- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2005

The organizer of a regional, midday-prayer service yesterday for Muslims hopes that the event encourages participants, especially youths, to engage in “productive, meaningful programs to eliminate hatred.”

“We must get to our youth before someone else does,” said Imam Mohammed Magid, executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling, Va. “We must respond to their needs and their questions so that we don’t leave room for individuals with false and dangerous ideologies to lead them astray.”

The gathering of about 300 Muslims at the center in Sterling follows terrorist bombings in London this month. Muslims claiming to be working with the al Qaeda terrorist network have taken credit for the July 7 and July 21 attacks. At least 56 persons, including four suicide bombers, were killed and over 700 injured on July 7. No casualties were reported in the failed July 21 bombings.

“We would like to see this notion of suicide bombing stopped, whether it takes place in Israel, Palestine, the Middle East or Iraq,” Mr. Magid said. “We would like to give the youth a message of hope, a message of peace.”

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, director of outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and Muslim chaplain of Howard University, who delivered one of three sermons yesterday talked about Christians and Muslims working together to combat what he calls “terror cults.”

“They know no religion,” he said. “They teach people that the way to express their opinions is by murder. They have no political agenda. All they are doing is acting out violence and aggression upon society.”

Imran Siddiqui, who delivered the evening message, said somebody must reach out to those who think it is acceptable to take a life and to those who invoke the name of Islam in their acts.

“That is wrong,” he said. “They represent themselves, not Islam or the majority.”

The service coincided with others across the country that also condemned terrorist attacks, organizers said. They were also part of an interfaith effort to bridge chasms between Islam and other religions.

Saad Yacoob, 16, from Sterling, said the gatherings are useful “in spreading a mass message.”

“If all the messages in the world are condemning the bombing or condemning terrorism at large, then just about every Muslim will begin condemning terrorism,” he said.

Osman Ali, 15, of Arlington, said such “inhuman acts” are not a part of Islam.

“This is not representing Islam because Islam is a religion of peace,” he said. “Killing someone is killing someone. It’s an inhuman act.”

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