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Thursday, 17 June 2010 18:32

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Samina Sundas, Pakistan

Biography

Samina Sundas, a Muslim woman originally from Pakistan living in the United States, is the founder of American Muslim Voice.  Immediately after 9/11, Samina and the entire American Muslim community, 7 million strong, were suddenly thrust into a wave of Islamophobia that swept through our country – a clash of civilizations happening in our own neighborhoods, political discourse, and public life. Still the same woman, but finding herself living in a paradoxical world both paralyzed and mobilized by fear of Islam, Samina made the most important decision of her life – to reinvent herself as a peace builder.  She founded American Muslim Voice, an organization with a deep understanding of what happens when violence trumps dialogue and understanding.  For Samina, there is no better way to overcome fear of “the other” than to relate to one another as individuals through personal dialogue.  And so her journey began:  “I simply started by opening my home so the Muslims I knew could talk with others of different faiths. The first open house that I did was really unexpected. The media went crazy about this event, I remember. Here we were living in a culture of fear and I said, ‘I am a Muslim woman and welcome to my home’.”  Since then until today, her activism, public speaking, conferences, and writing have focused on developing community between Muslims and non-Muslims, and diverse faiths.

As a peace builder from Pakistan, Samina saw her work take an immediate swift turn in the wake of Bin Laden’s demise. Organizations and press from around the country are knocking on her door to get a read from the American Muslim community. However, in our time with Samina, we want to know how a seasoned peace builder like her, responds to our national cries of “justice”, “closure”, and “relief” and what Muslims across our country see as their way forward. Join us for this timely conversation, when each of us will have a chance to share what Bin Laden’s death means to us.

“It became a hit event. I made one rule, however, that if you attend any of my open houses you may not talk or sit with someone you already know! First one I did, there were 84 people - then 265 people - and the movement began to grow. Now dialogue, relationship, and talking through misperceptions is the foundation for all we do, inviting all ethnicities and faith groups.”

Her work is recognized for its integrity and she has received many awards, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize awarded by Fellowship of Reconciliation. “I have dedicated my whole life to relationship-building, and that is what I am known for. What else is there, really?”

When she returns to Pakistan, she is met by the media and many community leaders.  They flood her with inquiries based on the misperception that “all Americans hate Muslims.”  If Samina is doing bridge-building in the US, they wonder, why not return to her home country and do it there? She tells them, “If you go back to the Koran, wherever you live, you make that your home - and the Americans need me there.”

Join Samina, and open your heart to a conversation you may have been waiting for ever since 9/11.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 May 2011 20:10
 

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samina-faheem-100px.jpgSamina Sundas,
Pakistan

 
"Assalamu alaikum.  May peace be upon all of you.  My name is Samina Sundas. I was born and raised in Punjab, Pakistan. I came to the United States in 1978.  I am a daughter, sister, niece, friend and mother - but most importantly, I am a human being.

If I had a choice, I would love to meet all of you in person at my home over lunch or dinner, but it is not possible at this point. I am very thankful to Global Room for Women for providing us this forum in which to meet. I am so excited to meet all of you and to share my story of fostering friendships among all Americans and with the human family. Hopefully we will join hands to make our world more harmonious and peaceful for our generations to come. You may not have realized that by coming here, all of you have become part of this dream. I have dedicated my life to walking on the path Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has paved for all of us to build a beloved community."