“Indeed, God commands justice, doing good to others, as well as courtesy to close relatives. He forbids indecency, wickedness, and aggression. He instructs you so perhaps you will be mindful.” (16:90 )            “For every day on which the sun rises, there is a (reward from God) for the one who establishes justice among people.” (al-Bukhari)            “And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you may bear witness to the truth before all humankind. . .” (2:143)            “Dispensers of justice will be seated on pulpits of light beside God.” (Muslim)            “Do not spread corruption in the land after it has been set in order. And call upon Him with hope and fear. Indeed, Allah’s mercy is always close to the good-doers.” (7:56)           “Even an ant in its hole and fish (in the depth of water) invoke blessings on someone who teaches people goodness.” (al-Tirmidhi)            “O believers! Remain conscious of God, and be with those who are truthful in word and deed.” (9:119)           “God does not judge you according to your bodies and appearances, but He looks into your hearts and observes your deeds.” (Muslim)            “The parable of those who spend their possessions for the sake of God is that of a grain out of which grow seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains: for God grants manifold increase unto whom He wills; and God is infinite, all-knowing.” (2:261)           “Charity does not diminish wealth.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Let there be a group among you who call ˹others˺ to goodness, encourage what is good, and forbid what is evil-it is they who will be successful.” (3:104)           “Avoid cruelty and injustice...and guard yourselves against miserliness, for this has ruined nations who lived before you.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “Do not forget to show kindness to each other. Surely God observes your actions.” (2:237)           “(Allah) has revealed to me that you should adopt humility so that no one oppresses another.” (Riyadh al-Salihin)            “It is We who sent down this Reminder (al-Quran) and it is We who shall preserve it.” (15:9)           “The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” (al-Bukhari)            “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (2:152)           “There are two blessings that many people lose -- health and free time for doing good.” (al-Bukhari)            “Say: 'O My servants who have transgressed against your own souls, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'“(39:53)           “Happy is the man who avoids dissension, but how fine is the man who is afflicted and shows endurance.” (Abu Dawud)            “And you love wealth with immense love.” (89:20)           “Being rich does not mean having a great amount of property, but (it) is being content (with what one has).” (al-Bukhari)            “Every soul is held in pledge for its deeds.” (74:38)           “Make things easy and convenient and don't make them harsh and difficult. Give cheer and glad tidings and do not create hatred.” (al-Bukhari & Muslim)           

9/11: Muslims Forever Changed

When the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, Mohammed Kibriya’s heart sank with them.

Then a 17-year-old high school student in Hamtramck, Kibriya worried that his Muslim faith would become a target of the rage and fear many Americans felt.

“I didn’t feel threatened,” said Kibriya, now a Warren resident. “But I had a bit of an identity problem. (I thought), ‘I can’t call myself Muslim anymore.’”

Melanie Elturk, 26, a practicing Muslim and daughter of an imam, a Muslim religious leader, was a high school student in Oakland County on Sept. 11, 2001.

Like most Americans, Melanie Elturk was appalled at the carnage she witnessed on television. But unlike most Americans, she felt a lot of suspicion come her way in the aftermath of the attacks.

“I definitely felt I was a second-class citizen in my own country,” said Melanie Elturk, who now resides in Chicago. “… I definitely felt I was on the defensive.”

Mirza Ahmed, 71, of Warren, saw his relationship with his next-door neighbor “slowly turn worse” following the terrorist attacks. On one occasion, the neighbor, drunk and wearing no clothes, banged on Ahmed’s door in the middle of the night, waking his family.

“He gave us a real bad time,” Ahmed said.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and in a jetliner over Pennsylvania shocked and outraged the nation.

For many American Muslims, the attacks were double-edged.

They felt the same sorrow and anger for their country as their non-Muslim neighbors, but many also found themselves forced to defend their most deeply held religious beliefs.

Mohamed Hassan, 67, of Clinton Township, worked as engineer at the U.S. Army’s TACOM plan in Warren on Sept. 11, 2001. Concerned the attacks could drive a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim workers, Hassan’s supervisor gathered the entire staff together. Hassan soon found himself quoting the Quran to his co-workers.

“I told them: ‘If you kill a person, it’s as if you killed the whole world,’” he recalled.

Imam Stephen Elturk is president of the Islamic Organization of North America, the first mosque located in Warren. After the terrorists attacks, Elturk and other Muslim leaders faced a twofold challenge.

“Leaders were educating Muslims to … hang onto their beliefs,” he said. “At the same time, community leaders were outside trying to teach the non-Muslim community that what occurred … really had nothing to do with our faith.”

But despite the efforts, suspicions and fears of Muslims and Islam weren’t easily allayed.

Melanie Elturk recalled when her entire family was detained at a U.S. border when returning from Canada. Weapons were trained on family members and several were questioned for hours.

“It jaded me,” she said. “It made me feel like I don’t have any faith in the system. It was humiliating.”

That experience and others strengthened Melanie Elturk’s resolve. She continued to wear a head scarf, even when others her age abandoned the attire. And she spoke out in defense of Islam whenever the opportunity presented itself.

“I had the duty to step up and say more about my religion,” she said.

The Interfaith Center for Racial Justice was long a champion of fostering tolerance of the increasingly diverse cultures that form the tapestry of Macomb County. For many years, the center offered programs and workshops on cultural diversity, with racism and black-and-white issues the primary focus.

That changed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Interfaith Center helped organize an interfaith prayer service and later helped plan an event to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.

The Rev. Michail Curro took over as executive director of the Interfaith Center in 2006, and Curro recognized immediately the need to expand the focus to include Muslims and Islam.

In 2007, the center introduced its “Listen, Learn and Live” program, in which participants are exposed to different cultures and religions found in Macomb County.

The very first course: Muslims and Islam.

“There is no question the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, has meant a special focus by the (Interfaith Center) to introduce people to Muslims and offer opportunities to learn about Islam and Muslims,” Curro said.

“And although there has been much progress in building relationships and bridges of understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims in Macomb County … it is unlikely that such efforts will slow down.”

A decade after international terrorism came to America, divisions still exists between Muslims and non-Muslims. But many see progress in the relationships that were so severely tested in the wake of 9/11.

The past 10 years have given Muslims the opportunity to show the community they’re no different from millions of other Americans “who are born here and raised here and work here and are doctors and lawyers and engineers who have contributed to this country just like anybody else,” said Imam Elturk.

His daughter agreed, to a point.

“Ten years later, I’m surprised to turn on the TV and see people of other faiths defending me, which is extremely comforting,” she said.

“At the same time, there is going to be the other extreme. That keeps us working and gives us that much more resolve to make sure we’re still getting our point across.

“We still need to educate.”

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