MIAMI – The University of Miami’s Social Justice Week found its perfect closing ceremony in an Islamic center, sharing the evening with their Muslim neighbors and learning more about their faith.
“A lot of religion is teaching people how to be good people … How to treat other people with respect and kindness and that is the core of social justice,” Senior Megan Lipsky, the founder and vice president of the Miami Interfaith Council, told The Miami Hurricane.
Religious leaders, along with 10 UM students, paid a special visit to the Islamic Center of Greater Miami on Thursday, where they observed Muslims’ evening prayer and shared a meal.
Lipsky, a double major in political science and philosophy, said the event was a perfect fit for Social Justice Week because it allowed for people from different faith groups to find common ground.
The event was part of a larger initiative led by clergy in South Florida to foster a strong multi-faith community and create opportunities to develop understanding and harmony.
Abdul Hamid Samra, Imam and director of religious services at MCA’s Islamic Center of Greater Miami, was “honored and delighted” to welcome people from different faiths to the mosque.
“I hope and pray to God that he will always unite our hearts and bring us together so we can eliminate any kind of misunderstanding, any type of hate or animosity,” said Samra, who is also an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at UM.
Khadija Haider, a Ph.D. candidate studying marine biology and ecology at UM, said the event gave her a platform to clarify misunderstandings people may have about her Muslim faith.
“Terrorism has no religion,” said Haider, a native of Pakistan. “I believe every religion is about peace and humanity.”
Rabbi Lyle Rothman, UM’s on-campus rabbi and chair of the Chaplain’s Association, said that similar visits are the first steps toward a unified community.
“There’s a lot of tension in this world today and the one thing I keep reflecting on is what the psalmist teaches … This is a world, with God’s help, that will be built on love and kindness,” Rothman said.
“It is our responsibility … To continue to partner with each other.”
The congregations are planning to partner with the city of Miami Gardens on a community project in the near future.
“It is our responsibility to look beyond the yarmulkes … Beyond the hijab … Beyond the cross and look deeper into their souls,” Rothman said.