Imam Elahi's Presentation at the Interfaith Conference of Muslim and Catholic Communities in Divine Child Church in Dearborn Michigan!
September 24, 2018
"How our communities experience of prayer can lead to positive action in fostering peace, greater understanding, and collaboration!"
First, I would like to thank Fr. Jim Bilot and Fr. Hatt Hood for hosting this historic event.
Just a brief background: During an interfaith Iftar dinner at IHW last Ramadan, honorable Archbishop Allen Vigneron sent a distinguished delegation with a dynamic message to our interfaith Iftar. The message was read by Bishop Robert Fisher who was accompanied by Fr. John Kasza and Mr. David Conrad from the Catholic Ecumenical Department.
To appreciate the Archbishop's honorable outreach, I invited some of our board members and community leaders including Dr. Ned Fawaz to join me to visit the Archbishop in his office and express our gratitude. We had an over hour friendly interfaith conversation. During that meeting Dr. Nasib asked the Archbishop to help continue this interfaith journey. The Archbishop agreed and a week later we received a call from David to meet in this church and discuss our further action. We met here in July, Fr. Jim was out of town but Fr. Hood was there (btw Hood in Arabic a great prophet, grandson of Noah. Probably Eber in Old Testament) and went through some pressing issues in our community and country. Br. David took notes and made to these three categories. Hopefully this would be a beginning for a long journey not only in Dearborn but all over the world. Nothing is local any more. You can have a whisper in your friend's ear in a small room but people all over the world would hear your whispering lol!
I am grateful of this assembly this evening. God already lead our prayer to a positive action. Many communities including Jewish, Catholic, Muslims and African Americans have gone through so many same challenges and struggles in history of our nation. For a long time Catholics faced so much fire and phobia. They were called a foreign domination and a threat to the nation. There was serious resistance to the citizenship of both Catholics and Jews. By 20th century they gained equal rights but the Muslim situation got even worse thank to president Trump. I don’t know what happened that president Thomas Jefferson was replaced with president Trump. Jefferson used to say I believe in one God but if you want to believe in 3 gods or even 20 gods, I don’t care. I want to make sure you are protected and enjoy equality regardless of your religious opinion.
Although the Catholics still suffer from a media war and kind of prejudice, yet from original number of 250000 reached to over 40 million Catholics in the US.
It wouldn’t happen if the Catholics would stay in the church and do prayer only. They worked so hard in education, medical services, business area to be where they are today.
We as Muslim community trying to put our prayer in practice but the propaganda against us is so powerful that many times won’t get the equal opportunity to do so.
Of course prayer is a fundamental feature in our faith. We must stop our activities 5 times a day to spend at least few minutes for prayer, to connect with God, remember God, to submit to Him, to take a spiritual shower, to repair any damaged cell in our souls, to get light and energy.
Imam Ali (as) distinguishes between 3 kinds of prayer, out of fear of fire, out of greed of the garden, out of admiration appreciation!
That is not a prayer by tongue only, but a prayer in mind, in heart, in intention and action. To the point that a person him/herself becomes embodiment of prayer. His talk, his walk, his breathings, his behaviors. We have hundreds and hundreds of prayer texts from our prophets and imams. Specially the book of supplications from imam Zainol-Abedeen.
My favorite Christian prayer is the peace prayer of Saint Francis.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace where there is hatred
In the Quran the words salaat and dua prayer and supplication are mentioned over 300 times.
There are so many verses in the Quran teach us how Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad and other representatives of God’s heavenly Kingdom on this earth used to pray!
Also there are 40 special prayers in the Quran start with Rabbana Our Lord!
Since God is the absolute source of peace, love, light, beauty, perfection, mercy, glory, holiness,
In these verses we ask for: guidance, light of knowledge mercy, forgiveness, patience, peace, prosperity, salvation, domination over our temptation, blessing for our parents and children and all faithful, help for the poor and oppressed, freedom from hate and hypocrisy, repentance, neighborhood next to the residence of the righteous on resurrection day.
The Quran keeps encouraging us to pray!
When people ask about Me, I am close, answer the call of the caller, (2-186)
Never lose hope in His mercy, He would forgive all the sins (29-53)
One interesting point in the Quran is relationship between prayer and action, in many verses salaat comes with zakat. Prayer is relationship with the creator but charity is relationship with the creation. Prayer is not accepted if charity is not involved.
Or the relationship between prayer and peace.
I was talking in Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn last weekend on the anniversary of Day of Peace proposed by UN in 80s.
Yes we pray for peace, that is so powerful, nice and necessary but not enough.
We must oppose the obstacles of peace such as human greed, selfishness, jealousy, hate, hypocrisy, discrimination, pain of poverty, racism, fear, violence and the culture of war-mongering.
Then stand for what contribute to the establishment of peace such as justice, equality, diversity, religious and cultural liberty and pluralism, recognizing human dignity, commitment to dialogue, diplomacy, advocating tolerance and peaceful coexistence, promoting family values and raising a generation faithful to moral principles and understanding the meaning and purpose of life.
Interesting the person who is leading a group prayer must be Adel, means just!
What about the president? Lol
In Chapter 7 verse 29- God ordered me to establish justice and then pray!
Prayer of someone who backbites someone is not accepted for 40 days!
Yes prayer is power, protection, purification, purpose, security, balance, confidence, key to His kingdom, humbleness, healing, salvation, but it is not substitute for action.
When hurricane targeted puerto Rico and killed thousands of people, the people in power must do more that “ our prayers and thoughts go with them”
Famous sentence from MLK “we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools” and “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!