Farmington–September 11th–The 9/11 terror attacks and the subsequent scrutiny on the Muslim community has lasted until this date 10 years after the event.
Muslims have attempted to rebuild ties and bridges of mutual trust and understanding on this 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy through a multitude of different events.
Imams spoke at a CIOM event in Dearborn on the morning of the anniversary, and before the anniversary came, there was a huge food distribution done in Flint, also in the name of rebuilding connections. Muslims across the nation, individually and through their organizations, also attempted to show their mercy and compassion for 9/11 victims by offering prayers and words of solace to the 9/11 families.
In this issue of The Muslim Observer, we have attempted to collect some reports from around the country of Muslim events to honor the memory of the tragic events of 9/11. The following Michigan events are not an exhaustive list of 9/11 commemorations, but a few good examples.
The Flint event distributed food to â€œabout 1,000 families,â€ according to Iman Meyer-Hoffman, interfaith director of the As-Siddiq Mosque, from which food was distributed this past Thursday at 5:00PM.
Each family recipient had to show a distinct i.d. in order to receive food, and the 1,000 family representatives who picked up food at the mosque came in about 300 carloads, showing Michiganâ€™s desperate economic position after years of recession and layoffs.
The Flint Islamic Center in coordination with the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan arranged the event. Ms. Meyer-Hoffman said of the event that â€œthe two mosques felt it was important for the community to work together.â€
Flint Islamic Center coordinators for the event were Bilal Ali, Mohammed Aslam, and Macksood Aftab. They publicized the event extremely well, and planned it well also–occurring several days before almost all 9-11 celebrations it successfully attracted a great deal of attention and put Muslims in a very good light by helping them to serve the real needs of the larger community.
The immense enthusiasm of Mr. Aftab in building media knowledge about the event and advertising the event to local non-Muslims helped to make it a success.
â€œWe are doing this because we are part of this community and this country. Most Muslims are peaceful people who care about others,â€ said Meyer-Hoffman.
PWAM Acts of Kindness
The Pakistani Womenâ€™s Association of Michigan was one of the other organizations to hold an event to commemorate 9/11.
The organization, in association with CIOM and other organizations, took advantage of the event to discuss past contributions, including helping out at Interfaith Health Fair and Soup Kitchen at the Muslim Center Detroit, as well as active involvement in the annual CIOM Unity Dinner.
Here, PWAM partnered with CIOM, ACCESS, the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, the City of Detroit, United Way, WISDOM, J-Serve and Focus: HOPE, Volunteer Centers of Michigan, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Arts & Scraps, and Detroitâ€™s Cities of Service â€œBelieve in Detroitâ€ Campaign to participate in the â€œActs Of Kindness, Transforming 9/11â€ which had been called for by President Obama to counteract the incredibly negative and divisive event which took place ten years ago.
Hundreds of volunteers participated in projects such as park beautification, vacant lot clean-up, food packaging, sorting art supplies for local schools, and writing thank you cards to U.S. troops serving abroad. As they worked side by side, their energy and dedication helped transform 9/11 into a day of learning about each otherâ€™s interests, families, and faith traditions. After the projects were completed, there was a structured dialogue series designed to increase tolerance and understanding, with the goal of promoting a sense of unity, peace, community-building, and mutual understanding.
In Dearborn the morning of 9/11 was marked by a well-coordinated event at which several prominent local imams had the opportunity to speak about 9/11 and its broader meaning to Muslims after 10 years have elapsed.
This event was held at the prominent Islamic Center of America (ICA), said to be the largest mosque in America–a huge mosque on Ford Road in Dearborn that unfortunately has served as a lightning rod for criticism of the Muslim community.
The CIOM statement about the ICA event stated that â€œThe tragedy … will never be forgotten… The date brings back painful memories. American Muslims…. wish for our fellow Americans to begin a renewed era of understanding, tolerance, freedom and justice for all.â€
One of the prime movers for this event was Ghalib Begg of CIOM, known for his leadership and and hard work, and for his political and interfaith connections.
Some of the prominent imams present were Imam Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Imam Qazwini of the ICA, Imam El-Turk of IONA, Imam El-Amin of the Muslim Unity Center in Detroit, Imam Aly Lela of IAGD, Shaykh Ali Sulayman Ali of MCWS, Imam Kilyani, Imam Al-Azom, and Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR-Michigan.
Imam Elahi said at the ICA that the tragic terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted a crime, against Americans but also against Islam, agains the teachings of Islam–over 90 nationalities were among the victims, including many Muslims. â€œWe as Muslims joined to show solidarity with the victims.â€
The tenth anniversary, he said, was a day of prayer for the victims, to show national unity, to build dialogue and interfaith cooperation, to build towards â€œa better America, with justice, peace, and working together.â€
He said of 9/11 that it could have been a much worse event, and that the calm and involvement of Muslim and non-Muslim community leaders in the aftermath had managed the event to avoid it being worse for all concerned.
Following the ICA event there were other commemorations attended by prominent Muslim speakers all over the Detroit area and literally all day long, so that the scheduling for the events shortened the ICA event; similar events were held at mosques, churches, and synagogues.