Familiar faces reached out to unfamiliar faces in elegant dresses and tuxedos to celebrate the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. The three-story Josephine Butler Parks Center near the historic Malcolm X Park in NW Washington, DC was filled to capacity with 350 American Muslims and non-Muslims from the DC region.
The first annual Muslim American Inaugural gala held on January 20, 2013 was organized by the Muslim American Presidential Inauguration Committee (MAPIC), a national coalition of volunteers involved in politics, law, medicine, education, entertainment, and civil rights.
The purpose of this event was to celebrate, network and recognize the contributions of American Muslims in the arenas of medicine, art, civic engagement, politics, media, education, sports, and community activism.
Honorary guests Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) addressed the attendees and acknowledged the impact of American Muslims in the electoral process. During the evening, American Muslims were encouraged to recognize the power they have in establishing the American Muslim political platform.
“The nation will be better if we put ourselves to the task and commit ourselves to making this country a better place,” said Congressman Ellison. He added that Islamic morals go hand and hand with the core values that establish a good society.
The event demonstrated the rich diversity of Muslims who made their mark on the American society and continue to bring positive influences to their communities. For many young Muslims, this was the time to socialize, enjoy entertainment such as Native Deen, comedian Azhar Usman, and poet Khalil Ismail, and reconnect with old friends.
The black-tie event also included a “Golden Minaret” awards ceremony. A panel of organizers and community members chose outstanding individuals and organizations from the Muslim community for recognition including the Abdullah Brothers, NFL players who gave up their football season to make Hajj; Muhammad Ali, world’s famous boxer; Ibtihaj Muhammad, women’s fencing champion; 1001 Inventions, an exhibit showcasing American Muslims’ contribution to modern science at the National Geographic Museum; DC Muslims Democratic Caucus for its political engagement; Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for civil rights; Dr. Aziza Baccouche, a blind nuclear physicist; the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) and the Mohammed Schools of Atlanta for education and youth leadership; and the free health clinic of the Muslim Community Center (MCC).
“It is an honor to receive this award,” said Hamza Abdullah. “Everything is possible through the power of prayers.”
Abdullah stated that American Muslims are in a strong position to influence the electoral process. Young Muslims should continue to be involved in society in order to increase their own representation instead of being defined by others who lack an objective understanding of Islam in America, he said.
The Muslim Link newspaper received the Golden Minaret Award for media for its exceptional work in the DC region.
According to Attorney Talib Karim, co-chair of MAPIC, all of the profit from the event will benefit local non-profit organizations raising awareness of Muslim Americans’ impact on the American society and that are actively engaging in projects that benefit the greater society.
“The gala was designed to bring together Muslims from across the country to commemorate the positive achievements of President Obama’s first term,” said Karim. Expressing thanks to his many sponsors for their financial and moral support. Speaking about the future, Karim stated the he looks forward to collaborating with more American Muslims, Muslim organizations, and business for the next inaugural gala dinner celebration.
Local Islamic organizations which sponsored the event included the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), DC Green Health, DC Muslim Democratic Caucus, Islamic Leadership Institute of America (ILIA), Islamic Relief, and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
Another Muslim American event celebrating the re-election of President Obama took place the day after the Muslim American Inaugural Benefit Gala.
On Monday, January 21, 2013, a different set of organizers hosted the "Muslim Inaugural Gala: An American Interfaith and Multicultural Affair" at the Eastern Market's North Hall on Capital Hill in Washington, DC to "unite people of faith in the celebration of the second inauguration of the 44th President of the United States." This gala was organized by DC Based Muslims for Barack Obama, American University Muslim Student Association, Mosque Cares, Crescent Moon Nights, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, the Boston Interfaith Community and the DC Interfaith Community. Area masajid sponsoring this event included Dar Al-HIjrah, in Falls Church, VA, Masjid Muhammad, in Washington DC, and the Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA) in Silver Spring MD.
All photos by Kim Johnson of Urban Oasis Studio.