By Ras H. Siddiqui
06/23/2013, SACRAMENTO, California – Muslims in the United States participate in and hold many community fundraisers. The most prominent goals for these gatherings are either charitable causes or activities related to building and operating mosques and schools. There are Mosque “open houses”, community picnics and a host of other intra-religious activities, but what about the world outside and all around us in this country which is our home?
What do our neighbors, friends co-workers really know about the Islamic faith? Can and should we leave it to the headlines and the terror acts of a few misguided individuals or groups to represent our faith which has over a billion followers?
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has one very interesting project (amongst many) going on in this country for doing very important outreach work. Called WhyIslam, it has a very simple approach to spreading awareness about the beliefs of Muslims by putting information about our faith out there in an easily accessible manner. It relies on billboards along freeways and highways, Dawah booths at local events such as state fairs and tables at malls which project a simple message “Why Islam?” and direct anyone interested to call a toll free number 1-877-Why-ISLAM or to go online to a website which can explain a great deal about the Islamic religion.
ICNA Sacramento has been active in assisting this effort for a few years now and in this regard it held its 4th Annual Fundraiser (nothing happens without resources including money) at an event center in California’s Capital city on May 31st where over 200 people gathered share a fine dinner, pray, listen to a chapter progress report and a keynote speech by Shaykh Omar Suleiman.
Following the customary Quran recitation by a young man from the gathering, emcee for the evening Br. Rashid Thomas started the formalities with a note of welcome and a tribute to Br. Hassan Abdul Malik a pillar of our local Muslim community whom we lost at a relatively young age. Br. Malik tried to stay active in the local Dawah effort till almost the very end of his very inspiring life journey, one which touched many locals. A special prayer was said for him before the event moved on.
Br. Shane Yoder next shared his thoughts on the importance of supporting the WHYISLAM Dawah effort and detailed some of the activities that ICNA Sacramento Chapter has been engaged in. The School Backpack Giveaway was especially highlighted as it has helped some disadvantaged kids who may not have the resources or access to needed classroom supplies.
Next, the keynote speech by Shaykh Omar Suleiman was very well received. He praised the work done by the local chapter and explained the direct communication between the Muslim Mind and the Muslim Heart. He said that we have to talk about our own hearts and minds before talking about others. He added that our community has to get out of its survival mode, get more active and take the message out to the public. He said that the Islamophobes out there are not exactly scholars and they validate people’s ignorance. He went back to the time of the Prophet and described two incidents during which he succeeded in educating adversaries and skeptics. Suleiman added that one never knows whose life might be touched with our efforts.
After the viewing of a very interesting ICNA WhyIslam video (urging everyone to be involved and visible), the fundraiser began. It was conducted by Br. Mohammad Hassan who reminded us that well-funded Islamophobes should not define who we are. He said that sacrifice is doing something during hard times, which our community currently faces. Over $50,000 was collected to sustain the local WHYISLAM outreach activity at this event before Maghreb prayers.
To conclude, although the building of Mosques, and operating them along with charitable work is very important for the Muslim community in America, in times like these one should consider spreading true knowledge about Islam of equal importance. We cannot let “so called Muslim” terrorists continually demonize our faith and have their murderous acts become the only source of information about Islam for the mainstream community. Ignoring efforts like WHYISLAM is no longer an option for American Muslims.
Article Courtesy: Pakistan Times
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