Faith communities weigh in on gun violence – Part 2
CWSC leads Capitol Hill Delegation…
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― See Part 1 of this article here. Earlier in the year, the first iteration of the Never Again Interfaith Letter was delivered to Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional leaders on Muslim Advocacy Day. CWSC took other steps to support efforts for policy reform addressing mass gun violence including financial support, inter-organizational outreach, and collaboration.
The Journey to Washington was a culmination of efforts begun in early March to harness the power of the group intellect to effect change via a visionary effort and strategy that were a powerful demonstration of what can happen with an expanding definition of “group intellect” and “intelligentsia” coming together with a practical respect for the inherent value both bring to problem solving and opportunities realization.
Inclusiveness, respect for what every person can bring to the table, and institutional collaboration have proven far more important than just a focus on dollars and cents in being an effective change agent.—M. Muhammad, CWSC Exec. Dir.
Mark Shahid, CWSC’s Public Affairs Director, states, “You know we don’t have huge financial resources to do all that we’re accomplishing. But praise be to Allah (SWT), it is through this intelligentsia concept that we’re able to organize, fund, and execute the magnificent work that took place in Washington. The CWSC model of inclusiveness, respect for what every person can bring to the table, and institutional collaboration have proven far more important than just a focus on dollars and cents in being an effective change agent. We’re proud of the work in Washington and its implications for the future. And it’s just the beginning of a wider expansion of our work with faith-based, government and other societal institutions coming together to help remake the world.”
Mongi Dhaouadi agreed with CWSC’s Director that while it is incumbent on the Muslim Community to advocate for causes affecting American Muslims directly as citizens including racism, religious bias, unfair discrimination, or targeting of Muslims for hate crimes, and even the harsh political rhetoric emanating from the highest levels of government that only serve to divide us as a nation and fan the flames of extremism; Muslims nevertheless have to be advocates for social justice on the issues affecting the whole society…consequently, just advocacy is not mutually exclusive…”We need to connect the dots. The struggle is connected and gun violence does not discriminate and affects communities across the board,” stated Brother Mongi who has also lived in Connecticut where he relates, the city has its share of tragic gun violence and of course it’s where the 2012 Newtown massacre occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He further shared that when Newton’s mass violence event occurred, the same evening everyone in our community in the small town of New London including parents, teachers, politicians and faith leaders we’re meeting to discuss how to stop this nightmare from repeating itself. “Grass roots leaders to national organizations among Muslims, are ready to help Congress.”
We need solutions not based in blackness or whiteness or the degree of accent one does or does not speak with, or on some other concept grounded in artificial barriers placed between people who should be allying, but are instead separated by an ‘I have to do this all on my own’ mentality. We need to help one another.—M. Muhammad, CWSC Exec. Dir.
CWSC Executive Director Mukhtar Muhammad remarked in a recent interview at length on the importance of the work undertaken in Washington: “CWSC is among those committed to helping not only make a difference, but we recognize to do so we need to accelerate our outreach and expand our comfort zones beyond just our institution or community. In fact we need contemporary solutions to what are common human issues whether in America or anywhere else in the world—solutions that build upon the human rights successes or gains we saw especially during the 60’s, while not being caught in a time warp of only looking through the lens of 1960’s methodology for solutions to today’s issues.
Whether we’re seeking to address Islamophobia or perennial chronic social issues in historically disadvantaged communities and communities of color, it’s a big world with a long history and any failure to examine the long arc of moral justice in the history of mankind anywhere in the world will only diminish the capacity of our group intellect to solve problems and cut us off at the pass of new opportunities to progress.
Today we need solutions to human issues not based in blackness or whiteness or the degree of accent one does or does not speak with, or on some other concept grounded in the artificial barriers placed between people who should be allying, but are instead separated by an ‘I have to do this all on my own’ mentality. We need to help one another…all of us!
At CWSC, we’re looking at the strategies that are reflected in the methodology of community development under Muhammed the Prophet (S) and that’s why this Delegation was so important in its model composition, for it follows a model worth examining and studying intently—Madinah Munawarah, the City of Light, and the first city with its constitution based in faith and human rights protecting all citizens. What united the Ansar and Muhajirrun was not based in melanin or national origin or ethnicity—it was faith. Now we need to ask, who are the Ansar and Muhajirrun.”
I pray we’re strengthening our leadership ability into a future that won’t find us waiting on others, but shows us joining others at the table of leadership on issues affecting Muslims proper and all Americans.—M. Muhammad, CWSC Exec. Dir.
The Executive Director continued, “The majority of people in America describe themselves as religious or having a faith; and it’s that common denominator that we as Muslims and citizens are going to have to utilize in this struggle for what is the very soul of our nation. We believe gun violence against children in particular will be a bellwether for other important policies and legislation that come before lawmakers. For if we are not as a body politic moved by kindergarteners dying in their classrooms, then what shall move us?
I pray we’re strengthening our leadership ability into a future that won’t find us waiting on others, but show us stepping up and joining others at the table of leadership on issues affecting Muslims proper and all Americans.
Whether it’s guns, immigration bans, or assault on the sanctity of family life for parents seeking asylum, I think it’s clear we have some difficult days ahead as one of our leaders reminds us in words that now echo through this period and the future that we now seek to vouchsafe. We believe that collaborative faith and work provide the fortitude to win the victory. Yet we have to ensure our youth leaders understand the role and interplay of faith and action in seeking social justice and reform. Gen-Xers and Millennials need to witness a demonstration from us that reflects a combination of faith and mutually supportive action—both are essential in remaking the world; what better way to demonstrate that than for our student leaders to see us taking a stand to support their voices.”
CWSC is grateful to all endorsing signatories for the wonderful collaboration and for the assistance of all persons and organizations who made the Capitol Hill Delegation a success including CWSC’s M. Nailah Abdullah, AM360 CEO Emeritus Dr. Aisha Kareem, Debbie Shankman, and Imam Dr. Talib Shareef and staff and the believers of Masjid Muhammad, Washington, D.C. We also congratulate Congresswoman Norton on her campaign victory and commencement of her fourteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
CWSC plans to keep this issue before lawmakers and will present subsequent iterations of the Letter to Congress. Your institution can become a signatory by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Individual persons wishing to support this effort are encouraged to share this information with their organization’s leadership or administrators…together we can remake the world. See related article: Return to the Nation’s Mosque: A Personal Return to Innocence – Part 2.
“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)