In what they called a historic agreement, Muslims from across Michigan signed a document Thursday that calls for unity between Sunnis and Shi’ites, the two main sects of Islam whose metro Detroit relations have been strained in recent months.

About 30 Muslim leaders gathered at the Islamic House of Wisdom, a Shi’ite mosque in Dearborn Heights, to sign the Muslim Code of Honor. It calls on Muslims to refrain from insulting each other and using foreign literature that promotes hatred of Muslim sects.

The one-page document bans takfir, a part of Islamic law in which Muslims say that other Muslims are not true believers. Some Sunnis don’t consider Shi’ites to be true Muslims.

“We are here to commit ourselves to a constructive covenant of communication,” declared Imam Mohammad Elahi, head of the Islamic House of Wisdom. “We have a responsibility … to work for peace.”

The agreement comes after increasing sectarian tensions in Iraq and the vandalism several months ago of Shi’ite-owned businesses and mosques along Warren Avenue following public celebrations by Shi’ites in Dearborn over the hanging of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Police don’t know who was behind the attacks, but Muslim leaders said they prompted Shi’ite and Sunni cleric meetings.

“People shouldn’t have the fear that Detroit is going to turn into Baghdad,” said Dawud Walid, a Sunni who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan branch.


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