By Sadaf Ali, MMNS
Novi-December 1: Despite the inclement weather over 500 guests attended the Institute for Social Policy and Understandingâ€™s (ISPU) annual fundraising dinner in Novi, Michigan.
This yearâ€™s topic was Social Responsibilities of Muslims in America and included keynote speaker Dr. Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University.
ISPU Fellow and Professor of History at Wayne State University, Saeed Khan says the Institute was create after the September 11th attacks as a â€œthink-tankâ€ committed to education and research on issues related to the American Muslim community.
â€œISPU is a model for people who have that passion for social responsibility. We created ISPU out of nothing except that motivation that we needed something for the Muslim community,â€ said Khan.
Khan suggests that Muslims should get involved within their own communities, such as local Parent/Teacher Association, city councils and even book clubs.
â€œThereâ€™s the issue of visibility. Itâ€™s very important for Muslim Americans to be present and not only on those issues that have Islamic or Muslim banners attached to them,â€ he said.
The evening was not only dedicated to fundraising, but also to create an awareness of ISPUâ€™s accomplishments and future projects, including the Muslim Education Project.
According to Fakhia Rashid, Director of Development, this project will focus on the demography of the nationâ€™s Islamic schools and deflect some of the negative perceptions of an Islamic education.
â€œThe hope is to shed light on the students that are produced from these schools and perhaps rectify some of the misconceptions in the D.C. policy arena that these schools are extremist or terrorist,â€ said Rashid.
Some of ISPUâ€™s past accomplishments included the Detroit Mosque Study, which confronted the concern within the general public that mosques are becoming breeding grounds for terrorist organizations. In addition, ISPU worked with the PEW Research Center to conduct focus groups with Detroit Muslims on changing attitudes within this community.
However, the eveningâ€™s main attraction was the keynote speech by Moosa, where he highlighted the need for social responsibility as a fail safe.
â€œSocial responsibility is that safety net to make sure justice is done when the system fails,â€ he said, â€œEach one of you is a Shepard and each one of you is responsible for your flock.â€
Moosa also discussed the importance of interfaith communication and the need for tolerance for other religions.
â€œThe idea that we are chosen is one of the most detrimental aspects of our society and we can go nowhere with that attitude.â€
According to Moosa being socially responsible and humanity go hand in hand and charitable giving is the first step.
â€œFeeding people is the beginning of the restoration of human dignity.â€
He also talked about how governments play a role and the need to have that fail safe mechanism in place.
â€œThe art of government is not a perfect science. Even if you have a political system that is based on religion, it is the fallible human beings that apply the teachings of that religious system,â€ he said, â€œThe system becomes a human system.â€
The evening ended with a book signing of his award winning publication, Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination.