By Adil James, TMO
The qaris on the stage at the Night of Qur`an event.
The cliche is that we are all Muslims, that there is only one Islam, and that all of the issues that divide us are merely illusions. But the reality is different–that we all have different means of observing Islam, and each of us who is sincere must also believe either (1) that his or her way is the best way, or (2) that religion really doesnâ€™t matter all that much–in other words, secularism. To the extent that we do not fervently believe we are on the right way, we should probably leave what we are doing and move over to the way that we can see is more perfect than what we are doing.
But 99% of us donâ€™t change, therefore either we are not sincere or most of us believe we are in fact practicing, despite our personal limitations, the best and most perfect form of Islam.
Nobody can take away a personâ€™s free will to practice his religion as he sees fit, and to be honest we should be content to allow other people to do what they believe is correct, although it is different from what we are doing, provided they do not through false understandings of their religion bring harm to others.
It would be naive, if not nonsensical, to say to Christians and Jews that there is only one religion, and there is no need for us to fight with one another because in fact we are all just worshippers of God–that each one of us can pray interchangeably at churches, synagogues, and mosques, using whatever religious books we find within the building we happen to find ourselves in on whichever day. Nonsensical because the beliefs and practices of the different religions are mutually incompatible, although the commonality of belief in the one God is more essential than many of the other component practices of each belief system. And just as it is obviously true that the outwardly different religions have entirely non-transferrable acts of worship, so too the different sects within Islam also have mutually non-transferrable acts of worship–and there is really no point in pretending that all our acts of worship are the same. To argue this is either to fail to understand the truth, or is to lie.
Despite all this, there are several commonalities that we have, that do appeal to all Muslims across the divides of sect and nationality–for example the sacredness of belief, the love of Godâ€™s holy words, Holy Qur`an, and the love of our holy Prophet (s), with whom no other person can compare, and (it should also be) the love of Prophetâ€™s (s) family, love of Miladun Nabi (s), love of the Muslim traditions of the past 1434 years.
And so it is with great pleasure that I write to you about a celebration of one of those common grounds, recitation of Holy Qur`an. There was a celebration of Holy Qur`an without any of the focus on this passing world this past Saturday evening, March 2nd, in Dearborn at Laurel Manor, â€œA Night of Qur`an.â€
About 500 people attended the gathering, which hosted several world-class reciters, from local, national, and international sources. The audience stayed for several hours, only for their belief, with no hope of reaching some worldly benefit through their attendance.
And among the audience was displayed the wealth of the Muslim community, with evidently different and varied religious and certainly ethnic communities represented, reflected in their different styles of dress, all together in friendship and mutual rejoicing in the splendor of our religious tradition.
The qaris present included one winner of the Saudi Qur`an reciting competition from 1999, and a second-place winner from 1998. The format was that each of the reciters sat before the audience in a conference ballroom.
The front of the ballroom was decorated in a traditional fashion which reminded me of the evenings of Qur`an recitation that I experienced in Egypt–where (mostly men) would go and drink tea at night and sit quietly and listen to the best reciters, for hours at a time.
The front of the room was exquisitely decorated with traditional Arab crafts, furniture, and Qur`an stands, and the qaris took turns at the central microphone, reciting different parts of Qur`an.
The audience was seated at banquet tables where they enjoyed dinner and then quietly listened to Qur`an.
The qaris who recited included Qari Shaykh Ahmad Mabrook, Qari Shaykh Abdelhamid Askam, Qari Shaykh Ismet Akcin, Qari Shaykh Hasan Saleh, Qari Sahykh Ahmad Siddiqui, Qari Shaykh Nady Kishk, and ibtihalat by Shaykh Nady Kishk and Shaykh Abdelhamid Askam. The closing duâ€™a was by Shaykh Hasan Saleh.
The qaris represented a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, manifesting the pluralism and cosmopolitan wealth that is Islam–with qaris from Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and of course America.
We hope there will be more similar events and thank the organizers and sponsors of this event, including Ibrahim AbuBars, a main organizer, and Islamic Relief.