One America Voices: Hurunnessa Fariad

Hurunnessa Fariad
Sterling, VA
Head of Outreach/Interfaith ADAMS Center
One America Leadership Circle

Q: You have worked at All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in different capacities for 10 years and are currently the Head of Outreach/Interfaith. Can you tell us a little bit about ADAMS Center and the multi-faith work you do?

A: Sometimes I forget that I have worked at ADAMS for 10 years but it’s nice to be part of the 2nd largest Mosque in the United States which serves about 25K American Muslims in the northern Virginia area. ADAMS started in the basement of one of the founder fathers back in 1983. Throughout the years it has grown into the center it is today. Multi-faith work is an important and integral part of the mission of ADAMS. We have established amazing relationships with our Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Jain and other faith group brothers and sisters as well as with different sect groups within Islam. We have multiple events throughout the year with different entities to promote religious understanding and religious freedom for all. During Ramadan we have an Interfaith Iftar where we invite all of our faith group friends to join us to break the fast and have dinner together. We are members of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC), Muslim Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC) and I serve of the board of Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICCP), just to name a few of our partnerships.

Q: You are a mom raising Muslim children in the United States. How has that informed or affected the work that you do?

A: As an American Muslim mom who is raising 4 daughters alone, it is an interesting position to be in. My daughters range from 19 years old to 11 and each has specific needs on a daily basis as human beings but when you add the identity of American Muslim on them, there are far greater complexities that I have to deal with. When I talk about the issues that American Muslims are facing today at an event or on a panel, I include my daughters in the group. There is an added layer of hesitation and worry from the American Muslim community that I have to relay to my audience. I have to make sure that our concerns and issues are brought to light. Being in the position to tell our stories, I want to make sure that I am advocating for my community and the future American Muslims who are in high school and college right now. I want to make sure that my work is somehow making a sustainable impact on the future of my community. I feel as if I have a motherly obligation to all the youth in my community to enhance their future in America.

Q: How did you get involved with One America? Can you tell us a story about an experience that you’ve had as a member of One America West Virginia?

A: I got involved after Andrew Hanauer called me and explained what One America is doing with the program in West Virginia and wanted to see if I would be interested in joining as the Muslim rep from ADAMS. I met up with him, met with some of the board members and I realized that this work is much needed, and the American Muslim community has to be involved.

There are so many great memories that I have from this program, but I think the one exceptional experience which stands out is when Covenant Church hosted us in West Virginia and Pastor Joel spoke so beautifully about the horrific incident that happened in Christchurch, New Zealand during his sermon. His voice choked up, yet he continued to speak to Muslims. He said that the Christian community is with the Muslims and we have to defend one another. After his sermon, we all went into the community room to work together as faith-based groups to help eradicate the opioid issue in West Virginia which is multi-faceted. We can say a lot about loving and caring for each other but we also have to put it in action. That is exactly what we are doing with One America West Virginia.

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