Bay Area Muslim Community Commemorates
9/11 Anniversary with Interfaith Prayer
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

‘From fear to friendship’ was the theme of the special event San Francisco Bay Area Muslim community held Sunday (Sept. 11, 2011) at the Muslim Community Center in Santa Clara, to commemorate the 10 th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.

Rev. James Lawson, a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the keynote speaker at the four-hour program attended by about 500 people. Rev. Lawson, who flew from Los Angeles to attend the event, told the audience that as an African American he realizes the pain of profiling of the Muslim community in the post-9/11 era. He pointed out that this is an everyday story of his community where two-third people face profiling every single day.

Rev. Lawson stressed that the greatness of our country is not because of development in technology or military power but because of its values of justice and equality and peoples’ power that we witnessed in the three movements of the last century.

Introducing the keynote speaker, Delorme Mckee-Stovall, Manager of the Human Relations Office of Santa Clara County, pointed out that according to the Time magazine Rev. James Lawson is one of the seven icons of the civil rights movement, paving the way for President Obama’s inauguration.  

Samina Sundas, the Founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice and MC of the program, said her organization, along with other civic advocacy and interfaith groups, has endeavored to replace the post-9/11 culture of fear, anger and hate with a culture of understanding, love and hope. “That is why today’s program is named as From Fear to Friendship.”

Samina said the AMV is seeking global partnerships for the “Miracle Movement of Peace and Friendship."We strongly believe that in order to build peace, we must shatter all barriers, get to know each other and form friendships. “We are encouraging all Americans and global communities to start getting to know each other by nurturing old friendships and sowing the seeds of new ones, so we can build a peaceful, inclusive and beloved world.”

American Muslim Voice Foundation has launched a new campaign “National Invite your Neighbors to Dinner Day” to encourage all Americans to open their homes to their neighbors on the first Sunday of each October. This year it will be on Sunday, October 2, 2011. Samina said, “Please join hands with us as we walk on the path Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved for us.” 

Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Masjidul Waritheen in Oakland, borrowed from W.D. Mohammad’s June 1977 speech to convey his message to tackle the problems faced by the seven-million strong American Muslim community in the post-9/11 era: “ Our enemy is not the free world nor Christianity, Judaism or any other religion. Our enemy is ignorance, racism, oppression, greed, and corruption. To eliminate these enemies, we must establish truth, justice, opportunity and compassion for all people.”

Junaid Shaikh, President of the Northern California Islamic Council shared with the audience the impact of 9/11 on the Muslim community in America and around the world.

Rev. Dr. Diana Gibson, Co-Founder of the Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, encouraged the audience to take a few moments to reflect and share their thoughts about where they were on 9/11. She invited them to recall their first reactions and asked if they had made any changes in the way they lived and if they had taken concrete steps toward creating a better world for their future generations.

Imam Tahir Anwar of South Bay Islamic Association (ISEB) charmed the audience with his personal experience about what life was like before 9/11 and how it has changed after 9/11.

In his speech, Khalid Saeed, the AMV National President, pointed out that AMV had been trying to reduce the fears and concerns of fellow Americans about Muslims and Islam.  “We have been encouraging Muslims, Arabs and South Asians to provide first hand contact with all of you to break down the barriers,” he said, adding, “We strongly believe that in order to build peace, we must shatter all barriers, get to know each other and form friendships. Our effort is to replace the post-9/11 culture of fear, anger and hate with a culture of understanding, love and hope.” At the end, Khalid Saeed said, “Let’s work together and replace fear with friendship…. Because, as athlete Michael Pritchard says, ‘Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.’ “

The program started with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Meryam Ali, followed with its translation by Hafsanoor Vanya. It was followed by Christian prayer by Rev. Dr. Andrew Killi, Chair Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC); Bhuddhist prayer by Master Jian Hu and Jewish prayer by Rabbi Melanie Aron of Shir Hadash.

A moment of silence was observed to honor the victims of 9/11, their families, first responders and all others victims of senseless crimes.

Havva Munir mesmerized the audience with the singing of the national anthem. The guests were welcomed by Samer Darwish, President of the Muslim Community Association.  Santa Clara County Supervisor and President of the Board. Dave Cortese appreciated the organizers for hosting this wonderful event and acknowledged the contributions of the Muslim community in Santa Clara County and in the nation. Jamie McLeod, council member of Santa Clara, spoke about the importance of building relationships.

On behalf of the San Jose City Council, council member Ash Kalra presented a plaque of appreciation to the organizers of the 9/11 event. The organizers were: American Muslim Voice (AMV), Muslim Community Association (MCA) and Northern California Islamic Council (NCIC).

An interesting feature of the four-hour program was the releasing of peace doves by children. Also the

children thrilled the audience with the presentation of the famous peace song: “We are the world, we are the children.” 

 

On behalf of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, Muslim Community Association and Northern California Islamic Council, Shahram Marleen, Social Secretary of the Muslim Community Association, thanked the organizers, speakers, guests, volunteers, co-sponsors, candle lighters, MCA staff and caterers for being a part of the 9/11 community event.

The evening ended with Havva Munir singing "Instrument of Peace" and a candle light vigil. The Nihomnachi Outreach Committee, San Jose and Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice provided hundreds of candles for the vigil.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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