Palm Beach Meeting recently had two wonderful opportunities to build bridges of friendship and understanding with local Muslim and interfaith communities, as well as to address the concern for Islamophophobia in this country.
The first event was held on June 2nd, when the Meeting opened its doors to the public for a presentation of “True Islam and the Extremists” sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The presenter, Khalid Minhas, showed the film and answered questions about Islam from the interfaith audience who filled the worship room. ‘True Islam & the Extremists’ is a campaign of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA to counter Islamophobia. Their goal is to educate Muslims and non-Muslims alike in the profound differences between religious extremists and true Islam, a religion of peace. They created this program when President Obama urged Muslims to become proactive in speaking out against Islamophobia, and have been showing it all over the country. The film was even shown to Congress, where it was praised as an important contribution in dispelling Islamophobia, which is not only a social concern, but a national security issue as well.
After the presentation, there was time for more socializing and refreshments. Several women expressed interest in the Hijab, and tried them on in solidarity with their Muslim sisters.
Palm Beach members try on the Hijab. photos: Mansura Minhas
Lisa Stewart writes:
“We hosted them in our Meetinghouse and bonded with them immediately. They are a peaceful, kind and loving people – similar to Quakers. I recommend them to you.”
Khalid Minhas, the presenter, wrote:
“It was a wonderful, inspiring and heartwarming show of faith, love and unity. The audience was overwhelmingly kind and attentive.”
Palm Beach Friends encourage other Meetings who are concerned about Islamophobia to contact the “True Islam and the Extremists” campaign to see about hosting a public outreach event. Friends in Florida may start by emailing Mansura Minhas , (Khalid’s wife), the south Florida regional coordinator of the campaign. The national campaign can be reached through their website, trueislam.com.
A second opportunity to build connections with Muslims and members of other faiths arose when the Imam of the local Sunni mosque invited Palm Beach Quakers and others to their annual Iftar dinner in celebration of Ramadan. Lisa Stewart, who attended on behalf of the Meeting, writes:
“I was honored to represent Friends at this event. Their outreach went so far as to invite us to sit in the Mosque during the men’s prayers Friday evening before the dinner.”
Among the many who attended the dinner were representatives from the Abrahamic Reunion, an international organization of Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze working for peace in the Holy Land. Lisa also recommends this organization to Friends. From their website, abrahamicreunion.org:
“The Abrahamic Reunion is a team of spiritual peacemakers dedicated to uplifting human consciousness and building peace in the Holy Land by opening hearts to the love and wisdom of all spiritual traditions.”
The interfaith Iftar Dinner, Lake Worth, FL. photo: Abrahamic Reunion