IMAM MOHAMMAD MARDINI
Housed in what was once a Protestant church, the American Muslim Center, located in West Dearborn, was established in 2002. It’s leader is the dynamic, yet soft-spoken Imam Mohammad Mardini, who firm commitment to peace and understanding has made his a religious figure respected by all denominations. His congregation is made up of a core of Lebanese Muslim families, many of them second and third generation Americans, but Muslims of other nationalities, especially South Asians, also pray at the AMC, largely because it is a short distance from several Ford Motor Company facilities where many immigrant Muslims are employed. Many of the AMC's members are the children and grandchildren of Lebanese immigrants who prayed at the Highland Park Mosque, which was established in 1921 and was the first mosque in the Detroit area.
Imam Mardini has been in the United States since 1980, and is one of 49 men in Michigan who hold a similar position of leadership in the faith of Islam. His gentle sermonizing, whether on subjects of personal or religious importance, equates to his most sincere and basic message: “We must all work together with open hearts and understanding. Dearborn especially is a melting pot of faiths, we need to share everything.”
His lesson of communion is paralleled by his fierce resistance to the actions of those who commit violent acts in the name of Allah and misuse the Qur'an, and he is outspoken in condemning the acts, if not the individuals: “Whoever kills has a special agenda, unrelated to our faith. The American Muslim Center will not be drawn into controversy, or made to serve an agenda different from God’s. After 9/ll, we stood together in solidarity to serve and protect our United States, and after the journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped, I, along with the other Michigan imams, used all our contacts, all our channels, to help secure her release. As an American citizen, I took an oath to defend our country, and I will do so without hesitation. And I will defend our citizens, regardless of their ethnic background or religious affiliation.”
The simple beauty of Mardini’s message is echoed in the décor found within the Muslim Center. The renovation and adornment has produced a beautiful interior that reflects, in its design, a heightened awareness of the mosque's location in America. Bright green and yellow wall paintings include Qur’anic inscriptions in Arabic and English translation in fitting with Imam Mardini whose preaching and Qur'an recitations are both in Arabic and English.