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Fostering friendships among all Americans

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”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


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Muslim American Day

I have a dream

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember watching Hajj being performed. I had tears in my eyes as I choked with emotion watching a sea of Muslims perform Hajj. No other experience ever came close. It was a miracle.

At that time, I did not know that it was the only day that Muslims did something together. As I grew older, I realized that we do not do anything on the same day. I started day-dreaming, visualizing Muslims clad in white and doing things together.

When I came to the US in 1979, this desire seemed to gain intensity as almost every Muslim American celebrated religious holidays on different dates. My desire became intense but I was a young mother of two and my life was dedicated to my family. I also felt I could not make a significant difference when there were so many great leaders and they were in a position to do so. Today, I feel differently.

Post-9/11, we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to improve the image of Muslims and Islam from being negative to a positive one. So here is my dream:

We should have a Muslim American Day.

I have thought about it for quite some time. In my opinion, Thanksgiving weekend is most fitting for this day because we can really offer thanks to Allah for our country, our families and friends. We can also thank Him for health, wealth and the ability to work and make a difference for humanity. Although we all have conferences that weekend, we can delay them until Saturday morning. Together, we can arrange a social gathering, perhaps a brunch for our fellow Americans on Friday, preceding prayers. We could take them to Mosques for Friday prayer. Following Friday prayer, we could all volunteer in our communities for three to four hours, socializing and educating fellow Americans about Islam and Muslims, thereby establishing enduring friendships and sending a clear message to everyone that we are vested in our homeland...

I’ve generated a few ideas as to how we could be active and productive members of our community:

Random acts of kindness - give flowers and gifts. Greet people cheerfully.

We should collect food, clothing and household items for the needy, especially during the month of November before Thanksgiving holiday.

Volunteer on Thanksgiving Day in local soup kitchens.

Use public transportation for networking and educating fellow Americans about who we are.

Give up your seats to the elderly and to women. Take your children with you. They learn by example.

Donate blood, visit hospitals and senior centers and read to patients.

Doctors and lawyers can arrange free clinics in low income areas.

Clean highways and beaches. Every Muslim organization should adopt a beach or highway. I know of one organization - Islamic Education and Information Center in Newark , California - that has already adopted part of a highway.

Participate in voter registration.

Open Mosques and community centers for Election Day, it would increase Muslim voting.

There are many more activities that we can plan for our communities. Those listed above are just a few that come to my mind. Can you picture every Muslim American out doing community work on the Friday following Thanksgiving? What a picture it would be! What a story it would make! What would media do with that and how no one will think of us as second class citizens?

By Samina Sundas
Founding Executive Director
American Muslim Voice
www.amuslimvoice.org

This is my dream but I am sure, each one of you have a dream or an idea about how can we become effective members of our communities?