WASHINGTON, March 26 : Islam
and multicultural America are not
mutually exclusive as millions of Muslims
are contributing significantly to
the country’s development in various fields of endeavour and creativity, scholars
said at a conference.
At the same time, several particpants at the conference “Islam in America”
argued that post-9/11 world scenario marred by violent extremism, incidents of
discrimination and prolonged wars demand a better understanding of the religion
through enlightened inter-faith discourse among religious scholars and objective
Dr Zulfiqar Kazmi, head of the host organization The Commongrounds,
observed in his opening remarks that over six million Muslims have now become an
“We have more than 1400 mosques and Islamic community centers and the
Muslims are serving America in wide-ranging areas — they are tolerant, creative,
inter-faith oriented and concerned about the safety of the country and supportive
of women’s rights,” he noted.
“Indeed, what we need to know about Islam from these people is that mutual
trust and cooperation among Americans of all faiths is our greatest security in the
world today,” said the Pakistani-American shcolar, whose organization has been
working to promote inter-religious harmony for several years now.
Speaking at a broader international plane, Dr Kazmi said, “We also believe
that mutual tolerance is essential for conflict prevention and resolution and
religious leaders can make unique contributions to the common cause of creative co
Dr Akbar Khawaja, a former senator belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party,
highlighted Islam’s spirit of peaceful coexistence in his speech. He remarked it is
not Islam but Muslims who need reform.
“No-one needs to redefine the fundamental nature of Islam but Muslims must
bear the responsibility to bring reform,” he said of Muslim communities in the
broader international perspective,
The former lawmaker also noted that in order to get involved in inter-faith
dialogues, people need to have a better understanding of Islam and comparative
knowledge of other faiths.
“Serious efforts are needed to build greater public understanding about a
true message of Islam,” he stated.
In his presentation, Dr Hasan Abbas, a professor and expert on security
affairs, said Islam is anchored on fundamental principles but it’s beauty and
wisdom continue to be revealed in terms of understanding and interpretation.
Quoting from Allama Iqbal’s famous philosophical work Reconstruction of of
Religious Thought in Islam, Dr Abbas said Islam is like water flowing in river and
not something static.
“Wherever the Muslims live, they should be a reason for cause and reason
for security of that area,” he said, while advocating increases in investment in
Islam as a relgion should not be adjudged on the basis of conduct of Muslim
individuals or some Muslim communities.
He said love compassion and human values of the communties should guide
In the interactive session, some participants quoted incidents of
discrimination against members of the Muslim community and criticized portryal of
followers of Islam in generalized terms in parts of the American media.
The participants at the conference included, among others, Imam Abu Al Fazl
Nahidian, Director of the Manassas Mosque VA Imam Dr. Daoud Nassimi, ADAMS Center,
Ali Al-Ahmad, Director, Gulf Institute, Washington D.C., Prof. Dr. Syed Ali Wasif,
Imam Cemal Gumus Dar AlNoor Islamic Community Center Dr. Iqbal
Unus, ADAMS Akmal
Media Foundation, Imam Adam Hilow, Founder/Director Imam Al-Kisai Institute, Dr.
Mohammad Saeed, Presiddent ICNOV and Enver Masud
, (Discussant) CEO, Wisdom Fund
Source: MGCT, The Commongrounds, By Ali Imran