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Dr. Muhammad Abdulghany Hamedeh Addresses the Opening Plenary

Dr. Muhammad Abdulghany Hamedeh addressed the Opening Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, in the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent. Honored and distinguished guests of the 2023 Parliament of World’s Religions, As-Salaam-Alaikum. Peace be upon you. Greetings of peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad. Peace be upon him. Allahumma salli wa sallim mubarak alayhi. It is my honor to address our internationally acclaimed and our homegrown guests this morning here in our great city of Chicago. On behalf of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, CIOGC, I would like to welcome you all to the Parliament with this year’s theme, A Call to Conscience, Defending Freedom and Human Rights.

The Council is proud to be participating in this historic event, the convening of the Parliament and the return to its birthplace, Chicago. Welcome to this momentous gathering where we are united by our core beliefs, traditions and recognition that we need to advocate and harvest love and support for one another, to live in peace and harmony and to make sustainable changes in the world. We welcome you to Chicago. 

Chicago is the home of one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States, one of the most popular Muslim-friendly cities in the country. Chicago’s Muslim community is well-known for its trailblazing and historic accomplishments in establishing the country’s model for our mosques, educational institutions and community centers. The Council represents over 70 mosques, Islamic institutions, and service organizations. And for 31 years has been Chicago’s leading organization in networking for our Muslim communities, bringing our community members vital resources, information, programming, helping Chicago’s underrepresented communities, bringing our minority communities assistance with job opportunities, bringing our businesses resources and helping refugees from many countries fleeing oppression and injustice. 

The Council’s civic engagement work, interfaith initiatives, and along with our deep reach, in government, community, and media relations, makes us the go-to platform for issues pertaining to Chicago Muslim communities. Islam believes in human rights for all people of all faiths. Islam empowers individuals and communities with teachings of accountability for one’s actions. Leaders are to govern with justice, abolishing poverty and hunger, and provide education. 

In a world where diversity is our strength, our faith inspire us to uphold the dignity of every human being. We find ourselves at a critical junction. The values we hold dear, freedom and human rights, and the sanctity of life are facing unprecedented challenges. As representatives of various religions and spiritual traditions, we must not only speak but act, not only hope, but strive to safeguard these fundamental principles. Our faith is the moral compass guiding our actions.

It reminds us that freedom we seek for ourselves should extend to others, and the rights we demand for ourselves must be championed for all. It urges us to challenge injustice, confront oppression, and embrace those whose voices have been silenced. It is an integral part of our faith teaches us that serving the needy and the oppressed is an important and integral part of our worship it is my faith that inspired me and privileged me with participating in multiple medical missions to warn torn countries and sites of natural disasters with a Syrian American medical society or SAMS serving the Syrian refugees in multiple countries and recently most recently in the badly hit areas following the devastating earthquake earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria last November. I saw firsthand the profound impact a simple act of kindness will have on the lives of the children and people who have been displaced, out of their homes and bombed out, and had no one else to turn to. This is faith in action.

In my missions, I have seen deep desperation, mental anguish, broken humans, but I also found deep inspiration and hope from those that are most affected and it’s all inspired by faith. In the last mission, I met a physician who fled the barbaric bombing of his town in Syria. He was working in Northwest Syria, helping the displaced, working with Sam’s, and his family was resigning in Antakya and in Turkey when the earthquake hit. He immediately traveled there looking for his family and he found the building was leveled. And as he was wandering the streets in despair, suddenly he heard a sound of his daughter, young daughter calling his name. He eventually was united by his daughters, who bravely dug her way out for hours pulling her little sister with her. However, unfortunately, her mother was found crushed hugging her little boy, her little brother. When I asked that physician, “Why are you here working now?” instead of being with your family, he said, “God saved my girls and he’s calling on me to save others.” This is faith shining in the darkest of moments.

This is faith in action. The power of this assembly lies not only in the words spoken, but in the actions taken beyond these walls. Let us harness the teachings of our face to bridge divides, dispel ignorance, and promote empathy. By doing so, we uphold the legacy of our Prophet (peace be upon him) who championed justice and compassion. As we deliberate over the coming days, may we renew our commitment to a world where every person’s inherent worth is recognized, where freedom flourishes and human rights are non-negotiable. Let this gathering be a catalyst for a change and a source of inspiration and a testament to the enduring strength of our shared humanity.

Thank you for being here and for the profound impact you will undoubtedly make in shaping a better world for generations to come. Thank you very much.


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