Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida visits mosque in show of solidarity

Detroit Free Press
15 December 2001

By Erik Lords

Imam Hassan Qazwini, left, embraces Cardinal Adam Maida on Friday at the Islamic Center of America in Detroit

On the final Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, about 300 Muslims gave Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida a warm welcome as the Catholic leader made his first visit to the Islamic Center of America, a prominent mosque in Detroit. 

Maida and Muslim leaders said they hoped the symbolism of the visit will serve as a springboard for future cooperation. 

"It's time for us to go forward, hand in hand, to build a community of peace," said Maida, leader of the area's 1.4 million Catholics. 

Maida met privately with Imam Hassan Qazwini, the mosque's leader, then removed his shoes -- as must all entering the sanctuary -- and delivered a message of hope and healing. 

The cardinal also offered an apology for any derogatory language or violence that may have been directed toward Muslims by Catholics after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

"My brother clergy and I have challenged our congregation to examine our minds and hearts, rooting out any seeds of mistrust, anger, harsh words or judgment that might prevent us from working together for peace and justice," Maida said. 

"I want you to know that you are in our hearts and in our prayers." 

Qazwini said he hoped the historic visit would set an example for the world and foster greater understanding among different faiths in metro Detroit. The imam said he was praying with the cardinal for God to bring an end to the bloody conflict in the Middle East. 

Maida, who received a plaque and long-stemmed roses from children at the mosque, promised spiritual and financial support for relief efforts connected with the war in Afghanistan. 

His message resonated with mosque members. 

"I think it's a great opportunity for people to reach out," said Dan Mekled of Dearborn, who added that Thursday's release of a tape of Osama bin Laden smiling about the September attacks triggered a greater need for healing and understanding. 

"Bin Laden is symbolic of evil to me," Mekled said. "He is not representative of Islam." 

Others said Maida's visit was important to show that boundaries separating people can be overcome. 

"This is a wonderful thing to have the cardinal with us, to see Islam and Christianity shaking hands," said Badih Jawad of Dearborn Heights. "It shows we are one country united, and this will help mend things and help us push forward together." 

Maida's visit followed a request by Pope John Paul II, who asked Catholics worldwide to fast, pray and give alms to show solidarity with those suffering from terrorism and war. The pope, who fasted Friday at the Vatican, chose the date to show solidarity with Muslims, who will end their monthlong observance of Ramadan on Sunday. During the month, which is a time of reflection and self-denial, Muslims fast during the daylight hours.

Contact ERIK LORDS at 313-222-6513 or 



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