A multi-faith dynamic panel of discussion took place on April 10th 2018 at Temple Chai. The theme was: “The 3 Biggest Contributions My Faith Can Make to American Society Today & the 3 Biggest Challenges My Faith Community is Struggling with Today.”
Among the panelists was Mufti Didmar Faja from the United Islamic Center of Arizona, Rabbi Emily Langowitz – Temple Sole of Paradise Valley and Reverend Erin Dennise Martin Tamayo. The panel was facilitated by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz.
Religious leaders talked about different contributions their faiths and communities can offer to the society at large and also focused on the current challenges their communities are facing. Among the contributions of Islam and the Muslim community, Imam Didmar mentioned the fact of the tolerance that exists in teachings of Islam and how non-Muslim minorities in Muslim majority countries were not only protected by Muslims, but also encouraged to participate just like their fellow Muslim citizens in building sound societies for themselves and the future generations. As examples he used Andalusia and the Ottoman Empire. He also praised the level of professionalism among the American Muslims in the field of medicine and other professions as well. He stated that Muslims in America earn more income than an average American: therefore, their contribution in paying taxes and buying from locals and other businesses is more than that of an average American.
As for the challenges Muslims face in America, Imam Didmar focused on the presence and the rise of Islamophobia in a national and in an international level. He also stated the fact that many people are either misinformed or uninformed about Islam and Muslims, as a result, they end up feeding themselves with wrong information provided to them from mass media who mainly focuses in breaking news, without considering the honesty in delivering the accurate information.
As for the last but not the least challenge, Imam Didmar stated an important reason behind Islamophobia is that often microphones are in the hands of certain extreme mindsets; some who consider themselves “reformists” who have the ambition and tend to replace Islamic values with other values and their opponents: the “radicals” who limit the scope of Islam based on their limited understanding.
The event was concluded by Q&A from the diverse audience present in the room. The hosting temple also provided refreshments for the attendees.