Muslim Cleric From Edison Works for Peace In Middle East

January 8, 2009

Author: Lalita Aloor Amuthan

Source: Courier News

Township resident Dawud Ahmad Assad has made his life's goal the possibility of achieving peace in the Middle East.

The 77-year-old Islamic cleric, who emigrated to the United States from Palestine when he was 20 years old, has made nine trips to Jerusalem in the past two and a half years as a peace activist.

"I'm optimistic. We have lived peacefully with Jews before and we can live again," he said.

He returned on Dec. 29 from his latest bridge-building mission to the Holy Land.

Assad, president of the Islamic Service Organization, along with 13 other Americans, participated in a trip to Jerusalem designed to build bridges between Muslims, Jews and Christians throughout the region. The group included private citizens as well as respected Christian and Islamic clergy from Arizona, Texas, Virginia and New Jersey.

"This special trip was to attend the global peace festival in Haifa," he said.

The trip was organized by the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI), an ongoing global effort to join faith and civic leaders from all religious backgrounds to pray together, reconcile and help bring an end to the violence.

MEPI has held 40 such pilgrimages since 2003, drawing more than 15,000 pilgrims from 147 nations.