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This year, our Eid ul-Fitr celebrations will take place during the weekend of September 11th, a date that carries with it painful memories and deep sadness for all of us. While a small but increasingly vocal group of bigots will be staging public demonstration of their hate at Ground Zero and burning Qurans in front of a tiny church in Florida, we should take this opportunity to demonstrate who we are as American Muslims and organize activities that reflect the core values we cherish from our faith including mercy, compassion, service, and mutual understanding.
“But [since] good and evil cannot be equal, repel [evil] with something that is better – and lo! he between whom and yourself was enmity [may then become] as though he had [always] been close [to you], a true friend.” (Quran 41:34)
Given the volatile political and social climate we are experiencing all around the country, we ask you to do something special this Eid – invite your family and friends and community to be a part of a national grassroots effort to spend the anniversary of 9/11 in service to your neighbors and your city.
Last summer, American Muslims participated in more than 3,500 community service projects all around the country as part of President Obama’s “United We Serve” campaign. On September 11th, let’s show that we can rise above prejudice and hatred and be the kind of conscientious citizens who give back to our country by through a national “Muslim Serve” campaign.
“Muslim Serve” is about fighting hate by demonstrating how our Islamic values inspire us to serve humanity, rather than just through words and protests. All eyes will be on us this Eid and on 9/11. We can imagine what the headlines will be out of New York and Florida. But can you imagine the power of a headline or TV news story that features American Muslims as citizens, giving back to our country? During the weekend of 9/11, please dedicate some of your time and energy to:
- Participate in a 9/11 commemoration event taking place in your city
- Volunteer in a local homeless shelter or food pantry
- Clean up a local park, highway or beach
- Bring donations of food and/or toys to soup kitchens or homeless shelters
- Visit your local churches, synagogues and temples to share offerings and well wishes for Eid
There’s power in numbers! Organize your family and friends of all faiths to commit to your service project. Whatever we choose to do, we will all have to move quickly to get our “Muslim Serve” activity in place on September 11, 2010. Please commit to this project. This is a chance for American Muslims to turn the tide of hatred. Together, we will demonstrate our core Islamic values and our dedication to our neighborhoods and our country.
A grassroots effort organized by individuals around the country, “Muslim Serve” is endorsed by the following organizations and individuals (in alphabetical order):
- Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, Nawawi Foundation
- Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM, author of The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing
- Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP)
- Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM)
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Dr. Sherman Jackson, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor Department of Near Eastern Studies
- Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
- Islamic Networks Group (ING)
- Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
- Dr. Munir Jiwa, Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA)
- Muslim American Society (MAS) / MAS Freedom Foundation
- Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
- Dr. Hussein Rashid, Religion Dispatches & Hofstra University Department of Religion
- Imam Zaid Shakir, Zaytuna College
- Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Masjidul Waritheen (Oakland, CA)
TIPS ON ORGANIZING YOUR ‘MUSLIM SERVE’ DAY OF SERVICE
- IDENTIFY PEOPLE TO SERVE WITH. Find a group of people to serve with. Brainstorm a list of your friends from your community/mosque/campus and/or local organizations who would be
interested in participating in a “Muslim Serve” event on 9/11. Be creative with the building of your team!
- Reach out to neighboring mosques, Islamic schools, local MSAs, etc. and find out if there are service events already scheduled to happen in your community!
- You can also contact interfaith and faith-based organizations to who are already doing work in your community or holding regular service events and dialogues.
- IDENTIFY & ORGANIZE YOUR SERVICE PROJECT. Identify a need within your community where you are able to serve. Whether you are supporting a community garden, reading to children, organizing a clothing drive, or volunteering at a local food bank, the service event should be an activity that allows multiple people to contribute. For ideas and resources on ongoing service projects:
- Visit the MuslimServe Facebook page to see what other people are planning and to share your project.
- Utilize the search engine on www.serve.gov to find out about planned community service projects in your local area.
- Contact local service and civic organizations (e.g. YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis, Office of Service Learning on a college campus, etc.)
- SPREAD THE WORD. Reach out to your family, friends, and social networks so we can all organize hundreds of service projects all around the country on 9/11.
- Utilize the sample press release on the MuslimServe Facebook page to notify your local media outlets about how you’ll be serving your community and your country on 9/11 as a reflection of your Islamic values.
- ACT! On 9/11, serve your community through your service project and/or by participating in local commemorations of 9/11.
- Consider facilitating an informal conversation with your group to reflect on your service experience.
- Discuss the larger context of your project and why it matters to the community and the people that you serve.
- TELL YOUR STORY. Report back to tell us the story of your service event either by registering your event or emailing [email protected].
- Take pictures and videotape your event so you can share it with others via social media and/or through blogs.
- Consider writing an op-ed about your experience for your local newspaper to share what motivates you to serve your community on 9/11 and in honor of the end of Ramadan.