CLARK, NJ – A coalition of New Jersey’s Muslim organizations met on Friday in Oak Ridge Park to hold its first-in-the-state United Jumuah prayer event. An estimated 2000 Muslim men, women and children attended the multi-generational event.
The event was designed to unite the Muslim community’s many diverse groups, encourage civic participation and encourage attendees to actively participate in the democratic process through voter registration, organizers said.
“Our group started with getting the Muslim community to vote,” explained Shawn Butt, a founding member of the New Jersey Muslim Voter Project. “We thought about how we can get them together and that is when we decided to do the Jumuah. Instead of Muslims all going to their individual mosques, why not come together to share prayer and community?”
Jumuah is a Muslim practice of Friday congregational prayer and members of more than 100 different Muslim organizations met at the park for the shared service.
Imam Fahmy delivered a message to the crowd consistent with the day's theme “Reaffirming Islamic Unity and Principles Consistent with American Values.”
“The teachings of our faith says you must show love for neighbors as you show love for yourself,” event organizer Dr. Alex Kharazi said. “We are diverse; we are expecting leaders of this country to treat us like equals.”
Senator Raymond Lesniak (LD 20) and Union County Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh attended the event.
Event organizers spoke of the need for the Muslim community to actively participate in the democratic process. Jessica Abdelnabbi, founder of NJ Sisterhood, enthusiastically greeted attendees and asked if they were registered to vote.
“We are voters and we want our community engaged,” Abdelnabbi sad. “We are not endorsing any one candidate, we are bipartisan.”
Attendees spoke of their desire to be accepted as Americans who are simply raising their families and contributing to society.
“We come from all walks of life to celebrate our unity as Americans and to commit to civic engagement,” volunteer Joan Najeeullah said. “We are not terrorists, we are Americans.”