Tuesday, May 6, 2008

California Muslims Break New Ground in American Muslim Unity

Sacramento California Saturday April 24, 2008 - Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center, a Northern California American Muslim community, took an unprecedented step towards addressing racial and ethnic division amongst American Muslims by convening the first public community debate that centered on racial, ethnic and religious division. While American Muslims are nationally engaged in efforts to reach out to the non-Muslim community; very little attention is paid to the racial, ethnic and doctrinal divisiveness that exists among American Muslim Communities Nationwide.

On Saturday, April 24th, Imam Luqman Ahmad, a second generation American Muslim whose parent’s converted to Islam in the 1950s, spoke before a packed audience about the issue of racial, ethnic and religious sectarianism amongst Muslims in America. Sectarianism and division along tribal, racial, ethnic, and religious lines has plagued the Muslim world for generations. American Muslims along with their immigrant Muslim brethren, who have settled in the United States from all parts of the Muslim world, have a unique opportunity to candidly address the division, which lies at the root of many of the problems in the Muslim world.

Indigenous American Muslim converts, many of whom are African American, have consistently complained among themselves about second class treatment they have received from some of the immigrant Muslims. The growing divide between the two communities has been a topic of great concern among religious, political, and civic leaders as well as activists from both the immigrant and the indigenous American Muslim community. National Muslim organizations such as MANA, CAIR and others, have been stepping up activities in recent years to address the divide.

In the Sacramento area, Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center has not been alone in its effort to promote unity and tolerant diversity amongst American Muslims of all backgrounds. Local groups and communities such as The SALAM Center, Sacramento CAIR, and the Muslim Student Associations of Sacramento State University and University of California Davis have worked together for this common purpose.

The recent event at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center was attended by in overflow crowd consisting of African American, Caucasian and Latino American Muslim converts as well as Pakistani, African, Afghani, Indian, Asian, and Iranian Muslim immigrants. Those in attendance, engaged in a lively discussion about the types of division in the Muslim community. Many participants recounted personal stories and feelings of being marginalized and discriminated against by other Muslims who were of a different race, ethnicity, or religious inclination. Imam Luqman explained in detail how division undermines the message of Islam in America, and how it contributes to the negative view of Muslims and Islam in the eyes of the majority of the American public.

Although there was some tension during parts of the post lecture discussion, the overwhelming feeling of the diverse Muslim audience was relief and excitement that the issue has finally made its way into the public dialogue. In his closing remarks, Imam Luqman explained to the audience why this topic causes uneasiness among many Muslims when discussed openly:

“Sectarianism affects us all and the objective of this discussion is not to assign blame, but instead to raise awareness in the American Muslim community. Sectarianism among Muslims does exist and the problem will not solve itself, it is a collective effort.” – Imam Luqman Ahmad

Imam Luqman Ahmad has been the Imam of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center for 12 years, speaks fluent Arabic, and is trained in the traditional Islamic Sciences. The Imam believes that the Koran and the prophetic tradition of the Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) holds the solution to the blemish of sectarianism among Muslims in America and worldwide. Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center has consistently advocated cooperation among different Muslim groups, communities, and organizations based on the Islamic principles of mutual respect and dignity. Respect for each other’s culture and the removing of sectarian obstacles to unity.

Since its beginning in 1996, Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center has grown to be one of the most diverse Muslim congregations in the Sacramento area. With a membership that consists of a variety of ethnic groups and both indigenous and immigrant Muslims alike.

The monthly Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center “family night” provides a forum where families may come together to share food, fellowship, and listen to contemporary Islamic speakers. Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center is open to all Muslims equally, regardless of race, cultural affiliation, or ethnicity. For more information, please visit the masjid web site at www.masjidibrahim.com or contact info@masjidibrahim.com.

Is racial and ethnic division a problem in Muslim America? Click here to share your view in a Lotus Tree Poll

Saturday, May 10, at 2:00 PM Pacific time (5:00 PM eastern time), Imam Luqman will be a guest on the Living Islam radio program station WURD 900 am, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Listeners outside of the Philadelphia area can tune in the live broadcasts in real time at: www.900amwurd.com,

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