07 Jul MAPS President’s Address on Eid-Ul-Fitr (July 6th, 2016)
Assalamu Alaykum Dear Community,
Thank you for making today’s Eid prayers and programs a memorable one. This is MAPS’ 10th Anniversary and it could not have been better. Governor Inslee, Redmond Mayor Machione, Redmond Chief Police Wison graced us with their presence. Below is the transcript of my address.
I pray that you, your family, your loved ones near and far have a blessed and joyous Eid-ul-Fitr. May Allah, The Merciful, keep our community beautiful always.
=========== EID ADDRESS ===========
Please join me in welcoming Governor Jay Inselee and Mayor John Marchione!
Aouzou-billahi-minas-Shaitain-ir-rajeem; Bimillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful Dear Community Members, Honorable Governor Jay Inslee, Mayor John Marchione and esteemed guests. Assalamu Alaykum wa-Rahmat-ullahi-wa-barakatuhu and Eid Mubarak! Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon you.
We are truly honored to host the 23rd Governor of our beautiful state of Washington today! Governor Inslee is known to all of us. His accomplishments in fields ranging from education to transportation to health care to critical services to climate action have made all of our lives better. Governor Inslee is also very passionate about diversity, inclusion and religious freedom and has never shied away from standing firmly for these values. He has repeated denounced discrimination, hate crimes and Islamophobia. He has said that, “Political figures calling for “bans on Muslims” or “securing Muslim neighborhoods” degrade the very pillars of freedom and liberty that make our nation great.”
When most states closed their doors to the refugees coming from Syria last year, Governor Inslee wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled “Why My State Won’t Close Its Doors to Syrian Refugees”. Governor Inslee stood by our country’s time-tested ideal of welcoming “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. The MAPS community has since embraced many of these refugee families. For his passion, his conviction and his actions, all of us Muslim Americans, minorities, Washingtonians and America itself are better off.
When we had the threat made to the mosque earlier in Ramadan, Governor Inslee took time to call me and checked on the community assuring us of his support. Mayor Marchione came here on that Sunday night to make sure we were safe. He led the deployment of the local law enforcement agencies guaranteeing that our nightly prayers could be held without disturbance. He then publicly said that “a threat to this community is a threat to the city itself!”
Governor, Mayor – Thank you both for being here today. Your presence at our largest yearly gathering, which this year coincides with our organization’s 10-year anniversary, is truly heart-warming. We are so blessed to be living in this beautiful state and in this beautiful city. Thank you both for your unwavering support, for demonstrating noble character and for your true leadership.
Governor, Mayor, dear guests, we just concluded one month of fasting. During this past month, we have all fasted from food and drinks, we have restrained our worldly desires, we have stayed away from our bad habits, we have refrained from hurting others with our tongues and deeds, we have increased our charity, we have empathized with the poor and hungry, we have gathered our families to eat before dawn, we have come together as a community to break our fast at sundown, we have forgiven each other, we have supported each other, we have recited and studied the Holy Qur’an, we have reflected on the Prophet’s example, we have sought the Night of Power, we have spent long hours at the mosque praying and getting closer to God.
We have gone through this month with patience and prayers in the hope of increasing what we term in Arabic as Taqwa. Taqwa is virtue, is piety, is God-fearing, is being aware of our place in life. Taqwa is a higher state of the heart where we are conscious of God and of His attributes at all time. Through the attainment of Taqwa, we develop patience, we build trust, we develop faithfulness, we achieve joy in this life and we get a beautiful reward in the hereafter. In other words, my dear community, Ramadan has elevated us as human beings and has prepared us with the best of trainings to face any challenge whatsoever in our life – challenges as an individual, challenges as a family unit and challenges as a community. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The fast is a shield”. We are indeed now shielded, we are stronger, we are more determinate, we are more resolute and we are more resilient in the face of any difficulty. We can tackle any challenge!
I want to spend a few minutes to address the challenges that we face as Muslim Americans. In recent times, the Muslim community has faced the dual challenges of ISIS and Islamophobia. ISIS and all similar deviant groups have brought a terrible tragedy on our community, on the Muslim nations and on the whole world.
ISIS is a test on all of us, Entire Humanity. They pervert our beautiful religion. They sully the name of the Prophet (pbuh). They defy our Lord. They twist the teachings of the Quran. They manifest ignorance. They misread history. They are oblivious to the goals of Islam. They wreak havoc, destruction and death everywhere. During the holy month of Ramadan, ISIS or ISIS-inspired murderers have killed people across the globe, including in Syria, in Iraq, in Orlando, in Istanbul, in Dhaka and even in the holy city of Madina within sight of where the Prophet is buried. They kill without regard and without mercy. They kill Muslims and non-Muslims. They kill children and women. They kill the elderly and the young. They kill Americans and non-Americans. They are, without any doubt, an accessory to Shaitan. We have to be very firm in our stance against this scourge. Our religion demands that we stand firmly against such evil. In the Qur’an, Allah says:
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.”
I have repeatedly said that ideologies like ISIS’ are ignorant, wrong, destructive, twisted, sinful, murderous and have absolutely no place whatsoever in Islam! Rejecting these ideologies categorically means leaving no room for controversy theories. There is no if this had happened, then ISIS would not have happened. We reject these ideologies in unequivocal, unambiguous and absolute terms. And we pray for their imminent defeat.
As a Muslim community, we also face the frustrating and serious challenge of Islamophobia. Every time there is a terror attack, the Muslim community faces backlash. In recent months, this problem has taken unprecedented proportions. We have all here felt it. We have collective guilt being placed on a whole community. We have armed militiamen protesting outside mosques in Texas. We have men being punched, shot at and stabbed before prayers. We have women in hijabs being ridiculed. We have kids in schools being bullied. We have employees at work being questioned. We have the elderly being frisked at airports. And we have threats being made to our places of worship, including to this masjid. The political rhetoric during an election season is only adding fuel to this fire. And we are all victims – not just Muslims but American liberties and by extension all Americans are victims to such hate. This is not the America that the Founding Fathers envisioned. Politicians who call for a ban of Muslims are ignorant and self-serving. In his autobiography, Thomas Jefferson, quoting John Locke, wrote, “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” George Washington, after whom this great state is named, wrote in 1783, “the bosom of America” was “open to receive . . . the oppressed and the persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges”.
These two challenges: ISIS and Islamophobia frustrate our community. At this time, we need leaders who would build bridges not erect walls, leaders who strive for peace and not for conflict.
And if there is one person who has stood by the ethics laid out by George Washington, it is Governor Inslee. The Governor wrote in the NY Times, “I told Washingtonians that I wouldn’t join those who wanted to demonize people because of the country they flee or the religion they practice. I will uphold our reputation as a place that embraces compassion and equality and eschews fear-mongering.” On behalf of the Muslim community, Governor, please accept our heartfelt thanks for standing by the ideals of our Founding Fathers. Now I would like to invite our Governor to say a few words.
So, what are we doing at MAPS to address the challenges I discussed? MAPS vision is founded on four cornerstones: Faith, Outbound Good, Inbound Good and Model Citizen.
Faith is living Islam in its true light. Our organization promotes the teachings of Islam as expounded by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran. Not only do we fulfill the religious obligations of 5000 local families, from births to weddings to funerals, but we also have many programs that develop our community spiritually and help us seek peace with God. Likewise, we have many classes teaching 800 children from an early age, as well as adults, and that help us seek peace with humanity. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The best of people is one from whom good accrues to humanity.”
This leads me to our second cornerstone, Outbound Good. We have hundreds of volunteers who work to improve our broader Redmond and Seattle community. We serve thousands of meals to the homeless, on the streets of Seattle, at the local tent city, at the shelter, at the local schools. We distributed free blankets, tents, tarps, winter gear to the homeless before winter. We served people during Ramadan, on Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve. We prepared 800 hygiene kits for those living on the streets. We host free health clinics, blood drives and dental vans. We have adopted 3 highways spots and a section of Marymoor Park. We clean trails and our parks with WTA. We have a detailed program to assist and welcome refugees – from providing them with vocational support to finding them host families. And just day before yesterday, we distributed charity to 725 families. This is in addition to the scores of people we help weekly: we pay their energy bills, their rent, their college fees and their funeral expenses.
Our third cornerstone is Inbound Good. We adopt all that is good in the society around us. We partner with other faith groups, NGOs, local businesses, government agencies like DHS and FEMA, law enforcement agencies, the Redmond City and other offices so that we are well aligned with the broader community and that we support each other.
And lastly, Model Citizen is development of the Muslim American as an individual who is well-balanced spiritually and intellectually, who is grounded in the noble teachings of Islam and who is positively impactful in the society he or she lives in.
To give you some ideas of what these cornerstones are, let us put some faces to them. Today, we will recognize 4 individuals who have embodied these 4 cornerstones. I will ask the Governor and the Mayor to assist me in recognizing them.
FAITH Cornerstone – Hadia Noor Ahmed
Hadia is 10 years old and will start 5th grade in the fall. She is a student in our Ar-Rahma program. She enjoys reading, gymnastics and horseback riding. She started memorizing the Qur’an when she was just 6 years old. And she has finished memorizing over half of the Qur’an with Sk Nabil. From an early age, we aim to teach our community the true message of Islam. Hadia represents our Faith cornerstone.
OUTBOUND GOOD Cornerstone – Khizer & Nickhath Sheriff
Khizer and Nickhath are our power couple. They together lead our MAPS-MCRC arm and all of our Outbound Good activities. We have over 100 volunteers working diligently each week to improve the lot of the unfortunate among us in the greater Redmond and Seattle area, irrespective of faith, gender, status or lifestyle. Whether it is serving the homeless at the local tent city or being called late to help prepare a burial, we can always count on them. Khizer and Nickhath have done a tremendous job organizing and leading these volunteers. For all of the lives they have improved, Khizer will accept our Outbound Good award on behalf of all our social services volunteers.
INBOUND GOOD Cornerstone – Redmond Police & Police Chief Kristi Wilson
The Redmond Police has been a true friend of MAPS. Whether it is increasing patrol during our busier times or being present on Fridays during Friday prayers or conducting Active Shooter trainings for our community, we can always count on them. When we received the threat earlier in Ramadan, the Redmond Police deployed police officers who were off-duty on a Sunday night so that we could pray in peace. And they stayed here all the way till 4 o’clock in the morning. Please join me in recognizing the Redmond Police department under the leadership of Police Chief Kristi Wilson for our Inbound Good award.
MODEL CITIZEN Cornerstone – Ferdose Idris
And last but not least, Ferdose. If you have received a call from MAPS asking you to attend an event or given you a reminder, it most likely came from Ferdose. She works part-time in our office and our library. She is a young, confident and proud Muslim woman who just graduated from the University of Washington with distinction in only 3 years. Ferdose has been consistently on the Dean’s list in the UW Sociology program, was inducted into Alpha Kappa Delta, the Sociology Honors Society, is a Ronald McNair Scholar, completed a Research Fellowship at UC Berkeley AND a Research Fellowship with UW’s Mary Gates Research program, conducted original research in the Honors program titled “Red States vs. Blue States: Which Does a Better Job for Our Kids?”, was a founding member and Vice-President of UW’s chapter of United Muslim Relief. And Ferdose is heading to Princeton for a Masters’ program. Please welcome Ferdose as our Model Citizen!
I want to leave you with three action items. First, as proud Muslim Americans, let us stand up against hate and persecution irrespective of the victims’ religion, race, ethnicity, gender, background or lifestyle, for Islam demands that we stand firmly on the side of justice. Second, register to vote. We have a booth set up near the office. If you are not registered, go do so before you leave. And third, please continue to support MAPS as we grow and create long lasting positive impacts in this community right here, right now.
I want to once again thank the Governor and the Mayor for attending our event today. And thank you all for coming.
Please wait for the Governor to leave before standing up.
Assalamu-Alaykum and Eid Mubarak!