Why another Muslim organization?
Our past administration started targeting Muslims, Arabs and South Asians post 9/11. The majority of our fellow Americans were getting information from the administration or the media. Therefore, the Muslims were looked upon as terrorists. We wanted to change the negative perception about the Muslims and Islam.
The AMV Foundation was founded in July 2003 to fill that void by educating the world about the true meaning of Islam. We did not want Osama Bin Laden to hijack our beautiful religion. The choice was clear to us; either we tell our own story or the Bush administration, media and a few misguided individuals who claim to be Muslim will tell it for us.
We wanted to take the interfaith dialog to the next level by fostering friendships with our fellow Americans. If we want to earn respect as a community, gain political power, protect our freedoms, stop being labeled as terrorists and see Muslim candidates win in elections, then we must provide that essential firsthand experience to our fellow Americans about us and Islam. Since 9/11, there was a thirst for true knowledge about Muslims and Islam. There have been wonderful forums and teach-ins that provided the first step in the right direction but there was not enough time to socialize or form lifelong friendships. No other Muslim organization was focusing on such crucial work so we decided to provide that opportunity and experience to our fellow Americans.
When we first started in July 2003, we did not involve the community in that process nor did we ask for any financial assistance from anyone. We wanted to try this idea first to gauge our success in the post 9/11 climate.
It has been over eight years now and the results are better than our wildest dreams. Alhamdulliah, we have formed close relationships with dozens of organizations nationwide and have earned respect from major civil rights, human rights, immigration rights places of worship, and from other ethnic and religious groups due to our sincere efforts and results. To see the results of our efforts, please visit our website www.amuslimvoice.org. Go to “Stop the re-registration” to see our efforts against the INS. We were able to build genuine coalitions and worked for a common goal: stopping injustice against Muslims, Arabs and South Asians. We have a model now that we are very proud of. We know with open minds, sincere efforts, hard work, a just cause and the best intentions, we can achieve our goals to foster friendships, build an inclusive and beloved world and change others’ opinions about Muslims and Islam from negative to positive.
The key is to focus on the cause and goals, and not on personal agenda. We can overcome almost any hurdle if we keep our focus on a bigger picture and not worry about who gets the credit for the work. To succeed as a team, we must overcome personal problems, forgive, and move on. A lot of work gets done when nobody worries about getting credit. Shared leadership, shared responsibilities and shared ownership allow us to utilize resources and collective efforts produce better results.
This project has great potential for success. We know that now, and that is the reason we are introducing AMV Foundation to you. We need your involvement and your support.
Fighting for civil rights, building real collations, bridging the gap between all communities, forming true life long friendships, protecting human rights and changing the image of Islam and Muslims is a tremendous job which requires mass mobilization, education and support from all of you. That is why we are reaching out to you. We have a few good Muslim organizations but they cannot do this alone, even if they focused just on bridging the gap and forming friendships.
It took over six years and 35,000 volunteer hours, thousands of miles of driving, hundreds of community building meetings and overwhelming physical and financial commitment from the AMV Board of Directors. To have these results, we reached out to our fellow Americans in the truest sense of the word. We are at a turning point and have laid down a strong foundation for our future generations but we can not continue do this crucial work alone.
We need community support and involvement, funds, a few paid staff members and a paid executive director. We are committed to building a first rate Muslim institution which would train Muslims to invest themselves in their local communities by volunteering and getting involved in the local government. We cannot ignore the need of our community or the need to build institutions for our future generations. This job requires mass mobilization; every American Muslim, Arab and South Asian needs to share this responsibility.
Our global peace campaign “The Miracle Movement of Peace and Friendship” is a proactive effort by Muslim, Arabs and South Asians and is building momentum. It will be manageable and more productive by mass involvement from Muslim, Arabs and South Asians. If we are to become first class citizens, then every member of our community old, young, male, female must fulfill our Islamic duty to serve our creator through serving his creation in the land we have chosen to call home. We to be involved in protecting what is precious to us, our country, our civil liberties and freedom to practice Islam freely. Even our kids starting kindergarten can play a role in creating a positive image of Islam and Muslims.
We no longer can preach Islamic teaching, we must start practicing Islam in our daily lives among our fellow Americans so they can learn about Muslims and Islam firsthand.