In the Media

07/4/2013: Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism

The Arab American News          

Local Sunnis, Shias reject sectarianism

Thursday, 07.04.2013, 07:07pm

DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On June 29, the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) sponsored a forum that was organized by the Imams’ Council of the organization at the Islamic House of Wisdom.  

Because both Shia and Sunni communities, organizations, and service institutions share a significant set of beliefs and values, an agreement exists among local imams that it is beneficial to further unite the region’s diverse communities and organizations, so as to highlight and emphasize those commonly held areas through a process of mutual consultation.  

Part of the forum’s objective was to help bring both the Sunni and Shia communities together in closer cooperation and to establish concrete actions, so as to resist and reject the influence and affects of sectarianism. 

The group identified tangible relationship-building steps, along with follow-up action points, including the creation of a task force that was delegated with the responsibility to cultivate and nurture the process.          

Sunni and Shia imams stand among one another with community members at the forum aimed at rejecting religious sectarian divides.Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the Imam’s Council of the MMCC joined hands, along with sixty Muslim community leaders and area imams, representing various mosques across the tri-County area, to pledge the prevention of sectarian influences that have plagued the Middle East, from affecting Muslim American communities and to reaffirm American and Islamic values of religious tolerance. 

“The speakers spoke eloquently.  The dialogue between Sunni and Shia imams, as well as community leaders, reflected the challenges that Muslims face and the maturity of the Muslim American community in dealing with the issues facing them,” said Imam Mustapha Elturk, of the Islamic Organization of North America and the Sunni co-chair of the Council. 

 Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom and the Shia co-chair of the MMCC emphasized the idea of heading down a road of moderation and standing for truth and justice, regardless of religious affiliations. 

“The brutal bloodshed in the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with true teachings of Islam.  Neither does terrorism and extremism,” Elahi said. “The factions are engaged in political domination.” 

Dawood Zwink, Executive Director of the MMCC, said that the event was very much needed and the implementation of the ideas and proposals that were offered would greatly help both communities and future generations. 

The Imams’ Council of the MMCC and other Islamic leaders in Michigan meet regularly to enhance communication within the diverse Muslim community and to reach out to the interfaith community, by building relationships and alliances in pursuit of an inclusive community and peaceful neighborhoods.  A Code of Honor was developed by the Imams’ Council of MMCC (formerly CIOM) in 2007 to combat sectarian divisions. 

Imams and leaders from all major Muslim sects in Michigan agreed to respect each other's traditions and maintain dialogue with one other.