By Yasmin Vanya (AMV Board member)
American Muslim Voice Foundation, Muslim Community Association and Northern California Islamic Council hosted the tenth commemoration of 9/11. We have received beautiful and inspiring comments from our guests and they have nothing but praises for your speeches and participation. Speakers’ messages moved and inspired attendees and they left feeling more hopeful about our nation’s future. The diversity of the audience, participants and speakers highlighted our vision of healing the country through sowing seeds of new friendships. We were expecting close to 300 guests but almost 600 guests as diverse as our nation itself blessed us with their presence. We have been praying for this problem for the past 10 years, on Sunday September 11 that wish was grated. Many of our guests did not get to sit at a table, some had just a chair to sit on and dozens of our guests were standing in the back. Many of the guests did not have enough to eat but nonetheless they were happy to be a part of this community event because they received food for thoughts, mind, heart and soul.
Samina Sundas, Founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation made a special and unique request to the media, “Please do not cover this event if you are not able to report it in the spirit in which it was planned. Many have taken advantage of the 9/11 tragedy to further their personal political agenda and in the process have divided our nation. Today our nation needs to take a step toward healing and moving forward so we can move from fear to friendship. We organized this event with love, sensitivity and sincerity to honor the victims, their families and first responders. We also honored those who have lost their lives as an indirect impact of the 9/11 tragedy. We called upon our fellow Americans to move from fear to friendship. They pledged to replace the culture of despair, division and violence with a culture of hope, inclusion and peace by working side by side. Personally, it renewed my commitment to keep serving the needs of the Muslim, Arabs, South Asians and the community at large by encouraging them to get to know one another by sowing the seeds of new friendships. This is why American Muslim Voice Foundation exists: to restore faith in humanity in the face of tragedy, to build stronger relationships based on friendships so that we can put back the “United” in United States of America. Together we can build a peaceful, inclusive and beloved world. I have chosen this path of community and peace building for the rest of my life.
The program started with the beautiful recitation of the Quran by Meryam Ali, which Hafsanoor Vanya translated. Rev. Dr.Andrew Killi, Shakya Satcca and Rabbi Melanie Aron performed multi-faith prayers. A moment of silence was observed to honor the victims of 9/11, their families, first responders and all others victims of senseless crimes.
Havva Munir mesmerized the audience with the national anthem. The guests felt properly welcomed by Samer Darwish, President of the Muslim Community Association. Santa Clara County Supervisor and President of the Board Dave Cortese appreciated the organizers for hosting this wonderful event and acknowledged the contributions of the Muslim community in Santa Clara County and in the nation. Jamie McLeod, council member of Santa Clara spoke about the importance of building relationships.
On behalf of the San Jose City Council, council member Ash Kalra presented a plaque of appreciation to the organizers of the 9/11 event.
Children enjoyed releasing a dozen white peace doves as a symbol of hope and peace. It was one of the favorite activities from the event along with children’s performance of peace songs. All the children delighted the audience with their innocent smiles and giggles as Havva Munir sang, “We Are the World.”
Junaid Shaikh, President of the Northern California Islamic Council shared with the audience the impact of 9/11 on Muslim community in America and around the world. Rev. Dr. Diana Gibson, Co-Founder of the Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice encouraged the audience to take a few moments to reflect and share their thoughts about where they were on 9/11. She invited them to recall their first reactions and asked if they had made any changes in the way they lived and if they had taken concrete steps toward creating a better world for their future generations. As usual, Imam Tahir Anwar charmed the audience with his personal experience about what life was like before 9/11 and how it changed after 9/11. Khalid Saeed, National President of the American Muslim Voice Foundation shared the impact of 9/11 on the Muslim community politically. He stated that in Election 2000, over 700 Muslims made a bid in the political arena from school boards to Congress. Two years later, there were less than a hundred. In Election 2006, Minnesota elected the first Muslim Congressman because he reached out to all Americans. He reached out and built personal relationships allowing his fellow Americans to know him as a good human being and potentially a good congressional representative for them.[Read More]
Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Masjidul Waritheen in Oakland, borrowed from W.D. Mohammad’s June 1977 speech to convey his message to tackle the problems faced by the seven-million strong American Muslim community in the post-9/11 era, “Our enemy is neither the free world nor Christianity, Judaism or any other religion. Our enemy is ignorance, racism, oppression, greed and corruption. To eliminate these enemies, we must establish truth, justice, opportunity and compassion for all people.”
Delorme Mckee-Stovall, Manager of the Human Relations Office of Santa Clara County did a splendid job introducing our Keynote Speaker Rev. James Lawson, highlighting that according to Time magazine, he is one of the seven icons of the civil rights movement, paving the way for President Obama’s inauguration.
Rev. James Lawson flew from Los Angeles to attend this event. He began by telling the audience that as an African American realizes the Muslim community’s pain of profiling in the post-9/11 era. He pointed out that two-thirds of the people in his community face racial profiling every single day. After his message of empathy, he rocked the house and enlightened us with his speech titled, “Meditation on Truth & Justice.” Rev. Lawson stressed that the greatness of our country is not because of development in technology or military power but of its values of justice and equality and peoples’ power that we witnessed in the three movements of last century. [Read More]
Samina Sundas and almost 600 old friends, new friends and future friends honored the victims, their families and first responders by renewing the commitment to stay steadfast on the quest for peace and friendship. We strongly believe that in order to build peace, we must shatter all barriers, get to know each other and form friendships. We can build stronger and harmonious communities and safe and secure nations. We are encouraging all Americans and global communities to start getting to know each other by nurturing old friendships and sowing the seeds of new ones, so we can build a peaceful, inclusive and beloved world.
American Muslim Voice Foundation has launched a new campaign “National Invite your Neighbors to Dinner Day” We are encouraging all Americans to open their homes to their neighbors on the 1st Sunday of each October. This year it will be on Sunday, October 2, 2011.
Please join hands with us as we walk on the path Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved for us.
We all saluted “September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows” for their dedication and commitment to working towards creating peace. We also extended our deepest condolences and prayers to them.
On behalf of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, Muslim Community Association and Northern California Islamic Council, Shahram Marleen, social secretary of the Muslim Community Association thanked the organizers, speakers, guests, volunteers, co-sponsors, candle lighters, MCA staff and caterers for being a part of the 9/11 community event.
The evening ended with Havva’s sweet voice singing "Instrument of Peace" and hundreds of small flames guiding our paths toward a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony throughout our neighborhoods, cities, states and nations. Our quest for peace and friendship begins now on a day that created a culture of despair, division and violence among all of us.