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Unity in Community

Interfaith effort

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  • Greater Lansing Islamic Center Discussion Forum

    Meeting Notes/Thoughts/Results
    March 19, 2004

    As-Salaam Wa Alaikum:

    Before providing an official document concerning the results of our (very productive) meeting I would like to share some 'field notes' that emerged from our discussion. First, if you recall, the questions were divided into two sections: Defining Duty & Organizing the Community. The first section was meant to facilitate a collective agreement about the necessary principles (obligations and/or duties) of our community's relationship to itself. In other words, our organization depends upon the relationships we share with each and every member of the community and, therefore, sets the foundation for our abilities and success. For this reason it is absolutely critical that we share and place equal value upon the principles our religion (Islam) prescribes. During the discussion of this section various ideas emerged.

    " First, we all agreed that the principles of our interaction/cooperation ought to be governed by: patience, humility, honesty, forgiveness, respect, tolerance, compassion, and love. Surely we could produce more than this list provides but, with these alone, I believe we can establish a firm foundation upon which to construct community growth and development.
    " Second, we all agreed that our duty to one another and ourselves must begin with a 'needs' based approach. This means that we must assess our own needs and then proceed to develop a sincere attention to the needs of the Muslim community.
    " Third, we all agreed that we have a duty to learn more about the individual members of our community in order to assess our talents, capabilities, and resources that will be critical to meeting our community needs.

    The second section of the outline was designed to create a platform upon which our organizational methods could rest. From this discussion, we all agreed that we have to consider both our internal needs and external needs. In order to meet these needs, however, we agreed that specific forms of organization must be created or restructured. Some of the goals our discussion surrounded were education (dawa' and general education), outreach (in the form of community volunteer work such as soup kitchens and/or clothing drives), survey (assessing our community's needs/health/education for proper guidance and support), membership and general understanding of our masjid's internal operations (constitution and membership principles), counseling (marriage and family), and communication (both internal and external). In response to these issues, the following committees have been created and are awaiting membership:

    1. Finance Committee
    2. Grievance Committee (build internal tolerance, privacy of disclosures, honesty, addressing of personal attitudes and feelings community members)
    3. Public Relations/Outreach Committee (education of larger community, liaison)
    4. Membership Committee (work to increase membership and attend to all other membership needs)
    5. Volunteer Committee (dedicated to volunteer activities throughout community)
    6. Youth and Activities Committees (survey Muslim youths' continuing education and assess what their needs are and construct reading/activity groups and events)

    I realize that this is an incomplete summary and could use incredible elaboration. However, I would like for everyone to evaluate what has been written here so that, come next meeting (Friday, April 9th), we are all prepared to move forward and build a strong and productive community!

    Peace and Love,
    Michael Vicente Pérez
    Anthropology Graduate Student at MSU

    Interfaith Dialogue Report

    by Beth Bogue

    All the panelists were eloquent spokespeople for their respective faiths.

    What always amazes me is the remarkable similarity of the principle themes of the major religions - the moral values, the devotion to God with the exception of the Buddhists, who nonetheless, believe in the abnegation of the ego, and the respect for life in whatever form. One person said during the break, "It can't be differences in religious beliefs which cause wars." I think he's right.

    Our Native American was the last person to speak. She noted that only a few years ago it would not have been possible for the representatives of these different faiths to come together to share in a dialogue. She sees our panel as one of the signs that this epoch is a time when all the people of the world will come to recognize their sacred connection.

    Thanks to all of you who represented your faiths so eloquently on the panel - David Wiener, Mahmoud Mousa, and Diana Malouf. And my appreciation also to those who planned the publicity, brought food and drink, and came to listen. Many people came up to thank me for this amazing opportunity to learn about the different faiths represented in our community. It would not have been possible without your participation and support!

    We'll take our annual break during December and then resume our work in January. There are conflicts with Thursdays for some of you, so we'll go back to having our Work Group meetings on Tuesdays. January 6th is the first Tuesday, so we'll tentatively plan for that date. Someone has requested that we begin at 5:30 instead of 6:15. So we'll see how that works for everyone. Please let me know if this will work for you.

    We have filled the 3 vacancies which were left by the resignations of Holly Schaeffer, Ken Poff, and Satnam Singh. Margaret Nielsen has agreed to take the individual membership which Holly held, and Lee Anzicek and Diana Malouf are taking the organizational seats held by Ken and Satnam.

    Our tentative plans for the January meeting include bringing together some of the activist ministers, priests, rabbis, in our community to engage in a roundtable discussion with us to share some of their congregation's efforts in civil rights. We'll also have an opportunity to tell them what our congregations are doing. Some names that come to mind are Lester Stone from Friendship Baptist Church, Michael Murphy from St. Stephens Community Church, Father Peter Dougherty from the Michigan Peace Team, etc. If you know an activist cleric in Mid Michigan whose congregation is doing some good work, please let me know.

    Have a wonderful holiday season!! And congratulate yourselves for doing this very important work.

    Many Blessings,


    Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, a close companion and successor of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), told one of his military commanders: "I advise you of ten things [relating to the rules of war.] Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter [animals] except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the materials captured in combat, and do not be cowardly."
    Al-Muwatta, Volume 21, Hadith 10

    Disclaimer: Views expressed in this site are those of individuals and not necessarily the express opinion of the Islamic Soc. of Gr Lansing.
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