Freedom Seder from Executive Director’s Desk

Somayyah Ghariani

On Wednesday evening, April 5, 2017, AIA 2020 Director Marro attended the Washington Hebrew Congregation sponsored freedom Seder, with invited members of their congregation and many Interfaith guests from the Muslim, Christian, seek and other Faith communities throughout the Washington DC area. This annual Passover celebration event brings together many people of faith in the Washington area, and this year had nearly 300 persons celebrating the struggle for freedom by Jews as well as Christians, Muslims, and people of many other faiths, over the past hundreds and even thousands of years.

This ancient Festival of Passover celebrates the freedom won by early Hebrew slaves from the Egyptian Pharaoh, after being pressed by the Prophet Moses to release them from captivity. Long before the Exodus of these Israelite slaves, however, Hebrew Believers in Egypt celebrated a Festival of the Shepherds to mark the arrival of Spring, and as a way of giving thanks to Almighty God for his goodness to mankind.

The departure of the Israelite slaves, Believers in One God as opposed to the pantheon of Egyptian Gods (including the Pharaoh himself), from Egypt during this Spring Festival gave new historical significance to this ancient rite. This holiday of matzot or unleavened bread commemorates the emancipation of the Believers From Slavery, and as a reminder of the hurried flight of the Israelites from Egypt, before they had time to bake leavened cakes of dough into normal loaves of bread.

After the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in CE 70, and dispersal of the Israelites across the known world of the time, the Seder service recalls the traditional rites of the service done at that Temple previously, and the ritual reverence needed to stimulate Believers with hope of new life and Liberty. Celebrating this Festival, Jewish people traditionally declare prayerfully, “this year we are slaves; next year may we be free.”

This dream of a world in which all people will be free, and will live in peace, inspires the Freedom Seder ceremony in 2017, and will continue to do so until the world is truly free.

As various interfaith readers from the audience participated in the Seder ceremony, the telling of the story of the Exodus was related to the situation so many people face today, showing that the Quest for freedom is never far from mankind. Recalling the 10 plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians when the Pharaoh refused to free the Believers, reminds us the world is not yet free of adversity and struggle. This is especially true for refugees, who typically flee their homelands because of violence that grows as the conflicts escalate.

A 1949 poll by the American Institute of public opinion found that more than 60% of Americans opposed bringing Jewish refugees to the United States in the wake of World War II. That same xenophobia has never completely subsided, and has seen a great Resurgence over the past several years, very much evident through workplace discrimination bias attacks against Muslim and other refugees, and a rising spate of anti-refugee legislation across America.

Celebrating this Seder feast shows our ties with our brothers and sisters in this in this world who are not yet free, as we eat of the Bread of Affliction known as Matzoh. As Abraham Lincoln said in 1858, “Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subject of the first cunning Tyrant to rise among you.”

And as Nelson Mandela echoed nearly 150 years later, “Freedom is indivisible. The chains on any one of my people are the chains and all of them, the chains and all of my people are the chains on me. The oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed….I am not free if I am taking away someone else’s Freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken away from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of all their Humanity.”

The dream of a world in which all people will be free and live in speak in peace inspires this Seder ceremony, just as it inspires all of us at AIA 2020 to push for such interfaith dialogue, communication and Joint celebration. We are all part of an Indivisible America, and we all look forward to making an Indivisible America a complete reality for the year 2020.

Robert Marro, Executive Director

Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 (AIA 2020)

ADAMS & AIA Deepest Sympathy for Coptic Christians in Egypt

Somayyah Ghariani

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) & AIA extend our most profound sympathy for the victims and the families of the victims of the April 9 attacks on a Coptic Christian Church in Tanta and another in Alexandria, Egypt

We join all people of conscience in denouncing these terrorist attacks in Egypt. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of these vicious attacks.  As we repeatedly note and teach, Islam holds that the taking of even a single innocent life is equivalent to killing all of humanity. Churches are explicitly named in the Qur’an (22:40) as places where the name of God is extolled and are deserving of protection.

It is especially disappointing that these false adherents of Islam have not only ignored these critical teachings, but did so in direct contravention of the instructions laid down personally by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in his letter to the Monastery of St Catherine in Egypt, in which he noted that anyone who attacked a Christian Church would be Violating Islamic Principles, and would pay a severe penalty on Judgment Day.

With Passover, Easter and Ramadan coming in the next weeks, many billions of people worldwide are preparing for their Religious holiday observances, such wanton acts are a disgrace to all those who perpetrate them, especially when done so falsely in the name of God and religion.

May our commitment and compassion hasten the day when all peoples can live together in understanding, harmony, and peace.  All those who oppose such peace and harmony should know that we will never hesitate to oppose such horrific violence, and will always categorically condemn any who feel that violence could in any way solve the problems of today’s world.

References: 

Fatwa(Religious Ruling) Against Terrorism 

Marrakesh Declaration supporting religious minorities in Muslim majority countries.

Christian & Muslim Interfaith Event for Pakistani Christians – Better Relations between Christians & Muslims
All Dulles Area Muslim Society focus on Religious Freedom Around The World

ADAMS hosted US Muslim & Christian Coalition (MCC) Inaugural Dinner and Fundraiser for Iraqi Christian Refugees.

Muslims are the largest victims of worldwide terrorism and suffer between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities.

Sep 10/11, 2014 – Voice of America – US Muslim Leaders Condemn ISIS

http://www.voanews.com/content/us-muslim-leaders-condemn-islamic-state/2447167.html

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2014/09/11/us-muslim-leaders-united-isis/24103/

“Prayer vigil held following hate-based graffiti at JCC and church”

Somayyah Ghariani

ANNANDALE, Va. (ABC7) — by Jay Korff/ABC7

It’s Holy Week for those at Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale. But those who came to this special service were not here to celebrate Easter per se. They came as a unity show of force in the face of darkness.

“Tonight we are here to being healing as a people and as a community,” says Little River United Church of Christ Senior Pastor David Lindsey.

A myriad of faith communities filled the sanctuary for a vigil of healing and reconciliation after this church and the nearby Jewish Community Center were recently spray painted with hurtful messages of hate.

Only days after this incident rocked this normally quiet section of Fairfax County, authorities arrested 20 year old Dylan M. Mahone at his nearby home. Investigators also allege Mahone posted anti-Semitic flyers at an area college campus.

This is also Passover: a time when those of Jewish faith celebrate freedom from oppression.

“We think that we are living in a time where we can look behind us and say that that was history. But we will always be in difficult times and we need to be resilient. But it was sort of a wake-up call that the fight has to keep on,” says JCC Executive Director Jeff Dannick.

Pastor Lindsey adds, “When you go through something traumatic like this it’s important that we remain witnesses to it, that we see it, that we understand what happened and that in doing so we recognize the hatred that was here but also moving through that and through these wounds we can move toward love.”

That love was felt when all of those in attendance ended the service by encircling the church with candles held high.

Interfaith Roundtable at NoVA Community College

Somayyah Ghariani

On April 12, 2017 AIA Executive Director Marro participated in an interfaith Roundtable at Northern VA Community College in Loudoun to discuss the impact of faith upon our collective cultures and perhaps how we can all reflect on a more tolerant society.

The panel discussion was led by NVCC Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of  BUS/FIN/MKT, NVCC-Loudoun Miguel Corrigan who introduced each member of the Interfaith Panel (including a Humanist representing atheism in America) by giving a brief biography of each, and asking question from his own experiences as well as from the audience of 200+ students and other interfaith guests.

The initial questions were followed by a direct Q&A session with the audience, moderated by Professor Corrigan. The questions largely focused on learning more about the different faiths represented, which included almost 20 representatives from Mormon, Evangelical Christian,Catholic, Sikh, Hindu, Coptic, Baha’i, and the Secular Humanists.

This project is part of a Fulbright proposal during which Professor Corrigan studied the unique forms of Islam in Senegal, Africa in July last year. Part of his grant involved producing an interfaith round table on culture and tolerance.

The discussion was very wide ranging, and covered topics about each participant’s experience and views concerning his or her respective faith. The audience remained extremely engaged and with superb questions for the entire 3+ hour session.

From the Desk of the Executive Director- Black History Month

Somayyah Ghariani

As we near the end of Black History Month, I want to reflect on what the experiences of our brothers and sisters in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s means for the Muslim and other minority communities in America now.  The struggle then has opened pathways for all immigrants and minorities in America, and we should never forget the debt we all owe to these pioneers of Civil and Human Rights causes in America and worldwide.   Continue reading “From the Desk of the Executive Director- Black History Month”

ADAMS Deplores Anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes against Jewish Community

AIA 2020

The members of the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 (AIA 2020), the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and our entire community are shocked and disgusted by the recent Anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes against Jewish Community Centers and Cemeteries, and to the Jewish Community as a whole. We are very disturbed to know that Anti-Semitic threats have been the highest proportion of all hate crimes every year, and that this has been increasing in 2017. We are also disappointed by the recent trend of increase in anti-Muslim attacks against 130+ Mosques in past 2 years and rise of hate speech and crimes against African Americans, Hispanics, Women, LGBTQI, and fellow minority communities.

ADAMS will host a special prayer service tonight for the safety of all minorities.

Muslim Americans Help Donate to Repair Anti-Semitic Vandalism of Historic Jewish Cemetery. Please donate at https://www.launchgood.com/cemetery

ADAMS has contacted the FBI and DOJ to press for them to investigate and find the perpetrators of the recent Anti-Semitic graffiti and hate crimes in our own area, in Herndon and in Charlottesville, VA.

We now reiterate our call to the FBI and DOJ to continue to investigate the recent nationwide threats against Jewish Community Centers, and desecration of a Jewish Cemetery. We all must understand that an attack on any faith and minority community is an attack on all faith and minority communities. We therefore stand united for Religious Freedom and against all bigotry.

We also deplore (and will continue to speak out against) the mounting fear mongering, hateful rhetoric and vilification of Jewish, Muslim, and Minority communities that can too easily inspire such hate threats and hate crimes. Such rhetoric has no place in America, and we urge all officials oto speak out forcefully against any perpetrators of such speech.

ADAMS has forged very strong Muslim-Jewish Partnerships and has routinely spoken out against Anti-Semitism in the following areas:

Imam Mohamed Magid and ADAMS take a strong stand against Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial and have consistently urged other Muslim leaders to do so as well:
http://www.ushmm.org/confront-antisemitism/antisemitism-podcast/imam-mohamed-magid,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/20/AR2006122001718.html

Muslim Imams Visit Auschwitz, Nazi Death Camp, to Pray for Holocaust Victims:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/imams-auschwitz-muslim-nazi-holocaust_n_ 3326547.html

ADAMS has two branch locations hosted at Synagogues. ADAMS Sterling was the first ever Mosque to host a Holocaust Remembrance event in 2006, and ADAMS-Ashburn hosted another Holocaust Remembrance event in January 2017. Both events featured Ms. Johanna Neumann, a Holocaust Survivor saved by Albanian Muslims:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqb7hXiwKNE

ADAMS Reston Friday Prayers at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation Synagogue News Video since 2008. Dialogue and Partnership started in 1990.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19289226

Since 2006 ADAMS has hosted an Interfaith Seder every year. A Documentary short about our Interfaith Seder co-hosted with the Washington Area Jews for Jewish-Muslim Understanding was produced by Matt Spangler:
http://vimeo.com/24281822

May 2008 ADAMS-Ashburn Branch Open House Mosque and Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation Synagogue as Neighbors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHJx7DAqnyA

Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom Unity Vigil

AIA 2020

On Feb 16, 2017, the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom sponsored a vigil at the Rodef Shalom Synagogue in Falls Church VA, as part of a larger effort by Sisterhood chapters across the USA. The goal of the event was to provide a venue where members and their guests could gather together to affirm each other and to remind each of us that we are not alone.

A host of Jewish and Muslim speakers came to the event to give each other the strength and courage needed to gain control of the chaotic and dangerous world created by the political rhetoric of the Presidential campaign and intensified by the political posturing of the recent weeks.

AIA Director Robert Marro spoke about his experience living in Paris and seeing the many commemorative plaques and memorials to the deported Jews in France during WWII, and his own personal experience with Holocaust survivors he had met growing up in New Jersey. He related his fear that the current attacks on immigrants and minorities were all too reminiscent of the rhetoric and atmosphere that prevailed in places like Germany or France in the 1930s and 1940s.

However, he also emphasized that unlike that situation, America has a long tradition of opposition to any such demagoguery, and events like this vigil and groups like this Sisterhood offer a powerful contrast to the
indifference and even general hostility that pervaded those European countries. But, as Marro cautioned, it is vital we do not give up our vigilance, and that we use all opportunities like this Vigil, and all platforms like AIA 2020, to demand that America live up to its own principles and traditions of welcoming immigrants, and protecting the religious freedom of all Americans.

The event featured readings from the Bible and the Quran, as well as reflections of from various well-known commentators on religion and religious freedom. The speakers and the audience of nearly 100 reflected on our traditions and teachings that create a welcoming space for all. The Sisterhood Unity Vigil helped to re-affirm the harmony that we experience when we celebrate the dignity and diversity we see in one another, and
provided a dynamic call for prayer and readings to offer courage and hope to one all attending.

For more information on the Sisterhood, please contact us at info@aia2020.org, or one of the following co-leaders:
Leina Wahba lwahba@yahoo.com
Nancy Bloch nbloch48@verizon.net
Rumana Abedin rumana.abedin@gmail.com
Susan Kohn sekohn76@gmail.com

Robert J. Marro

Tel:  (703) 421-8045
Mob: (703) 309-6726

Muslim Advocacy Day 2017 in Richmond

AIA 2020

Around 30 representatives of the Muslim Communities in Northern Virginia, Richmond and other parts of the Commonwealth came to Richmond for a Muslim Advocacy Day on January 24, 2017.  The event was organized by AIA Founding Members Muslim Association of Virginia (MAV) and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), and leaders of both mosques and many others joined AIA Executive Director Robert Marro, Directors Rafi Ahmed and Yaqoub Zargarpur and over 30 interested and active Muslim Leaders in an event designed to reach out to our many Senators and Delegates in the VAS General Assembly.

Muslim Day Advocates waiting official Recognition by Virginia Senate

The breakfast was attended by over 30 Senators and Delegates (including House Speaker Bill Howell), and the group was invited to attend the Senate Session where Lt Governor Ralph Northam officially welcomed them to the Senate, and acknowledged the many contributions of the Muslim Communities of VA.

VA Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Recognizes and Welcomes AIA and Muslim Advocates Group to the Senate

The following day (Jan 25) another large group (50+) of Muslim Community leaders, representatives and students from the Al Fatih Academy and others joined the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy at another Interfaith Advocacy Day at the General Assembly.  These visits play a key role in bringing our Senators and Delegates (and other VA Officials) more information about the Muslim Community and its many contributions to the Commonwealth.

Muslim Day Advocates at the VA General Assembly Building
Imam Johari Abdul Malik with VA InterFaith Center Director Kim Bobo
AIA Executive Director Robert Marro welcomes guests and explains the purpose of the Muslim Advocacy Day meeting at the General Assembly in Richmond
AIA Director Rafi Ahmed with Senator Jeremy McPike
Delegates Jennifer Boysko and Ken Plum at the Muslim Advocacy Day Breakfast
Dar Al Noor (Muslim Assoc of VA) AIA Leaders with Delegate Tag Greason
AIA Exec Director Robert Marro with Delegate Bob Marshall
AIA Director Rafi Ahmed welcomes House Speaker William Howell
AIA Director Rafi Ahmed shares a laugh with Delegate Sam Rasoul

Stand in Solidarity Rally

AIA 2020

Visit of Gov Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring to ADAMS for the Stand in Solidarity Rally with 400 local neighbors and supporters coming to show solidarity with the Muslim community, along with Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel and Fairfax Supervisor John Foust.

Solidarity at ADAMS Center

On Friday, Feb 3rd over 400 people stood in solidarity and support of the Muslim community at the ADAMS Center. With beautiful posters, and smiling faces, well wishers exemplified universal teachings of community, love and friendship. haqqMedia All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS)

Posted by DEEN TV on Sunday, February 12, 2017

 

Standing with our Muslim Neighbors

  • Standing with our Muslim Neighbors