outstanding women, more than 300 have been recognized.
They have come from all over the state. Some have been educators. Some have worked with the state's prisons. Al-Aziz Imam Nasif Muhammad said one woman was simply a foster mother — to 15 children.
But the diversity of these women isn't limited to their town of residence or their area of service. These women also come from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds. In fact, Muhammad said, nearly 80 percent of the women honored by the Islamic Center have been non-Muslim.
"We pick all different groups of women," he said. "We didn't want to cut anyone out."
This year, the center will recognize seven women at the 28th annual Awards Dinner Honoring Women Who Are Positive Examples in the Community, held at 5 p.m. March 22 at the Holiday Inn, 1070 Main St., Bridgeport.
The honorees are a typically eclectic group, Muhammad said. For instance, Fahmidah Khan, of Norwalk, is Muslim and teaches an Islamic studies class. Fellow honoree Milagros "Millie" Sanchez, of Waterbury, is Catholic, and an HIV counselor at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown. . .
Before Al-Aziz began the event in 1981, Muhammad said, there weren't many programs in the area honoring outstanding women.
The dinner not only rectifies that, it also helps promote a positive image of Islam. Muhammad said many people still have negative ideas about Islam, particularly the religion's views of women. (MORE)
Tickets for the dinner are $50. Reservations are due today. For information, call 333-9244.