TODAY'S MESSAGE

1. Don't forget Thanksgiving Dinner on 11/22/14 -details at www.ThanksgivingCelebrations.org

2. This site is all my writings or writings about me.

3. I write full commentary at several of my dedicated blogs and site, which will not appear there, the main ones are at: http://foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com and www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interfaith thanksgiving Dinner with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Honorable Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is the guest of honor and key note speaker at the 16th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite on Saturday, November 22, 2014.  During the evening’s celebrations, Congresswoman Johnson will recognize District 30 constituents for their outstanding service to the community followed by the delivery of her keynote address on gratitude.

"The purpose of celebrating this event is to thank God for helping us learn to accept, respect and appreciate each other's uniqueness and thank America for being the beacon of hope to the world” said Mike Ghouse, founder and chairperson of the event.

The purpose of the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Nite is to:

1. Give thanks for the blessed life we all enjoy in these United States of America, wish and pray the same for those who are less fortunate than us.

2. Celebrate the diversity of God's creation and enjoying the cultural heritage of each ethnic group.

3. Appreciate and recognize outstanding volunteers in each community.

4. Gather together as Immigrant Americans with naturally born Americans in celebrating this wonderful holiday.

5. For many of the immigrants it is an introduction to the American way of life.

Please join us for an interfaith dinner among multicultural attendees, gathered together under the belief that the more we learn about one another, the less misunderstandings are there to be had.   If we can learn to respect others and accept the God given uniqueness of all, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 
Master Chef Ali will prepare a special thanksgiving plate that your taste buds will  cherish. 

Accepted Donations are $20/person or $50/person. You can reserve your place to attend via Eventbrite:
Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Dinner

The event will  benefit the America Together Foundation, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit charity committed to building a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. 

Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
MikeGhouse@aol.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Texas Faith : : When is a city ban on feeding the poor an infringement on religious liberty?

, , Wayne Slater,  Homeless ban, Feeding the homeless, 

The mayor of Fort Lauderdale is assuming that the homeless are not a part of the community, and have no say in the community affairs as they do not contribute towards the revenue of the city. He is also influenced by a few uncompassionate members of the business community as the presence of homeless people around their shops is ‘apparently’ hurting their business.

Texas Faith : : When is a city ban on feeding the poor an infringement on religious liberty?
By Wayne Slater published by Dallas Morning News at 1:57 pm on November 18, 2014  

When is a city ban on feeding the homeless in a public place an infringement on religious freedom?
In Florida, a 90-year-old WWII veteran was arrested for feeding the homeless at a public park. He’s been doing it for over 20 years through a program called Love Thy Neighbor. But a new ordinance in Fort Lauderdale has put a mountain of obstacles in the way, making it virtually impossible for the group to operate as it has.
Feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
On one side are local businesses that fear feeding the homeless in a conspicuous place was bad for business and tourism. On the other side are advocates of Love Thy Neighbor who say the group is within its constitutional rights. The city tried to balance the interests of both sides with rules aimed at moving such homeless programs into houses of worship or private property. But the organization wants to continue feeding the homeless as it has, in a seaside public park.
The clash between religious rights and the public interest is a common story line. We’ve weighed in on the dustup in Houston in which the city tried to subpoena the sermons of evangelical ministers opposed to a gay-rights ordinance. And every week, it seems, there’s a new report in which the advocates of religious liberty decry a rule or action at a public school.
Religious liberty isn’t absolute. There’s no right to hold a serpent-handling service at Disneyland. Or to shout “fire” in a crowded church because your religion told you to. Or to build a megachurch in a city neighborhood with a parking lot for only 10 cars.
In the case of feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, the name of the organization is from a biblical injunction. Its mission is an act of faith. And if some businesses are inconvenienced or tourists would prefer not having to see the homeless by the beach, whose rights should prevail?
That’s this week’s question: Is a city ban on feeding the homeless in a public place an infringement on religious freedom? Our Texas Faith panel weighs in:
MIKE GHOUSE: President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
The city ban on feeding the homeless in public places is motivated by business politics rather than needs of the community.
The mayor of Fort Lauderdale is assuming that the homeless are not a part of the community, and have no say in the community affairs as they do not contribute towards the revenue of the city. He is also influenced by a few uncompassionate members of the business community as the presence of homeless people around their shops is ‘apparently’ hurting their business.
Since when have we started valuing individuals based on their contribution to the revenues of a city? That attitude renders nearly 15% of poor Americans valueless. Since when have we quit valuing our elderly with Alzheimer’s or kids with severe handicaps, or the homeless veterans?
Whether homelessness is a choice or not, they are a part of our communities and we have a responsibility for their safety and well being. Public safety is a prime responsibility of the elected we choose for governance.
The ordinance banning men and women from serving the homeless, out of their religious conviction amounts to infringement on their religious freedom and the ban needs to be challenged. The city cannot establish or ban a religion from doing public good. I believe the Becket funding takes up these cases. I sure will do my share of passing the information to them.
There is a way out. The city ought to withdraw the ordinance and consider forging or facilitating partnerships between the business community and those who want to serve the homeless, and serve them healthy food as a requirement for public safety.
Shame on us, we give away $48 billion dollars a year in military assistance to other nations for killing each other, and we cannot spend 1/100th of that on our homeless?
Those of us who are callous, ought to re-look in to the idea of human development, by investing in pulling people from ditches on to a level playing field, we would be enlarging our consumer base, boosting business all around. Pope Francis is indeed setting examples after examples – the latest news is he is building showers for the homeless in the square.
Caliph Omar was known for justice, and he forgave a thief against the norms of the society at that time. Instead, he took the responsibility and declared that the society ought to be ashamed, that a man was humiliated to stealing food for his sick child. We have to take care of our fellow beings no matter who they are. As a society we have to figure out a better system to take care of the hungry.

To read the opinions of other panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/11/texas-faith-when-is-a-city-ban-on-feeding-the-poor-an-infringement-on-religious-liberty.html/#more-47834

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Diet Racism - A video

The following commercial has captured the subtleties of racism.This mindset is however dwindling. ( at the end of the message, there is a dinner invitation for you)

In the 80's - I have heard a guy say, " I am not prejudiced against anyone, as long as he is not a N" I almost got into a fight with him after the initial dicussions, that is one of the few rare instances that I had gotten into a fight.

Now the new racism ( another name for prejudice) emerges in the form of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, antisemistism, Islamophobia and ableism (Joyce Tesar ). In reality these people are afraid of everything,

Religious racism is on rise - the ISIS guys, who claim themselves to be Muslims in Iraq are hateful towards Christians, Yazidis, and others. In reality, a Muslim cannot be hateful, cannot kill any one and cannot force anyone, however 1/10th of 1% of Muslims do not follow that, and thank God 99.90% do follow.

In the national Cathedral in washington yesterday, a woman started screaming at Muslims to get out of the church, it is only for praying for Christ. In reality, Christians cannot be hateful, cannot kill any one and cannot force anyone, however 1/10th of 1% of Christians do not follow that, and thank God 99.90% do follow.

For some it is business - They spend their time in maligning each other.
Education and coming together often alleviates the problem. 

This makes me more committed to the education of Pluralism and bringing Americans Together.

Here is the video

If you are in Dallas, join me for Dinner with people of different faiths, races and ethnicities on Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Details are at www.thanksgivingCelebrations.org

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blame the Sin and not the Sinner, what's the point

What is the point?

Why shouldn’t we take this as common sense teaching as opposed to religious teachings?

The wisdom is to hold prejudices against individuals.
Fix the hole in the bucket, and not throw the bucket.
Take the cancer tumor out, not the individual.
Think about it… and share your thoughts.

The other critical point to be made is – the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, Nanak and the wisdom of innumerable native traditions belongs to all of us, the whole humanity. We should not reduce their teachings to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Native Americans respectively.


In the last 30 days, I wrote about 10 articles, and each one of them had some reference to it. Jesus is one of my mentors and indeed the statement was made by Jesus.

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)'s advice

He was once asked, what is the best deed in God's view?
He said - taking care of your neighbor, immediate one first, and if you have more, then take care of your larger neighborhood, then town, country and the world. One thing I have always admired in him and the Quran is - they never said, take care of your Muslim neighbors, they were always inclusive. A good deed is a good deed when it is good for all.
Some smart alec from the back row piped in,' Dear Prophet, I am a poor guy, and don't have anything to give, so what can I give' - Prophet smiled, and said, give a smile. Let other's souls, hearts and minds be uplifted with your smile and hope.
So today my friends, just give a pleasant smile, make the effort and see how many you can uplift today, but please don't smile at some one who his hurt in an accident and bleeding.
Jesus Christ, Buddha, Prophet Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Pope Francis are my mentors, and there are a few more. I love their inclusive teachings and love their kindness towards fellow beings.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, foreign policy and building cohesive societies and work places. Details in 62 links at www.MikeGhouse.net
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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Attacks on Quran (33:50) are nothing new.

www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.QuraanToday.com

By Mike Ghouse

The good and evil forces are always chasing us, and whichever possess us in a given minute we act that out.  All religions evolved to show us the good path, a path that restores peace of mind and not throwing us into tumultuous 
disorder.

A friend has been posting several negative things about Islam and Quran on the Facebook. It has become her mission to denigrate the faith.  Thanks to Sean Hannity, through his show, I have learned not to play into the hands of the negative forces like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and their ilk. Instead, I have learned to take a positive step to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill. I strongly believe, if we can enlighten others, that enlightenment becomes contagious. Aggravating the other does not solve the problem, it takes you down as well.

 She posted the following verse;

Qur'an (33:50) - "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee" This is one of several personal-sounding verses "from Allah" narrated by Muhammad - in this case allowing himself a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners. Other Muslims are restrained to four wives, but, following the example of their prophet, may also have sex with any number of slaves...

I held the temptation to correct and explain, but decided that would be a wrong approach with the "determined" ones. One has to find the truth on his/her own to believe it, so I gave her the formula to read Quran (down below) that successfully worked out in our Quran Conference. Finding the truth is your own responsibility.  


Here was my response.


It is human to denigrate and find faults with other’s faiths, traditions and books; it is also human to find the right answers. If something bothers you about a certain verse in “other’s” faith or books, the right thing to do is to read three verses before, three after, and the given verse.  Read enough times to understand it, instead of “gotcha” and gloat. Truth always brings relief, and liberates one from prejudices.  It is like having a good orgasm, it brings relief to the body, soul and the mind and you'll be free and at peace with yourselves.

Four years ago, Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas Baptist Church blurted out, “Quran is a evil book written by an evil man” I challenged him to show where he finds that evil, how he interpreted them… he chickened out, I offered him to find 5 faults with Quran that we can agree in a public forum, if he could, I will become a Baptist, if not I will ask him to shed his hatred for Islam, Quran and the Prophet and become a peace maker that Jesus had called for. This went on local TV for a week and two pieces were written at Dallas Morning News

Of course, Jesus don’t mean a thing to these men and women, it’s what they can get out using his name. Its’ just not Christians, but Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others also mis-use the scriptures for their gain.  Jeffress owed his congregation to do the research and tell the truth, he chose not to. One’s religion does not become superior by denigrating other’s, its cheap tactics. Finally thanks to our friend, Jon Halsey, we ended up doing a full blown Quran conference with 10 non-Muslim clergy on the panel, and we dedicated the conference to Pastor Robert Jeffress with gratitude for causing the conference.  It’s all here www.Quraanconference.com


This is where we need God’s guidance, to prevent us from promoting and encouraging hatred towards the other.  I wish you had written, this verse bothers me and I want to understand, instead of passing a judgment on the Prophet.

I ask you to gather up all those men and women, who want to remove bias against Islam, and have questions. As a matter of fact, removing bias towards any one or any faith. I am an an expert in Pluralism and will be happy to address the group of any questions they may have about Quran, bring all the questions.  I have taken the time to write because, I believe, we all need to help each other find freedom from misunderstanding and bias. Amen. 

As Americans we have to work together to create a cohesive America, you can support our work or do it yourselves, I will be happy to help you, and you can help us by donating generously at: http://americatogetherfoundation.com/donate/ 

Mike Ghouse

World Muslim Congress

To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence of humanity. Our work is geared towards building a cohesive society where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. World Muslim congress is a think tank established in 2002 to bring Muslims of all denominations together, one small step at a time. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept our uniqueness, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Let Bill Maher Speak -- Islam Supports Free Speech

Bill Maher should not be stopped from speaking either; I will equally defend his right to free speech. I am speaking up in particular because the people opposing his freedom are Muslims, fellow members of my faith.
There are numerous verses in Quran to support free speech, but for now, I will quote three;
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.netand his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Guru Nanank's 545th birthday Celebrations - Happy Gurpurab

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh


It's the 545th  birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism. Let's pray that this Gurpurab nurtures goodwill and removes ill-will between people of all faiths. That would be the highest tribute we can pay to the Guruji, indeed that was one of his missions for people to live in harmony with each other.
Guru Nanakji's birthday has a special significance to me. Indeed, the religion we called Sikhism started out as an interfaith movement, in which Guru Nanak primarily brought people from different religions together and taught common sense goodness, serving humanity and caring for the neighbors.
On this auspicious day of Guru Nanak Devji's birthday, on behalf of World Muslim Congress and the Foundation for Pluralism, we wish peace and blessing to the world.
As a Pluralist, I have been writing about the  "Festivals of the world" for the last twenty years, I write the essence of every major Festival of every religion and a message to go with it for the common man of other faiths to get a gist of it and a special message on the occasion.

Last month, I wrote an article on Gandhi's birth celebrations - the best tribute to Gandhi; do not poison your children at http://www.foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com/2014/10/mahatma-gandhi-do-not-poison-your.html  and also wrote a message about the Sikh Genocides, Muharram, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah and other festivities and commemorations.
This Month, I hope to contribute my message is dedicated to ease the relationship between Sikhs and Muslims, the discomfort is not on the surface, but lurking deep inside their psyche's, perhaps not with the 2nd generation after independence.
Guru Nanak Jayanthi is the birth celebration of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, and one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism.
The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurabs, are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of guidance in poetry composed by Hindu and Muslim spiritual teachers. Indeed, the land for the Golden Temple was a grant by King Akbar and the first brick for the Golden Temple was laid out by a Muslim fakir.

Happy Gurpurab to all the Sikhs and to everyone who is a well-wisher of the ideals of Sikhism. I hope, on this auspicious occasion of Gurpurab, that Muslims and Sikhs make a genuine effort to pay tribute to the spirit of Guru Nanak Devji and remove the misunderstandings that erupted from a wrong translation of Quran that happened 350 years ago and has rightfully etched in the psyche of Sikhs.
In an article in The Huffington Post about Kentucky Senator David William's bigotry expressed against Hindus,  I wrote, "No one has a right to belittle other's faiths. If Senator Williams has a problem let it be his problem and no one should malign Christianity for his bigotry." Likewise, King Aurangzeb's bigotry should not be slapped on Muslims. I have nothing to do with it, nor does any Muslim has anything to do with him.
Sadly there was a lot of bloodshed during the partition of India that has deepened the ill-will among a few Muslims and a few Sikhs. It is time to forgive for our own sake, as it will release the tension and apprehension within us and free us to deal with each other as free individuals.
May the noor (divine light) of Guru Nanankji brighten the world. Amen! Sikhism was one of the first formal religions that began as a reconciliatory goodwill nurturing faith and let's give the full value to it.
I just want to share a great misunderstanding that occurred in the 17th century and has lasted till this day.


I was a speaker on "reading the scriptures" at the Parliament of World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia. During the conference, one of the Sikh scholars was presenting a verse from Quran that has been difficult for Sikhs for more than 350 years. When Dr. Avtar Dhaliwal started his presentation with the obviously wrong translation of a verse from Quran, a fellow Muslim was outraged and walked out and was looking at me for a response. Later, I invited him back into the hall and responded to the mistranslation during my presentation and not during Dr. Dhaliwal's presentation. That is a whole another story, but for now, I will share the email that followed the conversation.
Here is note from a leader from the Sikh Community, who is making every effort to set the record right. We must appreciate all such efforts where people have made a difference in creating a better world for all of us.
Avtar Dhaliwal, July 27, 2010
Dear Mike,
Greetings. I hope by now you are well recovered from the exhausting Parliament meeting in Melbourne, Australia.
I am working on my article on Sacred Scriptures and its Intended use--misinterpretations.
Apparently, during my presentation, I did not apply the qualified translation which resulted in misunderstanding By our friend from Bombay. I apologize for not gathering my information correctly. I had applied the translation that was posted on the Internet by 'Quran Explorer.com'. I have no intension of denigrating any sacred books.
You had mentioned that correct translation is available for Surah 15:26-30. However, a Sabd by Guru Nanak Ji had been misinterpreted by the Clerks in the court of Aurangzeb, and the same interpretation has been copied in Sikh literature for the last 350 years.
I am trying to get the correct explication of the misinterpreted Sabd in Sikhism. In reference to that I need correct translation of Surah 15:26-30.
Will you please, send the correct translation in the English language as well as in the Urdu language.
Thanks for time.
Wishing the best.
Avtar S. Dhaliwal
Tennessee, USA
Here was my response. It is lengthy but worthwhile in removing 350 years of ill-will carried in our hearts.
Apparently the verses from 15:24-30 were mistranslated to suit one group over the other as the note below indicates. I will add a note after hearing from Mr. Dhaliwal.
Thank God, no one had dared to make a change in the Arabic version of Quran since its inception, however there have been three mistranslations, two of which I am familiar with, one was paid to mistranslate in 1142 AD by the European Kings around the crusades times to have the Christians hate Muslims; the other one was by Hilali Khan in 1922 after the fall of Ottoman Empire to rally up Muslim support by creating enemies out of Jews and Christians. I am not familiar with the third one, apparently during King Aurangzeb's time. Aurangzeb was an honest man, but was an intolerant fanatic towards Hindus and apparently Sikhs.
Quran, like all other holy books is a book of guidance for humanity to co-exist in harmony and peace, the religious scriptures are God's love for his creation. Just as the Nuclear power in the hands of good men and women can be beneficent to humanity and destructive in the wrong hands, the holy books are the same. Neither Quran, nor Nuclear powers are bad, it is whose hands in it is that determine the outcome. Fortunately, the intolerants ones are less than 1/10th of 1% of the population.
The best way to understand a verse is to read five verses before and after, and read at least three translations to get the right meaning. Finding the truth is one's own responsibility.
15:24 (Asad) and well do We know [the hearts and deeds of all human beings - both] those who lived before you and those who will come after you; (Or: "those of you who hasten forward [towards Us], and those who lag behind". Both these interpretations are considered equally legitimate by the early commentators)
15:25 (Asad) and, behold, it is thy Sustainer who will gather them all together [on Judgment Day]: verily, He is wise, all-knowing!
15:26 (Asad) AND, INDEED, We have created man out of sounding clay, out of dark-slime transmuted
There are many references in the Quran to man's having been "created out of clay (tin)" or "out of dust (turab)", both these terms signifying man's lowly biological origins as well as the fact that his body is composed of various organic and inorganic substances existing-in other combinations or in their elementary forms-on or in the earth. The term salsal, occurring in three verses of this surah as well as in 55:14, adds a further dimension to this concept. According to most of the philological authorities, it denotes "dried clay that emits a sound" (i.e., when it is struck); and since it is used in the Quran exclusively with reference to the creation of man, it seems to contain an allusion to the power of articulate speech which distinguishes man from all other animal species, as well as to the brittleness of his existence (cf. the expression "like pottery" in 55:14). As the construction of the sentence shows, this salsal is stated to have evolved (Razi) out of hama' - which, according to some authorities, is the plural of ham'ah, signifying "dark, fetid mud" or "dark slime"-while the participial adjective masnun which qualifies this noun denotes, as Razi points out, both "altered" (i.e., in its composition) and "brought into shape": hence my rendering of this expression as "transmuted", which to some extent combines both of the above meanings. To my mind, we have here a description of the primeval biological environment out of which the "sounding clay" - the matrix, as it were - of man's physical body has evolved in accordance with God's plan of creation. (Quran 15:26 )
15:27 (Asad) whereas the invisible beings We had created, [long] before that, out of the fire of scorching winds
"out of the confusing flame of fire (marij min nar)": i.e., of non-corporeal elements. The noun al-jann, rendered by me as "the invisible beings", is in reality a singular, denoting here the kind of these particular beings or forces, similar to the use of the singular noun "man" (al-insan) which describes the collective entity "mankind".
15:28 (Asad) And lo! Thy Sustainer said unto the angels: "Behold, I am about to create mortal man out of sounding clay, out of dark slime transmuted;
15:29 (Asad) and when I have formed him fully and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down before him in prostration!
The allegorical character of all the passages bearing on the creation of man and on God's command to the angels to prostrate themselves before him is brought out clearly in God's saying, "I am about to create mortal man ... ; and when I have formed him fully. ..", etc.: for it is obvious that, in reality, no lapse of time is required for God's completing His creation - since, "when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, 'Be'-and it is" (cf. 2:117, 3:47 and 59, 6:73, 16:40, 19:35, 36:82 and 40:68). God's "breathing of His spirit" into man is obviously a metaphor for His endowing him with life and consciousness: that is, with a soul. (Quran 15:29 )
There are several references where God tells the angels to bow to the man he has just created. In essence, God is asking to look up to man who is not an automatic machine to be in peace and free from conflicts, but has the free will and will strive to achieve peace, a state of conflict free, guilt free life.
15:30 (Asad) Thereupon the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together,
15:31 (Asad) save Iblis: he refused to be among those who prostrated themselves.
15:32 (Asad) Said He: "O Iblis! What is thy reason for not being among those who have prostrated themselves?"
15:33 (Asad) [Iblis] replied: "It is not for me to prostrate myself before mortal man whom Thou hast created out of sounding clay, out of dark slime transmuted!" 
This signifies lack of trust in God by Iblis (Shaitaan) and arrogance to bow in front of a thinking and independent creature. 
15:34 (Asad) Said He: "Go forth, then, from this [angelic state]: for, behold, thou art [henceforth] accursed.
Dr. Harbans Lal and Mike Ghouse
To honor Guru Nanak ji, on the 445th birth celebrations, let's all make an effort to open our hearts to each other, and work on reconciliation between Hindu and Muslims, the conflicts are not gone, they have to be addressed and understood and new beginning has to be given.  I hope the above is a good step forward.

I am pleased to be a part of every faith group and here are some of the many  photo albums with the Sikh community.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh
 
This article was published at Huffington Post a few years ago. Mike Ghouse is committed to build a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is indexed at MikeGhouse.net

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Texas Faith: How should we incorporate faith into a secular political world?

True Secularism or true religious government is not about forcing others into obedience, but facilitating freedom to live his or her life as one chooses. However, the radicals in all systems bring a bad name to their respective group. Radical Secularism infringes on freedom of the religious people, just as radical religion does to non-religious people. 

The history of Soviet Union and China has left a bad taste for generations to come; they forced Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, and others to abandon practicing their faiths. It is like forcing someone not to love his mother. The resentment it created has permeated throughout the world and has earned a negative connotation of being a Godless government.  

On the other hand, the radicals calling themselves ISIS wants to force people to become Muslims. I have recommended the administration to give them warning to back off, surrender or go ahead and destroy them to prevent further deaths of Christians, Yazidis and other Muslims.   In India the newly emerged government has remained silent while radical Hindus are hell bent on reconverting Christians back to Hinduism, this needs to stop. We in the United States needs to drop the hatred for the same sex marriages, and restrictions placed on women about their bodies, we should and not infringe on the liberties of others. The Rabbis and the Ministers in Israel need to be slapped for telling their congregants to kill the Palestinian Mothers, and the Buddhist Monks need to be poisoned for goading and killing non-Buddhists in Burma.  Even though these are done by the radicals and not the mainstream majority, the religions get a bad name because of these radicals. 

Ideally every human should be free to breathe, drink, eat, wear or believe whatever the hell one wants to. I hope we all work for such societies, the least we can do is see the value in such societies where every one minds his or her own business.

Mike Ghouse

By Rudolph Bush rbush@dallasnews.com 
11:53 am on November 5, 2014 | Permalink

The writer Karen Armstrong recently noted that it was through bitter experience the west learned to separate the state from religion and wonders why Muslims have “found it impossible to arrive at this logical solution to their current problems.”
“Why do they cling with perverse obstinacy to the obviously bad idea of theocracy? Why, in short, have they been unable to enter the modern world?”
We’ve all asked these questions so often. If only these extremists would lay down their arms and embrace plural, diverse societies, they would see the benefit.
But as Armstrong so clearly writes, the path to our sort of secular and plural society, where we try to divide politics and religion, has been anything but bloodless.
“If some Muslims today fight shy of secularism, it is not because they have been brainwashed by their faith but because they have often experienced efforts at secularisation in a particularly virulent form. Many regard the west’s devotion to the separation of religion and politics as incompatible with admired western ideals such as democracy and freedom.”
Acknowledging this past is important, even if it is unlikely to impress fanatics and extremists.
Perhaps more helpful questions for us are these: how do we, as people practicing and preserving our faiths, segregate the political from the spiritual in our own lives? What lessons can we offer those who want their faith to infuse all elements of their lives and are skeptical of a society and political system that calls for secularism? Are we fooling ourselves that we can have both? Are we cheating one aspect of our lives, spiritual or civic, to serve the other?
Our panelists respond on the jump.
MIKE GHOUSE: President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
Karen Armstrong, in her thought provoking essay, ‘Myth of religious violence’ takes us through a journey of governance and alignment of people from religious to multi-religious to secular in several avatars, it is also a history of the rights of minorities in relation to the majorities. I was hoping she would pave the way for yet another form of governance; Pluralism, which can address some of the questions we are facing today, instead she abruptly ends, perhaps for the reader to take the next step.
Mr. Rudy Bush has picked where she left, and I am pleased to do my share of work towards answering the questions.
I have been working on the idea of pluralism in governance, religion, society, food, gender, politics, culture, race and other aspects of life. I have put in solid 20 years of research work into this, thank God, Pluralism runs in my veins now.
Pluralism is definable as “respecting the otherness of others”. Indeed, if we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge for a smoothly functional cohesive society.
What lessons can we offer those who want their faith to infuse all elements of their lives and are skeptical of a society and political system that calls for secularism?
Radical Secularism infringes on freedom of the religious people, just as radical religion does to non-religious people. The history of Soviet Union and China has left a bad taste for generations to come; they forced Christians, Jews, Buddhist, Muslims and others to abandon practicing their faiths. It is like forcing someone not to love his mother. The resentment it created has permeated throughout the world and has earned a negative connotation of being a Godless government.
There are historic models of pluralistic governance that can be studied. The one practiced by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was the first its kind in human history. Four religions were practiced simultaneously in the same town without violating each other’s rights. He was the head of the State and initiated the Madinah treaty to protect religious freedom of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Pagans and possibly Zoroastrians. Each tradition was to have its own rules to abide by within the larger context of the state, everyone was free to practice his or her religion, and he called the others “People of the book” to create an inclusive mindset among the people. It’s a shame that some of Muslim nations have abandoned it.
The Second example is that of India, a Hindu majority nation. Even though it is labeled a Secular Democracy, it has always been a pluralistic democracy. There is a common criminal code for all citizens, but in matters of faith and civic affairs, each one follows his own religious traditions. It has worked beautifully for nearly 60 years, and I am skeptical of its continuance with Hindu radicalism on rise. A lot of healing is needed to fully restore the Pluralistic ethos.
The third example is that of Indonesia, a Muslim majority nation with a duly elected Christian President, and they now have a raging debate about electing a Christian governor for Jakarta province. I am sure they will honor their pluralistic constitution called Pancasila based on Madinah treaty.
The United States has been a pioneer in every aspect of human life. Our constitution guarantees liberty to every individual; however we are evolving in our declaration that all men are created equal. We have to take pride in our form of governance, which is becoming pluralistic every day.
Pluralism is nothing but an attitude of live and let live, and it is applicable in every aspect of life including culture, society, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, food, ethnicity, race and other uniqueness’s.
You practice your faith and I will not meddle with yours, as in the case of contraceptives for Catholics or Mormons, or do not force the church to give access to the transgender identity to their rest rooms, instead build separate for them and preserve each human with his or her dignity.
Pluralism in governance looks at the criminal as an Individual and not a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Hindu. We are not fooling ourselves, we can have both and we would not be cheating one aspect of life over the other.
You are who you are, and I am who I am. As long as we don’t mess with each other’s space, sustenance and nurturance, and mind our own business, we all will do well. If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 318 Million of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
HOWARD S. COHEN, Lecturer in Jewish/Christian Relations and member of Congregation Shearith Israel and Congregation Beth Torah, Dallas
I know it is “politically incorrect” in this neighborhood to support the secularist thinkers who claim that religion itself has been the greatest force for destruction and mayhem in western history; nevertheless, their argument cannot be ignored. The religious insistence that the believer has the absolute truth about the will of God and how devotion to that truth needs to be demonstrated by word and deed continues to be the source of tyrannical, imperialist, and dictatorial repression responsible for so much suffering in history. Intolerance seems to be the natural corollary of any religion that claims to have the universal answers about God and claims “absolute truth,” as if any human being could actually know the Unknowable or have a handle on absolute truth.
Armstrong is right in reminding us that secularism – which decries beheadings, honor killings, and death for converts -has only been with us for the last 300 years in the post-enlightenment west and with a spotty record, at that. On the other hand, that observation does not ease our reaction to the actions of the small number of Muslim terrorist extremists (thousands of Muslims out of 1.5 billion) that fill our news reports. No one wants to wait 300 years for them to catch up.
Like Odysseus choosing between Scylla and Charybdis, it is conventional wisdom today to assume that we must decide between religion and secularism, bifurcating our lives according to our chosen priorities. But there’s a third option.
George Washington declared in his 1796 Farewell Address that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Yet he also believed that “the liberty enjoyed by the people of these States, worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”
Thomas Jefferson believed that “no nation has yet existed or been governed without religion,” yet he articulated and defended “a wall of separation between Church and State.” If our Founders could envision a free church in a free state, why do other civilizations struggle to embrace a similar ethos?
Here’s one reason. With all due respect to Karen Armstrong, one of our greatest scholars of world religions, we must not overlook genuine worldview differences among the various faiths. The Qur’an prescribes an entire system of governance, complete with dietary restrictions and economic regulations. The Hebrew Bible does the same. Many who follow their teachings most fervently therefore believe that they can allow for no “secular” state outside their “spiritual” authority.
WILLIAM McKENZIE: a co-founder of the Texas Faith blog, is editorial director at the George W. Bush Institute.
I would argue this issue the other way around: Religion and politics do mix. In fact, they inevitably mix. Religion and politics are both about values, so it is only natural they will be in the same arena. In modern times, the clearest example – and most important one – is the way in which black churches and their leaders gave birth to the civil rights movement.
If they had kept their religion separate from their politics, the country never would have had this major breakthrough. Put another way, if African-American churchgoers had only adhered to personal piety, and not tried to seek justice in the larger social realm, America would have not moved forward.
There have been many other examples of people of faith acting in the political arena because of their religion. The Moral Majority gave voice to many Americans who were concerned about a cultural drift within the nation. At heart, this was a response framed by religious views.
Of course, what we want is a healthy dose of respect and tolerance to go with the mixture of religion and politics. That is what keeps people from different persuasions from tearing each other apart.
We also have been blessed in this country by the figurative line between church and state. That distinction has helped both religion and politics in America. There is more freedom in each domain because we have no official merging of church and state.
Yet I don’t see how religion and politics – or spiritual lives and the social realm – can ever be kept separate. Not when they each involve how we translate values like justice and mercy into the course of our lives together.

To Read the views of other panelists, please go to Dallas Morning News at:
http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/11/texas-faith-how-should-we-incorporate-faith-into-a-secular-political-world.html/#more-46998

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Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.