On Tuesday, January 31st, Pacifica Institute Los Angeles branch has hosted a panel on the topic of Community Engagement in America, with Salam Al- Marayati , who is the president and the co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. He oversees MPAC’s groundbreaking civic engagement, public policy, and advocacy work. He is an expert on topics of Islam in the West, Muslim reform movements, human rights, democracy, national security, and Middle East politics.
The panel started with Salam Al- Marayati’s speech, answering the question “How people should engaged with each other in America?” He asked ‘What kind of America are we looking for? That’s reason of why we need an engaged community. We are not going to reach the goal of country in vision, in real pluralism unless we engaged to one another and I see that (as) the biggest problem in our country today.” Later, he continued on the topic of engagement. According to Salam, Muslims are one of the best integrated community in USA. They are well integrated socially, have good neighborhoods and are highly successful people in whatever they are doing. Muslims tend to be educated and involve in the social life actively. Yet politically, they are not as good as the other communities.They aren’t involved in political life and they are avoiding it, he said, contrary to many countries in Europe where the Muslim community is actively participating in politics by being members of the parliaments.However, he added that the Muslim communities in Europe tend not to be as so well integrated into the larger group as American Muslims both socially and economically; thus, they tend to live in suburban, ghetto districts.
Dr Marayati also added that we, as the muslims, have to explain what islam is and is not and that Muslims should be part of the public voice and explain that Islam is not ISIS , Islam is not radical, Islam is not terrorism. He has highlighted the need for a better social engagement to be known correctly.
Second part of Dr Marayati’s speech was about the verses in the Quran about engagement. He stated that Islam has 3 characteristics forms about engagement which he reveres greatly: Invitation, social transformation, speaking the truth. The main idea of the verse is to invite everyone to the “land with wisdom and beautiful teachings,” rather than to the religion, adapting on new forms of habits based on the popular culture of the land, and being part of the justice in a particular place. The speech came to an end with the Q&A session.