Muslims Gather at U.S. Capitol to Pray 'For the Soul of America'

By Penny Starr | September 25, 2009 | 6:04 PM EDT

Men bow to mecca during the event, which featured the traditional Friday Prayer Service of Islam. ( Starr)

( – Organizers of the “Day of Islamic Unity” billed the event as a non-political gathering meant to bring the diverse community of American Muslims to pray “for the soul of America.”
While the event was largely non-political, some people who spoke to the crowd on the West side of the Capitol on Friday praised President Barack Obama for his outreach to Muslims around the world.
Imam Abdul Malik of Elizabeth, N.J., who helped organize the event, said Obama included all people in his speeches during the presidential campaign.
“He didn’t speak to black Americans, he didn’t speak to white Americans,” Malik said. “Allah touched his heart. He talked to America.”
Malik also said that support from Muslims helped Obama win the presidency.
Attorney Hassan Abdellah also helped organize the event.

Men bow their heads in pray at the pray vigil, which organizers said would attract as many as 50,000 Muslims but only a few hundred attended. ( Starr)

“This is a great day for Muslims, a great day,” Abdellah told the crowd as his voice cracked. “Don’t be afraid to be Muslim in America.”

“The main message is Islam is a beautiful religion,” Abdellah said.
One woman in the crowd credited Obama for Friday’s event.
“I’m very happy to be here to make heard my voice as a Muslim and to take this great appointment which President Obama gave to the Muslim nations everywhere in the world,” Fanda Iqbal Shariff told
She said Obama consistently includes Muslims in his speeches.
“He always mentions Muslims,” Shariff said. “He wants peace with Muslims. We appreciate this and we want to show that when we are given opportunity, we are here to give more and more. We are peaceful. We are a nation of peace and we love everybody and we can cooperate and communicate with everybody.”

A sea of head covering could be seen on the west lawn, the traditional white hats for men and colorful or black scarves for women ( Starr)

The event was held on a Friday to mark the Muslim Friday prayer service, according to a press release handed out at the event.
“Jumu’ah is the Arabic word for Friday and is considered the best of days,” the release said. “Muslims believe Adam was created on a Friday and that he was entered into and expelled from paradise on a Friday. It is also believed that the Last Hour will be established on a Friday.”
The release noted that all men who have reached puberty are required to attend Friday prayer service, but not women or children, “although they are free to attend.”
Islamic scholars recited the Koran at the event and leaders advised the crowd to give back to America that “has given so much to us.”