“This is the second successful event,” said Sameer Chagani, Project Manager for the civic engagement events. This event allowed the Jamati members to engage in dialog with the candidates and understand what the candidates bring to the table and vice-versa. After listening to the candidates’ speeches, event attendees are now in a position to make better and more informed decisions.
“We have to first understand what our civic duty is. Once we understand that, we can then become ambassadors to other Jamati [members].” Highlighting these values of civic engagement is Nayela Giga, council member for the Capacity Development and Community Building Team, and part of the organizing team for these events. With recent events organized, the Jamat has become a recognized element of the social, cultural, economic, and educational landscape. Events such as this help bridge the gaps between communities and allow us to improve the quality of life of all people.
Both Sameer and Nayela noted the positive response received from the Jamat. “[There is] such great support for this type of initiative, a great opportunity for them to get involved with who is going to be the next leader in our local government.” Events like this encourage conversation and involvement in moving towards a more pluralistic society.
Sameer and Nayela agreed these events have resulted not only in Jamati members voting, but also empowered some of them, as there are currently two youth members as a part of the Mayor’s Council. This opens up an additional platform upon which to be heard and to continue to make progress in this arena.
In her statements prior to the start of the event, Zahra Hayat-Daya, President of the Council of Florida said: “One of the values that are Islamic, and is a part of our faith, that we find is also a part of the city, is the concept of service, and service to others and improving the quality of life of those amongst whom we live. And so we hope that whoever the next candidate is will continue to bring us along on their journey and we can contribute to the city and continue to ensure that it continues to grow and this community can grow with it.”
Hosting events like this and participating in our local government embodies multiple aspects of our faith, such as inclusivity, diversity, consensus, and sharing our talents for the greater good. They allow us to make a positive difference, and encourage better understanding across cultures and communities.