By Fatima Kermali
A historic move was very recently made whereby New Jersey’s State Assembly voted to support the Muslim Heritage Month Resolution [AJR194], moving it from the legislature to the Governor’s desk. The resolution designates January of each year as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey, calling upon local government agencies and organizations to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and educational programs that pay tribute to the growing American Muslim community.
This legislation was sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacch. He stated, “I am extremely pleased that this was approved by the Senate today and I would like to thank Senator Stack for joining me in sponsoring this legislation,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “There are nearly 300,000 Muslim Americans in New Jersey, including numerous current and former elected officials dedicated to public service in their communities. It is long past time to recognize our Muslim brothers and sisters for their contributions to the diverse fabric of New Jersey.”
This legislation was powerfully supported in the state of New Jersey as it has the highest percentage of Muslims in the U.S., at 3.5 percent. New Jersey also has more local representation, with over 40 Muslim elected officials. Last year, the state elected its first Muslims to the New Jersey State Legislature, Sadaf Jaffer and Shama Haidar. The aid of coalition organizations ie. American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), New Jersey Muslim Voices for Progress (NJMVP), Muslim League of Voters, and Muslims For Peace were instrumental in support of the resolution.
The joint resolution, SJR-105 will allow Senator Pennacchio to elevate the awareness and appreciation of the Muslim American community and their accomplishments in New Jersey.
There are currently 3.45 million Muslims in the United States who comprise diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, including immigrants and native-born Americans, which make up approximately 1.1% of the nation’s population.
Moreover, Muslims are the world’s second-largest religious group, with 1.9 billion believers which is approximately 25 percent of the world’s population. The impact of the Muslim population has brought about monumental achievements which has helped influence the world past and present, in areas such as philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, medicine, architecture, music, literature, arts, and much more.