Township, NJ: Muslims celebrate diversity
MARTIN C. BRICKETTO
Staff Writer,The Courier News
June 16, 2007
FRANKLIN (Somerset), NJ, — An
eclectic serving of speakers, musical performances, art
displays and poetry readings marked a gathering Saturday
of Muslims from across the Garden State and beyond.
The diverse lineup of “Islam
in the West: Past Glory, Present Reality” at the Garden
State Exhibit Center shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise,
said Ron Smith, a 36-year-old convert to Islam from New
“That’s what Islam is — diversity. You have that no
matter what,” Smith said. “It’s important to show that.
In today’s world, it doesn’t get shown enough.”
About 2,000 people from across the region were expected
to attend the event, sponsored by representatives from
Islamic Video Productions, New Islamic Directions and
Tariq Subhani, a member of the event’s program
committee, said the idea was to unite indigenous Muslims
and those from abroad to “paint a picture of Islam which
is far different from what the media has been
Hundreds of people had already gathered soon after the
event started at 2 p.m., watching a display of
calligraphy by Haji Noor Deen, who flew in from China,
before a preview of Zahir Ahmed’s documentary “God of
Abraham” explored the connections among Islam, Judaism
A larger crowd was expected by the time Shaykh Hamza
Yusuf was scheduled to take the stage at about 9 p.m.
The Islamic scholar advised President Bush following the
Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Princeton resident Omer Aziz, 27, said the package of
entertainers and speakers drew him to the event.
“There are things to do in Princeton, but not
necessarily with an Islamic focus,” Aziz said.
Aziz said Islam and the teachings of Muhammad guide him
in dealing with friends, family and non-Muslims, adding
that most of the non-Muslims he knows don’t understand
as much as they could about the religion.
“Muslims have to do a better job of putting their name
out there — getting the message of Islam into the
mainstream,” Aziz said.
The Virginia-based band Native Deen — “Deen” is an
Arabic word for religion or way of life — were scheduled
to perform their fusion of hip-hop, R&B and world music
“In three years, we want to make this ... more of a
household name, a name that you identify with
youth-appropriate lyrics and a strong message of
positivity and anti-drugs,” band member Naeem Muhammad
Members said their songs address everyday life viewed
through the lense of Islam.
Abdul-Malik Ahmad said he was inspired to write “The
Lord is Watching” after reading about both the positive
and negative things children can find on the Internet