American Muslim Convention Urges Compassion

Professor Tariq Ramadan

The Daily Herald An estimated 30,000 Muslims from across the continent are expected to meet in Rosemont this weekend for an annual convention that promises to focus on compassion. But will that compassion be centered within the Muslim community or will it be directed toward non-Muslims? "It should go both ways," says Safaa Zarzour, a lawyer and professor who lives in the near West suburbs and serves as secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America. Titled "Nurturing Compassionate Communities: Connecting Faith and Service," the 47th annual meeting of the Islamic Society of North America urges conventioneers to answer the Quran's call to "Help one another toward kindness and piety; do not help one another in furthering sin and hostility." But the gathering also gives participants a chance to speak out against Islamophobia that illustrates a need for compassion toward Muslims. Zarzour says he realizes that some Americans see Muslims as "extreme, hard, suspicious, uncaring and unfriendly," and many Muslim kids report feeling stress. But, just as Irish Catholics and other minorities overcame stereotypes to become integral parts of society, American Muslims can, too, Zarzour says. "It is our duty as Muslims in America to educate our fellow Americans," says Zarzour, who has served on many interfaith committees and received the Chicago Commission on Human Relation's Outstanding Service Award in 2009. "We feel it is our duty to foster a feeling of belonging and compassion. Muslims are here to add to the beauty and diversity of America." Enduring prejudice on the way to acceptance seems to come with the territory, Zarzour says. "The Mormons were chased out of Illinois and their leader was slaughtered in Illinois," Zarzour says, noting how a mob killed Joseph Smith Jr. in 1844. Making an effort to understand different religions and viewpoints makes a community stronger, he says. Click here to read the entire article.


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