AMV Picnic Brings Different Faiths together
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Glimpses of the AMV picnic

Despite a hot summer day when the temperature was 20 degree above the normal of this time of the month of May, over three hundred friends showed up for the 1st Annual AMV Peace Picnic in Woodland, CA on May 17. The event brought together more than 20 different religious organizations from Yolo County, as well as people from throughout Northern California, to Woodland's Woodside Park.
The AMV Peace Picnic was held under the slogan ‘Let us build a beloved community through the Miracle Movement of Friendship.’ American Muslim Voice is trying to fulfill its important mission of bridging the gap between communities of all beliefs, traditions, and spiritualities. By cosponsoring such events people become part of “The Miracle Movement of Friendship.”
Says the founding Executive Director of AMV, Samina Faheem Sundas: “We celebrate diversity and value all human beings regardless of race, religion, or creed. We strive to create a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony.”
Before the food was served, Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers were offered. Michael Hirsch- Davis of the Synagogue Congregation Bet Haverim offered the  Jewish prayer. Rev Brad Van Saint said the Christian Prayer while Hafiz Muddasar Khalid of the Islamic Center of Woodland recited verses from the Holy Qur’an.
AMV provided Pakistani food, drinks, halal burgers and halal BBQ sausages. Varieties of salads and delicious rice and chicken curry were also served. While people enjoyed the traditional Pakistani and Asian dishes the guests were entertained to a thrilling performance on guitar.             
Rev. Gene and Mary Crumley were the official picnic Story Tellers.  Their interactive style of story telling was enjoyed by the kids who were really involved in the evening’s proceedings.     
Hottest ticket at the picnic was face painting by two wonderful young ladies, Kayla Thompson and Stephanie Slavich.  
Earlier, addressing the guests, Samina Faheem Sundas, founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice, spoke about the benefits of uniting together and working for a cause. "There are so many antis that we shouldn't be associated with anymore. So I want us to start being for something, and the best thing to be 'for' is peace and community building because there's nothing negative about that,"  she said, “By coming together in events like this one, learning about each other and being ‘for’ a common cause that everyone can help make the world better for future generations.”
After her speech many people came to congratulate Samina. One guest said, “This is the best idea they have heard and AMV’s idea of a peace picnic and open houses is a very simple and the most effective one because when you break bread together you are on your way to building life long friendship.”
Khalid Saeed, National President of the American Muslim Voice, said the purpose of the event was to bring people in the community together, no matter who they are or what they believe in. "We came together and created this community-building event where, regardless of a person's race, color or religion, all fellow Americans are invited."  
Khalid Saeed offered special thanks to Sandy Briggs, Library Services Director Woodland Public Library, for her support in arranging the event.  He also expressed his gratitude to Mr. Jim Smith, editor of The Daily Democrat, a Woodland newspaper, “for his support, not only in many, many useful ways in the organization of the events but the great coverage of the good causes.”
 “And last but not the least I am very thankful to many supporters from our Muslim community, to name a few, Riaz Ahamad, President Islamic Center Woodland;  Muhammad Usman Sadiq, Principal, Islamic Center School;  Ali Asghar, Ali Akbar, Javid Saqib, Usman Ali, Ashraf Batavia, and Chaudhry Mohammad Saleem for their volunteerism, hard work and support,” he concluded.
Several members of the city council attended the event, including Jeff Monroe and Mayor Dave Flory who hailed the event. "Although I wish there was a thousand more people with us today, small things grow into large things," Monroe said.  "I think these types of events model the appropriate behavior for the entire world. I wish this could happen everywhere because I firmly believe that someday this is the way the whole world will get together."
Mayor Flory thanked the local community religious leaders for bringing various community groups together. "It's because of all of you who come together, join together to break bread, that we are able to do this," Flory said.
"This should be a moment for those attending to meet and get to know each other in a delightful and non-threatening, low-key fellowship," said Pastor Bradley Van Sant.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.