Dear CAIR-Philadelphia Supporter, Assalamu alaikum (peace be unto you),
I write to you with bittersweet news. I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of CAIR-Philadelphia exactly a month from today. This was a very difficult decision because I love this job, but I have chosen to move on and pursue graduate studies so that I may become a more effective public servant, God willing, and perhaps return to Philadelphia in a few years. Working with CAIR has been one of the greatest, most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life, and I am thankful to have been given the opportunity.
Support for CAIR-Philadelphia is the highest it has ever been thanks to your investment and confidence in us. We’ve accomplished so much and have taken CAIR-Philadelphia from an organization to an institution, and we aren’t anywhere near a peak. I also leave with unfinished business, as the anti-Muslim House Bill 2029 is still pending in the state legislature, among other things. But I leave this unfinished business to an amazing staff who is not only capable of carrying on the struggle, but will accomplish things and reach goals that haven’t even been conceived yet. Knowing their potential, I am excited for where this organization will be in the future. You should be proud, as I am, to have dedicated people working night and day to ensure that Delaware Valley Muslims are empowered and treated justly.
I joined CAIR-Philadelphia nearly three years ago because I got tired of the living room chats and hearing complaints over tea. Instead of talking, I wanted to start doing, and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing platform than CAIR. I saw firsthand what advocacy truly means. Often, change comes from simply speaking up. Other times, it comes from making an argument or taking an adversarial position, negotiating, or asserting yourself in a court of law. But most of the time, it takes relationships, and what I’ve learned over the years is that the American Muslim community is not alone, but immersed and surrounded by wonderful neighbors, people of conscience and great leaders who have been through much more. The bottom line is that the doors are open, the machinery of social change is right in front of us, and all we have to do is flip the switch.
Of course, there are consequences for taking a stand. In some countries, you can get killed for doing so as we are witnessing in Syria and elsewhere. But here in America, you might get called names, or people (including the government) will try and marginalize you, but you don’t lose your freedom. All you have to do is muster the courage to handle the consequences and have a long term vision. Once that is done, the sky’s the limit.
The only way I was able to have the courage to do this work is because I wasn’t alone. Along with my co-workers, I had an Executive Committee, comprised entirely of volunteers with full-time jobs, families and children, also working night and day to ensure this organization runs smoothly, and I must thank them for making all of this possible.
Thank you, Osama Al-Qasem, for your tireless fundraising efforts and your endurance. Thank you, Iftekhar Hussain, for planting the seeds for this organization, for nurturing it and for being there when needed most. Thank you, Sally Selim, for coming to board meetings in between soccer practices and leading this organization in a fresh, new direction. Thank you, Monika Nagpal, for your calm patience and careful thoughtfulness. Thank you, Nivine Rihawi, for amazing banquets that I will always remember and cherish.
Thank you, Carlin Saafir, for your surprise office visits and timeless wisdom. Thank you, Kareem Ali, for handling the finances better than most people handle their own. Thank you, Fatu Badiane and Tarik Selim, for bringing new energy and perspectives to the organization. And thank you, Leena Jaffer, Rugiatu Conteh and Amara Chaudhry, for the energy and stamina it takes to do this work, day in and day out.
Last but not least, thank you, for your support of this wonderful organization, for being civically engaged and for caring. It has been an honor working with and for you.
Moein M. Khawaja
Executive Director, CAIR Philadelphia