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Our Common Beliefs Testimonials


In this time of political, religious and global turmoil, one person can truly make a difference. The person I am referring to is Ola Nosseir, a devout Muslim and energetic woman whom I first met through BOMA, Briarcliff Ossining Ministerial Association. It was there that I learned of her earnest desire to reach out to people of faith through her new organization, entitled, “Our Common Beliefs”. The title both surprised and intrigued me enough to invite her to come to The Center at Mariandale to share that story with all who might come from our surrounding area. Her presence, enthusiasm and commitment to building bridges and breaking stereotypes seemed exactly what is called for in these troubled times. And Ola truly delivered.

“Our Common Beliefs” thru Ola’s presentation on Prophet Jesus & the Virgin Mary in Islam, most certainly clarified for me and for many, the love and respect that Muslims who are followers of Islam, have for… “God is the One, God the eternal, The Prophet Jesus, blessed be upon him and the Virgin Mary, blessed be upon her.” For Muslims, the purpose of life is to worship God, the Creator of all things. The Quran is the last revelation from God, consisting of God’s literal speech.

Ola’s presentation was supported by the presence and help of her family who engaged as her support crew, taking photos, showing slides, setting up tables of books & pamphlets, arranging a wall of beautiful dresses and providing delicious Turkish food for all to share. A highlight for me was noticing her family gathered together, husband, two sons, their friend and his wife, standing together in three rows of two facing the same direction at their normal prayer time as we shared their generous meal. We were a faithful community of which we all were engaged together and truly blessed. God is indeed with us anew, thanks to Ola’s care and attention and sharing of the story. Peace be upon us all!

Bette Ann Jaster OP

Dominican Sisters of Hope, The Center at Mariandale 299 North Highland Ave.Bldg 5, Ossining, NY 10562

Bette Ann Jaster OP

Dominican Sisters of Hope, The Center at Mariandale 

Prophet Jesus & The Virgin Mary (PBUT) in Islam


Reverend Melissa Hinnen

Asbury United Methodist Church

Angels in Islam

Prophet Jesus & The Virgin Mary (PBUT) in Islam

Women in Islam: American Muslim Family Life

With Thanksgiving for your gracious spirit . . .

Last year at a local interfaith women’s gathering, I found myself overcome with a glimpse of beloved community. I wondered how that experience of peace, shalom, salaam can be carried into the world. How do we intentionally create spaces in this political and cultural climate to recognize and be transformed by the miracles that happen among us? To be blessed by the fruit of other faith traditions that might offer new understanding and wisdom into who God is calling us to be?

As I contemplated this vision, I happened to sit next to Ola Nosseir. She mentioned that she organized presentations that highlighted the connections between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faith traditions.

We began to imagine what it might look like to integrate what many might assume are incompatible teachings into a Christian worship service that focuses on God’s perfect love.

Over the next few months we spent hours developing a friendship and sharing about our lives and our faith journeys. I invited Ola to speak during the sermon time at Asbury’s Sunday worship service. I was so thankful for her voice and her grace. The congregation was so appreciative to learn from her about Islam. It was a joy to have friends from other houses of worship come and hear from Ola.

After church, we had a community lunch and Ola was open to questions from the congregation in addition to others in the community who came to hear her.

When we break down walls of fearful separation and begin to see each other in the same way that God sees each one of us – made in the very image of our creator – fear is driven out and replaced with love. There is no room for fear when we love as God loves. Our creator loves us more than we can ask or imagine and we are called to embody and extend love that builds peace, salaam, shalom.

Truly it was an informative time and created space for much needed dialogue. I am thankful for a new friend and for insight into Islam and our common connections to Christianity.

Rev. Melissa Hinnen, Asbury United Methodist Church, Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Reverend Melissa Hinnen

Asbury United Methodist Church, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

October 30, 2018

(Presentations were done on April 29, 2018 and September 15, 2018

at Asbury United Methodist Church, Croton-on-Hudson, NY)

Charles S. Chesnavage, PhD


 Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia

Islam 101

"The various presentations about Islam, by Ola Nosseir, are extremely important for educating Westchester neighbors from various religious traditions about Islam. Some of the presentations include Muslim teachings on "Women in Islam," "The Prophet Jesus and Virgin Mary," and "The Hajj." The books, pictures, and clothing she makes available about Islam give the audience important resources to see and touch. The Q and A is always an important opportunity to ask questions about Islam that Ola is able to answer from her own experience as a Muslim woman, mother, activist, and member of the American Muslim Women's Association (AMWA) who is also a member of the Briarcliff Manor/Ossining Ministerial Association (BOMA). I highly recommend her presentations, that also includes Islam 101, a basic primer on Islam."

June 27, 2018

James Trapasso

Programming & Events Coordinator

Ossining Public Library

Women In Islam

"Ola Nosseir recently presented at the Ossining Public Library on the topic of Women in Islam. This was in recognition of Women's History Month. This was the second presentation that Ola has done at OPL and it was once again informative and educational. The discussion afterwards amongst the participants was terrific to. Ola also brought many fantastic artifacts that were on display. Ola is great to work with and I highly recommend her for your next lecture/presentation."

(Presentation done on March 14, 2018 at

The Ossining Public Library)

March 19, 2018

Emily Coca

Women in Islam

The presentation on Women in Islam by Ola Nosseir was informative and timely. It is an opportunity to learn firsthand about Islam and not from the media. Ola speaks from her personal experience, perspective and faith. She uses the Qu'ran as the direct source of information. The foundations, and not the variations are presented with honesty.

An eyeopening comparison, the rights of women among the major world religions is included in the powerpoint.

Overall the hope is to inform and educate the people Ola interacts in the community and to dispel the negative publicity Islam has received since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

(Presentation done on March 14, 2108 at

The Ossining Public Library, Ossining, NY)

March 25. 2018

Marga Spiller


Katonah Presbyterian Church, Katonah, NY

Women in Islam

Your presentation "Women in Islam" was an eye-opener to me:

You started with the timeline of women's rights in the Western, predominantly Christian world-not something to be proud of.

In Islam women and men are equal, but different. Education of women and men is not just encouraged but required by the teachings of Islam. Women have the right to participate in government and hold public office. They have the right to own property, the right to reject a potential spouse and the right to divorce. You explained that deviations from these religious ground rules are matters of local tribal culture and politics...and definitely Colonialism did not help.

THANK you, Ola, for educating us about Islam and our wonderful Muslim neighbors!

(Presentation done on March 14, 2108 at

The Ossining Public Library, Ossining, NY)

March 15, 2018

Father Hugh Burns, op

Pastor, Holy Innocents Parish

Pleasantville, NY 

Prophet Jesus and the Virgin Mary (PBUT) in Islam

Our parish of Holy Innocents in Pleasantville, NY was very pleased to host Ms. Ola Nosseir to give a talk on Jesus and Mary in the Qu'ran. Her presentation came at the perfect time, especially with so much sad misunderstanding of Islam among many Christians. Ola was able to build a bridge of understanding and erase ignorance. For many of our people it came as a surprise that both Jesus and Mary are in the Qu'ran and held in such high regard in Islam. Now more than ever mutual respect and understanding are critical to heal the many sad divisions in our society. Ola's presentation provided an important step in this direction.

(Presentation done on October 16, 2016 

at Holy Innocents Church, Pleasantville, NY)

February 16, 2018

Patrice Scully-Murray, Parishioner

 St. Ann's Church, Ossining, NY

Islam 101 presentation

​Ola Nosseir gave an incredibly thoughtful and comprehensive presentation entitled “Islam 101” at St. Ann’s Church in Ossining. With her special brand of wit, experience and knowledge, Ola turned the presentation into an informative, authentic and thoughtful view of a faith that is often misunderstood, especially in today’s world. Many attendees were not aware of the close relationship among the Abrahamic faiths, (Christianity being one of them). Ola did a great job of tying the three together with her knowledge base.

There were also many wonderful displayed resources at the event that Ola was happy to share with us. Her visit was truly a gift to the parish.

(Presentation done on October 4, 2017

at St. Ann's Church, Ossining, NY)

October 5, 2017​

Jacqueline Biaggi, St. Margaret's-St. Gabriel's Parish,

Bronx, NY

Islam 101 presentation

"Ola Nosseir is a force of nature....yet in a quiet way... A force of nature in her strength and commitment towards enlightening others about the common beliefs between Islam and other religions but done in the soft manner characterized by grace, humility, kindness and understanding. After observing a prayer service and attending Ramadan dinner at her mosque, I was struck by the devotion and graciousness of her fellow Muslims. I also heard stories of what many have endured in light of the aggressive actions of those who have hijacked the Islam religion. It was a very moving and enlightening experience. Ola is a one woman crusader. She cannot do it alone although she is trying. For those in the media and journalism I ask you to reach out a helping hand. It is only in understanding our communality, overcoming our fears and prejudices and joining hands can we truly live in a world of peace."

(Presentation done on October 4, 2017

at St. Ann's Church, Ossining, NY)

October 5, 2017

Rabbi Eytan Hammerman

Jewish Community Center of Harrison

Harrison, NY

Islam 101 presentation

Ola Nosseir’s presentation on the basic Tenents of Islam  (Islam 101) was masterful. The material was geared towards the beginner student of Islam. I found it accessible, enjoyable and even fun. At a time when our world needs unity, learning from religious leaders/representatives like Ola can benefit us all. Mazal tov!

(Presentation done on May 3, 2017 

at Harrison Public Library)

May, 2017

Father John Martin

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. Ossining, N.Y.

The Hajj:  Pilgrimage to Mecca 

"My name is John Martin, a lifelong missionary with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Ossining NY. In 1975, after 9 years living in Mexico as a priestly minister to the Catholics, I opted to join a new missionary venture to live as brothers and friends with our Muslim sisters and brothers in Bangladesh. I lived there for 6 years and subsequently 3 1/2 more years in India, assimilating the riches of the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist traditions. I certainly learned about the "hajj" pilgrimage by Muslims to Mecca, but actually spent many days on several pilgrimages to Ajmer in the western State of Rajasthan to the tomb of the revered Kwaja Moiniuddin Chisti, one of the 13th century Sufis who introduced Sufi Islam into South Asia. [Some] Muslims in South Asia consider a pilgrimage to Ajmer as equivalent to going to Mecca. But I never heard a description of the "Hajj" from any Muslim in all those years, until I had the privilege of hearing the presentation by Ola Nosseir on her family's pilgrimage to Mecca several years ago. What made it so outstanding for me was the description of one family's experience of the pilgrimage, illustrated by many wonderful photos of many aspects of their stay there. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to get an insider's viewpoint of this "Pillar of Islam" to see this presentation."

(Presentation was done in 2015 at Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining,NY)

 April 7th, 2017

Reverend Jim O'Hanlon

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Rye, N.Y.

The Hajj : Pilgrimage to Mecca  

Ola Nosseir treated our congregation to a wonderful presentation of her own family's pilgrimage.  We were glad to learn more about Islam as it is lived by one of our neighbors.

April 2, 2017

Sister Rosemarie Milazzo

Maryknoll Sisters, Ossining, N.Y.

Prophet Jesus and the Virgin Mary in Islam and

The Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca

"I would like to say that the two presentations that Ola Nosseir did at Maryknoll Sisters were overwhelmingly received. She was so clear, so informative, so inclusive. All who attended were grateful for the opportunity to gain new knowledge.

This also provided the opportunity to see how much we share in our faith journeys. Many here were not aware that the Virgin Mary (PBUH) had such a prominent place in the Quran. We very much appreciated her presentation on the Pilgrimage to Mecca. We had never been so close to such a Pilgrimage!

I would highly recommend Ola for presentations on the Quran. She is highly motivated, well informed and an excellent presenter."

March 26, 2017

(Presentation was done in 2015

at Maryknoll Sisters, Ossining, NY)

Michael Ricciardi, Parishioner

Holy Rosary Church in Hawthorne, N.Y.

Prophet Jesus and the Virgin Mary in Islam

"I can't speak for anyone else but what I appreciated most at the program at Holy Innocents was the panel discussion. It was interactive, warm and engaging. We are drawn to God by beauty, truth and the good. Interactions that incorporate all three are fantastic. We are not about efficiency or primarily, results. Getting people to engage in smaller and more frequent venues would be great. I pray that you continue your outreach efforts and look forward to seeing you again."

March 15, 2017

(Presentation was done on 10/16/2016

at Holy Innocents Church in Pleasantville, NY)

James Trapasso, Director of Public Relations

Ossining Public Library, Ossining, N.Y.

Islam 101 presentation

​I was thrilled to have the presentation at the OPL titled "Islam 101". In such an important time in our society, now was a good time more than ever to educate the community on the subject. My goal was to bring the community together and have a lively positive discussion and we accomplished that. A big thank you to Ola Nosseir for a job well-done. I look forward to having more of these presentations at OPL in the future and bringing the community together more and more.

March 15, 2017 

(Presentation was done on 12/03/2015)

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