Hours after the July 7, 2016 shooting that killed five police officers in downtown Dallas, Almas Muscatwalla’s phone rang at 3 a.m. with an urgent request: Could she help gather local faith leaders for a multifaith vigil to mourn the tragedy?
She said yes. Days later, local leaders of nearly a dozen different faith groups – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Native American, Baha’I, Hindu and others – sat with Dallas City Council members as President Obama spoke at the interfaith memorial service.
It was a momentous moment for Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-giving Square.
“From that point forward, we have become a moral voice of the city,” she said.
Almas, a Plano resident, helped found Faith Forward Dallas in 2015 to bring together diverse faith leaders to stand for social justice and against hate. The group continues working today in four areas: migrant and refugee issues; homelessness; gun violence; and equal justice and racial equity.
Her leadership role has not gone unnoticed; Almas was recently honored with the Eleanor Roosevelt Lifetime Achievement Award by the Dallas Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA.
Almas believes that faith brings a needed dimension to public dialogue.
“There is the secular voice, but when you bring in a faith voice, there is the idea of reconciliation, forgiveness, morality and spirituality,” she said. “These are faith conversations that faith leaders can engage in.”
Almas’s own faith home is Ismaili Jamakhana in Plano; she’s also a board member of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation. It’s her faith, she says, that inspires her to serve the entire community and to embrace diversity. She cites the teaching of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims: “What a wonderful, liberating thing it would be if more of us, more of the time, could see diversity not as a burden, but as a blessing; not as a threat, but as an opportunity.”
The Rev. Dr. George A. Mason, senior pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, calls Almas a “kind heart” and a “peaceable soul.”
“She is part of a tradition that is deeply committed to living an ethical life and engaging in the common good with people of good will,” he said. “These are features of her tradition, and she embodies them beautifully.”See all of the 2019 Girl Bosses >