ISNA National Director Joins Boston Muslims in Honoring 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

On Saturday, November 3, ISNA National Director Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed spoke at the Islamic Center of Boston for an event honoring September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows (www.peacefultomorrows.org).  After their loved ones were killed in the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, these families responded not with hate but rather with a strong commitment to advocate for peace and social justice.  Furthermore, they strongly opposed anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry, with the understanding that no religion calls its adherents to commit terrorist acts.

The Islamic Center of Boston presented the theme, “Terrorism Has No Religion,” and honored 9/11 family members Robyn Bernstein and Ken & Gloria Williams.  Dr. Syeed spoke about how religion has, unfortunately, been used throughout history to justify terrorism.  He cited the story of Jim Jones, the founder of People’s Temple, who inspired nearly 1,000 of his followers to commit suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.  Similarly, on 9/11, the world saw a horrific example of the misinterpretation and misdirection of the passion of faith, which led people to lay down their own lives and kill many others in the process.  “How do we reclaim our religion from the extremists?” Dr. Syeed asked. “It becomes our religious duty to do so.  Just before this century began, Catholics worldwide made the decision to distance themselves from religious bigotry by clearly stating that other faiths can serve as potential sources of inspiration.  Muslims also have an existing movement along these same lines, where individuals are seeking to follow God through work for peace and social justice.  American Muslims have worked to create such an environment where extremist views cannot find room in the community’s discourse.  But all communities of faith will need to work together to truly achieve moderation and balance in our religious discourse.  The Muslim community has already received substantial support from our neighbors of other faiths, and we celebrate September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows for dedicating themselves to this peaceful mission.”

Shaheen Akhtar, the Islamic Center of Boston’s interfaith liaison, organized the event.  “We want the moderate voices to be heard,” she said.