Unity in Diversity
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.
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
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.
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.