SALAM Fall Banquet Highlights Muslim Role in Law Enforcement
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) held its fall fundraising banquet with the theme of “Justice & Mercy” at its own Community Center on Saturday, November 12, 2016.
The event was very well attended, as the packed hall was once again reminded everyone why SALAM takes pride in being an American Islamic Center or Mosque. It is nice to look back and see what was once a large empty lot with just a couple of mobile homes on it used for Friday prayers, which now houses a fine Community Center today including several classrooms (used for both regular and Sunday School) plus one of the most beautiful mosques in the region. And as some will point out that times have been tough for Muslims in America since 9/11, this community has thrived.
SALAM’s success has been in its close association with the mainstream Sacramento community, including educationists, law enforcement, interfaith groups and elected officials. But nothing happens without resources which are a dedicated community and monetary strength. Hence SALAM holds two regular fundraising banquets every year and this was the final one for 2016.
The evening started off with a social hour and light snacks. Emcee for the event Dr Anne Kjemtrup called everyone’s attention and after sharing a gesture of strong support from a non-Muslim towards her after post-elections results concerns (America is already great), she invited Br Muhammad Methaq and Sr Sarah Hamid for the Qur’anic Recitation and its English translation which was done quite well.
Br Waseem Bawa, Chairperson of SALAM, next officially welcomed everyone on behalf of the organization. He too touched on the election results and shared an exchange he had with his seven-year-old daughter on why a woman did not become our President? And his daughter’s response that maybe she would be that president in future proves that there is plenty of hope! Bawa next expanded on the services and activities that SALAM provides and the list was indeed long. He also emphasized that SALAM was our institution and deserving of support.
Next up were the SALAM Student Scholarship Awards presented this time to seven students (the largest number thus far). The scholarships this time went to FarvaBatool, KaleemahMuttaqui, MomnaSahbaz, Mujiba Ansari, Othman Elgarguri, Raya Zadeh and WafeeyRoslan. They were presented by DrAyad Al-Qazzaz, and DrMetwalliAmer and Mrs Rosalie Amer, all educators themselves who are now helping the next generation to achieve their goals. The young scholarship recipients accepted their awards graciously and said a few words of their own to inspire us in return.
The keynote speech at this SALAM banquet was delivered by Captain JamielAltaheri who was introduced by Br Asif Haq. Captain Altaheri is an American of Yemeni origin and is proud to serve the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in a leadership position. Besides his rich educational background, Captain Altaheri retains a fantastic grasp of Arabic and his knowledge of Qur’anic scripture is impressive to say the least. He is not just an NYPD Captain who happens to be Muslim but is a Muslim officer of the NYPD. He said that the results of the elections should make little difference because efforts by Muslims towards community service, developing interfaith understanding with all, especially Christiansand Jews, will and should continue. He said that Islam came to contribute to human society and this is the Islam we should know, He stressed “Trust, Understanding and Lines of Communication” and emphasized that this was a shared responsibility. He said that communication requires time and that we have to fight hate with compassion and patience. He added that Muslims can make America great and also appealed to Muslim women who wear hijabs to not take them off due to the adverse environment. He said that the best approach was to continue to contribute to America. (as a side note Muslims are contributing in all fields in the US including law enforcement. There are reported to be around 900 Muslims just in the NYPD!).
During this event SALAM’s Distinguished Award was presented to Captain Altaheri. It was also noted that the other recipients of this award Br Hussein and Br Waleed Nabahani could not be present to receive their recognition.
Br Farrukh Saeed presented the SALAM Financial Update next during which he mentioned the great strides that the organization had made since the year 2010to pay off $2 million of the $2.6 million loan on the Mosque. The remaining $600,000 is an interest-free loan which still has to be paid off through existing pledges and fundraisers like this one, he said. And that set the ground for Sheik AbderraoofAlkhawaldeh. The Sheik from Dallas is quite a motivational speaker. In very little time he had everyone motivated to donate and by the time he was done, over $100,000 had been collected or pledged.
The closing formalities were conducted by SALAM’s very own Imam Kashif Ahmed. The Imam spoke on “Charity is a Proof and Witness of Belief” during which he elaborated on SALAM’s operating expenses and how people in the community can assist in meeting them. In closing, dinner was served and the event ended with Isha prayers.