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Dear readers, please find a brief recap of some major highlights of IFI in 2018. Also do visit our website for more information on the IFI at www.interfaithny.com.

Vision: Be a Center of excellence for developing and sustaining a progressive, vibrant interfaith community and a nurturing environment for the society at large.

Mission: Engage Muslims and members of other faiths by promoting values and teachings of Islam and other faiths and to advocate/promote inter-faith harmony in a multicultural environment in accordance with the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.

Institute Governance: On Dec 31st 2017 the IFI board members completed their three year term. The IFI was delighted to welcome back - Rev Dr. Calvin O. Butts, Rev Tom Goodhue, Ms. Jean Kelly, Dr. Unni Mooppan, Dr. Isma Chaudhry, Imam Malik Mujahid, Dr Faroque A Khan and Prof Diana Eck to serve on the board of IFI for a second three year term from Jan 2018 to Dec 2020. IFI Board Members at the 3rd Annual Awards Event - Oct 7th 2018: (Standing L to R last row) - Rev. Mark Lukens, Br Sohail Nabi, CEO of Ethan Allen Farooq Kathwari, Dr Unni Mooppan, Sant Singh Parhar, Imam Khalid S Lateef. (Middle row L to R) - Rev Tom Goodhue, Dr Syed Yousuf, Rabbi Michael White, Prof Marjaneh Issapour, Dean Benjamin Rifkin, Sr. Zainab Bey. (Seated L to R) - Faroque A Khan, Sr. Seema Rahman, Dr Panna Shah, Prof Arfa Khan, Chaplain Sr. Sanaa Nadim and Rev Dwight Wolter

The current 40 member IFI board has thirteen members from ICLI (eight from the ICLI board and five from the general membership). In addition, IFI board is blessed to have six members from various clergy - Imam Malik Mujahid, Rabbi Michael White, Rev Tom Goodhue, Rev Mark Lukens, Rev Vicky Eastland, Rev Joann Barrett, Dr Calvin Butts president SUNY @OW, Benjamin Rifkin dean Hofstra university, emeritus professors Arthur Dobrin and Arfa Khan, CEO of Ethan Allen Mr. Farooq Kathwari, representatives from media Robert Keeler, and public officials - Tom Suozzi, Mayor Peter Cavallaro, activists and representatives from other masajids - IALI/ MDQ/Hamza academy, and representatives from Iranian, Jain and Sikh communities.

Here are some highlights of programs IFI sponsored and or supported in 2018:

March 7th 2018: Sr. Shaida Khan represented IFI at the 2018 American Jewish Committee (AJC) NY / ACCESS NY Diplomatic and Interfaith Seder at the B'nai Jeshurun synagogue upper West Side in NYC.

April 19th 2018: Sr. Shaida Khan represented the Interfaith Institute of the ICLI in the 8th Annual Gala organized by The Muslim Community Network (MCN).

May 8th 2018: Sr. Shaida Khan represented the IFI at the annual Pre-Ramadan Conference which brings together NYPD Officers and members of the Muslim community at One Police Plaza Headquarters in NYC.

July 27th 2018: IFI board member Tom Suozzi hosted a Congressional briefing in Washington in which the IFI supported book WISEUP was introduced to 100 plus congressional staff and elected officials.

Sept 16th 2018: IFI board member Robert Keeler organized and moderated a program titled: If News is Fake What is at Stake. Over 150 attendees participated and several news reports resulted from this

Award Picture Legend: L to R. Anna Kaplan - Councilwoman town of North Hempstead, Judy Bosworth Supervisor town of North Hempstead, IFI awardee Rabbi Jerome Davidson, Dr Faroque A. Khan and NYS Assemblyman Chuck Levine

PS. - Councilwoman Anna Kaplan won her election on Nov 6th and will represent New York State Senate District 7

Oct 7th 2018: Third annual IFI awards event, this years awardee was Rabbi Jerome Davidson. An attractive journal spear headed by Br Sohail Nabi highlighting the 1400 plus year history of Jewish-Muslim relations was shared with the 100 plus attendees, in addition a lively informative chat was held with the two national co-chairs of Muslim Jewish Advisory Council- Mr. Farooq Kathwari CEO of Ethan Allen, IFI board member and Mr. Stanley Bergman former president of AJC and CEO of Henry Schein Inc. Thanks to Dr Unni Mooppan’s initiative and support the highlights of this seminal event will be broadcast globally on the Keralite TV outlet.

Vigil Monday Oct 29th Remembering Victims of Tree of Life Terrorism-ICLI/IFI 2018. Prof. Faroque A Khan - Chair Interfaith Institute of Islamic Center of ICLI.

Saturday morning Oct 27th brought news of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, where congregants had gathered for services. A man shouting anti-Semitic slurs ran inside the Tree of Life synagogue in the close-knit neighborhood of Squirrel Hill and opened fire, killing 11 people. Six people were injured in the attack, but it left many more hurting.

This horrific act of terror by Robert Bowers led to the deaths of eleven congregants who were engaged in a peaceful service in a house of worship and were murdered simply because of their faith. Our heartfelt condolence to the families of the deceased: Joyce Feinburg 75, Richard Godfried 65, Rose Mallinger 97, Jerry Robinowitz 66, Cecil 59, and his brother David Rosenthal 54, Bernice Simon 84, Sylvan Simon 86, (married couple), Daniel Stein 71, Melvin Wax 88, Irving Yungner, 69. May their memories be for a blessing.

The Quran commands that we restrain each other to protect "monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which God's Name is oft-remembered" (Quran 22:40).

This mass killing in a place of worship reinforces the need and urgency for passage of common sense gun laws and a lot of tikkum olam - repair of the world.

Finally, I do not wish to see armed guards at the gates of houses of worship. That is not the America I admire and love.

I am reminded of the wise words of President George Washington who after a visit to Newport, R.I wrote on Aug 18, 1790.

May the Children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants; while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlasting happy. G. Washington.

Several Anton newspapers reported on this and other vigils the local Westbury Times had this vigil as the lead story for its Nov 12th edition.

Sunday Nov 4th – IFI/DHF Collaborative Program In a first time joint collaboration between the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island (IFI) and Domestic Harmony Foundation (DHF), a non-profit organization designed to empower survivors of domestic violence, the two groups hosted a unique event titled, “Reaching Domestic Harmony in a World of Abuse and Violence: The Role of Religious Leaders in Creating Healthy Relationships”.

Recognizing the need to keep breaking the silence around what remains taboo in all faith communities, this dialogue on how clergy and religious leaders can support domestic violence survivors both spiritually and socially, was intended to foster important conversations and share information among diverse clergy, scholars and community members. It was designed both as a clergy training as well as a community forum with a question and answer component.

Faith and spiritual leaders are in an influential role to assist survivors who are seeking trust, guidance, direction and support during difficult and often unsafe situations in their relationships and in their homes; houses of worship are sought out as a place of refuge and safety and faith leaders are often the individuals to be providing the first and sometimes the only response to someone being abused who may never reach out again. Therefore we underscore that knowing what to do and how to respond is of utmost concern and importance. An all-star lineup of Long Island interfaith community representatives on the panel was moderated by Stony Brook University Chaplain Sanaa Nadim and featured nationally renowned Keynote Speaker Imam Mohamed Magid of the ADAMS Center in Virginia; guest panelists included Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai, Roslyn, Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter of the Congregational Church of Patchogue, Hindu Scholar Mr. Narinder Kapoor of Geeta Ashram in Syosset and Ms. Jassu Sidana, Sikh representative from Mata Sahib Kaur Gurudwara in Glen Cove who stood in to replace Interfaith Leader Mrs. Raj Singh who was unable to attend.

Panelists shared their individual faith perspectives on the issue and addressed specific questions about how they respond to power and control abuse dynamics in their congregations. The audience inquired about a range of topics including how to design a marriage contract that supports the rights of wives, believing victims, connecting the dots to culturally and religiously appropriate services, how to provide structure to the next generation for healthy relationship models and separating traditional cultural practices used to justify abuse, from the true essence of religion.

Audience members took away valuable messages requiring a shift in thinking: all civil divorce is considered a religious divorce by law of the land, look at the social aspect and how the community must stop creating stigma around divorce and the treatment of divorced women; there must be preventive care and education and structures in place that eliminate the need to return to abusive relationships; there must be encouragement and pathways set up to leave a relationship when it is not working and ability to seek empowerment services. Sermons, khutbahs, seminars and workshops can be routinely used as powerful tools in houses of worship to build awareness, accept the reality and begin healing and transformed lives.

The importance of discussions like this demonstrates the value of many voices and allies coming together to leverage the impact we have in raising awareness about this epidemic, while working together to form solutions to end the intergenerational cycle of violence.

Report Courtesy of Neelofer Chaudry | Domestic Harmony Foundation | Executive Director

P.O. Box 35, Syosset, NY 11791 | www.dfhny.org | office & helpline: 516-385-8292

November 4th 2018 - The Spirituality of Peace, Love & Understanding Concert and Fundraiser

IFI board member Khalid S Lateef participated in The Spirituality of Peace, Love & Understanding which was written and conceived by Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter;. The Congregational Church of Patchogue is a historic church that was built in 1892.The church has a Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry. They have a free Mobile Shower Unit and give free haircuts and hairdressing for men and women. During holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter the church offers fellowship and food to the people in the neighborhood.

Reverend Wolter is on the Advisory Board of the Interfaith Institute. Recently, in the Congregational Church of Patchogue’s newsletter, he expressed being proud of his appointment to the Advisory Board and shared with his readers the close relationship he has had with ICLI for over 10 years. He recalled that members of the ICLI attended a worship service on a Sunday morning to hear Dr. Faroque Khan and he copresent a sermon based on the Bible and Quran and how ICLI has attended, participated in and contributed generously to their outreach services: ICLI donated 25 new blankets, with loving notes to the homeless and most recently contributed toilet paper that was distributed to homeless veteran shelters, domestic violence shelters and food pantries.

Picture from the Congregational Church of Patchogue Newsletter taken at IFI event Picture Legend: IFI Advisory Board Members: Standing L to R: Rev Dwight Wolter, Dr Yousuf Syed, Dr Faroque Khan, Imam Khalid S Lateef, Dr Unni Mooppan, dean Benjamin Rifkin, Dr Hafiz Rehman. Seated L to R: Dr Panna Shah, Robert Keeler, Dr Arfa Khan, Seema Rahman, Zainab Bey and Dr Isma Chaudhry.

The Benediction at the end of the concert was done by reciting “Let there be peace, love and understanding in this world, and let it begin with me”. It was done in different languages by Rabbi Azriel Fellner of Temple Beth El of Patchogue, Dr. Yousuf U. Syed a Trustee Islamic Association of Long Island / The Selden Mosque and IFI board member, Executive Director Mehmet A. Tetik of the Turkish Cultural Center Long Island and Khalid S Lateef as a Representative of the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island. The closing benediction was a display of the unity of the Human Family.

This report courtesy of Br Khalid S Lateef. IFI advisory board member

Sunday Nov 11th 2018 - Forgiveness: Book Discussion: The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal -Thanks to IFI board member Prof Arthur Dobrin IFI hosted a fantastic informative event on Forgiveness Prof Arthur Dobrin initiated this program from conception, development to completion. Arthur had recruited rabbi Dr Linda Henry Goodman, Bhakti Shastri minister Joshua Greene and Rev Tom Goodhue to complete the panel.

Arthur gave a brief intro about the book The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal which poses the question: A prisoner in a concentration camp is asked for forgiveness by a dying Nazi soldier. What would you do if you were in such a situation? Each panelist provided a brief intro from the respective religious perspective--Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. The attachment on page 7 highlights my presentation regarding the Islamic perspective of forgiveness.

There was a very lively engaging audience who asked key penetrating questions and Arthur made sure all questions were addressed.

We had a large contingent from Gathering of Light led by IFI board member Rev Joane Barrett--she provided the attached picture of the panelists and the IFI board members who attended the program- and many members from the Ethical Humanist Society. The feedback from the attendees was very positive. It was a pleasure to welcome the many first time visitors to ICLI

The logistic support provided by IFI board members--Seema Rahman, Khalid S Lateef and Dr Unni Mooppan is greatly appreciated.

Finally, I am thankful for the many responses I received when I asked for the feedback to the four questions Arthur had asked the panelists in preparation for the session - the questions and the responses follow:

Q1- Can you forgive someone on another’s behalf? 13/16 NO remaining 3 were ambivalent - ex minor/if allowed by the wronged party.

Q2 - Can you forgive someone who isn’t repentant? - 12/16 - YES.

Q3 - How do you know that the repentance is sincere? Does it matter whether you are certain or not? 6/16 YES, rest ambivalent, not sure or no.

Q4 - Is repentance sincere if it is based upon fear (of the afterlife or punishment in this life)? 8/16 YES, rest ambivalent.

Respondents: 16 adults - six females, ten males. Eleven physicians.
Prof Arthur Dobrins Blog on Forgiveness: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/am-i-right/201511/ forgiveness-may-harm-society

Report Courtesy of Prof Faroque A Khan
Panelists L to R: , Bhakti- shastri minister Joshua Greene, Rev Tom Goodhue , Faroque Khan Rabbi Dr Linda Henry Goodman and Prof Arthur Dobrin

Nov 14th 2018: IFI Advisory Board member Sr. Shaida Khan represented Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island (IFI) in the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC NY) meeting with Stephanie Bazell, Chief of Staff to NYS Senator Brad Hoylman at the American Jewish committee office in NY. Ms. Bazell addressed the group on the Senators top priorities with a focus on hate crimes and strategies in creating new programs to enforce and implement the Senator’s priorities effectively.

Eric Post, Associate Director, AJC NY opened the meeting with introductions and thanked Stephanie Bazell, Senator Brad Hoylman’s Chief of Staff for the Senator’s work in combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, advancing pluralism, and preventing and addressing hate crimes.
Junaid Chida, member of MJAC NY provided an overview of the National MJAC, and its significant achievement in passing the ‘Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2018’ which recently signed into law by President Trump, this Act expands the coverage of Federal hate crimes laws to include religiously affiliated institutions such as schools and community centers, in addition to houses of worship. It clarifies that threats against, as well as acts that result in damage to religious institutions' property is covered.

Chief of Staff, Stephanie Bazell spoke about Senator Hoylman’s work on hate crimes and how the challenges in combating hate crimes has a lot to do with lack of reporting and lack of data. One can report a hate crime through the DA’s office, NYPD, and several other entities.

After discussing the challenges faced by the Jewish and Muslim communities, a few steps for legislative partnership between MJAC NY and Senator Hoylman were noted as follows:

  • 1. Mandate that the NYC and NY State Human Rights Councils meets with law enforcement to monitor hate crimes.
  • 2. Increase funding and resources to help report hate crimes.
  • 3. Register religious institutions, businesses and other entities on how to report a hate crime and provide safe spaces for individuals to do so anonymously.
  • 4. Collect data on domestic terrorism
  • 5. Increase penalties on domestic terrorism.

  • Report courtesy of Shaida Khan IFI Board member - second from right in the picture.

    Friday Nov 23rd 2018 Evening - Interfaith Musical Sabbath service at Temple Beth-Ol-Elohim, Jericho. An amazing inclusive uplifting Shabbat service was held at Temple Or Elohim in Jericho NY. The organizer cantor David Katz managed to interfuse information and prayers from Christian and Muslim traditions in a seamless manner ,the feed back from our guests has been awesome. What was particularly impactful was the fact that over half of the twenty plus Muslims who attended had never been to a Shabbat service, the uniform comment was ‘gee there is so much in common in our service and their service’. The hosts won the hearts and minds of the attendees.

    Deborah E Tract director of education at the Temple wrote: Thank you so much for your beautiful words. Last night was so meaningful, I truly feel a bond has been created that will further our relationship with all faiths. Your eloquence and words spoken certainly had a tremendous impact on me. It was a pleasure meeting the members of your community and I look forward to sharing many more experiences with all of you. A heartfelt thank you for sharing our Shabbat worship with us. Cantor Katz and I appreciate your dedication to unity. Deborah E Tract

    Dear Faroque, what can I say! Thank you so much for such kind words in your email. Because of your elegant, beautiful and thought filled words, everyone was moved and learned so much.

    I can't imagine it being the success it was without you there. I was also thrilled at seeing literally every one of the guests you invited, singing and clapping and joining in with the Shabbat melodies and service.

    What a sight! This service far surpassed my vision of what I wanted the community to experience, and we also are getting feedback so positive that it just makes me smile and fill with joy. Hopefully the beginning of a yearly effort and true healing among all people T hank you again. And please tell all your guests that came that it was a joy to meet them and I truly appreciate all for their positive and supportive comments they shared after the service. All the best, Cantor David Katz.

    Impact of the Programs in 2018:

    Its been a busy, productive and impactful year for IFI. From change of advisory board members, to the many diverse programs hosted by IFI and even more importantly the attendance and participation by IFI members in church service, Sabbath service, interaction with law enforcement staff and engagement in policy making with MJAC and even a congressional hearing in Washington.

    Special note of thanks and appreciation for the IFI board members in general and the executive committee members in particular What to expect in 2019:

    Sunday, January 27th 2019 – 2:15 pm to 4:30 pm: True Jihad - Yesterday’s Hero Today’s Need .Celebrating Emir Abdel Kader (1808-1882) :Speakers: Sr. Sahar Hussain (IFI), Mufti Farhaan, and others.

    Sunday February 24th 2019 - 2;15 pm to 4:30 pm - What you need to know about the government -Village, Town, County and State level - Speakers Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro, Nasrin Ahmed and others.

    Sunday March 31st 2019—2:15 pm to 4:30 pm. Book Discussion – Harder Right Led by Professor Arthur Dobrin

    Sunday April 28th 2019 - Passover Cedar at ICLI – 2:15 pm to 4:30 pm. Organized by IFI Board members - Dean Benjamin Rifkin and Rabbi Michael White.

    May 2019: Planning a program led by Dr Panna Shah and Rev Tom Goodhue.

    Faroque A Khan – On behalf of IFI executive board: Seema Rahman, Marjaneh Issapour, Sahar Hussain, Khalid S Lateef, Sohail Nabi and Dr. Unni Mooppan.

    “Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light, by which the prophets who had surrendered (themselves to Allah) judged the Jews, as did the rabbis and priests (who followed) the scripture of Allah which they were bidden to observe, and to which they were witness. So fear not men but fear Me. And sell not My verses for a trivial gain. Whoever judges not by that which Allah has revealed, these are the unbelievers.”
    Qur’an 5:44

    “And We sent, in their footsteps, “Isa (Jesus) son of Mariam, confirming that which was (revealed) before him of the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, confirming the Torah which was before it a guidance and admonition for those who fear Allah.”
    Qur’an 5:46

    “And to you (Muhammad) We have revealed the Book with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires to forsake the truth that has come to you. To each of We prescribed law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation (united in religion), but (He intended) to test you in what He has given you; so race to (all that is) good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will (then) inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.”
    Qur’an 5:48




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