On the eve of this week’s Democratic National Convention, faith leaders from across the nation came together virtually last Sunday in an interfaith service. It included a diverse group, each of whom spoke from their own convictions and traditions.
Among them was the imam and resident scholar for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee – West in Brookfield, Qari Noman Hussain, who called for unity across America’s diverse faith communities.
In remarks to the Wisconsin Muslim Journal, Qari Hussain said the interfaith service “showed the beautiful diversity of our faith community and that we stand together while facing many challenges. As faith leaders, we hope to provide ways for our community to have hope in the future and heal from the past.”
DNC press releases in advance of the convention said, “Democrats will celebrate our nation’s collective strength, diversity and humanity, and prepare to unite around Joe Biden’s vision for a kinder and stronger country.” The religious leaders in the interfaith service “represent the unique backgrounds and communities that together will help Joe Biden restore the soul of America,” it said.
Qari Hussain began his remarks in Arabic, sharing from the Quran, verses 102-104 of Surah Aal-Imran (3:102-3:104). Hussain said he chose these passages because of their relevance to the DNC theme of “Uniting America.”
In translation, the passage means:
Oh, you who believe, be mindful of God as is His due, and make sure you devote yourself to Him until your dying moment. Hold fast to God’s rope altogether and do not split up into factions. Remember God’s favor to you. You were enemies and then He brought you together by His grace. You were about to fall into a pit of fire and He saved you from it. In this way, God makes His revelation clear to you so you may be rightly guided. Be a community that calls for what is good, urges what is right and forbids what is wrong. Those who do this are the successful ones.
“These passages focus on holding on the rope of Allah together and not dividing,” Hussain said. “Verse 104 also commands us to be a community that calls us towards goodness, commands the good and forbids evil.”
During the service, he listed the evil America now faces. “The pandemic is still raging around the world, confounded by human turmoil, both domestic and international. It is hard to see the light at the horizon in such darkness. Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, the constant anxiety that weighs upon our shoulders has become too much to bear.
“With leaders who only add fuel to these fires, our country is searching desperately for anyone to pour mercy and humanity to cool the flames that are destroying our society. We are all in need of hope and healing after years of being disheartened and discouraged.
“We are in need more than ever to be united regardless of our race, our religion and even our political affiliations.
“As the son of an immigrant, a brown Muslim American, as well as a religious leader of the Muslim community, I have experienced firsthand discrimination and hatred at the hands of misinformed, fear-mongering individuals in this country, from repeated random checks at the airport while traveling to being cursed at while driving to and from work.
“I have no doubt there is a disquietude in our communities towards racial, religious and ethnic minorities. Being labeled, categorized and then pitted against each other has created a schism in our collective psyche.
“But in the chaos of all that we are bombarded with through mass media and viral culture, there still lies hope in the everyday interactions we have with each other. There is hope in that simple wave as we pass by our neighbors. There is healing as we lend a hand to those who have fallen on hard times.
“There is strength as we hold firmly to the rope of God together under the common values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. There is unity in peace and understanding.
“But most importantly, there is justice in reconciling ourselves under the umbrella of humanity, where each and every one of us is accepted, appreciated and celebrated.”
Hussain urged reestablishing connections “as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends. He encouraged us to see each other for who we are based on our actions, “not what is dictated to us.”
Look at our commonalities, he said. “Of each race, tribe and color, we share a oneness, a sameness, that cannot and should not be ignored. And it is through this lens that we may find hope in each other again, healing in each other again,” he said.
“I pray to the Almighty for guidance, for the ability to stand up against injustice, for leaders who will guide us to that which is upright; that He protects us and our loved ones, grants cure to all those who are sick and allows us to find a cure for the viruses of the physical body and the spiritual heart.”
The full service can be viewed on the convention’s YouTube page here.