Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona Celebrates its 15th Anniversary at the Annual Building Bridges Awards Dinner in Phoenix
By Nidah Chatriwala, TMO
Over the last 15 years, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona (ISBA) has encouraged constructive dialogue to bring about positive community growth and mutual understanding through the use of education and civic engagement.
On Oct. 25th, citizens united under one roof to honor and motivate each other at ISBA’s annual Building Bridges Awards Dinner where honorees were recognized for their sincere efforts to build understanding in the community through education.
Here’s how the event unfolded. By 5:30 p.m., Phoenix Airport Marriott’s lobby started buzzing with guests, over 130 of them, to start the night of celebration. Once the giant copper doors were opened, the diverse crowd filed in to find their seats at the decorated tables.
Before the awards ceremony began, Muslim guests fulfilled their duty by offering the Maghrib (sunset) prayer in a separate hall that was already prepared.
Following the prayer, Emcee, Mahmood Hussain, took to the stage and welcomed the guests.
Hussain then invited keynote speaker Lesley Hazleton to the stage. She is a British-born writer and psychologist with a keen interest in the fusion made up of religion and politics. Hazleton has written books such as The First Muslim and After the Prophet gaining accolades from New York Times and PEN-USA to name a few. Aside from dominating the print world, Hazleton’s quite popular online, especially for her TED talks known as ‘The Doubt Essential to Faith’ and ‘On Reading the Koran’.
At ISBA’s annual awards dinner, Hazleton voiced her thoughts on how difficult it is to build bridges in a torn society and then re-emphasized the role of members of a community should be to care for each other.
After Hazleton’s thought provoking speech, dinner was served during which guests were encouraged to share their experience LIVE from the event on Twitter using BUILDINGBRIDGES14 hashtag.
This year’s Building Bridges Award recipients are:
Award Category: Educator
? Vicki Cabot - Adjunct Professor in Religion at Glendale Community College, Glendale ? Brad Bode – Religion and World Religions Teacher at Arizona Lutheran Academy, Phoenix Award Category: Interfaith ? Nancy Splain – Interfaith Outreach Ambassador at Beatitudes Campus, Phoenix Award Category: Light of Knowledge ? Eep Setiaarif ? Amena Rathur
The night of celebration continued after Building Bridges award recipients were honored for their impactful community work.
Amongst honored guests who attended this evening were past Building Bridges Award recipients: Rev. Paul Eppinger, Rev. David Felten, Cliff Moon, Michele Marion, Kori Mandelbaum, Charles Johnson as well as the co-founder of the Minnesota Islamic speakers bureau (Islamic Resource Group), Zafar Siddiqui.
To mark the start of the Islamic New Year, volunteers passed around sweets in baskets to guests; it’s safe to say that ISBA kicked off the New Year on a sweet note.
To keep the energy in the room going, Omar Regan, who is an internationally-known comedian, released his Halalywood jokes entertaining every member of the audience.
After the humorous skit by Regan, the awards dinner came to a close. Attendees definitely exited the giant doors with an open heart, mind and hand as some showed their support for ISBA by donating.
For more information on the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, visit: www.isb-az.org and LIKE their page at www.facebook.com/isbaz.