When Imam Sayid Hassan al-Qazwini and other religious leaders met at the White House with Bill Clinton in 1999, something the president said encouraged Qazwini's conviction that Americans needed to know more about Islam.
It was only when his daughter, Chelsea, took a class in world religions, Clinton said, that he understood how much Islam had in common with Christianity and Judaism.
"These words rang bells in my ears," Qazwini said, sitting in his office in the largest mosque in the country, the Islamic Center of America. "And I thought 'what could I do about educating a bigger number of people than I do just in the churches and the universities?' I thought: 'I need to write a book'."
Random House published "American Crescent" last month, and a group of interfaith leaders, including the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, will meet at the mosque at 7 p.m. today to discuss it.
Qazwini cuts a prominent profile in Islam in the United States. He meets regularly with presidents and politicians, bishops and ministers of many Christian churches, rabbis and other religious leaders -- even the pope. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has spoken more than 250 times at universities, churches and temples -- in part to explain that the terrorist attacks were affronts to the beliefs of Islam.
In "American Crescent" Qazwini uses the story of his life to explain why Islam is ultimately good for America -- and, to no small degree, why America is good for Islam. It is, as the publisher's note suggests, "At once a fascinating personal story and a heart-felt plea to integrate Islamic teachings into the tolerant traditions of America"
Leaders of other faiths call the book a bold strike against the extremists and an explanation of how Islam and American patriotism can walk hand-in-hand. (MORE)