Somali Imams and Community Leaders Condemn Nairobi Westgate Mall Attack
The Somali Imams and community leaders in Minnesota held an emergency meeting on September 22nd, 2013 at Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in Minneapolis. The leaders have agreed on the following points:
1. We, the Somali community Imams and leaders in Minnesota hereby strongly condemn the heinous act that took place at Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday September 21st, 2013 in which many innocent people lost their lives.
2. This outrageous act of violence has no place in Islam. The perpetrators of this barbaric act do not share our Islamic values. In fact, extremist groups such as Al-Qaida and its affiliate Al-Shabab have done more harm to Islam and Muslims.
3. We extend our condolences to the victims and their families who lost loved ones in these indiscriminate killings.
4. We reiterate that this form of extremism is a menace to world peace and requires collective cooperation amongst the world community to counteract it.
5. The safety and security of United States is of utmost importance to Somali-Americans and we are committed to be in the forefront of defeating extremism.
6. We call on Muslim youth to shun and reject the trap of being lured to or recruited by extremist groups like Al-Shabab.
List of organizations:
- The North American Council of Somali Imams (National)
- Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America (National)
- Abubakar as-Saddique Islamic Center, Mpls
- Islamic Civic Society of America (Dar Al-Hijrah), Mpls
- Al-Ihsan Islamic Center, St. Paul
- Umatul Islam Center, Mpls
- Darul-Qalam Islamic Center, Mpls
- Minnesota Da’awa Institute, St. Paul
- Rawdah Islamic Center, Mpls
- Masjid Omar (24 Mall), Mpls
- Masjid Shafie , Mpls
- Masjid Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed, Mpls
- Eden Prairie Islamic Center, Eden Prairie
- Burnsville Islamic Center, Burnsville
- Abubakar As-Siddique Islamic Center, Faribault
- Muslim Society of Owatonna, Owatonna
- Masjid As-Sunnah, St. Paul
- World Peace Organization, Mpls
- Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, Mpls
- Somali Action Alliance, Mpls
Mohammad Zafar (L) and Sakinah Mujahid (R) after receiving the "25 Veterans' Voices Awards"
Two Minnesota Muslims, Sakinah Mujahid and Mohammad Zafar, were among those who were honored at the 25 Veterans’ Voices Awards ceremony at the Minnesota Humanities Center on 9/11/2013. The 25 Veterans' Voices Award highlights veterans who have made “exceptional contributions to the community, in business, health care, public safety, education, the arts, government or any other endeavor which merits recognition.” It features young veterans who “have not merely returned to civilian life but are thriving and giving back to their Minnesota communities.”
Sakinah Mujahid receiving the award from Governor Mark Dayton
Sakinah Mujahid, a US Army veteran who served for 13 years, uses her own experiences and has become a leader in Minnesota’s Muslim community. She has worked in social services for six years and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and certificates in Financial Literacy Training and Dispute Circle Training. She is the founder and active participant in a Minnesota advocacy organization for Muslim women—Sisters Need a Place—that assists Muslim women and children by finding secure housing and employment opportunities. Mujahid’s work with the Muslim community is not only inspirational, but also dispels stereotypes of Muslim women.
Mohammad Zafar with his family
Mohammad Zafar, a US Marine Corp veteran, exemplifies a veteran who is giving back to his local community by working to promote a better understanding of the Muslim community and building bridges between Muslims and other Minnesota communities. In addition to teaching a Health & Wellness class to Somali youth and adults in Eden Prairie, he created a running event. Through Zafar’s event, Running 30 Miles in Ramadan, he motivated Muslims to run one mile each day during the 30 days of Ramadan. Zafar, who lives in Oakdale, serves and interacts daily with returning veterans, assisting them with the Minnesota GI bill through his job at Metro State.
On the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, Minnesota based Islamic Resource Group (IRG), along with four of its sister organizations, took part in local and national events commemorating the victims of 9/11 through interfaith cooperation, rejecting violence in all its forms, and highlighting constructive responses to tragedy through outreach, volunteerism, and community service. This was a multi-year effort held in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans through programs such as AmeriCorps and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
This year, as an extension of this multi-year project, the Islamic Resource Group worked on a project titled "Commemorating 9/11: Dignity out of Tragedy" to gauge the public opinion on various topics relating to how people are coping with the impact of the 9/11 tragedy in their lives. The survey was conducted during the “Third Annual Day of Dignity” event that was held on August 25, 2013 at Masjid An Nur in Minneapolis.
The people who took part in the survey included both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The most common response to the question of what people lost because of 9/11 and its aftermath was, apart from the tragic loss of life, a loss of trust. Some lamented losing freedoms and peace of mind. Some others pointed to the continuous erosion of civil liberties in our country.
To the question relating to whether they are hopeful about the future, it was heartening to note that an overwhelming number of responses leaned toward being hopeful about the future. Faith in God, in humanity's resilience to rise from setbacks, and having a positive outlook constituted a major portion of responses. A few of the respondents were cautiously hopeful, citing the unpredictable nature of the course of events taking place in the world. Some of the outstanding responses were:
"Yes, I have hope for my children and their dreams!"
"There are many things that make me hopeful about the future in regards to changing attitudes about race and religion. I feel that with each generation, our tolerance and acceptance is starting to improve. I only hope to see this continue."
"Yes, because I have faith in humanity and I believe all people to have good in them."
Respondents had great practical answers about what we could do locally to promote human dignity. Some of these were as follows:
"Keep education going and work for peace."
"Keep peace, love all."
"Increase volunteer efforts for various causes. Random/small acts of kindness."
"Partner and build trust."
"Allowing persons to maintain their dignity by offering opportunities where they can be their best."
This survey gives us reason to be optimistic about the future. While the pain of those who lost their loved ones cannot be lessened, as a country we are a resilient people. We have dreams for ourselves, our children, our families, our communities, and our nation as a whole. I pray that this dream includes working toward peace, harmony, and friendship.
The following verse from the Qur'an is a great solace in times of distress and gives hope for the future:
"Verily, after every hardship there is relief. Verily, after every hardship there is relief." (Quran 94: 5,6)