In the Media

05/10/07: Michigan Sunnis, Shi'ites expected to commit to unity today

Michigan Sunnis, Shi'ites expected to commit to unity today

May 10, 2007

By NIRAJ WARIKOO

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

In what some are calling a historic move, Muslims from across Michigan signed an agreement this afternoon in a Dearborn Heights mosque that calls for unity between Sunnis and Shi’ites, the two main sects of Islam.

“It’s an unforgettable day in the history of the Muslim community here in Michigan,” said Imam Mohammad Elahi, head of the Islamic House of Wisdom, where the signing took place today.

“This is absolutely needed,” Elahi said. 
Sunnis and Shi’ites sometimes have had a rocky relationship. Those strains were amplified this year with sectarian fighting in Iraq and vandalism that struck Shi’ite-owned businesses in Dearborn and Detroit. Some Shi’ites believe Sunnis were behind the attacks, but police and others say it’s unclear who was behind them.
The agreement calls for Muslims to refrain from the practice of takfir, a part of Islamic law in which Muslims declare that others are not true Muslims. Some Sunni Muslims consider Shi’ites not to be true Muslims and attack Shi’ite beliefs.
The agreement will be posted in area mosques and clerics will be encouraged to spread a message of unity during their sermons Friday.
“We’re going to make a commitment today,” Elahi said.