AIA2020 Conduct Media Training Session at IIIT

Somayyah Ghariani

On Aug 15, AIA 2020 Director Marro and AIA Staff and Senior Advisor Rob Leggat conducted a training session at the 2017 Youth Leadership Class at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon VA.  Some 20 young students from various Muslim communities locally and nationally had come for the week long training, and this seminar was designed to provide them a basic introduction to the skills and experiences they could use to become powerful spokespersons for their communities, schools etc after the training.

 

Our overall theme for the training was “If you fail to communicate, everything else is wasted.”  The training goal was to show these up and coming youth leaders the true art form of how to communicate their messages in a way that will ensure the impact and results they desire.

Know your key messages was also a critical aspect of the discussion, and the need to not only have a clear and forceful message ready to be delivered, but to do so in a way that can most effectively achieve the intended and desired goal.

 

We also stressed a need to be mindful of the specific medium, and adjust your interview skills and style and even response to the medium; TV interviews for example differ greatly from radio or print or even online, and what you say in each should be calibrated to that exact medium.

 

Since most people are intimidated by the fear of being led into unknown or uncertain territory during the interview, we also focused on Bridging statements, which are simply a way to transition from one topic (based on a reporter’s question) to a subject you want to talk about (your message and how you want it to be heard).

 

We ended the session with role plays for several of the students to simulate what it would be like to be interviewed for a TV news report.  As we pointed out, many local and even national news organizations will often send crews t local mosques any time there is an incident involving Muslims anywhere in the world, and these reporters often seek to interview young Muslims who would appeal to their TV audiences.  We therefore hope to help prepare these Youth Leaders for such eventuality when they are back at their own community centers and mosques.

AIA Executive Director Meets with Malaysian Prime Minister

Somayyah Ghariani

On  Sep 11, AIA 2020 Director Marro and his wife were invited to represent AIA and the ADAMS Center at a private dinner celebrating the visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, and to honor the anniversary of 60 years of Diplomatic ties and relations between Malaysia and United States.

 

The event brought together several hundred members of the Malaysian Diaspora in the USA, including Malaysian students from many Universities across America, and Malaysians who are now living in America.  Ambassador Tan Sri Zulhasnan has been an avid advocate of AIA 2020, and made certain that AIA Director Robert Marro and Mrs, Junaidah Marro would be seated with the PM and his wife so they could brief him on the program, and on ADAMS Center and the other Founding Members.

 

The PM also unveiled the winning logo from a contest for Malaysian students in the USA, to design a new logo to celebrate the 60 years of strong ties between Malaysia and the USA.

During his remarks to the audience, the Prime Minister noted his upcoming meeting with President Donald Trump, and his desire to build on those 60 years of strong ties to further reinforce the relations between the two countries.  Malaysia he noted was one of the top trading partners for America, and the third largest trading partner for Malaysia itself.

 

Immediately following the program, reporters from RTM (Radio/Television Malaysia) interviewed AIA Director Marro (see link below), who noted the many common aspects and shared values between the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies of both Malaysia and America, and how Malaysia has been frequently held up as a model of the moderate Islam that characterizes the AIA Founding Members and the goals of an Indivisible America that AIA seeks to promote.

Muslim Community Celebrates Eid AlAdha with Fellow Neighbors

Somayyah Ghariani

Friday Sep 1, 2017 marked the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), who was commanded by God to offer his son as a sacrifice as a test of his faith. But in both the Bible and Quran versions of the story, an angel came to Abraham to prevent him taking his son’s life, and instead ordering him to sacrifice an animal. All three Abrahamic Traditions continue to celebrate that spirit of sacrifice to this day.

This particularly festive day for Muslims also marks the end of the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) season, and is an occasion for engagement with family, friends, neighbors etc to share the joys and benefits of our respective faiths, and to honor the tradition of our prophets, and to honor the sacrifices we all make to help others in need. It is a time for engaging with family, friends and neighbors, and to share in the bounty of our lives.

For 2017 the ADAMS Center alone had 7 prayer locations, with nearly 30 prayer sessions that morning.  Over 30 political and civic officials, and candidates for the 2017 election and their surrogates, attended prayers to meet the community and offer salutations for this blessed event.

Among the candidates and officials visiting the various ADAMS locations were Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, Lt Governor Ralph Northam, Lt Governor candidate Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, Senators Jennifer Wexton And Barbara Favola Delegates Jim LeMunyon, Kathleen Murphy and Jennifer Boysko, County Supervisors John Foust and Kristen Umstadt, Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burke, and many surrogates for the various campaigns in Nov 2017.

 

Some 26 – 28,000 ADAMS community members attended the various services in the 7 locations, and the planning and outreach efforts were seamless and super.  Many AIA/ADAMS Interfaith Partners came to join the occasion, and to speak with their Muslim counterparts and share in the joy of this holiday. AIA 2020 played a prominent role in arranging the visits of these government officials, and was at several of the locations to welcome these officials and help introduce them to the community members attended. We were very pleased with the very warm welcome accorded to each of these visitors, and by the very warm and generous welcome support each of our visitors had expressed for the community, and for their willingness your stand with us all to overcome any challenges and difficulties the community may face in the coming years.

MYTH: Islam & Terrorism

Somayyah Ghariani

More thoughts on Islam and Terrorism

By: AIA Intern Sarem M.

(High School Student from Loudoun County Public Schools)

Sympathy without Empathy:  These three words are essentially the sum of how the issue of terrorism affects me as a Muslim-American High School student in Northern VA. I personally feel really terrible about all of those suffering from the likes of Boko Haram and ISIS, and would fully support any effort to protect innocents. If someone were to ask me, I would shout til my voice ran dry.

But the moment I remember my History or Physics or Calc Final tomorrow, I would shut up and get to work. Any thought of terrorism would completely vanish. Essentially, I feel like so many clichéd movie characters, too wrapped up in my own world, deciding what shoes to wear, etc., to save somebody else’s life. On reflection, I think I feel kind of disgusted with myself, but thankful now that I joined AIA 2020 and maybe can make some positive impact…

 

Honestly, I think I have the most typical high school experience possible…kind of dull actually. I realize that in certain areas Muslim Americans as a minority will have to deal with some form of discrimination due to terrorism, but for me it’s non-existent. I go to an incredibly diverse school, where pretty much every minority group that has been persecuted at one point or another has significant representation. As a result, nobody really bullies or attempts to make fun of anybody.

On the flip side, nobody really asks me questions about terrorism. Just as I wouldn’t ask my Hispanic friend about a gang war breaking out in South America, every group in my school and in my circle of friends here realizes there are some people from their “community” who bring them shame…but they also remember the more important question, “What does that have to do with me?”

But I also understand this attitude is not generally shared, especially in the media.  My friends know these terrorist acts truly have nothing to do with me, but my diverse school and social circles are not typical across America.  They should however be the model that we all hope to reach, where my religion, or your ethnicity, or someone’s sexual identity, should not – and does not – matter.  If we can get there, we can all live together in an Indivisible America.

MYTH: Islam & Terrorism

Somayyah Ghariani

One student’s thoughts on Islam and Terrorism

By: AIA Intern Ali J.

(High School Student from Fairfax County Public Schools)

In the past few years, Americans have seen many terrorist groups emerge in the Middle East and other areas, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and Taliban, as a result of the unrelenting political turmoil in region. These groups may claim to be religiously motivated and to follow Islam, but in truth their actions are utterly un-Islamic and violate all the very core values of the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

Recent accounts of terror attacks committed by Muslims have continued to fill the news, but these reports neglect to note that the victims of most of these terror attacks are Muslims themselves.  The National Counterterrorism Center reports that 82 to 97% of the victims of terrorism-related fatalities between 2006 and 2011 were Muslims. After the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) proclaimed itself as a global Islamic caliphate in 2014, it grew quickly in the Middle East, promising to overturn the local instability, corruption and persecution that populations were experiencing at the hands of sectarian rulers and militias.  ISIS then committed many atrocious terror attacks, killing thousands, including 18,800 civilians in Iraq alone, proving that it too was even more corrupt than the local leaders it had supplanted.

One of the most common tactics that terrorist groups like ISIS employ is suicide bombings targeting large groups of civilians in markets or other public gatherings. Suicide however is considered a heinous crime in Islam according to the Quran (4:29), and as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) repeatedly said “Indeed, whoever (intentionally) kills himself, then certainly he will be punished in the Fire of Hell, wherein he shall dwell.” (Bukhari #5578).

In the past few months, ISIS claimed responsibility for suicide bombers who attacked a Kabul mosque where Muslims had gathered for prayer in the holy month of Ramadan, and two months earlier, two Coptic Christian churches were attacked by ISIS suicide bombers in Egypt on Palm Sunday. Ironically however, one of the rare cases in which violence is permitted in Islam is not to damage but rather to protect religious freedom. As the Quran (22:40) states “…If God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques – in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly extolled – would surely have been destroyed.”   Islamic scholar and convert Muhammad Asad has explained that this verse means that “… the defense of religious freedom is the foremost cause for which arms may – and indeed must – be taken up.”   If ISIS and other “Islamic” terrorist organizations were to actually follow the Quran as they so falsely claim, they would protect places of worship instead of destroying them.

We have seen many populations under the control of ISIS being forced to pledge allegiance to the so called “Caliphate” and men are forced to attend prayers at mosques. Throughout the history of Islam, Christians and Jews and other People of the Book have typically been free to practice their religion even in area controlled by Muslim rulers.  ISIS however has subverted that long history, and the required tolerance of other religions, by giving their subjected populations only two options: convert or die, and those who resist the rule of the Islamic State are killed. This is a complete negation of the spirit and indeed the very tenets if Islam.  The Quran (2:256) clearly says “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion,” therefore, when ISIS forces people to convert to Islam and pray at the mosque, ISIS is actually ignoring and even repudiating the teachings of the Quran.

Islam also does not allow the killing of children or of innocent people. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not steal the spoils, do not be treacherous with the enemy, do not mutilate the dead, do not kill children, and fear Allah.”  He also said, “Do not kill children or women or old men.”  The Quran (5:32) says that  “…if anyone slays a human being – unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all of mankind.”  Terrorism by contrast targets innocent civilians, with no concern whether its victims fall within these strictly prohibited categories.  The May 2017 ISIS attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK, killing 22 people, mostly children, are the epitome of actions that definitively go against Islam.

The prohibition against suicide bombings, against any compulsion in religion, against the killing of innocents, and the obligatory calls for the protection of holy sites, therefore make it incomprehensible to compare Islam to terrorist groups like ISIS.  Just as Catholic and other Christian Churches continuously condemn violent extremism by groups like the KKK, Muslim mosques will never sanction terrorism by deranged groups like ISIS and other such extremists.

How the State Interacts with Muslims – A Book Review

Somayyah Ghariani

“Good” and “Bad” Muslim Citizens: Feminists, Terrorists, and U.S. Orientalisms,’ Book by Sunaina Maira

Review By Javaria Abbasi, AIA 2020 Intern

In her essay in Feminist Studies, Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies at University of California Davis, argues the United States’ “national security” rhetoric hides an imperialist agenda that is manifest most blatantly in the way American Muslims are treated by the state. Through case study of Muslims in the media over the years, Maira exposes the dichotomy between “good Muslims” who are public figures that act as “trusty” informants for the state by attesting to Islam’s theoretical cruelty towards women, and “bad Muslims” who are viewed as threats to national security because of their “traditional image.”

Since the start of the War on Terror, state-supported media has juxtaposed images of the gratuitous violence of Al-Qaeda, and the more recent self-proclaimed “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS), with images of ordinary American Muslims. Maira concludes the state’s plan is in fact a Right-wing campaign to distract the populace from its own failures in preventing 9/11.

With the highly unpopular war in Iraq demolishing popular support for Bush era policies, the state had to shift gears. Saddam’s fall accelerated the haste in which the terror cells he had suppressed filed the vacuum.  The State could no longer claim to be “rescuing an oppressed population from the clutches of a savage dictator” when the Iraqi people began to revolt against the perceived U.S. liberator – and Occupation.

So began the crusade against “bad Muslims.” To garner public support, Maira suggests the state needed its own champions and consequently created a category of “good Muslims” to be prime subjects for interviews.  She is as mistrustful of the state as she is critical of Right-wing politics.

While Maira paints a vivid picture of the history of U.S. Foreign Policy to the Middle East and South Asia and treatment of American Muslims since 9/11, her 2009 article could not foresee the positive strides in foreign and domestic relations with Muslims by the Obama Administration.

Moreover, while Maira highlights the problems in the way the state handles Muslims, she does not offer a tangible solution.  She does not address how to “defend the right to express radical dissent against imperial terror” (pg 653) by “bad Muslims” in the Middle East when they resist foreign imperialism. While any publication in an academic journal is constrained by word limits, Maira’s depiction of an America for American Muslims is therefore too bleak and unforgiving.

As an American Muslim student at the University of Virginia, I believe Maira underestimates the potential for improvement without radically overhauling the entire system. What is needed more than rebellion or radicalism is education reform, to guarantee that certain media outlets and officials cannot smear upstanding American citizens like myself.  If Muslim children can learn the true tenets of democracy, they can and will participate more actively in their own defense.

Her bleak future analysis notwithstanding, Sunaina Maira’s essay is a must-read for all combatants of Islamophobia, to better understand the nature of the problem we all face.

 

Maira, Sunaina. “”Good” and “Bad” Muslim Citizens: Feminists, Terrorists, and U.S. Orientalisms.” Feminist Studies 35.3 (2009): 631-53. Print.

Counter Protesters  Far Outnumber Ku Klux Klan Protesters In Charlottesville Rally

Somayyah Ghariani

By Javaria Abbasi,  AIA Program Analyst

ADAMS and AIA 2020 were very pleased to join in support of the Virginia NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in a counter-protest in response to a demonstration planned and announced by the Loyal White Knights Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan on Saturday July 8, 2017 in Charlottesville VA.

The Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP decided not to oppose the KKK on-site but instead to hold its counter-rally at Jack Jouett Middle School. Among the attendees of this event were Rizwan Jaka and Mohib Ullah, two prominent leaders of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society’s (ADAMS) Islamic Center in Sterling, Virginia.

Rizwan Jaka, Chairman and member of the Board of Trustees (and past President) of ADAMS, and a Director of the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 (AIA 2020), commented that “for the cause of justice” he felt that it was imperative that ADAMS and AIA 2020 be present at the counter-rally. “ADAMS has for many years worked closely with the NAACP in both Loudoun and Fairfax Counties,’ Rizwan explained, “and it is important that we show our full support for their efforts to oppose the kind of hate speech and actions that affect not only African-Americans but every member of the Muslim community in Virginia as well.”

The KKK members had come to Justice Park to protest the proposed removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public park. The park, formerly known as Lee Park, was renamed Emancipation Park after a unanimous vote by the Charlottesville City Council in June.  Daily Beast journalist Gideon Resnick had noted that KKK members had indicated they would come to the rally armed and prepared to defend themselves against aggression from counter-protestors.  But only 30 members of the Loyal White Knights showed up to attend the event, shouting “white power” and waving Confederate Flags.

By contrast, these 30 KKK protestors were far outnumbered by 1000 to 2000 counter-protestors who had come to support the NAACP, and to affirm the rights of all minorities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  No violence broke out at the demonstrations, because, as Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer stated, “our approach, from our police chief on down, has been to urge people not to take this totally discredited fringe organization’s putrid bait at all. They want division and confrontation and a twisted kind of celebrity, (but we) will refuse to take their bait and (just) continue to tell our story.”

The local division of the NAACP and the many attendees from ADAMS and other minority Organizations and supporters responded enthusiastically to the Mayor’s call to coordinate peaceful resistance to the KKK’s message of hate and fear.  Although the KKK event attracted significant media coverage, that was focused primarily on the vast disparity in the size of the KKK group versus the thousands of counter-demonstrators who wanted to show solidarity with the NAACP, and to protest any form of hate speech and divisive rhetoric.

AIA 2020 is proud of the ADAMS reps at the event, and to have been in solidarity with our NAACP colleagues in this effort to maintain peace and harmony across the Commonwealth.

Guest Opinion: ADAMS Mosque Vote the Right Decision

Somayyah Ghariani

Thank you for the Opinion by Supervisor Lawson (July 11 Prince William Times) on the ADAMS mosque and Land-Use provisions in the Rural Crescent.  We hope your readers would also like some objective information about this ‘septic vs sewer’ issue at the heart of this ADAMS Application.

The approval of both Victory Crossing and Fireside Churches (and many others that were allowed County approval for sewer connection in the Crescent) is actually a correct precedent.  Since St Katherine Drexel Parish and School never requested connection to public sewer, it was consequently never considered by County staff or the Board of County Supervisors and never denied, and cannot therefore be a precedent.  As the Board admitted, every church application in the Rural Crescent that requested sewer connection has been approved; it is consequently likely any St Katherine’s request would also have been approved.  ADAMS therefore had no reason to believe its application would not be similarly approved, as all these other churches had been.  The 8-0 approval of the mosque application and the 5-3 vote approving the public sewer confirms ADAMS’ reasonable expectation of this approval.

As we demonstrated time and again, ADAMS repeatedly sought neighborhood input and made substantial efforts to adapt its designs to accommodate neighbourhood input.

  • When neighbours opposed the entry/exit to be from Schaeffer Lane, as the Country initially preferred, ADAMS worked with the County to change its plan and have all access into the site via Vint Hill Rd.
  • When concerns arose over the potential for overflow parking, the design was changed to allow more parking spaces on the property to eliminate any potential need for offsite parking.
  • When concerns arose on preserving the rural character and “look” for the property, ADAMS ensured the building height would be one story only (plus a very discreet dome well below height standards to preserve that rural character), would keep the maximum number of existing trees and shrubs, and would incorporate berms along the Vint Hill Road frontage to provide additionally screening and the view from any vehicles driving past.

None of these accommodations were required.  However, the desire to be a good neighbour far outweighed any inconvenience and cost to ADAMS that might accompany those changes.  That same desire then motivated the decision to seek sewer, and the many “extenuating circumstances” of sewer connection decided ADAMS to seek that approval.

In the Planning Commission meeting some months ago, Commissioner Alex Vanegas offered perhaps the definitive argument for allowing sewer.  As Chair of the Prince William County Service Authority, which oversees the Service Authority’s comprehensive county-wide water and sewer system serving over 85,000 accounts for a population of over 250,000, Vanegas developed a unique professional expertise on these issues. As he noted, it is not a question of “IF” a septic system will fail, but rather “WHEN” it will fail!  Vanegas also made clear that a septic system failure for an institution like ADAMS could be catastrophic for the entire neighborhood, as it would affect the groundwater supply for any neighbours on well water, thereby impacting every residence there.

It is apparently already well-known that the soils in this part of the Rural Crescent and County are not highly conducive to septic systems.   ADAMS’ team provided a map from the Prince William County Service Authority that showed properties in the Nokesville area that are connected to sewer.  Many properties shown on this map were connected to sewer because the soils were not conducive to septic systems and thus a failure of the septic system occurred.  This proves beyond any doubt that septic failure is obviously not an anomaly, but rather a significant issue in the Rural Crescent already.

Moreover, the need for both a regular and reserve septic field on the property would necessitate cutting down many more trees, and reduce the tree save areas on the site.  ADAMS’ current plan is over 70% open space with approximately 44% of the site being undisturbed.  If septic were required, open space and save areas would be greatly reduced.  As our mutual goal is to preserve the rural character of the Crescent, it is a major contradiction to require eliminating substantially more trees from any property.

If this were a private residence for a single family of 5 or even 10 persons, septic should be acceptable.  But for an institution that attracts some 200 persons every Friday afternoon, and can connect to existing sewer lines without disrupting any neighbours, the only environmentally safe course is sewer.  In fact, the Board in the decision for Victory’s Crossing approval acknowledged that the on-site septic systems are ill-suited for church uses, which have erratic sewage systems uses.   To say that allowing sewer connection will destroy the Rural Crescent is countered by the fact that so many properties, particularly institutions, have already been granted sewer, and yet the Rural Crescent still thrives.

ADAMS has already made clear its desire to work with our neighbours and adjust our plans to help meet any reasonable concerns.  But this is a two-way street.  There is simply no sound reason to oppose the sewer.  We therefore urge our neighbours to consider these facts and then help us to together find ways to make this environmentally safe property meet the needs and objectives of us all, without ignoring those facts.  Let us work together without fear, and with maximum goodwill, for all PWC residents!

Robert J. Marro, Executive Director, Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020

Co-Chair of Government Relations and Media, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)

 

Original Article by Supervisor Jeanine Lawson in the Prince William Times:

Religious freedom is a constitutional protection that I value for all Americans.

Continue reading “Guest Opinion: ADAMS Mosque Vote the Right Decision”

In Memory of Suzanne Miller, Wife of VA Delegate Jackson Miller

Somayyah Ghariani

Robert Marro, Executive Director, AIA 2020

On Friday Jul 7, 2017, members of AIA, ADAMS and Dar al Noor, and many hundreds of others from across Northern Virginia attended funeral services in Manassas for Suzanne Miller, wife of VA Delegate Jackson Miller.  Jackson has represented the 50th District, encompassing Manassas and surrounding area, in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2006, and is currently the Majority Whip.   Suzanne, 45, succumbed after a long battle with cancer.   Jackson is well respected on both sides of the aisle, and his House and Senate colleagues came out in force to support him at the funeral services.

His fellow GOP leaders, including House Speaker William Howell, Speaker-designee Kirk Cox, Majority Leader-designee Todd Gilbert and Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo, issued a statement: “We are devastated by the loss of Suzanne and heartbroken for Jackson and his two boys. Suzanne was the light of their life. For all of us, she was a sweet friend we were fortunate to know. She carried herself with poise and grace through a difficult fight against cancer, serving as an example to all that God can and will sustain each of us through life’s trials. The House of Delegates, including our spouses and children, is a family, and we mourn the loss of one of our own. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with the Millers.”

But even more important for the AIA community, Jackson Miller has been a steadfast friend of not only Dar al Noor and its members, but of ADAMS and the entire VA Muslim community.  Jackson once told me his mother worked with students from the Middle East studying at US Colleges and Universities.  As a result, he had lots of contact with young Muslims, and was proud to call many his friends.  He renewed those ties in all dealings with the Muslim Community in both PWC and Fairfax, and was a frequent visitor and guest at mosques in the region. We were all proud to have Jackson as our friend and supporter.

This was particularly key in 2012, when the House was considering a bill to prohibit application of any foreign Law for any citizens (individual or corporate) of Virginia.  ADAMS and Dar al Noor had developed a coalition of support from  the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith, the Interfaith Council of Virginia, other Christian churches and faith groups, and from the Northern VA Technology Council, the VA Chamber of Commerce, Smithfield Ham Corporation, and others who realize this Bill would impose undue burdens on many Virginians with any commercial or personal ties overseas.

In the Subcommittee Hearing, Delegate Miller took the lead, posing insightful and forceful questions to the Bill’s sponsor to ascertain the point of this proposed Bill.  When the Sponsor was unable to offer convincing answers, Jackson pressed home, noting that any proposed legislation is usually to deal with specific problems or problematic issues;  however, he could see no problem whatsoever that this Bill would resolve.  If fact, he pointed out this entire effort seemed like “a solution in search of a problem”.

Jackson’s questioning was a tipping point, and other Delegates also saw the obvious lack of benefits and potentially negative consequences.  The Committee chair was even inspired to note the overseas adoption of his own children would become illegal in Virginia under the terms of this new Bill.  The opposition of the various groups in the Coalition was powerful, but Jackson’s brave opposition was critical in sowing doubt among his House colleagues, to therefore require another hearing, where Jackson’s opposition was instrumental in the vote to return the Bill to its author for re-consideration.

Many other state legislatures have passed similar laws without the questioning or spirited opposition of individual legislators like Jackson.  His very courageous public stance encouraged many other Delegates in his own Party to not only oppose that Bill in 2012, but to ensure it would not be raised in subsequent General Assembly sessions.   Prior to that 2012 Session, Jackson had had very little contact with the Muslim Community in PWC, or any personal relationship with our leaders.  Yet, he did what was right, and became a key leader in the fight to ensure against such discrimination.  For all this, as well as his continued support and open friendship since then, AIA 2020 wants to show our appreciation and gratitude, and most important, our sincere condolence on the passing of his wife.

We therefore ask you not only to Thank Delegate Miller by LIKING this page, but to send your own message of condolence to Jackson’s family on the passing of his beloved wife and their beloved mother.

 

 

4th of July Reflections: I am an American Muslim and I am Proud to be an American

Somayyah Ghariani

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July. My Family and I were in a 4th of July Parade in Purcellville, VA. My Boys were a part of the Boy Scouts of America Honor Guard with the US Flag and we were a part of the Purcellville Rotary Club Float.

I remind all of us to take a moment on The 4th of July to remember Independence Day and what it means – Freedom, Democracy, Hope. On this special day we thank our Lord, Who created all people equal and for granting us with exceptional liberty in our beloved country, the United States of America. Please say a Prayer and Thank God for the Blessings we have in this Great Land of America. Let us recommit ourselves to service to our Country. Let us recommit to more Community Service, Interfaith Collaboration, and Civic Engagement.

Let us all remember this day as a reflection on our Precious Heritage of Freedom and Liberty Declaration of Independence http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html

Please reflect on American Muslim Contribution to America since before its founding, during its founding, and today. Reference: American Islamic Heritage Museum:

In 1492, Columbus had two captains of Muslim origin during his first voyage, one named Martin Alonso Pinzon the captain of the Pinta, and his brother Vicente Yanex Pinzon the captain of the Nina. They were wealthy expert ship outfitters who helped organize Columbus’ expedition and repaired the flagship Santa Maria. The Pinzon family was related to Abuzayan Muhammad III, the Moroccan Sultan of the Marinid Dynasty (1196-1465).

Approximately, 30% of Enslaved Africans brought to America during the Slave trade were of Muslim background. We all know about the famous story of Kunta Kinte in Alex’s Haley book Roots. In 1767, Kunta Kinte was captured and enslaved. Kunta Kinte was a Muslim born in 1750, in the village of Juffure in Gambia. He was shipped to Annapolis, Maryland on the ship Lord Ligonier and sold to a Virginia planter. Kunta Kinte fought hard to hold on to his Islamic heritage. Having learned the Qur’an as a boy Kunta scratched Arabic phrases in the dirt and tried to pray every day after he arrived in America.

Research has revealed that Muslim Veterans and people with a Islamic last name have participated in the different wars America has engaged in over the years. The United States Armed Services records confirm this fact, particularly during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. On June 17, 1775, Peter Salem (Saleem) born (1750?-1816) a former slave who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Peter Salem got awarded for fighting in the Revolutionary War, and he also fought at Lexington. Peter Salem and Salem (Saleem) Poor were honored for their bravery. History reports that a Jewish man told the people that the word was like “shalom” which means peace. The name for peace in Arabic is Salaam and Saleem in Arabic means one who is peaceful. Postage stamps have been made of Peter Salem and Salem Poor as American Revolutionary war heroes. From 1774-1783 there were at least six people with Islamic names who fought in the Revolutionary War as colonial soldiers. One of them was Yusuf Ben Ali, also known as Joseph (Benenhali) Benhaley, who fought with General Sumter in South Carolina. After the war, General Sumter took Joseph Benhaley with him inland to Stateburg where they settled down. Joseph Benhaley’s name appeared in the 1790 census of Sumter County. Revolutionary records also show that there was a Bampett Muhamed who was a Corporal in the Revolutionary Army, from 1775-1783 in Virginia. Francis Saba was listed as a sergeant with the Continental Troops in roll 132, 1775-1783, and Joseph Saba was listed as a Fifer in the Continental Troops roll 132, 1775-1783.

1864-1865 Max Hassan was another Muslim from Africa who fought in the Civil War. His war record shows he came from Africa and worked as a porter in the service.

In 1860, Muhammad Ali ibn Said (1833 – 1882), known as (Nicholas Said) arrived in America as a free man. In 1861 he arrived in Detroit. Shortly afterward he found a teaching job and in 1863 Muhammad enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts colored regiment and became a Civil War hero. He served faithfully and bravely with his regiment as Corporal and then Sergeant in the South. Near the close of the war he was assigned, at his own request, to the hospital department, to learn some knowledge of medicine

From the Foundations of America to over 7 Million American Muslims today, we all know many famous American Muslims like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Hakim Olojuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine Jackson, Mos Def, Ahmad Rashad, Janet Jackson, Dr. Oz, Ice Cube, Ellen Burstyn, Aasif Mandvi, Dean Obeidallah, David Chappelle, Congressman Keith Ellison, and Congressman Andre Carson.

The roots of Muslims in America are represented in more than 500 names of places, villages, streets, towns, cities, lakes, rivers, etc . . . in the United States in which there name are derived from African, Islamic, and Arabic words. Places like Mecca, Indiana; Morocco, Indiana; Medina, NY; Medina, OH; Medina, TX; Toledo, OH; Mahomet, IL; Mahomet, Texas; Yarrowsburg, MD; Islamorada, FL, and Tallahassee, FL are found throughout America.

I am an American Muslim and I am proud to be an American.

PEACE, Rizwan

https://www.facebook.com/rizwanjaka
Board Member & Interfaith/Government/Media Committee Co-Chair, All Dulles Area Muslim Society(ADAMS)
www.adamscenter.org
Board Member, Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington(IFC)
www.ifcmw.org
ADAMS Cub Scout/Boy Scout/Venture Institutional Head, Pack/Troop/Crew 1576 and Troop 786
www.adamscenter.org/Youth/Scouts/Default.aspx
Member At Large, Goose Creek District Committee, NCAC Boy Scouts of America
www.goosecreekdistrict.org