Publications & Statements by Imam

12/05/06: Open interfaith, U.S.-Iran dialogue to further peace

Detroit News- Dec. 5, 2006

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Open interfaith, U.S.-Iran dialogue to further peace

It has been said that if you don't vote you don't exist. But Americans who want peace made their presence known by giving an election victory to the Democrats, representing a clear rejection of President Bush's costly war-mongering.

After spending more than $300 billion and keeping our 150,000 troops in Iraq, Bush succeeded only in destroying the country and U.S. interests around the world. Security is now so catastrophic that in his recent trip to the Middle East, the president met Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in Jordan instead of Baghdad.

It's a great blessing to see that America's majority prefers diplomacy and peace over military options. Saying no to war means declaring yes to civil discourse.

So Americans may be interested in a six-page letter Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote to our nation. Mentioning common concerns and values, Ahmadinejad called for dialogue and cooperation between the two nations for the sake of justice, peace, prosperity of all the people of the world.

I hope the Bush administration shows some humility and will wisely open this window of communication to save our sons and daughters from another military nightmare. Talking to Tehran is in the best interest of the United States and is in line with the spirit of the Iraq Study Group, which was created at the urging of Congress in response to the nation's increasing demands for peace.

The biggest inspiration for international and inter-religious dialogue between Muslims and Christians was the pope's recent pilgrimage to Turkey. Pope Benedict XVI was warmly and respectfully welcomed in a country with less than 30,000 Catholics and more than 70 million Muslims.

The pope demonstrated his desire for friendship and sincere dialogue with the Muslims. He mentioned that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God and are on the same page on the meaning and purpose of life. He supported his statement by going to the Blue Mosque, facing Mecca and praying.

This type of spiritual reconciliation is needed in this tragic and turbulent world, so we can begin to build a global community based on mutual respect and understanding.

The Persian poet Rumi talked of religious pluralism 800 years ago when he said, "The lamps are different but the light is the same." Salvation is open to all those who have faith in God and do good deeds. There are those who consider paradise their personal property. They deny God's universal justice, love, mercy and compassion.

In this age of globalization, we need to go beyond our religious differences and work together for peace, security, freedom, respect, happiness and love, knowing that none of these can be achieved without first establishing justice.

Open dialogue will further our new quest for justice. With justice we can create love and save millions of lives.

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights