Our mission is to be the unifying federation of Islamic organizations of greater Chicagoland, the leading advocate of Muslim community interests and a catalyst for enriching American society.

info@ciogc.org

March 2024

A Time to Heal

The convergence of the holy seasons for Christians and Muslims, the season of Lent for Catholics, and the lunar month of Ramadan for Muslims, provided an opportunity for representatives of each group to examine and build their relationship with each other.

On March 13, 2024, the Archdiocese of Chicago joined with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago for the 24th annual Muslim-Catholic Iftar at Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville. Iftar is the name of the meal that comes at sundown, and it marks the end of a day’s fasting during Ramadan.

Sponsored by CIOGC and hosted by Islamic Foundation North, the theme for this year’s Muslim Catholic iftar was “Healing through Kindness”.

“Since Lent and Ramadan overlap this year, we have the unique opportunity to discuss together how both communities are especially committed to prayer, fasting, and charitable giving during these respective holy times in our traditions,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago. “Encounters like these contribute so much to improving our mutual understanding of one another and give Muslims and Catholics a regular forum to build relationships of trust and friendship.”

For Catholics, Lent is a time to “focus on the basics and reflect more clearly on what grounds our faith,” he said.

Cardinal Cupich, Dr. Abdulgany Hamadeh, chairman of CIOGC, Bishop Mark Bartosic, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Imam Azfar Uddin, Imam of Islamic Foundation North, each offered personal reflections on the meaning of “Healing through Kindness.” Each shared reflections shaped by the crisis in Gaza.

Cardinal Cupich’s remarks stressed empathy through kindness. He said, “I have come to know, as best I can, the deep pain and trauma that many of you feel because of this war,” he said. “It is likely that some here tonight have lost family and friends in this conflict. I am here with you tonight to support you in your grief and assure you that you are heard and seen amidst your mourning.”

Cardinal Cupich added his voice to those calling for the release of all hostages and the increase of humanitarian aid to those in such dire need, and he stated that “I join the Holy Father in praying for a cease-fire in Gaza and for a two-state solution in the pursuit of a lasting peace to take root in Israel, Gaza, and the Palestinian territories.”

“The harms that civilians of Gaza face are a stark reminder of the importance of coming together as people of faith to advocate for justice, peace, and the well-being of all humanity. We must stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and marginalized, regardless of their religious or

ethnic background. ” Dr. Abdulghany Hamadeh said, “and I join Cardinal Cupich in demanding an immediate, permanent, and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, and there be unfettered humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, regardless of their religion..”

A Time to Build with Neighbors of Faith

On March 20, 2024 the Mecca Center was the gracious host for CIOGC’s Muslim Methodist Iftar Dinner. Paused by the pandemic, the Muslim Methodist Itfar offered both groups the opportunity to resume their dialogue and friendship enjoyed in the recent past. The theme for this year’s Iftar was Being a Neighbor.”

Neighborliness is a fundamental aspect of our Muslim identity and way of life. It is about extending a helping hand, offering a listening ear, and standing in solidarity with those around us. As Muslims, being a good neighbor is not just a choice, it is a duty—an integral part of our faith that guides us in building strong, supportive communities.

Both Bishop Dan Scherwin, the presiding bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church, and Shaikh Tariq Musleh, former youth Imam for the Mecca Center, and both eloquently emphasized the significance and value of neighborliness from the perspective of their respective faith traditions.

“Everything that is exists in relationship,” said Bishop Scherwin during his opening speech. “And relationships have the capacity to change us. The reason we should be in relationship as neighbors is if we are changed by and formed by the relationships we have in our lives” continued the bishop.


Confronting Islamaphobia in the Wake of Downtown Islamic Center

On Sunday, March 17th, a man brazenly entered the Downtown Islamic Center during the taraweeh prayer, his hate-filled words echoing through the halls as he shouted, “Muslims should die.” His actions were not only a direct attack on the physical structure of the building but also an assault on the values of peace and togetherness that Ramadan represents for Muslims worldwide. 

The vile act of vandalism, which resulted in the shattering of the front door of DIC, has intensified safety concerns for Muslim Americans with the significant rise in Islamophobia since October 7th. Such hatred and bigotry have no place in our communities, especially during a time when Muslims are devoutly observing the holy month of Ramadan, seeking spiritual growth and peace. 

The Downtown Islamic Center serves not only as a place of worship but also as the office space for CIOGC. This despicable act of violence not only targeted a religious institution but also struck at the heart of our organizational home, where we work tirelessly to promote unification, tolerance, and justice among all faith communities. 

Expressing concern about spikes in anti-Muslim Hate, Dalia Ali, CIOGC’s Office Administrator, said, “Mosques should be a safe space. It is very saddening to hear that this is what we have come to, and, instead of this being a time of peace, people are actually fueled by hate.” 

It is imperative for Muslims to remain vigilant and united against such acts of hatred. While it is disheartening to confront the reality of Islamophobia, especially during a time meant for reflection and spiritual renewal, it is crucial that we stand firm in our beliefs.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin