“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)           

Warren Mosque Seeks Acceptance

Steve Elturk, 51, of Troy expects to open his mosque in November. Steve Elturk strokes his salt-and-pepper beard as he recalls the incident a few weeks ago that reminded him the task of opening the first mosque in Warren is just beginning.

Elturk was headed to his mosque, the Islamic Organization of North America Masjid & Learning Center, on Ryan Road just south of 12 Mile. While in traffic on Ryan, he looked over and was greeted by a scowl from a man who seemed to disapprove of Elturk’s presence in Warren. “You can tell he’s full of rage,” Elturk of Troy said Thursday. “I wasn’t surprised. You’re going to encounter people who don’t know and are ignorant of the situation. That has been very stressful.”

Stress is something Elturk, 51, got used to last spring, when he fought disapproving residents and city officials who made wild accusations about the group, including suspicions it might be tied to terrorism. After securing permits, construction on the mosque began earlier this month. Elturk wants to open the building in late November.

Donations from members are covering the estimated $250,000 in construction costs. There are still signs that trouble could be lurking. In June several glass bottles were broken in the parking lot, a floodlight was broken and an electric meter was shattered. Elturk initially blamed the incident on teenagers with nothing better to do, but then he reconsidered. “Maybe I do want to believe it was just kids,” Elturk said with a cautious smile. “I am anticipating something worse.”

The recent crisis in the Middle East has left Elturk wondering whether uninformed residents might blame him for the situation. And Elturk still has family — his mother and a brother and sister — living in Lebanon.

To try to combat the negative vibes, Elturk has met regularly over the past several months with other church leaders in Warren.

“We’re trying to bring together the hearts of all the churches in Warren,” Elturk said.

The Rev. Gary Schulte of St. Sylvester Church in Warren met with Elturk for lunch Thursday. Schulte said any fear in the Warren community comes from misinformation about Muslims. Pamphlets explaining the Muslim faith that Elturk gave to Schulte were quickly snatched up at St. Sylvester.

“People want to know what it’s all about,” said Schulte, who wants to organize some community roundtables to discuss Islam. “People don’t understand it. I think people in Warren make that mistake.”

Zahid Sheikh, 46, of Sterling Heights said the Muslim community in Macomb County is looking forward to a second mosque in the area. Sheikh, a doctor, said he regularly worships in Detroit and Rochester Hills. Sheikh said he’ll attend the new mosque because he works at 15 Mile and Ryan.

Sheikh said Warren has not always been accepting of minorities, but that has to change due to the shifting demographics.

“It’s an uphill struggle. … Now you have a lot of people from the Middle East and it’s going to be more diversified,” Sheikh said. “It has to change.”

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

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