Muslims’ Historic Presence at Democratic Convention

Denver – 8/27/08 –American Muslims participated in two events that were historic at this year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) held in Denver, Colorado.

On Sunday, the DNC held its first “Interfaith Gathering” in which four community members played official roles in this opening event of the convention.  Imam Mohammad Mardini of Dearborn, Michigan gave one of the Abrahamic invocations, Fatema Biviji, who is also a National Democratic Delegate, read an English translation of selected verses from the Qur`an, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of ISNA, delivered a speech based upon the theme “Our Sacred Responsibility to Our World”, and Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali of Denver recited one of the closing litanies. 

The interfaith program was attended by many leading figures within the party including DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-NC) and Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. (D-CO).

Perhaps the most rousing moment of the program was the speech of Sr. Helen Prejean where she spoke about “Our Sacred Responsibility to Our Nation.”  Her speech touched upon her struggle to end the death penalty in America due to its “racist” application stating that murders only get the death penalty “when white people are killed, people don’t get the death penalty when black people are killed.” 

Prejean stated that America has lost her “moral authority” in the world.  She cited the recent examples of  when the Bush administration calls for China to have broader human rights or calling for Russia to withdraw from Georgia when America tortures Muslims in Gitmo Bay and launched illegal incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq.

During the interfaith event, there were a few moments of tension when three anti-abortionists yelled that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a “killer of babies” and a “child murderer” for his pro-choice stance.  Also, one audience member exclaimed “Free Palestine” during a portion of a speech by Rabbi Steven Foster when he stated that the Torah and Talmud teach that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. After the program, protestors continued their anti-abortion protests while evangelicals held signs reading “God Hates Obama” and “God Hates You.”

The following day, the American Muslim Democratic Caucus (AM-DC) held its first caucus luncheon.  Prior to the program, the AM-DC held a press conference discussing the formulation of the AM-DC and the need for the caucus being accelerated due to the marginalization of Muslims from the political process since 9/11. 

Several speakers addressed the 200 some attendees including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), State Rep. Yusuf Abdus-Salaam (D-AL) and Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA).

Several Democratic Muslim delegates were also in attendance from several states ranging from California, Texas to Michigan.

The events of the first two days of the DNC holds promise as well as showing how far American Muslims have to go to become an organized political entity in the American political landscape.  Although Muslims were well represented in the official interfaith program, there was a lack of Muslim visibility regarding audience attendance.  The same holds true regarding Muslim presence as delegates on the convention floor.  The caucus meeting was good for a first year effort and will need to do more outreach from a broader spectrum to have more participation with varying perspectives for future events.  Despite these shortcomings, the “Interfaith Gathering” and the 1st AM-DC were overall successes and major steps towards political empowerment of the Muslim community on a broader scale.

Message for Friday – Fasting is natural

بِسمِ ٱلله الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيـمِ

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

G’d says in the Qur’an (2:183) – Oh you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it has been prescribed upon those from before you in order that you grow in consciousness/regardfulness (taqwa).

جعل الله تعالى صيامه فريضة

Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) stated, “G’d, most high, made fasting in it [Ramadan] a religious obligation.”

Fasting from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual activity is obligatory during the 9th lunar month, Ramadan, upon every Muslim, who is sane, healthy, not traveling and of the age of puberty. 

Prior to the community of Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), Christians were commanded to fast as a religious obligation.  Fasting in fact is a natural inclination within the soul of every human to restrain from that which would normally be lawful in order to cultivate more clarity of consciousness and discipline.  According to the language of the Qur’an, the yearning to fast is clocked into the essence of the human soul.

Fasting from what is normally lawful at prescribed times cultivates a mindset of greater abstinence of those actions or things that are unlawful inside and outside of Ramadan. 

G’d gave the human being free will, but the natural human psyche dictates that freedom at times needs to be restricted.  Total freedom without restraint would make man less than a beast.

And surely G’d knows best.

2008 Muslim Convention in 2 days in Detroit

Pope John Paul II & Imam Mohammed

Pope John Paul II & Imam Mohammed

This year’s 2008 Muslim Convention of Imam Warith Deen (WD) Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad, will begin this Friday at 1 pm with the Friday sermon and prayer at Cobo Hall in Detroit.  All are welcome regardless of ethnicity and religion.

Workshops will take place Friday and Saturday including a Culture Night of wholesome entertainment at Cobo Hall.  SEE: for more info.

Also on Friday from 6 pm – 9 pm, the “Building Islam in Detroit” exhibit will be held at The Muslim Center in Detroit (Woodrow Wilson & W. Davison). SEE:

On Sunday, Imam Mohammed will deliver a public address at Cobo.  Doors open at noon; price is $10 person (except for students & seniors).