“Continuing the International Efforts of Imam W. Deen Mohammed” ~ Pt I

Muslim Journal Newswire

JERUSALEM – Local Imams from the community of the beloved leader and teacher Imam W. Deen Mohammed (ra) were the exclusive guests of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), invited to participate in a week-long conference in The Holy Land of Jerusalem – Aug. 27 – Sept. 2, 2022.

 (L-R)  Imam Hanif M. Khalil, Imam Marzuq Abdul Jami, Issa Jabbar Abu Ghosh – former town council of Abu Gosh, Rabbi David Rosen, and Imam Tyerre El Amin Boyd at The Ahmad Kadyrov Grand Mosque located in the township of Abu Ghosh, eight miles west of Jerusalem. 

The Conference was for an interfaith leadership study session with selected Jewish scholars and leaders. Rabbi David Rosen, who is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs and Director of the Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding, also served on the World Council of Religion and Peace at the United Nations alongside Imam Mohammed. 

Rabbi Rosen was the gracious host throughout this meaningful visit, often reminding the delegates of his prestigious working relationship and friendship with Imam W.D. Mohammed and the significance of him continuing the international work with the Imam’s community members. 

Rabbi Rosen and his dedicated staff, along with the planning and assistance of Imam Marzuq Abdul Jaami of Dallas, Texas, worked diligently to make this conference a tremendous success. Imam Marzuq was accompanied by Imam Tyerre El Amin Boyd (Galveston) and Imam Hanif M. Khalil (Houston) to represent our community at the conference.

Visiting the city of Akko (Acre) (L-R): Two members of Al-Jazzar Masjid, Imam Marzuq Abdul Jami, Imam of Al-Jazzar Masjid Youseff Abuz Ghair, Imam Tyerre El Amin Boyd, Rabbi David Rosen, Imam Hanif M. Khalil, and Bro. Nazara Khatib, leader of the local Druze community in Akko.

Imam Marzuq Abdul Jaami exclaimed, “What a hard-working leader Rabbi David Rosen is, in working with the religious community and humanity to bring humanity together.  I truly appreciate all of his efforts for this conference and years ago, his work with the Interfaith Council of Thanks-Giving Square and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Dallas.” 

He added, “Rabbi Rosen visited our Dallas Masjid and had discussions with Mark Briskman of the ADL and Imam Yayha Abdullah, reminding ourselves on how important religious language is in connecting us.” 

The Jerusalem event-filled week consisted of the Imams visiting sanctuaries, religious institutions, cities and even some homes of notable dignitaries and leaders throughout the region. 

As the trio traveled extensively throughout the country, each day they benefited from exclusive tours to some of the holiest sites and historical landmarks that connect centuries of Jewish, Christian and Muslim relationships and traditions.

On the first day (Mon., Aug. 29) of their visit, they met with Issa Jabbar Abu Ghosh, the former town council of Abu Ghosh, an Arab-Israeli local council in Israel, located six miles west of Jerusalem on the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem highway. 

Mr. Issa hosted them at his home, outdoors on a well-shaded patio deck with plush furniture providing coffee, treats, juice and the finest fruits produced in the Holy Land. 

Imam Tyeree El-Amin explained, “Bro. Issa briefed us on the rich history and culture of the people living in the community and his personal experience and reputation as a political leader advocating for peace. 

“He then escorted us to The Ahmad Kadyrov Grand Mosque in Abu-Ghosh, the second biggest mosque In Israel for Zhur salat,” said Imam Tyerre.  

The day concluded with an evening dinner and conversation with Haj Salah Zohaikah, former Deputy Minister of the Waqf and Religious Affairs of the PA. He is also a member of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL). 

The following day (Tues., Aug. 30), the delegates set out on a journey just over 100 miles to Akko (also known as Acre), a city in the coastal plain region of the Northern District of Israel. The city occupies an important location, sitting in a natural harbor at the extremity of Haifa Bay on the coast of the Mediterranean’s Levantine Sea. 

Once in Haifa, they were well received by Bro. Nazara Khatib, a leader of the Druze community of Muslims, who serves as the Director of the Department of Non-Jewish and Internal Affairs, along with Imam Youseff Abuz Ghair the local Imam and leader in Akko.  

The group was escorted throughout the city to experience more than 200 years of history in a coastal city that once served as a military outpost and chief port for Christian Crusades of the 12th Century. 

The highlight of the tour was learning of the remarkable tradition of the Ottoman Empire led by Ahmad Pasha al-Jazzar, the Acre-based governor of the Sidon and Damascus provinces, who was famous for his impressive public works, and the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Siege of Acre in 1799. 

El-Jazzar ordered the mosque’s construction in 1781 and had it completed within the year. The el-Jazzar Mosque was built over former Muslim and Christian prayer houses and other Crusader buildings and is still operational to this day. 

The ambitious leader Ahmad Pasha el-Jazzar’s tomb to this day is remarkably enshrined on the very grounds of the mosque. Other impressive features of the Ottomans’ unique architectural presence in Akko were the bathhouse areas established for men and women. It consisted of multiple rooms where the inhabitants of the ancient city could enjoy spa treatment and relaxation.

After leaving Akko, the delegation traveled 15 miles south where they were introduced to devout members of the Baha’i faith who shared the origins and tenets of their religion.  

The Baha’i Faith is a world religion based on the teachings of Baha’u’llah, who was monotheistic in his teachings, that the human family is one, and that the great religions of the world represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. 

The Baha’i Gardens are Haifa’s most famous tourist attraction, and they are one of the highlights of Israel. It was impossible to ignore the 19 perfectly arranged terraces of various plants and flowers arranged perfectly descending from Mount Carmel to the German Colony.

The tour continued on to the Ahmadiyya Shaykh Mahmud Mosque in Haifa, where the trio were greeted warmly by the Amir Mohammed Sharif Al-Uda and his staff for lunch and an oral history of the Ahmadiyya movement and their successors to leadership. 

The local Ahmadi community represented an active contributor in the life of the city as they are actively engaged in interfaith activities, such as the Haifa Forum for Interfaith Cooperation. Ahmadi Muslims organized an annual neighbor’s day to promote good relations with their neighbors and to introduce the Ahmadiyya Community.

The last stop in the beautiful city of Haifa was a visit with Msgr. Dr. Youssef Matta, Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all of Galilee. 

The Muslim American delegates were invited to a discussion on the importance of faith leaders in the world today and how instrumental the potential building of faith-based alliances could work to support world peace.

The first day of the interfaith conference commenced on Wed., Aug. 31 at the AJC (American Jewish Committee) Center in Jerusalem. 

Imam Marzuq Abdu-Jam’i commented, “This was the very first meeting of its kind, to have students of Imam W.D. Mohammed visiting the region to engage in this level of interfaith work.” They were greeted by Jewish scholars Rabbi Sholomodorf Rosen, nephew to Rabbi David Rosen, and Dr. Rabbi Leftshitz.

To be continued…

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