Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Interfaith Banquet for Peace
I gathered together with a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, interfaith group of people for a banquet on Sunday evening. The banquet was co-hosted by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Islamic Society of North America at a Chicago-area convention center. Such a fascinating group of people. The booths at the 53rd annual ISNA conference I was invited to seemed a beehive of activity, too.
One meaningful highlight of the banquet was the opportunity to hear Khizr and Gazala Khan, the parents of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan. (Capt. Khan was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War, a Purple Heart recipient buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.) After being catapulted to international fame from speaking at the Democratic National Convention some weeks ago, the Khans continue to be the measured, sincere representatives of their faith in God. They both brought that same message of faith, honor and love for their adopted country to those who attended the ISNA banquet on Sunday.
However, not all the speakers at the banquet had positive messages. A strong concern came from Dr. Christopher Bain, professor of social sciences at Duke University. He spoke on the motion of the widespread demonization of Islam (and of individual Muslims, in general) throughout the United States since 9/11, fifteen years ago. This negative message of “radical Muslims” has moved from the fringes of national discourse rapidly into mainstream thought and media perception, in less than fifteen years. This concerns me—and many people—very much.
Yes, there was a great gathering of a diverse group of people on Sunday night. Perhaps—together—we helped to build bridges. Even though there is growing division and animosity against “difference,” perhaps some friendly conversation and sharing a meal helped to build friendships. Perhaps.
God willing. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.
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