Tuesday, May 22nd, 2019 can be marked as a memorable day when WNYMuslims brought its’ long-awaited dream to reality along with the help of the Jewish community of WNY to bring both communities together by hosting the first interfaith event of Salam Shalom Conversations (SSC).
SSC was most recently inspired by the tragic events in New Zealand and the tragedy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when Muslims and Jews at prayer were targeted and murdered. There has been a longstanding wish of both Dr. Yonina Foster, Ph.D., Alliance for Jewish Renewal Seminary trained, Jewish Educator & Singer, and Prof. Faizan Haq, Founder, WNYMuslims, to develop new friendships and understanding by using cultural values as a bridge to bring the two communities closer. Prof. Haq is a great supporter of interfaith collaboration and cultural exchange and wants to use Salam Shalom Conversations as a platform to share meaningful dialogue. For Dr. Yonina this began in her Maryland court when a friendship developed with a Turkish Muslim family. SSC will offer peaceful, balanced means, to bring unity and understanding between the two faith communities based on their traditions and values.
Last Tuesday, people from different walks of life attended the SSC Iftar/Dinner to celebrate diversity, one of the core values of WNYMuslims.
We are deeply touched by such an overwhelming response as the members of both communities expressed interest of some sort in assisting us in this consecrated work, by staying away from politics and sharing Torah, Quran, Psalms, prayer during our holy month of Ramadan.
Dr. Yonina Foster, introduced herself as a strong believer of Muslim- Jewish unity. She referred to Genesis 25:8-9, when Ishmael and Isaac came together to bury their father. She emphasized on getting together as cousins, under the roof of Salam Shalom Conversations and celebrate life affirming events.Prof. Faizan Haq, founder of WNYMuslims, emphasized on developing new bonds and spread the awareness about the cultural values between the two communities, and pondered upon on strengthening interfaith relationship through social exchange and wants to use Salam Shalom Conversations as a networking channel. Several guests supported the cause and signed up as volunteers. He offered an open forum to share ideas, so that we can further expand the brainchild of Prof. Haq and Dr. Foster.
We highly appreciate the presence of Rabbi Alex, who kept his word and showed up, despite having prior obligations that speaks for his commitment towards the cause. He offered a traditional song,
Oseh Shalom, which enthralled the whole audience.
Dr. Yonina also entertained us with her mesmerizing voice through some Jewish/Hebrew melodies. While an 11-year old, Yusuf Siddiqui, recited aNasheed, vocal melody about an Islamic belief, practice, etiquette, lesson etc. along with a comprehensive Dua, a supplication/prayer, in English followed by Iftar– meal eaten by Muslims while ending their daylong fast — and prayers.
We hope that the individuals, communities and organizations, who want to foster peace and understanding between our communities will join our caravan. We are Looking for partners to help create opportunities for friendship. Women and men are invited to assist and participate.
We highly appreciate the unprecedented response we got from our community, and we expect the same in future also as we are planning to form Salam Shalom Committee very soon.