Left picture shows Muhammad Usman Sadiq, Principal Mosque School addressing the gathering. Commander Larry Shapiro, of the American Legion Post 77 is seen at right.
(Pictures by Farhan Anwar, President AMV Chapter Woodland.)
By Norbie Kumagai
American Muslim Voice and the Woodland Mosque Association had invited all fellow Americans to an open house at the Woodland Mosque on July 3, 2005. Mr. Khalid Saeed sent an invitation to all church leaders and their members for lunch. "worship at your church and have lunch at the mosque on Sunday July 3, 2005". Dozens of fellow Americans came to the mosque and enjoyed a BBQ lunch with all the trimmings and Muslim hospitality.
(Picture shows from left: Commander Shapiro of American Legion, Khalid Saeed of AMV, Marcus Clark, Mary Philip and Mrs. Margo Clark.)
Later there was an independent day celebration program. Mr. Khalid Saeed, the Northern California Director of American Muslim Voice (AMV) opened the Program with a brief
Mr. Saeed welcomed the guests and during his welcome he said that AMV and the mosque association has organized this program to celebrate independence day to show solidarity with the fellow Americans. While welcoming fellow Americans of all faiths, he said that the gathering of Jews and Christians at the mosque was a true testimony of friendship and proof that people of different religions, race and color can not only get along but can form lifelong friendships.
Qari Tasawwar Iqbal, the Imam of the Woodland Mosque, gave a melodious recitation of Quran which was very appropriate for the occasion:
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Qur'an 49:13"
The Principal of the Woodland Islamic Mosque, Mr.Muhammad Usman Sadiq stated that the diverse cultures which are represented at this gathering, with individuals coming from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds, is a source of strength. Muslim Americans are responsible
citizens and greatly contribute to our society. As he is principal of Mosque Sunday school, he said that he tries to teach not only the religions and culture but also to be good humans and good citizens as well.
Father John Bole, from the Holy Rosary Church in Woodland, emphasized the inscription on the Statue of Liberty which symbolizes that the United States is the "Golden Door" to people seeking freedom and happiness. America promised to the world life and liberty and pursuit of hap pines as "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." He said that the people of all races and religions came through the Else island and even today this country should be for all citizens with equal rights.
Mr. Larry Shapiro, Commander of the American Legion Post 77, briefly spoke about the American Legions and the "building bridges" between different communities.
He stated that the purpose of the American legion is,
"To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars; to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and goodwill on earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy; to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness."
In the past few years, the American Legion has been interacting with American Muslim Voice and others in the Muslim community in Woodland, Ca. Last year Mr. Saeed AMV 's Norther California Director was invited to speak at their memorial service.
Mr. Shahid Chaudhy, President of the American Muslim Voice Sacramento chapter, introduced the keynote speaker for the Program, Ms. Samina Faheem Sundas..
Ms. Samina Faheem Sundas, Executive Director of American Muslim Voice, shared her experiences working with different communities after September 11 which has resulted in forging lifelong friendships. As part of this "coalition building" we need to continue the interfaith dialog and take it to the next level of forming life long friendships with all of our fellow Americans. The goal of such efforts is to create "a culture of peace, understanding, acceptance freedom and harmony". We need to "bridge the gap" by learning and honoring the past struggles of the other ethnic, religious and cultural communities and asking them to guide us through our plight.
“To me, patriotism extends beyond our flag or any holiday. Our beautiful flag is just a symbol of our country but it is our Constitution that is the heart and soul of our great nation. That is what I want to fight for because the protections of our civil liberties and constitutional rights is the key that will ultimately create a "culture of peace".
According to Thomas Jefferson, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." I tend to agree with him because I believe as active and concerned citizens, it is our duty to hold everyone accountable, including our government. America was founded on these democratic values.
She also stated as we are celebrating the Patriot day of action I would like to assure all of my fellow Americans that we recognize the threat of terrorism is real, but we do not need to sacrifice our basic liberties to achieve it? Our liberties are our security! The rest of the world will judge the United States by its deeds – the way it treats it ethnic and religious minorities.
“If we truly want to make our country safe and secure we must work together to achieve that goal, where we create a culture of understanding, acceptance, mutual respect, fair policies, due process, equality and justice for all.
“American Muslim Voice is proud to work towards that goal by bridging the gap between all communities and taking the next step from the interfaith dialog by sowing the seeds of friendship among all Americans. We are looking forward to working with all of you to create a safe, peaceful and harmonious America, where we all feel at home,” she concluded.
At the the end of the Program, American Muslim Voice urged audience to take action to make America safe again for all of its residents and write to U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein to allow the provisions of the U.S.A. Patriot Act to simply "sunset" at the end of the year.
Mr.Riaz Ahmad President of the Mosque Association Woodland briefly talked about brotherhood of all humanity and need for us all to get along as that is what Almighty Allah asks us as stressed in the verses recited be the Imam Tasawwar Iqbal earlier. He thanked every one for coming to the open house and showing their friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community. He also thanked all the volunteers who helped organize the program and all who made the financial contributions.
(Mr. Khalid Saeed, contributed to this story)