From the founder

From the founder

One God, One Humanity,
by Sheikh Ahmed Sy, Founder of the Islamic Tijaniya Foundation of America (ITFA, Inc)
Serving  & Empowering the African Muslim Diaspora

Humanity represents one family, springing from Adam and Eve, the first father and mother. Every human being is a member of the universal family. He is therefore entitled to enjoy common benefits and share common responsibilities. We must, then, be united in our social behavior with regard to love, values, integrity and understanding.

Man alone, blessed with intellectual capacity, is honored above all other creatures and is made Allah’s vice-regenton earth, where everything is made subservient to him, as referenced in the Quran. He is to worship his Creator not only by observing assigned ritual practices, but also by leading a righteous moral life. Such life should be guided by the dictates of the revelation but also by his conscience, which distinguishes right from wrong; and good from evil, as taught by the prophet Mohammad (Pbuh). So conviction and belief must be free and spontaneous but not imposed.

The universe is a harmonious system, a lively and dynamic organism. Everything is assigned a place in the grand scheme of life and never deviates from its ordained course. Each part works according to its position, fulfilling its share in the system of Tawhid and monotheism (Oneness of Allah). This implies the importance of humanity’s harmony with nature. God is not a passive Power, but an “ever-active” Power who unceasingly reflects His names in the universe so that life is constantly renewed.

Two main sources help us understand Islam: the Holy Book Al Quran and the Sunna, a collection of Hadiths or recorded words, actions and sanctions of the prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) which explains the Holy Book and presents practical applications of its teachings. Without understanding the Sunna, a Muslim’s knowledge of his faith will remain incomplete; and a non Muslim will be unable to form a true picture of Islam and its fundamental, spiritual, and cultural principles. This is why Allah command us not to indulge in wasteful discussions over matters beyond our reach.

We, the Islamic Tijaniya Foundation of America, Inc. (ITFA), as followers of Sheikh Ahmad Tijani of Morocco, have been promoting the teachings of Islam and the Tariqa Tijaniya Ahmadiyya Mouhammadiya Ibrahimiya Haneefiya, a branch of Sufism. The need to promote Sufi Islam, Tijaniya principles, interfaith dialogue and inclusiveness arise after the events of September 11, 2001. The events created an environment of ignorance, disinformation and misinformation about Islam. This was the raison d’être for the founding of ITFA. Interfaith dialogue is not about explaining, or debating.  It implies a real commitment to mutual understanding, openness to learning and readiness for transformation, which are core values of the Tijaniya.  We see it as a necessity, not a luxury, as a central not a peripheral activity in today’s plural world. Globalization has accentuated the mingling of cultures and thus, heightens the need for understanding and dialogue.  

ITFA’s mission is to promote Sufi Islam, which is true to the original message of Sheikh Ahmed TIjan Sherif.  These values are:  peaceful submission to Allah, humility, empathy, assistance to the poor and weak, mutual dialogue with and respect of other faiths, and finally scientific quest for spiritual truths and knowledge.

ITFA is a network gathering Tijanis fuqaras (disciples) based in 28 Zawiyas in 19 states across the USA. Each Zawiya meets daily to further their faith, performs Wazifa, Hadaratul Juma and organizes Mawlids and religious conferences. All disciples meet yearly in the capital of Washington DC for the Tijaniya Convention, a forum for cultural and educational exchanges. ITFA has quickly spread across the USA with increasing adherence of the African American Muslims.

The ITFA leadership and its visiting scholars have, through their sharing of knowledge, established their credentials as a contemporary authority on Islamic philosophy. These discussions are real explorations of moral challenges to contemporary society. We are also aware of the all-too-visible signs and symptoms of a different and dangerous world, where social tensions escalate into irrational behavior, extremism and violence. Future prospects in that unstable world are unpredictable, with countless unknown forces at work and profound jostling among people, values, expectations, and realities.

The leadership of ITFA advocates and urges more momentum towards reflections within individual faith on the impact and challenges of modernization. ITFA focuses on pursuing practical avenues for interfaith dialogue and concerted efforts to tackle the complex issues before us.
 May Allah bless us all! 

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