By LIZETH CAZARES (Daily Democrat – Woodland CA – Sept. 11, 2006)
Members of the Woodland Muslim Mosque Islamic Center opened up their hearts and their home to welcome all members of the community in observance of the Sept. 11 attacks.
People from different cultures, religions and political points of view joined together at the mosque Sunday evening to remember those who have died, to clear misconceptions and unite as a community.
"I believe that America is the best country in the world," said Khalid Saeed, president of the American Muslim Voice. "This is still true, but we all have to work to keep it that way."
The evening's events began with a prayer from the Qu'ran, read and translated by members of the mosque. It continued with a special flying of an American flag which once flew at the nation's capital, presented by members of American Legion Post 77.
Members of the community and the mosque took time to speak about the impact the attacks still have on the country five years after they took place.
Mansoor Shafqat, Sunday school teacher for the mosque, emphasized the ongoing theme of togetherness by speaking about the country efforts to unite. (AMV President Khalid Saeed speaks)
"May the nation come together before the stars and stripes welcoming people of all faiths," said Shafqat. "Other countries would not have embraced everyone like America did."
Prominent members of local religious organizations took part and spoke about how the events effected them.
Father John Boll, former father of the Holy Rosary Church in Woodland, talked about how the events have opened his eyes.
"The tragedy of 9/11 has brought us together in a different way," he said. "Before that day I wasn't even aware there was a mosque in Woodland."
The mosque has been a part of the community for over 20 years, Saeed said. Since then, the Muslim community in Woodland has grown and now stands with 700 to 800 members. There have been changes in the community, but Saeed said that overall those changes have been for the better.
"More members are now actively involved in the community," he said.
He hopes that those who attended gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith and realize they are here to be a part of the community, raise a family and that their values are very compatible with American values.
Woodland Mayor David Flory, was also at the event and took time to emphasize the importance of coming together and taking a role in the community. Similar to Saeed, he also hoped that participants gain a better understanding.
"I hope everyone leaves here with understanding and compassion for one another," he said.