Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Results for Muslims

Dallas, Texas, July 4, 2015 --  It has been a very successful day today, our press release, "Happy 4th - Muslims are an integral part of American Heritage," has made it to 70+ Newspaper and still counting, we hope it will make it to 100 by Sunday. 

Nothing will change if you do nothing about it.  Our goal is to change the false perceptions about Muslims - and it won't happen by itself, we have to do something about it.

The most 
pragmatic thing to do is to interact with fellow Americans and fellow humans, so they can see you are not what the media portrays Muslims to be. This was how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established his credentials - by earning the trust of people around him by being truthful, just, honest, and trustworthy, indeed he was called Amin by fellow humans who were not Muslims, and if we follow that example conflicts will fade and solutions will emerge.

The second pragmatic thing to do is to let the world know that you care about fellow beings, and do your share of work for the safety, security, peace and harmony of every member of the society at large.  God in Quran repeats innumerable times that if your care for your fellow beings, you need not worry about your future. 

We spent the whole night and the day in sending the press releases to news media, and am pleased to share the results; 

  • 70 news outlets have published the news ( listed below)
  • 20 websites have published the press release
  • 25 Yahoo groups have received the emails

For every negative news, we will post positive news.

Time to rejoice, thanks to the media for carrying the following news, this is our effort towards changing perceptions about Muslims.  The more good we can upload, the more it offsets the negativity. It takes time and money to carry on this effort.

Please donate generously - our goal is to raise $60,000 thru December this year, all donations of over $100 will be listed by the name, and smaller donations will be lumped as general donors at www.AmericanTogether.org- this site on the left panel from the moment money starts flowing. 

Please donate: http://americatogetherfoundation.com/donate/


America Together foundation a non-profit 501 (c) (3) entity 
your donations are tax deductible.
 
Scroll down for the press release
# # #

PRESS RELEASE

American Muslims consider July 4th as one of their cherished holidays. We uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution.

Happy 4th - Muslims are an integral part of American Heritage

July 4, 2015, Washington, D.C. - "America is the greatest nation on the earth and indeed, Muslims are a part of the American Heritage since the day America was born, Upon declaration of our independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslims and one of them was a Muslim from India.”  Mike Ghouse, President of America Together Foundation.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States of America, and signed the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, the first of its kind. Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, was the next to recognize American independence (February 26, 1782) and Tipu Sultan, the King of Mysore State (India) was the third. 

“America means everything to Muslims, and the biggest thing is freedom. Muslim Americans have every reason to claim July 4th as a Muslim Holiday. It has given us life, liberty and paved the way in pursuit of our happiness. There is no other country in the world that offers genuine freedom, freedom of speech and of conscience.”

The concept of equality is etched and nurtured in the Muslim psyche in every ritual and spiritual practice of Islam.  Prophet Muhammad delivered similar words in his last sermon as are in our immortal declaration of independence.  ." Muslims hold this declaration close to their hearts and as American Muslims, "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

The raging inner battle among Americans to keep the state and church apart resonates with Muslims living in America as Quran speaks out to them, 49:13- "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware." Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of the otherness of other and appreciate a different point of view without having to agree with it.

Honoring merit appeals to Muslims, you can be who you want to be and Muslims gloat about their ability to raise on the basis of their merit. The Prophet tells his own daughter that she will not get a free pass to paradise because she is a daughter of the prophet; she has to earn it on her own through good deeds to fellow beings, such is the emphasis placed on merit and individual responsibility. That is what capitalism, democracy and America are all about.

Immigrants in general and a Muslims in particular love the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty. They see the wholesomeness of justice in America and they love America for it. An observant Muslim recites at least 17 times a day that God alone is the judge and we must refrain from judging others.

As American Muslims we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution. Our faith reinforces the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Islam is indeed about freedom of conscience, justice and liberty.  You can read the full story at AmericansTogether.org 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ahmadiyya Muslims should be a part of our language.

Ahmadiyya Muslims should be a part of our language | World Muslim Congresshttp://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/07/ahmadiyya-muslims-should-be-part-of-our.html
......
I don't have a bone of prejudice in me, and I sincerely believe God is Rabbul Aalameen (Creator of the universe), and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is Rahmatul Aalameen (Mercy to every atom in the universe). We are all from the same couple Adam and Eve, and we are members of one large family, and each one of us is deliberately created to be unique with our own thumbprint, DNA and other uniqueness’s. With that uniqueness we are bound to have irreconcilable differences, and how do we get around that?  God says the best ones among you are those who take the time to learn about each other, and when we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

All of us have to live in the given space, we might as well learn about each other, to understand and accept the differences, and not force agreements against the will of the people, that would be against what God wants. You live your life and I will live mine, a corollary from Quran 109.6 says,  to you is your faith and to me is my faith.

When we started the discussion group “World Muslim Congress.” I went about learning different denominations as this group and site belongs to "all Muslims" and came across the unbelievable prejudice towards the Ahmadiyya Muslims.  Indeed, they are chased, harassed and persecuted in Pakistan, and the extremity of the hate is even ‘enshrined’ in their constitution, and that beats anyone with any common sense.  The hate virus has expanded to Indonesia, Bangladesh and it has even reached India dividing us all up. There is no justification whatsoever to hate any one.

Why am I writing this? 


As Muslims, we call out on the bigotry of a few evangelicals, before we do that, we need to be clean, so we can cast the first stone.  Let’s not be hateful towards any one and clearly reject the extremist’s ideology of Wajib Qatl (killing is a must) towards Ahmadiyya Muslims. Let’s share God and the Prophet with the entire world as they are not exclusively ours to deny them to others.

Of course the bias is a two way street, I have written extensively about it.  I have done my Iftaar and Friday prayers in the mosques of every (yes every) denomination to understand the differences, so we can learn about each other. We don't need to be friends, but at least we don't have to seethe and brood and be miserable because others believe differently.  It’s all documented at www.Ramadanexclusive.com and www.WorldMulsimCongress.com.

However, the responsibility for caring for oppressed falls squarely on the majority.  It is the white majority that stood up for civil rights to pass as a law; it is the Hindu majority that stood up for Muslim minorities  in India to have their own laws; and it should be the Sunni Majority in Pakistan that needs to speak up and care for its minorities, all minorities.  As a minority ourselves (Sunnis in the United States) don’t we wish the majority understands us and respect us, thank God, at least we are no Wajib Qatl to them, can we be that civil to our own minorities back home?

None of us have to agree, but all of us must choose to mind our own faith, we cannot compel any one to drop their belief and accept ours that would go against the essence of Islam. Allah will not ask you about what others did, he asks you, were you good to his creation?  How would we feel if the Christian majority tells to either believe their way to take the highway?

At World Muslim Congress and Dallas Pakistanis groups, we have carried civil conversations for over 13 years, it was not easy at the beginning, and for many years, I was alone, but now we have many Sunni Muslims who see the point of view in both the groups and I appreciate their being good Muslims. Now comes the editorial in Gulf News that includes Ahmadiyya Muslims in its list of Muslims. 

Today it was a delight to read Tariq Al-Maeena writes an editorial in Gulf news and this is a sea change, and I hope more and more “Muslim writers” start the inclusion process.  Theologically let’s accept us all to be different – each one of the 73 tribes will have its own uniqueness that God has said and prophet has predicted that.

I wrote to him, Tariq, I'm surprised and pleased that you added Ahmadiyya Muslims in your last paragraph, and I applaud you for this.“I am not a Sunni or a Shiite or an Ahmadi or a Khawani. I am a Muslim! I am not a Salafist or a Sufi, a Ja’afari or a Batini. I am a Muslim! I was raised by the Islamic tenets of peace and kindness ... And by God, I am angry that people in the name of Islam defile my religion.

Thank you Tariq Al-Maeena

My Islam teaches me to be Rahmat (mercy) to the Aalameen, if I am a zahmat (tyrant) towards fellow beings, then should I call myself a Muslim?

Mike Ghouse
# # #

I am a Muslim and I am angry
It angers me to see how a peaceful religion has been manipulated by some to be a tool of terror against their perceived adversaries. 
By Tariq Al-Maeena

PUBLISHED: 17:03 JULY 4, 2015

Ramadan is a spiritually significant month for Muslims the world over. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self-control. It is a time when Muslims repent, ask for forgiveness for sins and spend their time in intense worship. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives. We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends and do away with bad habits and bad feelings. Fasting, reading the Quran, increasing charitable deeds, cleansing one’s behaviour and doing good are some of the ways Muslims use to draw themselves closer to God. This is what true Muslims believe in and do.
On June 26, an explosion rocked a mosque in Kuwait that killed 27 and wounded 227 worshippers. Worshippers had gathered for Friday prayers at the Al Imam Al Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City when a powerful bomb ripped through the courtyard of the heavily-congested mosque, causing much death and damage. The timing of the blast was significant as Friday noon prayers are generally the most crowded of the week and attendance increases multifold during Ramadan.
Investigations later revealed that the perpetrator was a Saudi male who, along with some Kuwaiti sympathisers, intended to stir up Sunni-Shiite divisions with his murderous act. This bearded individual from a village in Saudi Arabia had actually flown into Kuwait from Riyadh on the day of the bombings and left a trail of death and destruction among the faithful. He had stayed at a house owned by an extremist who subscribed to “extremist and deviant ideology” and was then driven to the mosque by an illegal resident to carry out this macabre plan.
Immediate credit
On the same day, there were terror attacks in two different continents conducted by supposed sympathisers of the extreme doctrine followed by the Saudi suicide bomber. In Tunisia, a gunman wandered on to a popular beach at a seaside resort and gunned down guests with an automatic rifle. The death count was 38, while 36 people were wounded, according to Tunisian authorities. In France, a man with suspicious ties to violent groups blew up a factory, injuring two people. A decapitated body and the severed head was found nearby. Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) took immediate credit for these gruesome acts.
As a consolation, it was somewhat refreshing to note that leading Islamic institutions immediately denounced such dastardly acts. The leading Sunni institution based in Egypt, Al Azhar, released a statement saying that “the heinous shooting at a Tunisian coastal resort that killed 38 people, mostly Europeans, was a violation of all religious and humanitarian norms”. It also condemned the suicide bombing at the Kuwaiti Shiite mosque and the suspected militant attack in France. In a publicised statement, in reference to Daesh, Al Azhar called on “the international community to defeat this terrorist group through all available means”.
Delivering a message
In Kuwait, the ruling Emir, the government, parliamentary and political groups and clerics all said last Friday’s attack on the Shiite mosque was meant to stir up sectarian strife in the emirate. Terming the attack bluntly as one of “black terror” a statement said that “the objectives of the criminal act have failed. We want to deliver a message to Daesh that we are united brothers, the Sunnis and Shiites, and they cannot divide us”.
I am angry. As a Muslim, it maddens me when criminals use my religion to screen their immoral and murderous intentions.
“I am angry that people in the name of Islam defile my religion.”



-Tariq A. Al Maeena
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It infuriates me that I have to justify my religion and myself to the non-Muslim world in the wake of such barbarity by individuals with no obvious morals. It angers me that a terrorist like the Saudi who flew into Kuwait tarnishes my religion and my nationality with his vicious actions.
It angers me to see how a peaceful religion has been manipulated by some to be a tool of terror against their perceived adversaries. It angers me that such people follow “extreme and deviant ideology” and yet call themselves Muslims.
It angers me to know that some clerics with their hardline views continue to promote sectarian divisions from both sides. It angers me to know that they are still being heard.
I am not a Sunni or a Shiite or an Ahmadi or a Khawani. I am a Muslim! I am not a Salafist or a Sufi, a Ja’afari or a Batini. I am a Muslim! I was raised by the Islamic tenets of peace and kindness ... And by God, I am angry that people in the name of Islam defile my religion.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Ghouse speaks on commitment, Akhira (life here after) and the Power of Engagement

Ghouse speaks at Aligarh Muslim University | The Ghouse Diary.com
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2015/07/ghouse-speaks-on-commitment-akhira-life.html


This is the outline of my speech at the Plenary session of AMU conference,  “Intellectual crisis of the Muslim Ummah; Rethinking traditions solutions" held at Aligarh Muslim University on April 6 and 7th in 2015.  It is not the transcript, hence the words and expression differ from the speech. 

PREFACE

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a visionary, who understood the issues and hopelessness of the Umma after the fall of the last Mogul.  He knew modern education was the only way to pull the community out of the quagmire.

He took the bold steps to establish the educational institution despite the opposition and hurdles. It is perhaps the first "Muslim" university in the world where Muslims were taught subjects other than memorizing Quran and Hadiths. He paved the Middle path for us with Deen and Duniya together that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had advocated.


We went back in to slumber and remained dormant for nearly a hundred years.  Thanks to the VC General Zameeruddin Shah, Pro-VC Brig Ahmed Ali and Professor Rashid Shaz for having the courage to resuscitate that vision and bring critical thinking back to AMU. We have to admire the staff and volunteers who supported them without any reserve.

I pray that AMU will become one of the high profile Muslim Universities in the world, and hope we all can pitch in to make that happen.  I am not an Alumni of AMU, but my spirit has always been with AMU since I learned about Sir Syed in my school days. I was completely surprised when my sister in Bangalore told me that it was her dream to be at AMU campus as well.   Insha Allah, her dream may come true next time when I visit the campus, hopefully to speak about Pluralism in Islam.

I believe AMU was looking for critical thinkers who can challenge the prevailing practices and take the Ummah forward to live the God given life on this earth to the fullest possible extent.

PART-I: COMMITMENT
Salam Friends.

Has anything ever happened by itself? No matter what it is, getting a job, raising a family, going to war, building cohesive societies,  going to moon or coming to Aligarh – someone caused it. 
This conference would not have happened by itself; it needed a driver with passion and a strong commitment.

Ray Bradbury had once said,
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy... Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.… Whatever you can do or dream that you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

When you are not committed, and if something goes wrong, your attitude would be, “ I knew it, I knew, it was not going to work out  for me” or “I should have listened to my friends” and on and on… you find every excuse to justify the small set back to get out of the situation.

Let me ask you this, if you fail yourselves, why should anyone give you a pass? Why should anyone support you if you are hesitant?
Dr. Abdul Hamid Abusulayman beefs it up, “There is a clear distinction between doubts and problems. Doubts provoke obstruction, frustration and discouragement, where as problems inspire motivation, action and diligence

On the other hand when you are committed, and if things go wrong,  your attitude would be “Oh, I have to do this to get there, hurdles will not be hurdles any more, but become stepping stones to get to the destination with all the detours.

One of the greatest examples of commitment was delivered by Tariq Bin Ziyad; when he crossed the Gibraltar Channel, he burned the ships. There was no going back, period.

Such is the power of commitment and let’s give a big round of applause to Dr. Shaz, his staff, volunteers and the management of AMU for their strong commitment to make this event possible, and guess what, Aghaz to acha hai, and Anjaam will have to be shaped by each one of us.  
Congratulations Dr. Shaz, God is with you, and indeed, we are with you!

PART II - FREEDOM

This conference, "Intellectual Crises of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking Traditional Solutions" is a timely event. Today, we are at cross roads of leaving behind 100 lousy years of post-colonial trauma, and setting up the next 100 years.  This is the time for us to shape our destiny…

And it begins with freedom.  When Adam and Eve were given the options and consequences for each action, God gave them complete freedom and stuck to his words.  

When Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit… God knew they were wrong, but God did not get mad, or slapped them left and right… instead, he accepted their choice, he did even not stop them… Friends, we are born with freedom and we must live with freedom. There is no compulsion in what you believe, and we must value freedom as the most important value of Islam.

PART IV - AKHIRA AND HAZIRA

One of the major flaws in our thinking is our misplaced focus on Akhira. We need to invest our time in fixing this flawed thinking and change the future of Muslim Ummah.

We have a choice to be herded, or shape our own destiny.  We need to boldly challenge what is taught to us in our mosques. God has given us this life to live it to the fullest, and not throw it away for Akhira.

I have not been to a Mosque in Aligarh yet, but every Mosque I have been to, keeps pounding on Akhira. Life is a trust given to us, and how can we do qiyanat with it, how can we jump to Akhira without living the Hazira? How can we cheat the present for the future? We need to be honest with today to be truthful with tomorrow.

When you are talking to your parent or child, how do you feel if he or she is thinking something else… instead of being with you, he or she is somewhere else? That is how God would feel, he gave us this life to live, and instead of living it, we are jumping to the Akhira.

The Akhira is a poor excuse for those who are unable and incapable to deal with what is given, and simply find refuge in Akhira. Next time you hear someone talk about Akhira, please tell them that it is a poor excuse for not making good of this life and Akhira is sequence after Hazira and we cannot jump to Akhira without living the Hazira.

PART V - POWER OF ENGAGEMENT
How many of you have heard about Fox News?  How many of you have heard about Sean Hannity? He is the 2nd most popular talk show host in the United States.  He is one of the most hated guys not only by Muslims but the progressives as well.

The story I am about to tell is an eye opener and hopefully change your mind.  I call this the power of engagement, when you engage with people there is always a chance to bring about a change. If you don’t, you don’t even have a chance.  I did not have to go to China to learn this, I learned right here from Mother Teresa, she said, “If you want to bring peace, go talk with your enemy.” Indeed, that is the truth.

When I go back to the States, I will be doing my 100th appearance on his TV show and probably 50+ on his National talk show radio.

Two major things have happened thru this engagement; He has stopped attacking Quran in the last two years and had agreed to (but has failed a few times) to use the phrase “Radicals among Muslims” instead of “Radical Muslims.” It was a huge concession!  Furthermore, the biggest accomplishment for Muslim community through his promise was the change in the tone of several of the right wingers.  Representative Peter King, Chairman of the Homeland Security said this on April 15, 2013 when CNN camera honed on him in the evening right after the Boston Marathon bombing…
 
Hear the rest of the story in the video at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDMuE4bdYW4

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on
Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film " Sacred" to be released on 9/11 and a documentary "Americans together" for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com - Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

 



Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy 4th - Muslims are an integral part of American Heritage

Happy 4th - Muslims are an integral part of American Heritage
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2015/07/happy-4th-muslims-are-integral-part-of.html



Upon declaration of our independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslims and one of them was a Muslim from India.

Americans, Indians and Muslims have a connection since the very beginning of our independence. We were all opposed to colonial rule, and fought them and chased the British out of America, but they continued to rule India through divide and conquer for another 150 years.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States of America, signing the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, the first of its kind. Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, was the next to recognize American independence (February 26, 1782) and Tippu Sultan, the King of Mysore State (India) was the third. According to Dr. Range Gowda, Tippu Sultan's historiographer, the congratulatory letter to America is preserved in a French Library. Tippu celebrated America's independence by bursting fire crackers in Srirangapatna.



What does July 4th mean to Muslims and Indians?

It means everything and the biggest thing is freedom. Islam is indeed about freedom of conscience, justice and liberty.

The Pledge of Allegiance is one of the most cherished statements for Muslims, "One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." There are several verses in the Quran that assert those values, so it's like coming home for Muslims.

The concept of equality is etched and nurtured in the Muslim psyche in every ritual and spiritual practice of Islam. Prophet Muhammad delivered the following words in his last sermon, "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action." Muslims hold this declaration close to their hearts and as American Muslims, "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

The raging battle among Americans to keep the state and church apart resonates with Muslims living in America as the Quran speaks out to them, 49:13- "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware." Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of the otherness of others and appreciate a different point of view without having to agree with it.

Honoring merit appeals to Muslims: you can be who you want to be and Muslims bpast about their ability to rise on the basis of their merit. The Prophet tells his own daughter that she will not get a free pass to paradise because she is a daughter of the prophet; she has to earn it on her own through good deeds to fellow beings, such is the emphasis placed on merit and individual responsibility. That is what capitalism, democracy and America are all about.

Every immigrant in general and a Muslim in particular loves the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty. They see the wholesomeness of justice in America and they love America for it. An observant Muslim recites at least 17 times a day that God alone is the judge and we must refrain from judging others.

On July 4, 2015 we will be celebrating the 239th birthday of America. It is time to reflect upon our journey from the historic declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776 to July 4th, 2015.
Our Founding Fathers had a vision and laid the ground work for a sustainable cohesive America for centuries to come, " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We have come a long way, and still have miles to go to realize the above truths, and to fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed, the last two months have packed an incredible amount of events in our history. The pulling down of the confederate Flag in several states after the tragic events in Charleston, South Carolina gives us a lot of hope, the Supreme court's landmark decision to make same sex marriage legal brings freedom to the GLBT community; yet another decision by the Supreme Court brought freedom to those who were vulnerable, the sick and the poor Americans. Thanks to President Obama for making health care a reality for all Americans. The affordable care Act is the law of the land now.

First, I pray for the spirit of that freedom to be born again, again and again every year, for eternity. Indeed, we are the land of the free and the brave. The whole world looks up to America with admiration, although we still have a few more milestones to achieve.

Donald Sterling, the basketball billionaire and Don Imus, the popular American Radio host and several others faced severe retribution for racial slurs. Rick Sanchez and countless Senators and Congress persons were taken to task for making Anti-Semitic comments. Now thank God for the Supreme Court, no one will dare abuse the freedom of these three communities: African Americans, Jews and the LGBT community.
Two more communities, among many need such freedom; women are still not getting equal pay, and I hope the Republicans will join the Democrats and pass that bill.
Who is left behind? Hispanic Immigrants and Muslims!

In 1986, President Reagan brought relief to 3 million undocumented aliens through his amnesty program. Now President Obama is working on freeing 11 million aliens from the tension of separation with their family members. As a nation we need to collectively reflect on the issue and do the right thing; legalize those here with agreed upon conditions.

In recent years, American Muslims have become an easy target for abuse without any consequence. Some US presidential candidates top the list for bigotry, having said that they would not hire a Muslim in their cabinet.

The problem is two-sided: we the Muslims are not connected enough with mainstream society for a vast majority of Americans to stand up for us, empathize with us, or even understand the truth about us that we are no different than them in our endeavors and aspirations of life. We need to get out of our shells and be part of American society.

We must however express our gratitude to the millions of Americans who have stood up for us, compelled by their sense of justness and fair play after 9/11 and as recently as the Phoenix and Garland rallies.

As Muslims we are making serious efforts to be fully participating and contributing members of American society for the security, peace and prosperity of our homeland. We have unequivocally stood up for free speech.

As American Muslims we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution. Our faith reinforces the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

We at America Together Foundation, will take bold congenial steps on behalf of Muslims to get ourselves on a par with the other communities who had previously endured abuse, and with the support of all Americans, we will shame them for their bigotry.

I urge every Muslim to reach out to their fellow Americans to share the joy of July 4th God willing, Muslims will be celebrating July 4th2016 en masse all over the nation. We are going to be unfurling big plans soon. The more integrated we are, the safer it is for every one of the 318 million plus Americans.

What does July 4th mean to me?

The very first step on American soil puts a smile on an immigrant's face; if not you, it has happened to your parents, grand or great grandparents. It's the exuberance you witness on a baby's face when she stands up for the first time, it is the exhilaration you see when a toddler eats the food on his own for the first time, or the relief written all over the face of a student when he or she graduates. Indeed, it is an expression of freedom I felt upon arrival in New York some thirty five years ago. My journey continues as I get ready to celebrate another July 4th.

America is one of the most beautiful things that has happened to Muslims. As American Muslims we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, pluralist, TV-Radio commentator and a human rights activist committed to building cohesive societies and offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His info is in 63 links at MikeGhouse.net -- Mike is also president of America Together Foundation.