Interfaith WORKS

By Ahmad, Mukhtar | Islamic Horizons, July/August 2007 | Go to article overview
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Interfaith WORKS


Ahmad, Mukhtar, Islamic Horizons


Muslim Americans seek to cooperate with the community while respecting their own diversity. BY MUKHTAR AHMAD

Amr Khaled, a popular Egyptian speaker, attracted roughly 700 listeners to the ISNA East Zone Conference, held in Washington, DC, on May 12-13. Speaking on Muslims making a difference in Western societies, he asked Muslims in America to find a balance between materialism and the sprit and to serve as good emissaries of Islam.

Leaders and representatives of major national and local organizations, including Asma Hanif (chairperson, Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations [CCMO] of the Washington Metropolitan Area), were present at the inaugural session. On behalf of CCMO, the host organization, she thanked ISNA for helping people to realize that there are "no barriers in our diversity, but instead an opportunity to harness and empower our ability to achieve a mutually beneficial coexistence." Qur'an 30:22 inspired the events' theme: "Respecting Diversity and Overcoming Barriers."

Conference participants also heard from Sunni and Shiah leaders and scholars, as well as from Delegate Saqib AU, the keynote speaker and first-term member of the Maryland House of Delegates. The young state lawmaker asked Muslim Americans to enter the political process at all levels, instead of just voting, and to question their elected representatives when they come looking for votes.

The conference focused on six tracks: spiritual development, community building, family, interfaith/intra-faith relations, MSA, and MYNA. Topics ranged from living in a pluralistic society to establishing interfaith relations, and from issues of family and marriage to social justice, fìqh, and public policy/government. Mukhtar Ahmad (director of programs, ISNA) stressed that the program was designed to benefit all age and interest groups while fulfilling the theme's objectives. The message was clear: Muslims must acknowledge interfaith diversity and find ways to enhance understanding between the various schools of thought.

Dr. Muneer Fareed (secretary general, ISNA) shared a panel with Ameena Jandali (cofounder and secretary of the Board of Directors, Islamic Networks Group). They spoke on how Muslims can manifest transformative relationships through diversity and maintain healthy, pluralistic communities in America.

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