President Obama’s First Visit to a Masjid

Obama-Mosque-Visits

09 Feb President Obama’s First Visit to a Masjid

Assalamu Alaykum / Peace and blessings upon you all,

Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad (pubh) taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.”
[Sahih Muslim Hadith and quoted by President Obama on Feb 3rd]

Last Wednesday, President Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore and addressed the nation. This was his first ever visit to a mosque. While we wish that he had made such a visit earlier in his presidency, Muslim Americans in general, including our community, thank the President for taking this historic step. In his address (video here), President Obama covered many topics:
* He acknowledged and allayed the fears of Muslim Americans concerned about the current Islamophobic climate
* He quoted the Qur’an in reminding the nation that Islam has been preaching peace for a thousand years
* He emphasized that Muslims are an integral part of America and are contributing in fields ranging from medicine to the military
* He reminded the nation that the Founding Fathers included Muslims in their idea of a multi-cultural and open nation
* He observed the bias in the media against Muslims
* He remarked that the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim community has not always been easy
* He correctly pointed out that extremist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL have twisted our faith for their own selfish agenda and in the process have been victimizing Muslims first and foremost
* He recognized that Muslim Americans do not hear the words “Thank You” enough
* And, he challenged Muslim Americans to demonstrate the beauty of our faith. President Obama said:

American Muslims are better positioned than anybody to show that it is possible to be faithful to Islam and to be part of a pluralistic society, and to be on the cutting-edge of science, and to believe in democracy. And so I would urge all of you not to see this as a burden, but as a great opportunity and a great privilege to show who you are.  To use a little Christian expression — let your light shine.

Indeed, tackling the challenges that beset the Muslim American community is both a great opportunity and a great privilege. It is a great opportunity because we have the good fortune to demonstrate Islam in its true light and in the process make America and the world a better place. It is a great privilege because we stand on the shoulders of many minority groups before us who, through their struggles, achieved results that benefit all of us and the world today. At the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) we take this opportunity and this privilege seriously.

In the past two weeks alone:
  • We hosted Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid from SoundVision, Chicago who debunked the twin evils of ISIS and Islamophobia [Khutbah Link & Presentation Link]
  • Imam Malik from Florida kicked off our observation of Black History month and talked about “freedom from captivity” [Khutbah Link & Speech Link: upcoming]
    • MAPS-Youth is planning a “Say NO to Racism” event on Feb 19th [details here]
  • Imam Joban continues his “Reflection of Surah Al Mulk” series discussing faith and the Prophet’s example: [Lecture1Lecture2Lecture3]
  • We launched a new group, MAPS-NOW (Nature, Outdoors and Wildlife) which will focus on the preservation of our beautiful parks and trails, keep our highways clean and educate all of us on nature. We now are sponsoring 3 highway strips on I-5 and I-405 (details here)
  • MAPS-MCRC rented space at the Together Center in Redmond near the bus line to be in a building hosting many other non-profits so that any needy person can walk in and request help – from counseling to charity – in a convenient and confidential space
  • We opened a state-of-the-art library where everybody can study, read or browse online quietly. The library has a collection of 400 books (to be expanded to 1500) ranging from timeless Islamic treatises to the latest technology introduction to children (details here)
  • We are “standing together” with several other Christian and Jewish faith groups in the “pursuit of values fostered by religion that are necessary to sustain a free, pluralistic society” (details here and first event video here)
  • We hosted a group of school principals of WA schools at MAPS and introduce them to Islam. This is a group who is tasked with training teachers across the state. They were so impressed with the visit that they invited MAPS-IOC to come and talk at their event later that week
  • MAPS-YOUTH hosted a discussion on domestic violence and with MAPS-MCRC prepared and distributed dozens of sandwiches to the homeless citizens in our area
  • We continue to offer many classes to develop our children socially, technically and educationally:
    • MAPS is partnering with local startups to bring a unique “Mobile Application Test Certificate” course for continuing education, ideally suited for high school graduates who are seeking opportunities in software or mobile application testing (details here)
    • The WhizKidsClub “gives children tools to improve the fluency of their language and become good conversationalists thereby making confident future leaders” (register here)
    • Our robotics class (Lego Windstorm and VEX), which aims to introduce children to engineering, started last week and will continue until May (register here)  
All of these took place in the past two weeks alone! And this is in addition to the dozens of other ongoing activities, from daily Islamic lectures to teaching hundreds of children weekly to hosting social events to assisting the needy with their bills to helping refugees settle in our area. Indeed, these actions by countless MAPS volunteers are deeply rooted in Islam and make America better for all. There is no better example on how we can demonstrate what the President called being “Muslim AND American”.
Now, we all have a choice here. We can either sit on the sidelines and nod our heads or we can roll our sleeves and pitch in. We can either choose to do nothing or we can choose to answer the call our our faith and the call of our President. We can either sit back and fold our hands or we can extend our hands and inherit the baton from the da’i (one who is involved in Dawah) and the baton from the American Rights activist – batons that have been passed over for centuries and improving our world in the process. We can either silently enjoy the fruits of labor of others or we can actively work to make a difference! Indeed, there has never been a better time for all of us to step up and make a difference!
How can you help? Three ways:
1. Remember all of us in your prayers and your supplications
2. Join a volunteer group or come up with your own program (email: board@mapsredmond.org)
3. Make a donation today – all of this work cost money and is largely supported through voluntary donations. Please support us through your generous contribution.
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We pray that Allah, The Light (An-Noor), guide us in all that we do, protect the Muslim American community and safeguard our country.
Ameen
Mahmood Khadeer
MAPS President