[UNCOMMON TLS BY THE LEADER OF ALBANIAN MUSLIMS IN NORTH AMERICA] TLS by leader of the Albanian Muslims in the USA, Imam Vehbi Ismail dated 1980, addressed to Turkish professor of Albanology Necib Pehlivan Alpan (1920-2003)
ISMAIL, IMAM VEHBI (1919-2008)
Typescript letter signed on paper with Ismail’s personal letterhead, telephone, his address “20426 Country Club Drive Harper Woods, Michigan 48236, U.S.A.”, and Basmala in Arabic with English translation. With its envelope with letterhead. 28x22 cm (open size). In Albanian. 16 lines on a single page. Dated July 8, 1980.
An uncommon typescript letter with an autograph signature by the leader of the Albanian Muslims in North America sent to Turkish professor Alpan, presenting good wishes to him, and requesting Alpan’s two booklets about Albanian history and Albania (probably they should be “Tarihin Isiginda Bugünkü Arnavutluk” [i.e., Albania in Present Day in the Light of History] and “Albanolojinin Isiginda: Arnavut Alfabesi Nasil Dogdu?" [i.e., How was the Albanian alphabet born in the Light of Albanology] to the United States for the Jami's Library, probably for the library of a Muslim Mosque. Signed by Ismail in pen.
"Dear Prof. Nexhip, we are well as a family, so we pray to the Great God that you and your loved ones enjoy good health. In the last issue of the Newspaper "Dielli", Mr. Nijazi Sulca wrote a review for over two booklets that you wrote, I would be very grateful if you would be so kind as to send us these two booklets for the Jami's Library, and any previous editions you may have. I wish you health and all the best with your loved ones, and I send you my brotherly thanks. I remain yours, Sincerely, Imam Vahbi Ismaili."
Albanian text reads:
“I dashturi Prof. Nexhip,
Jemi mire familjarisht, ashtu i lutemi te Madhit Zot qe dhe juve bashke me te dashurit tuej te gezoni shendet te mire.
Ne numrin e fundit te Gazetesi "Dielli" Z. Nijazi Sulça shkrojti nje reçension per mbi dy libreza qe keni shkrojtur juve; do t'u isha shume mirenjojtes sikur do te kishit miresin te na dergojshit keto te dy libreza per Librarin e Xhamis, dhe ndonje botim te me parshem qe mund te keni.
Tue ju urus shendet dhe te gjitha te mirat ju me te dashurit tuej, dhe ju dergus te falat e mija vellazerore.
Mbetem i jueji,
Imam Vehbi Ismaili.”
Imam Vehbi Ismail, an internationally known religious scholar, was an author and leader of the Albanian Muslims in North America. He was born in Shkoder, Albania on November 25, 1919, to Haji Ismail Alkovaj, the Grand Mufti of the Muslim faith in Albania, Imam Ismail started his studies in theology at The Islamic Seminary in Albania’s capital, Tirana. In 1937, Imam Ismail left his native Albania to study Islam at the world-famous Al-Azhar University in Alexandria, Egypt, founded in 989 AD. Imam Ismail received the highest honours achievable at Al-Azhar. It was at Al-Azhar that he started his prolific writing about Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, and interpreting the meaning of the Quran as well as translating hundreds of books from Albanian, Turkish, Persian, and French to Arabic.
In 1945, Imam Ismail was advised by his father not to return to Albania, as the Communists had taken control of all mosques and abolished religion of any kind throughout the country. The new Communist regime of Albania seized all holdings of religious groups, including the holdings of the Grand Mufti and his family. Imam Ismail’s family then spent the last years of their lives in concentration camps, never to see Imam Ismail again.
During his stay in Egypt, Imam Ismail established himself as an expert on the Quran and Islam. He became a close friend of King Farouk of Egypt. Farouk and Imam Ismail spent many religious holidays together discussing the meaning of the Quran and the future of Egypt. In 1949, Imam Ismail was summoned to the United States by the Albanian Muslims who had fled Europe. He became the head of the Albanian Muslims in North America, a position he held for over fifty years. During this time, Imam Ismail used his relationships with governing officials in the Middle East and the Balkans to guide the United States in aiding those fighting for the elimination of Communism in the region. He became close friends with former Governor G, Mennen Williams, and other government officials who wanted to understand the workings of countries in turmoil in the Middle East. In 1957, Imam Ismail was asked to leave Detroit to become one of the religious leaders of the Islamic Centre of Washington, DC. He graciously declined the offer and instead stood by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower as he gave his speech at the opening ceremonies. In 1962, Imam Ismail published “Muhammad, The Last Prophet”. The book, initially published in English, was translated into eight other languages. It is still used in high schools around the world as required reading for students studying the Middle East and Islam. By this time, Imam Ismail had become internationally known as one of the most prolific writers on Islam and the Quran of the 20th century, publishing more than 35 books that were translated into over 25 different languages. At his death, he had another book in progress, which was to be published in early 2009. In 1999, Imam Ismail was called on again to help with the conflicts in Kosovo, through his long-time friend, Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova. When Rugova visited the United States, the two met for many hours on the need for democracy in the region. Imam Ismail was honoured for these efforts and his other work towards peace, towards establishing the Albanian Muslim communities throughout North America, and for being one of America’s longest-serving clerics by way of a proclamation given in his honour during an open session of the United States Senate in Washington DC on November 16, 1999. (Mancebo Mosaic online).