A Faith Journey to Help Remake the World
American Muslims and their interfaith brethren weigh in on mass gun violence…
“…Work to build a better place for [ourselves], one that will benefit all people, regardless of race or religion.” —Imam W. Deen Mohammed (R)
Washington, D.C. ― The late humanitarian and community leader Imam Dr. W. Deen Mohammed (R) declared the mission for American Muslims was to help remake the world; For CWSC, that spiritual, civic, and shuraa-based mandate was foremost on the agenda of the National Intelligentsia and upon the hearts and minds of volunteers when lawmakers welcomed CWSC recently to Capitol Hill.
From Washington, D.C., Jacksonville, Florida, and Silver Spring, Maryland, volunteers converged on Capitol Hill to deliver a message to lawmakers on behalf of sixty faith-based organizations representing thirteen faith traditions and hundreds of thousands of the faithful across the country and even outside of America.
CWSC volunteers nationwide like many other Americans expressed outrage and concern as to why this problem of repetitious mass gun violence couldn’t be solved.
Several meetings with Senate and House members and staffers represented an interim culmination of a national interfaith campaign to ensure the voices of faith-based communities we’re prominent in supporting next-generation leaders who have and continue to eloquently argue for needed and urgent reform in our nation’s policies on mass gun violence.
In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and the unprecedented national organizing of the student-led Never Again Movement followed by the March For Our Lives mass protest, CWSC volunteers nationwide like many other Americans expressed outrage and concern as to why this problem of repetitious mass gun violence couldn’t be solved. That’s when the CWSC Public Affairs, Ambassador Programs Department, and the Office of Executive Director worked with believers nationwide to coordinate a national response that would eventually snowball into an international action in support of the nation’s children who were simply asking for safe schools and neighborhoods.
“We were touched by students’ pleas that the usual ritual of “we give you our thoughts and prayers,” followed by a period at the end of that sentence that then becomes symbolic of a cyclical period of personal grief and national mourning, debate, political infighting and stalling, and then back to business as usual until another shooting, except for the slain and their families and communities, is simply a moral insufficiency on all our parts including faith communities,” states Delegation Lead and CWSC Executive Director Mukhtar Muhammad.
Beginning just after the end of Ramadan and the Eid Celebration, volunteers convened at Masjid Muhammad Washington, D.C. to join Resident Imam and the Nation’s Mosque President Imam Dr. Talib Muttaqee Shareef who helped coordinate the CWSC visit with lawmakers and other area faith-based leaders. Also joining the Delegation were Debbie Shankman, Darlene Muhammad, Maya Muhammad, and Mongi Dhaouadi (see related article below Return to the Nation’s Mosque: A Personal Return to Innocence).
The Capitol Hill visit was an especially significant undertaking as it was CWSC’s first official visit to the Senate and House legislative offices and a practical demonstration of how the Model Communities National Resource Directory (MCNRD) and National Volunteer Human Resource Network can be brought to bear for on-site project management involving volunteers from diverse geographical locations.
Various members of the Delegation met in the Hart Senate Office Building with staffers for Senator Chris Van Hollen, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Charles Schumer. On the House of Representatives side, the Delegation met directly with Congressman Andre Carson, one of two Muslims members currently serving in the House. The Delegation also met with civil rights legend and women’s rights advocate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Notably, Representatives Carson and Norton are allied with Senators Van Hollen and Schumer on the need for comprehensive reform. Click here to continue reading…
Return to the Nation’s Mosque: A Personal Return to Innocence
Washington, D.C. ― (CWSC Executive Director Mukhtar Muhammad traveled to the nation’s capital and to its national mosque and shared the following reflection on a journey to help remake the world.)
The weather was perfect as we arrived in Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan area on the city’s northwest Islamic Way to convene with the Nation’s Mosque leader, Imam Dr. Talib Shareef ahead of scheduled meetings with federal lawmakers.
For weeks Imam Talib had been working locally to help coordinate CWSC’s session with legislators; His mosque had been among the institutional signatories on the Never Again Interfaith Letter calling for intelligent reform to prevent mass gun violence across the country. I was especially grateful for the assist as I had no experience on Capitol Hill, whereas Imam Talib was the veteran in more ways than one.
While we had both served our nation, he in the Air Force and I in the Navy, and over the decades we had both appreciated one another’s privilege to serve both the nation and our community, I was happy to have him as a wingman and also to be his wingman. I witnessed and admired how he moved effortlessly and confidently throughout the most important global power center in the world…Navy had to take the Air Force’s lead on this one (smile), but I was both happy and honored to do so, as I sought to fulfill a long-held personal goal of working with one of our most progressive institutional leaders while also fulfilling a CWSC core commitment of intrafaith collaboration in a mutually respectful shared freedom space…working together to remake the world.
Before arriving at the mosque to meet with Imam Talib, my family and I had the privilege of rendezvousing with another committed servant that helps CWSC fulfill another important core value: interfaith respect and collaboration in the wider group intellect.
We had just left Union Station to meet up with someone whom I’d only met via our American Muslim 360 Radio Network (AM360.org) and in planning meetings off-air. She was my Christian-Muslim sister. And she might call me her Muslim-Christian brother. I’m speaking of Debbie Shankman of Maryland or as her fellow volunteers and loyal listeners at AM360 call her, Sister Debbie. She was inspired immediately by the Never Again Interfaith Campaign to Congress and CWSC’s initial presentation of the Letter to the Senate and House leadership on May 7th’s Muslim Advocacy Day. She had been on pins and needles since being invited to join the second June Delegation.
Debbie has been an active volunteer with the CWSC since 2015 and has assisted with the AM360 Strategic Planning Team specifically in promotion and interfaith outreach. She was a loyal listener and ardent supporter when CWSC and AM360 founder the late Imam Thomas Abdul Salaam (R) was the station’s executive producer and CWSC’s first executive director. Debbie also has an interfaith relationship with her local Muslim community in Maryland. She is passionate in her support for Imam Mohammed’s scholarship and leadership and in her respect for our efforts to build an intelligentsia to serve all. Now after weeks of careful planning, the day had finally arrived and there she stood on time in front of Union Station beaming as brightly and colorfully as the beautiful dress she had worn.
Needless to say, it was a joyous meeting as we finally had the opportunity to meet in person. And although Debbie had been to Washington many times, this visit would be very special for her too as she thought for weeks about what she wanted to share personally with legislators. She proved an excellent CWSC Ambassador on The Hill.
As I entered Masjid Muhammad’s hallowed halls to pray the two rakat in respect to her and thought of what she through all the years had witnessed and accomplished through the many believers passing through her doorways, I felt humbled and thanked Allah (SWT) for bringing me back and for allowing me to serve and become even in those brief days a continued part of her history and Insha Allah, her future.
After the quick trek to the Mosque from Union Station, I soon saw Masjid Muhammad coming into view. The sense of excitement was building as we’d soon be heading to the Rayburn House and Hart Senate Office Buildings. But as I now glimpsed some of the most unique architecture I’d ever seen in my life and certainly one of the most historic architectural landmarks in a city known for its monuments and iconic structures, I began experiencing a deja vous of sorts and a nostalgia springing deep from the days of my youth. Click here to continue reading…
“Education is the greatest tool for advancing the society.” We do want to advance our society, don’t we? Are you a part of a society or are you just a part of a Masjid?”―Imam W. Deen Mohammed (RA)