The 13th Annual Conference
For Press Release
Closing Statements of the 13th Annual Conference of
the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America
In The Name of Allah The Beneficent The Merciful
All praise is to Allah and may His peace and blessings be upon the best of His creations, Prophet Muhammad and his progeny
The 13th Annual Conference of the Council of Shi’a Muslim Scholars in North America entitled: “Sectarian Violence: Roots, Outcome & Solutions”
The conference was held in the capital city of Washington, D.C. from 24-25 of Shawal, 1434 A.H. / September 1-2, 2013 AD. The attendees and participants included a group of scholars, preachers, university and college professors from Canada and the United States. The goal of the conference was to discuss and study the issue of the development and increase in sectarian violence, whose evils have become far-reaching, bringing attention to its dangers, defining its causes and placing practical solutions to face it and control it. The conference attendees reached the following conclusions:
- There are multiple factors causing violence, the forefront of which are ignorance, and the most dangerous of which is compound ignorance; a state in which one not only does not realize his ignorance but considers himself to be knowledgeable. The only solutions for this are spreading knowledge and religious awareness which is the goal of the people of knowledge – those who are cautious, pious and moderate to call to the way of Allah with kind words only. This responsibility should not be given to those who wear the guise of religion, and in actuality only say that which separates people and angers Allah. Such people, whether they know it or not, are serving the agendas and objectives of cancerous political factions that do not want safety for people nor security for nations. Therefore, the Council condemns all those who use religion, school of thought and people’s beliefs and purity as a cover to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
- The most apparent results of violence is the defamation of religions and schools of thought into the deformed forms, altering and changing noble values, and spawning chaos. All of which are accompanied by allegiances to political parties and factions, as well as sectarian entrenchment, which lead to the legitimization of encroachments and bloodshed. It is a crime like no other, for “he who kills a soul without a soul or for the reason of corruption in the earth, surely he has killed all of mankind.”
- The research and Discussion of the conference attendees revealed that the best of solutions, given the current circumstances, which can safeguard the future and can be practically followed and achieved are broken down into two stages:
- Long-term – Building a strong foundation for future generations. There is an urgency which dictates that we put in place mechanisms to protect society – especially the youth – to safeguard them from extremism and violence. Meaning that we are not so open that it leads to their complete assimilation thereby causing a loss of identity leading to atheism, nor are we so closed to the outside world that they become introverted hermits that cannot relate to humanity. Therefore, the attendees encourage the Islamic centers and organizations to increase the number of educational workshops quickly and under the supervision of specialists in religion. Where the youth are taught the art of coexistence and how to increase their will power and overcome vacillation. In addition, providing sessions in treating psychological distress, controlling addiction, and other challenges that are intellectual, behavioral and ethical. This should be done using different methods of education such as workshops, camps, booklets, and multimedia including audio and video.
- Short-term – This includes:
Immediately ceasing any sectarian incitement, and adopting a zero tolerance policy to those who espouse, participate, and call to such behavior, using legitimate methods and within the confines of the law. Thus replacing such incitement with the policy of “And say good unto people”
Conducting regular workshops to develop and teach the religious leaders of the centers and mosques, as well as their invited speakers, how to speak in a manner that brings people closer to one another; “Call onto the way of your lord with wisdom and good advice.”
Establishing and strengthening the connection between the scholars and imams of mosques, despite their different schools of thought, through increased meetings and visits to each other’s centers, as well as, providing a platform for a mutual exchange of lectures and the leading of prayers. All if this conducted based on the principal of “lest you know one another”
Prior experiences of such conduct have proven to be effective and successful.
- After consistent and vigorous effort, that was benevolent and sincere, from the Council of Shi’a Muslim Scholars of North America (CSMSNA) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), “The Washington Declaration” was signed to work in unison and collaboratively against all kinds extremism and violence. This declaration was received with great attention and given the blessing of the 13th Annual conference of Shi’a Muslim Scholars of North America and the 50th Annual Convention of the Islamic Society of North America. This historical moment for the Muslims of North America was received, in both conventions, with profound compliments and appreciation by all without exception.
- The Council requests from all higher authorities in national and international organizations such as the United Nations to intervene in order to protect and safe-guard the artifacts, world heritage sites, historical architecture, and especially the Islamic sites that include the sites of the prophets, their disciples, apostles, and the houses of worship and prayer; all of which represent a historical record of human civilization. Intervention should be enacted such that such sites are protected from any action which will lead to their destruction or desecration, whether the perpetrators are governments, political groups, factions, vandals, extremists and/or terrorists. Heritage sites belong to humanity as a whole, and should not be neglected or overlooked.
- The Council directs the attention of the international and governmental agencies that are providing humanitarian services by transporting individuals from areas of distress and bloody sectarian conflict to the United States and other nations without carefully examining who fits humanitarian asylum criteria and who, in actuality, precipitated the conflict they are fleeing from. It is our patriotic duty and religious responsibility to inform you that we feel eminent danger due to the sudden increase of great numbers of new centers and organizations catering to these individuals that are in critical areas of the United States. These types of individuals could turn these centers of into hubs of extremism and violence in the West, which is not in the interest of our nation. Thus, those in the position of responsibility must make swift decisions to resolve this matter before it is too late. In addition, the Council presents its gratitude to those in positions of authority in some states who have responded responsibly and put an end to the influx of such individuals. We hope that other states follow suit, so that our great nation is safeguarded from harm.
- The Council warns those in positions of responsibility and political decision makers from entering into any international conflicts and military warfare without proper cause. The entire world, especially the Muslim world is still hemorrhaging from past wars, all of which proved to have grave losses in comparison to their gains. Such wars only caused a great deal of destruction, bloodshed, anguish, handicapped citizens, corruption and chaos. The Council foresees that through dialogue, collaboration, and mutual understanding security can be achieved and noble objectives can be realized.
With respect to the internal affairs of the Council, the following scholars have been appointed as the new Crescent Moon Sighting Committee: Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi (Toronto), Shaykh Muhammad Rida al-Bagheri (Montreal), Sayyid Bassem al-Sharaa’ (Detroit), Sayyid Mahboob Mehdi Abidi Al-Najafi (Chicago), Sayyid Rashid Saberi (New York), Shaykh Muhammad Jafar Bangalorie (Miami), Sayyid Nabi Rida Abidi (San Francisco). We present our gratitude to the former committee that performed its duties with a great deal of aptitude.
In addition, the new executive committee members for the period of 2014 – 2016 are Haj Mohsen al-Dhalimi (Portland), Shaykh Mohammed Ali al-Halabi (Miami), Sayyid Rashid Saberi (New York), Shaykh Saleh Seboweh (Montreal), Dr. Khalil al-Tabatabaie (Montreal). The Council presents its gratitude to the past members of the executive committee for their years of diligent service.
The Council presents its sincere gratitude and appreciation to all those who attended, participated, and contributed to the success of this conference including the members of the Council, the beloved volunteers, and the gracious guests. In addition, the Council wishes to especially present its sincere gratitude to the delegation from the Shi’a Endowment of the government of Iraq headed by the honorable Sayyid Ammar al-Mousawi for his attendance and active participation in placing the first building blocks in establishing a collaborative relationship between the Shi’a Endowment of Iraq and the Shi’a organizations and centers of North America. The Council asks Allah Almighty to accept these efforts, blesses these achievements, and make them a cause for the truth to become apparent, for unity to be established, for brotherhood and friendship to be supported. We also ask that Allah Almighty hasten the appearance of our master al-Imam al-Mahdi (atf) to end the unrest, especially the sectarianism, such that the light of knowledge, security, safety and justice spreads to all nations. Surely Allah hears all and answers. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.
The Board of Trustees
Washington D.C., The United States of America
24-25 Shawal, 1434 / September 1-2, 2013