In the past few years MTO Shahmaghsoudi® in Dusseldorf has been actively involved in working with the local community. It initially began in 2009 at our annual Norouz celebrations and eventually expanded to our annual interfaith programs, where we have invited our neighbors, local politicians, church representatives, police representatives, university professors and students, et cetera. As the years have passed the number of guests has also grown. Recently, more and more politicians, including the mayor of Dusseldorf and his representatives, have also visited our Center in order to learn more about MTO®, its board, its members, and its teachings. We have taken the initiative and have been proactively communicating with all religious and public authorities around us and have introduced MTO® and Sufism to them – which has been accepted very well by all the community members.
Today, our Christian friends actively take part in our interfaith programs where they present their points of view. Our Christian neighbors also visit us regularly so we can pray and discuss religion together. They also invite us to actively take part in their activities while also introducing us to their local church representatives, schools, institutes for family education, and charity.
Today, our local police department to which we also have a very good relationship with, supports us in all questions related to local security and safety, and have introduced us to the head police agent in charge of Muslim-relations in Dusseldorf. We are currently a member of the “Round Table of Muslims in Dusseldorf and the Police President”. We are also frequently invited by the Dusseldorf police department to discuss various issues concerning Muslim life as well as actively taking part in events where we discuss our experiences as Muslims living in Dusseldorf.
MTO® is currently a part of the board of the “Circle of Dusseldorf Muslims” (Kreis der Düsseldorfer Muslime – KdDM), which unifies several Muslim associations in Dusseldorf. This initiative has representatives of nearly all Muslims in Dusseldorf and helps to organize and discuss different topics such as: public houses of prayer, encouragement and education of Muslim youth, Muslim school lessons, and construction of Muslim cemeteries. The police and higher authorities also use the expertise of the KdDM, at which we actively take part in. The first public event of this association took place recently. This was the first time the members of the KdDm introduced themselves to the community. All urban institutions were also represented at this inaugural event.
Considering our active work in the interfaith dialogue forum, which initially started with the aim of introducing and discussing Islam with a few representatives of other religions, today, MTO® is listed in the directory of “Christian-Islamic Society” (Christlich-Islamische-Gesellschaft – CIG), a society dedicated to the unification of Christians and Muslims. The aim of this society is to bring Christians and Muslims together and to encourage ongoing communication between these two religions. This association has named three members of MTO® as qualified for the Muslim emergency pastoral care. In May 2014, an interfaith event with over 1000 visitors was hosted by this society – MTO® took part by sharing and presenting different aspects of Islamic Sufism.
Furthermore, we are active members of our community. In association with our Catholic neighbors – we have initiated a dialogue “We build bridges.” This initiative is officially registered at the “Coordination Board of the Christian Islamic Dialogue” (Koordinierungsrat des christlich-islamischen Dialogs-KCID), which is a central interfaith community in Germany. We have also become members of the “With Heart and Hand for Dusseldorf-Wersten” charity. This charity works to fight against poverty and unemployment as well as working to support the youth in our area. We are also working with the German Red Cross on some of their activities that are currently being developed.
To summarize, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in Sufism since our participation in the aforementioned activities. We are now actively sought after to introduce Islam and Sufism to local schools and universities. Based on a request by a university professor, we recently helped 30 university students who were learning about basic theories of Islam, and Muslim life in Germany. Our center has also been visited by another professor who wants to introduce Sufism to teachers of Islam at German schools. Lastly, we are currently working closely with a school for children with special needs to help introduce Muslim remedial education.