Last week, Madeeha, Craig and I ventured out to the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill for the Rumi Forum‘s 2008 Rumi Peace and Dialogue Awards.
Ambassador Ahmed was given the Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi Award for 2008. He was introduced by his good friend and colleague Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation. My favorite part was when Lustig asked the audience to note the symbolism of a Rabbi, whose family lived through the Holocaust, presenting an award named after a Muslim to a Muslim professor and former Ambassador from Pakistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. “Only in America”, he said. Here’s a video of some of the speech:
It was a grand event with 8 awardees in all including several Congressmen, the famous Sally Quinn, and an excellent speech by Commitment to Interfaith Service awardee Sulayman Nyang.
The list of recipients of all of the Award recipients is below.
The Congressional Service Award went to 12th District of New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt, who said giving religious messages under the roof of the US legislature was not against secularism. Holt also underlined the US did not exclude religion but permitted its citizens to experience their faith to the utmost level they wish.
Dr. Akbar Ahmed of American University, Washington DC was given his award of Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi by Bruce Lustig who is the senior rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congress. Rabbi Lustig praised theTurkish nation for its generosity.
Father Clete Kiley who gave the award to Holt said he admired Fethullah Gulen honorary president of the Rumi Forum and his movement.
Sally Quinn of Washington Post, who received Media Excellence Award said there was an embarrassing lack of understanding and perception concerning Islam. She complained that this attitude makes 50 percent of Muslims seem like terrorists. Quinn, who said she was formerly an atheist, now a believer, emphasized “without understanding religion we cann not count ourselves educated or sophisticated.”
The Congressional Dialogue Service Award went to Gregory W. Meeks, Congressman, 6th District of New York and Wayne T. Gilchrest, Congressman, 1st District of Maryland.
Sulayman Nyang of Howard University, Washington DC received the Commitment to Interfaith Service Award, the Peace Award went to Patricia Smith Melton, Founder and Board Chairwoman of Peace x Peace.
When the Rumi Peace and Dialogue Award was given Fr. Thomas Michel, S.J., Coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue, Global Society of Jesus in Rome, thanked Fethullah Gulen and the community who was inspired by his peaceful thoughts. Father Michel said, “I am not worthy of this award but those people.”