What do American Muslims want in a Mosque?
An overwhelming majority of American Muslims want an integrated community center where people of different faiths, races and ethnicities can come together and learn about each other to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.
What a joy it was to attend the Iftaar at Adams Center on June 26, 2016 in Sterling, Virginia. I am writing this essay to make a point, and the point is, Adams Center is a dream come true Mosque for Muslims. It is modeled after Prophet Muhammad’s first mosque, Masjid e Nabwi; a genuine community Center where Jews, Christians and others were invited for an interfaith Dialogue to learn about each other.
I must congratulate the leadership of this Mosque for leading the community in the right direction; becoming one with fellow Americans. Their initiatives will build bridges between people of different communities, and believe me it is not easy to do the right thing.
Just like many other places of worship, social or political groups, the Mosques also have individual influential donors or loud men who dictate an agenda of exclusivism to which people yield reluctantly.
Among all the men and women I have seen over a period of three decades, Rizwan Jaka stands out as one of the most authentic interfaith leaders. Jaka is the Chairman of the Adams Center and I am glad the board members, trustees and the executive officers of that organization have given him the freedom to do the right thing.
Many a places invite other faith leaders as a token representation, and not a genuine invitation. It happens with all communities. But Rizwan is about inclusion and I have listened to him for nearly a year, he is a genuine inclusionist or Pluralist in my language.
I must also congratulate Ms. Rabia Baig who emceed a part of the program. Indeed, the Adams Center stands tall for giving women key roles in the affairs of the Mosque. This young lady was confident, graceful, and eloquent and knew exactly what to say and how to deliver it. We have to trust the youth, and thanks to the leadership of Adams center for giving her the responsibility, which she fulfilled perfectly.
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) is one of the largest Muslim communities/mosques in the DC Metro Area and in the United States. It is a non-profit 501c (3) Organization that serves over 6000 families (25,000 people) with 11 branches in Virginia/DC - Ashburn, Crystal City, Fairfax, Greater Gainesville, North Reston, South Riding, Sterling/Herndon, Sully/Chantilly, Tysons Corner, and Washington DC. ADAMS is governed by a 13-member democratically elected Board of Trustees that includes both men and women.
ADAMS Provides Religious services & education and social activities to several thousand people a week. ADAMS engages in regular interfaith, government relations, social services and community service, and has one of the largest Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs in the DC Metro area. ADAMS Coordinates 24 Friday Prayers at 11 Locations. ADAMS Eid Prayers are attended by 15,000 to 25,000 People at 6 ADAMS Eid Holiday Locations. ADAMS hosts the Adams Compassionate Healthcare Network (ACHN) Clinic in partnership with ML Social Vision, Doctors, and Volunteers.
They made my day, when Mr. Jaka called on the Adams Choir made up of boys and girls to sing the Nasheeds (songs in praise of Prophet Muhammad –like the Christmas Carols) and America the Beautiful. I was in high heaven, this is what we need, and these are the shared values with fellow Americans. The more we do these things, the fewer the differences and greater the integration. The two gentlemen from the Mormon Church could not resist getting up and giving a standing ovation to the choir. Indeed, they also have one of the best choirs out there.
This was a dream come true for me, this is the kind of Muslim organizations that advance social integration and contribute to a safe and a secure America. We have to learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Adams center has become a beacon of national integration and a model Mosque for the nation. They have it all together!
What does God want?
He created everything in balance and simply wants us to maintain that harmony between its elements, just as all the organs of our body have to work cohesively for us to function normally. (Quran 55:5-11). As a business owner, you want your employees to care for your property, your customers and your revenues. God further says (Quran 2:62, 5:69) these very specific words, whether you are a Jew, Christian or the other, you need not worry, you will receive your recompense for the Lord, if you are good to your fellow beings, life and matter.
The program was held outdoors in their brand new pavilion, absolutely beautiful place backing to big trees laden with a vegetable garden. Many political and interfaith leaders spoke, and among them were Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and several delegates from the state and elected officials, and of course the interfaith community – the nation builders.
Adams Center is a model place of worship, and I hope someday, UPF or someone else will make a documentary about it and sets the tone for other new and upcoming Mosques, Churches, Synagogues, Temples, Gurdwaras and other places of worship. I will be happy to write the script and screen play if needed, it is my own vision that Adams is fulfilling, and I am sure those Muslims who study this Mosques will feel the same.
Congratulations to the board, trustees and executive committee of Adams. May God continue to keep you as a beacon of hope and model of integration, Amen!