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Muslims Pray for ‘Soul of America’ at Capitol

posted by mconsoli

WASHINGTON — Swapping prayer rugs for massive plastic rain tarps, an estimated 3,500 Muslims gathered at the foot of the U.S. Capitol on Friday (Sept. 25) to pray for “the soul of America” in a grassroots demonstration of religious and national pride.
The rally, organized by the Dar-Ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., was billed as regular Friday “jummah” prayers, but it quickly became a chance for rank-and-file Muslims to publicly witness to their faith and claim their place as American citizens.
“Islam and Muslims will never ever give to America anything except the best,” said Hamad Chebli, the imam, or spiritual leader, of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in South Brunswick, N.J. “Islam and America will never ever bring anything from their homelands, from their countries, except the best.”
Participants were told that the “Islam on Capitol Hill” rally would not be a political event, and were advised to leave their protest signs at home. Indeed, the only protests came from a few dozen vocal Christian demonstrators with bullhorns shouting from the sidelines.
“The political stuff is not what we’re here for,” said Ahmed Bashir of Newark, N.J., wearing a sweatshirt that said “The Quran: Learn It, Love It, Live It.” “This is not a political statement; this is just our Friday prayers.”
The crowd fell far short of the 50,000 participants organizers had planned for. The event was pulled together without the endorsement of major U.S. Muslim groups, and the two Muslim members of Congress — Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana — did not attend.
The event was bare bones, with no stage, an uncooperative sound system and constant pleas from organizers for attendees to sit down and stop talking. Men sat on the left, and women on the right, as participants performed ritual pre-prayer washing with plastic bottles of water.
But participants said the low attendance numbers and lack of organizational support did not distract from the enthusiasm they felt for being part of the first-ever Friday prayers on the Capitol grounds.
Many said the event may help ease concerns about America’s increasingly visible Muslim population.
“I love this flag,” said Azizah Abdullah of Rustburg, Va., who wore a stars-and-stripes hijab around her head. “This is my flag, too.”
Speakers at the rally deliberately downplayed politics, sensitive topics and mentions of terrorism. Abdul Malik, a frequent preacher at mosques in New Jersey and New York, voiced praise for President Obama and urged Muslim doctors to provide free medical care, but largely steered clear of hot-button issues.
At the same time, participants said they wanted the rally to showcase the diversity and patriotism of U.S. Muslims, as well as dispel myths about a faith that is still foreign to many Americans.
“We are here for the Muslims, but we’re also here for humanity,”
said Rachel Foye, a Muslim convert from Newark. “We’re here to be part of the solution, not the problem.” Her friend, Hamidah Abdullah, piped in, saying, “And to show that we’re not terrorists. Islam means peace.”
Still, not everyone was convinced. Vocal Christian protesters carried signs reading “Islam Is A Lie” and argued with Capitol Police who tried to keep them at a distance. Critics had accused the event’s chief organizer, attorney Hassen Abdellah, of defending terrorists in court.
On Thursday evening, officials from the Family Research Council and the National Day of Prayer Task Force hosted a national call-in prayer-a-thon in which one woman prayed, “We take together (God’s) sword and break the sword of Islam over this nation, and we loose forth the blood-drenched sword of Jesus Christ.”
Organizers of the call introduced a girl identified as Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old Ohio girl at the center of a custody dispute after she converted to Christianity, fled to Florida and sought shelter from a Christian pastor and his wife. The girl grew emotional when she was asked to pray for Muslims to embrace Christianity.
“I cry out on behalf of my people, Jesus,” she prayed. “Would you expose the lies… send forth fire from heaven and… break their hardened hearts.”
Addressing the handful of Christian protesters at the rally, Abdellah pleaded for understanding.
“We would never come to a prayer meeting that you have to make a disturbance,” he said. “Please show some respect because for us, this is a sacred moment on a sacred day. Just as your Sunday is sacred, our Friday is sacred.”
In his sermon, Malik, the New York preacher, denounced violence in the name of Islam, or any religion, and said “We Muslims must seek the higher ground.” He also appealed to Muslims to become more visible in their schools, jobs and communities.
“America is not perfect,” he said, “but there is nowhere else on the planet where we could do what we’re doing here today.”
By KEVIN ECKSTROM
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



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pagansister

posted September 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm


Am glad this event went off peacefully. Naturally there had to be a few Christians to try and mess things up…after all…they would really like to rule the country and probably are a bit jealous that those of the Islam faith were able to show this country that not every Muslim is a going to blow up this country or fly into buildings!



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nnmns

posted September 26, 2009 at 12:29 am


I hope it accomplished some of what they wanted.
And fringe Christianity showed once again how batty and dangerous it is.



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SK

posted September 26, 2009 at 10:30 am


“…and we loose forth the blood-drenched sword of Jesus Christ.”
Yep — that sounds peaceful and forgiving.



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cknuck

posted September 26, 2009 at 2:19 pm


Islam has currently shown itself to be dangerous thus the overreaction of the few frightened apparently uninformed Christians that showed up. It is unfortunate that people like that give opportunity for those who are just waiting for that type of activity to take a poke at Christianity.



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Lisa

posted September 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm


It is a sad day in this country that other religions are given the oppurtunity to do what they did today and if the Christian community had asked to do this on the steps of the capital, we would have been blocked from all sides of the issues. Athiests would petition that the government and state are to be kept seperate and the other anti christian people would have been picketing against us as well. Do you not see that by quieting Christianity, we are not being allowed to have our rights as americans to freedom of speech and religion? I did not hear anyone shouting keep church and state seperate when the Muslims were praying on the capital steps. It is reverse discrimination against the christians of this country. I don’t here anyone mad that a muslim, or a hindu or a budhist went into their kids school to talk to them about their religion. But as soon as a Christian wants to do this everyone is up in arms about it and perfect example is when prayer is spoken out loud at a football game or any other sporting event. If we Christians are to keep out of politics, schools and other government bodies, then so must all the religions of this world. Lets make our government and schools totally non-religious. Don’t you question yourself when you find more tolerance for other religions but you have no tolerance for Christianity? That should tell you something, maybe you are fighting something deep within your soul. We Christians are asked to be tolerant of other religions We are told if you don’t like it change the channel, close your ears, or turn away. But anti religious people are not tolerant of Christians? Why is that? We ask for the same thing from the rest of the world. If you don’t like it change the channel, close your ears, turn away. But we do have the same freedoms that anyone else does and we need to stand up for our rights!
One other thing, just like there are radicules in other religions and anti-religios organizations, there are some radicules in the Christian community. They do not represent all Christians. Just like the muslims say to us that they do not represent terrorists but are linked to them by association and religion. You believe them when they tell you that but as soon as a radicule Christian person does something crazy or out there then you say, “ALL CHRISTIANS ARE RELIGIOUS NUTS” If someone is passionate about something, then it can manifest in many ways and it is not always the best representation.



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cknuck

posted September 26, 2009 at 11:53 pm


Lisa you are absolutely right, and when it blows up in the faces of the Christian persecutors it will be too late. And it is also unfortunate that the atheist, pagans, wicca’s self made Christians, lame duck Christians and other fringe folk will move in favor of anything but Christ in His deity, they find Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit a stumbling block, a offense, foolishness.



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nnmns

posted September 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm


Lisa I see you are frustrated. Let me point out a couple of things.
First, I believe Christian organizations have used that area for demonstrations. It seems to me, for instance, that Promise Keepers (remember them?) had a big march and likely various others. So I’m pretty sure you are just wrong in claiming Christians could not do that.
Second when Muslims or Hindus or so on go into a school it’s educational; they are telling the kids about something they don’t know about. Many times Christians, being of the dominant religion and having buddies on the school board, among the faculty and so on, want to indoctrinate captive school children about their kind of Christianity. So you are comparing apples and oranges. Or ripe pears and unripe persimmons.
But you are right about the radicals, they are in all religious communities and there are some atheist radicals too. The moderates of all groups need to take the responsibility to point out those radicals don’t represent their thinking.



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cknuck

posted September 27, 2009 at 7:19 pm


So nnmns “Muslims and Hindus or so on” are “educational” but Christians are not. nnmns your bias is apparent and relentless. You probably will try to make sense out of your blatant hate but you put yourself out there with that statement. Thanks for the snapshot.



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pagansister

posted September 27, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Explained very well, nnmns. Thanks for that. Now I don’t have to add my post, as you said pretty much what I was thinking.



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jestrfyl

posted September 27, 2009 at 8:28 pm


This would make me itch less and tickle more if these folks had been invited to SHARE in the “Meet You at the Pole” events (which were this week) – to which I am already allergic. But if the “Pole People” had enough insight and sensitivity, they might have extended their hands to Moslems in their schools and communities. I guess their view of the world was blocked by the pole.



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pagansister

posted September 27, 2009 at 8:42 pm


Meet You at the Pole? jestrfyl??



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nnmns

posted September 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm


cknuck in a Muslim or Hindu country a talk on Christianity in general would be educational. In the US people there’s no shortage of places to learn about Christianity, including in large numbers of homes.
For some people a class on how to post on B’net would be educational; for you or me it would not since we already know how to do it.
I’d have thought that would have occurred to you. Thanks, ps.



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cknuck

posted September 27, 2009 at 10:55 pm


nnmns integrity check: On the one hand when we argue if this is a Christian nation or not your argument stresses that Muslims, Hindu, Jews and Buddhists have been here since the country’s conception. Now you say not so we need to be educated about some but not others. In my condo development there are Muslim, Jews Hindu, Buddhist and Christians we share the tennis courts, swimming pool and the golf course; now according to you the Muslims and the Hindu are the only ones deserving of audience. I really cannot believe you can’t see the bias you tote around.



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jestrfyl

posted September 28, 2009 at 11:07 am


p.s.
“Meet you at the Pole” is an event for school kids whose adult advisers seem to confuse patriotism with faithfulness. Basically, it is an annual event when students gather at their school’s flagpole and pray. The imagery and symbolism is so rattlingly confused that it is hard to separate out just what is happening. I get mail about it every year – and have recently noticed a marked similarity between the addresses from which the stuff comes and Focus on the Family’s address. All of their mail gets recycled, but I have had kids come ask me about it. The peer pressure to attend some of these events can be fairly intense (and the adult hands in this manipulation is patently obvious).
Anyway, if this really were a purely patriotic event, then I would expect that all faith groups would be invited and there would be no attempts to proselytize. However, because the sponsoring organization is so incredibly biased, no one from any other religion or theological persuasion says anything (now THAT IS really scary). I have worked with youth groups on dealing with this kind of pressure, as well as all the other stresses they face in their lives.



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Henrietta22

posted September 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm


The Muslim girl that joined the Fundamentalist Church via her internet, and was helped by the Church to runaway to Florida for their protection, was described as being a Christian, she is a Fundamentalist Christian, big difference. UMC, UCC, Presybetarians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc. would not have done what they did with the teen-ager. I hope the Muslims understand the differences between Christian beliefs in our Churches. The media doesn’t seem to.



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nnmns

posted September 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm


cknuck, you question my integrity? Hah!
There were certainly Jews and deists and unitarians around then. And knowledge about Christianity is available in thousands of places now. What of those things can’t you get your mind around?



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pagansister

posted September 28, 2009 at 10:01 pm


Thanks for the explanation, jestrfyl. I’d never heard of that. Scary!



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cknuck

posted September 28, 2009 at 11:51 pm


jest I would never send a young person to a youth group you have anything to do with, you are so anti Christian I don’t see you ever drawing anyone to the faith or maturing anyone in being a Christian. I see you willing to come to the defense of any other faith but Christianity, you almost rival our greatest enemies. I see why pagans and atheist are drawn to you, not to seek our Lord but to ally in persecution, you are on the A list to all Christian bashes.



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cknuck

posted September 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm


nnmns knowledge to all things are available in thousands of places you are opposed to Christianity



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nnmns

posted September 29, 2009 at 1:22 am


I am opposed to all religions. None has any basis in fact and so they train their adherents to be swayed by faulty arguments.
I get a chance to act on my opposition to Christianity, at least by writing, far more often than my opposition to Islam, which, being newer is of more immediate danger to those where it is powerful, and to Judaism, which in many ways seems less dangerous largely perhaps due to its weakness most places but is highly dangerous to the Palestinians, whose land powerful Israelis covet and who use Judaism and many foolish and fearful Jews to help them steal that land.
I’m not as versed in Hinduism but I know fundamentalist Hindus have committed many crimes against their neighbors and the caste system certainly seems wrong. I’ll stop there. I deny your implied claim that I’m more opposed to Christianity than to other religions.



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Pamela

posted September 29, 2009 at 2:26 am


It does not matter if it was only 3500. I did not go but wish that I could have, anyway ONE BILLION MUSLIMS in America was praying with them. ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH. September 25,2009. WOW, It is the best day of my life. the christains must realize that JESUS loves Muslims. He will come back and learn about Islam. How powerful is that. Muslims Love JESUS more then christains,It is the Muslims, That has his mother’s name in a chapter of the Quran. there is not in a book of the bible, which is named after her. You love So-called god, but not the woman that birth him? WOW, and you say MUSLIMS hate JESUS. become a MUSLIM (drug free).



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pagansister

posted September 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm


Based on what I have read since I joined B’net, I’d certainly send my children to a youth group that was led by you, jestrfyl. You give a balanced view of all religion, while teaching Christianity. Inclusivness is your way, not exclusivness.
cknuck, the world needs more jestrfyl ministers.



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cknuck

posted September 29, 2009 at 10:55 pm


according to you a pagan with a unhealthy disdain for Christians.



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pagansister

posted September 30, 2009 at 11:35 am


No distain, cknuck,for Christianity (for the 100th time) but yes, if I had not raised my children in the UU faith, I’d have been pleased to have a UCC minister like jestrfyl teaching them. Yes, more liberal interpretations would be nice. There is more than 1 way to worship and believe in a “Christian” church.



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cknuck

posted September 30, 2009 at 11:02 pm


Yes pagan there is more than 1 way but you don’t and you do lampoon, debase, and downright attempt to mock Christ and if you thought that a church would be the optimum church for you to go it would be because that church shared your views. As a Christian leader if you saw me as a person who shared you views then I would know that I was like you and a nonbeliever.



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pagansister

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm


Cknuck, Christ was a human being. Human beings are not perfect. Not even he was. He just happened to have a personality apparently that caused folks to want to follow and believe what he said or what some think he said. It was written down too long after his death to be accurate, IMO. But he was human. He just happened to tick off the authorities and got caught. Several decades later stories were written and he became a hero. Simple. Some need that, some don’t. All religions idolize their founders or perhaps worship is a better word. Even those I honor, aren’t perfect.



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pagansister

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:42 pm


And of course I’d go to a church that shared my views….what would be the point in going to one that didn’t, cknuck?



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cknuck

posted October 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm


pagan your views are yours but as for you knowing facts about Christ only shows your ignorance and lack of respect.



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pagansister

posted October 2, 2009 at 11:53 am


Yes, my views are mine,cknuck, just like yours are yours. Aren’t we smart to figure that out??
JC was, IMO, one of many great teachers, not the only great teacher. But he was, again, IMO, a human being and when he was gone on that cross, he was indeed, dead. I respect him as one of many, many teachers from the past…one of many…including Buddha & Mohammed. Worship him (or any of them for that matter). No.



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cknuck

posted October 2, 2009 at 6:46 pm


What do you worship pagan?



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regis hussein

posted October 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm


Hey at all i think people missunderstand about this life we are now living i as a muslim i do like to tell all the humankind that us muslims as we were taught in our religion it`s to respect other`s religion the way they beleive and not to give them hard time because islam is a peacefull religion but onething to unknown muslims need to know is that we will never let anyone distroy our religion however so is open to everybody to respect to eachother and help eachother that`s all the rest we leave to Allh our God.



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pagansister

posted October 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm


Thank you for your post, regis hussein. If everyone respected the religion and beliefs of others, there would be so many fewer problems in this world.



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