Organizers with Islamic Heritage Festival and Parade hope to unite Philly with messages of peace, love

Islamic culture will be on full display this weekend in Philadelphia. The 30th annual Islamic Heritage Festival and Parade will take over Penn’s Landing this Saturday and Sunday. Organizers hope they unite a city in desperate need of peace.

"It started 30 years ago with our father as well as our uncle Abdul Rahim Muhammad and Furuq Abdul Ghaffar. Those brothers got together. They were having festivals on the pier," Khafi Knox-McDowell stated.

Knox-McDowell and Lox Knox are with the Islamic Cultural Preservation and Information Council. They’re organizing the festival. "To be able to put out the experience of Muslims in America."

The festival begins Friday with a city-wide Jummah, a Muslim congregational prayer service that will take place on the lawn of Independence Mall. On Saturday, there will be a parade from Independence Mall to Penn’s Landing.

"We have Muslim clothing, food, so it’s an opportunity to really get to know what a Muslim is," Knox-McDowell explained. "You could ask questions to people if you don’t know. And, just come and have fun with us."

A big part of the festival is the live entertainment, which will also be positive and peaceful.

"Islamic art brings that mood called halal music. It’s not the normal, ‘I’m fighting you.’ They have messages that are going to help the youth and things that are family-oriented that we like to bring to the community," entertainment coordinator Lox Knox explained.

Sista Keilana will take the stage for the third year, performing her rap music. "It’s a culture shock for some people who come from a more strict background of Islam."

But, she says her lyrics are laced with good energy. "Let the kids know you don’t have to be vulgar, you don’t have to sell your soul, you don’t have to be degrading upon yourself and others."

She hopes her music will bring healing. "Because it’s so many funerals in our city, every day, to the point where the cemeteries are packed. They’re building over playgrounds now. They’re just knocking buildings for cemeteries and it starts with the music and films that we’re letting our kids watch."

"Let the kids know you don't have to be vulgar, you don't have to sell your soul, you don't have to be degrading upon yourself and others."

Knox hopes people leave the Islamic Heritage Festival feeling a sense of togetherness and security. "We don’t have or we haven’t, God willing, any incidents ever happen there. It’s a family environment."