“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)           

Mosque Expects Worship, Peace

Organizer has worked to allay neighbors’ perceptions

All signs of intimidation toward the Islamic Organization of North America and its president, Imam Steve Elturk, have stopped.

No more broken lightbulbs on the back of the Warren mosque. No more drunkards showing up at night to confront Elturk. And no more residents demanding he prove that he isn’t a terrorist. “We had to go through a lot, and we’re still not there yet,” Elturk, a Lebanon native, said Wednesday.

A year after Elturk’s plans to open Warren’s first mosque drew outrage from some residents who didn’t want it in their neighborhood, the Troy resident is preparing to open next month to 200 Muslim families.

To counter any lingering negative feelings, Elturk plans an education campaign for the mosque’s neighbors that will include an open house and pamphlets about the mosque. Barbara Sollose, who lives near the mosque, said neighbors are accustomed to the idea of having a new house of worship nearby. But, she said, neighbors will feel better after looking inside.

“I think that they would like to go in and see what is going on,” said Sollose, who heads the Central Homeowners of Warren. “I think, now that the shock is over, everything is going to be fine.”


Elturk has spent the last year fighting opposition.

Some residents feared a loudspeaker attached to the building would blare calls to prayer. To quell those concerns, Elturk signed documents saying he’ll never have a loudspeaker. Last June, several glass bottles were broken in the mosque’s parking lot, and a floodlight and electric meter were shattered.

And in January, Elturk was at the mosque when a man started shouting racial epithets at him. The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 days in jail.

Although Elturk has had fewer problems in the last couple of months, he had a harsh reminder this month of how intolerant some people can be. The Assyrian Church of the East, a Catholic church, was vandalized with anti-Arab graffiti. Two men were charged Tuesday with the vandalism.

“It tells me that there’s still racism, and it is not just against Muslims but against Arabs, too,” Elturk said.

Michail Curro, director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice who recently led a five-week session in Warren to educate about 50 residents about Islam, said the ignorance is hard to break through. Some people, he said, will want to lump all Muslims with a small number identified as terrorists.

“There’s an unfortunate lack of knowledge about the diversity within Islam,” said Curro, who previously headed a Christian church in Mt. Clemens. “You could never pinpoint Christians as one person acting out. People tend to want to do that when they think about another religion.” Steve Spreitzer, director of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, agrees, saying that many non-Muslims have limited knowledge of the religion, which can lead to assumptions that might not be accurate.

“There is a good deal of ignorance because of isolation,” Spreitzer said. “The days we’re most segregated is when we worship. Get to know the members of that mosque. A lot of the fear and anxiety will yield.”

Elturk said a learning center in the mosque will help answer people’s questions about the religion.

“We’re here to make things better,” he said.

Contact DAN CORTEZ at 586-469-1827 or dcortez@freepress.com.

IONA, 28630 Ryan Rd., Warren, MI 48092 | Tel: 586-558-6900 | E-mail: center@iononline.org