Important Message from the Leader of Largest Mosque in North America - Imam Hassan Qazwini: Major world religions and people have more in common than differences
Imam Hassan Qazwini, leader of the Islamic Center of America
(Photo by Greg Peterson)
The interfaith Earth Keeper Initiative in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has always promoted interfaith connections - and America's top Muslim Imam brought just that message to Marquette, MI.
Thies video is the first of several with excerpts from a heart-felt and candid conversaion between northern Michigan residents (most Christians) and U.S. Muslim leader Imam Hassan Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America on Oct. 22, 2008 at the Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) Lothlórien House in Marquette, Michigan.
Northern Michigan University (NMU) Health " Nutrition Professor Mohey Mowafy (above left) of Marquette introduced Imam Hassan Qazwini to an eager audience of mostly Christians for a living room chat.
Imam Qazwini answered a wide range of questions including the murder of many of his family members in Iraq, the War in Iraq, hunting, interfaith environment projects and common perceptions and misconceptions between religions. (Photo by Greg Peterson)
Imam Hassan Qazwini:
"I was born in Iraq (1964) in a city called Karbala. It's a holy city in Iraq. After that I went to Kuwait and then to Iran. (studied in Iran). In 1992 I came to the United States."
"Up until I came to the United States in 1992, I knew there were Christians in Iraq but I never had any interaction with Christians. I never had any interaction with Jews in Iraq. I lived my own inner world. In Karbala, everybody is Muslim."
"There were Christians, there were Jews and obviously other denominations in Iraq, but I lived my own inner world. In Karbala, everybody is Muslim, so I really did not have any interaction beyond my little world."
"It was in the United States when I have my first encounter with non-Muslims."
Iman Hassan Qazwini spoke candidaly to about 25 people at the Lutheran Campus Ministry home in Marquette. In one of several lighter moments, Imam Qazwini urged everyone to see the new Oliver Stone movie "W" about President George W. Bush. (Photos by Greg Peterson)
Imam Hassan Qazwini told a story about riding in a car with his brother in California and stopping into a busy Christian church - and discovering that all religions believe the concept of love:
He said to Muslims - Jesus is as respected and revered as Mohammad.
Imam Hassan Qazwini said all religions and peoples basically "hold the same values - the same beliefs."
"We passed by a church in a city called West Covina. So I see a church, it was Sunday, it was a church and the parking lot was full. Probably there was over 300 to 400 cars. So I asked my brother What was going on here?' He said the pastor is giving a sermon."
"I said Can we go?' He says What?' I said Can we go in?' He said you want to go in, really?' I said Yes really.' He says - he wanted to say, he didn't say - out of respect - he wanted to say: Are you out of your mind?' But he didn't say that." (Laughter from audience)
"He said Are you sure you really want to go inside the church?'
I said Yes.' He said "What do you do?' I said Come on, I'm not going to covert to Christianity. What's going on here?" (laughter) I said I have a chance to see what does the pastor have to say when he speaks to this congregation.'
"I know what I tell my, what I say to my congregation What I preach to my congregation. I want to see what he says. So we went in and it was a beautiful church and the pastor was speaking. There was at least 400 to 500 people listening."
"And I listened but at that time my English was not that good. My brother was occasionally translating."
"But, all I heard him talking about was love. Jesus loving you. You love Jesus. And about the concept of love. So as he's talking I am listening."
"I said to myself Look, in our religion we also talk about love."
"Muslims believe that God has 99 names. And one of his names is Al-Wadud. And Al-Wadud is "The Loving One."
"I said to myself Look almost everything he is talking about is there in my religion.' And how similar we look. And for every word he says quoting Jesus. I have a word to quote from Mohammad. As Muslims, Jesus to us - he is a prophet as well."
"He (Jesus Christ) is as respected as Mohammad and as revered as Mohammad because we Muslims believe there are five superior messengers - Mohammad, Jesus, Moses, Noah and Abraham."
"So we place Jesus almost in the same place - or status - as we place Mohammad."
"In my mind as I am listening (to the Christian pastor) These words he was uttering are resonating in my mind. And reflecting my own faith system."
An Iman of Many Gestures: However the biggest gesture from Imam Hassan Qazwini was a message of love, peace, respect and common ground to all the World's major religions. (Photos by Greg Peterson)
"When we do not see each other, when we do not interact with each other. We think of each other - that we are weird. I think you are weird. You may think that I am weird."
"You may thing that I harbor some very weird thoughts. I could be a very weird person. I could be someone who does not think like you think. And probably I would have the same thought about you."
"But when we meet, and we mingle, and we exchange thoughts, we find how striking our similarities are."
"Be Muslims, Christians, Jews or what else - non-denominational - basically we hold the same values - the same beliefs. And we worship God with different tongues and different languages and different styles - but the direction is the same."
Mosque photo courtesy the Islamic Center of America website
Muslim 99 names for God: Al-Wadud is"The Loving One":
Articles about Muslims " Quran: Muslims believe there are five superior messengers - Mohammad, Jesus, Moses, Noah and Abraham:
Photo courtesy NMU website
NMU Health " Nutrition Professor
Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation
201C Physical Education Instructional Facility
Began teaching at NMU in 1976
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Lutheran Campus Ministry - Marquette, MI
Rev. Jon Magnuson, founder " executive director of the non-profit Cedar Tree Institute, welcomes Imam Hassan Qazwini to the Lutheran Campus Ministry house in Marquette, MI.