Imam Ahmed Lamptey, assistant imam at the Islamic Research and Humanitarian Services Center of America based in Capitol Heights, on Tuesday became the first Muslim to lead the invocation opening a County Council session. Lamptey, a Landover resident, began with a recitation of The Fatiha, the opening prayer that begins all Muslim prayers, then offered the English rendition. The Fatiha is a prayer seeking guidance for correct action.
Lamptey concluded with a prayer for county officials to work with compassion and to work in unity. “I was going to share some views on trust from the Koran,” Lamptey said in an interview afterward. “All the officeholders have a responsibility to uphold that moral trust. And the people of Prince George’s County have a responsibility to obey the laws set up by the elected officials.
” Brenda Simms, a public service aide at the County Administration Building who attended the council session, was elated. “This is our first. This is a wonder. This is a blessing,” said Simms, who is Muslim. “This puts us on the map.” District Heights Mayor Carol Johnson, who also coordinates council invocations, had been trying for years to diversify invocation leaders.
In a recent Gazette article, she acknowledged difficulty getting leaders other than Christian ministers. She had contacted Muslim ministers before, but could not get them in, she said. “This was wonderful. They didn’t respond before. But this was wonderful,” Johnson said.