CAIR-NJ Celebrates the Signing of Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into Law
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 04/29/2023) — The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today celebrated the signing of the Muslim Heritage Month Resolution into law by New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy.
The signing ceremony took place during the Governor and First Lady’s Eid celebration at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s residence in Princeton, and was attended by members of the New Jersey Muslim community.
The Muslim Heritage Month Resolution designates January of each year as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey and calls upon local government agencies and organizations to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and educational programs that pay homage to the growing American Muslim community.
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said:
“This is a historic moment. For too long, we’ve seen damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims. These narratives have tangible consequences, but now, we will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: One that highlights, celebrates, and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey.
“We are happy to take this small step towards pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry, and we are excited for what’s to come. We also want to thank the Governor and his administration for their support of this resolution.”
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Government Affairs Manager Madina P. Ouedraogo said:
“New Jersey’s Muslim community has long awaited this moment, when the Muslim heritage Month Resolution is passed and signed into law. Today, the Garden State is proudly celebrating its rich religious and cultural diversity.
“American Muslims have and continue to be a pivotal foundation of this state, but they have long been stigmatized, marginalized, and underappreciated. This new law signals a new tide.”
In a statement, Council of Imams in New Jersey Convener Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef said:
“The history of Islam and the growing Muslim Community in New Jersey is rich in the lessons of how the human spirit struggles against social, political, and economic adversity to successfully establish a model life working to serve G_d and bring forward a model human society.
“The late Muslim American Leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, encouraged Muslims to establish the best spiritual and social life possible reflecting the high morals and ethics taught by the Qur’an, G_d’s Word, and exhibit in practice the model traditional life of Muhammad the Prophet (prayers and Peace be upon him). This month acknowledges and celebrates these honorable objectives for Muslims and all citizens of New Jersey.”
In a statement, NJ Muslim Parent Advocate Jessica Berrocal said:
“Celebrating Muslim Heritage Month in January is a step towards building stronger, more inclusive communities that celebrate diversity and reject hatred and bigotry. This is a significant step towards promoting tolerance and acceptance among communities, and it serves as a reminder that discrimination and hate have no place in New Jersey.
“Muslim Heritage Month not only recognizes the rich cultural contributions of Muslims, but also creates an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of the religion, customs, and traditions. It is crucial that we protect the rights of Muslim children and ensure that they can express their religious identity without fear of discrimination or bullying. By advocating for inclusivity and raising awareness around Muslim Heritage Month, we can foster a more welcoming and accepting environment for all children in wholesome.”
New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the U.S., at 3.5 percent, according to 2020 US Religion Census and the Association of Religion Data Archives. Last month, two Muslim women who wear hijab, the Honorable Nadia Kahf and Dalya Youssef, were appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court bench. New Jersey also leads the way for local representation, with over 40 Muslim elected officials. The state elected the first ever Muslims to the New Jersey State Legislature, Sadaf Jaffer (LD-16) and Shama Haidar (LD-37), last year.
Still, however, anti-Muslim incidents are on the rise. CAIR-NJ received over 150 calls for help in 2022 alone. This resolution seeks to push back against anti-Muslim bigotry by celebrating American Muslims and shedding a positive light on the community.
The Assembly joint resolution (AJR194) is sponsored by Assemblywoman McKnight (LD-31), Assemblywoman Speight (LD-29) and Assemblywoman Chaparro (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Jaffer (LD-16), Assemblyman Stanley (LD-18), Assemblywoman Haider (LD-37), Assemblyman DePhillips (LD-40), Assemblyman Atkins (LD-20), Assemblywoman Park (LD-37), Assemblywoman Jasey (LD-27), Assemblywoman Quijano (LD20), Assemblyman Conaway (LD-7), Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson (LD-15) and Assemblywoman Sumter (LD-35)
The Senate joint resolution (SJR105) is sponsored by Senator Pennacchio (LD-26) and Senator Stack (LD-33) and co-sponsored by Senator Bucco (LD-25), Senator Durr (LD-3), Senator Turner (LD-15), Senator Gopal (LD-11), Senator Greenstein (LD-14), Senator Lagana (LD-38), Senator Pou (LD-35), Senator Zwicker (LD-16).
Muslim Heritage Month started with a vision from the Honorable Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. The first Muslims to observe Ramadan in America were enslaved Africans who carried their faith with them and used it as a way to stay connected to their identities that were being brutally stripped from them while in bondage. It was their descendants, Black and African American Muslims, who would go on to later lay the foundation for the modern day American Muslim experience. The Honorable Imam Mohammed sought to make sure that this history is acknowledged and celebrated.
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, firstname.lastname@example.org, 551-221-5592