Honoring Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci today
I am pleased to share a few interfaith moments about Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, a scholar of Islam, a lawyer and an Imam. He has now established an institution with his name to impart education to the youth born and raised here in the D/FW Metroplex.
Tonight, April 10, 2010, he is being honored for the international recognition he has brought to the Dallas Forth worth Metroplex. He is listed among the 500 influential Muslims around the world.
When we initiated the Unity Day program in 2005, a 9/11 memorial event to bring Americans of all hues together to rededicate our pledge for the safety and prosperity of our nation, I ran into a conflict, one of my volunteers wanted additional time be given to Muslims in the interfaith prayer sequence of 10 religions, a suggestion was even made, that since it is a Muslim initiative, they should have the floor first.
However, as a Muslim deeply committed to the pluralistic values of Islam, I strongly believed in the egalitarian values embedded in every aspect of Islam including the rituals, and I was having difficulty with the idea of being treated special. I wanted every one of the ten religions be given equal time, and to avoid conflict of priority, we put them in an alphabetical order. A few of the volunteers were making it difficult for me for not listening to them.
So, I go to Imam Yusuf before the situation gets out of handle. He listened to me intently and offered this brilliant choice:
“Brother Mike, Religiously you are right, that is the right thing to do, we have to believe and practice equality, but if you want their support, you decide what you want to do, but do the right thing."
That was exactly what I wanted to hear and I asked him if I could put those words, " Islamically it was right to treat all faiths on par" that in the email and send it to the group, he said go for it, and with that conflicts faded and solutions emerged.
I cherish that moment with Dr. Kavakci.
In another personal incident about 15 years ago, when I was marrying my late wife Najma, I wanted my friends Mr. Maini and Mr. Sharma, who are Hindu by faith, to be the required witnesses of the wedding ceremony as I considered them my elder and brother, but the tradition was for the Father, Uncles or brothers to be the witness, generally Muslim, in my case they were the ones for me.
So, Imam Yusuf, Najma and I went for a walk in Dr. Asif Syed’s ranch and being an out of box thinker he was, he suggested that we increase the number of witnesses to five and include two of my friends with the other three. I adored him for that and have been admiring him since then.
Last year at the SMU, the students hosted a talk on Human rights in Islam, and one of the greatest moments of my life came upon me when I found out, I was the co-speaker with Dr. Kavakci, what an honor! A humble man by nature, he wanted me to sit right next to him during the Q& A session, and goaded me to answer the questions first, I found an unusual safety in it, after my response to the students, he would start saying perfect and then quote Qur’aan to support my response. He made my day.
Imam Yusuf calls himself a Khaksaar, a humble soul and a person who serves the humanity. I recall my Grand father also used the same title with his signature in his correspondence with Allama Mashriqi.
Imam Yusuf has been on my Radio show several times, one of them was a daily show called the Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions and the other was a Saturday program called Festivals of the world, where we shared the essence of every festival you can imagine in that given week. He and I have shared many delightful moments on the radio. He is an amazing orator.
I have always enjoyed walking into his office and hear him say that, I am one of the Muslims he can speak without guards. He also gives me immense value in saying that I could bring the communities (intra and inter) together. I am proud of that. A few months ago, I wrote an article about intra faith and dedicated that to him. Today, I have reserved a table with great enthusiasm and labeled it “Islam intra-faith table” and have invited two Muslims each from Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sunni and Warith Deen Muhammad traditions to start a conversation.
I am delighted to see this great scholar, Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci has been recognized as one of the 500 influential leaders in the world.
Here is an article written in February honoring him: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-only-one-islam.html
A few Pictures from the dinner event and some old pics: A few dinner pictures and other pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157623704109391/show/
Jazak Allah Khair
Good for Muslims and good for the World
To be a Muslim is to be a conflict mitigater and goodwill nurturer
Mike Ghouse, Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam, India and Civil Societies. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/