Sunday, November 8th was "The First Annual Queens Interfaith Unity Walk" in Queens, NY (particularly in Flushing) and I was lucky enough to know about it and participate in such a great event, Alhamdulillah -All Praise is to God-. It was SUCH a beautiful day. 63 degrees in November. I felt like we were down south. I think it was a sign from God. ;)
So Queens, NY is the MOST diverse county in the United States, which was all the more reason to have this walk here. It was a way to bring everyone together to promote peace and understanding.
Allah has told us in the Qur'an: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." Chapter 49, Verse 13.
This verse truly reflects what you see when you're in Queens. I remember growing up here and being friends with people from all over the world. Good experience. *thumbs up*
We started off the walk at the "Hindu Temple Center", with a welcome and introductions about the walk.
The dancers did a bharatanatyam dance, which is a form of classical indian dance. The girls were so cute!
Then we walked around the outside and were shown the actual prayer area of the temple. We had to see it from the outside because you aren't allowed to wear shoes in the prayer area and taking off all 100 shoes would probably hold us up from the rest of the walk.
After the hindu temple, we started walking over to the "Gurudwara" (The Sikh Temple). We didn't step in, just heard the Sikh brothers give a little speech.
Then the walk continued to the "Muslim Center of New York."
A hafiz (someone who has memorized the entire Quran) read a verse from the Qur'an, the one about Maryam and Jesus, to show that the belief in Jesus is a uniting factor. This boy was about 9 years old. He was so cute masha'Allah.
Look at his feet, so nervous, lol.
We then proceeded to the prayer area and everyone took off their shoes. We were at the mosque just in time for Asr prayer (Mid afternoon prayer) so us Muslims just walked over to the side and performed our prayers. People asked questions like, "Do women have to pray? Can they pray at the mosque? Who choses the leader? How many times do you pray? How do you chose the verse to use for prayer? Is an imam higher than everyone else?"
I thought the imam (leader of the masjid) did a great job in presenting Islam and answering questions from the community. I was very proud! :)
After the mosque, we stopped by at the park to hear a few words from the Quakers and Buddhists. The Quakers offer prayer silently so we all bowed our heads and prayed for peace and love.
We then resumed the walk to the "Free Synagogue".
The rabbi sang and he had a GREAT voice, mashallah. After singing the prayer, he said:
"There's an old tradition in Judaism that "Our prayers are private and personal between us and God" and so if we say them out loud, everybody hears what we're praying but if we only say them to ourselves, we don't seem like a community. So we have this idea that if we sing out loud "Lai lai lai" and think our prayers at the same time, we can have our private prayer and our community prayer going on at the same time and it will stay private...so let's follow along with this "la la song". Think your prayers for harmony and peace and love and good and sisterhood as you do it you'll pick up this melody almost instantly I know and if you're not singing, God will know..." and with that, he made us follow along with a "lai lai song" and it was so cool! It reminded me of the days I was in chorus (which was way back in the 5th grade). Although I'm not great, I still loveeeeee to sing! :)
Last but not least, the walk ended at the 175 year old "Saint Michaels Church" where food and drinks were awaiting.
Overall I lovedddddd the walk. I found out more information about Reformed Judaism from this Jewish sister I spoke to throughout the walk and it was great to see such a big turnout, it gave me hope. There was probably about 100 people that attended, all ages, religions and races. I think this was a great stepping stone towards peace and understanding and am so glad I was given a chance to be part of it, Alhamdulillah. :)