North Texas Muslims, Neighbors Gather to Call For Peace

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Imam Zaid Shakir


Posted Posted on 2015-01-26

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From a rally in front of Dallas City Hall to an interfaith gathering inside a North Dallas church, hundreds of North Texans spent Sunday decrying terrorism — and denouncing those who blame the entire Islamic religion for the violent acts of an extremist few.

By Brandon Formby and Claire Z. Cardona, Dallas TX, January 25, 2015

Staff Writers

From a rally in front of Dallas City Hall to an interfaith gathering inside a North Dallas church, hundreds of North Texans spent Sunday decrying terrorism — and denouncing those who blame the entire Islamic religion for the violent acts of an extremist few.

“Islam is a religion of peace,” said Shoeb Khan, one of more than 100 Muslims who celebrated the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad downtown Sunday. “There is no compulsion in Islam. If [terrorists] went by the teachings, they would not commit these acts.”

That parade and the Stand With Our Muslim Neighbors event at Northaven United Methodist Church came eight days after protesters picketed a Garland fundraiser for a center that would teach Muslims how to combat negative depictions of their faith.

The fundraiser came on the heels of Islamic militants’ brazen murders of 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Its protesters held signs that said “Insult those who behead” and instructed Muslims to “Go home.” Violent threats and safety concerns prompted organizers to increase security for the Garland event.

The protests drew national media attention. They also prompted the Northaven event, which drew more than 200 people Sunday.

“It is wrong to paint the whole of any religion as responsible for violence from extremism,” said Northaven senior pastor Eric Folkerth.

Folkerth was joined by religious and civic leaders who said that Americans should honor the nation’s founding tenants of free speech and religious freedom.

“When you do this, you discover the values are the same,” said Hind Jarrah, co-founder of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation.

They also said religious people should connect over the similarities of their faiths, rather than allow unimportant differences to divide them.

“There shouldn’t be fear,” said Shpendim Nadzaku, a scholar for the Islamic Association of North Texas.

Wes Magruder, the senior pastor of Kessler Park United Methodist Church, said he learned a lot about Islam when he participated in Ramadan. During that monthlong ritual, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Magruder said participating earned him several Muslim friends, many of whom invited him over for iftar, the evening meal that breaks each day’s fast.

“I promise you, I gained weight that Ramadan,” Magruder said.

Sunday’s downtown parade, an annual event organized by the DFW Milad Community, closed Young Street in front of City Hall. Participants from Dallas-area Muslim organizations celebrated the prophet’s birthday and aimed to show that their religion is synonymous with peace.

The group walked through downtown holding banners and waving American flags alongside flags from Islamic countries including Pakistan. Children and adults held signs that read “Muhammad Mercy for the Universe” and “Islam Means Peace” as they congregated outside City Hall to pray and give speeches on the life and teachings of Muhammad.

Khan said that Islam is about living in harmony. He said the religion strongly condemns violence and those who commit violent acts are “against everything.”

“They are not Muslim, they are terrorists,” he said.

Islamic scholar Imam Zaid Shakir, a co-founder and senior faculty member of Muslim liberal arts school Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif., told the crowd that Muslims have to “touch the hearts” of their neighbors.

“Our religion is focused on our hearts,” he said. “It started in the heart of our prophet, and he spread it to the hearts of his companions. They spread it to the hearts of the successors, and it reached our hearts.”


The Dallas Morning News: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150125-north-texas-muslims-neighbors-gather-to-call-for-peace.ece


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