Muslims invite Indianapolis to annual interfaith event
Imam Michael Saahir, Indianapolis Recorder, January 5, 2019
2019 Interfaith Ambassador of the Year Imam Michael “Mikal” Saahir explains why the Indy Festival of Faiths on September 22 is important to everyone.
Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, — any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.Qur’an Chapter 2: Verse 62.
From 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 22, Indianapolis will witness — in shaa’ Allah (G_d Willing) — the seventh annual Festival of Faiths. The theme this year is “Embracing Religious Diversity.” The event will take place at the Indiana War Memorial located at Michigan and Meridian streets.
Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and many other faiths will once again gather in unity as people of faith recognizing and respecting the faith of the others. Allah in the above verse from the Qur’an stresses His love and concern for people of a variety of faiths. Allah displays His love for, “… any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness.”
Prophet Muhammed, prayers and peace be upon him, regularly interacted with people of other faiths, especially those who identify as the children of Abraham, namely Christians and Jews. When his following were weak and oppressed, Muhammed sent his people to Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) for asylum from the Negus, an African Christian king. Years later, after Prophet Muhammed had established his power and rule in the land he gave guarantees of protection to the Christians from Najran, signing a treaty that obligates Muslims to help and protect Christians until the Day of Judgment.
The Indy’s Festival of Faiths is very much reflective of that same spirit spoken of in the Qur’an and demonstrated by Prophet Muhammed and the Negus of Abyssinia; people of faith, regardless of their faith, must be mindful of the well-being of all people of faith.
The Indy’s Festival of Faiths is free and open to the public. It is an excellent time to learn firsthand information about another religion directly from the adherents of that faith. You will learn that all people of faith have much more in common than what we have as differences — and so often those “differences” are actually just a difference in expression; not a difference of purpose and intent of our messages.
The festive atmosphere of this gathering is heartwarming and inviting as we witness the various faiths worship, dance, sing and praise before the audience and the over 60 exhibitors. The Festival of Faiths is multi-generational. The theme of 2019’s Festival of Faiths is “Embracing Religious Diversity.” Prior to the 1 p.m. kickoff there will be a community youth forum inside the Indiana War Memorial from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Sadly, we are living in a divisive atmosphere in America, which has gripped and crippled many human relationships. Therefore, entities such as the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) and their Festival of Faiths are crucial and essential for the betterment of our human family. The Muslim community applauds this Festival of Faiths, and we encourage our Jewish and Christian sisters and brothers to join us on Sept. 22 as we celebrate the beauty and love as presented by people of various faiths, folks who believe in G_d and the Last Day and work righteousness.
Let’s remember that it is an obligation upon the people of faith to bring healing to our communities and to our nation. The Indy Festival of Faiths hosted by the CIC is the most potent vehicle our city has for uniting us as people of faith upon the criteria of believers who believe in G_d and the Last Day and work righteousness.
We are looking forward to seeing you on Sept. 22 at the Indiana War Memorial. We have invited local political leaders to discuss our theme, “Embracing Religious Diversity.”
To learn more about the seventh annual Festival of Faith visit festivaloffaiths.com, or call 317 318-5304 and ask for Charlie Wiles. He also can be reached at email@example.com.
Imam Michael “Mikal” Saahir is resident imam at the Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org