Islamic House of Wisdom (CJ)

This profile was last updated in 2006

Research conducted by the University of Michigan – Dearborn Pluralism Project.
History
The Islamic House of Wisdom was founded in 1995 by a small group of Muslims from the Middle East led by Imam Ali Elahi. Starting out in a moderate size building on Schafer Avenue in Dearborn, a working- and middle-class suburb of Detroit, the center now occupies a much larger structure that over the years had served as home to two Christian organizations, the Fairlane Assembly Church and Detroit World Outreach. In September 1996, the Islamic House of Wisdom purchased the facility, which sits on approximately four acres of wooded land in Dearborn Heights, a middle-class suburb of Detroit. Over the years, the Islamic House of Wisdom has become one of the largest and most influential religious centers in the Detroit metropolitan area. Although most of the regular participants are of Arab and Iranian descent, people from a variety of ethnic groups join in the prayers and other functions at the center.

Description

The Islamic House of Wisdom has a prayer hall, an auditorium for lectures that can seat 1000 people, a kitchen, social hall, a nursery that cares for approximately 40 children daily, a media center for live broadcasts to local audiences, offices, meeting rooms, bookstore and library, kitchen, and social hall. There is also a ten unit school that is currently being used for weekend classes, but plans are to convert it into a full-time Islamic educational institution. A guest house next to the main building provides housing for visiting religious leaders and scholars

Goals of the Center

One of the center’s main goals is to be a base for interfaith dialogue and a resource center for journalists, researchers, and the general public on Islamic issues. To this end, the center, and especially Imam Elahi, have played a major role in local interfaith activities, including participation in the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Leadership Symposium organized by the National Conference for Community and Justice; attendance at the local Interfaith Thanksgiving service, which was hosted by the House of Wisdom in 1998; and organization of tours for students from area schools and Christian seminaries to give them a broader understanding of Islam.

In the Community

The Islamic House of Wisdom assists individuals from the metropolitan Detroit’s Middle Eastern population to deal with a variety of issues, including counseling Muslim Americans who face problems dealing with American secular culture and aiding people who have legal and immigration problems. Imam Elahi was the first Muslim in Michigan to become a foster parent when three young Muslim girls were removed from their parents’ home and put into foster care in a non-Muslim household. The center now encourages Muslims to become foster parents, and has held a seminar on foster parenting. It has also hosted a seminar on domestic violence. In local politics, the center took a lead in the opposition to legalized gambling in Detroit and in opposition to physician-assisted suicide. In addition, the center has taken stands against ethnic, racial, and religious discrimination.

Conferences

In order to build a stronger Muslim community, the center has hosted a number of conferences on an international scale. These include the Symposium of Islamic Scholars co-sponsored by the Ahul Bayt Assembly of America. Another important event was a series of seminars offered in association with the Organization of North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities (NASIMCO) focusing on the future of Shia Islam in the twenty-first century. Additionally, the first Sunni-Shi’a symposium discussing the need for a united Islamic faith, was held at the House of Wisdom.

Activities and Schedule

Regular scheduled worship services include Friday congregational prayer and sermon at noon, Friday evening prayer and lectures, and Thursday evening recitation of Du’a Kumail. Among its activities for young people are classes in Arabic language and Islamic law and history. On Friday evenings, there are youth discussion groups for those between the ages of 15-25. Candid discussions with experts and community leaders focus on topics including drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and youth violence. In addition, there are youth retreats and instruction in Tae Kwon Do.