By Mr. Ghulam Jangda
Dallas–April 18th–On Wednesday at 7:00 PM, the American Muslim Alliance Dallas County Chapter hosted a candidateâ€™s forum for the upcoming Richardson city council election. The forum took place in the Multi Purpose Hall of the Dallas Central Mosque on 840 Abrams Road in Richardson. A wide variety of traditional foods were donated by our communityâ€™s local restaurants in celebration of the event.
The overall Islamic atmosphere of the forum showed the respect of the candidates towards Islam, especially when the adhan began and everyone listened quietly and attentively.
The candidates described their positions on a wide variety of issues affecting the city and our community. Questions were submitted by citizens concerned about actions taken by the current council members and how all of the candidates might better serve and represent our needs. The evening was filled with opportunities to better understand our religious and cultural differences and the concerns of the Muslim community.
Two awards were presented. A plaque was presented to Mr. James Shepherd to honor his outstanding service to the City of Richardson for the past 15 years on behalf of the AMA. The second award was presented to Dr. Asif Syed, who is among the pioneers of the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), and was the first president of the Dallas Central Mosque.
The program was well organized, and attended by close to 300 people, among them the neighbors, friends and family members of candidates and other concerned citizens of Richardson Texas. One message was loud and clear–everyone enjoyed the place, format of the forum and the hospitality of the Muslim community.
Among the topics discussed were hate crimes, the sale of beer and wine, choice of talk shows preferred by candidates, qualifications, ability to manage the millions of dollars of taxpayersâ€™ money, and so on.
The first thirty minutes were for food, snacks and refreshment, since most of the folks were coming from work. It was a good opportunity for informal conversing and socializing. The forum started at 7:30 PM with traditional Islamic prayers and salawat for Prophet (s), and then a minute of silence was observed for the victims at Virginia Tech University.
Candidates were given 2 minutes each for opening remarks and their introduction.
At around 8:05 pm, the adhan for salatul maghrib was heard by everyone in the audience, with pin drop silence. Then maghrib prayer was offered in the main prayer hall. Non-Muslim guests were ushered by mosque volunteers and they also offered a tour of the beautiful mosque. After the prayer, the forum resumed and ended with closing remarks by Dr. AS Nakadar.
This successful program was a joint effort by all–the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It was arranged by Ghulam Jangda, Saif Khan, Mumtaz Khan, Munaf Mandavia, Iqbal Samjoo, Saleem Suleman, Abdul Hafiz, Waseem. Shelly McCall (a neighbor of the mosque), and the Highland
Terrace Homeownerâ€™s Association was very helpful in making sure all the candidates received equal time.
The evening ended with a very positive note of appreciation and understanding.
The next day mosque organizers received a very friendly email from one of the candidates who â€œ[j]ust wanted to thank you for hosting the Candidate Forum last night. Great turnout… Nice people… Great food!
Thank you, again.â€