By Abdus Sattar Ghazali: Woodland, CA May 17, 2008: Despite a hot summer day when the temperature was 20 degree above the normal weather of this time of the month of May, over three hundred friends showed up for the 1st annual AMV peace picnic in Woodland, CA. The event brought together more than 20 different religious organizations from Yolo County, as well as people from throughout Northern California, to Woodland's Woodside Park.
The AMV Peace Picnic was held under the slogan: Let us build a beloved community through “The Miracle Movement of Friendship.” American Muslim Voice is trying to fulfill its important mission to bridge the gap between communities of all beliefs, traditions, and spiritualities. By cosponsoring such events people become part of “The Miracle Movement of Friendship.”
In the words of the founding Executive Director of AMV, Samina Faheem Sundas, “we celebrate diversity and values all human beings regardless of race, religion, or creed. We strive to create a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony.”
Before the food was served, Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers were offered. Michael Hirsch- Davis of the Synagogue Congregation Bet Haverim offered the Jewish Prayer. Rev Brad Van Saint said the Christian Prayer while Hafiz Muddasar Khalid of the Islamic Center of Woodland recited verses from the Quran.
AMV provided Pakistani food, drinks, halal burgers and halal BBQ sausages. Varieties of salads and delicious basmati rice and chicken curry were also served.
While people enjoyed the traditional Pakistani and Asian dishes the guests were entertained with a thrilling performance on guitar.
Rev. Gene and Mary Crumley were the official picnic Story Tellers. Their interactive style of story telling was enjoyed by the kids who were really involved in the whole act.
Hottest ticket at the picnic was face painting by two wonderful young ladies, Kayla Thompson and Stephanie Slavich.
Earlier, addressing the guests, Samina Faheem Sundas, founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice, spoke about the benefits of uniting together and working towards a cause. "I think it's important for us to be for something, instead of anti-something - anti-war, anti-drug, anti-poverty, anti Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish," she said.
"There are so many antis that we shouldn't be associated with anymore. So I want us to start being for something, and the best thing to be 'for' is peace and community building because there's nothing negative about that," she said adding: By coming together in events like this one, learning about each other and being "for" a common cause that everyone can help make the world better for future generations.
After her speech many people came to congratulate Samina. One guest said: This is the best idea they have heard and AMV’s idea of peace picnic and open houses is a very simple and the most effective one because when you break bread together you are on your way to build life long friendship.”
Khalid Saeed, National President of the American Muslim Voice, said the purpose for the event was to bring people in the community together, no matter who they are or what they believe in. "We came together and created this community building event where, regardless of a person's race, color or religion, all fellow Americans are invited."
Khalid Saeed offered special thanks to Sandy Briggs, Library Services Director Woodland Public Library for her great support in arranging the face fainting and also buying the supplies for it and also for finding us two marvelous story tellers.
He was also grateful to the Woodland newspaper The daily Democrat and specially the editor of the paper Mr. Jim Smith “for always his support, not only in many many useful ways in organization of the events but the great coverage of the good causes.”
“And last but not the least I am very thankful to many supporters from our Muslim community, to name a few, Riaz Ahamad President Islamic Center Woodland, Muhammad Usman Sadiq Principal Islamic center School , Ali Asghar, Ali Akbar, Javid Saqib, Usman Ali, Ashraf Batavia, and Chaudhry Mohammad Saleem for their volunteerism, hard work and support,” he concluded.