Congressional Muslim Staffers Association social On Friday June 19, 2009 Congressional Muslim Staffers Association (CSMA) held their 2nd annual Summer Interns and fellow social with Congressman Andre Carson and Congressman Keith Ellison as guest speakers. However, the event was deceptive by title due to its overwhelmingly rewarding program and diverse group of attendees.
CMSA defines its object as â€œto effectively represent the Islamic faith and the Muslim American community to Representatives, Senators, Congressional Staff, and other government organizations and officialsâ€ and this mission was the target of their event. The program began with Jummah prayer, which is hosted every Friday in the US capital building and open to the public. Despite certain stereotypes that inevitably cross a Muslimâ€™s mind about their treatment by security, Capital Police were very helpful and polite in providing information. The prayer is widely respected among Capital Hill staffers of all faiths and I would recommend it as a venue for Jummah to any Muslim in the area.
In a room packed with over 100 people, Muslims from a variety of professional fields met to pray, network with one another and develop a strong sense of community often lacking among Muslim youth. Congressman Ellison and Congressman Carson, the first and second Muslims elected into the US House of Representatives respectively, both opined in on the importance of Muslim values in America. While their demeanors contrasted sharply, both speeches addressed the same fundamental need of the Muslim Community, a call for greater involvement in public office and public policy.
Particularly interesting was how the Congressmen avoided partisan politics and spoke the greater need. While Congressman Carson was praising Obama as a source of inspiration for Muslims, it wasnâ€™t because of his Democratic affiliation but the Muslim heritage on his fatherâ€™s side. A strong indication the first Muslim-American President might not be far away. The interests of Muslim communities will continue to be ignored without a strong commitment of Muslim youth to serving the community in Congressional offices, policy institutes and media outlets.
Prominent Muslim organizations across the DC metro area were represented at the event including AIC (American Islamic Congress), CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), IIIT (International Institute of Islamic Thought), MPAC(Muslim Public Affairs Council), and Rumi forum. The event offered the opportunity for the youngest affiliates of these organizations to begin building relationships and bonds crucial to serving Muslim interests in government. Although the event was relatively small, the impact was obvious. Muslims of all diversities quickly engaged with one another discussing politics, organizational ties and opportunities to contribute to each otherâ€™s causes. If CSMAâ€™s event was any indication of the future, the prospect for Muslim involvement in government is very promising.
Minaret of Freedom Institute