Muslims Pray for ‘Soul Of America’ At Capitol

September 25, 2002

Author: Kevin Eckstrom

Source: Religion News Service

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.