"Rejecting Sectarian Influence in our Communities"
Summit of Shia-Sunni religious and community leaders organized by the Michigan Muslim Community Council, hosted at the Islamic House of Wisdom
June 29, 2013- Shia and Sunni co-chairs of the Imams 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 keeping sectarian influences plaguing the Middle East out of Muslim American communities, reaffirming American and Islamic values of religious tolerance.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, the Shia co-Chair of MMCC welcomed the imams, community leaders and keynote speakers to the Islamic House of Wisdom.
Imam reflected on reconfirmation of the Code of Honor that was signed at the IHW in 2007 and encouraged building bridges of confidence and trust among the intra-faith partners. He emphasized on marching the road of moderation, standing for truth and justice and condemning the evil of terrorism and crime regardless of religious affiliation. Continuing, he stated that this brutal bloodshed in the Middle East from Iraq to Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt has nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam, it's a political conspiracy promoted by the forces of greed, arrogance, hypocrisy and domination on one side and the forces of ignorance and extremism on the other side. Unfortunately the innocent people in the region are paying the heaviest price.
Imam Elahi called for the continuity of the path of peace and unity initiated in the last century by great scholars of both Shia and Sunni societies and praised the honorable position of Al-Azhar University on the martyrdom of Egyptian Sheikh Hassan Shehata and his disciples.
Concluding, Imam Elahi said the success of the sectarian conflict in the Middle East is due to ignorance and poverty among the masses. Living on a land where the Muslims have opportunity to attain maximum education and prosperity, should leave no room for the sickness of sectarianism. American Muslims must be a role model for the entire ummah!Imam Mustapha Elturk
of the Islamic Organization of North America, Warren, Sunni Co-Chair of the Council, rejecting sectarianism concluded that the leadership summit was a success.
"The speakers spoke eloquently - the dialogue between Sunni and Shia imams, as well as community leaders, reflected the challenges Muslims face and the maturity of the Muslim American community in dealing with issues facing them."
The first speaker of the summit was Dr. Talal Turfe the author of "Patience" Unity" and "Energy". A brief of Dr. Turfe's remarks included:
"The remembrance of Allah and sabr (patience) will guide our hearts to be humble and open for knowledge to enter and solidify our faith. Although it is one's right to believe that his madhhab (school of thought) is the best one, it is not the right to ridicule and humiliate the followers of another madhhab.
Each of us owes an obligation to winning the unity. It is not going to be won without great sacrifice. If we have good sense, if we have courage, if we have integrity, we will succeed in our quest for unity. The challenge for us is to join together - hand-to-hand, heart-to-heart, in unity. Let us begin - right now!
Let it be our prayer that our generation will see the dawn and sunrise of permanent unity. Today is a sunrise of hope, a unique and wonderful opportunity for us to work together in unity. "
Dr. Talal Turfe provided the summit with 21 suggestions to remove the barriers of unity and strengthen the oneness of the community. Please see his remarks of the summit: "Winning the Unity in Islam"
The second guest speaker was Dr. Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. Dr. Cole gave a comprehensive analyses of religious and political movements in the Middle East and concluded that the current sectarian violence in the Middle East is navigated by political agendas. The message of religion is peace and love. It is politics that divides to rule!
The final speaker was Dr. Sayyid Syeed, the National Director of ISNA!
the MMCC and Islamic House of Wisdom for organizing the conference at
this critical time in order to send a message of solidarity to the
Dr. Syeed continued his powerful and inspiring presentation stating:
"Our greatest achievement in America has been the integration of Muslims of all races and of all schools of thought. This emergence of this Muslim community is an experiment in the growth and development of a tolerant community that is respectful of diversity. We rejected an interpretation of Islam that would have set us against each other. We have had leaders presiding over this movement from both Sunni and Shia backgrounds. In 2006, ISNA was proud to invite former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to address the largest Muslim convention in the Western world because he was a champion of dialogue. Muslims of all persuasions felt proud and empowered by his presence.
When tensions rose in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2007, we brought together all major American Sunni and Shia leaders in Chicago and announced a Muslim Code of Honor that was committed to and signed in front of thousands of rejoicing Muslims.
ISNA is proud to be a part of Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values, a campaign together with Jewish and Christian organizations that works to ensure that anti-Muslim sentiment never becomes mainstream in America. On multiple occasions, prominent national Jewish and Christian leaders came forward and fought for the rights of Muslims. They believe and we believe that bigotry against one religion is bigotry against them all. It is our duty to see that we generate this same spirit in the Muslim world, a spirit where majority religious groups come forward to protect minority groups. If Christians and Jews are standing up for Sunnis and Shias alike, there is a compelling moral duty for Sunnis and Shis to stand up for each other and jointly for people of other faiths."
In the last 2 hours of the summit, Hajj Ghalib Victor Begg, a founding member of MMCC and Dawood Zwink, MMCC executive director moderated an open discussion participated by all the guests. The discussion was handled with maximum respect and courtesy, despite of some areas of disagreement.
All agreed to continue this dialogue in the future to protect the community from any sectarian division and disease.
In the News:
July 03, 2013- PRESS & GUIDE
July 4, 2013- Arab American NewsLocal Sunnis, Shias reject Sectarianism