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Indianapolis, IN – Muslim Hoosiers gathered today in mosques and open spaces to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. The Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI) wishes all a joyous “Eid Mubarak and a blessed celebration. May God accept all your good deeds, answer your prayers, and may you all be well, all year and every year.”

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The Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI) is shocked and horrified by the tragic mass shooting in Orlando. We join our fellow Americans in mourning the innocent lives lost. Our prayers and thoughts are with the victims of this massacre of innocents in an evident hate crime. We urge Muslims and people of all faiths to stand with and pray for those killed or injured in the attack, the brave officers who responded rapidly, all their loved ones and for the speedy recovery and rehabilitation of those injured. MAI vigorously condemns the heinous attacks as barbarous acts of hate and murder that are wholly contradictory to the teachings of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and justice, and we condemn any individual or organization that uses the name of Islam for its own inhumane agenda. Now more than ever, we as a Nation need to stand united to speak out against and combat all hate crimes and terrorism. All life is sacred, and should be protected (Quran, 5:32).

MAI commends law enforcement officers for their courage, skill and diligence in ending the attack and working around the clock to keep Orlando safe. We are grateful for the careful comments of officials and leaders to allow the investigation to go forward, without rushing to judgment about the suspect’s motivation or heritage. As we continue to learn more details about the suspect, we urge media professionals to continue to exercise restraint in speculating about motivations or associations.

The Islamic Center of Orlando has urged Muslims to give blood immediately to save the lives of injured survivors, even if it means breaking the fast of Ramadan, saying “A broken fast can be made up, a life lost is gone forever.” We urge Muslims to show compassion and contribute generously to their communities by civic engagement, volunteering, giving blood and aiding public safety. Through service, dialogue and promoting peace, we can drive out hate.

The Muslim Alliance of Indiana (MAI) is working with Islamic schools based in mosques and Islamic centers around Indiana to enhance their work to inculcate true Islamic teachings and American values, immunizing students against internet radicalization. Full-time K-12 institutions such as Indianapolis-based MTI School of Knowledge and numerous weekend/Sunday schools at virtually every mosque have a rigorous curriculum of Islamic education that seeks to firmly root students in authentic understanding of Islamic texts and to develop a wholesome Muslim-American identity. Students are taught to reject extremism and follow the Islamic injunctions to obey the law of the land and contribute positively to society. Camps, volunteer activities and public service projects led by Islamic schools and organizations, such as the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA), the youth organization of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), provide additional avenues for immersive experiences and opportunities to put Islamic values into action. Islamic schools have provided excellent secular and religious education to hundreds of students, for over a quarter century in the case MTI, many of whom have achieved national and local honors. Students who have graduated from Islamic schools have grown to become civically engaged professionals and citizens, contributing widely to Hoosier society.

It was recently reported that a Brownsburg teenager who had briefly attended MTI was arrested on a charge of material support of terrorism while attempting to travel and join the Daesh/ISIS organization. MAI, MTI, local Muslim communities and Islamic organizations are horrified by this arrest and fully support law-enforcement efforts to ensure public safety and counter terrorism. The teenager’s repeated attempts to travel and his open communications on social media and at a local park appear amateurish and without direction by a terrorist organization. However, the Muslim Hoosier community is taking this development extremely seriously and redoubling its efforts to reach more youth with authentic Islamic teachings. Students who consistently attend Islamic schools such as MTI for an extended period are less likely to fall prey to extremist propaganda on the internet. One challenge that remains is to reach out to those who may be more susceptible, such as families that are not well integrated in the Muslim community, troubled or delinquent youth, and individuals who convert to what they believe is Islam.

MAI, together with Hoosier mosques and Islamic schools is working to expand educational and experiential offerings to a broader cross-section of young people, with avenues for directing youthful energy in a positive direction. MYNA hosts several annual youth camps, including one in Brown county Indiana to be held later this summer. MAI is also a co-sponsor for the Indianapolis FBI’s Multicultural Advisory Council’s Youth Academy this August. By engaging our youth and giving them a Muslim-American identity, we hope to combat the extremist internet phenomenon and send a clear message. As MYNA director Fiyyaz Jaat put it, “Don’t get your religion from the internet.”

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Our Refugee Welcome Fair and Iftar Dinner will be held on Friday, June 17 at 6:00pm at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. Several local leaders and organizations will be present, so come and build your community! Admission is only $10/person for general seating or $50/person for VIP seating. Register now to reserve your spot!

If you would like to sponsor this event, please contact Rima Shahid at [email protected]