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South Florida celebrates Islam


Yasmine Bahrani’s July 15 Other Views column, What has happened to Islam, paints a depressing portrait of political Islam today.

We face the same tensions in American Islam, but American Muslims have decided to face these challenges head on.

Instead of being fragmented and isolated, there is a diligence to engage and accommodate each other.

The South Florida Muslim community did not retreat inward after 9/11. Instead, it confronted criticism, faced bigotry and hate and moved forward forging alliances, making friends and demonstrating its resolve to deal with negative forces through healthy positive engagement and education.

We have Sunnis and Shias, we have traditionalists, secularist and liberals, and despite different strains we agree to establish a healthy Muslim community. This was evident during a recent Iftar (Ramadan fast-breaking) event at masjid-An-Noor, the Kendall mosque where not only the members of Sunni and Shia communities were praying together, but were also joined by interfaith friends.

In a gathering facilitated by COSMOS — Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations — that included major community organizations such as the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews and the Anti-Defamation League and prominent leaders such as U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, state Sen. Oscar Braynon Jr. and U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, a peaceful and inclusive Islam was evident.

The spirit of the gathering was best summed up by Rep. Garcia, who called it, “a day when it’s no longer ‘their’ America or ‘my’ America, but in reality it is ‘our’ America.”

In that spirit we celebrated a Muslim holiday in a Muslim setting, but we invited our friends, and they joined us in our celebration.

This is the spirit of an inclusive Islam, the Islam that Ms. Bahrani is nostalgic about. Her grim portrayal of the current state of Islam is disconcerting, but the generations pay the price for the mistakes of their elders until they define themselves.

I hope American Muslims are on the right track. The miracle she is expecting is happening in the Muslim communities across America and here, in South Florida.

Shabbir Motorwala, Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations, Miami

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