Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Centre) in Washington, delivered a message at the interfaith inauguration service for incoming US president, Donald Trump.
Imam Magid was one of 26 religious leaders from a diverse array of faiths to participate in the service, an inaugural tradition since George Washington. The event’s program said Imam Magid would recite the “Muslim call to prayer”. Instead, Imam Magid proceeded to recite 2 specific passages from the Qur’an.
The first verse he read was,
“O humankind, We have created you a single male and female (Adam and Eve) and made you into nations and tribes and communities, that you may know one another. Really, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you, and God has all knowledge…”
[Surah Al-Hujarat, Verse 13]
The second verse he read was,
“And among the signs of God is the creation of heaven and earth, and the variation in your languages and your colors. Verily, in that are signs for those who know.”
[Surah Ar-Rum, Verse 22]
At a time of increasing anti-Muslim sentiment and with Muslim communities in the US feeling marginalized and mistrusted by the political rhetoric during president Trump’s campaign, there were mixed reactions to Imam Magid’s appearance at the interfaith event.
Those critical of Imam Magid included Hussam Ayloush, executive director at the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR, who argued that Magid’s participation would allow Trump to say he has Muslim Americans’ support. On a Facebook post, Hussam wrote,
“In the face of unreluctant and unrepentant defamation and animosity toward Islam and Muslims (and many other communities) by this Trump team, a symbolic participation that does not involve any opportunity to preach or make a statement does not qualify as engaging or correcting the wrongdoers, but rather enabling them and providing them with a token cover for their bigotry.”
Defending his position, Imam Magid wrote,
“One of the tasks of the religious leader is to convey the truth and the values of Islam to everyone, including those in power, to advocate for what is good, and to address those who misunderstand and have misconceptions about the beauty of Islam. As leaders, we must always tread the high, moral ground in all circumstances. When we are presented with a platform to share our values, we must take the opportunity.”
He also went on to add,
“Do not assume that the efforts to engage those who have misconceptions of Islam are in any way contradictory to other efforts to influence public opinion. Rather they go hand in hand.”
Imam Magid said that Muslim-Americans need to share their message both through public protests and private meetings with government officials.
“Many people came to do harm to Prophet Mohammed, and after engagement and getting to know him they changed their mind in a positive manner.”