By Adil James, TMO
Flint–October 12-13–Flintâ€™s problems are many. The widest good publicity that Flint Michigan has is the success of its controversial but deeply well-intentioned son, the filmmaker Michael Moore. Flint has the dishonor of having been Americaâ€™s murder capital. A city with only 102,000 people, Flint regularly experiences murder rates of several dozen annually.
In 2011 it was said that the murder rate in Flint was worse than Newark New Jersey, St. Louis, New Orleans, or even Baghdad.
And it needs to be healed. This healing was the subject of a wonderful and beautifully organized conference this past Friday and Saturday at 4800 South Saginaw, just on the southern border of Flint.
The event was attended by about 500 guests in total. Many prominent speakers were at the event including Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklynâ€™s Masjid at Taqwa, Imam Mohamed Magid, a Virginian, a Sudanese-born American who came to the US in 1987 (prominent in ISNA), Shaikh Ismael Mukhtar, the son of the Mufti of Eritrea, and Iyad Alnachef.
The event began Friday with a dinner and welcome by Safaa Zarzour, ISNA Secretary General.
Sheikh Ismaeel Mukhtar provided a seminar on the model community based on religious values, and Sheikh Abdullah Waheed provided one on healing the hearts–task of the prophets.
Friday was well attended.
Saturday began with tours of an Animal Oasis Bird Encounter (a 28 foot trailer walk-in bird exhibit.)
Dr. Jondy of the Flint Islamic Center spoke, and there was an introduction to local community leaders. Then there were seminars on vital but uncomfortable issues in the Muslim community, namely suicide, poverty, healing the family, and several other social issues, including crime and drug abuse.
Siraj Wahhaj spoke at length on the work he has done in what was once a very bad neighborhood in Brooklyn, where he was able to buy a mosque for only $25,000, and where for 40 days and 40 nights his community forbade people from entering drug houses–until the drug houses went out of business.
The imam said that he did not recommend that the Flint community use the same procedure.
The theme of his speech was that through faith, devotion, and dedication, with the emphasis on faith, Muslims will resolve problems in the communities that surround them and this will build love between them and their neighbors within the communities they live in.
â€œYou have to have an attitude of defianceâ€ against the wrongs of your community–like the prominent activists of the civil rights era including Rosa Parks.
â€œStart from the foundation,â€ meaning faith. A seed grows down first, not directly into the open, it sets strong roots and then when it grows up with full roots â€œthere is nothing you canâ€™t do.â€