Muslims regardless of their school of thought are targets of nonstop
Islamophobic prejudice. The fear that the daily tragic news from Iraq
may ignite clashes of opinions urgently requires responsible
engagement by the highest Islamic leaders.
This Thursday at 4 p.m. will be an unforgettable moment for Muslims in
Michigan. Religious leaders from both the Shia and Sunni communities
and members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan will
meet at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to sign a
Muslim Code of Honor. The code commits its signers to reject extremism
in all its forms.
Hundreds of great scholars from Shia and Sunni backgrounds have
struggled to unify Muslims.
That's why there is no place for calling others nonbelievers when they
do believe. All Muslims regardless of their different interpretations
of the khelafa (successorship of the prophet) share a belief in the
unity of God, the prophethood of Mohammad, the authenticity of the
Quran and the certainty of the Day of Resurrection. There is no
disagreement over the principles of prayer, Ramadan fast, charity and
pilgrimage to Mecca.
Let us behave like the prophet with compassion, courtesy, sincerity,
humbleness, patience, dignity, fairness and understanding, recalling
that our prophet created the bond of brotherhood among citizens and
immigrants in Medina. Despite their differences, he took serious steps
against prejudice based on nationality, race and culture.
Differences in opinion are not only allowed in Islam, but critical
thinking is vital in dealing with new developments. When thinkers
disagree with piety and sincerity, and if the goal is solving
problems, variation in thinking leads every side of a debate closer to
There are many different approaches and many similarities between the
five major Islamic schools of thought on jurisprudence. One of the
most frequent arguments between Shia and Sunni is the question of
khelafah vs. imamate(the selection of religious and political
leaders). This is something to be discussed among those interested in
theology and history, but diversity is our strength.
Religious extremism, ignorance and hunger for domination have been
exploited for many centuries in the Islamic world as part of the
divide-and-rule policy. The code of honor prevents any inflammatory
language for the sake of petty political and personal gains. We should
all pledge to avoid negative labeling that could result in false
alarms such as "the Shia Crescent" made by King Abdullah of Jordan.
We are Muslim first. At the time of the prophet, there was no
Sunni-Shia issue. We are all Sunni if that means we try to follow the
Sunna (tradition) of our holy prophet. We all are Shia if it means to
love Imam Ali and the prophet family.
I am looking forward to the day when the highest leaders of the three
Abrahamic faith traditions in America sign a similar interfaith code
of honor. While our country has had its international image damaged,
it's the duty of all people of faith to demonstrate God's wisdom and
let this country become a source of hope for humanity. Let Americans
build bridges, not walls.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, a Shia, heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in
DETROIT MUSLIM LEADERS TO SIGN SUNNI-SHIA CODE OF HONOR
MPAC Press Release
More Than 20 Leaders Will Sign Historic Document at May 10th Press
(Detroit - 5/8/07) -- On Thursday, May 10, more than 20 prominent Shia
and Sunni Detroit area Muslim leaders will hold a press conference
where they will sign a historic "Intra-Faith Code of Honor" as a
demonstration of their commitment to speak out against communal
divisions and all forms of sectarian division and violence.
The reconciliation effort, which was initiated in February by the
Muslim Public Affairs Council, was prompted by spiraling violence in
Iraq and several incidents of vandalism in Michigan.
At the press conference, the Detroit Muslim leaders will publicly
endorse the Code of Honor, commit themselves to upholding it, and
encourage their congregations to honor the terms set forth in the
document. Among the code's guidelines are banning the practice of
takfir, judging other Muslims as nonbelievers, and forbidding hateful
speech about the beliefs and revered figures of other branches of Islam.
WHAT: DETROIT MUSLIM LEADERS PRESS CONFERENCE ON
"CODE OF HONOR"
WHEN: Thursday, May 10th, 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Islamic House of Wisdom
22575 Ann Arbor Trail
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
In a statement released today, the Council of Islamic Organizations of
As Muslim Americans who live and struggle for a dignified existence
for Islam and Muslims in a spirit of peaceful coexistence and respect
for all, we believe that the practical challenges of the future
supersede the ideological differences of the past. In recognition of
our communal duty to promote goodness and peace, we remain eager to
offer any help we can and to join hands with all those who wish well
for the Family of Believers (ummah) in stopping the senseless,
inhumane violence in Iraq and elsewhere in the world.
In our view, we must begin by preventing such tragic sectarianism from
spilling over into our Muslim communities in the United States. As a
first step toward this goal, we agree to live in peace and respect
each other in accordance with a 'Muslim Code of Honor.' We remain
committed to this Muslim Code of Honor not only during times of
agreement and ease but, more importantly, when faced with contentious
issues and in times of mutual disagreement.
Among the prominent leaders scheduled to attend will be Dr. Sherman
Abd al-Hakim Jackson (Univ. of Michigan Ann Arbor), Imam Hassan
Al-Qazwini (Islamic Center of America), Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi (House
of Wisdom), Imam Muhammad Musa (Muslim Unity Center), Imam Husham
Al-husainy (Karbala Islamic Educational Center), Hajj Ghalib V. Begg
(Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan), Imam Abdullah Bey
El-Amin (Muslim Center of Detroit), Imam Abdul Latif Berry (Islamic
Institute of Knowledge) and Dawud Walid (Council on American Islamic
Relations - Michigan).
The Detroit "Code of Honor" event follows similar events in recent
weeks in Los Angeles and Chicago. Other events are expected in cities
across the country in the coming weeks and months.
[CONTACT: Victor Ghalib Begg, Chair of Council of Islamic
Organizations of Michigan, 248-334-9225 or 586-808-2864;
Edina Lekovic 213-383-3443, communications @ mpac.org]