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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/

The ISIS Genocide of Yazidi, Christians and Shia

Marking the Anniversary of the US Government’s recognition of this ISIS Genocide in Iraq and Syria.
March 16, 2017 – Washington, DC at Capitol Hill.  The Genocide Coalition is partnerships of organizations and advocates for the religious minorities in Iraq and Syria targeted by ISIS for genocide.  ISIS has been pushed back, the but the Genocide continues. Many of the indigenous religious and ethnic communities targeted by ISIS are still unable to return to their homes – and many, nearly three years later, are still not receiving US aid. Before peace and reconciliation efforts can begin, the victims of genocide must be able to return to their homes safely.
Sitting through listening to over a dozen speakers, I hear the same words again and again, I was stuck when Zina Kiryakos, Christian Human Rights council stated that, “7000 years of civilization was destroyed, millions of Chaldean Christians were forced to leave….” I was thinking about the Genocides of the Native Americans as we had commemorated it along with other Genocides. I was picturing the whole list of Genocides through out the human history. Is any nation, any social, political, religious, ethnic or racial group free from being perpetrators?   I need to study these attitudes in terms of majoritarian arrogance rather than their religious or political affiliations. The stinky attitudes towards the others who are weak, powerless and numerical minorities. After 12 years of commemorating Holocaust and many genocides, I feel the pain of all people and I am thankful to God that every one’s pain is my pain too.
Call to Action: The Genocide Coalition calls on the Trump Administration and the international community to take a swift action to stabilize Iraq; to identify and punish those who aided and abetted ISIS in its campaign of genocide and terror; and to appoint to key positions qualified persons who will pursue these and related humanitarian and national security priorities.
There is no doubt Muslims are a maligned lot as some of them have been on the perpetrator’s side at least in the last few decades. As a society, we need to keep our focus on the individuals and cults instead of groups, we should not buy into stereotyping of any kind. If we buy one, we might as well buy justify crimes against each one of us.
I attended the Genocide Coalition at Capitol Hill yesterday sponsored by IDC in defense of Christians.  It was about the Genocide of Christians, Yazidi and Shia Muslims. It was very difficult to understand how minorities are being harassed in every nation and community. Over a dozen Speakers spoke. Nadia Murad, the Yazidi woman spoke, she was raped multiple times by terrorists in the name of Islam, it was not easy, but she was graceful and did not show any bitterness and instead was seeking solutions to end the genocides of not only her people but others too.
I was tensed up for a few moments and quickly recovered. Who will speak for Muslims that condemn these cults. How do we communicate, why did I not seek to speak?  Then the big relief came when I saw Zainab Al-Suwaij’ name on the list and she spoke, Muslims need to be a part of the society in good times and sad times.
Since there was no room for others to speak or comment, I was hesitant, but doing the right thing is the right thing to do. I asked Prof Robert Destro to speak for a minute and he granted and I kept it to the minute. I said, “I just want to share that the American Muslims have dedicated a Friday Sermon and prayed for Yazidis, Christians and Shia and Muslims are constantly standing up for human rights of others”. Here are the two article in Huffington post.
1. Muslims to Dedicate Friday Sermons for the Safety of Christians, Yazidis, Shia and   – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/muslims-to-dedicate-frida_b_5679118.html 
2. President Obama, Go Ahead ‘Degrade and Destroy’ ISIS – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/president-obama-go-ahead-_b_5765264.html
3. Standing up for others – www.StandingupforOthers.com 
Destro concluded some thing to this effect, “More Muslims are victimized and slaughtered by ISIS than the others, and we are all in this together against the ISIS.” The event was orderly and no one took more than the allotted time.
A good line up of speakers: Nadia Murad, a survivor of Yazidi rapes and torture, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Congressman Fortenberry (R-NE), Zina Kiryakos – Christian Human rights council, Phillipe Nassif – In Defense of Christians, Andrew Walther – Knights of Columbus, Robert Nicholson – Philos Project, Naomi Kikoler – USHMM, Adlay Kejjan – Yazidi American Women Organization, Zainab Al Suwaijj – American Islamic Congress, Faith McDonnel – IRD,  Steve Colecchi – USCCB, Kristina Arriaga – USCRIF, Stephen Hollighshead – Iraq Haven, Professor Robert Destro, and Ninia Shea – Hudson Institute.
This is a weekly or a daily story for me, and I am sure you are the only Muslim in some events and felt relieved. Now, why don’t you attend these events? You don’t get paid for this, neither do I…? If you believe you have to serve the community, getting out there is better than talking non-stop in social gatherings.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. All about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net