Muslims Building Bridges of Interfaith Among the Community

Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar. The Athan was being called when I arrived at UMAC to attend the interfaith presentation of Islam to the community, the program organized by the gracious family of Assan Badji, an accountant by profession.

I prayed Asr Salat along with some brothers and sat waiting for the program to start.  Without delay people started coming in and the activity center became lively with people welcoming and greeting each other.  Imam Yahya Ederer offered his Asr salat and headed to the activity room to engage people and to get ready for the presentation.

Chairs were all neatly arranged and got filled soon.  Food has already arrived and the aroma filled the room. Assan and his family were seen busy putting the last touches before the Imam could start his presentation, which he did by praising and invoking Allah and reading salutations to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Imam Yahah (John) Ederer answering questions from the audience.“I think one of the most important things in getting to know somebody, is becoming comfortable and familiar with them. If you are not comfortable and familiar with somebody, then you have suspicion; you have feelings of doubt, feelings of confusion, feeling of uneasiness” the Imam said.

The Imam engaged people asking their faith and quoted many verses from both the Old Testament and The New Testament, the books revered by Jews and Christians.

“My mission today is – if I would be allowed by divine permission – to show you that the concept of Islam and the prophet hood of Muhammad are very much biblical”

Imam Yahya used a broad range of examples both from the scriptures and from the modern scientific discoveries to drive home the undeniable evidence for the existence of one Creator whom we should all submit. People attentively listened to the captivating speech.

Traditional Mediterranean food spreads across a table for the gathered members of the community.
Attendees were treated to a delicious buffet lunch.

The Imam who reverted to Islam and then dedicated his time learning Islam from world renowned scholars is now a scholar himself and, has memorized the holy Quran. He is the Imam at the MAS Center on Shamrock drive in the city of Charlotte, NC.  The Imam has championed several inter faith initiatives in the city since He took the position at MAS.

After about 45 minutes of presentation People were given the opportunity to ask questions. Many of the non-Muslim attendees asked important questions and made comments. The Imam answered the questions and requested a follow-up session to continue the discussion. The mood in the activity center was very upbeat and, I could see from their faces they were all enjoying this get-together.

Community members ask clarification questions.
Community members ask clarification questions.

When Magrib Athan had been called, the Muslim participants stepped in to the Masjid area for prayer. After a short prayer break every one returned to the presentation room.  By this time Assan’s family has already started serving food for the guests.

While everyone was enjoying the delicious food, Assan requested that each one introduce themselves. There were people from as far as South Carolina. The attendees included people of Christian faith and reverted Muslims. Paul Adams who reverted to Islam while serving US Army in Kuwait during the first desert storm explained how He came in contact with Bilal Phillips who introduced Islam to him.

The attendees were given a gift bag that contained a Quran translation in English and some literature on Islam. Without exception every one thanked Assan Badji and his family for their generosity and thoughtfulness in organizing such a wonderful and much needed programs like this. May Allah (swt) bless them in this world and in the here-after.

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