The first ever official “Mubarak Awad Day” is here! How will you celebrate?

For decades, people all over the world have been inspired by the creative, bold, and loving nonviolent example of Nonviolence International’s founder Mubarak Awad. After being expelled from his home in Palestine, Mubarak has lived in the United States. The Israeli government didn’t know what to do with his impactful nonviolent activism, but even exile could not stop this force of nature. 

While he is celebrated widely among those who follow movements for either active nonviolence or Palestinian humanity, many of his neighbors have been unaware of his impact. As one small and meaningful step towards correcting the record, his adopted hometown of Gaithersburg, Maryland has declared the first ever Mubarak Awad Day!

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, this August 22nd, the City Council and Mayor of Gaithersburg, in an official act of government, declare their “heartfelt gratitude” to Mubarak.

(We celebrate both Mubarak’s 80th birthday and his lifelong commitment to active nonviolence!)


Globally respected leader, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, celebrated and challenged all of us to make full use of this rare and precious opportunity. He said,

This is a great and well-deserved honor. All of us who have worked alongside Mubarak know of his loving spirit and creative active nonviolence. It is wonderful to have the government of Gaithersburg join us in celebrating his accomplishments.

Now the question must be asked…

How can we best celebrate Mubarak Awad Day?

I suggest three ideas that, if implemented widely, will have a real and lasting impact:

  1. Learn about Mubarak’s life story. You can start with this video. Then check out the links and short quotations below.
  2. Take Action - Tell at least two people who don’t yet know about Mubarak that we are approaching the first ever “Mubarak Awad Day” and that you are celebrating by spreading the word a) about the power of active nonviolence, b) the ongoing suffering / resistance of the Palestinian people, and c) by protecting his legacy.
  3. Protect his legacy by donating to NVI. Any amount would be most appreciated, but to celebrate this momentous occasion we are particularly looking to inspire large multiyear gifts that can help transform the power of the organization he founded. Together, in his honor, we must find a way to rise to the challenges before us. Consider adding NVI to your will to celebrate his legacy and make real his vision of a peaceful world where the worth and dignity of all people everywhere is protected.

(It's official! Mubarak Awad Day is coming. How will you celebrate?)


As word of this recognition spread, the NVI community reacted with overwhelming joy.

Mubarak inspired many people who inspired others and thus the ripples of his impact spread. 

(Read these powerful testimonials and then keep scrolling so you don't miss the fun photos, impressive links, and the under 2 minute video where a young leader explains how meeting Mubarak changed her life.) 

Basp Bayingana Simon Peter, Ugandan Solidarity leader, wrote, "Thank you Mubarak for all the efforts in founding NVI which has been the engine in supporting social movements and activists across the world in waging against various forms of systemic injustices."

Daniel Roth, Executive Director of our wonderful partner Center for Jewish Nonviolence, declared, "Mubarak, we are celebrating you today! Your example has been an inspiration to generations of activists - including me - and you're work has had profound impact on so many people around the world. Thank you for everything you have done, taught us, and for all that you will do in the years to come! Happy birthday, Mubarak!"

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Founder, Palestine Museum of Natural History, shared, " I have known Mubarak for >25 years. I wrote about him and his work in my book on Popular Resistance in Palestine. I once told him he is like many prophets: more appreciated outside of their own communities. He just shrugged it off with his usual humility and kindness."

George Lakey, legendary nonviolent activist and trainer, said, "Huge thanks, Mubarak, for giving us such a warm and human example of what courage looks like. I'm one of the many you've inspired."

Rivera Sun, acclaimed author and nonviolence trainer, wrote, "Mubarak's steadfast commitment to justice and nonviolence is an inspiration to so many from all corners of the globe, from all walks of life. I am grateful for all that he brings to our troubled world.

Jamila Raqib, Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution (the group carrying on Gene Sharp's work), said, "I’ve had the great pleasure of crossing paths with Mubarak numerous times over the years as a beneficiary of his decades-long friendship with Gene Sharp. Mubarak is truly one of a kind - an inspiring, wise, committed teacher of nonviolent resistance, and a friend and supporter to so many of us. During the Celebrating Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance Conference in Bethlehem in 2005, he made sure to highlight and promote diverse voices, including mine as a young woman new to the work. He encouraged me to take the stage to present to an audience filled with my nonviolent heroes, an experience that shaped the work I’ve done since then, and one that will stay with me. Mubarak, thank you for your friendship and support to Gene, to the Albert Einstein Institution, and to me. Looking forward to continuing to learn from you and to be inspired by you for many years to come."

Rev. Amy Yoder McGloughlin, leader with our amazing partner, the US Advisory Committee for Hebron International Resource Network, wrote, "Thank you for all the ways you have modelled nonviolence in the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Your example inspires and challenges us all."

Michael Conklin, 3d Thursdays for Palestine advocacy group, said, "We seek the peace that surpasses all understanding as we embrace the darkest hours before the dawn. With Gratitude for Mubarak’s legacy."

Peter Weinberger, NVI Board member, told us, "Mubarak has been a mentor and friend to me for almost 30 years. I am deeply grateful for his constant encouragement and support. I am happy to celebrate this day in his honor."

Sami Awad, founder of our impressive partner Holy Land Trust, said, "It is without a doubt that if it was not for Mubarak, I would not be who I am now. He is the one that introduced me to the power of nonviolent resistance and I loved joining and participating in the activities he held, but there was a bigger reason why I even started joining the actions he was leading in the early 80's in Palestine when he opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence. He had a red motorcycle that he would have me ride on the back of when he went to many of these actions. I was the only 12 year old I know who had such a cool uncle. So yes, the motorcycle had a big part to do with it as well."

Oriel Eisner, On-the-Ground Organizing Director CJNV, wrote, "Happy Birthday Mubarak! Eid Milad Saeed! It's an honor and privilege to be connected to you in this work. You are an inspiration!"

Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, said, "Deep appreciation for you, Mubarak, and your strength in pursuing nonviolent resistance from Palestine to the world. You have been an inspiration to me and have always been grateful for the opportunity to have learned from you." 

Katherine Hughes Fraitekh, Director of our awesome partner Solidarity 2020 and Beyond, shared, "Dear Mubarak, you were a seminal part of my life and key to my understanding of nonviolent resistance. I tried to visit you during my first trip to Palestine on a delegation during the First Intifada, but the Israelis were terrified of your power and the power of the nonviolent struggle in Palestine that you were helping train and lead, so they deported you. When I got back to Washington, DC, I contacted you and interviewed you for my Masters Thesis on The Palestinian Intifada as a Model Nonviolent Movement for Self Determination. I've followed your work ever since and so appreciate your lifelong commitment to peace with justice in Palestine and many other communities and NVI's fiscal sponsorship of Solidarity 2020 and Beyond! Happy 80th birthday!!"

Asna Husin, Former Director of NVI-Indonesia, said, "Mubarak is a man of generosity and great insights. He helps everyone who approaches him for assistance. His words are always soothing and insightful. He was once on the island of Sabang in Aceh for advanced mediation training for young Ulama leaders of Aceh. After patiently listening to their difficult experience of Aceh conflict (1976-2005), and how they had to convince young Acehnese not to get guns to fight the Indonesian military, Mubarak shared his own experience living in the Israeli occupied Palestine. He also informed them how he started his nonviolent movement. The Ulama leaders could not believe what he went through during his years in Palestine. One leader said to him: “Our experience is nothing compared to yours. Yet, you are so forgiving and hopeful.” Mubarak reminded his audience that your religion Islam teaches forgiveness and your Allah is al-Rahman (Most Compassionate, Most Forgiving). “We have the ability for unlimited forgiveness. It is our strength and not our weakness.” Regarding hope Mubarak said then: “Hope is a delightful dream, it strengthens our spirits and soul.”

Saeed URI, former NVI Intern, wrote, "Your commitment to nonviolence and faith in humanity has had a profound impact on the world. The success of the organizations you've led is clear, but it is the change you catalyze in every individual you interact with that is remarkable. Happy Birthday!"

Michael Nagler, founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, shared, "Dear Mubarak, I am indebted to you -- like everyone on the planet! -- for your tireless witness. There's a Jewish myth about 69 people whose justice keeps G_d from destroying the world. You are one of them!"

Sandra Schwartz, Former Office Manager, said, "I only worked for NVI for a little over a year, but your story, your courage, and your kindness have never left me. Thank you for your never ending quest for a just peace for Palestine and Israel. Your tenacity and faith that there is an answer even in the darkest times, help to give me hope for a better world."

Frederick and Laura Ann Zahn, wrote, "Birthday greetings to Mubarak from the Zahns as we are Blessed to know your mother's prayers and faith live today. Blessed to know you by way of your big brother, Bishara. Blessed to witness the strength of the NVI ministry. Blessed to learn from your vision of peace for God's children, Blessed to have celebrated your return to Bethlehem. Blessed to have had you share with our mission team."

Edy Kaufman, Retired Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, shared, " Jonathan Kuttab and myself joined you yesterday celebrating Mubarak Awad and wishing him a long, active and healthy life. The nicest way to remember him was when Jonathan to me read chapter 15 of his wonderful life story aloud, where Mubarak - as usual- is challenging authority, Israeli or anywhere else. So our best wishes to him, Nancy and to all of his good friends like you who have helped him build dreams and realities."

Rand Engel, Former Director of Balkan Sunflowers, wrote, "Mubarak, happy birthday! Thank you for a life of profound service, for being a fearless avatar of decency and justice, while at the same time a personal model of humility. Thank you again for your visit to a Balkan Sunflowers Learning Center in 2010."

Elin Ross, former NVI staff, said, "I think of Mubarak (or MEA as we always referenced him at NVI!-) almost daily as I make my own decisions as a leader...not that we would make the same choices every time but as a touchstone to remind me to consider different perspectives. This is his gift, you don't have to agree with him, having him in your life simply means that he comes to mind regularly and his lessons challenge you to be open to the possibility of alternatives. I also have to think about him every year because we are birthday twins!-) Happiest of birthdays to a mentor, a leader and ultimately a friend."

Larry Zweig wrote, "Nonviolence creates REAL power ... sometimes Silence creates the LOUDEST explosions."

Dr. E. James Rajasekaran said, "The present world needs leaders like Mubarak to spread the message of peace as in many parts of the world, people face destruction which totally wipeout peace in the society on the whole."

Jenny Thomas wrote, "So thankful for the work and influence of Nonviolence International and Mubarak’s vision and courage!"

Jennifer Duskey said, "Thank you for all the help you gave Mennonite Church USA with our resolution to work for peace and justice in Israel-Palestine. Happy birthday!"

Roseanne Weinstein wrote, "So many memories-So long ago…..Always believed he was special." 

Fr. Harry J Bury told us, "When I was abducted in Gaza in 2005, it was followers of Mubarak who got me free."

Genie Silver shared, "I have not met Mubarak but from what I’ve seen and read it’s clear he’s a very kind and humble person who practices nonviolent civil disobedience as the only way to gain freedom, justice and peace for the Palestinian people in their homeland and everywhere. As a psychologist and professor he practices and teaches how to make lives better and to help those in pain. We need more people like Mubarak in the world."

Elizabeth Yates wrote, "I am acquainted with some of the Awad family in Bethlehem. I appreciate especially the non-violent resistance. I work personally with Daoud Nassar and family on behalf of their Bethlehem farm the Tent of Nations. God bless you as your work continues."

Tom Getman, Former Senate staffer and Palestine NGO director/and Geneva UN humanitarian representative, shared, "I owe a huge debt to Mubarak for two reasons. 1. He brings a strong sense of the Spirit of Peace's presence and courage whenever he is in a room where some of us are gathered for advocacy for all suffering and oppressed people. But especially he strengthens us with his wisdom for the sake of Palestinians under the heavy hand of Apartheid in Israel-Palestine. And 2. Mubarak's relationship in the visit to Palestine with our mutual friend Desmond Tutu led The Arch to speak a dart of fire to me at my presence at the liberation of the last segregated beach in South Africa. He said, ""You are now dismissed from working in South Africa with my thanks for the anti-apartheid legislation/law and prayerful non-violent participation. But we are now on our feet with Madiba soon to be freed. If you really want to prove your bona fides on human rights and that of the NGOs with whom you work you must turn your eyes to the Palestinians who are suffering more than we ever have." That was the word of authority inspired by Mubarak's hosting The Arch that changed my life and that of my family for the last 35 years including my wife and I working in Palestine and striving in the UN for peace with justice. Shukran ekter Alhann Wah Salaan, Mubarak and Nancy."

Karim Crow, Former Director NVI's Islam and Peace Program, wrote, "Dr Mubarak Awad has been a notable influence upon myself. It was through my father Professor Ralph Crow that I first met Mubarak and Nancy, in 1989 when my parents moved to Washington DC from Beirut, and Ralph began participating in activities of Nonviolence International. (Ralph had worked with Mubarak before when he helped organize the first conference on nonviolent action in the Arab world in Amman (Jordan) in the late '70s.) From 1996 til 1999 I directed the program on 'Islam & Peace' at NVI, and made several extended journeys with Mubarak to MENA to promote our initiative. One incident made a lasting impression : around 1997 Mubarak and myself flew from Istanbul to Tel Aviv, with Mubarak carrying a number of delicate glass globes and vases crafted in Turkey that he intended to give as gifts to relatives and friends in Palestine. After we cleared passport control, collected our bags, and were on our way out of the airport, we were stopped by security police who questioned us about where we had been. One of them demanded to see the packages Mubarak was carrying, carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and paper for protection. He took each one and placed it on the ground and stamped his boot crushing it into small pieces. I watched incredulously one by one, and grew angry. I started to protest at this gross abuse obviously intended to humiliate him personally, but Mubarak grabbed my shoulder and said, "Its all right, let it go." I saw his face smiling in controlled emotion : I saw nonviolence in action. We never spoke about it again. Mubarak Awad -- while others complain of injustices yet shrug helplessly, He says: "Let's Do something, Let's try this..." May you celebrate your 80th in love and joy, and always keep Hope alive in your heart ! Praying for your health and good spirits, my dear friend."

Rusty Nelson said, "In 1988, I joined the late Kathleen Donahoe on the staff of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane. Having only heard Mubarak on NPR interviews, I was surprised she had the temerity to invite him to speak in Spokane and amazed that he came and interacted with our emerging activists and rigid skeptics in homes and classrooms, 5 to 10 persons at a time. Many of us were just beginning to comprehend the scope of the Palestinian struggle and the capacity of nonviolent action. Accompanying Mubarak on this little tour gave me a crash course in peace advocacy, something I really needed as my wife Nancy and I would lead PJALS for 20 years. I hope there are times I employed the patience, tact, and care Mubarak demonstrated during that visit. He remains among my tiny pantheon of heroes."

Sucy Varughese wrote, "Your zeal for Palestinian Justice, Freedom and Dignity is inspirational."

Karsten Mathiasen said, "Huge thanks, Mubarak, for giving us such a warm and human example of what courage looks like. I'm one of the many you've inspired."

Laura Barnitz, NVI's First Staff person, wrote, "I was studying international relations and peace and conflict resolution at American University when I met Mubarak who had just recently been exiled by the Israeli Government. In those days the first Intifada was beginning to take shape, and the parade of leaders and activists who visited him was impressive but more so was his consistent, kind treatment of everyone, even those who were not practicing nonviolence. Mubarak's perseverance and ability to not take himself too seriously were life lessons I am forever grateful for, but most of all I treasure his genuine friendship. Happy Birthday!

John Salzberg said, "Happy birthday, Mubarak! In appreciation for your valient efforts in advocating Palestinian human rights!"

Betty Sitka, Former NVI staff, wrote, "Mubarak Awad expanded my worldview and empowered me to believe that I can make an impact on the world! I am so grateful for his dedication to freedom and liberty, to his belief in the capacity of humanity to share love and light as a way to heal ourselves! His dedicated friendship with Prof. Abdul Aziz Said of AU compounded his impact on countless, teaching the next generation about possibilities of Nonviolence! I adore you and thank you!!!"

Stellan Vinthagen, Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance, said, "For me Mubarak has been a role model and inspiration since the 1980s, literally showing how spreading research, training and knowledge about nonviolent resistance to a population that suffer under domination and occupation, can be a a great source of mobilization, resistance and hope. It is a clear sign of the importance of Mubarak's work that Israel felt forced to throw him out of Palestine. That, however, did not stop him, instead he escalated his work from the US and on an international level, continuing to have an impact on new generations of nonviolent freedom fighters. To me Mubarak embodies the Palestinian "steadfastness" or Sumud. When I then finally met him 2016 at a conference on nonviolent activism in the US, it was a huge honor. During a dinner I told him about my admiration of his work, but he was not very interested in hearing about that. Instead he responded in a characteristic humble and respectful way, giving me a Palestinian keffiyeh as a sign of his appreciation of my solidarity work for Palestinians through the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. It is people like Mubarak who make it possible to imagine a new world."

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President, Minaret of Freedom Institute, wrote, "Whenever anyone asks,'When will the Palestinians have a Martin Luther King (or a Gandhi)?', I answer we have many, foremost among them being Mubarak Awad."

Joe Eldridge said, "Mubarak has had his eyes firmly fixed on simple fairness for his people all his life - an effective and determined advocate who has bent the moral arc of the universe toward justice. There should be a Mubarak decade."

John Mbaziira wrote, "The unfortunate bit is having not had an opportunity before to interact with Mubarak himself. Still, the good news is that I have been mentored and groomed in Nonviolence and civil resistance by the people whom Mubarak inspired and nurtured, and by their confessions, I believe the values, principles, and discipline which I have carried on and continue to carry would be no different from what I would take if I were to get that opportunity to be mentored by him. Thank you, Mubarak, for inspiring the world, we celebrate you. Happy Birthday!"

David Ritchie said, "Mubarak, my friend, your life is an inspiration to all who hope to make the world a better place. Thank you for all you have done for humanity."

Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, wrote, "In his words and actions Mubarak Awad has demonstrated not only that "the pen is mightier than the sword", but also that the "heart is stronger than the fist" and that peace is the true and inherent essence of humanity - not war. In difficult times - when fear, hate, nationalism and armed violence fill the media channels, it is vitally important to dispel this with the positive examples and power of non-violence advanced by Mubarak Awad and other non-violent champions."

Max Obuszewski, Peace Activist said, "While Mubarak was expelled, I did visit his nonviolence center in Palestine while on a human rights visit in the mid-1980s. May his vision last through the ages."

Lynnea Bylund wrote, "On the auspicious occasion of Mubarak Awad's 80th birthday, we in harmony with the nonviolent community celebrate and pay tribute to his lifelong dedication to the principles of nonviolence. Often hailed as today's Gandhi and King for the Palestinian people, Mubarak Awad's enduring commitment to peaceful activism has left an indelible mark on hearts worldwide. His powerful example, born from a spirit unyielding even in the face of adversity, continues to inspire generations, reminding us all that love and compassion are forces capable of remarkable change. As we join in commemorating the first ever Mubarak Awad Day, declared by his adopted hometown of Gaithersburg, Maryland, we convey our deepest gratitude for his extraordinary contributions to fostering a more just and harmonious world. Happy 80th birthday, Mubarak Awad!"

Pastor Carolyn Morton, Poor People's Campaign leader in Alabama, said, "Thank you! Mr. Mubarak Awad, for sharing the blessings of your teachings and faith through wisdom of study on Nonviolence and resistant Nonviolent as well. And social justice movement and humanity around the country! I am a faith leader, a Activist, peace maker,and a Peace Builder, social justice Activist! My heart and doing this work in the community combined 15 years on behalf of Samford Commnity Outreach Nonviolence Movement! I Celebrate you and Congratulations to you, and your proclamation! Thanks, again and Be Blessed."

David Hartsough, co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce and World Beyond War, wrote, "Happy Birthday Mubarak!! You have been and are a gift to our planet. Your commitment to helping people understand and realize the power of Nonviolence and nonviolent movements and spread the seeds of nonviolence in Palestine and around the world helps give us all HOPE that we can help create a world with peace and justice for all, that We Shall Overcome!"

Art Laffin, Longtime nonviolent activist, member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and co-editor of Swords Into Plowshares, said, "Mubarak, HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY!!! I give thanks to God for the great gift of your life, your friendship, and your exemplary and courageous commitment to the way of nonviolence struggle in resistance to State-sanctioned violence, no matter the cost. Thank you for showing the world that nonviolence is the best and most meaningful way to resolve conflict! Deo Gratias for your 80 years of life and for all you have done, and continue to do, to help create a nonviolent world."

Tiffany Pache (Danitz) wrote, "I have so many fond memories of Mubarak that it is difficult to pick just one. Instead, I'll express my gratitude for teaching me to meet people where they are with patience and agape."

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb said, "Dear Mubarak, Your article in the Fellowship about hospitality in Palestinian culture transformed my understanding of Palestinian spirituality. And seeing the intergenerational impact of your work has also been profound! Thank you for your ongoing legacy."


Please add your voice to this global celebration by filling out this simple Google Form. 

Mubarak says, "Thank you to our many friends and fellow peacemakers who sent greetings for my birthday. I am very humbled and grateful to have so many friends. Your messages increased my commitment to peace and nonviolence."


(In under two minutes, Meg Wilder explains how meeting Mubarak when she was just 19 years old changed the direction of her life.)


 

(Even when silenced, Mubarak's powerful loving voice will be heard!) 


(With a commitment to active nonviolence and justice for all, Mubarak confronts occupation forces.)


(To enjoy the great story behind this photo, please click here.)


Learn more about Mubarak's life and work at the links below. 

Did you know he co-taught a course on nonviolence with a Jew in Haifa?

Here he is reflecting on his long friendship with Gene Sharp.

Along with Jonathan Kuttab, Mubarak answers tough questions asked by a Jew. 

Mubarak lovingly remembers Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Mubarak celebrates the life of NVI co-founder. Abdul Aziz Said. 

Lessons in Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance From the First Intifada: An Interview with Mubarak Awad

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