White House, Congress Note Muslim Presence in U.S.

The AMC Report
American Muslim Council
Summer 1991


Within a period of three months, spanning the Muslim festivals from Eid al-FitrThe Islamic calendar includes two annual feasts (Eids): Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-breaking; and Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice. Muslims gather to perform the prayers and eat sweets on Eid al-Fitr at the end of the month-long fast of Ramad... to Eid al-Adha, both the White House and Congress undertook historical initiatives in acknowledging IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... before the American people.

Responding to a query from the American Muslim Council regarding the executive branch’s responsibility to encourage religious tolerance and parity for all Americans, President Bush consented to video tape a special message to the American people on the occasion of the Eid al Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) which the Muslims observed on June 23. This marked the first time in American history that a Chief Executive has given special recognition to a Muslim religious commemoration.

Following the President’s decision, Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D – WV) requested that the House of Representatives be granted the opportunity to hear an invocation (opening prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.) from an Islamic representative. Historically only the Christian and Jewish ClergyClergy are the body of ordained men (and in some cases women) who are authorized to perform the priestly, pastoral, or rabbinical duties of the community—as distinct from the laity whom they serve. have been acknowledged in this way.

Shortly thereafter, Rev. James D. Ford, the House ChaplainA chaplain is a member of the clergy who serves in a prison, a hospital, a college, or some other institution outside the context of the normal congregational life of a religious community. extended an invitation to ImamImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... Siraj Wahaj of Brooklyn, NY to give the invocation on June 25. According to House records this was the first time that such an invitation has been extended to a Muslim.

Imam Siraj Wahaj is resident Imam for MasjidMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... al-Taqwah in Brooklyn, a member of the Council of ImamsImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... of New York, and member of the Board of the American Muslim Council. He attracted national attention recently for his leadership against drugs and crime in his borough.

The twin events reflect the changing nature of the dialogue between Islam, the Judeo-Christian society and the secular establishment. It also reflects the growing impact that Islam is bringing to bear on the moral and cultural growth of the country.

With respect to the dialogue, such initiatives indicate that despite the distortion and misinformation about Islam in the media, the American public has begun to recognize the contributions of Islam, not only in world history but to the positive moral climate in America.

For Muslims this also suggests that the need for greater involvement in the socio-political development of the country. In addressing the House, Imam Wahaj emphasized the Oneness of AllahAllah is the word for God in Arabic, used by Arabic-speaking Christians, Jews, and Muslims. According to Islam, Allah is the creator and ruler of the entire universe, the ultimate judge of all human beings, characterized by mercy and compassion. By means ... and the unity of mankind.

Interweaving his comments with the opening SurahThe text of the Qur’an is divided into 114 surahs or chapters, arranged roughly from the longest to the shortest. They include praises, warnings of judgment, exhortations, directives, and occasional short narratives. Every Muslim must learn to recite th... of the QuranThe word Qur’an literally means “recitation.” Revealed orally to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, he recited it to his followers. These recitations collected in written form are arranged in 114 surahs, generally from longest to shortest. Muslims consi..., Al-Fatiha, he said, “Praise belongs to Thee who shaped us and colored is in the wombs of our mothers; colored us black and white, brown, red, and yellow. . . who made us into nations and tribes that we may know each other.” He asked Allah’sAllah is the word for God in Arabic, used by Arabic-speaking Christians, Jews, and Muslims. According to Islam, Allah is the creator and ruler of the entire universe, the ultimate judge of all human beings, characterized by mercy and compassion. By means ... guidance upon the nation’s leaders.

Following the Imam’sImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... invocation, scores of dignitaries attended a reception at the Capitol building, co-sponsored by Rep. Rahall and the AMC. Among those attending were several foreign ambassadors, including H.E. N. A. Shaikh of Pakistan, H.E. Al-Haji Z. M. Kazaure and Saad Baba of Nigeria, H.E. Abdulrahman Ramly of Indonesia, Abdellah Abdul Rahman Hasan of the UAE, H.E. MuhammadThe Prophet Muhammad, known as “the Seal of the Prophets,” was born in the city of Makkah on the Arabian peninsula in 570 C.E. At 40, he began to receive a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. His small group of followers met with... bin Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Adbulbaki Keskin of Turkey.

Each of the ambassadors, speaking in turn, complimented the AMC’s initiatives, expressed gratitude to Rep. Rahall and his colleagues and stated their delight in “being a part of this historic occasion.”

Others attending included Neal Lendenmann and Jeff Steel of the National Association of Arab Americans; Natasha Ghoneim, Jamal Kheri, Fedah Dahdul, Hamdi Elrefai and Greg Nojin of the Arab Anti-Defamation Committee; and N. Abba Kano of the Voice of America.

Attendees also included Abdulalim Shabazz of the Muslim Political Action Committee, Salim Abdus-Salam of the Muslim for Better America PAC, Thelset Alberdia, Mowahid Shah, Ibrahim Al-Wazir, Abdulhamid al-Kibsi, Dr. Hassan Ibrahim Hazim and Muhammad Tajuddin.

AMC officials and staff included Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, treasurer of the board; Abdurahman Alamoudi, executive director; Issa Smith, deputy director; Imam G.N. Kashif, director congressional affairs; Fareed Nu’man, senior research analyst, Ruqiyyah Abdus-Salaam, director of public relations; and Jacquie Muhammad, administrative assistant.

Prayer Delivered by Imam Siraj Wahaj
Before the House of Representatives
June 25, 1991

In the Name of Allah (GodGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality.), Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise belongs to Thee alone, O Allah, Lord and Creator of all the worlds. Praise belongs to Thee Who shaped us and colored us in the wombs of our mothers; colored us black and white, brown, red and yellow.

Praise belongs to Thee, Who created us from males and females and made us into nations and tribes that we may know each other.

Most Gracious, Most Merciful, all Knowing, all Wise, Just GodThe term god with a small “g” is used to refer to a deity or class of deities whose power is understood to be circumscribed or localized rather than universal, or to refer to a plurality of deities., Master of the Day of Judgment, Thee alone do we worship and from Thee alone do we seek help.

Guide the leaders of this nation, who have been given a great responsibility in worldly affairs. Guide them and grant them righteousness and wisdom. Guide them on the straight path. The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy favors. The path of your inspired servants. The path of NoahNoah was the descendant of Adam whose story is told in the biblical narrative of Genesis 6-9. He built an ark and saved himself and his family from a flood, taking with him pairs of animals of all kinds. After the earth was devastated by flood, God made a..., AbrahamAbraham is the patriarch, acknowledged as the father of the lineage of faith by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. He is presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE. He is the father of Isaac by Sarah (Genesis 12.25), and the "..., MosesMoses was the great Biblical prophet who is credited with leading the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and teaching them the divine laws at Sinai. The story of Moses is told in the book of Exodus in the Bible and is also told in the Qur’an, wher..., JesusJesus is the historical figure considered by Christians to be the Christ, the Messiah, whose life and teachings, death and resurrection give clear evidence of God’s love for humankind. Jesus was born shortly before the death of Herod the Great (d. 4 BCE... and Muhammad. Guide them and us not on the path of the disobedient ones who have earned Thy wrath and displeasure. Amen.

Special Videotaped Remarks by President Bush

It is my pleasure, on the day American Muslims celebrate the feast of sacrifice, to offer each and every one of you my heartfelt best wishes.  Today, millions of Muslims in America and around the world commemorate the absolute faith and unquestioning obedience of the prophetA prophet is one who communicates a divine message or vision, sometimes calling people to repentance or awakening, sometimes predicting future events. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all look to Hebrew prophets, including Abraham and Moses. Muslims believe ... Abraham who was ready at God’sGod is a term used to refer to the Divine, the Supreme being, Transcendent deity, or Ultimate reality. command to sacrifice even his own son. Abraham’sAbraham is the patriarch, acknowledged as the father of the lineage of faith by the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. He is presumed to have lived sometime in the period 2000-1700 BCE. He is the father of Isaac by Sarah (Genesis 12.25), and the "... example inspires three great religions. As children of Abraham, American Muslims gather today to honor their ancient faith. As Americans, your celebration affirms this nation’s allegiance to religious freedom for all.

The notion of religious tolerance lies at the heart of the American ideal. Many of our founders came here because the land promised religious tolerance. And today in America, all people are free to believe, free to worship as their minds and hearts tell them they must.

On this day of great joy for members of the Muslim faith, I ask everyone to remember the millions of men and women who are persecuted for their beliefs, forced to suffer for their faith.

[By permission of the American Muslim Council.]