God Almighty has His mysterious ways of bringing people together, changing hearts and minds and creating miracles. This is exactly what transpired in the cities of Columbia and Irmo in the state of South Carolina.
Recently an anti-Islam Facebook post by Irmo, SC, Mayor, Hardy King, created an uproar in the community. Irmo residents reacted sharply and local Muslims were naturally offended by the post. A young Muslim, Farzan, called Mayor King and spoke to him for over an hour.
Farzan then prompted PICNA President, Chaudhry Sadiq, to reach out to the Mayor, assuring him of a speedy response from the Mayor. A well balanced text message from Chaudhry resulted in a phone call within 90 seconds!
The Mayor was invited to Masjid Noor Ul Huda, a prominent Mosque in Columbia for an Eid Celebration the Muslim community was holding just a few days later. Board Members of a well known interfaith organization – IPSC – Interfaith Partners of SC, were invited to Mosque as well. Mayor King was warmly welcomed to the Mosque by the Imam and Masjid President and presented with gifts.
The Mayor met a cross section of the Muslim community and had good conversation with the members of the Mosque. Mayor and IPSC guests were treated to a delicious dinner comprising Bar-B-Q, mutton curry and rice. Kids games, women dressed in traditional, cultural clothing had created a colorful environment that had a profound impact on the Mayor and guests. Hearts melted, minds met and an inner revolution was simmering. Chaudhry Sadiq, meanwhile, was aiming to move this newfound relationship to a new level and proposed to the Mayor to jointly organize an Islamic Awareness program which the Mayor promptly accepted. It seemed that these two hours of warm, friendly and free flowing interaction, produced wonders and achieved tremendous success in building bridges and changing hearts and minds. While this may just be the beginning of a long, delicate process of building trust and friendship, a meaningful dialogue has begun and a strong foundation has been laid already!