April 25, 2011
There is nothing especially unusual about awards or appreciating the good works of outstanding individuals.
But it is unique to have the sponsoring organization celebrating the audience. That is what happened last Tuesday night during "An Evening of Gratitude" by the Muslim community.
The sentiments were so touching, the positive energy in the Hyatt Regency ballroom so powerful, that it left participants grasping for words.
The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida gave a series of awards at the benefit that in a broad sense were aimed at all the people of good will in the community.
And the sponsors made it clear that this good will did not start recently, but from those days about 30 years ago when there was just a handful of Muslims here.
Speakers from the Islamic Center said thanks for the support they have received from Christians, Jews, Hindus and many others. For instance, help was provided to purchase land for a mosque, for architectural work, for legal work.
And during the unfortunate opposition in the community to the appointment of Parvez Ahmed to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission, many people of good will stood up and spoke out.
As Imam Joe Bradford said, Jacksonville's "gracious nature" turned negative energy into a positive.
John Delaney, president of the University of North Florida where Ahmed serves as a professor, said that his support was easy compared to the incredible patience and grace shown by Ahmed.
Mayor John Peyton said that Ahmed was "amazingly unflappable," that his grace was an inspiration during a grueling confirmation process.
"A lot of good came from this," Peyton said, by mobilizing the right-thinking people in the community.
But shouldn't the right-thinking people speak out? What a tragedy if they had not. Times-Union Editor Frank Denton described the coverage as the "journalism of hope."
To quote the Quran: "By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give of that which you love" (3:92).
It was a beautiful night that made us proud to be living in Jacksonville.
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2011-04-25/story/three-cheers-turning-tables#ixzz1KZCXMEMv