SHAFAQNA – Philadelphia-area Muslims feel that it is important that they and non-Muslims understand Islam. This was the message of those who attended the 2016 Islamic Heritage Month Grand Opening for the Islamic New Year 1338 AH recently. This event was held at the Masjidullah, 7401 Limekiln Pike in West Oak Lane on Sept. 30.
The opening event’s program included a film, “Bilal: A Legend Breaks Free,” which is an animated film about the prophet Muhammad. This was followed by the Live Egyptian Tanoura Dancer & Music Show. Additionally Baba Kenya also gave the crowd a short presentation.
“Since this is Islamic Heritage Month we are giving a gift to the community all month long,” said Maria Kenya, who said she once lived in many countries. “Islam has influenced all the arts. When I lived in Turkey I would see the women do these beautiful circular dances. Other places you hear the poetry and the music that comes from our brothers and sisters.
“That is why this month, though it is called Islamic Heritage Month it is for everyone. Our religion is very inclusive. We welcome Christians and everyone. We have great respect for the people and the arts of different cultures,” Maria Kenya said.
Amatullah Abdul-Ghafoor came to the event from Newark, N.J. He said he converted to Islam 29 years ago because it taught him his history. He said that the tenets of peace and love also drew him to the faith.
“What I hope people get from these events during this month is that love of Allah,” Ghafoor said. “The events are all uplifting. I used to be a special-education teacher and I know how showing love can make all the difference. So, this month is for Muslims and non-Muslims.”
Zahir Abdur Majhid of North Philadelphia said that many are not aware that there is great camaraderie among Muslims. She insisted that the popular misconceptions do not always show this. “A Muslim terrorist or those engaged in violence is probably half of one percent. Most of us are not involved in anything like that.
“During the 30 years I’ve been a Muslim I have traveled to New Orleans, New York City, Houston and other places. I have visited many mosques to understand each other better. I think that having this month gives others a chance to understand us better and see that we are active in the life of Philadelphia’s communities,” Majhid said.
This past week’s activities continued with George Saliba, professor of Arabic & Islamic Science at Columbia University discussing the Islamic origins of the Renaissance at the Masjidullah Main Theater on Saturday. This was followed by a Khall Ismail-Soul Redemption Concert with spoken word artist Nasheed at the Masjidullah theater on Sunday.
“I love this event and came to it last year,” said Zubaidan Zarif of West Oak Lane. “I met some of our brothers from Morocco then. I really enjoyed meeting them.
“Many Blacks are Muslims. So if we listen we can learn about ourselves. I think it can be [enriching] to come here no matter where you come from. That’s why I plan to attend many of the events this month,” Zarif said.