Cherry Hill group finds ways to encourage constructive dialogue in the community

On April 22, an outpour of people joined together for one common purpose at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill.

By: Alison Lowery

The Sun

On Sunday, April 22, an outpouring of people joined by one common purpose gathered at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill. Despite coming from different parts of South Jersey, they were united by their shared faith and Muslim culture.

The Muslim Federation of South Jersey, a new group supporting those of Muslim faith, held its inaugural event last week. The event was a hub for Muslims all over South Jersey to gather, regardless of religious background, and connect with the community. Although the group is new, the turnout for the event was “better than expected,” according to Muslim Federation of South Jersey Committee Member Farhat Biviji.

More than 250 people have registered to join the group and members of the executive committee believe that number will only grow. Ideas about forming the group began three years ago when Cherry Hill residents expressed a need for a group that could accommodate all branches in the Muslim faith.

According to the organization, the group calls for Shia, Sunni and Ahmadiyya communities and others to come together in solidarity and provide a safe place for those to share thoughts while bringing people together.

“This is a labor of love and vision,” Biviji explained.

In addition to her role at the Muslim Federation of South Jersey, Biviji also serves roles at the Jewish Christian Muslim Dialogue of Southern New Jersey and the Catholic Muslim Commission as well as Sisters of Salaam Shalom, a group of Jewish and Muslim women who strive to learn about one another and foster friendships.

To no surprise, Biviji said her “passion” is helping the community strengthen bonds and break down barriers which led her to help grow the newly formed Cherry Hill group.

“The basic principle of Islam is charity,” Biviji said. “Our group supports this.”

The group aims to promote peace, harmony and understanding between peoples of all faiths, using education and outreach. The organization intends to educate local, state and federal government officials about Islam and further develop the identity and welfare of all South Jersey Muslims, according to Biviji.

“If someone needs a referral to a free clinic, needs to get a Social Security card … we have a number affiliated with the group, so they can get assistance,” Biviji said.

The organization encourages people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, races and nationalities to join and help create constructive dialogues in the community.

To register for future events or for questions, email inagural.mfsj@gmail.com. For more information on the group visit https://mfosj.org. Biviji also encourages those to check out the group’s Facebook page.

‘’When you strip away all of the outer layers, you realize there is no difference between us,’’ Biviji said. “Every religion says we must love each other, and we are accountable for one another. I believe in that.’’