Muslims Hear Calls For Unity, Condemnation Of Terrorism At ‘Prophet Day’ Celebration

2016 Prophet Day Celebration - 5

Sheikh Hussain Al-Nashed speaks at the 2016 “Prophet Day” celebration at Masjid-e-Ali Mosque Jan. 1.

Muslims who truly follow the teachings of their Prophet Muhammad should unite and reject terrorist “thugs” such as ISIS.

That was one of the messages Jan. 1 at the 2016 “Prophet Day” celebration of Muhammad’s birth, held at the Masjid-e-Ali Mosque on Cedar Grove Lane.

With more than 200 members of the Islamic community in attendance, four scholars – two Sunni and two Shia – discussed the character and legacy of Muhammad, and questioned why there is such a disconnect between Muhammad’s teachings and the practices of some present-day Muslims.

Perhaps the strongest message came from the evening’s final speaker, Sheikh Hussain Al-Nashed, a Shia lecturer based in England, who told the audience that Sunnis and Shia must set aside their century’s-old differences to rescue Islam from groups such as ISIS.

Daesh, as he first referred to the terrorist group, believes that God has made them a paradise in which to live if they are “successful” as Muslims. ISIS, Al-Nasheed said, defines “success” as “killing all infidels.”

“That’s Christians, Jews, homosexuals, people who don’t believe in God or people who don’t believe in your God,” he said. “ISIS is killing Muslims because they don’t subscribe to their version of Islam.”

“That is not only a misrepresentation of who Muhammad is, it’s a misrepresentation of everyone in this room,” Al-Nashed said.

“The year 2016 should see us united in the face of thugs like ISIS,” he said. “We should make the statement that Shia and Sunni reject ISIS.

“ISIS tells us what is good is for everyone to be a Muslim, and the world, rightfully so, is afraid of Islam because they believe Islam is an invading theology that wants to impose Sharia law everywhere,” he said.

But, Al-Nashed said, that is not how true Muslims should behave.

“If you believe Christianity makes you a good person, as a Muslim, I should do everything I can do to help make you a better Christian,” he said. “I shouldn’t care about trying to convert people to Islam.”

Imam Khalid Latif, a Sunni from New York University’s Islamic Center, said that because of ISIS, Muslims are “running around in circles trying to convince people that we are not violent, that we are not terrorists, and we do not mistreat our women, and nobody believes us.”

Muslims who truly follow Muhammad’s teachings “have a lot to offer in the legacy of our prophet,” he said.

Hassan Abbas, a former Pakistani governmental official and currently a professor at the National Defense University, argued that the Quran calls for no sects at all in Islam, and that Muslims should make people feel safe.

“The presence of a Muslim in a community should give a sense of security,” said Abbas, a Shia, because Muhammad said that Muslim should be concerned about the security of their neighborhood, stretching 40 houses on either side and in front of and behind their home.

Echoing the theme of no sectarian division in Islam, Inamul Haq, a religious studies professor at Elmhurst College in Illinois, likened Islam to rivers that flow to an ocean.

“These rivers (Sunni and Shia Islam) flow back to the same ocean,” he said. “This ocean was much bigger than our capacity to understand and be judgmental.”

“Unfortunately, we also have this sewage line” that flows with the rivers, said Haq, a Sunni, referring to groups such as ISIS. “This dirty and filthy water is also flowing and it has muddied the water.”

Alex Kharazi, a member of the mosque’s Board of Directors, told the audience that Muslims need to get more involved in their communities.

“We must always remember that America is our home and it is our duty to give back,” he said. “Be engaged in the community and be visible.”

“As Muslims, we need to have one voice and be united,” Kharazi said.

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