This morning we were joined by Islamic Society of North America to hear about the Muslim-American community and the work that they do to create change in the US. An issue that ISNA is very passionate about and involved in is climate change. Colin, the representative from ISNA, explained that in many religions there is a focus on conservation, moderation, and being aware of our consumption and so climate change and environmental protection is something that is important to advocate for. As Mawish rightly stated, “Our goal is to take care of the community around us, because if we don’t do that who will.” Participants discussed ways that climate change is affecting their own communities and gave examples of the work that people are doing to combat climate change. There was a discussion on how different societies and cultures care more or less about the environment and the that pollution has, but how it is a problem that affects everyone and must be dealt with.
“It’s an issue that everyone needs to do something about in order to create change” – Will, Christian, Vermont
This idea is one that relates not only to climate change, but to all issues in general. A constant point of discussion among the Kids4Peace youth is that we must all join together in order to create change. Without communication, connection, and working together, nothing can be achieved. We spent the afternoon at the ADAMS Mosque, where we were privileged to hear from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious leaders on the importance of interfaith building. “Humanity is about having peace in our mosques, our synagogues, our churches, our holy sites” – Imam Magid, ADAMS Center Executive Imam. A beautiful representation of Imam Magid’s words was when three of our own youth were able to share a welcoming prayer from their individual religions, with the entire group. ADAMS boy and girl scouts spent the afternoon with us, and led us on a tour of the Mosque where we were able to participate or observe in the Jum’ah prayer. Kids4Peace joined the ADAMS group for lunch, where they were able to get to know each other, ask questions to learn more about each other’s religion and life, and play games together. In order to maintain the relationships created today, the ADAMS center provided everyone with paper and envelopes, encouraging all of the youth to find a pen pal among the new group of friends that they made. Fr. Josh Thomas spoke to both groups about the shared message that Kids4Peace and the ADAMS center has; “You don’t have to wait till the future to be a leader, you can do important things right now.” From the start of the morning, hearing from ISNA, to our time at the ADAMS mosque, new ideas about religion and faith were shared and friendships were made.
“Before I joined Kids4Peace I didn’t have a lot of connection to my own faith, but once I joined I got to meet so many interesting people who really connected to their faith. This helped me connect more to my own faith and learning more about other religions helped me appreciate and understand my own faith better. I think that interfaith building is so important because it helps people understand the values that we share and use those shared values to create change through peace building and nonviolent action.” – Monica, Christian, Seattle
Today helped to frame the theme for the rest of the weekend, which will have a large focus on the faith aspect of our work. Tonight, we will attend Shabbat prayers at the Kesher synagogue in D.C., and members of the synagogue and of the Jewish community there will join us for a meal.