Sunday, August 18, 2013

Meeting Between Francis Cardinal George & W. Deen Mohammed II At The Quigley Pastoral Center

Chicago, IL -- In 2003, Imam W. Deen Mohammed (RA) founded The Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed DBA The Mosque Cares, a 501c3 charitable organization, to focus on "his" ministry.

One area of focus was establishing sacred life connections with believers of all faiths.  Imam Mohammed was an instrumental leader of interfaith cooperation.  He spearheaded and participated in numerous dialogues, meetings, public addresses and events for renewed ties between people.  Some notable names include Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Shaikh Ahmed Kuftaro, the Dalai Lama, Revered Robert H Schuller, Members of the Parliament of World Religions and The Religions for Peace.

In 2008, Imam Mohammed appointed his son, W. Deen Mohammed II as president of The Mosque Cares.  After Imam Mohammed's passing, W. Deen Mohammed II continued to operate the organization in the same manner Imam Mohammed instructed which included maintaining relationships with believers of all religions and ethnicities.
One such outreach resulted in the recent meeting between W. Deen Mohammed II and Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago. 

The Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs receives frequent activity updates about The Mosque Cares.  In addition, The Mosque Cares had sent an introduction message to the Cardinal several years ago.  The Mosque Cares also participates in quarterly Ecumenical Interfaith Meetings.

On Friday August 16 due to the invitation of Cardinal George’s office, W. Deen Mohammed II accompanied by Imam Elam J. Muhammad met with Francis Cardinal George at the Quigley Pastoral Center in Chicago.  Vill Harmon from the Office for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs met them at the door and took them to meet The Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima who is a Vicar for Ecumenical & Interreligious Affairs.  Rev. Thomas greeted them warmly, and then escorted them to meet Francis Cardinal George.  The Cardinal kindly welcomed Warith II and Imam Elam and indicated he and Rev. Thomas knew Imam Mohammed very well and had a personal relationship with him.  Warith II sat next to Cardinal George on his right and Imam Elam sat next to Warith II while the Rev. Thomas sat on the Cardinal’s left and across from Warith II.  They were offered coffee or tea but everyone simply drank water. 

Before the meeting began, Rev. Thomas took photos.  Warith II then presented Francis
Cardinal George with a gift bag which included two editions of GraceLine magazine and several books by Imam W. Deen Mohammed.  As Warith II handed the Cardinal a copy of GraceLine, he explained that Imam Mohammed wanted a universal magazine that encouraged dialogue and accepted independent articles from people of all faiths.  Warith II said it was a great honor to have the opportunity to meet with him and that he is a long time admirer of the Cardinal from his many years of leadership and great works and as a man of great faith and strength of character.  Warith II told him that he has the same beauty in person that he remembers from seeing in him on television.

The Cardinal had initial questions, which he probably knew the answers to but discussed as a formality as part of the introduction between himself and Warith II.  He saw what The Mosque Cares was doing "on paper" but stated "it's better to see face-to-face, that way the people can get to share your goodness and can benefit from your goodness."

Many things were discussed, including the Cardinal's relationship with Imam Mohammed and Warith II's role as President of The Mosque Cares, his continued relationship with the Focolare, his role as Co-President for Religions of Peace, and membership in the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations.

Warith II communicated that The Mosque Cares continues to operate in the same manner Imam Mohammed instructed and that the community is based upon a loose association of Masaajid; each community elects its Imam and governs its own Masjid.

Warith discussed details about his meeting with President Barack Obama at the 2012 White House Ramadan dinner and shared that the President sent a message through Paul Monteiro of the White House Office of Public Engagement using a quote from the book, As The Light Shineth From The East, authored by Imam W. Deen Mohammed - that our community represented the "silver bullet" that changed the werewolf from a savage beast back into a human being, with regard to extremist individuals misrepresenting Islam.

"Every time we answered a question, you could feel the positive response; feel the love and friendship they shared with Imam W. Deen Mohammed" Warith II said.  When discussing Imam Mohammed's meeting with Pope John Paul II, one could see the Cardinal's deep love and admiration for the Pope; as he expressed some aspects of the Pope's character and nature.

One of Imam Mohammed's goals is for us to live together for the common good and focus on the virtuous commonalities of all people.  During a Religions for Peace meeting, the mutual respect and love for G-d was such that, he stated he stopped seeing differences and felt as though he was amongst all Muslims. 

Imam Elam stated The Mosque Cares is continuing the work of Imam Mohammed’s sacred life connections.  Warith II elaborated, adding that Imam Mohammed had deep scriptural knowledge, was a student of the Quran and Bible and knew G-d’s message in creation so he had a heightened spiritual sensitivity that the average person may not have.  This allowed him to connect with people on a deeper human level than the average person would.  Warith II often gives an analogy when explaining something of Imam Mohammed's character to people who may not know him as well as we do.  It's as if we may watch a 15 second video clip and we all receive a message and relay the many different aspects of that clip.  Imam Mohammed, having viewed that same clip, due to his nature, knowledge and great faith - it is as though he viewed the entire video clip frame-by-frame.  If you look at the film, frame-by-frame you will see that it is not one continuous picture, its hundreds of individual pictures and he took the time to view each individual frame.

Warith II also discussed Imam Mohammed's value of donations to The Mosque Cares.  In addition to hand signing the thank you letters, he would make a special dua.  Warith II did the same thing, when this became his responsibility.  When Warith sees supporters in person, he often tells them that.  The Cardinal stated "that's what we do; one has to let the donors know your appreciation." 

The Cardinal asked "What's Next?"  Warith II stated his duty is to do what his mother said to him "check with your father daily and see if he needs you for anything or if you can help him in any way."  Warith stated "Imam Mohammed was my father, my teacher, my Imam, my employer, my leader."  He plans to stay the course of what Imam Mohammed established and keep his method of leadership, direction and focus.  Our community will honor the responsibility Imam Mohammed left us with.  One of the main goals, if not the most important goal of The Mosque Cares and Warith II is to prepare recorded and archived materials of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's life's work into book form for study for ourselves and future generations.

The Cardinal asked about The Mosque Cares activities, specifically The First Sunday and Warith II explained the monthly First Sunday program is a forum that is open to leadership and members of the community with focus on Community Life (religion, business, education, etc.).  Warith stated "when a big tree dies, it has produced a lot of fruit during its lifetime, so we now benefit from that fruit and the fruit is bearing fruit."  He also discussed the annual events of Saviors Day, New World Patriotism Day, Ramadan Session and Annual Muslim Convention.  In addition Warith II handles the responsibilities of The Mosque Cares, WDM Publications and the Your Product Business Initiative.  Imam Elam mentioned to Cardinal George that The Interfaith Observer's recent article focused on The Mosque Cares Annual Ramadan Session. 

A culture of death and a lot of false gods in our lives make the gravity of the world hard, but Imam Elam reflected on the Quran [2:148] strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good and Rev. Thomas reflected the race is toward virtue.  This is testimony that our commonalities are much greater than our differences. 

In leaving, the Cardinal asked how many children Warith II has and he replied he has five children and told a little bit about each one.  Warith II reiterated what he said at the beginning of the meeting, that it was a great honor and pleasure to meet with a man of such great strength of faith and good works, whom he admires.

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