Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Gaithersburg Holds Interfaith Iftar

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Gaithersburg Holds Interfaith Iftar

Article excerpt

THE ISLAMIC CENTER of Maryland (ICM) in Gaithersburg held its annual Ramadan interfaith iftar dinner on June 17, days after the June 12 Orlando nightclub shooting by Omar Mateen. As the guests waited for the sun to set, ICM outreach director Ahsun Dasti introduced Shaheer Saddiq, a second-grader, who gave an introduction to Islam and explained how Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. His Laytonsville teachers, who attend St. Luke's Lutheran church in Derwood, MD, were there to cheer him on.

Hannah Shareem, who graduated from high school earlier in the week, described her life as a "typical American Muslim teenager." (She was president of her class, spoke at graduation, belonged to six honor societies, the debate club, binge-watches TV, and speaks four languages.) When she decided to cover her hair and wear hijab, Hannah said, she was called a terrorist, discriminated against, judged and became an outsider in her own hometown for a couple of months. Just as she was feeling safe again, Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims.

Hannah said she feels like she has to prove and re-prove herself, fighting stereotypes, every time "some lunatic" claiming to represent Muslims kills. "The actions of a few deranged people should not be put on students," Hannah stated.

Imam Rizwan Jaka, a board member of both ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, VA) and the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC), gave a convincing talk on building partnerships with faith-based communities. First, he noted that the U.S. was built not only by those professing Judeo-Christian values but also on the backs of enslaved African Americans, 30 percent of whom were Muslim. …

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