This article was published in the Feb. 23 newsletter of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, a partner organization of JCUA.
A Beaming Example of Solidarity in Action
By Aatifa Sadiq
Growing up, I often equated interfaith with gatherings where I would explain my beliefs over and over again. I believe interfaith cannot be confined by a time, a place, or a topic. Rather, it needs to be an attitude of openness towards alternate ways of being. I would always reflect on interfaith as a means to produce change in the community. Thinking about this type of reciprocal interfaith on a communal level can truly bring about solidarity and positive change.
Today, I am fortunate to be able to work on one such opportunity – CIOGC’s Interfaith Teen Delegation: Off to Social Change.
As an organizer and participant, I have been able to witness youth from the Muslim, Jewish, and Presbyterian faiths come together with an attitude of social responsibility that extends beyond the boundaries of their own religion and cultures. These youth have explored solutions to equitable education, one of the four IMAD issues this year, and a social issue that remains a stark reality for many of them.
In a series of three meetings, the youth met at a synagogue, church and masjid where Leah Roth-Howe of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and Pastor Jay Moses from the Presbyterian church in Wheaton spoke to the teens about their own personal faith journeys and the active role religion plays in their life. The students started by creating posters depicting their own spiritual experiences and how they feel their faith defines them. Then they started tackling how they will speak to their legislators.
I was inspired to see Muslim, Jewish, and Presbyterian youth sitting with one another as friends and sharing their personal encounters with the public school funding issue. For me, to hear and see these youth envision a better Chicago community, while learning and drawing from their own faith backgrounds, is a powerful message not just for the future of Muslims, but for the future of the greater community.
The Interfaith Teen Delegation project cultivates in a presentation to Illinois legislators during IMAD on March 9. The group will not only present their views on the issue to legislators, but will be a positive example of interfaith solidarity within the Chicago community. The goal is to keep these relationships active and healthy even after our project.
To find out more about this project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.