Lekovic Keynotes Chicago Community Dinner

November 19, 2013

Recently, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming Edina Lekovic served as the first-ever female keynote speaker during the 21st Annual Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) dinner.

SEE: 21st Annual CIOGC Dinner (flickr.com)

 Attended by almost 900 people and with a special appearance by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, the dinner focused on the theme of “Celebrating Achievers, Inspiring Believers” and featured a poignant recognition of Top Muslim Achievers of Chicagoland in the fields of art, business, corporation, education, law, medicine and public health.

In an inspirational keynote speech, Lekovic discussed the status of Islam and Muslims in America and reminded the American Muslim community that our future as a community depends entirely upon us. She proposed that as we continue to excel in our fields of work and study, we need to reach out to people outside of our community to introduce them to the true Muslim community. She emphasized that it is incumbent upon us as Muslims.

"The true image of Islam and Muslims will become prominent through our faith and contributions to society," she said. 

Nearly 60 mosques, organizations and schools make up the member organizations that are a part of the Council. Representatives from these organizations meet, discuss, collaborate and take action to improve the quality of life for Muslims living in Chicagoland through the channel of CIOGC.

The following morning after the banquet, MPAC and CIOGC co-hosted a meeting with about two dozen local Shia and Sunni leaders. Led by Maulana Sulayman Ali from Baitul Ilm Academy and Inamul Haq a professor at Elmhurst College, a small working group of Shia and Sunni Muslims that had come together a few months before began to work on a framework for a constructive and harmonious relationship between the two communities in the Chicago metropolitan area. Lekovic and MPAC board member Dr. Wayel Azmeh shared MPAC's "Intra-faith Code of Honor," which MPAC launched in 2007 and had inspired the creation of the "Washington Declaration" launched this summer by the Islamic Society of North America.

Recognizing that Shia/Sunni relations have been strained in recent years in many parts of the Muslim world, the group wanted to work together to ensure that these international conflicts would not find their way into the local community. At the meeting, community leaders presented their draft Statement of Principles for Unity and Cooperation between Shias and Sunnis.

The leaders will hold a follow-up meeting later this month, and plan to create local programs to increase understanding and strengthen relations among all communities.

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