2009-04-15 / Features

Imam To Speak At Free Synagogue Of Flushing

OUR SPECIAL GUEST IMAM SHAMSI ALI on "The Essence of Islam" OUR SPECIAL GUEST IMAM SHAMSI ALI on "The Essence of Islam" Imam Shamsi Ali, leader of the Islamic Center of New York (the 96th Street mosque), the Jamaica Muslim Center and Masjid Al-Hikmah in Astoria, will attend the Sabbath evening service on Friday, April 24 at 8 p.m at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, 41-60 Kissena Blvd. He will speak to the community on the Essence of Islam, with an additional focus on the Holocaust and its meaning for all people. In addition to the Imam's remarks, the congregation of the Free Synagogue of Flushing will observe Yom HaShoah in memory of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Rabbi Michael Weisser, the spiritual leader of the Free Synagogue of Flushing, and Imam Shamsi Ali have been friends for more than a year, since they met at a conference focused on issues of peace and harmony between all the members of the Abrahamic family. Imam Ali visited the synagogue during the welcoming celebration for Weisser and Weisser at Ali's invitation visited the Jamaica Muslim Center for Friday Prayers at the height of the troubles in Gaza recently to speak about brotherhood, commonalities and the need to reach across whatever barriers may seem to exist between people. He received a warm and embracing welcome. Ever since, Ali and Weisser have been working with like--minded clergy from other faiths to put together a coalition of community religious leaders who will pursue the goals of interfaith harmony among other things.

In 2001, Ali became an Associate Imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. He has also been chairman of the Muslim Day Parade since 1998. He is a founding and board member of the Imams' Council of New York, an American Muslim Council board member and an advisory board member of the Tanenbaum Center. Prior to his arrival in New York in 1996, he taught in Saudi Arabia at the Islamic Education Foundation. In 1996, he arrived in the United States to begin his professional work with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN.

Since the September 11 attacks, Ali has been actively building bridges between Muslim communities and American society. He represented his community in "Pray for America", along with other national leaders, including former President Bill and Senator Hillary Clinton, then Governor George Pataki and then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Ali also represented the Muslim community in discussions on religions and sustainable development at the White House in 2006.

Well known in the interfaith community, Ali has lectured in churches and synagogues and to the New York City Police Department, schools and other groups. He has participated in the International Conference of Imams and Rabbis for Peace and recently took part in the Transatlantic Dialogue in Frankfurt, Germany. He has appeared on many national news programs, including CNN, CBS and Fox News, and has been quoted in the New York Times and other publications. He was appointed "Ambassador for Peace" by the International Religious Federation in 2002 and chosen as one of the seven most influential religious leaders in New York City by New York Magazine in 2006.

Imam Ali received his bachelor's and master's of arts degrees from International Islamic Univ. Islamabad-Pakistan and his Ph.D in political science from Southern California University. He is married and the father of five children.

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