AMWEC Interfaith Iftar
Newport Beach, California: In the true spirit of Interfaith, American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council (AMWEC) brought two hundred people of different faiths, traditions, ethnicities and affiliations together. Interfaith leaders from across California attended the beautiful evening Iftar was put together by AMWEC. Ali Sajjad, Muslim Mayor of Artesia, also attended the Iftar.
The event was held at the Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach. In an effort to stand united against hate, the Rabbi had opened up the Temple in January for a town hall with AMWEC against hate and yet again for the Iftar. Anakarla Sigala, AMWEC’s Christian intern, shared her thoughts on why she chose to intern with a Muslim women’s organization.
AMWEC President Anila Ali said in her speech, “The Prophet of Islam PBUH was saved by the Christians, trusted by the Jews, and respected by the idol worshippers,and he was a passionate proponent of Interfaith. Allah commands Muslims in the Holy Quran, ‘We have created you from a single pair of souls and made you into nation and tribes that you may know each other.’” Ali added, "So by doing Interfaith, getting to know my Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Sikh brothers and sisters, I’m following God’s commandment."
AMWEC’s board member, Aisha Bajwa, gave a comprehensive presentation on Ramadan and its significance and then took the audience on a tour of the various displays of Ramadan that were presented by the Turkish, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and Pakistani ladies,
Itrat Sharief, AMWEC board member, had displayed a Pakistani Iftar table and shared her thoughts on Ramadan. Each of them talked about how Ramadan is celebrated in their native countries and how they keep the traditions going in SoCal. Dr Asmath Noor, explained how India has a huge Muslim population and shared how they celebrate Ramadan in India, “much like Muslims do in Pakistan.” Sohaila Reshad and Sitara Attaie from the Afghan community shared artifacts at the Afghan and Iranian tables. Sister Michelle form Turkish, Pacifica Center delighted the audience with her home cooked Turkish bakhlawa.
AMWEC’s partners - LAPD, LA Sheriff’s Department, CIA, and FBI - were all present to show support and solidarity with Muslims in their holy month. FBI's Assistant Director in Charge, Deirdre Fike, praised AMWEC for taking the lead in Interfaith and community building and shared her delight at such an inclusive event. Officer Jim Buck from LAPD, AMWEC’s partner in building a more resilient community, shared his delight at the leadership displayed by AMWEC women. Officer Jim Buck recounted the time he traveled with AMWEC president, Anila Ali, for a conference on countering extremism at the White House and how Anila Ali, spoke her mind to the Vice President, Joe Biden, who had no choice but to take notice. He appreciated AMWEC’s role in empowering women and building leaders.
Rabbi Gersh was presented certificates of Interfaith leadership by AMWEC, Mayor of Artesia, Ali Sajjad, Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea, and a beautiful Sindhi “ajrak’ by members of AMWEC. Young Muslim American youth were also in full attendance. Eight-year old Iman Sharief, sang a natt/hamd on Ramadan and Hannah Noor, sang the national anthem, while Layla Reshad, Sarah Saboorian, Rahman Jamil, Eman Aziz, shared what Ramadan means to them. AMWEC’s honorary board, Interfaith sisters, Dinah Frieden, Susan Seely, and Deborah Cunnigham Skurnik, talked about fasting in their traditions.