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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Muslim response to the nasty Perfect Man Bill Boards


The despicable “Perfect Man” bill boards are appearing everywhere now, and like all humans, Muslims will respond differently to it. They are not a monolithic group and are as diverse as God’s creation. However, they have a choice to aggravate the conflict further or follow Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad’s formula of conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturence.  After all that is what the higher goal of Islam, Christianity or any faith is – restoring justice, goodwill, harmony and peace on earth.

What did Jesus do when he was persecuted and placed on the cross? He said, “Forgive them Lord, for they know not.”  What did Muhammad (pbuh) do when the miscreants pelted stones on him during his visit to Taif?  He was bleeding and was hurt, but not only forgave, but prayed for them, for they knew not. 
Most Muslims will follow the guidance and pray for the well being of screwed up men and women.  A few will struggle in forgiving them, and a handful of them will hold grudges and animosity towards the men and women who have placed those nasty bill boards?  Those handful of Muslims who are angry are as bad as the handful of Christians who violated the message of love that Jesus preached, unless they are not Christians.  
You cannot go wrong following the Guidance from Jesus and Muhammad.
Jesus asked people to “follow him”  and Muhammad asked people to follow a coherent system called Islam. A majority of people in all faiths believe in the beauty of their faith; however a few in each group don’t get that right and abuse it to their advantage in making enemies out of those who differ.

Prophet Muhammad taught that "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”  This is a guarantee from God and a challenge to Muslims.

If Muslims claim to be followers of the man who was called “mercy to mankind” shouldn’t they think, act and talk like him? Similarly, shouldn’t the followers of Jesus really follow him?

Dr. Zia Sheikh, Imam of the largest Mosque in Texas, and author of Silencing the Critics writes,   "No amount of cherry picked sources quoting weak accounts can taint the facts that Prophet Muhammad was the most influential person in history, affecting positively not only his immediate surroundings, but continents thousands of miles from his ancestral Homeland. History bears witness that he changed society after society in a positive way, so much so that he is loved by people today even more than those people loves their own children."

It is a game to a handful of miscreants to irritate Muslims for no good reason, and I am sure many will be easily angered, forgetting how they should behave.  Muslims are to be a mercy to mankind, and no one should fear a Muslim.  Everyone should feel safe around a Muslim and Muslims are to be a just, kind and a merciful people. If Muslims play their part and act like a Muslim that Prophet Muhammad taught, no one will be messing with them nor will they get irritates, instead they will pray for them.

Freedom of Speech
There is one value that Americans value the most: Freedom of speech.  It is an alien idea in most parts of the world, you have to be an American (born or naturalized) to understand this phenomenon.  This is what defines us – we are fiercely free and freedom fanatics, after all we live in the land of the free and the brave.   We all need to work on integrating our values on freedom, and then all of us will be on the same page.

Muslim Americans have a built-in advantage in becoming the defenders of free speech.  The Quran insists in chapter 2, verse 256, “Let there be no compulsion in faith” and Prophet Muhammad had once said, “You cannot compel anyone to believe anything
against his or her will.”
Finally, as a Muslim, I do not condemn the nasty bill boards, but I forgive them, for they know not and I urge Muslims to pray for them in the steps of Jesus and Muhammad (pbut). Let’s be the blessed peacemakers.
Once we understand freedom, a core American value, respect and live it, some of the conflicts will go away.  You might enjoy this humorous satirical short video about liberty.

Dr. Mike Ghouse has dedicated his life to the mission of building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist, speaker (Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, Politics and foreign policy) Interfaith wedding officiant and a news maker. More about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Anti-Sharia rallies are bad for America – Mike Ghouse at Supreme Court

The Nation is bracing to manage the chaos coming through the nation wide Anti-Sharia rallies planned by Act for America, an organization committed to pit one American against the other and destroy the fabric of our nation.  American Muslims firmly believe in free speech and are not opposing or participating in it, but are concerned about the safety of Americans. 

These rallies are bad for America, it will generate a lot of animosity towards fellow Americans, and you will see blatant harassment of fellow Americans on the streets, schools, subways and public places. It will cause law and order issues and make it increasingly difficult to manage the nation and cities in America.  No one will be at peace; the ones who intend to frighten and the ones who are apprehensive will not live in peace, it is a mess for all Americans, is this the America we want?
The ideal thing to do is to sit down and have a dialogue and discuss the issues and find solutions. Some Americans are afraid of the word Sharia, and it is the duty of American Muslims to allay those fears.  The Center for Pluralism, an organization for all Americans has taken the responsibility to inform, educate and bring security to each one of the 323 Million Americans through Education. A Symposium on Sharia is in the making, and Republican Congressman Pete Sessions  and Democratic Congressman Andre Carson have initially agreed to support this initiative. We will invite individuals like Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel on one side and Muslim Imams on the other to present papers and let public listen, learn and absorb. We want to do the right thing for America.
Brigitte Gabrielle,  my frequent combatant on the Sean Hannity show at Fox News is organizing nationwide Anti-Sharia rallies on June 10th.  Her organization, ACT for America is divisive and pits one American against the other. Our organization, Center for Pluralism (CFP) on the other hand is inclusive and brings Americans together under one flag for the safety and security of Americans. I urge Ms. Gabriele to consider withdrawing this gratuitous act and join us in a civilized conversation on Sharia in a symposium we are planning. Let’s stay focused on peace and prosperity and not conflicts and confusion. 

What is Sharia? 
First, let’s get the position of American Muslims out of the way. They have fully subscribed to values enshrined in our constitution and strongly believe in the law of the land.  Like all Americans, they have taken a pledge to defend, protect, honor and preserve the laws of the land. We are all on the same page.
Secondly, they and their institutions are not seeking or asking for the type of Sharia that ACT for America is opposing.
Muslims around the world, like many Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and others believe that their religious laws are God’s laws to follow. As a matter of fact Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, correctly points out in his book that since the Constitution of the United States follows God’s laws which are consistent with the Quran, the U.S. is Sharia compliant. Many of the things that we hear of and abhor, such as an adulterer being stoned is not called for in the Quran. These are not God’s laws but a cultural phenomenon.  

Classification of Sharia
Based on the accountability factor, responsibility and authority to enforce the laws, the Muslim Sharia laws can be classified as Personal and public in nature.
Personal Sharia is a covenant between an individual and God, the accountability, performance or lack of performance of such covenants is between God and the individual and not anyone’s business.  Examples: Praying, fasting, Charity, pilgrimage (Hajj), caring for neighbors etc.  
Public Sharia on the other hand is a covenant between two or more individuals where the third party administers its execution.  Examples: Divorce, inheritance, rape, theft, business or personal contracts, Marriage gift (Mahr) etc.  Performance of lack of it becomes a public issue and the third party’s decision is binding on both the parties and is subject to penalties and punishments. 
The issue  
Sharia law like any other law of the land was designed to serve justice to its followers. A century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the emerging community was facing newer problems and thus the religious men at that time decided to create a body of law to address the conflicts. Most of the laws were derived from their understanding of Quran and Prophet’s practices, but some were from cultural practices at the time, and thus are technically not Sharia.  
Many a Muslims consider it as divine law and as such amendments have been non-existent in the context of changing world.  In contrast, the US constitution has allowed amendments throughout its existence to reflect the prevailing norms and commonly acceptable values of the society.
Conflicts
Muslims like any group of people want justice and they believe the American laws serve the needed justice, and hence they chose to abide by the American Laws for resolving conflicts between two individuals. 
However, some of the immigrant Muslims steeped deeply in religion wanted to follow the laws they were familiar with just as Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other wanted to follow their customs.  As an example a Catholic who marries cannot re-marry under God’s law in their tradition unless the marriage itself was never recognized in the eyes of God. This is known as an annulment and the Catholic Church enforces this law of God as they see it. 
Muslims have never asked that their laws be applied in all disputes but personal disputes, applicable to the individuals to give them comfort and a sense of justice.  
Given the political and economic conflicts we had with a few nations including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim majority nations,  we equated their practices like cutting the hands of the thieves, lashing or stoning the adulterers, forcing women to wear face veil and denying equal space for women as the crude form of Sharia. But in reality, none of this is even in the Quran. It is more culture based and has nothing to do with Islam. As an example, Death Penalty is not universal in all the States of the United States. Even though most of Americans laws have origins in Sharia-like laws, we have moved away from them, indeed they are appalling thoughts in America today.
Most American Muslims are clear what they want, but for a few who have made irresponsible statements that has fueled the anti-Sharia drive.  This is a legitimate fear that drives concerned Americans to attack it preemptively.  No American wants to live in tensions or fear of a fellow American.  Sharia will continue to frighten fellow Americans, if we don’t talk with each other and educate ourselves in this area.  The Muslim segment of the Center for Pluralism is committed to do that.
American Muslims are not looking for the public Sharia (as practiced in Saudi, Iran or other Muslim majority nations) to be implemented in America. However, a few men and women saw the opportunity to oppose Sharia that no Muslim group or institution had even requested it to be implemented.  They made a business out of it and nearly $100 Million dollars have been earned by the opposers of the Sharia – a gratuitous act, and waste of public time.
 Sharia will not make it in America even if Muslims were to become a majority in the year 2117, a hundred years from now. An overwhelming majority of American Muslims have no appetite for the kind of Sharia that fellow Americans fear.
For example, Muslim’s don’t want their hands cut-off, don’t want a woman having a baby out of wedlock to be buried in the ground and stoned to death. They do not want lashes for adultery. American Muslims really don’t want that kind of Sharia, and American Muslims realize it is not what God wants.
The Man made Sharia is not divine and it is not about justice, fairness, mercy and kindness, where as God’s Sharia is about justice, fairness, kindness and mercy which is not practiced anywhere.   
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More at www.ShariaLaws.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Where’s my Pulitzer Prize?

Where’s my Pulitzer Prize? Peggy Noonan Wins 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary

Congratulations to Peggy Noon for winning the Pulitzer Prize.  She should consider sharing that with me (LOL) as I wrote an identical piece with more clarity.
Chris Matthews on MSNBC announced on his show tonight (April 11, 2017)  that Peggy Noon won the Pulitzer Prize for her commentary on Trump’s victory in November 2016.
“The unprotected people of America, who have to live with Washington’s policies, rebelled against the protected, who make and defend those policies and who care little if at all…” “About the unprotected … Tuesday was in effect an uprising of the unprotected. It was part of the push-back against detached elites. She was talking about the educated haves looking down on the have nots, above them in cultural hipness..”
Peggy wrote a few days after the election, where as I wrote two days before the election.
I asked Hillary to deliver the following message in one fashion or the other on Monday, November 7, 2016.
“My priority is to reach out to my fellow Americans who had it good until the disaster from wars brought misery to them; the white Americans. We are going to find ways and means for them to recover from the difficult times they have endured while others Americans have prospered.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillarys-last-ditch-effort-the-final-speech_us_581f90f8e4b0102262411963
On August 7, 2016, I wrote, “The LGBT, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and members of other minorities love it when a Congressman, Senator or an actor speaks up kindly about them.   They love the leader and become his or her defenders and promoters.  Most leaders are genuine with a few exceptions.  John McCain was authentic when he corrected the woman, “No, Madam. Obama is good family man….” And so was General Powell, who said, “So what if he is a Muslim?” These are unforgettable moments that Muslims Cherish, likewise there are moments like this for every community.”
Trump’s sympathy for the disaffected has earned him unprecedented loyalty.
Trump has precisely made those statements about the disaffected White folks who will hang on to him dearly, just as the Jews, Muslims and others have done it. Trump has earned die-hard supporters.
Hillary needs to pay attention to this.
Those Americans, who have seen good times in the sixties through the 90’s with hiccups in the Mid-eighties, faced hard times after the economic collapse in 2006 brought in by Bush-Cheney’s reckless regime.
The Job losses, business closures, massive budget deficits, unprecedented home foreclosures, divorces and deeply disturbed family lives made it difficult for Middle America. No one talked about them; they were simply not a part of the conversation.

Mike Ghouse

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Can a Muslim woman marry a Non-Muslim Man? Short Version

This is the short version of the article. If you are the Muslim woman considering marriying outside your faith, please read the full Version – 6000 Words – it may give you a few answers and relief.  http://interfaithmarriages.org/can-a-muslim-woman-marry-a-non-muslim-man/
This article brings serious discussion about marriage of single Muslim women in America in general and Muslim women in their forties and fifties in particular. There are not enough Muslim men out there, and interfaith marriage is one of the few viable options to them. Most American Muslim Women rule out the idea of marrying someone from their home country as it does not work out culturally nor do they have patience for arranged marriages. They want to get to know the guy before marrying and that is not easy. Today, nearly 40% of Muslim women marry outside of their faith and most of them without conversion.
Researching the matrimonial sites, out of 1000 Muslim women, only 30% of them over the age of 50 have listed Islam as their religion, the rest have listed themselves as spiritual but not religious, and the add “religion is no bar.”
There is nothing you can do, it is not your life and you don’t have solutions either. A majority of Muslims quietly go along with it, some have a lot of questions and some are ready to quote verses from Quran and make declarations that they are out of the pale of Islam.   By the way, this is not a Muslim problem exclusively; it is a problem in all faiths, again it is not the faith, but the whims of the guardians of faith.
This piece is not for binary Muslims who are robotic and parroting Halal and Haram on an auto pilot, i.e., Black or White, zero and one, they don’t realize that life is full of colors and digits.
This piece is for those Muslims who understand the essence of Islam which is to create cohesive societies. It is for those who understand God’s signs. He has created the earth and the heavens, planets and the systems and programmed them to function cohesively. To understand cohesion, let’s start with our own bodies. We are composed of billions of unique cells but most certainly we can see that our bodies have several different organs, and all of them have to work together for us to live a normal life.  We are one planet, one earth and one system of creation and through one cause.That is one God.
If your answer is an emphatic no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim, then please don’t read this article. It is not for you.
But, if you are struggling with the idea of pursuing a relationship with a man, who is not a Muslim, but you like him and want to spend your life with him and are tempted to be Bibi Khadija, then it is worth reading the entire 6000 words piece with most possible questions and answers and references.  Finding the truth is your own responsibility, and in Islam, no one is responsible for your actions but you,  and no one bears the burden of others. It is your decision and you have to live with it, so think through it.
The answer to the question has always been an emphatic NO. Guarding the flock is a human trait and no tradition wants to lose a member of their tradition to the other, whether you are a Hindu, Christian, Sikh or a Jew, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or new, indeed, any tradition for that matter. Muslims are no exception either and there is no need to beat up on Islam for your deficiency in comprehension.
This paper explores on possible causes for the Yes or No response, and what happens if that cause is not there anymore. The main source of Islamic knowledge is Quran and Hadiths that are authentic and reflect the personality of the prophet; a mercy to mankind.
Quran does not expressly forbid Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men and neither prophet has expressly forbidden it. Read the verses again particularly the oft quoted verses 60:10 and 2:221. There is an advisement to marry with whom you are compatible, and whom you can live in harmony with. It is a relational guidance that a believing bondsman is better than a non-believing man and vice-versa for men. The comparison is for one to understand that the social status is not important, but harmony is.
Marriage is all about harmony – God wants his creation to live in harmony. You don’t want to live with someone with conflicts throughout the day.  If you find a spouse who can live with you in harmony despite religion, race or region, than that ‘advisement’ or the condition is not applicable anymore.  After all, God is the one who puts love between two souls and it the couple who has to live their lives.
In verse 60:10 disbelievers were those individuals who prevented the believers to practice their faith; there was an element of hostility between them. But today, most people of faith are believers in God in one fashion or the other. But those who do not believe in God will have difficulty to live with those who do believe, and it is not advisable to marry them. I have officiated weddings between an Atheist and a faithful, it is about harmony and not the belief. If they can live in Harmony, God will not come in between their love, it is him or his system that made each other want to come together.  It is about compatibility and harmony and not religion or other case.
One of the most beautiful couplets to express this ‘love’, ‘attraction’ between two people was expressed by an Indian poet Ghalib some 150 years ago. He says,
Ishq a o aatish hai Ghalib, ke lagaye na lage, bujhaye no bujhe.
Love is such a flame Ghalib that you can cause it nor can you put it off, it just happens.
The questions are endless, but the answer is a powerful one, and that is accountability.  In the traditional societies parents rightfully felt responsible to guard the happiness of their offspring, where as parents in North America are learning to believe that their kids are independent and know what they want in their lives, and will find their own happiness.  Ultimately they have to live their own lives and you cannot babysit them forever.  American Muslim parents trust their kids to do the right thing and let them run their own lives. Please note that this comparison is made with Muslims living elsewhere in the world.
There is one segment of single Muslim women that is reaching an enormous percent of all the single women.  These women are in their late 40’s and 50’s, and are divorced or widowed and certainly not looking for a provider, nor do they entertain having children – the traditional marriage items.  They are simply looking to have a friend and a companion in their marriages and live their own lives. God wants nothing more for his creation than harmony and happiness.
No woman should be denied her right to life, liberty and happiness. No one can push an American Muslim woman to marry anyone other than whom she wants. By marrying someone she can be happy with, her faith remains strong, if not she would a Muslim in name.
Some of us may not want to acknowledge it, but the 2nd and 3rd generation American Muslims will have their own Islam that differs from others in other lands. However the American practice of Islam would be closer to the one Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) practiced; a religion committed to building cohesive societies and caring for fellow humans and environment, in essence Islam tells you to mind your own business as you do on the Day of Judgment.
Indeed, we all have the same Islam and there is no doubt about it. However, our cultures are different, the culture of Nahadatul Ulema,  Doebandis, Naqshbandis, Sufis, Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadiyya, Ismailis, WD Deen Muhammad, Bohri’s, Nation of Islam, Alawites, Wahhabis and others vary in practices from region to region. Even our rules are divided into six different schools of thought. The Islam practiced by Baghdadi is not the same as the one practiced by any American Muslim.  All of them are Muslims in their own right and none of us have the right or permission from God to belittle or denigrate the other.
If God would have said no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, it would have been said in the Quran, there is not even an inference. God does not make mistakes; instead he empowers us to figure out our own equilibrium.
This essay is merely an expression of what many American Muslims are thinking but are afraid to express. I am pleased to present some thoughts to reflect on; ultimately the decision to marry rests in the hearts and minds of the individuals marrying. It is their life and it is God who puts love in their hearts for each other.
God bless the Interfaith and Interracial Couples! Despite their religious, racial or cultural differences, they are setting the new standards of civility by showing the world how to live in harmony. Isn’t that is what God wants? We have to cherish and honor the couples who embrace genuine humanity by accepting each other’s uniquenesses.
When people are showing extreme intolerance towards each other, the interfaith and interracial couples are showing the way to live in harmony and are contributing to the idea of one nation. They are indeed exemplary patriotic Americans.
If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
The sole intent of this essay is to understand the struggle of “Single American Muslim women” and keeping them from living with frustrations of culture and their wants and needs. We have expand our fold be reflective of God’s boundlessness and extending Prophet Muhammad’s mercy to the entire universe. After all, God says, he created all of us from one single couple, thus we are all one family and should not have any barriers between us.
Here is another article written by Dr. Asma Lamrabelt, Muslim Scholor in Morocco, I was pleased to read as she also has a similar but a layered take.
Mike Ghouse

GHOUSE delivers the letter to President Trump

CFP delivers the letter to President Trump
Thursday, February 23, 2017, National Harbor, Washington, DC — Two days ago, the following letter (below) was drafted and was to be given to President Trump. Today at the C-PAC convention at the Gaylord Resorts, my determination was firm. I wasn’t sure what would happen next. I knew, however, that I would have no regrets for at least trying my best.
My friend, Jack Pagano, was resourceful in identifying the movers and shakers of the Conservative Union and, quite literally, we chased them to give them the letter. Things happened so fast, that we could not even take pictures. I am grateful to Jack for taking at least a few pictures. I will post some of the pictures later.  
 
We caught up with Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the Conservative Union, who put the whole C-PAC program together. He is a very gracious man. He actually took the time to stop and read the letter, word by word, and one paragraph – twice.  He said he believed in a Cohesive America and that the President needs to read this letter. He said he would give the letter to the President tomorrow.
VP Pence finished his thunderous speech around 9 PM, and as he and his security men walked out of the back door, I handed the letter to him and I asked him to read it. He folded it and said that he would read it later.
Nigel Farage from Brexit was next, he read the letter then placed it in his coat pocket and said he agreed with it and that he was going to talk with President Trump.
Tom McDevitt, Chairman of the Washington Times also read it, and asked me to give a copy to another gentleman who is a mover and shaker. He also liked the letter. A “positive turn of events” resulted in my being able to meet him tomorrow. 
Next, I reached one of the gentleman who was with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus and he said he will pass the letters on to them.  In addition, the letter was shared with a few more individuals.  
I am so disappointed that I did not go on Wednesday night. My buddy, Sean Hannity, was there. He would have put me on the stage and my voice may have had even more of an impact.  Thanks to Hannity having me on his show over 100 times, almost everyone I met there knew me; including the man who ran against Paul Ryan!
Engaging with people whom you perceive to be opposed to you is the right thing to do. It will gradually dissolve your own prejudices against others and vice-versa.  If you have not read“1 of 4” of my series of notes called “Positive Engagement with the Polarized,” I will resend them. It is a series of video discussions from Fox News as well as other channels. 

SHORTEST LETTER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP

Dear Mr. President,
We the people of many faiths and no faith, Christians, Jews, Muslims, LGBT Communities, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahai’s, Jains, Native Americans, Pagans, Immigrants and fellow Americans are asking you to consider the following words or something to this effect in your next speech. 
“Fellow Americans, you chose me to be your President, and now I ask you to help me do the right thing for the good of all Americans. Listen carefully; stop those people who are making bomb threats against fellow Americans, particularly against the Jewish Community Centers which is not acceptable. We will hunt them down and punish them accordingly.
Stop them from harassment of Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Immigrants, African Americans or any American for that matter. The actions of those few misguided people are making me look bad and are a bad reflection on my administration. Stop them! I want an America where no one has to live in apprehension.
I will not tolerate any one ruining our country, neither should you! I appeal to you to stop them now; I will not accept my supporters doing hateful acts that malign me as your president.
I want an America where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.”
Standing up for Jews:  http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/02/standing-up-with-jews.html
Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916, 
President Center for Pluralism
Mike@CenterforPluralism.com 
http://www.CenterforPluralism.com 

THE LETTER WAS DELIVERED

Matt Schlapp told me that he had passed on the letter (To Trump) and said that he read it twice and liked the message!   Video –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZX2mr7k6fI&feature=youtu.be


Dr. Mike Ghouse is President and Executive Director of the Center for Pluralism committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in tension, apprehension or fear of the other. He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist, motivational speaker and a news maker. He offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 65 links atwww.MikeGhouse.net

Is it worth talking with right wingers and radicals?

Each one of us thinks differently.  We have a choice to ‘stay away from each other’ and let the ill-will, suspicion and doubts simmer to become unmanageable.  I hope if you take the time to ‘study’ the three videos and the notes below, you will change your mind about using the phrases like “right wing” “Red necks” and other epithets.  These are bad choice of words to describe fellow humans who react differently to situations.
Last week, I posted the following video from a Fox News debate with Sean Hannity and Brigitte Gabrielle on face book in two different places, and got shot down by my friends saying it is a waste of time to deal with the hard wired, without realizing they were as prejudiced as the ones they were accusing of.
In the above video, if you had the time to ‘listen’ (not hear but listen) to what Brigitte Gabrielle said, without any doubt she sounds hateful and gives her own convoluted reasons. If Muslims (her perceptions) did not do certain things this would not happen.  I hope you see a room for a dialogue there….   Next time you tend to discount someone, please make an effort to listen to them. What sounds like a condemnation may be an actual invitation to clarify concerns?  Will she change her mind? Of course she will as long as it is not to your advantage but for common goodness. She is human and will take a lot of “seeing the facts” for her, and it is worth the effort.
She had invited me to speak at her San Antonio chapter of ACT, there again, there were several who came up and said they did not know Islam teaches peace and non-violence. It was one against all others, I did not see it that way, I saw that they wanted to hear another point of view, and thank God I was one of the two Muslims who went to speak, others Muslims had rejected.
We should not expect people to change just because we speak, but am glad at least they wanted to hear.  Quran often reminds us to honor free will as the overriding value of God’s creation.
Prophet Muhammad during a meditative mood thought it aloud. Lord, I am frustrated, the message of oneness is not received by enough people, what should I to do?  God responds, “Muhammad, don’t give up teaching the values of oneness of God and accountability of one’s actions, do your duty, let me be the one to give them guidance to receive.”  Please note these were not the exact words from Quran or the prophet, but it is the meaning found in many verses including these two; 10:99 and 28:56 referred to in Muhammad Asad’s translation.
It is difficult for a few Muslims or people in any group to understand that we have to talk with the ones who are opposed to us, malign us and tear us apart.   Mother Teresa has the perfect advice for those few, “If you want to make peace with your enemies, go talk with them.”  Talking and gossiping among friends won’t change a thing, but talking with the ones who want to tear you down, does creates a chance.   I have seen the results time and again.
It is not a waste of time, people are getting the message.
As I was walking out of the terminal in the Los Angeles Airport, someone tapped on my shoulder, I looked back – the guy said he was a surgeon in Los Angeles and my fan, and I was plain flabbergasted. He said, he and his friends have discussed about my presence on Hannity, and said, “You break their narrative.”  Before you came on the scene, we took what was given to us as the gospel truth, but when you started to butt in and challenge Hannity; we realized that there is another point of view.  Even though you don’t get to say all your points, the fact that you challenge him has made us look for more.  We must give him the credit for giving your website address and we read your full points.  He moved on by saying, keep up the good work.
This happens frequently in the planes, airports and this week at CPAC. I really wish the progressive attend the conservative meetings and Vice-Versa to have hopes that we can talk with each other.
I continue to believe that we need to listen to people without prejudice; the so called right wing people express their thoughts in a way that frightens many.
You will not believe the following video, what you see is that conservatives are screaming out loud for reassurance,  that we are all in this together and together against extremism.  When we have one voice, see what they do. Here is Stuart Varney about our work.
It is a grave mistake to write off others as bad people, at the end we all lose. Listen to the videos again, there is so much to learn, they tell us what it takes, and that is a good beginning. I would rather spend time with them, even if I don’t get anywhere with them.  Remember it is not a business to have measurable returns for your time; it is a service with nothing to be expected but serve.
My late wife used to command me frequently, “Why waste your time for the community, no one would appreciate it, put in the same hours in your consulting business and bring more money, at least I will appreciate it and we can take more vacations.”
My passion for Pluralism (religious, political, cultural, civic and societal) runs deep, and has led me to devote the rest of my life to this purpose.  As you may know, with my qualifications I can make substantial money, as so many do and wither away, but I want to live a purposeful life by bringing a sense of security to every American, where all of us drop our guards and live a tension-free life. If we follow our calling; there is peace and joy in it.
No one will point a single finger at me, if I did nothing.
Dealing with Brigitte Gabrielle, Pamela Geller and their likes does make sense.  There are those like the guy in the Airport, and there are those who call me names. I even get death threats.  I receive a lot of emails and by the way 16 Million people have visited my Google profile and 20 Million have visited my website. Someone is listening some place, what God said to Muhammad was also said by Krishna to Arjuna, do your duty and let God decide to give the fruit.  I am at peace.
Jesus’s wisdom is powerful – don’t condemn the sinners, you have zero chance of redeeming them. If you condemn the sin, in this case what their talk does to create apprehension, you have at least 0.01 % chance of redeeming them. I would invest my time in redemption than condemnation.
Here is another video about Hannity – I strongly believe dialogue is critical to bring a change. We can have meetings all day long, but talking with friends creates fewer chances for change than talking with those who are opposed.
I wrote this piece because I was attacked by a few major Muslim organizations for going on Hannity, they did not see what can be done by positive engagement. God willing, I am seeking a few friends to fund the Center for Pluralism, and I hope to train enough people to start the dialogues and bring about the change we need to.
I urge you not to run from the ones who appear to eat you alive, talk to them, and if you want to get somewhere with them, have patience.
God bless us all, we are one nation, if we can learnt to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Center for Pluralism is committed to building a cohesive America.

Who Speaks for American Muslims

The overwhelming majority of Muslims are moderate. However, there are not enough speakers out there to articulate what these Muslims actually believe and practice, and their significant contributions to America.
Those who had a morally corrupt agenda filled the gap and spoke negatively about Islam. Unfortunately, their version became the currency and so many Americans fell for it in the absence of the right information.
Everyone wants to see a cohesive America where no one has to live in apprehension, tension or fear each other.  The Center for Pluralism, also known as the America Together Foundation has embarked on a mission to train speakers to deliver the message of Islam, as practiced by American Muslims –which is distinct from Islam practiced elsewhere in the world.
There is no doubt that a few “Islamophobes” are out to get Muslims; they are well paid to do so. But in the same vein, Muslims would not be well served to believe that “all of them” are of the same ilk.  These Islamophobes are simply afraid of what the “Islamists” are doing in the name of Islam and worried sick about its ramifications for America. Rationally they know it is not in America, but still the phobia persists.
We have an obligation to listen to our fellow citizens and a moral duty to allay their fears.
Pulitzer Prize winner Judith Miller speaks out on Fox News, “It is the fear that so many Muslims who are moderates, the fear they have of speaking out and the reaction of their own community. Until we win that battle inside, the Jihadists will take center stage.  We are going to go on creating the impression that the Islamists Jihadists are the majority and they are not.”  Brigitte Gabrielle of Act for America adds, “Where are the funders of people like Mike – is there not a mega millionaire in the Islamic world who can say, you know what I believe in your moderate message and can give Mike $5 Million dollars to build the grass root organization?”
The right leaning Muslims curse Gabrielle, Spencer and Geller out, while the left discounts them, leaving the moderates to deal with the issue. What I hear them say is simply this: Where are the mainstream Muslims to speak out about what they practice? The mainstream Muslims have reached the point of zero tolerance towards extremism and have the desire to assertively seek to push the literalists to see the essence of Islam.
The most sustainable way to counter Islamophobia and violent extremism is through education. Our programs are designed to bring Americans together; the more we see each other in social, cultural, civic, religious, political and other settings, the less divisiveness there will be, resulting in fewer misunderstandings and misperceptions between us.
This is the Islam of Moderate Muslims.
Muslims are not arrogant and do not reject the validity of other spiritual paths. They believe that Islam is one of the many spiritual paths that bring support to an individual in dealing with the difficulties of life.
The Quran is a book of guidance to restore harmony within oneself, and harmony with others through a variety of values listed below.
Moderate Muslims are mainstream Muslims; they have no barriers between them and God’s creation.  They are free from prejudice towards others.
They have an inherent sense of equality with respect to men and women.
They do not flaunt their religion at every opportunity.  They will seldom say you will go to hell.
Social life is easy with them, they mix and mingle.  They will go to a bar with you, and while you drink alcohol, they will quietly drink water or soda and not make a production out of their religion.  If you invite them for dinner, they quietly eat what suits them and you don’t have to be stressed out about what to cook for them.  They appreciate it if you are conscious that Muslims don’t eat pork products.
They are not hell bent on converting or missionizing others, as they see other paths as equally valid. They will not engage in the upmanship battle either.
As most White, Black, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or Christian parents do,   Muslim parents will neither compel their children to observe religion strictly, nor do they throw fits if their kids marry outside their faiths. Personalizing faith is an America value!
Most Muslims may not even talk about religion, it is not important to them, what is important is knowing and caring for their neighbors and respecting and honoring fellow beings, consistent with the Golden Rule.
Sharia is not coming to America nor do American Muslims want the kind of Public Sharia practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran. American Muslims believe in personal Sharia – that is how you pray, fast, share what you have, care for fellow humans. Let’s “clear the air” of misunderstandings for all Americans. We need to put this fear behind us and focus on prosperity and living our lives.  American Muslims uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our American Constitution. Our faith reinforces the idea of one nation with liberty and justice for all.
These characteristic accurately describe the vast majority of mainstream American Muslims.  They quietly practice their faith; and don’t feel the need to make a show of their religion.
The process of telling the American Muslim story has begun.  It started with Sean Hannity of Fox News – he was the first one to bring a mainstream Muslims on his show.  Before that, Muslims were usually represented by bearded men wearing religious costumes. Let me clarify, the beard and Hijab are not the determinants of one’s moderation or religiosity, they are cultural in nature and are a personal choice.
Gone are the days when you were not Muslim enough to speak about Islam if you did not wear the beard or hijab; did not throw in a ton of Arabic phrases; and did not wear some exotic sort of symbolic body and head covering associated with Islam.
What Islam is not is ruling others or compelling others to believe against their will. The Quran is clear on that, no one bears the burdens of others and no one is responsible for other’s actions. What Islam is, is freedom to believe as you will, and freedom to choose between right and wrong.  And it is very much about taking responsibility for one’s words and actions.
American Islam is minding your own faith, and letting others mind theirs.
Islam is about spirituality – that is, becoming one with nature (God) where all walls fall that divide you from the others.
Islam is pluralism – that is, respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.  You’ll learn all about this in our class, replete with references from the Quran and the prophet’s practices.  It simply can’t get more authentic than that!
THE NEW SPEAKERS ON ISLAM
Nothing will change without intention and effort.  If we wish for speakers who reflect the values of the majority, we have to find and encourage them.
Fortunately, we have begun this process.
We teach the traditional five pillars of Islam, which are the personal aspect of Islam and a part of being a Muslim.  But our focus is on the major part of being a Muslim, and that is the practices and values that contribute towards building cohesive societies.
The following values are taught:  First Amendment, responsibility and accountability, truthfulness, justice, forgiveness, caring for fellow beings, humility, equality, and pluralism, freedom of speech, harmony, and civil dialogue.  In a nutshell, this is Islam.
Many people, and many Muslims themselves, have been hungry for speakers who spoke about the values of Islam, and now we have taken the first step towards it.
We have just completed the first course, held in metro Washington, DC.  Subject to funding, the next course will be a three weekend 15 hours course to be held in May 2017 also in DC.  The training is open to people of all faiths, and indeed, at least one non-Muslim has already completed it.   Anyone with the knowledge of good universal human values and a heart for harmony within the human family can pick up the training and speak for Islam, the American Islam.
If you are looking for speakers on Islam, we have a good lineup available.  They graduated from the Muslim Speakers training program and are ready to speak on the values of Islam, the values that contribute towards making the world a better place for every human being.  They speak of Islam as it is, the inclusive Islam practiced by contemporary American Muslims.
Thanks to the support from Montgomery County Muslim Foundation, Muslim Community Center of Silver Spring and American Muslim Institution for the sponsorship of the respective classes.  We also thank Imam Faizul Khan (Rituals), Imam Ali Siddiqui (History), Imam Dain Abdul-Fattah Johnson (Hadith),  Nathan Walker (Fist Amendment),  Falah Shams (Denominations),  Rabia Baig (Youth), Alejandro Beutel (Radicalization & CVE),  Haris Tarin (Terrorism,), Katherine Kerr (Media Training) and Mike Ghouse (Quran, Pluralism, Sharia, Islamophobia, Islamic Values) who put the program together.
Here is a statement from each of six graduates about what they can speak about.
Charles Stevenson:  “I can speak as a Catholic friend of Islam and as a childhood son of Northern Virginia’s rural American South, and as a citizen passionate about building an American future built on the rocklike foundation of harmony in diversity.”
Rina Hafiz: “I am a bridge of understanding to help other cross over and experience the view points of both the west and Islam.  I’ve loved and enjoyed the diversity having lived on both sides of the globe; I am an American, a soccer mom and a Muslim woman who feels empowered by my faith.”
Rashed Hasan: I can speak as an American Muslim Professional, who studied engineering at MIT and business at The Wharton School, and have taken a deep dive into the Qur’an to understand Islam at its core in terms of values and principles, not just rituals.  I am currently publishing a series – Removing the Middleman – putting values and principles from the Qur’an in the context of our contemporary lives and societies.    It will give you a sense of what to expect when I speak about Islam, religious plurality and our common humanity for our generation.
Fatima Argun: I can speak about the value of diversity in today’s America and why it is important for shaping cohesive, collaborative and resilient communities.  To that end, interfaith dialogue and true understanding of those in a community that are different than oneself is at the heart of creating a more harmonious, peaceful world.
Shagufta Hasan:  “I can speak on how it was to grow up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh as a young Muslim girl, and later as a mother helping my children understand and navigate the challenges of their adolescent lives and guiding them to focus on the values and morals that are taught in Islam to become a good human being.”
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Mike Ghouse is the president and executive director of the Center for Pluralism. An interfaith, pluralism and a Muslim Speaker, thinker, writer, organizer, human rights activists, news maker and a pluralist committed to building cohesive societies with a belief that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world and vice versa to sustain peace, harmony and prosperity.  He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions to Media on issues of the day. http://www.mikeghouse.net/