AMV-Sac Co-sponsors Interfaith Dinner at Lutheran Church
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The American Muslim Voice Sacramento Chapter co-sponsored an interfaith dinner with the Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills. The dinner was attended by about 80 people.

The AMV initiated the dinner in the spirit of building bridges with other faiths. The initiative came about three weeks after a similar interfaith drive when the AMV Sacramento chapter donated 650 dinners to the Loves and Fishes homeless shelter. The AMV volunteers helped in preparing and serving the Christmas Eve dinner. The AMV also donated toys to the Shrines Hospitals for Children in Sacramento for Christmas.

Samina Sundas and Khalid Saeed spoke eloquently on questions of common interest about Islam and Muslims. AMV Founding Executive Director, Samina Sundas had come from Palo Alto to attend the dinner.

Speaking on the occasion, the AMV President Khalid Saeed emphasized that "we ALL are part of the human family we are all children of one parent --- Adam and Eve." He was referring to Surah al-Hujurat Verse 13: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).

He said the objective of the event was to create understanding about Muslims and Islam at the grassroots level. "We Muslims have the same hopes, dreams and desires to live in peace, raise a good family with good education and be the positive contributing member of the society wherever we live in this great landscape." 
Our purpose is only to eliminate the biggest fear of them all form the hearts and mind, he said, adding, "The fear of the unknown – and move from fear to friendship. Khalid Saeed pointed out that certain verses from the Holy Qur'an are quoted out of context to create a negative image of Islam. In this respect he referred to verse 191 of Al Baqra which is often partially quoted: "And slay them wherever ye catch them." He said that the complete verse is: "And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith."

He also pointed out that the Holy Qur'an says: "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors." Al Baqra: 190.

Interestingly, Rev. Trudy Wojahn Franzen, who introduced Khalid Saeed, was reading the English translation of the Qur'anic verses while he was referring to them. Khalid Saeed referred to the following verses to augument his argument:

The prohibited month for the prohibited month,- and so for all things prohibited,- there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves. Al Baqra: 194.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. Al Baqra: 193.

So if they dispute with thee, say: "I have submitted My whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me." And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: "Do ye (also) submit yourselves?" If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, Thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah's sight are (all) His servants. Al Imran: 20.

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion... Al Baqra: 256.

Khalid Saeed referred to the Christian tradition of "breaking bread" which means to dine or eat together. It also means to share ones belongings or assets with another person, peacefully. Breaking bread is also interpreted to refer to the rite of the Lord’s Supper. During the Last Supper, described in 1 Corinthians 11:23-39, Jesus took a loaf of bread and broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” The breaking of bread at that first communion table has been re-enacted down through the centuries as a way of remembering that first celebration of both His sacrifice on the cross and the institution of the New Covenant in His blood.

The AMV President said "breaking bread" together brings the people together. He was optimistic that interfaith events like this would bring the Muslim community closer to other faiths. 

Khalid Saeed thanked all AMV volunteers for making the event memorable. He particularly thanked the AMV lady volunteers for their help and hard work. He also thanked the AMV Sacramento chapter, Asif Sattar Bhai and Polo Loco and Kabab Corner.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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