Despite being a majority religion in about 50 countries, the Islamic faith remains a mystery to many Americans.
A group of local residents hopes to change that by hosting a forum, "Differences Without Divisions: Islam in America," set for 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Chelsea District Library, 221 S. Main St,. in Chelsea. The event helps to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.
"I think, on the whole, there's a lot of interest in the community in learning more about what it means to be Muslim in this area, and also an interest in a more balanced perspective on Islam and its practitioners," said organizer Micky Howe of Chelsea.
"We're hopeful that by having this forum, it will increase understanding and tolerance for people who believe and live differently than ourselves. I strongly believe that seeds of peace can be planted in our small towns and hopefully lead to a transformation in attitudes on a larger scale."
Last year, Howe's daughter made a number of Muslim friends at the University of Michigan and in her all-women student dorm. Howe and her husband, Ray, hosted about a dozen of these women for a "hallal" Thanksgiving dinner, and later the Howes enjoyed the hospitality of a Muslim family in Dearborn. ...
Three nationally known Islamic leaders will discuss contemporary issues for Muslims living in America; a place for Muslims in the world today; American media representations of Islam and its practitioners; Islam and youth; the role of women in Islam; Islam and humanitarian service; and the future of Islam and its role in America and the world.
Imam Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini is a scholar and religious leader at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, and a past consultant to The White House, U.S. State Department and Defense Department on Muslim affairs.
Najah Bazzy is a nurse specializing in trans-cultural health care and is the founding chair and president of Zaman International, providing food, food assistance and holiday food boxes to those in need.
Dawud Walid is executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a chapter of America's largest advocacy and civil liberties organization for Muslims.
Walid, who served in the U.S. Navy and earned two U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, serves as assistant Imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit, and as board trustee for the Metropolitan Detroit Interfaith Workers' Rights Committee.
He has spoken at many institutions of higher learning about Islam and interfaith dialogue, presented on prominent panel discussions and, in 2008, delivered the closing benediction at the 52nd Michigan Electoral College in the Michigan State Senate chambers. (More)