SALAM Celebrates 25 Years in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) held its 25th Anniversary Celebration at its Mosque facility on Friday, February 24, 2012 with a gala event which attracted not only many of the original founders of SALAM and prominent area Muslims, but also a wide spectrum from the Sacramento non-Muslim community. The reasons for the latter are many but the primary one could be attributed to SALAM’s charter and focus on being a truly American Masjid.
Its established policy of keeping its doors open to all of the area’s people, including local politicians, media, law enforcement and minority groups has certainly helped in its success.
The evening started off with networking over a light Middle Eastern snack and refreshments menu. Also arranged were tours or a trip down memory lane of SALAM’s journey of 25 years in pictorial, print and even quilt form (SALAM’s post-9/11 sympathy quilt effort received a great deal of publicity). Many articles from the Sacramento Bee newspaper were also on display, and it is too bad that nobody was able to save the print version of numerous articles from this ethnic newspaper to add to them. Books on Islam and a tour of the SALAM Library were also available.
The formal program segment of the evening did not disappoint as Dr. Anne Kjemtrup welcomed everyone and invited Imam Azeez for the invocation. He was followed by Sister Muzhda Ferouz for the English translation. Farrukh Saeed next welcomed and recognized a number of Sacramento area public officials and dignitaries present (they were too numerous to get an individual mention here in this article). And that warmth was reciprocated as a number of certificates of recognition were presented to SALAM from members of the California Senate, Legislature, Sacramento County, City of Sacramento and the Insurance Commissioner’s office all congratulating it on reaching its 25 year milestone and for being an important contributor to the ethnic diversity of this area.
Individual comments on the SALAM journey were presented by Professor Rosalie Amer, Javed Siddiqui, Nasreen Aboobakr and her husband Asghar, Javed Iqbal, Farrukh Saeed and last, but not least, Dr. Metwalli Amer. In seriousness and in humor the SALAM history of 25 years was revisited in parts by these speakers. This scribe was present at some of these times especially following the devastating attacks of 9/11 and how the area community came out in support of its Muslim population. Thankfully, SALAM was at the forefront of the line of communication at the time with the wider community and the media.
A video presentation titled “SALAM: Celebrating 25 years of Building an American Islamic Center” elaborated on the basic premise that this organization has been built on; that being transparency, its multi-ethnic and trans-sectarian makeup and its strong America emphasis. Truly, SALAM is an American Muslim institution, one which has proudly flown the flag for many years.
The reflections from outside community friends provided further testimony to SALAM’s reach beyond the Muslim community. US Attorney Benjamin Wagner, Dr. Sonney Chong of the CAPITAL organization, Andy Noguchi of the Florin JACL, Rev. David Thompson of Westminster Presbyterian Church and Rev. Michael Moran, co-founder of the Spiritual Life Center, all echoed their praise and admiration for SALAM’s achievements and its positive contribution to the Sacramento regional ethnic landscape. (This scribe would like to add that with the completion of the SALAM Masjid Project or Phase III, it has also become a major contributor to Sacramento’s architectural landscape as well with its beautiful Mosque).
The concluding dua’a or prayer was presented by Imam Azeez to close the formal program, one which will be remembered by many in the local interfaith community for quite some time. Isha prayers at 9:30 pm in the Mosque concluded the event.