By Ebadur Rahman
On March 24th 2008, SHURUQ, a New York University (NYU) club dedicated to “celebrating the many cultures represented in the Muslim world,” put together an event that served particular importance in our times of extreme tension and animosity between people of different views and beliefs. The second in a series of diverse events, this program was entitled “Crossroads of Islamic Divisions: A dialogue for Sunnis and Shi’as to discuss how to bridge divides within our communities and to examine the differences between these two branches and discover commonalities.”
This program brought together two very accomplished and respected speakers, one Shi’a and one Sunni. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani is a dynamic and popular speaker educated in psychology, law, and politics. In Islamic studies, he has completed his masters degree and will obtain his PhD from Exeter University this year. He came together with Dr. Muneer Fareed, the current secretary general for Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a professor of Islamic studies, and the co-founder of American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM).
The program started off with a recitation from the Qur’an and introductions by SHURUQ co-chairs, Shermeen Rahman and Sahal Kango, who expressed their hope that Muslims would find a window into different perspectives through this event. The program was moderated by Irfana Hashmi, a third year PhD candidate at NYU, who began by bringing the Amman Message to the attention of the audience as a historical landmark and beacon of hope for the future of Sunni-Shi’a relations. The Amman Message, signed by many of the world’s leading Muslim scholars, involved ”Three Points,” which included a push for recognition of the diverse schools of thought in Islam, a precise definition of who is a Muslim and a call to cease unwarranted declarations of apostasy and disbelief based on this definition, and an appreciation for the scholarly preconditions required for legal rulings.
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