June 2017

Written by WISDOM on . Posted in Newsletters

Calendar for WISDOM and Other Interfaith Events  
 
March through June, 2017
Exploring Our Religious Landscapes
Immersive Experiences in Religion and Culture
for Adults
See flyer below
 
Sunday, June 11th 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Sounds of the Spirit
IFLC Interfaith Musical event
See flyer below!!
World Views Seminar
June 19th – June 24th
See flyer below!
 
July 13 – 15th 
Seeking the Sacred at the Saline Church 
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
See flyer below!
 
Sunday August 6th
Interfaith Suburban Urban Unity Picnic
at Belle Isle
See Flyer Below!
 
Sunday, October 15th, 2017, 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Tenth Anniversary Celebration of WISDOM
North Congregational Church
36520 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, 48331
See Save the Date Below

Sounds of the Spirit
Sacred Sounds and Holy Vibrations
All sound is vibration. Vibrations at different frequencies make different sounds or pitches. And this week, we experienced the different frequencies on which faith traditions call out to or praise God. Under the roof of Christ Church Cranbrook, which Rev. Dr. Bill Danaher said was meant to be a house of prayer for all people, we came together in music to share the beauty and meaning of our sacred sounds.
“We can build a community, woven together by empathy, love, compassion, and justice,” said Rev. Dr. Danaher. “When we are engaging in musical offerings, we are pulling them together. Music is meant to pull us together.”
Christopher Wells, the Music Director and Organist at Christ Church Cranbrook helped us understand the mechanism by which the pipe organ creates sound. A wind instrument, originally provided with air manually by bellows, and now electrically, it is played at a console containing 1 – 7 keyboards and 30 or more notes for the feet. The keyboard opens and closes a variety of pipes, which can be in a stand-alone organ or built into the walls of a chamber organ, which might contain thousands of pipes. Wells demonstrated the pipes by blowing into them, and then played for us on a stand-alone organ.
“This, to me, is God,” he said.
In Islamic tradition, God is not portrayed in paintings, sculpture, or any kind of visual image. “Words or poetry, spoken or song,” said Professional Rudolph Ware. “This is how Muslims paint pictures. The poetic tradition is an amplification of the musicality of the Quran, which is a rhythmic and rhyming text.” To demonstrate, and to honor the venue, Professor Ware chose a surra, or verse, on Mary.
“Music and poetic recitation,” said Ware, “make an appeal directly to the heart and bypass reason.” Muslim music is often created with musical instruments, but, said Ware, the primary instrument for the traditional Muslim is the human voice. “Humans were created by God breathing his own breath into the human form,” said Ware, “and you can tap into the holy breath inside.”
The rhythm of drums, he said, can create the condition which moves the self out of the way, so the individual can be closer to God.
The musical group Seven8Six demonstrated the rhythm of the drums, the power of four human voices in Sufi devotional Qawwali call and answer, and the beauty of guitar strings vibrating, with a presentation that had heads bobbing and toes tapping around the room. The first American Muslim boy band, Seven8Six has released two albums with their unique Islamically inspired blend of English pop, Arabic Nasheed, and Urdu Qawwali music.
The first Jewish instrument was the ram’s horn, and Hazzan Steve Klaper used it to kick off a lively lecture on the history of Jewish music, in which he demonstrated thousands of years of Jewish music by singing the explanation in each successive mode and accompanying himself on guitar and tamborine.
“That’s impressive,” remarked an audience member. To which Klaper replied, “My father would be pleased.”
Starting with the pentatonic music believed to be the original mode based on the spacing of the holes of ancient flutes, he moved on to culturally diverse north African Sephardic music and northern European Ashkenazic music, and to the nigun, or wordless chant created by the Jewish mystic the Baal Shem Tov in the 1700s.
“They don’t need any more words in Heaven,” Klaper said the Baal Shem Tov explained, “They need the cry of a broken heart.”
That cry was combined with Slavic folk music to produce klezmer, and eventually with American folk music to produce modern liturgical expressions.
Following up the history, geography, and culture hopping Jewish presentation, classical and jazz musician Bob Schneeweis demonstrated Baha’I music. Like Jewish music, Baha’I music drew from surrounding cultures as the Baha’I faith spread around the world. Schneeweis demonstrated the range with a beautiful orchestral and choral recording of traditional Baha’I music, and a performance of songs from South Africa, where he studied, and the intro to a piece by jazz legend and Baha’I Dizzy Gillespie.
The Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’I faith, wrote extensively about the importance of music. Persecuted for his beliefs and thrown into a foul pit to die with some of his followers, he led them in songs of profound love and joy for God, the spiritual light that can come out of the darkness, said Schneeweis.
As many of us followed the suggestion of natural healer Christopher Davis to close our eyes, the light came from the vibration of the four huge gongs that Davis stroked into rumbling vibrational tonal landscapes, walking the room with them, and letting the sounds overlap, trail off, join together and fill the room. It was a sound without words, big and powerful, massaging the atoms of animate and inanimate alike with soothing force as we all assimilated the afternoon’s many magnificent expressions each in our own way.
This session was the first of a two-part series which concludes with Sounds of the Spirit – Dharmic Faiths on Sunday, June 11, 3 – 6 pm at the Mata Tripta Ji Gurdwara Sahib in Plymouth. It will include Native drumming, Sikh Kirtaan, Buddhist music, Hindu Veena, and an encore Sacred Wave Gong Immersion.
See flyer above for registration information!

SAVE THE DATE!!
WISDOM’S TENTH ANNIVERSARY YEAR
CELEBRATION!
Sunday, October 15th
5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
AT NORTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
36520 W. 12 Mile Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Displays/Vendors, Dinner, and Delightful Entertainment
$50 per person
$75 for a display/vendor table
WISDOM

Seeking the Sacred: A Journey to
the Tabernacle of Moses
A free interfaith event on
Thursday, July 13th at 7 PM at
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
525 E. Woodland Dr.
Saline, MI
See flyer below and register at

BRINGING FAITHS TOGETHER AT TEMPLE BETH EL
RELIGIOUS REVIVAL
Detroit Free Press April 10, 2017
Pastor Aramis Hinds of Bethel Community Transformation Center and Rabbi Ariana Silverman of the Downtown Detroit Synagogue inside Temple Beth El that was designed by Albert Kahn in the 1920’s at 8801 Woodward Avenue in Detroit on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (Photo: Romain Blanquart, Detroit Free Press)
Standing inside the sanctuary of his Detroit church that used to be a historic synagogue, pastor Aramis Hinds glances up and points to a painting of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew on the wall high above the pulpit. Underneath it is engraved a popular Jewish prayer: “Hear Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord is One.”
“The Christian faith is based off that foundation,” said Hinds of Breakers Covenant Church International. “We read the Old and the New Testaments, so we understand the Ten Commandments. When we see ‘Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,’ we understand that text because we study and we believe it too. You have these similarities that really help to bring us together. … The values are very similar.”
Hinds’ church is now working together with the Jewish community in metro Detroit to develop a community and interfaith center in the former Temple Beth El  on Woodward Avenue that they hope will be a model of racial and religious cooperation. The remodeled space will be called the Bethel Community Transformation Center,
“I really believe that this is going to be the place for reconciliation across socioeconomic, ethnic, religious walls,” said Hinds, who founded his church 14 years ago in Detroit. Designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, Temple Beth El was the home of Detroit’s first Jewish congregation (founded in the 1850s in another location) in 1922-73. It has striking limestone columns outside and a soaring dome inside with paintings of Jewish life and leaders across the centuries. Seating 1,600 in its main sanctuary, it later transformed into a church, Lighthouse Cathedral, and then other churches were based there, before Hinds purchased it in 2014 for his church.
Local Jews have held services this year inside the church – which still retains the architecture and paintings of the synagogue – and there are ambitious plans to repair the aging, historic space of Detroit’s first Jewish congregation. On Thursday, the church and members of that remaining Jewish congregation in Detroit, Downtown Synagogue, will have a joint Seder meal together in the historic Temple Beth El building for Passover, which starts Monday evening. It’s one way the Jewish community is trying to establish itself again in the city of Detroit, which once had thriving Jewish neighborhoods and 44 synagogues, but now has only one freestanding synagogue. The project helps the Jewish community to reconnect with a historic synagogue and the city.
“This building … is opening up a space for people to continue to have that emotional relationship with the city of Detroit,” Rabbi Arianna Silverman of Downtown Synagogue. “They grew up here. This was a place where their families worshiped, this is the kind of imagery that they recognize from their faith. It’s still here and there’s still the possibility of having a relationship with the city and with its residents. It’s not over. We can do something different.”
Hinds said that Temple Beth El building was left alone during the uprising because it had a good relationship with its neighbors.
“It was honored by everybody in the community, and when a lot of buildings and things were being caught on fire, being vandalized … this space didn’t get touched,” Hinds said.
The center recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to make repairs, including fixing the roof, elevator, restrooms, and hiring an architectural firm. Plans include having computer training for local children. Hinds said the center will be “community oriented … to grow and transform lives.” The poverty rate in the neighborhoods around the congregation in Detroit’s north end is about 50%, he said.
“We wanted to bring programming into this space that would help to lift the lives of individuals,” Hinds said.
That aligns with the values of Temple Beth El, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now based in Bloomfield Hills. On its walls are paintings of Abraham welcoming strangers, Jewish immigrants arriving at Ellis Island gazing at the Statue of Liberty, and Jewish leaders.
“It speaks to a history of refuge, a history of struggle, and also survival for the Jews that initially came to the Detroit region,” said Dr. Ralph Williams II, a member of the church. “You look at their story. You look at the story of African Americans in the city and some of the things that we’re facing now. You look at the revival and the renaissance that is taking place in the city. This is a perfect time to really bridge all of the those gaps and come together and do some great things and really make this like a meeting place where we connect the past to the future.  We can connect across ethnic groups and cultural groups and really tap the pulse of what it means to come together to transform a community.”
Contact Niraj Warikoo: nwarikoo@freepress.com

Interfaith effort aims to revive
iconic Temple Beth El building
Rev, Aramis Hinds                Rabbi Ariana Silverman
On a recent Friday night, the majestic sanctuary of a 95-year-old Detroit synagogue came alive with music, song and Sabbath prayers. It was a momentous occasion. It has been decades since a Jewish congregation called the Temple Beth El building on Woodward Avenue “home.”
The stunning 1922 Albert Kahn structure is noted for its grand entrance-way and Corinthian columns on the outside and cavernous walls and ornate domed ceiling inside. In the 1970s, following the 1967 riot, Temple Beth El moved to its current location on Telegraph Road in West Bloomfield. A non-denominational Christian church, Breakers Covenant Church International, owns the building today.
“The evening was beautiful, with the sunlight slowly fading in the space,” says Justin Wedes of Huntington Woods, a lifelong Temple Beth El member who will marry his fiance, Rachel Rudman, in the sanctuary next month. Two rabbis, Dan Horwitz of The Well and Ben Shalva of Tamarack Camps, led a group of about 100 attendees.
“We sat in a circle surrounded by concentric circles,” Wedes says. “We were right under the dome in the center of the room.”
Wedes is also part of a growing interfaith group working hard to breathe new life into the historic synagogue, now called the Bethel Community Transformation Center. A Kickstarter campaign will go through Friday, April 28; donations for the next $20,000 will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to generous donors. The goal is to raise $100,000 and begin what will ultimately be a multiyear, multi-million dollar restoration and renovation project. Emblazoned on the outer wall:

“My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All People.”

In a nutshell, organizers want to create a modern performing arts space, worship space and community center that “will create jobs, unite our fractured faith and racial communities, and inspire hope for a better day for Detroit.” “Entering the building brought a flood of memories and emotions,” said Jamie Feldman of Southfield, a photographer and one of the service participants. “Walking through the halls and into the sanctuary, the beauty reached way beyond what I remembered as a child. The magnificence is there despite the disrepair and fallen plaster. I was thrilled to have my camera in hand to capture the splendor.”
Pastor Aramis Hinds of Breakers Covenant Church International is also quite taken with the old temple. He describes the sanctuary as “holy” and “peaceful” and says he has “fallen in love” with the space.
While his church holds weekly Sunday services in an adjacent auditorium, restoration plans include keeping Jewish symbols intact and preserving imagery painted on the walls and ceiling around the sanctuary. There will also be displays honoring Metro Detroit’s Jewish heritage, along with ongoing Jewish Historical Society of Michigan tours and more. “We see this building as a community center that houses our church along with other community programming,” Hinds says. “I can see lectures taking place in here, concerts, graduations, musicals. I see this place as a house of healing for everybody and for me – that’s the vision.” When Hinds first approached the building at the corner of Woodward and Gladstone, he was struck by the words emblazoned on the outer wall: “My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All People.” “When I saw that,” he recalls, “I said this is going to be a place of reconciliation.” While it is in need of significant repairs, the 55,000-square-foot structure is already serving the community. The building features numerous classrooms, offices, a large kitchen, social hall and more. Several organizations utilize the space, including a youth performing arts guild, a computer-learning center and a resource center for homeless youth. Lodging is also provided for volunteers and organizations that take part in local community service projects.
Restoring the temple is a “massive task and a sacred task,” says Rabbi Ariana Silverman of Detroit’s only active, free-standing synagogue, the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue on Griswold. Silverman also serves on the Bethel Community Transformation Center board of directors. She has lived in Detroit for seven years. “We need money to rebuild both the building and to rebuild relationships,” she says.
To read the rest of this article go to:

Temple Israel Hosts Social Justice Seder For
 Diverse Group of Women
At the Passover seder, Jews all over the world celebrate their freedom from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. At Temple Israel’s Freedom Seder on March 28, more than 100 women expressed wishes that all people enjoy freedom. Using a Haggadah for Justice compiled by Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny, participants focused on worldwide social justice for all. This was the second Freedom Seder organized by Temple Israel’s Sisterhood. Last year, they invited women from Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. This year, in addition to the Hartford women, Sisterhood member Gail Katz invited some Muslim women active in interfaith efforts in Metro Detroit. A representative of Alternatives for Girls, a Detroit nonprofit, also attended. Several guests spoke about their personal struggles for freedom from oppression.
Parwin Anwar of Sterling Heights, a member of the Islamic Organization of North America, described her escape from Russian-occupied Afghanistan to Pakistan more than 20 years ago. Six months pregnant, she, with her husband and two small children, joined a group of 18 who walked 150 miles to safety over mountains. Her third child was born after they arrived in Pakistan. It was eight months before her family could come to the U.S., even though her father and brother had been living here for years.
The Rev. Cecilia Holliday, social pastor at Hartford Memorial, talked about her struggles to overcome racial prejudice. She described an elementary school teacher who would always give her lower grades than her white friend, even when her work was better. One day, she and her friend switched papers and, when the friend again got a higher grade, they told the teacher what they had done. In high school, Holliday had to cope with a teacher who called her and her black classmates “pickaninnies.” The teacher was eventually disciplined.
“I got a B in that class when I earned an A, but I felt OK because I had stood up for myself,” Holliday said. “I had to let the world know that bigots could not control my mind. God made us in his image. By the grace of God, I am what I am.”
Kaluzny’s Haggadah reimagined several parts of the traditional seder to focus on social justice. In describing matzah as the “bread of affliction,” the Haggadah noted that every day, 25,000 people worldwide die from hunger and malnutrition.
The Four Children, traditionally described as wise, defiant, simple and unable to ask, were updated as the Activist child, who asks how to follow God’s command to pursue justice; the Skeptical child, who asks how one can solve problems of such enormity; the Indifferent child who says it’s not her responsibility; and the Uninformed child who does not know how to ask. Guests enjoyed a catered meal augmented by Passover kugels, casseroles and desserts prepared by Sisterhood members. After dinner, they made cards and packed gift bags with donated socks, cosmetics and hair accessories for clients at Alternatives for Girls, an agency on the west side of Detroit that provides shelter and support services for girls and young women ages 15-21. Deena Policicchio, director of outreach and education services, thanked the women for their support. Sue Birndorf, a psychologist who lives in Detroit, said the Haggadah used at the Freedom Seder awakened her to the idea that we need to be more open to other people. “I realized it’s fear [of people unlike ourselves] that drives us apart,” she said. “When I sit next to an amazing woman and hear her speak, my fears just fly away.” Barbara Schultz of Farming-ton Hills also enjoyed meeting diverse women. “We learned about our likenesses and celebrated our differences,” she said. “I’m proud that Temple Israel did such a program.” The Freedom Seder committee included Wendy Kohlenberg, Temple Israel Sisterhood president; Rabbis Ariana Gordon, Marla Hornsten, Jennifer Kaluzny and Jen Lader; Laila Cohen, Gail Katz, Lauren Marcus Johnson, Linda Mickelson, Diane Okun, Randi Sakwa, Marilyn Schelberg and Carolyn Herman.
Barbara Lewis Contributing Writer, Detroit Jewish News

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on clearing scriptural minefields and building interfaith friendships
Pope Benedict XVI, left, receives a gift by Lord Jonathan Sacks, center, then chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, during a private audience at the Vatican on Dec. 12, 2011. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Osservatore Romano
You’re meeting with clergy this week. Is there any one message you want to convey to them?
Yes. We all have hard texts in our sacred scriptures that have been the source of estrangement, hatred and violence. For the past few centuries we haven’t worried about those texts because for the past few centuries no one has taken religion seriously outside the home and the house of worship. But now religion has become a factor in world politics. We have not yet cleared the mines from the minefields. There are hard texts in each tradition which me must confront and ask ourselves, ‘Can we reinterpret those texts to allow us to live peaceably and respectfully with people of other faiths?’ That is a job only Jews can do for Judaism, only Christians can do for Christianity and only Muslims can do for Islam. But sometimes the sight of someone in one faith wrestling with that faith can empower you to wrestle with another faith.
For me, it was reading about how the Catholic Church wrestled with itself in the 1960s. Pope John XXIII set Nostra Aetate (the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions) in motion. It changed the relationship between Jews and Catholics. Today Jews and Catholics meet as friends. If you can do that after the longest history of hatred the world has known, that empowers you as a Jew or a Muslim to wrestle with your faith.
What role can interfaith dialogue take?
I distinguish between two kinds of interfaith engagement: what I call face to face and side by side. Face to face is interfaith dialogue. As a religious leader, I encourage even more side by side. When you’ve got Jews and Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus removing graffiti from buildings or getting drug dealers off the street, that’s side by side. When you do that, you take it from the very elevated level of interfaith dialogue to the street level of neighbors. You get them working side by side and they become friends. Friendship sometimes counts for more than interfaith agreement or understanding. Friendship is deeply human. Let’s say there were, God forbid, riots in Birmingham. The fact that laypeople in that community are friends can stop that from happening very fast. Local friendships are very powerful.

The Baha’i community organizes a series of forums on religion’s role in the public sphere.
BERLIN, 13 April 2017, (BWNS) – With the accelerated movement of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa over the past several years, German society is encountering a changing cultural and religious landscape. These shifts are stimulating profound societal reflection on fundamental issues.
“Thought leaders in Germany are asking foundational questions, especially about religion and its expression in public life,” explains Saba Detweiler, a representative of the German Baha’i community.
These questions are not confined to Germany. Among some in Europe, a longstanding assumption that religion would gradually fade out of the public sphere and become only a private matter has been turned upside down. “People are seeing that religion is an essential part of humanity’s collective life. It is not going away. For this reason, it is important to better understand the nature and contributions of religion and to have a dialogue about its positive expression in society,” explains Ms. Detweiler.
Yet, the Baha’i community has also found that traditional spaces for discussions on religion-primarily interreligious forums-are often not oriented to explore the questions now arising in Europe and elsewhere. “It seems that the conversation needs to move beyond interreligious dialogue, beyond issues of theology and rituals, to allow for a more rich discourse on religion’s contribution to the betterment of society and the common good,” says Ms. Detweiler.
One of the more challenging questions is whether religion can be seen as something more than just groupings of differing sects and denominations at odds with one another. “This is what we are interested in exploring-the idea that religion can be seen as a cohesive force in society and as a system of knowledge that has, together with science, propelled the advancement of civilizations,” she continues.
Part of the reason that German society is now grappling with questions around religion, explains Ingo Hofmann, Director of the Baha’i Office of External Affairs in Germany, is that many Germans are seeing religion practiced in ways that are foreign to them. This has made them more aware of their own religious norms and beliefs, even among those who do not typically associate themselves with organized religion.
Naturally, this process has stimulated curiosity and a quest to build mutual understanding but has also given rise to fears and xenophobia. As national conversations on migration and religion have gained momentum in recent years, the Baha’i community of Germany has been learning how to work side by side with its fellow citizens and various organizations to begin a constructive dialogue on the questions arising from the changing landscape in the country.
Striving to make a meaningful contribution, the Baha’i community has, over the past year, organized a series of forums on religion’s role in the public sphere. These culminated in a conference on 24 March, titled “Further thoughts on Religious Pluralism,” in which some sixty individuals from government, civil society, media, and faith-based groups attended.

 
While searching for a connection today often means looking for a wi fi connection, Pope Francis said real connections between people are the only hope for the future.
“How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” he said in a video talk played April 25 for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages.
“How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us,” the pope said in the talk that TED organizers had been advertising as that of a “surprise guest.”
Francis spoke to the international conference about combating the current “culture of waste” and “techno-economic systems” that prioritize products, money and things over people.
“Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough,” he said. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face.”
Now, more than ever, we need to inspire action and a belief in the common good. But we need you. Subscribe today!
Many people in the world move along paths “riddled with suffering” with no one to care for them, the pope said. Far too many people who consider themselves “respectable” simply pass by, leaving thousands on “the side of the road.”
“The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people,” he said, the greater the responsibility one has to act and to do so with humility. “If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.”
“There is a saying in Argentina,” he told his audience: “‘Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.’ You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.”
“The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies,” he said, even though they all have power and responsibility. “The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.'”
Francis said that when he visits someone who is sick or in prison or has been forced to flee war, he always asks himself, “Why them and not me?”
Telling the tech-savvy crowd that he wanted to talk about “revolution,” the pope asked people to join a very connected and interconnected “revolution of tenderness.”
Tenderness, he said, is “love that comes close and becomes real,” something that begins in the heart but translates into listening and action, comforting those in pain and caring for others and for “our sick and polluted earth.”
“Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women,” he insisted. “Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility.”
Francis also urged the crowd to hold on to hope, a feeling that does not mean acting “optimistically naive” or ignoring the tragedies facing humanity. Instead, he said, hope is the “virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness.”
“A single individual is enough for hope to exist.” he added. “And that individual can be you. And then there will be another ‘you,’ and another ‘you, and it turns into an ‘us.'”
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization that posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” TED was founded in February 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990.

At Ramadan, group pushes positive images of Muslims
By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press
Dr. Mahmood Hai on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at his medical practice, Comprehensive Urology, in Westland.
(Photo: Elaine Cromie/Detroit Free Press)
As a medical doctor in Westland, Dr. Mahmood Hai has treated thousands of patients in Michigan and helped develop a new technique with lasers to treat prostate enlargement that has helped more than 1 million patients.
What motivates him is his faith: Islam.
“My religion was my main driving force because in God’s eyes, every human being on this Earth is equal,” said Hai, 70, a urologist. “Whether he’s rich or poor, white or black, African or Indian, whatever, in God’s eyes, they’re all the same.”
Hai is one of many doctors in Michigan who are Muslim and contributing a lot to society, according to a new report released this month by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a think tank started by Muslims in Michigan with offices in Dearborn and Washington, D.C.
As Ramadan, a holy month of fasting and spiritual reflection, starts today for Muslims around the world, the report seeks to educate the public with stories of success in Michigan. The report estimates the number of Muslim medical doctors in Michigan could be more than 15%, as well as more than 10% of the state’s pharmacists. There are 35 Muslims in Michigan who hold public office, and more than 700 attorneys in the state are Muslim, the report said. It also detailed Muslim contributions in other areas such as business and technology.
“We …  reveal important and oftentimes overlooked contributions by Muslims to the state,” says the report, written by doctoral student Rebecca Karam of the City University of New York.
The study comes during an anxious time when some Muslims and immigrants feel under attack. Hai, an immigrant from India who has lived in the U.S. since 1973, says that many patients speak highly about their personal doctors who happen to be Muslim, but might not make the connection when they hear about Islam and Muslims in general.
“If you ask a lot of patients, they may say, my doctor is phenomenal, he saved my life, and he spends the whole night with me in the ICU saving my life, and he happens to be Muslim,” Hai said. “But when it comes to looking at Islam and Muslims, they forget the guy who spent the whole night saving his life or the one who did his surgery is of the faith of Islam.”
Titled “An Impact Report of Muslim Contributions to Michigan,” the study includes empirical data to showcase Muslim accomplishments, but cautions some of the figures are estimates.
Determining the population percentages of Muslim doctors in Michigan was derived by looking at a database of names of doctors statewide and comparing that to a list of names that sound Muslim, the report says. The list of Muslim names came from Muslim communities and groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It said the Muslim names were of various ethnicities, including Arab, west African, Eastern European and others. The report cautioned that some doctors with names that sound Muslim could be non-Muslim, and there might be other Muslim doctors without Muslim-sounding names.
Another doctor featured in the report is Dr. Farha Abbasi, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, who works on mental health issues among Muslims. She established the Muslim Mental Health Conference and is managing editor for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health.
“Muslim mental health has become this movement, everybody wants to talk about it,” Abbasi said. But “we are so behind in the research.”
Young Muslims are facing unique stresses because of negative views about them, she said.
“From that young age, you’ve been bombarded by negative messages … you feel this sense of insecurity, uncertainty.”
Abbasi said that some Muslim Americans start to question: “How much of a Muslim can I be? How much of a visible Muslim can I be? How much of a practicing Muslim can I be?”
The report hopes to show that Muslims can be open about their faith while serving their communities.
Hai started doing research in the 1990s for a new technique using lasers to reduce a common condition afflicting men: enlarged prostate gland.
Of the established procedure, known as TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate), Hai said, “I felt it was a very traumatic technique and involved pain, getting hospitalized, with a catheter, bleeding, pain. … I felt that we should do some research to find some better ways. So I started doing research with lasers.”
It eventually got FDA approval and “since then, I’ve been doing the procedures and teaching it around the world. I’ve taught thousands of urologists in nearly 30 different countries.”
Born in India to a medical doctor who once served a former president there, Hai moved to Detroit in 1975 for a medical residency at Wayne State University before starting his urology practice. He said his family has always believed in serving the community where you live.

Secret Life of Muslims” Nominated for Peabody Award
The “The Secret Life of Muslims”, a series of short films featuring a diverse set of American Muslims speaking from their own respective experiences, has been nominated for the prestigious Peabody Award.
AltM’s own EIC Asma Uddin was one of the producers for this ground-breaking series, which has been featured on Vox, The USA Today Network, PRI’s The World, CBS Sunday Morning.
The series included short films featuring American Muslims including Khalid Latif, Linda Sarsour, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Reza Aslan, Ibtihaj Muhammad, and Wajahat Ali, and used humor and empathy to showcase the views, lives and interests of American Muslims.  Its aims was to “subvert stereotypes and reveal the truth about American Muslims,” and was directed by Emmy-nominated director Joshua Seftel.
It is a timely and important addition to the media portrayals of Muslims, with rising curiosity and misunderstanding about Muslims in America, and showcases the diversity of views, careers, talents, and accomplishments of the Muslim community.
Check out some of their skits by going to:

WISDOM Mission Statement

To Provide concrete modeling of women from different faith traditions working together in harmony for the common good.
To Empower women to take a more active role in furthering social justice and world peace.
To Dispel myths, stereotypes, prejudices and fear about faith traditions different from our own.
To Nurture the growth of empathy and spiritual energy that result from our projects and interfaith dialogue.

Join WISDOM

WISDOM is a Non-Profit Organization. Get involved with WISDOM!

WISDOM’s challenge is to bring together people from different faith traditions, ethnicities, races, and cultures in an atmosphere of safety and respect to engage in educational and community service projects. Let’s change our world through the positive power of building relationships!