The Council is committed to active dialogue and joint action between Muslims and people of other faith traditions. The Interfaith Committee, led by Dr. Shakir Moiduddin and Azam Nizamuddin, Esq., is CIOGC's most active committee. Through its outreach efforts on behalf of its members, the Council has formed invaluable relationships with several faith groups including:
The Council has also formed relationships with faith-based civic groups such as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCC), and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR). It is a founding member of United Power for Action and Justice (UPAJ) with almost 40 other faith groups, health centers and civic organizations to discuss common issues and work towards an actionable consensus. Consequently, a significant amount of interfaith dialogue with the Muslim community takes place through, or under the Council's umbrella.
During the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the largest Islamic gatherings in the world, the Council assumes full responsibility for organizing and hosting all interfaith activities during the event. The Council and our interfaith partners are committed to working together to promote good and speak out against injustices.
In the past, interfaith leaders of all faiths from all around the Chicagoland have worked together, showing it is not just tolerance of one another, but a common goal towards social justice that really brings these different groups together.
Through Cardinal Bernardin and then through Cardinal George, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Council have had a very beneficial relationship. M. Cherif Bassiouni, Emeritus Professor Law at DePaul University, writes, “These two Cardinals have been at the forefront of helping to invite Muslims in Chicago to their place at the table with other religious leaders and representatives. The Catholic-Muslim dialogue has also been enriched in the field of graduate theological education by the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park.”
Every year, the Council and the Archdioceses join together for an interfaith Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan. The Cardinal and members of many various faith groups attend this gathering, where they are able to gain a better understanding on Ramadan, fasting and other Islamic traditions. This is just one of many events and meetings the Council and the Archdiocese have to facilitate dialogue and cooperation.
The Council is glad to have had the opportunity to work with these Cardinals and the greater Catholic community, and hopes for continued successful and mutually beneficial dialogue for years to come.
The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (CRLMC) is comprised of religious leaders from various religious traditions in the broader Chicago area, representing nearly six million people. These passionate leaders work together to combat important social issues that affect the greater community and the common good. Through the CRLMC, members of different faiths have a platform to share insights on issues important to their community, and have the backing of their friends in faith to assist them. As the members of the Council meet, they aim to create a better understanding by sharing the insights of the various religious faiths on issues affecting the common good.
CIOGC has been involved with the CRLMC for nearly a decade by attending meetings, press conferences and standing with the other religious leaders for the common good. This includes working together to have a water fee exemption for religious organizations as well as speaking up when one group is discriminated against.
Events with CRLMC have included:
- Quarterly meetings with CRLMC
- Religious Leaders Retreat
- Religious leaders call for immigration reform
- Religious leaders denounce massacre of civilians in Syria
- 2014 Interfaith Thanksgiving Observance
- Urgent Prayers for Peace
- InterFaith Calendar 2014
- Conferences against Religious Discrimination
The Council has engaged in active dialogue with members of the Jewish community for many years now. This relationship has been primarily with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) who has come together with the Council to participate in civic engagement as well as to fight religious discrimination. The Council has also maintained relationships with the Chicago Board of Rabbis, and for many years facilitated Imam-Rabbi dialogue, where leaders from both faith groups gain a better understanding of Judaism and/or Islam. Attendees from various backgrounds and ethnicities were always engaged in the lively discussions.
More joint programs include:
- Youth from the JCUA joined Muslim students as they headed down to Springfield for Illinois Muslim ACTION! Day (IMAD). Prior to the event, the teens visited a a Church, a Mosque and a Synagogue and showed that it was just not solidarity in numbers, but solidarity in interfaith that day.
- JCUA took part in a press conference hosted by the Council, to affirm the Fifth Amendment rights of the DuPage County Muslims and call on the Dupage County Development Board to reconsider the zoning board decision after rejecting a proposal for a Mosque.
- The Council joined JCUA'S Chicagoland Inter-Religious Rapid Response Network (CIRRN) to take a stand against faith based hate crimes.
- Years of Imam/Rabbi dialogue
The Council has had active dialogue with the Presbytery of Chicago for nearly a decade which has helped both groups gain a better understanding of the different faiths. In the summer of 2013, the Council and the Presbytery passed an updated covenant (below) to further strengthen relationships in the interfaith community. In the Fall of 2009, the Council and the Presbytery of Chicago signed a declaration to begin a 'Year of Muslim-Christian Dialogue' during an event where individuals from both faith groups presented on their history and traditions.
Covenant of Faith:
As communities of faith, we the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Presbytery of Chicago, believe that our religions are the rich wellsprings from which we draw forth our commitments to love, serve, and be for one another. Our religions teach us that out of love and mercy God created the world and that God calls us to love his creation. Our love takes the form of mutual responsibility and loyalty. Just as we are called to be loyal to God, we are called to be loyal to all whom God loves.
God’s call for loyalty requires us to strive together for the common good: the care of the earth for generations to come, the preservation of justice for all, the protection of our rights to pursue, practice, and express our faiths as best we can.
Beyond this, God’s call for loyalty requires us to take upon ourselves the causes of others. Only when our neighbors’ well-being becomes our own concern do we fulfill our call to be faithful to both God and humanity. So we promise to stand together for those who are vulnerable and to speak up with those whose voices are not heard. We promise to teach our children compassion for those whose struggles are different from our own. We promise to become a force for good for each other and for others.
In order to achieve this vision we recognize that our two communities have much work to do. With sincere effort and God willing, we commit ourselves
- To deepen our understanding of each other’s religions
- To model respect for each other’s religions
- To work together on an ongoing basis in issues of human equality and social justice
Together we trust that God will bless our efforts, for by God’s permission we are taking part in cultivating a better world. We pray that God will complete what we leave incomplete.
The Council looks forward to the Annual Banquets with the United Methodist Church, where for nearly a decade, we have come together to participate in meaningful interfaith dialogue.
Covenant: Declaration of Relationship
We, members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, believe it is imperative that people of faith commit to a spirit of peace and cooperation. Therefore, we have, with God’s help, shared an ongoing dialogue, building mutual understanding and trust. We recognize the differences and similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible, both of which bid us to respect the dignity of all people, to trust and submit to God’s will in everything, and to work for a society of justice and peace where hate and fear are overcome by love.
As Muslims and as United Methodist Christians, we share a strong emphasis on prayer, the call for the pursuit of personal holiness and social justice, and the focus on charity and the dignity of every human being. Both Islam and Christianity are expressed in many different ways in different cultures, and yet within those differences, we recognize the faithfulness of most Muslims and Christians as they seek to live lives committed to God. We believe that God calls us to affirm the dignity and wholeness of every human being, and we respect the right of all persons to worship God in the way that is most meaningful to them.
We accept each other as persons of faith; stand firm against violence and hatred in all its forms; stand with persons who are being persecuted and are suffering for their faith; and trust in the power, grace, mercy and guidance of Almighty God.
We, as brothers and sisters within the Abrahamic family, commit ourselves to a relationship grounded in our mutual love for God and dedication to the ethical core of our faiths.
We share a mutual sense of responsibility to work together and agree to:
Continue in dialogue and expand dialogue to include our local faith communities; Work together on issues of social justice; Inform one another of situations that may affect each other’s faith community; Gather annually to celebrate, reflect on our relationship, and to reaffirm our commitment to each other.
Hee-Soo Jung (Former) Bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church & Abdul Malik Mujahid (Former) Chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago