Area Muslims tout successes
Banquet highlights advocacy, evolution of community in state
- By Ursula Watson
- The Detroit News
The struggles and triumphs of Muslim-Americans were examined Sunday at an annual banquet for a civil rights and advocacy group.
And to highlight this year’s theme — “Upholding Our Constitution: Defending Our Faith” — at the 13th annual banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan, the group touted recent successes or advocacy.
CAIR helped gain zoning approval for the American Muslim Diversity Association to build the first mosque in Sterling Heights, and filed a lawsuit against the FBI and Customs and Border Protection for what the group calls invasive religious questioning at the United States-Canadian border.
Keynote speaker at the banquet at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn was lecturer and educator Imam Suhaib Webb of Boston’s Muslim American Society.
Dawud Walid, the executive director of CAIR-MI, said the nonprofit organization looks for speakers who represent CAIR’s mission of diversity and inclusion among Muslim-Americans and America in general.
“Imam Webb is an authentic Islamic scholar who is fluent in American culture as well as the classic Islamic tradition, which is very unique,” Walid said.
A native of Oklahoma, Webb, 40, earned a bachelor’s in education from the University of Central Oklahoma and went on to a career in the music industry. Raised a Christian who attended church three times a week, he converted to Islam and studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a world center for Islamic learning.
Webb, who is touted as contemporary American Muslim Imam, moved effortlessly from speaking Arabic to English in his speech. “You can’t divorce the effect of religion on society,” Webb said.
Nayyer Siddiqi, an attorney, said she enjoyed Webb’s speech.
“He spoke to the new generation and showed the evolution of the Muslim community in Michigan,” she said.