Happy Holidays from your Muslim Neighbors!

AIA 2020

American Muslims wish their neighbors happy holidays

America’s first-ever Muslim Community holiday video features diverse Muslim families wishing their neighbors a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays. The film ends with all Muslims wishing all Americans Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All, and by quoting Charles Dickens’ famous line from A Christmas Carol: “God Bless Us All, Everyone.” The video was produced by the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 (AIA 2020), which was created to foster more understanding of Islam and Muslims, and highlight the positive contributions Muslims are making to our nation. 

We need your help to get this video seen as widely as possible. Your Donation will help pay for social media and even traditional media (national TV) advertising and get our message to millions of Americans, and show that Muslims in America respect and honor the holiday traditions of our fellow Americans. Every dollar donated opens up possibilities for placing the video on national social media platforms and even on TV stations nationwide.  

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Interfaith Community celebrates diversity among America’s heroes

AIA 2020

Arlington National Cemetery — For almost 100 years Americans from all backgrounds have come together on Veterans Day to give thanks to and celebrate the dedicated men and women who have served our country in uniform.   This Friday, in a special event to celebrate our veterans, the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 and the Muslim American Veterans Association sponsored an event an interfaith gathering at the National Cemetery in Arlington designed to underscore the devotion and diversity of those who served – and in some cases died for America.

The event was attended by veterans, family members and supporters from the Muslim American Veterans Association, the Center for Pluralism, MACCPAC, the Greater Washington Muslim Jewish Forum, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the Muslim Association of Virginia/Dar Al Noor mosque, Masjid Muhammad in Washington, the Muslim Community Center of Maryland, various Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, and individual visitors to the Cemetery who happened upon the event.

As many speakers noted, the diversity of our nation was reflected in the many races, ethnicities and faiths of those who attended the commemorative event.  Arlington Cemetery, with its mix of graves of every religious denomination and every ethnic group in America, was the perfect setting for the diverse group who came to honor their brothers and sisters buried there.

Imam Mohamed Magid, ADAMS Executive Religious Director, led a traditional Muslim prayer at the grave site of Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha, a member of the ADAMS community who died in Iraq in 2005 while serving in the US Special Forces.  Imam Magid, who had presided over the funeral of S/Sgt Taha in 2006, noted that his sacrifice was fully in keeping with the dedication of the Muslim community to their American homeland and that his sacrifice was a testament to the patriotism of all immigrants who love America, of whatever faith.   Several of the MAVA commanders also recalled their own service in the US Army, Navy and Air Force during the Vietnam War, and how much it meant for them to be able to honor the sacrifice of all their comrades, living and dead.

According to AIA 2020 Executive Director Robert Marro, a past member of the National Guard and a retired senior US Foreign Service officer, “Many American citizens were born outside the USA, but their level of patriotism and love of country is no less than native born Americans.  Like these New Americans of today, my Grandfather, from an immigrant family from Italy, fought for America in France in 1918 along with many fellow American soldiers who barely spoke English but wanted to repay the country that had given them so many opportunities.  I am proud to have served my country as a Muslim American, and especially proud to be associated with an event that typifies how much America has benefited from the service and dedication of both its new and old citizens.”


American Muslims honor Fellow Veterans at Arlington National Cemetery

AIA 2020

American Muslims and family members recently honored their fellow Veterans by visiting grave sites At Arlington National Cemetery, to pray for God’s mercy on all who have sacrificed their lives for our country.  AIA 2020 will hold another interfaith event, on Friday, Nov 10 at 9:00 AM at the Cemetery (meeting at Section 60, site 7986), where veterans (and families) of ALL faiths can honor ALL Veterans who have served America.





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.

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.