By Susan Schwartz, TMO
With Islamophobia rampant in multiple aspects of society, it is refreshing for civil rights activists and humanitarians to celebrate the success of a Muslim organization that works to make the United States a better country for all through the incorporation of Islamic values. And further, an organization that is not intimidated by or, for that matter, even hindered in any way by Islamophobia in any of its forms. Such an organization is the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
MPAC held a successful 13th annual convention this past Saturday at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Ca. The event coincided with the 25th anniversary of the founding of MPAC.
The title of the convention was : â€œ25 Years on the Road Less Traveledâ€.
There was much to celebrate and much to discuss for the future. Under the leadership of MPACâ€™s CEO, Salaam Al Marayati and the guidance of MPACâ€™s Senior Political Advisor, Dr. Maher Hathout, MPAC has fulfilled its founding vision. Mr. Al Marayati called MPAC the creation of Dr. Hathout.
The organization throughout its history has sought engagement with important segments of American society such as government, media and interfaith groups. MPAC conducts its work relying on the Islamic principles of human dignity, freedom, equality for all, peace, and justice. MPAC has become a source for members of the media who seek a Muslim perspective on current events.
As the Convention began, Mr. Al Marayati welcomed the attendees. He referenced an Islamophobic protest which was taking place outside the Convention Hall. The protestors claimed that Islam and American society were incompatible. As the work of MPAC has amply demonstrated, nothing could be farther from the truth.
A reading from the Quran was chosen for its applicability to todayâ€™s convention. It had to do with the road less traveled – the difficult road. Mr. Al Marayati also referenced a poem by that title written by Robert Frost.
â€œIts the road that made all the differenceâ€.
This is the road that MPAC has traveled in these 25 years.Not the easy road nor the popular one, but the steep one that runs uphill. MPAC is working for liberation and justice and to energize people with compassion for each other. MPAC has worked and is working toward the acceptance of Islam with full equality in our pluralistic society and the acceptance Muslims as equals.
Mr. Al Marayati then read a communication from President Barack Obama congratulating MPAC on its 25th anniversary and on the successful years of its existence. The President spoke of the contributions of Islam and of Muslim Americans.
The Convention was divided into three sessions: Arts, Identity and Activism; The Innovators Shaping our Future, and Is There A Future for Political Islam?
An evening banquet honored Dr. Maher Hathout and was, perhaps, the heart of the Convention. In addition to his role in MPAC, Dr. Hathout is a beloved figure in the Los Angeles area and beyond. He has written books and study guides, initiated and participated in interfaith events; has supported civil liberties for all, and has done so with fairness and humility. At a press conference the day before the Convention, MPAC announced a document titled: â€œDeclaration Against Extremismâ€ authored by Dr. Hathout. Muslims leaders, standing shoulder to shoulder, signed the agreement.This declaration will serve as a launching point for future MPAC activities and events.
For more information about MPAC and.or to make a contribution to its valuable work, please access them at their web site: www.mpac.org.