Antifundamentalist Muslim cleric and rabbi receive honor

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2002

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- An Islamic cleric condemned by some Muslims for criticizing fundamentalism and for maintaining close ties with local Jews has been honored for promoting tolerance.

A rabbi who works with him also received an award.

Maulana Shafayat Mohamed and Rabbi Lewis Littman of Temple Bat Yam in Fort Lauderdale, were honored April 18 by the National Conference for Community and Justice.

''I've been accused by some Muslims of being bought by the Jews,'' Mohamed said. ''But that's a minority, Muslims who expect you to be emotional, not levelheaded.''

The cleric and Littman have met together monthly for six years to conduct interfaith dialogues.

''No one should stereotype anyone,'' Littman said. ''Muslims and Jews, if you go back to their scriptures, have a shared perception of the value of human life.''

For 11 years, Mohamed, originally from Trinidad, has worked with Christian and Jewish groups in South Florida to dispel misconceptions about Islam.

In 1994, he founded the Darul Uloom Islamic Mosque and Institute in Pembroke Pines, which offers secular and religious classes on Islamic history and teachings.

During the latest Mideast violence and after Sept. 11, Mohamed has spoken at synagogues, to youth groups and at interfaith dialogues with other religious leaders.

He also has supported Israel in some situations, angering many of his fellow Muslims. At the ceremony, he said the Israeli military presence in the Palestinian territories may be necessary.

''A man in Sharon's position might need to use force to stop suicide bombings,'' Mohamed said.

The National Conference for Community and Justice was formerly called the National Council of Christians and Jews.


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