By Ali Haidar
Unis Middle School
People in the Detroit area follow very diverse religions. About half of the people in Wayne County, where Detroit is located, affiliate with the Catholic church, according to a 2002 study by the Glenmary Research Center in Nashville, Tenn.
The same study found that about 6% of the people in the Detroit area are Muslim — 100 times the percentage of people nationwide who affiliate with Islam. Many people in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, where Unis School is located, are Muslim. One of the largest mosques in North America, the Islamic Center of America, is located here.
Some examples of faiths practiced in the Detroit area, in addition to Catholicism and Islam, are Judaism, Buddhism and many Protestant sects. The dominant religion in the Detroit area and across the United States is Christianity, which includes Catholics and many kinds of Protestants. Across the country, about 78% of all adults are Christian, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public life.
In the metro Detroit, many or maybe all of the religions share things in common. For example, both Catholics and Muslims use prayer beads. Christians, Muslims and Jews all trace their histories through the prophet Abraham. People of different religions in the Detroit area usually get along.
Imam Sayyed Hassan Al-Qazwini — leader of the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn mosque that is one of the largest in North America — is one person who is often involved in regional conversations about how people of different faiths can work together.
“Muslim or not we are all part of the same family. We are children of Adam and Eve. We have same mother and same father. That can be a basis for collective action.”
– Imam Sayyed Hassan Al-Qazwini
When stressful things happen regarding religion — such as when Florida pastor Terry Jones wanted to burn the Qu’ran on the steps of Dearborn City Hall — religious leaders gather and figure out how to deal with the problem. So, things are usually pretty peaceful between different religions here.
From time to time, however, even though the leaders of the different faiths get along, there sometimes still is tension among some followers of different religions. For example, there are two versions of Islam, Sunni and Shiite. Some people have observed that in the city of Dearborn and Detroit, both Sunnis and Shiites discriminate against each other. For example, during the month of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar), there is a lot of disagreement over whether people are following the right version of Islam.
In Detroit, there is an organization named The InterFaith Leadership Council. This organization was formed just a day after the 9/11 attacks. This committee is a multi-religion committee that works to build understanding among people of different religions in our area. You can find more information about The InterFaith Leadership Council here.