Unity in Diversity

Seattle: A new organization “MuslimIntrafaith” was launched at the Islamic School of Seattle to build bridges between the different schools of thought within the Muslim community. People from different sects joined hands and their representatives highlighted the importance of closer understanding and appreciation of each other’s perspective on their common faith. Organization’s convener Mr. Shahnawaz made a power-point presentation of verses from the Holy Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet (SAW) highlighting the much needed unity in the ranks of Muslims. He urged the audience to initiate a change in thinking and attitude. The element of “community value” is missing from our philosophy of life, observed Mr. Shahnawaz.

Sister Munira

Zahid Sabzwari
Leslie Ahmad
Zill Shirazi

Mr. Jamil Abdul Razzaq cited the example of the Prophet (SAW)’s migration to Medina and his bringing the warring tribes of Aws and Khazrij to negotiate a peace treaty. With wisdom, patience and perseverance, he brought the Makkan immigrants and the people of Medina under one banner of brotherhood. Citing the example of the Prophet’s companions like Bilal, Suhaib, and Salman (RA), he advised to inculcate the qualities of tolerance and patience. The work should start at the local level, he advised.
Mr. Zille Shirazi urged that different sects should found a common ground to initiate a dialogue and adherents of each sect should learn to accept and respect other’s approach and interpretation of religion. He said that poverty and lack of education are causes of intolerance and hatred. He suggested that an Islamic Community Center be built to cater to the needs of diverse sects and schools of thought within the Muslim community.
Ms. Lelsey Ahmad spoke from the perspective of a convert. Citing the story of the Mongols, she said that the influence of Islam can transform barbarism into love and peace. Hatred towards fellow Muslims of another sect is an innovation, and innovation is forbidden in Islam, she added. She wondered why the Holy Qur’an is not followed in letter and spirit.
Mr. Zahid Sabzwari emphasized the Islamic concept of Justice. He lamented that Muslims have not learned a lesson from history. Hatred, bloodshed, war and all other methods applied to bring peace have been tried and failed. Respect for Law can bring Justice, which in turn can bring peace and harmony, he asserted.
Ms. Munira related the story of her journey from Catholicism and Protestantism to Islam. She said Islam is simple and answers all her questions; it is easy to understand and follow. It is sad that the Muslim community is divided in black, yellow and white, and there are divisions on the basis of ethnicity, language and nationality, she observed. In the blossoming of an organization like Muslim Intra-Faith, she saw hope to eliminate the divisive barriers among brothers. She appealed to overcome prejudices, which impede building closer relationship among different sects in the community.

Jamil A. Razzak
Jeff Siddiqui
Shah Nawaz

Mr. Iqbal Rizvi wondered as to why Muslims are so backward in spite of the well acknowledged fact that Islam is the best religion. He said that the Prophet (SAW)’s character even before he was commissioned to be Allah’s messenger displayed virtue, ethics, morals, righteousness, and trustworthiness. His worst enemies did not and could not doubt his honesty. He equipped himself with the attributes of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Shouldn’t followers of a great Prophet (SAW) have such character and attributes, Mr. Rizvi questioned.
Mr. Harith represented the community of Bosnian Muslims and announced the good news that a new mosque is being built in the city of Shoreline to cater to the needs of the expanding community of Bosnian Muslims.
Mr. Jafar Siddiquie emphasized the need for action. He said the time at hand should be utilized to the utmost. He said the Prophet (SAW) advised to plant a sapling in hand even if you knew that the end of the world is tomorrow.
The participants pledged to work together and the first of its kind get-together was rounded off with refreshments.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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