Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan Reports on Sunni-Shiâ€™a Imams â€œWe donâ€™t have a problemâ€
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin
Detroit–February 6–The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan (CIOM) was formed over 20 years ago by a majority Sunni membership, in a Shiâ€™a mosque and with a Shiâ€™a (Brother James Khalil, may ALLAH rest his soul) as its first chairman. That alone should be enough to give an accurate picture of the relationship between the two Muslim groups. But there is more.
Through the years, the bonds between the imams and members have been cemented by constant interaction and mutual support of events and projects. The first Sunni-Shiâ€™a Symposium was held in Dearborn, Michigan, once again with a majority Sunni presence, but hosted by and held at a Shiâ€™a mosque. This lets us know that mutual respect and friendship has been the rule rather than the exception.
We also are aware that the Detroit, Michigan area is a leader in fostering these positive relations. We realize the Sunni and Shiâ€™a camps split over 1400 years ago but also realize that cooperation, respect, and interaction benefit the entire Muslim community and make the enemies of Islam less effective.
CIOM encourages communities throughout America and abroad to consciously reach out to our brother and sister Muslims who say first, â€œthere is no deity except ALLAH, and
Muhammad (s) is the Messenger of ALLAH.â€ This automatically qualifies them as your brother/sister. It also closes the doors of the haters of the faith from sowing seeds of dissension.
We are grateful for the generosity of The Muslim Observer for making these reports possible. In the future, look to these pages for more reports of the community. Rotating articles from Sunni and Shiâ€™a imams will be featured periodically.
Questions, comments, submissions, etc may be sent to this author at www.muslimobserver.com.
May the Peace of ALLAH permeate our community and spread throughout the world.
As Salaam Alaikum (Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin
Successful Book Signing
By Dana Cann, an independent reporter working for MMNS
Dearborn–February 6–A very well-attended and interesting book signing session was held this Tuesday in Dearborn. After the author (Paul Barrett, who wrote the new book American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion) spoke, there was a discussion with the author.
Joining Barrett in the discussion at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center was Osama Siblani, Publisher of The Arab American News and one of seven American Muslims profiled in the book.
Others depicted in the book are a couple of white mystics who converted to Islam, an African American imam, an Egyptian scholar, a webmaster who was interrogated after 9/11, an activist, and a feminist in West Virginian who was the first woman in her mosque to pray inside of a male-only main hall.
At the start of the session which began at 6:30, guests formed a line from the opening of the banquet room and extended it into the lobby near the buildingâ€™s main entrance. With a stack of books at his side, Barrett autographed, smiled and shook hands with interested readers who congratulated him until every book was gone.
After an introduction given by Siblani, Barrett, a Jewish man approached the podium in front of nearly 60 guests.
According to Barrett, the book focuses most on the Muslim experience and tension between the Muslim community and the American government.
â€œThe purpose of my book is to explain who American Muslims are and to show them in all of their variety and to focus on American Muslims in their own terms,â€ said Barrett, who also mentioned that after learning more about how Muslims live in this country and abroad through his writings of numerous articles at The Wall Street Journal, led to the writing of his book.
Barrett then went on to talk about the design cover of the book which he says was designed by the publisher. On the cover are the drawings of the seven people profiled in the book along with their respective titles.
Opening the book, Barrett chose to read an excerpt profiling Siblani:. â€œI decided to use him as kind of a central portrait for the chapter about Dearborn, and then told other stories spinning off of his story,â€ said Barrett. â€œI think in describing a topic as complex as American Islam, you have to start with the very basic questions like where people are from and what their experiences are.â€
Barrett then began reading about Siblaniâ€™s childhood starting in a poor village near Beirut to his travels and experiences in America.
In American Islam, Barrett also notes that American Muslims are more educated and more prosperous than other Americans. â€œSome 59% of American Muslims have graduated from college compared to only 28% of Americans generally,â€ said Barrett who also said that more Muslim American register to vote than do other Americans.
As Barrett continued to read from his book, people in the audience followed along with him with their own books, nodding from time to time. One excerpt from the book that caught the audienceâ€™s attention was when Saddam Husseinâ€™s statue was brought down and many in Dearborn cheered in the streets on Warren Avenue.
At the end of his readings, Barrett looked to the audience for questions. The first question came from Dr. Ali Ajamy, Consul of Lebanon. Dr. Ajamy wanted to know why Barrett called the book American Islam when it should have been focused more on cultural roots rather than religion. â€œWe donâ€™t have American Islamâ€¦We donâ€™t have British Islam,â€ said Dr. Ajamy. â€œWe have one single Islam.â€ Dr. Ajamy felt that it may have been better to call the book American Muslims.
Barrett answered Dr. Ajamy by saying the book â€œuses â€˜American Islamâ€™ as an umbrella to capture everybody.â€ Barrett went on to say â€œBut you might be right that the title â€œAmerican Muslimsâ€ might have been a little better.â€ Barrett also said that different Muslims from different backgrounds and ethnicities could look at the title and the content differently. He felt it would be interesting to see how other Muslims felt after reading the book.
Abbas M. Youssef, Ph.D., an Engineer at Ford Motor Company, asked Barrett why he felt the need to tell Siblani that he was Jewish when he interviewed him. Youssef also wanted to know why Barrett dropped the word â€œsuspectedâ€ from a statement he took from an early 1980s story of the marine barricades that were bombed and people suspected that it was Hezbollah who committed the crime. According to Youssef, taking out the word â€œsuspectedâ€ made it seem as if Hezbollah was the main source of the crime.
Barrett answered Youssef by saying that he wanted to put his cards on the table and tell people that he was Jewish when he interviewed. He also mentioned that by telling people he was Jewish, it somehow made people open up more and inquire about why he was so interested in knowing about their experiences. As far as the word â€œsuspectâ€ being dropped from his book, Barrett stated that he doesnâ€™t â€œpretend to resolve the situation or pretend to advance the stated knowledge.â€
Siham Awada Jaafar, Vice President of David Communications asked Barrett what has he come away with in terms of his different perspective now as opposed to his knowledge before writing the book.
Barrett said that he was once â€œignorantâ€ on the subject of Islam. After writing the story, Barrett said that his views changed on the subject of Islam as he learned more about it.
Siblani then stepped in to say that though he may not agree with the conclusions that Barrett drew upon him when he was profiled in the book, Barrett did quote him correctly which doesnâ€™t happen often in the media.
Nazih Saad made a comment to Barrett that he as an American Muslim and Barrett as a Jewish American are much the same people with the same experiences, thoughts and feelings. He also said that he expects a Jewish American to understand an American Muslim more than anyone else because both have gone through the same experiences in America. Saad then commended Barrett for working so hard to understand American Muslims.
The session ended with the audience requesting more autographed books since there were not enough to go around. Siblani made an announcement that he would have more books signed by Barrett in his office later on.
Barrett who worked 18 years at The Wall Street Journal currently directs the investigative reporting team at Business Week. Barrett also published the book The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America.
American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion is on sale for $25.00 in bookstores.
Imam Johari Speaks at Huda School, to Franklin Community Muslims
At a recent event, Imam Johari, a prominent Muslim imam who has spoken before at SE Michigan fundraisers, spoke for about an hour to an audience of about 50 Franklin-area adult Muslims at the prominent local Huda School. During the weekend he also provided two lectures to younger community members.
The Islamic Cultural Association in Franklin arranged the event. The institutional footprint of that association is the Huda School, one of the most successful local Islamic educational institutions. The Huda School & Montessori has served the Muslim community since 1988.
Johari is the imam of Darul Hijrah, one of the most powerful Sunni mosques in the metro DC area. He spoke broadly about how, even with whatâ€™s going on in the media in terms of how Islam is portrayed, that Muslims should keep their heads up and be optimistic about the future. He gave examples of good things that are happening in the community, like for instance the many servicemen who have become interested in Islam as a result of their service in Iraq. People generally, he said, are interested in Islam.
Audience members asked him about what resources are good to give as references to people interested in or asking questions about Islam. He said, broadly, that in talking to someone you need to diagnose the person as if you are a doctor. What is ailing the person? What diseases? What conditions? Then you give them the prescription. Daâ€™wah, he explained, should be a personal and individual level work that you do, not with a â€œone size fits allâ€ approach. Individualize, cater the daâ€™wah to the person, he explained.
The Huda Schoolâ€™s website is hudaschool.org. Islamic Cultural Association in Franklin currently has no full-time masjid, but provides, of course, the Huda School during the day. During the evenings it provides community programs for adults. Saturdays are the main community day there. Haytham â€˜Ubayd, a member of that community, explains that there are 200-300 families that are served by the Islamic Cultural Association.
The community provides a regular social Sunday brunch for families. There is a large 3.8 million dollar expansion project planned for this summer, designed to build upon the preschool thru 8th grade Huda School, which is a large red brick building on Franklin between 13 Mile and 14 Mile.
IAGD welcomes new imam
IAGD, in a meeting this past Sunday, confirmed its decision to hire Professor Ali Leyla of the Islamic American University as its new imam.
The Muslim Observer offers its best wishes for Professor Leylaâ€™s success in serving Allah, Islam, and the pious people of the IAGD community well and for some time.