Thursday, September 11, 2003
New interfaith groups are still going
As a corporate vice president at Microsoft, Jawad Khaki
sits at a desk, wielding a mouse and a telephone. But last month, Khaki
two weeks hanging drywall in some new homes with an interfaith group he
two years ago.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, many people joined in
kind of interfaith effort. They learned about Islam at a church event or
dinner at a mosque during Ramadan. Some gatherings were sporadic or
But not Khaki's group. Comprising Muslims, Jews and
his group of about 14 congregations has come together the last two summers
build homes with Habitat for Humanity. Khaki started the group after Sept.
to help people bridge spiritual differences.
He found that it was one thing to sit at a forum and discuss
faith. It was an entirely different matter to swing a hammer next to
for a community project.
"I think I formed bonds that will last a long
said Khaki, leader of the Ithna-Asheri Muslim Association of the
"The thing I learned is the ability to look into the eyes of a
and see a potential friend."
On this two-year anniversary of Sept. 11, religious groups
initial outpouring of concern was the catalyst for many community efforts
The attacks spurred John Hale, a Catholic at St. Patrick's
to help start the group Unity Projects-Seattle, which has organized a
potluck dinners for Christians, Jews and Muslims.
"We found that we had people coming back repeatedly and
getting to know each other more deeply, and some real friendships have
developed," said Hale. His group plans to include more faiths and
into such controversial issues as the role of women in religious
Sept. 11 also helped spawn a Seattle chapter of the Council
American-Islamic Relations, a national, non-profit group that helps
through political and social activism. The attacks pushed the Church
Greater Seattle to start developing "neighborhood networks"
And Sept. 11 propelled Idris Mosque, the center of much
activity in the area, to be more outgoing toward non-Muslims.
The Northgate mosque has always taught the public about
now it throws an annual picnic for neighbors and community members to
them for their support.
It hosts about a hundred non-Muslim visitors a week, and
go to schools and churches to lecture about Islam more than ever before.
mosque members now have better friendships with Seattle police officers
have joined an advisory council at the North Precinct.
Mosque director Hisham Farajallah summed up the direction of
mosque, two years after a distraught man shot at two congregants and
cars with gasoline: "We made more friends."
reporter Vanessa Ho can be reached at 206-448-8003 or firstname.lastname@example.org