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Muslim leaders speak out


By Lisa Brody
News Editor
...continued from page 3

Many people believe that all Muslims are Arabs, but there are actually followers of Islam all over the world, isn't that correct? How many Muslims are currently in the United States? In the metro Detroit area? In Oakland County? Is the community growing and if so, is the growth organic or because of Muslims moving to the area from other countries?

ALMASMARI:
They say around 7.5 million (in the U.S.). I don't really know (in the metro area) – I know they're in the hundreds of thousands.

First of all, there are a number of converts, people coming in from other countries. Communities like this, people love, they're attracted to it. Understanding the safety of it, within the location, understanding the mosque, the community, the school district – so there's a lot that attracts people to come to this city and neighboring cities.

Eighty-three percent of Muslims are not Arabs. People always get that wrong. We're the minority. Most come from southeast Asia. The perception is always Arabs.

OSMAN: Correct. Our community was started in India, so the majority of our membership of our followers are Indo/Pakistani. But we have individuals who are of Arab descent as well, African American, even Chinese. We even have a missionary effort in Mexico right now, so we're having a lot of Latino converts. But our headquarters are in London, and that is where our calipha resides. The reason for that is because we are very heavily persecuted in the Muslim world, because we believe in this prophet who came after prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we are considered heretic. So even the nation of Pakistan declared us non-Muslims through their constitution. Because of that, we are consistently and heavily persecuted.

Our fourth calipha, at the time, had to leave, in exile, and migrate to London.

Can you explain what a caliphate is? It's been misinterpreted perhaps as something negative, when it really isn't.

OSMAN:
A caliphate basically means successorship. A comparison again: papacy. There's the institution of constantly electing a leader then for the Catholic people. In a similar sense, when the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, died, there were four who we rightly refer to as caliphs. And these individuals were leaders, the heads of the Muslim world. From a spiritual sense and a political sense as well, because at that time, Muslims held power over territories.

After the demise of our prophet, Mirza Ghulam, that caliphate was reinstituted. We believe that caliphate is what brings people together. It actually creates that unity. We have tens of millions of followers worldwide, and not one instance of terrorism within our community. Not one instance of youth radicalization. Why is that? Because we believe the spiritual leader is guided by God, and he shows us what the true message of Islam is, and the true peaceful message of Islam. By following that one leader and that one calipha, we're able to be better and more righteous human beings.

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Tags: LONGFORM

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