American Muslims Hold Nationwide Day of Service on September 11
Washington — In the face of misperceptions about Islam, American Muslims marked the ninth anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attacks by serving their fellow Americans.
In Chicago, they raised money to stop domestic violence. In New York, they promoted a toy drive for sick children. In Oklahoma City, they joined Christians and Jews to pack thousands of meals at a food bank.
“Throughout the country, Muslims went into their communities and did community service … and prioritized helping commemorate 9/11 as a new day of national service and remembrance,” said Zeenat Rahman, director of public policy for the Interfaith Youth Core.
As part of a wave of volunteerism initiated in 2009 during the United We Serve campaign, a coalition of Muslim Americans called for Muslim Serve, a day Muslims should work to improve their communities. And Americans of other faiths joined them to repudiate a threat by a Florida pastor to burn copies of the Quran and other evidence of anti-Muslim feelings.
“I felt called as a Christian to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and in solidarity with my co-workers, because I work with Muslims, but also with my friends,” said Amber Hacker, a leadership specialist at Interfaith Youth Core.
In San Francisco, Muslim volunteers at Glide Memorial Church prepared meals and served food to the homeless. Sumbul Ali-Karamali, author of The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, organized the effort.
“I wanted to make a positive statement about American Muslims,” Ali-Karamali said, adding that recent public discourse highlights misunderstandings about Islam. “I wanted to help Muslims counter fear and prejudice with a positive, nationwide action.”
At the same time, Ali-Karamali wanted to honor those who had lost their lives nine years earlier.
“I also wanted to help Muslim Americans commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks because it is really overlooked that those were our people who died that day,” she said. “Not Americans as opposed to Muslims, but they were Americans like we are Americans.”