Archbishop Allen Vigneron's Ramadan Message to Muslim Community at Islamic House of Wisdom!
Imam Elahi Addressed the Interfaith Audience!
Islamic House of Wisdom celebrated its annual interfaith iftar dinner Wednesday successfully, attracting more than 250 religious, civic, business and community leaders, including Bishop Robert Fisher of the Archdiocese of Detroit and a host of imams, pastors, priests and Christian and Jewish leaders.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko thanked Islamic House of Wisdom for its initiative to hold the interfaith dinner and welcome everyone to the city of Dearborn Heights.
The audience included Chief Judge Sam Salamey, Judge Christopher Dingell, Judge Marc Summers , Judge Gene Hunt, former Lebanese ambassador Dr. Ai Ajami, Dr. Ned Fawaz, Dr. Mohammad Ajjour , Message of Hope leader hajj Hussein Elhaf, representatives of Bintjobail cultural center and other community leaders and representatives.
Bishop Robert Fisher related the greetings of Archbishop Vigneron to Imam Elahi and the community during the month of Ramadan. “For many years, the Catholic Church in Detroit has had a close relationship with the Islamic community,” he said.
He also said that As Muslims celebrate this holy month, not only do they fast during the day, they also reap many spiritual rewards from the activities which accompany that discipline, such as increasing the offering of prayers, the recitation of the Quran, as well as increase the doing of good deeds and charity.
“All of these things, fasting, prayer, and charity, seek to better the human condition and increase the love of human beings for one another, he said.” Please read the complete remarks at the end of story.
Islamic House of Wisdom spiritual leader Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi highlighted the benefits of fasting and how worship benefits the individual and the entire society.
Imam Elahi Thank Archbishop Allen Vigneron for sending Ramadan greetings to the Muslim community through a delegation including Bishop Fisher, Fr. John and Rev. David.
Imam invited other church leaders and interfaith activists to the stage to introduce themselves and their communities.
The imam talked about Ramadan as the month of revelation and the Quran as an interfaith book with over 300 verses about Abraham, Moses and Jesus. He mentioned the main goal of all the prophets to guide humanity to fix their relationship with God, themselves and the rest of the society.
They all talked about the family as a foundation for the community and how to make this foundation stronger through faith, respect, love and forgiveness and save it from jealousy, greed, and selfishness.
Imam noted the common concerns of interfaith about the youth in our society such as drugs, depression, alcohol, addiction, suicide and spiritual loss.
Speaking about Islamophobia, racism, the culture of violence, the imam mentioned how the media were silent about the religious and political identity of Dimitrios Pagourtzis who killed and wounded over 20 students in a public school in Texas last week and never used the word terrorist for him, while they jump to all the religious details of the criminal even if falsely claims Islamic identity.
Imam Elahi mentioned some other stars of interfaith such as MLK, Mahatma Gundy, Nelson Mandela and Imam Musa Sadr and asked the entire interfaith community to be united in condemnation of injustice and oppression. He mentioned the victimization of 3000 Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli forces a clear case of faithful concern and condemnation and said as Muslims stood against Isis, the Jews need to save the image of Judaism from this injustice done in their name.
The imam also expressed sympathy with the suffering people in Yemen under Saudi bombardments and Syria under war and terrorism without celebrating their Ramadan season.
Imam Elahi concluded with honoring the birth of Imam Hassan (SA) and his worship, wisdom, and peacemaking role in human history.
Emcee Khalil Hachem, who co-presented the program, said the idea of interfaith is that we are united under one humanity and it is something that brings us together and removes the barriers that divide us.
It starts with love because love changes hearts not laws not legislations. It starts by showing compassion and removing distances between us.
The best way to start is to go back to basics by promoting selflessness. Basic is the concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.
This is the powerful image of God and that is the ability to sacrifice and help each other and understand each other. This is what we hope to accomplish during these meetings.
The interfaith participants and the Muslim community leaders expressed their joy and appreciation for IHW initiative and its unifying and inspiring iftar celebration.
Entire Message Delivered by Bishop Robert Fisher of Catholic Church!
Dear Imam Elahi and other honored guests present for this annual dinner here at the Islamic House of Wisdom:
I extend to you greetings and blessings to you Imam Elahi and to all who are celebrating this holy month of Ramadan. His Excellency, Archbishop Vigneron, sends his best wishes as you celebrate this holy month of fasting and prayer. Due to his schedule, the Archbishop is unable to attend this evening’s event. He is most grateful for your kind invitation and remembers with affection the many encounters that he has had with you, Imam, as well as members of the Muslim community during his time as the Archbishop of Detroit. He was especially touched by your kind expression of condolence upon the murder of Father Hamel who was killed in northern France in 2016. The Archbishop also appreciated the opportunity to appear with you on the radio program last year as well.
For many years, the Catholic Church in Detroit has had a close relationship with the Islamic Community. We have worked together on many initiatives, especially in the area of building community and improving interreligious dialogue. In the years since the Second Vatican Council, beginning with the document Nostra Aetate, the Church has promoted dialogue and humanitarian work which furthers the human condition and improves life for all people. Furthermore, it is the duty of every person, regardless of his or her faith tradition, “to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom” (NA, 3).
It is in this spirit that we join with you at tonight’s Iftar (eef-tar) dinner. As you celebrate this holy month, not only do you fast during the day, you also reap many spiritual rewards from the activities which accompany that discipline. During this time which commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, devout Muslims increase the offering of prayers, the recitation of the Quran, as well as increase the doing of good deeds and charity. All of these things, fasting, prayer, and charity, seek to better the human condition and increase the love of human beings for one another.
We Christians have a similar period of fasting called Lent which occurs 40 days prior to the celebration of Easter. During this time we abstain from certain foods and activities that we may better focus our minds and hearts on doing the work of God. In addition, we spend more time in prayer and engage in works of charity and almsgiving. This Lenten observance helps us to be cleansed of sinful behaviors in order that we may more closely imitate Jesus and become witnesses of the Gospel.
While we share many common practices and have come a long way in our dialogue and interaction with one another, there is still much to be done. Increasingly, there are attacks against people because of the way in which they worship. Because of a lack of knowledge about different faith traditions, some people choose to deny certain groups the autonomy to worship and live in peace. This is contrary to what God intends for His world. Together, Muslims and Christians must promote religious liberty and human rights for all people. We need to highlight what is common to both of our faith traditions and work together for the increase of charity and peace in our world. Through prayer, fasting, and works of mercy (which are traits we share in common), we learn more about what God intends for the world and we are challenged to make this world a better place for all people.
As you continue to celebrate this holy month, we ask God the Almighty and Merciful One to bless you and give you his peace. May we continue to live together as brothers and sisters working to bring God’s peace, mercy, and love to all people.