Sharing heritage and celebrating Muslim contributions are the basic objectives of the first Muslim American Heritage Month in Illinois.
Celebrating January as Muslim History Month followed a proclamation by Governor J.B. Pritzker proclamation in December to celebrate the contributions of Muslim Americans in Illinois.
The first year events are now wrapping up without much fanfare.
“I would say at the beginning it was a shock,” said Ahmed Flex Omar, cofounder of the Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA), ABC News reported.
“But then after that you start processing what this truly means, not just for us, but for generations to come.”
MALA began in 2015 in Chicago to celebrate Muslim American heritage.
“We thought it was important to educate our fellow Americans about the contributions of Muslim Americans,” said Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somaliland when he was 19.
A new state law went into effect this year requiring schools to teach the contributions of Americans of different faith groups, including Muslims. Last week the state observed Muhammad Ali Day for the first time.
“This is a great opportunity to show the better part of the Islamic heritage and the peace-loving and the more of the celebration of the cultures and the diversity,” former radio cultural commentator Narimon Safavi said.
Omar said MALA will have several programs and events to celebrate the Muslim American Heritage Month each year beginning in 2023.
“Definitely going to be larger efforts next year, but we are very happy we have welcomed the new year with Muslim American Heritage Month,” he said.
This is not the only state that recognizes the contributions of Muslims and their achievements.
Last year, the city of Fullerton, Los Angeles, recognized August as “Muslim-American Appreciation Month”
In Ohio, the Islamic Day of Ohio is recognized by the state to be marked every second Saturday in October since 1987.