Muslim Community Contributions to Houston Lauded during Iftar Celebration
Blog contributed by Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, President, Houston Karachi Sister City Association
For Houstonians, the beginning of Ramadan means the exciting news that the Abu Dhabi, Baku, Basrah, Istanbul, and Karachi Sister City Associations in Houston, along with The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), and over 50 other collaborating organizations will bring “Houston Iftar: Annual Ramadan Dinner with Mayor of Houston” to the city. The 2015 Houston Iftar was attended by more than 1,800 individuals on June 28. Attendees enjoyed candid talks, inspirational prayers, a sumptuous Iftar & Dinner, and a final Mughrib Prayer.
Everyone was warmly welcomed by Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of the Houston Iftar 2015 Sunny Sharma of Abu Dhabi, and Main Coordinator Saeed Sheikh of the Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA).
For the first time in the history of this annual event, two speakers of national significance gave speeches: Dr. Imam Imad Enchassi and Mr. Jihad Turk. Dr. Imam Imad Enchassi, the founder, imam, and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC), grew up in the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon before coming to U.S. at the age of 17. His experiences as a child surrounded by war and conflict have shaped his passion as an adult for promoting unity and understanding, as one of his main mentors was a Christian Nun by the name of Rahma (Mercy). Talking about living through the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, Enchassi said, “Sometimes, I think God exposed me to so much hatred and violence so that I can be a voice for love and peace.”
A LA Times article titled “His name: Jihad. His message: peace,” describes the next prominent speaker of this Houston Annual Iftar event Mr. Jihad Turk. He is an American-born Muslim, whose parents are non-Muslims; and he earnestly works every day to dispel stereotypes about Islam, which was his message of the evening. He is presently the President and Dean of Bayan Islamic Graduate School in Claremont, California.
Referring to the tragic incident of Charleston, NC Church Shooting in June, members of Congress Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee thanked the Muslim Community for taking part in not only condolences, but reflection and voicing their concerns and solutions to this serious issue. Both gave special certificates of congressional recognition to the organizing committee.
During her remarks, Mayor Parker applauded the work of the organizers, and expressed her vision of this event when it was previously called the Mayor’s Iftar. She said, “I want this to continue, so I have made this into Houston Iftar with the Muslim Sister City Association plus the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) organizing the event…the future is in our hands, we can release the beautiful ideas of bright colors and fragrance from our hands, or otherwise cruelly crush the future within the palm of our hand.”
Houston’s leaders, including Mayor Parker, have kept international diversity of the city as one of their administrations’ top priorities. The Muslim community and Houston Karachi Sister City Association have been very active in Business, Government, Cultural, Social, and Charitable areas within the city and continue to positively contribute to the community.
All in all this event brought the people of Houston together, and they will be eagerly waiting for the next 2016 Iftar. For more information please visit www.houstoniftar.org. Click here to view photos from the event.