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On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the San Francisco Interfaith Council in conjunction with Mayor Ed Lee’s office and the San Francisco Opera held a joint 9/11 Commemoration on Sunday, September 11th in Sharon Meadows at Golden Gate Park. ING President Maha Elgenaidi delivered the invocation at the event which was attended by 15,000 people. Rev. James DeLange, Chairman of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, which represents over 800 congregations, introduced Maha who delivered the following invocation:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Good afternoon everyone. I greet you with the universal greeting of peace, Salam, Shalom.
I speak on behalf of all the faith leaders who are gathered here to remember those who died on that terrible day ten years ago today.
We grieve for the loss of their innocent lives so senselessly cut short, and pray that the pain of that day has been alleviated in a small way for their families by the support and good wishes of the American people and the world.
We are also here to honor in particular those who lost their lives while attempting to save the lives of others – the highest sacrifice one can make. We pray that their loss was not in vain, and that the example of their courage inspires others to similar acts.
For those first responders who survived, we pray that the memory of that awful day has been replaced with more pleasant memories, and the knowledge that their actions may have saved the lives of others.
One of the lessons that we learn from that tragic day is the dangerous power of ideology to wreak havoc and violence.
Throughout history, perverse religious ideologies have resulted in such travesties as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials and slavery.
In recent years, racist or supremacist ideologies have led to such unspeakable genocides as the Holocaust in Europe, and the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda.
Ten years ago, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda opened a new chapter in this lethal combination of ideology and violence with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which not only took the lives of almost 3,000 innocent people from all faiths and backgrounds, including Muslims, but continue to take the lives of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Just recently, this deadly mix surfaced again across the ocean in Norway where the perpetrator cited his perverse ideology to justify killing his fellow Norwegians.
And yet, the same religions that individuals and groups use to justify senseless violence and death can, and must be marshaled to forge relationships of good will, understanding and peace.
One of the many positive outcomes of the tragedy of 9/11 is that the interfaith community has grown stronger and more unified in its efforts to combat hate, and to promote inclusion, civil discourse, and harmony.
The theologies of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and others have motivated religious people all over the world to reach out to one another in the spirit of being good neighbors, and good citizens of the world.
Today we are here as the interfaith community of the San Francisco Bay Area to say with one voice, we choose inclusion, understanding, mutual respect, and peace.
I end with a supplication from the Islamic tradition, asking God to:
Send Your peace Oh Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that we may think, act, and speak harmoniously.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that we may be contented and thankful for Your bountiful gifts.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that in the midst of our worldly struggles; we may enjoy Your bliss.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate all in the thought of Your grace and mercy.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that our lives may become a divine vision, and in Your light all darkness may vanish.
Send Your peace Oh Lord, that we, Your children on earth may all unite in one family.
And to borrow from Jesus (peace be upon him),
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
God bless you all and thank you for being here. Peace be upon all of you.