June 28, 2016

By Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

The traditional Muslim call to prayer echoed across USIP’s atrium on June 21 as the institute ushered in its third annual Iftar to mark the breaking of the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. But it wasn’t just one imam’s voice. Instead, five Imams from six traditions—Senegalese, Syrian, Pakistani, Iranian, Turkish and Moroccan—represented the theme of the event: Celebrating Diversity in the Muslim World.

The evening of discussion about diverse Islamic traditions featured Quranic recitations by Imam Ali Tos from the Diyanat Center of America (Maryland) in the Turkish tradition and Moroccan style Islamic devotional music from Nabil Faqir, interspersed with Quranic verses read in English by the MC of the evening our very own, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, an expert on violent extremism and Ph.D. candidate at Howard University under the tutelage of Dr. Sulayman Nyang.

Photos taken from the night of the United States Institute of Peace iftar. Photos are property of USIP.-

“Ramadan is the month of peace, of celebration, and it’s a time when believers around the world, including many of

the places where USIP works, engage in prayer, fasting and compassionate action,” USIP President Nancy Lindborg said. “These are the values that mark Ramadan and they are the same values that mark peacebuilding – charity, sacrifice and compassion. We know that these values are cherished by people of many faiths, many religious traditions.”

Lindborg and others cited the juxtaposition of diversity and the violent extremism wrenching so much of the world today.

“It is precisely this diversity within the Muslim world that violent extremists cannot tolerate,” said Lindborg, who speaks often of the need to build peaceful and inclusive societies. “So we celebrate that diversity tonight as a source of strength in Muslim communities and a means by which those of many tribes can come to know and appreciate one another, as we know from the holy Quran.”

Islamic Relief USA, a non-profit humanitarian and development organization, was a key co-sponsor of the event, along with the Afghanistan Holding group, United Muslim Relief and a number of individuals: Rafat and Shaista Mahmood, former Ambassador Laurie Fulton, Rafic A. Bizri, Maqsood Chaudhry and Asad Chaudhry.

In addition, a number of Ambassadors from foreign nations and senior officials government and private sector officials were in attendance along with long standing community members in our association, Including: Imam Talib Shareef (Masjid Muhammad, Washington, DC); Imam Earl El-Amin (Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore); Benjamin Abdul Haqq (Islamic Consultants of America); Amir and Habeebah Muhammad (America’s Islamic Heritage Museum, DC); Yaya and Dr. Fatima Fanusie (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Independent Historian); Qadir Madyun (Masjid Muhammad); Muhammad Fraser-Rahim (U.S. Institute of Peace & Ph.D. Candidate, Howard University)