January in New Jersey now has a whole new meaning. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a proclamation Saturday (April 28) that will now designate January as Muslim Heritage Month. January will be dedicated to “promoting appreciation and awareness about Muslim traditions and contributions.”
“I am proud to designate January of each year as Muslim Heritage Month, as it will shine a light on the rich histories, cultures, and shared principles of Muslim Americans,” Murphy said per NorthJersey.com. “New Jersey takes great pride in its diversity, and we will continue to recognize and celebrate the positive impact Muslims have made, and continue to make, to the advancement of this state.”
Muslim Heritage Month gets support from the community
Community and faith leaders have been campaigning for this kind of recognition for years. “As a state that has the highest percentage of Muslims in the nation, we are so overjoyed to have a month that celebrates and recognizes our community in a positive light and hope that this recognition further pushes the engagement of the Muslim community in society,” said Zainab Syed, an organizer with American Muslims for Democracy, one of the groups that advocated for the measure.
The governor’s Eid gathering was attended by Muslim community leaders and elected officials to celebrate the news about January.
“For too long, we’ve seen damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims,” said Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “These narratives have tangible consequences, but now we will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: one that highlights, celebrates, and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey.”
A coalition of 70 organizations, schools, and mosques supported the state resolution. It got unanimous support from lawmakers before it was sent to the governor to make January Muslim Heritage Month official.