Arizona Multifaith Neighbors Network attends the national event in Texas

Arizona Multifaith Neighbors Network attends the national event in Texas titled “Global Faith Forum” organized by MFNN

by Simra Maheen

March 12, 2022

 “We’re not talking about interfaith dialogue, we’re talking about Multi-faith engagement” – Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., co-founder of Multi-Faith Neighbors Network.

This past weekend, Multi-Faith Neighbors Network hosted a Global Faith Forum in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas. Multi-Faith Neighbors Network is a non-profit that seeks to build mutual trust and respect among faith leaders through civic engagement, authentic relationships, and honest dialogue leading to resilient, compassionate, and flourishing communities. The United Islamic Center of Arizona’s very own Imam Didmar Faja serves on the executive committee, alongside a Pastor and a Rabbi, and all three make up the Arizona triad of MFNN.

Titled “Unlikely 2022”, this event had the intention to be the largest ever national public gathering of Evangelicals and Muslims. People of all faiths were invited, and the event was free to attend.

Hosted at Northwood Church in Keller, the event consisted of many remarkable events that will hopefully pave the way for a more informed society to take large steps in interfaith relationships. Among the notable guests was His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League and notable contributer to The Charter of Makkah (2019), also known as The Makkah Declaration. Sunday night, Dr. Al-Issa read The Charter and highlighted the importance of acknowledging different faiths and beliefs in such a day and age.

It was truly inspiring to hear from leaders in the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths respond and support The Charter, and formally commit to working peacefully together for religious freedom everywhere. For the first time, three different US Ambassadors for International Religious Freedom, one from the current presidential administration and two of the former, were on stage together and spoke about the work that needs to be done, locally and globally.

What followed for the rest of the two-day event were panel sessions consisting of highly accomplished speakers, including Yasir Qadhi, prominent Islamic preacher and scholar, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, and Ari Gordon, Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations for the American Jewish Committee. Panels covered topics ranging from the synagogue hostage situation in Colleyville earlier this year, the importance of religious freedom within the United States, and the skewed perception of the Holocaust among American youth.

As a senior in high school, I almost felt like there was no way I belonged here. I thought to myself “This is what grownups do, not a teenage Muslim girl.”

But I quickly realized, this wasn’t like a typical national event. It wasn’t centered around business, profit, or marketing. It was a gathering of like-minded, god-fearing, and all-inclusive individuals who had one goal, a goal that our own Prophet and our own religion preaches.

Islam, synonymous with peace, teaches Muslims compassion, tolerance, and sympathy. This entire conference radiated these exact values, and to see our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters engage with us in such values gives me hope for the future.

Conferences like these are important. Not only do they help us learn from one another and clear misconceptions, but it gives us Muslims a chance to practice what we preach. I distinctly remember another quote by Pastor Bob Roberts, in which he said “If your faith doesn’t bring value to other faiths, it’s probably not a healthy faith.” Ask yourself, how many people today would call Islam a healthy faith? Chances are, the reality of that question is more disappointing than we want to believe.

Multi-faith and interfaith relationships are thriving. The civic fabric of our country and our state is changing. You play a role in all of this. As a Muslim, your presence itself is dawah wherever you go. Are you a good coworker? Are you a loyal friend? Are you a reliable committee member? The second people know you are Muslim, you represent all of Islam to them. Consider yourself an ambassador of Islam. Sure, it’s not what you signed up for, but it’s a role chosen by Allah for you.