06/29/13: Shia-Sunni Summit: Promoting Unity, Rejecting Sectarianism

"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!   

He  thanked 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 Muslim Ummah. 

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.

PHOTO Highlights of the Summit

In the News:

July 03, 2013- PRESS & GUIDE

Imams, other Muslim leaders unite to reject sectarian divides


July 4, 2013- Arab American News

Local Sunnis, Shias reject Sectarianism