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Greater Washington, DC Office 2005 Newsletter
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Download the 2005 Newsletter

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 MUSLIM WOMEN’S COALITION

Greater Washington, DC Area Office

  Volume 4:1 (2005) 

This newsletter is dedicated to all those who want to walk in the path of love, peace and hope. 

INTERFAITH EVENTS

 

5th Annual Day of Prayers and Talk
A Women’s Interfaith Event.

“Come sit in a circle of LOVE, PEACE and HOPE to create a deep understanding.  Bring your “listening ear” your “inner silence” and a willing heart.”

            This spring on May 22, 2005 as life emerged with renewed energy around us, Muslim Women's Coalition invited women of different faith traditions to the event, Day Of Prayers And Talk.  This interfaith event is held once a year in an atmosphere of cross-cultural understanding in a loving approach to develop a deeper understanding between women of different faith traditions without proselytizing. Our colorful circle of "LOVE, PEACE and HOPE" is interwoven with recitations of scriptures, poems, heartfelt prayers, and meditation. This year’s event was again dedicated to mothers!

This Day of Prayers and Talk was special because it brought old friends together who wanted to connect with others to share their prayers and thoughts and to seek inner peace.  As the program proceeded, it started taking on the beautiful colors of a prism.  

This Day of Prayers and Talk was special because it brought old friends together who wanted to connect with others to share their prayers and thoughts and to seek inner peace.  As the program proceeded, it started taking on the beautiful colors of a prism.  

Overview of the program:

         Scriptures from different faiths were shared by Nazish Tareen (Muslim), Judy Wolff (Christain Scientist) and Patricia Morningstar (Buddhist). 

         MWC member recited an Urdu poem “Wohi Khuda Hai”/Understanding God. 

         Marwa Azizi, who is from Afghanistan and a poet, read her poetry “Let me get acquainted with You” both in Farsi and English. 

         Connie Ridgway, whom we all love greatly, presented a beautiful song and invited everyone to join her.  She is a talented singer who also sings for The Washington Revel. 

         Lisa Cosgrove led everyone in a group discussion of “What prayer means to us and what forms of prayer we've found most helpful.”

         It was interesting to hear Laura Ramsey’s talk on Peace, Love and Hope through the practices of ‘Sabud’. 

         Betsy Pugin shared some of her personal thoughts on the topic. 

         The great Muslim poet Hadrat Jalaluddin Rumi’s poems from his Mathnavi were recited by Lida Saideen’s sister in Persian followed by Lida’s translation in English.  She also sang Rumi in classical Persian. 

         The program was also highlighted by Rukmini’s peaceful bhajan from her Hindu faith tradition. 

         Finally, Colleen Dykema gave a brief biography of Pope John Paul the First. 

         The event ended by participants signing the prayer leaf for the prayer Tree.  

 

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The Prayer Tree

The Prayer Tree is an innovative idea that MWC has started. MWC asked all attendees at the 2005 Day of Prayers and Talk to write individual prayers on the leaves for its Prayer Tree with their names and affiliation in the hope that it will grow into a Prayer Tree.  The idea was to have everyone commit to upholding love, hope and peace in their communities.   We hope to plant a tree in love for our world whose branches will reach up lifting hope, so that when people look at it they will gain peace. 

Uzma Farooq, the Director of the Greater Washington, DC Area Office, welcomed everyone with the following thoughts:

“We are so gifted by the presence of our friends in the interfaith community who seek inner peace and who want to contribute to ideals of inclusiveness and deeper understanding of common human values and at the same time also who acknowledge our own unique identities whether they are racial, ethnic or faith based. 

This year’s theme is based on three very powerful concepts of Love, Peace and Hope in an effort to make an individual conscious commitment within.

Our world is full of complexities.  There is not one thing but many issues at different levels.  There are many injustices that appear from the base matter/the ego.  It is the nature of the materialistic world that it separates us from the spiritual world.  The spirit, or Ruh in Arabic, yearns to go back to its Source.  It is this yearning that keeps us on this path to the Divine. 

In Islamic traditions the faculties of the heart, known as Qalb in Arabic, are higher than the faculties of the mind.  What is amazing is that our heart has the ability to constantly change like a satellite receiving everything and has the ability to turn away from what is false.  But the ego constantly pulls us down with its gravitational pull.  To get away from all this we must refocus and meditate.  Meditation helps us to know more about who we are.  The more we know ourselves the more we will know our Lord. 

Take the example of the process of clarifying butter.  When butter is heated to a higher degree it will settle its heavy ingredients down below and boil the necessary ghee/ or clarified butter to the top, which is of a different consistency now.  This example can be applied to our daily lives.  When we face each test we sometimes respond with anger, disappointments or negligence.  This great negative energy has the ability to consume our light and leave us depleted, but we can try to turn the negative energy into a source of fuel for the soul by consciously becoming more patient and persevering by keeping our faith in God.  So with each test we can try to purify ourselves and replaces the negative thoughts with love.

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Planning for the 2005 Sacred Circles Spiritual Conference

In November, 2004 MWC Vice President and Director Uzma Farooq was invited by Grace Ogden to join the Sacred Circles (SC) at the Washington National Cathedral as one of the planners on the SC’s Planning Committee for the 2005 Conference.  MWC took an active part in providing the committee with names of spiritual Muslim women to participate in the conference.

 

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Becoming a Member At-Large in the Arlington Interfaith Council

 MWC and its members attended monthly Arlington Interfaith Council (AIC) meetings at different churches.  We learned a lot about the wonderful community in Arlington County and hope to become an active partner in further serving its community.  Uzma Farooq has been a member-at Large for AIC since November, 2005, representing the Muslim Women’s Coalition.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

 

Ramadan Basket Project Update

MWC has established an excellent relationship with abused women’s shelters around the Greater Washington, DC Area through programs such as our Ramadan Basket Project. Every year during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast, MWC reaches out to the community by creating and donating large gift baskets to area shelters. In 2005 however MWC focused its resources on Pakistani Earthquake Relief efforts instead of the Ramadan Basket project.  During this time, we still addressed local shelters requests for our help. One shelter, Doorways (http://www.doorwaysva.org/) called us to reach out to a Muslim sister who had inquiries of places to worship nearby and for other assistance. MWC helped connect the shelter with an Arab-speaking person who helped the woman in need, in accordance with Doorways guidelines.

Donating Toys to a Local Shelter

In and effort to bring a smile and joy in lives of many children who reside in abused women’s shelter, MWC donated over 200 toys, which included educational toys as well as age appropriate toys to the children at Doorways.

INTERNATIONAL RELIEF EFFORTS

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Photo credit- National Geographic - A Muslim woman prays in a refugee camp in Bande Ache

Tsunami Relief in Indonesia

In December 2004, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami hit Asia and Africa, devastating many coastal areas. Almost 200,000 people in eight countries perished in a few hours, and over 100,000 were reported missing. Many more had their homes and livelihoods swept away. The coastal areas of Indonesia and Sri Lanka and two Indian island chains bore the brunt of the calamity. They required significant repair and reconstruction.

MWC’s head office in New Jersey launched an immediate drive by asking the community at large to collect clothing, food items and medical supplies so it could be sent to the victims of the devastating tsunami in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh area. The Greater Washington DC Area office sent out a letter of appeal to all its members and friends as well.  The response was great and over twenty large cartons of clothing were collected, tagged and shipped to New Jersey.

 MWC teamed up with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to distribute the aid accordingly. American Red Crescent managers were in Indonesia at the time the earthquake hit, and immediately surveyed the areas where the most amount of damage was done. The teams are already in place to distribute your generous donations. 

Pakistan Earthquake Relief

On the morning of October 8, 2005, a devastating earthquake (measured at 7.6 on the Richter scale) hit the northern areas of Pakistan.  (In the northern areas of Pakistan lies the most beautiful countryside.  The breathtaking view of the valleys and the simple villages below used to illustrate how people led a very simple life. ) However, on October 8, 2005, when many Muslims were fasting during Ramadan and many children were on they way to school, their simple lives were turned upside down .  In an instant the beautiful countryside became a victim of one of the most devastating earthquakes that South Asia has experienced in recorded history.  Entire villages and families had been wiped out, with hundreds of children buried alive in their schools.  It was estimated that more than 40,000 people had perished in this earthquake with millions of people left homeless in the rigid winter temperatures in the North. 

In response to this disaster, Muslim Women’s Coalition members in the Greater Washington DC Area collated their resources to raise $10,000 and through the head office in New Jersey sent desperately needed medical supplies to the affected regions. MWC appreciates all the generous effort that went into collecting close to $10, 000 from our friends especially from the Muslims and the interfaith community.  MWC thanks the Arlington Interfaith Council’s members and friends in helping us reach our goal!

 

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Photo Credit - UN High Commissioner for Refugees - Devastated Girls School in Mansehra (Pakistan)

ENDORSEMENTS

On March 21st, Fauzia Najm (now Fauzia Rashid), for the second time was endorsed by our office “for continuation as a member to the Montgomery County Commission For Women.” Fauzia S. Rashid retired in 2001 from a long and distinguished career with the World Bank where her assignments included developing country strategies on the status of women and the Bank's strategies for furthering women's agenda.  Ms. Rashid's interest in advancing the role of women led her to establish, with a group of women partners, a K-12 school for girls ­which has developed, as of today, into a 25-school enterprise enrolling some 10,000 students in Pakistan.  She holds a B.A. in Economics and Statistics from Government College, University of Punjab, Pakistan, and has lived in Montgomery County since 1982.  She is a resident of Chevy Chase.

 

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Fauzia Najm

 

 

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Muslim Women's Coalition, (MWC) is a 501(c)3 Organization with Business Identification Number 0400-0055-65. Copyright 2011