B U L L E T I N
Most of the articles published here are written by me, with a few exceptions that included articles written by others about me | There are many articles written on my other blogs that I have not included here. The list of my blogs is at: List of my blogs | Center for American Politics for political updates
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I am pleased to share a few interfaith moments about Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, a scholar of Islam, a lawyer and an Imam. He has now established an institution with his name to impart education to the youth born and raised here in the D/FW Metroplex.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 4:58pm
I interact with people from India and Paksitan extensively and my experience has been positive, while giving room to a few radicals to spew their hate, it appears that hate is all they have to share. Years ago, one of the deputies at Indian consulate was sharing the hospitality story he received from Civilian Pakistanis in Islamabad and would like to go back there on another assignment. The Pakistanis have experienced the same hospitality in India. People to people exchanges are always good as it is between people.
This posting is dedicated to finding solutions. For a change, we will focus on Postings that offer solutions to show the goodness one has for his nation and the other. A stable Pakistan is in our interest and their interest and more importantly, it is in the interest of common people.
However the right wingers among Indians and Pakistanis thrive on the claps they receive from a few when they speak anti-India or anti-Pakistan rhetoric. The clappers do entertain themselves by encouraging these guys make a fool of themeselves. If we can discourage that behavior, may be we can see hopes of sanity to prevail.
1. There is an obsessiveness among a few Indians and a few Pakistanis to be hateful towards each other, a majority on both sides does not give a shit (sorry about the language) about the world or the nations while earning their daily bread to survive.
2. Not all, but the hardest of hard core RSS, BJP, Bajrangis, Sainiks, LeT's, Mujahedeens, Talibans, the ISI's, JI's and other outfits live and breath anti- Pakistan and anti-India, rather than pro-India and pro-Pakistan respectively. They get thrills in denigrating each other.
3. None of these men and women are free individuals, if the party chief says anti-India or vice versa they jump. Their Chiefs are their Gods to them. Even in the US, those men act like their bosses are pulling strings from over India or Pakistan. The sad part of this equation is that many of these slaves are Engineers, Professors, Medical and PhD Doctors with small minds. They fund hate campaigns and not campaigns for peace.
4. I am repeating Nirupamas' (aricle appended below) quote, "I would have heated debates with Pakistanis who consider themselves modern, enlightened, liberal and secular but would suddenly go all Islamic and religious when it came to an issue such as Kashmir" that has been my experience as well. The same goes with a few Indians, they do the opposite and feed like vultures on anti-Islamic rhetoric, as if there is a solution in going Islamic or anti-Islamic. Neither group can discuss issues without an increase in their bp or accusing every one everything and denying their own littleness.
5. Agree with Nirupama, when government pays, they are obligated to speak the Governmentese... If we want a change for the better, let's take it up from people to people... the movies, cultural exchanges, business and poetry and other things thing bring people closer and not Government, Government can play facilitators.
6. The third generation of Indians and Pakistanis perhaps would be safer to deal with than the ones who were close to partition, they are sunk in hate and malice, and obviously because of the suffering their folks have endured. Many of them are gone cases, and their insane rhetoric will sink us both.
7. These folks do not seek solution, they seek chaos and we have to be on their tails. Some of the discussion threads thrive on who says the worse things about each other... when will these guys get a sense to change it? If we want goodness, then stoke it.
We cannot not expect other people to be good, when our own hearts and words are ugly. We blame the Pakistanis and they blame us, it has become a game. Let's reverse it, find the solutions and they will be inclined to do the same. And if you really want to do some good, be agressive enough to speak out against evil forces that would take the position of chaos and hate.
I was visiting Memphis Cotton Musuem on March 19th, and was thrilled to see India included in the history of Cotton and guess what? Together India and Pakistan can become #1 cotton producers in the world, just like that, look at the figures below and create employment inside the federation to supply the fabric to the biggest consumer in the world; China.
Goodwill breeds goodwill as hate breeds chaos.
The choice is what we encourage.
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
1. Finding the right map was difficult. A few Indians and Paksitanis will go off handle about Kashmir Map. I used to publish a weekly called Asian American Journal in Dallas, and one Pakistani Store owner threw the papers from his store because the Map showed Kashmir as India's part. Don't laugh at them yet, there was an Indian who threatened me with life for publishing information about Pakistan, all the nations had the same space in my paper. The idiot also had threated Ravi Kanth, TV Anchor of TV Asia for the very same reason.
Published: March 20, 2010 02:05 IST
Khuda Hafiz Pakistan
There is a Pakistani in every Indian; and an Indian in every Pakistani, President Asif Ali Zardari famously said two years ago. Those words rang in my head with new resonance as I packed my bags and left Pakistan recently after a nearly four-year-long assignment as this newspaper's Islamabad-based correspondent.
It should have been easy to leave a country that is by word and deed hostile to India, and where the state machinery treats every Indian as a â€œRAW agentâ€�, spending considerable human and material resources on the surveillance of the only two Indian journalists â€" from The Hindu and Press Trust India â€" that are permitted to be based there.
Yet, saying goodbye to Pakistan was much more difficult than I imagined. Like other Indians who have experienced Pakistan first-hand, I gained a vast number of friends for life and multitudes of warm memories. Against this reality, it seems absurdly unbelievable that these two countries are not even talking properly to each other, that I cannot visit my Pakistani friends easily, that they cannot come and see me. Even texting, one of the easiest and cost-efficient ways of keeping in touch these days, is not possible â€" or erratic, at best â€" between India and Pakistan.
Walking across the Wagah border into India took me less than five minutes. But as I turned at the gates to wave to a Pakistani friend who had come to see me off, the distance between the two countries seemed huge and daunting.
At home, family and friends greeted me with relief, and asked me how I had managed to survive four years in â€œa country of terrorists.â€� Despite the close geographical proximity of the two countries, and the reams written and spoken in India about Pakistan, there seemed little patience for or understanding of the complexities of, an important neighbouring country, the shades of political, social and religious opinion among Pakistanis on such issues as terrorism and extremism.
There is similarly much in the way Pakistanis react to India that can send even the mildest Indian's blood pressure rising. For instance, even well-educated Pakistanis continue to believe that the Mumbai attacks were staged by RAW to defame Pakistan with the ultimate aim of snatching its nuclear weapons or dismembering the country. Young and old alike will assert that India is behind the wave of terrorist attacks in Pakistan because â€œno Muslim will kill fellow Muslimsâ€�, even though they have no explanation for why Shias routinely get killed by Sunni extremists.
I would have heated debates with Pakistanis who consider themselves modern, enlightened, liberal and secular but would suddenly go all Islamic and religious when it came to an issue such as Kashmir, seeming no different from their ultra-conservative compatriots who protest against the clamping down on Islamic militancy in Pakistan as harassment of â€œbrother Muslims.â€� They could tout jihad in Kashmir as legitimate even while condemning the Taliban who threaten their own modern, liberal lifestyle, despite the knowledge that the distinction between the two kinds of jihad, or the two categories of militants, is at best an illusion.
But at the end of the day, the goodwill I experienced in my daily interactions with ordinary Pakistanis, even during the most heated debates, was overwhelming and more powerful than anything else. Despite the heavy hand of the state in every sphere of life, I found people who were willing to set aside long internalised stereotypes and prejudices about Indians and Hindus to try and understand me and my point of view, and they accepted with good faith that I was trying to do the same. We may not have entirely convinced each other every time but we managed to build little bridges of our own and find our own modus vivendi.
If there is anything I learnt from those personal experiences in Pakistan, it is that these little bridges are the key to peace. And for this reason, peace-making cannot be left to rulers. It is the people on both sides that have to take charge of it. What the people have now is a unique and contradictory chemistry of love and hate, curiosity and suspicion, friendliness and antagonism, admiration and envy, not to speak of nostalgia and convenient memory lapses. Forget about which of these is natural and which deliberately created. What is required for a stable relationship is a rational middle-ground between these emotional extremes.
If we acknowledge that war or even just a simmering long-term enmity is not an option, that middle-ground would be easy to locate. There, on that middle-ground, we need not be the best of friends, but we need not be the worst of enemies either. We can just live as two civilised neighbours.
It is evident that the political leadership of both countries, which includes the military in Pakistan, cannot be entrusted with finding this middle-ground. The political class on both sides has specialised in hyping the emotional in India-Pakistan relations over the rational, finding it a useful instrument for domestic political gain. Blame communally driven politics on the Indian side, and in Pakistan, the tight grip of a military that needs to perpetuate its predominance in national affairs.
Narrow prism of state
Most of the celebrated India-Pakistan people-to-people contact since 2004, including the interaction between the media, film and fashion worlds of the two countries, has tended to be driven by the governments on both sides, or blessed, encouraged or sponsored by the two states in some way. With rare exceptions, such contact has mirrored the official point of view, providing no room for building genuine bridges. No wonder they fell apart so easily in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to a point where goodwill seems almost irretrievable.
But even now, the first thing that Pakistanis and Indians ask each other is: â€œWe eat the same food, speak the same language, we even look the same, so why can't we be friends?â€� The short answer to that is that we cannot be friends as long as we continue looking at each other through the narrow prism of our respective states. Pakistanis must locate the Indian within themselves, and Indians must discover their inner Pakistani. It would help understand each other better, and free us from state-manipulated attitudes. In our own interests, it is up to us, the people, to find ways to do this.
For now, Khuda Hafiz Pakistan.
I think that propagation of anti-Pakistan culture in India and anti-India culture in Pakistan is done by the parties that have vested interest in maintaining tension between these two neighbors. People with Sangh Parivar mentality in India and groups with Jehadist mentality (that seems to include Pakistani ISI establishment) thrive on status quo; for peace between India and Pakistan will be detrimental for the existence of these hate mongers. The governments of India and Pakistan have absolutely no interest in Kashmiris in both parts of Kashmir.
Unfortunately Muslims in India have become a pawn in this tussle and orchestrated attacks on them (such as the pogrom in Gujarat) are viewed as "collateral damage" in the struggle for political dominance.
.Written about a week ago · Comment ·LikeUnlike
-'anisa Rahmah, S Farman Ahmad Naqvi, John Ishvaradas Abdallah and 4 others like this...Mike Ghouse - Kamlesh and Hanif , thanks
First of all, we are placing all our cards on the table, we are going to agree on many a common things, disagree on some and have to think about on others. We will develop a consensus as we slowly place all the cards, but most certainly move towards cystallizing the consensus, differences and debatable issues.
Our focus is India and Pakistan now, we can cite other examples to develop a comprehensive understanding of our own, and avoid broadening the focus. ... See More
Kamlesh, here is my presonal opinioin on this one issue; and I prefer it to remain it to be a personal opinion until a consensus develops for it.
"Indeed, no nation should be divided or created on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity today. What was done in the past is a fact now and we have to live with it as it is established, the two nations that were created on the basis of religion are Pakistan and Israel. Several other nations have evolved as religious per the desires of the population in the past, but I hope the world at large participates and supports the rule of the people for the people by the people for the good of the people.
Let's be humble with our opinions, meaning, all of us would be advancing our ideas without the arrogance of being the only right solution or my way or no way. You will be amazed what we all can do with it.
March 24 at 7:35am · .Saurabh Sengupta Governments are supposed to be, most informed institution with best available experts and advisors. In spite of the fact, both countries seem to be feeding on diplomatic nonsense. India says, that they have pouting dossiers; one after another for at least two decades —— Pakistan on the other hand feels that it's not enough. Information brickbat is way too much to be discussed. Of course, we know that executive decisions between countries are not dependent on them alone — Big entities pray in ...
People like us can also make a change ... perception i.e. if you feel that changing perception is part of the big objective through whatever means you like to achieve.
Mike, how much of this is plausible?... See More
March 24 at 8:00am · .Saurabh Sengupta खुदा, "काफ़िर" को देख क्या सोचता होगा? ▬▬ सदका तो ये भी करते है| ...
March 24 at 8:04am · .Mike Ghouse - Saurabh,
Let's begin with an open heart and an open mind with one objective - peace and prosperity for the people of the subontinent with all the doubting thomases, nay sayers and yes we cans. A lot more crap will pile up before we can see that we have to fix ourselves as individuals, clean up our own minds before we ask others to clean. All of this will happen within the next few weeks of conversation, clarity will emerge.
Let's not have any agenda but peace as the motive.
March 24 at 8:07am · .Saurabh Sengupta Thanks Mike :)
March 24 at 8:28am · .Saurabh Sengupta If we examine the physical map of the world, we'll find that there's very little green-plain areas around; 80% is all deep waters, the rest — either deserts or plateaus. Of course you can add wastelands too. Natural composition effects habitat.
fine ... I'm there :)
March 24 at 8:35am · .Amrita Dasgupta We have to shed our all inhibitions. Come with a clean heart only to attain peace among people. No conflict, no animosity, no bias, no prejudice. Mike, we shall overcome..... I have a dream like Martin Luther King Jr. to see world of equal opportunity, full of love. Mike, help me to achieve.
March 25 at 5:41am · .Mike Ghouse Amirta, thanks for sharing about your dream... Let me add my own - Mahatma Gandhi has been in my dreams twice - 1971 and again around 2003 - all he says "You have work to do" and I take that as a cue to do the work, same dream as yours. We will move forwards on the India Paksitan, Darfur, North and South Korea, Palestine Israel are the other frontiers. I am with you Amirta.
March 25 at 8:42am · .Faizan Haider Naqvi - I was not around due to working assignments and guess I am little late here.
- I thought of different content seeing the title of the article ie. little sarcastic / offensive but chances the author had some other intentions of using 'Khuda Hafiz' as she was leaving Pakistan.
- Debate is endless, if you sum up all the problems, the real culprit is injustice. Prevail Justice... See More
- You can not restore peace ignoring justice & righteous irrespective of religion & land.
March 25 at 11:59pm · .Nilofar Suhrawardy I have two points: One, Pakistan Day (March 23) was marked this year Delhi, with an Indian - Nirmala Deshpande being conferred Sitar-e-Imtiaz. It was the first time that an Indian was given the award in Delhi. First time that it was conferred- posthumously.
Secondly, Indian Muslims cannot be viewed as pawns. They are the ones who, at the time of ... See Morepartition, preferred partition of their families by choosing to stay here and move to Pakistan.
Also, the hype raised over Indo-Pak tension - politically and diplomatically- has had little impact on their ties- culturally as well as economically.
March 26 at 12:10pm ·
Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 9:20am
Sadly much of the abuse of vulnerable women and children comes from the very ones they trust; close relatives. Oddly the betrayal of trust comes from a few men of God, whom we trust. Shamefully, just a few religious men, like a few terrorists give a bad name to all of us men a majority of us are simply good people.
My comments are in reference to the article by Ram Punyani appended below, whom I have come to appreciate for over a decade for his rationality and thoughtfulness.
The purpose of all religions was to inculcate the values of Justness in humans, so all of us can live a secure life. Traditionally a few men have assumed the guardianship of the religion through their ill-knowledge of exploitation of the vulnerable. I want to make a point here; although Ram Punyani points out that the idea of celibacy has moorings in Hinduism, Buddhism and Catholicism with good intent.
According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as you go to higher levels, body becomes insignificant and interest in sex is reduced to nothing, whereas Bhagvan Rajneesh Osho” argues that sex could be transcended only through experience.” Respectfully I ask both the men to consider following the middle path, instead of the obsession to deny oneself the God given pleasures or make it a focus of their life. What good will it serve? How does the society benefit from it?
Good Karma ought to be your actions that contribute towards creating a secure and peaceful society at large, which will ultimately bring the benefit to you when you are weak and vulnerable. The wisdom of religion, every religion incorporates that idea that your good is sustainable if the overall society’s construct is good. It is not the religion that commits adultery or abuses, it isthe men, not all, but a handful of them.
You and I need to take the responsibility to create safety and peace in our immediate vicinity again for our own good and for the good of others.
Freedom is the number one item on my list, as it may be a different one in your case. We need to develop a culture of freedom, freedom to speak without fear, a sense of security of oneself must be imbued in to both men and women. The women's movement has put a dent in the future of families, but not enough. This act of freedom can be exercised in the following ways (or more):
1. Question the Religious men, particularly those who flaunt religiosity. My father taught me a big lesson, if someone walks up to you and say that I will take care of it, the chances are he or she will. But if that person says, I am a good Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslims or a Buddhist… watch out. Good people don’t need to flaunt religion or hide under the mask of religion to have you trust them.
2. In every little way focus on raising the families or friends families on the values of fairness and justness without compromising the need to be assertive.
3. Question everything, including your own belief or what one dishes out to you. Not all want to mess with it, but if you do, do it wholeheartedly. Do not fear in respectfully questioning any one including the Imam, Rabbi, Pundit, Pastor, Shaman or the clergy.
Shamefully a few men, like a few terrorists give a bad name to all of us men. In discussion groups such as this one, don’t let the fear of bullies let you back down in discussions, they know that women don’t want to mess with the ugly ones and get their way. If you cannot stop it, why should you expect others to? Bullies do that to men as well.
Speak up, be yourselves
Here is another good piece by Ram Punyani, whom I have been reading for nearly a decade.
Swamis, Celibacy and Sex Scandals
Many a sex scandals related to Holy men have come to surface during last few weeks (March 2010). Its not that these are the first one’s to have been brought to social attention, such incidents have been coming to social notice time and over again. The present ones’ about Swami Nityanand and Ichhchadhari Baba (Bhimanand) have highlighted the same in a very intense fashion as these scandals are very blatant.
One recalls in recent history many such cases have startled the media and society, the allegation of a foreign writer about Satya Sai Baba, then allegations against Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Santosh Madhavan, happenings of the Kamkoti Peetham Shakarachrya are quite well known. From other religious traditions, one recalls the recent book by Sister Jesme (Story of a Nun) and the news that the Roman Catholic Church has sacked a priest accused of pedophilia as large number of complaints were coming forth in Germany from people who were abused as children. At another level the RSS pracharak (RSS pracharaks are to remain bachelors for political reasons) Sanjay Joshi had also to give up his political responsibility when a CD related to his sexual exploits came to surface.
In all these cases the underlying mechanisms are different. In Catholic establishment, to remain unmarried is the norm and many cases have come to light, which have shamed the establishment. The Hindu God-men are all ‘stand alone’ systems, not an organized Church. While comparing these may not be easy, what is common in these is that the organizations where members remain celibate to discharge their religiously or politically ordained duties, many of them do get tainted by the fall out of such acts.
What is different about the case of these God-men in particular is a deliberate misuse of their ‘spiritual attainments’ to indulge in carnal pleasures, under the guise of spirituality, to the extent of running sex rackets in association with those in power. Here is the case of gross abuse of faith to the extent of deliberately setting up a situation to exploit the women devotees. The methods used by the swamis are diverse. This should come under a serious crime not only at legal but also at social level to ensure that such gross abuse of faith is brought under serious scanner.
As such the concept of celibacy in many a religious orders had a spiritual base in the noble idea of renunciations and transcending of the physical pleasures to attain the higher spiritual platform. The religious Gurus have been of different types as for as celibacy is concerned. In early India there were renouncers as well as those who led a family life. Patanjali stated “swa-ang jugupsa, parai asansargah’, meaning that with increasing spiritual insights, with mind achieving higher truth, apathy for physical body comes in. This is what is supposed to have made celibacy the path to sanyas. Celibacy, Brahmcharya has been highly respectable in sections of society.
After 8th century celibacy was taken to exalted levels into Hindu tradition by Shankara, while he was leading the battle of Hinduism against Buddhism. To attack Buddhism he adopted various concepts from Buddhism itself, e.g. the concept of renunciation of material wants, celibacy included. Today the idea of celibacy is prevalent mainly in Buddhism, sects of Hinduism and amongst Catholic priests. These three have base in religious traditions. For much different reasons, mainly political one’s, organization like RSS has also brought this in for its propagators.
Patanjali’s argument is repeated by modern God-man, Sri Sri Ravishaker. According to him as you go to higher levels, body becomes insignificant and interest in sex is reduced to nothing. There have been dissenting note from within the stable of God-men itself. The major such voice was that of Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh. He argued that sex could be transcended only through experience; this was what he preached and penned down in his book, Sambhog se Samadhi (From Sex to Superconciousness).
These semi philosophical outpourings apart, the biological compulsions have always accompanied the celibates and the scandals have kept popping out from such institutions and individuals, telling us that these sexual escapades are a rule than an exception. It may be in the form of child abuse, same sex relationships to downright cunning methods indulged by God-men to trap the women on the pretext of their ‘spiritual’ pursuits. Different philosophical sounding arguments are dished out to the unsuspecting laity.
From last few decades these incidents are coming more to the surface as the phenomenon of God-men has mushroomed all around. This phenomenon is an accompaniment of the existential anxieties of the globalized world, the razor edge competitive era, where cut throat competition at work place, heightened consumerism and moving upward in the scale of financial earning is the only index of one’s success. The need for emotional succor is leading to the rise of the industry of God-men.
The God-men, belong to many categories, each having his-her own entrepreneurial skills. God-men put out their brand of spirituality, which apparently gives solace to the aggrieved middle and lower middle classes in particular amongst others. God-men have set up institutions which cater to vastly expanding market. Meera Nanda in her book, the ‘God Market’ argues that there is an increased religiosity, collusion with the corporate World and the state. In India in particular, a subtle Hindusization is going on as such and this has been aided by the private sector. There is an active promotion of religious tourism. Higher education has been handed over to private sector, some of whom use religious trusts to run these institutions to impart ‘value education’. State has been generous in giving away land at highly subsidized rates to the Gurus and God-men.
One can also see the rise of religious Right here and in different countries during this period. RSS is having a field day in culturally Hinduizing the social space, and God-men are the major players in the game. One can say that these swamis of the ilk of Nityanad and Ichchhadhari are just the visible part of a larger phenomenon. These two cases also show the range of activities, from the spiritual façade to downright sex racket.
The broader picture of the phenomenon is much more disturbing. Last three decades have been one of the most tragic periods of human history for different reasons. It is this period when the global political and social phenomenon has adopted the language of the religion. This language has created multiple problems. On one hand, one major religious community has been demonized, and on the other there is a big set back to the rational thinking and progressive values. When the language of religion is used with great aplomb, the reason is forced on the back-foot and the suppression of human rights takes the garb of religion. Since religion is accompanied by faith, which in turn can create hysteria, the latter ensures that blind religiosity and blind faith rule the roost. The beneficiaries of these arrangements are the entrenched social, economic powers.
Globally, US took on Russian forces by promoting the conservative versions of Islam, used the religious language to train Al Qaeda, and laced its ambitions for oil in the language of religion. Here in India those who were opposed to social transformation of caste and gender, used Ram Temple type issues, created mass hysteria around identity issues and have tried to push back the process of social transformation. The increased social presence of God-men is an accompaniment of this process. They have duel function. On one hand they aid in creating conservative values, refurbished caste and gender norms from Manusmiriti are propagated, and on the other they exploit this situation for their material enhancement, sexual exploitation included. Interestingly the God men who talk of renunciation and going to higher levels themselves are the biggest beneficiaries of material riches. Society has to learn the lessons from the sprawling wealth and sexual exploitation done by section of God-men and to understand as to what is really taking place in the garb of holy clothes is a mere misuse of faith for crass purposes. Nityanand and Icchadhari Baba is a sort of barometer of the phenomenon which has gripped our society.
Issues in Secular Politics
II March 2010
HERE IS A PREVIOUS DISCUSSION:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 11:11pm
Whether we admit or not, most of us have a percent of Agnostic or Atheist residing within us, and I was no exception. Mother Teresa in her letters to the Vatican had expressed her occasional doubts, and that has helped me free myself that it was Ok to have doubts. A Catholic Nun and a Saint with fervent conditioning in religious beliefs had the doubts, she happens to be one of my mentors.
I must acknowledge and give credit to the pluralistic ethos of India, where Atheism was a part of the society, and was not shunned as much as much as it was shunned in the United States a few years ago, indeed there was a movie made in India in the early fifties called Nastik (Agnostic /Atheist) and one of its Songs appeals to God to reverse the changes in the society. Thank God (!) the attitudes are changing across the globe and being an Atheist is not looked down any more.
The Atheist movement was huge in India in the sixties, Dr. Abraham Kovoor of Sri Lanka (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Kovoor ) was leading the movement and I was enthused about his rationalism and subscribed to many an ideas he floated. Those were my school days and I did not see the need to believe in God. The Bangalore University Chancellor Dr. Narsimaiah spurred by the movement wanted to initiate scientific investigations into some of the miracles claimed by the healers of the day including the Sri Satya Sai Babaof White Field, Bangalore, but the politicians did not let him proceed.
At times it is the bellycoseness of a few fundamentalist Atheists, that drives others nuts, think about it, don't the fundamentalist in all religions do the same?
As Dawson writes, “Atheists need to develop a reputation for patience and approachability”. I have always dealt with Atheist with an open mind and open heart and have valued their belief. As men and women, they are no different than a Rabbi, Pastor, Shaman, Imam or a Pundit in dealing with emotions and the sense of right and wrong.
I got thrown out of an Atheist group!
Last year, I joined a few Atheist discussion groups, particularly to invite them to the Unity Day USA program that brings together people of different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions. I am committed to pluralism, that is no one should be left out in public discourse, every human has the same right to be in the public square whether s/he is religious or not. Two of the four groups, kicked me out, and my membership was denied. I was told that if I believed in God, I didn’t belong there, although I have accepted their belief as legitimate as any other belief. Ironically, once upon a time, when I considered my self un-religious or ir-religious, I was not given admission to a large organization here in Dallas; they wanted me in any one of the religious pigeon holes to belong to that group. That’s when the Foundation for Pluralism was born, to be inclusive and to include every human no matter what they believed.
In my Radio talk show, “Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions” I included Atheism/Humanism as one of the systems and it drew the most number of listeners and callers, same experience was found when I did the monthly workshops on Religions.
One of the thoughts I am driven to communicate in this short write up is the dumbness of “stereotyping”.
Theists are called irrational and I have witnessed in my discussion groups, that some of the Atheists were as irrational and belligerent beings as the Theists.
Morality is not an exclusive product of religion, it is the product of co-existence; Atheist are as moral as theists. Religion is not responsible for wars, it is the individuals, and every war can be traced to an individual; theists as well as atheists from Pharaoh down to Lenin.
The society, regardless of where it flourishes; in America, Timbuktu or Andaman, the pie consists of good, bad and ugly people and every society has different permutations and combinations, but every society be it religious, ethnic, racial or national has a share of 1/10th of 1% of them as plain intolerant people, who are afraid of other and scheme to annihilate those who differ. Don’t laugh at others without laughing at yourselves first, whatever group you belong you have them among you as well. It appears to be a societal norm to have that, just as Tsunami was an anomaly of our planet.
Your sense of getting along with others, having a sense of inclusion of the universe comes with your circle of friends, you ability to embrace different points of view fades conflcits and births solutions.
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
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The rise and rise of atheism
The Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne was a boon for rational Australians, with only the occasional sour note Rachel Holkner (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/rachel-holkner )
It was difficult not to make religious analogies on Sunday morning as I joined 2500 other atheists streaming into the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for The Rise of Atheism: the 2010 Global Atheist Convention. ( http://www.atheistconvention.org.au/ )
Being a secular, literate city made Melbourne a safe choice to first take the Atheist Convention outside of the US. I saw only three protesters, despite a number of publicised church-based counter-gatherings.
Many participants came looking for techniques to discuss atheism with religious family, friends and door-knockers. Others sought like-minded people, and some came questioning their own position, preferring to describe themselves as agnostic. Even atheist poster boy Richard Dawkins, on a scale of 1 (believes in god) to 7 (atheist) describes himself as a 6.9.
It is difficult to organise any group under the umbrella of non-belief, but the Atheist Alliance International ( http://www.atheistalliance.org/ ) and the Atheist Foundation of Australia (http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/ ), convention hosts, achieved just that. The terms freethinker, humanist and rationalist were also frequently heard, used to alter the emphasis from being "against" theism and instead "for" scientific reasoning and logical thought.
Churches are social groups for many people, which is something atheists do not have, hence the popularity of this event which sold out six weeks in advance. Many small atheist groups were in attendance, raising their profile among the largest group of like-minded people ever gathered in Australia.
Several speakers commented that they had never addressed such a large group of atheists before, and there were a far greater range of topics presented than many expected. A question put to many attendees before the convention was, "But what can you possibly have to talk about? Nothing?"
The presenters shared some truly horrific stories of things done in the name of God or as part of some religious organisation, but the overall effort was not to paint all religions as always forces for bad. Much was made of the charitable works religious organisations do, but then, alternatives were presented. Charitable works do not need a veil of the supernatural in order to be effective, and you should not need a god looking over your shoulder, monitoring how much you are donating to disaster relief or to alleviate poverty. Peter Singer in particular talked about the evolutionary imperatives for fairness and for rendering aid.
It was not all serious discussion over the weekend. A lot of care had gone into the event to make the The Rise of Atheism a positive experience. There were comedians, and some wag had prepared a themed playlist to play in the background between sessions, including "Superstition" and songs from They Might Be Giants' "Here Comes Science".
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins closed the convention with a discussion on the probability of our existence, the luck of individual existence, gratitude, evolution and the illusion of design. This is potentially very dry and difficult subject matter yet Dawkins, known for his showmanship, conducted the audience skillfully through his argument. True, he was unable to mention the words god or creationism without trying to making the audience laugh, usually by the use of crude puns, but this is basic psychology and it is why he is so popular among atheists and why he received a standing ovation at the end of his talk.
However, when a Christian stood up to ask a question of Dawkins, there was a vibe not only of hostility, but impatience and frustration – even a sense of violation, as no one expected anyone with honest-to-god beliefs to pay the not-inconsiderate ticket price to learn about atheism. This was a great shame. Part of the challenge of atheism is extending our visibility and educating theists on rational thought. Continuing to play to the stereotype of being scary and intolerant will not help anyone.
Atheists need to develop a reputation for patience and approachability. "Out" atheists are a tiny minority, and public figures even fewer. As Dawkins said in answering a question of how to critique Islam without fear of reprisal, "We will not provoke you. Not out of respect for your beliefs, but out of fear." A reputation like that is the last thing atheism needs.
Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 10:49am
It is so good to be outside, clear blue skies, sprouting green grass, sunny fields, and sun shiny world. Some of you may be going through difficult times and may not feel the joy or feel like smiling, as if it is a betrayal of the sadness that envelopes you, which is a legitimate feeling that deserves acknowledgment, and we must accept that as part of the whole being, and that it is Ok to feel that way. Things will be alright in a few days, months or years, give the time, meanwhile, see if you can change things now, today, at least in your heart and mind. You are going to be happy any way, why not let it happen now? You can do it! Indeed, you are the only one who can change how you feel; other people, money and things are merely catalysts.
Be yourselves and own yourselves!
A happy attitude brings a whole lot more to you, ironically sadness should bring supporters and sympathies, and instead it repels others farther away; accelerating the melancholy.
Those of you who are springy and joyous, please give your ear to those who need it, and believe in yourselves, you would double your joy, try it, it works. Today, Sunday, my ear is yours for 15 minutes, please feel free to call me if you want to spring from sadness to joy. I would be your cheer leader.
Originally I was writing on my wall, but now I changed it to a note and dedicate this to my friend, Sister Aishah Schwartz. (SHE IS TAGGED HERE )
Aishah called me a few minutes ago from Egypt bouncing all over with joy, she sounded so happy! You know the saying Happiness is contagious? It is true indeed. She got an assignment to produce one hour documentary about what it is like to become a Muslim, as she became one in 2002, what an accomplishment for her dedicated work! She is committed to justice no matter where it is. She has done some great work about space for women in Mecca. I am so proud of her dedication to work towards creating a better world. She has so many accomplishments in the last few years.
I knew Aishah for about six years, she started contributing her write ups at the World Muslim Congress forum – WorldMuslimcongress@yahoogroups.com where every one is welcome to learn and share about co-existence and Pluralism from an Islamic perspective. She went on and formed Muslimah Writers Alliance. In septemer 2009 her blog recieved an award for being one of the top 100 blogs.
Here is a dedication to Aishah; she has proven it what commitment is all about.
Ray Bradbury "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy... Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.… Whatever you can do or dream that you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."
and this "If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."
Dr. Abdul Hamid Abusulayman "There is a clear distinction between doubts and problems. Doubts provoke obstruction, frustration and discouragement, where as problems inspire motivation, action and diligence
Mike Ghouse “Whatever you do in life, do it wholeheartedly, there is joy in it for every one around including ourselves"
If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Happy Spring friends!
Sunday, 10:05 AM
March 14, 2010
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. He runs the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and Co-Chairs the Center for Interfaith inquiry. He is a board member of the Dallas Peace Center and Memnosyne Foundation and a former commissioner at the City of Carrollton. Mike is a Dallasite for three decades and Carrollton is his home town.
His life mission is to open people's hearts and minds towards fellow beings by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. He is a peace maker and an educator with two Masters degrees and working on his doctorate in Psychology. He has two books on the horizon; Basic Islam- everything you wanted to know about Islam and Pluralism. He has authored over 800 articles on the subjects, many of them are published in the newspapers and magazines around the world. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
You are welcome to call me today at 214-325-1916
Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 9:25pm
The article below, "Wary saints won't meet women alone" is an interesting observation, the orthodox Rabbis and Imams decline to meet women alone as well, not only that, some of them don't even shake hands with women. It appears that there is some wisdom in it, no matter which tradition it is.
A few thoughts;
Either men have to learn to over come their own temptations, especially the clergymen from making advances towards the vulnerable women; it amounts to taking advantage of their position as holy men.
Or they can hold back from meeeting women, for guard their own fears of falling to the temptations.
In the long run, you can trust a culture of civility far better than fear of falling to the temptations. Buddha had set an example, that one can be incharge of his own emotions despite the temptations that surround one.
A time is on the horizon, when men will respect the freedom and friendliness of a woman without mistaking it. A time will come in the society where women feel secure and comfortable with men, and men would not be a threat to their being.
It is an oppression of women, that these misunderstandings drive women to be reticent, reclusive and retrieve, due to men jumping to conclusions about their friendliness. Shame on us men, that our fellow beings have to fear us when we are alone with them.
I hope the full emancipation to women will come, when they can be free to be friends with any one, without worrying the common mistakes men make when a woman is friendly.
If we can learn to respect and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge
Wary saints won't meet women alone
Deepak Gidwani / DNAFriday, March 12, 2010 0:31 IST Email
Lucknow: Women devotees planning a darshan of a sant or mahant in Ayodhya better ensure they have male company. Otherwise, they’ll be met with a no-show.
Their reputation at stake following a string of unseemly controversies involving self-styled godmen, sadhus in the holy town have decided not to meet women alone.
The decision was taken at a recent meeting of priests of temples in Ayodhya. At the conclave, sants and mahants voiced serious concern at the sagging reputation of Hindu holy men due to the dubious activities of a handful of self-proclaimed babas.
‘Icchadhari Baba’ Bheemanand of Delhi, Swami Nithyananda of Bangalore and Baba Anoop of Ghaziabad had recently hit the headlines for alleged involvement in sexual misdemeanours in the garb of religion and spiritualism.
Nritya Gopal Das, Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas president and mahant of the famous Maniram Chhaoni, said, “Women should refrain from going to temples unaccompanied by men or meeting sadhu-sants and mahants alone in temples and ashrams.” He said the acts of some “fake” mahants had brought a bad name to all swamis and sants, who otherwise command great respect.
Ram Vilas Vedanti, former BJP MP and a much-respected peethadheeshwar, said, “At a time when some crooks are exploiting people, especially women, in the name of religion and in the garb of sadhu-sants, it has become imperative to take some urgent steps to save our reputation… in such a situation, we had to think of drastic steps.”
“We have made a beginning in that direction,” he said.
The “perverse” and “retrograde” decision, however, has not gone down well with social activists.
Roop Rekha Verma, former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, said, “What these mahants are saying is unconstitutional… women and men have been accorded equal status in our constitution… to say that women should go to temples accompanied by men reflects their perverse mentality.
“By saying that women need male security in temples, the mahants are revealing that they are in fact sex-starved beasts who would pounce on a lone woman.”
Prof Sadhna Singh of Kanpur University said, “Today, when women are flying jets and Boeings without male supervision, these men want to take us back to the medieval ages.”
Mahant Chidanand Muni of the renowned Parmarth Ashram in Rishikesh said Nritya Gopal Das’s utterances were entirely uncalled for. “Temple priests are supposed to be epitomes of divinity, whether a woman is alone or accompanied should not matter to a sadhu… it’s unfortunate that such advice is coming from a learned saint.”
Friday, March 5, 2010 at 6:22pm
Persecution continues towards minorities in every place and it is a shame it is happening in a civil society like Japan, please do the needful. please take a look at the report below. We cannot be safe if others around us aren't. It is in our interests to stand up for the rights of all people, ultimately when every one stands up for everyone's right, all of us can be safe. Everyone of us is vulnerable to danger and abuse, we need to be unselfish to serve our selfish interests.
13th Session, United Nations Human Rights Council
Written Statement Item 3: Civil and Political Rights/ Freedom of Religion
Submitted in English by: Universal Peace Federation, ECOSOC special consultative status
UN Representative, Heiner Handschin, ch des la Pierreire 1c,
1092 Belmont sur Lausanne, 079 250 3477, email@example.com
Religious freedom is one of the fundamental freedoms and rights to which all people are entitled and we must be vigilant against all violations of religious freedom. The Universal Peace Federation affirms the essential value and significance of religion, and hence religious freedom, for the achievement of global peace. If we hinder freedom of religion, we endanger the prospects for peace. This applies not only to majority religions, but minority religions as well.
As such, we appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council to influence the government of Japan to take action urgently to halt the impunity related to the long-term and persistent use of kidnapping, forced confinement and even torture of its citizens. These cases involve denial of multiple rights, including and especially freedom of religion during which time members of religious communities are being coerced to change their beliefs while confined against their will.
It has been reported that in the Unification Church alone more than 4,300 members have been victimized to date. During the past four decades, over 1,300 adherents have managed to escape their captors, sometimes at great personal risk, and return to their religious communities. They report human rights violations such as long-term confinement, mental and physical abuse, and psychological manipulation designed to force them to recant their faith.
Despite numerous complaints to police, not one indictment has been brought against the perpetrators of these crimes. Currently at least five Unification Church members remain missing in Japan, suspected to have been confined and held against their will because of their faith: Momoyo Yamada (30), Fusako Tomoda (22), Yuko Majima (60), Masako Kudo (25)35, and Takashi Nishikawa (26).
The Case of Toru Goto
One recent shocking example of Japan’s religious intolerance is the case of Mr. Toru Goto, who was confined for over 12 years and 5 months against his will in an apartment in Tokyo. Already in his 30s at the beginning of this confinement (his second), Mr. Goto was imprisoned in one small room, guarded day and night, just blocks away from the municipal authorities. He was not allowed to leave the apartment even to exercise and was not permitted communication with the outside world during these 12 years. He was at times constrained by force and required to listen to his captors’ indoctrination and ridiculing day after day, in an attempt to make him convert from Unificationism to mainline Protestant Christianity. The ringleaders in this case were the Christian minister Toridechi Yasutomo Matsunaga and professional “deprogrammer” Shun Takashi Miyamura in collusion with members of Mr. Goto’s family.
When, after 12 years of imprisonment, the captors were forced to admit that Mr. Goto was not going to succumb to their brainwashing techniques, they cruelly threw him out into the street in February 2008, a tall man but weighing only 39 kilo and barely able to walk. He went directly to the police station to report the crime but was refused help. He finally reached the church headquarters in Tokyo and was then taken to the hospital for a prolonged rehabilitation. He filed charges against the perpetrators of this crime in 2008, and yet on December 9, 2009, Tokyo prosecutors refused to indict them. Their claim of “insufficient evidence” is a travesty of justice and the government’s action of turning a blind eye allows those responsible to continue their activities with impunity.
Here are just a few of many documented testimonies showing how severely human lives have been affected through these crimes:
MrsMs . Hiroko Tomizawa.
In June 1997, a group of about twenty thugs, including an ex-policeman and private detectives, armed with an electric stun gun, iron chains and an iron pipe, attacked a UC local church in the Tottori district. They injured four church members and forcibly abducted Mrs.Ms. Tomizawa. The following day, when a church officer tried to file a criminal complaint at Tottori police station, the officer on duty refused to receive it, telling him: “We are busy. You should not bring such a case.” MrsMs.. Tomizawa was confined in three apartments over the next fifteen months. She eventually escaped and brought criminal charges against her relatives and the “deprogrammer,” a Protestant minister named Mamoru Takazawa. However, in 2000, the Tottori prosecutor’s office refused to indict the perpetrators.
Mrs. Takako Fujita.
Mrs. Fujita, married to a Korean church member, was kidnapped during a visit home to Japan. In profound despair brought on by protracted psychological and physical abuse, she committed suicide in the bathroom of the apartment where she was forcibly detained with no hope of escape. Her husband came to Japan in an attempt to attend her funeral ceremony, but the family refused to admit him. The police were made aware of the situation but did not treat it as a criminal case. In the end, despite substantial evidence that she had been illegally confined, no one was arrested or indicted.
Dr. Hirohisa Koide.
On June 13, 1992, Hirohisa Koide, a medical doctor, was kidnapped while he was busy taking care of patients at a hospital. He was confined for almost two years. During his confinement an anti-UC lawyer, Hiroshi Hirata, visited the confinement place and told Koide’s parents and relatives that the confinement was legal. Consequently, Koide’s period of confinement was prolonged. His deprogrammer was a Christian minister named Yasutomo Matsunaga. Dr. Koide was forced to make public statements against the Unification Church before his captors would relax security measures enough that he could safely escape and return to the church. Koide describes his experience in his book "Hitosarai Karano Dasshutsu" (Tokyo: Kogensha, 1996).
Violation of human rights standards
The above cases represent only a few of literally thousands of cases. These practices are clearly in violation of international human rights instruments guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion and belief (UDHR, Art. 18) and freedom of movement (UDHR, Art.13) as well as UDHR Art. 9 on arbitrary detention.
Japan is bound to uphold these standards as a member of the international community and is indeed usually seen as exemplary.
However, it appears to lack transparency and consistency in the area of freedom of religion, creating a reaction in blatant denial of the indivisibility of all human rights. Much of this results from the fact that these cases of attempted forced conversion, usually instigated by relatives of the victim at the behest of a network of professional “deprogrammers,” are viewed by authorities as “family matters.” Since these cases invariably involve adult victims, this cannot serve as a justification for violating a believer’s right to practice their religion.
Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion all .Moreover, false imprisonment is a crime in Japan under Article 220 of the Japanese Penal Code.
See also, Article 11 of the Japanese Constitution which claims that all fundamental human rights that are, “guaranteed to the people by this Constitution shall be conferred upon the people of this and future generations as eternal and inviolate rights”.
Article 223, of Japanese Penal Code calls for “imprisonment with work” for “threat to another's life, body, freedom, reputation or property or by use of assault, causes the other to perform an act which the other person has no obligation to perform, or hinders the other from exercising his or her rights”.
It is incomprehensible that all of the above-mentioned rights written in the Japanese Constitution and the Penal Code have been repeatedly violated throughout more than 40 years without legal consequences to the perpetrators of these crimes. Hundreds of young adult lives have been ruined and families destroyed. The perpetrators must be brought to justice and the victims vindicated. After exhausting multiple legal and other channels to secure a more rigorous and coordinated commitment from the government to put an end to kidnapping and forced religious conversion in Japan, the victims of these crimes have now decided to appeal to the international community.
Appeal to the HRC
With this, we appeal to the Human Rights Council for action. Still a beacon of hope to many unrepresented victims, we urge you to investigate and recognize these crimes laid before you as a dangerous precedent that threatens the very essence and foundation of human dignity.
On behalf of the victims we seek the following:
1. That if any member of the Unification Church or other minority religion becomes a victim of kidnapping and confinement, the Japanese government must immediately intervene and rescue the victim.
2. That the Japanese police must promptly search for anyone who has been kidnapped or confined and bring the victim to a safe place where the person may freely decide whom he or she chooses to associate with.
3. That in order to eliminate such incidents from this country once and for all, the Japanese police investigate all those who have been involved in past cases of kidnapping and confinement and, where appropriate, bring charges against them. The case of Toru Goto in particular should be immediately re-opened and the perpetrators of the crimes against him should be brought to justice. .Written about a month ago · Comment ·LikeUnlike
Qu Du, Shambhu Nath, Arshi Mukhtar and 2 others like this..Mike Ghouse Rev. Tanaka, could you please work on this?
March 5 at 7:03pm · .Javed Mughal I wish these people can realise that you can force the tongue but never the mind.
March 6 at 1:23am · .Peter Zoehrer This is outrageous.
Is Amnesty International aware of this? Let's hope the UN Human Rights Council will challenge the Japanese authorities, so that they finally start acting and ensure the prosecution of the perpetrators and the vindication of the numerous victims.
It is not only a grave violation of religious freedom it is also torture. Even now 5 victims are missing ... can anyone believe this is happening in Japan?
... See More
See also relevant info's on: http://religiousfreedom-europe.blogspot.com/
March 6 at 3:22am · .Mike Ghouse Peter, thanks for your epxression, I have seen a few videos of the released men; in today's socieity it is a shame we abuse other humans. It is horrifying.
March 6 at 7:27am · .Atiya Saeed Anger and Love have no limits;
choose the latter to have a beautiful, lovely life
& remember this:
Things are to be used and people are to be loved.
The problem in today's world is ... See More
that people are used while things are loved
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Friday, March 5, 2010 at 3:04pm
The book: Hindus, an alternate history is out now. Wendy Donigers writes on Indian History laden with errors. It is our responsibility to hightlight the errors, and as civil socieites we cannot perpetuate the errors and pass on to the next generation as facts. Let the reader "beware clause" be added to the book that the facts are not verified.
The petition listed below points out the following mistakes and if you agree with the contents please sign; I have signed # 5935
As responsibile citizens we have an obligation to stop and chuck errrors from getting into circulation, she is a popular author and we are making her even more popular. Now the responsibility falls squarely on her shoulders to set the record right. The publishers need to add a note of caution; that it is her version of the history and not verified to be true.
A few clauses in the petition may not have any grounding, but overall, the book has errors and needs to be addressed.
The contents of the petition are posted below and this is the petition.
Signing the petition does make a difference, I recall driving the signatures for Diwali Stamp drive on my radio show and all my groups. We need a whole lot more signature for that, the last count was abour 120,000. Thanks to the Facebook, I will post it there as well as send it to my groups.
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. He His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
# # #
PETITION FOR YOUR SIGNATURE:
The following errors are pointed in the petition:
“The Hindus: An Alternative History” is rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history.
Throughout the book, Doniger analyzes revered Hindu Gods and Goddess using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations. Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized.
A. FACTUAL ERRORS
The following are a just a SMALL SAMPLING of examples of the factual errors that run rampant through this disgusting book. By due diligence that is badly overdue from your editors, you can either find for yourself, or we will be glad to direct you to, scholarly references so that you can verify these errors yourself and withdraw this obscenity.
[Page number precedes a reference to inaccurate statements in the book. This is followed by a comment citing verifiable facts.]
Maps in front pages: Maps titled ‘India’s Geographical Features’ and ‘India from 600 CE to 1600 CE’
COMMENT: In the first map, the Waziristan Hills area is marked erroneously as ‘Kirthar Range’. The Kirthar Range is at least 200 miles further south. In the third map, Janakpur, Nagarkot, Mandu and Haldighati are marked several hundred miles from their correct geographical location.
Pg. 67 - It is claimed that the entire Harappan culture had a population of 40,000!
COMMENT: This is estimated as the population of Mohenjo-Daro alone. The population of the entire culture is estimated around 500,000.
Pg 112 - Wheat is mentioned as a food item in the Rigvedic period.
COMMENT: Wheat is not mentioned in the Rigveda at all. It first occurs in the Maitrayani Samhita of the Yajurveda.
Pg 130 - The author claims that there are no Gods in the Vedas who are Shudras.
COMMENT: It is anachronistic to assign castes to Rigvedic deities, but nevertheless, Pushan, Vesmapati and others have been considered Shudra deities in later times.
Pg 194 fn.- Gandhi's commentary on the Gita (a sacred Hindu scripture) was titled 'Asakti Yoga' (translated as ‘the science of deep attachment’).
COMMENT: The title of Gandhi’s work is 'Anasakti Yoga' (trans. ‘Science of non-Attachment’).
Pg 206 - The book wrongly states that the Hindus had only a triad of passions.
COMMENT: Hindu scriptures list six main evils and the concept of shadripus (six internal enemies) is very well known.
Pg 441 - The book claims that Firoz Shah redeemed a number of Hindu slaves…
COMMENT: A misrepresentation of the fact that he employed (not ‘redeemed’) 12,000 of his 180,000 slaves forcibly in royal factories for producing articles of consumption by Muslim elites. No “manumission” was involved.
Pg 445 - Dates of Saint Kabir are given as 1450 – 1498.
COMMENT: His demise is believed to have occurred in 1518, and the traditional date of birth is 1398.
Pg 448 - In 713 Muhammad ibn Qasim invaded Sind.
COMMENT: Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sind in 711.
Pg 450- It is claimed that Emperor Ala-ud-Din Khalji did not sack temples in Devagiri.
COMMENT: His contemporary Amir Khusro clearly mentions that the Emperor sacked numerous temples and raised mosques instead.
Pg 459 - King Ala-ud-din Husain of Bengal patronized Saint Chaitanya.
COMMENT: Saint Chaitanya never met the king, and left his kingdom to avoid persecution, as did his disciples. The king had destroyed Hindu temples in Orissa.
Pg 532 - Emperor Akbar moved his capital from Fatehpur Sikri to Delhi in 1586.
COMMENT: Emperor Akbar moved his capital to Lahore in 1587, and thereafter to Agra.
Pg 537-8 - The Sikh teacher Guru Govind Singh was assassinated in 1708, while 'attending Emperor Aurangzeb'. Emperor Aurangzeb died in 1707.
COMMENT: Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated in 1708 during the reign of Aurangzeb’s successor, Emperor Bahadur Shah I. It is insulting to say that the Guru was ‘attending’ on the Emperor.
Pg 550 - The book claims that Mirabai lived from 1498-1597, and then on p. 568, the author claims that Mirabai lived from 1450-1525!
COMMENT: Both dates are wrong and the commonly accepted dates are 1498-1547.
Pg 552 - The book claims that the Ramcharitmanas was written at Varanasi.
COMMENT: Both modern scholarship as well as tradition accept that the work (or at least most of it) was written in Ayodhya.
Section on Bibliography: “Shekhawat, V. “Origin and Structure of purushartha Theory: An attempt at Critical Appraisal.” Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 7:1 (1900), 63-67.”
COMMENT:The correct issue and year of this Journal issue are actually 8:2 and 1991. The bibliography has dozens of errors. Some references cited by Doniger simply do not exist.
B. DEROGATORY, DEFAMATORY AND OFFENSIVE STATEMENTS
Clumsily written, each chapter is a shocking and appalling series of anecdotes which denigrate, distort and misrepresent Hinduism and the history of India and Hindus. Doniger uses selective quotations from obscure and non-original, peripheral and ignorant references with a bizarre emphasis on sexuality and eroticism. Cited below are only a handful of quotes along with our understanding and interpretation, with references from Hindu scripture.
[Page number precedes the quote from the book. This is followed by a rebuttal comment.]
Pg 40 – “If the motto of Watergate was ‘Follow the money’, the motto of the history of Hinduism could well be ‘Follow the monkey’ or, more often ‘Follow the horse’.”
COMMENT: Very derogatory and offensive. The motto of Hinduism is to follow the truth and unite with God.
Pg 112 - The author alleges that in Rigveda 10.62, it is implied that a woman may find her own brother in her bed!
COMMENT: The hymn has no such suggestion. It is offensive to suggest that the sacred text of Hindus has kinky sex in it.
Pg 128 - The book likens the Vedic devotee worshipping different Vedic deities to a lying and a philandering boyfriend cheating on his girlfriend(s).
COMMENT: This is offensive and ignores that fact that in the Rigveda, the gods are said to be all united, born of one another, and from the same source.
Pg 225 -“Dasharatha’s son is certainly ‘lustful’... Rama knows all too well what people said about Dasharatha; when Lakshmana learns that Rama has been exiled, he says, “The king is perverse, old, and addicted to sex, driven by lust (2.18.3)”
COMMENT: Sri Rama is revered and worshipped as a deity. The highly acclaimed and critical edition of Valmiki’s Ramayana records no such statement attributed to Lakshmana. An imagined phrase, 'kama-sakta' is mistranslated as 'addicted to sex' by the author whereas it normally means ‘filled with desires’. Valmiki uses a phrase 'samani-madhah' (trans. Possessed of passion).
Pg 467 - Harihara and Bukka (the founders of the Vijayanagara Empire that saved Hindu culture in S India) ‘double-crossed’ the Delhi Sultan when they reconverted to Hinduism.
COMMENT: The brothers committed apostasy as they had been imprisoned and forcibly converted to Islam, and immediately reverted to Hinduism when they were 1000 miles from the Sultan, under the influence of a Hindu ascetic.
Pg 468-469 -“…The mosque, whose serene calligraphic and geometric contrasts with the perpetual motion of the figures depicted on the temple, makes a stand against the chaos of India, creating enforced vacuums that India cannot rush into with all its monkeys and peoples and colors and the smells of the bazaar…”
COMMENT: It is simply unacceptable that a scholar can flippantly, pejoratively and derogatorily essentialize the Hindus as “monkeys and peoples, colors and smells.., and chaos” in most insulting manner with the aspersion thrown at the entire Hindu culture and community all over the world. Such generalization has no place in serious scholarly work.
Pg 509 - ”Shankara and the philosopher’s wife…This tale contrasts sex and renunciation in such a way that the renunciant philosopher is able to have his cake and eat it, to triumph not only in the world of the mind (in which, before this episode begins, he wins a series of debates against the nonrenouncing male Mimamsa philosopher) but in the world of the body, represented by the philosopher’s wife (not to mention the harem women who clearly prefer Shankara to the king in bed).” The author attributes the tale to Shankaradigvijaya of Madhava and to Ravichandra's commentary on Amarushataka.
COMMENT: The author concocts the story as a sexual orgy in which the Saint Adi Shankara and King Amruka take turns making love to the latter’s wives after he is tired. Both her sources however state that the King was already dead and the Saint transferred his soul into the dead King’s body through his yogic powers. There is no suggestion in the texts that the queens ‘prefer Shankara to the king in bed’.
Pg 571- It is alleged that in a hymn from Saint Kshetrayya’s poetry, ‘God rapes’ the women devotees.
COMMENT: The hymn merely presents devotion using spiritual metaphors and the hymns of the Saint seen collectively depict it as a passionate love affair between the God and the devotees. No rape is implied in this hymn at all.
Again, the above is simply a sampling of the scandalous and offensive statements in the book. By her own admission in the book, Doniger has no credentials as a historian and the title of the book is misleading as the book is not on the “History nor an Alternative History” of India. This shows that the author is not an authority on the subject as she is not able to understand the deep meaning of Sanskrit verses or Indian Concepts. These cast serious doubts about the author’s integrity as a researcher and ability to interpret accurately. Additional examples of the author’s shoddy scholarship will be made available upon request.
We emphasize that this defamatory book misinforms readers about the history of Hindu civilization, its cultures and traditions. The book promotes prejudices and biases against Hindus. Can Penguin’s editors really be incompetent enough to have allowed this to pass to publication? If this is not deliberate malice, Penguin must act now in good faith.
As concerned readers, we ask PENGUIN GROUP to:
1. WITHDRAW all the copies of this book immediately from the worldwide bookshops/markets/Universities/Libraries and refrain from printing any other edition.
2. APOLOGIZE for having published this book “The Hindus: An Alternative History”. This book seriously and grossly misrepresents the Hindu reality as known to the vast numbers of Hindus and to scholars of Hindu tradition. PENGUIN must apologize for failure to observe proper pre-publication scrutiny and scholarly review.
LINK FOR THIS POSTING: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2010/03/donigers-book-on-hindu-history.html
IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT: http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2010/03/donigers-book-on-hindu-history.html#comments
Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 6:36pm | Edit Note | Delete
I am saddened to hear the loss of our own; Dr. Eliott Dlin from the Jewish community of Dallas. I am stressed up, I cannot believe this. We had a dinner last week on February 23rd with our group after the Holocaust event at SMU. http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/03/tribute-to-elliott-dlin.html
(Notes Added: The Holocaust Museum has just sent the release on Dr. Dlin, it follows my tribute)
On Wednesday 24th, he shoots me an email to go for lunch to talk about the conference on Holocaust and Genocides I have scheduled, I could not meet with him then, I get another email to meet at Bishop McGriff's funeral on Friday 26th. Alas, we had connected.
I have known Elly since 2006, we have worked together at two of the three Holocaust and Genocides events here in Dallas. He is (was) one of the best educators about Holocaust and gave me a personal tour of the Dallas Holocaust Museum with my other friend Bernie Mayoff.
I had invited him to a meeting at the Memnosyne Foundation in 2008, and from there he became friends with us at Memnoysne as well and he was part of the interfaith service network advisory. We planned a interfaith work to clean and paint the holocaust museum, where people from different faith joined in for the project.
Eliott was the Directors of Dallas Holocaust Museum and through his encouragement I became a member of the Museuem.
The foundation for Pluralism honored him with aplaque recognizing his work in the community at the 2nd Annual Holocaust and Genocides commemoration -
I will be updating information about him on the face book as well as at: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/03/tribute-to-elliott-dlin.html
I mourn the loss of a friend, from God we come and to God we go.
May your soul be blessed and rest in peace. Amen
Mike Ghouse, Chair
Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides
LINK TO THIS TRIBUTE:
Shared by the Dallas Holocauts Museum at 4:00 PM March 4, 2010
Elliott Dlin: The Ultimate Upstander
On Wednesday, March 3rd, we lost a friend and Holocaust scholar. Elly Dlin brought as much passion and knowledge as anyone could to our mission to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference, for the benefit of all humanity.
Elly's enthusiasm for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide made it impossible for his audiences to be indifferent; he had the power to transform bystanders into Upstanders. His contributions to the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance were many, but his most remarkable and impressive was the exhibit he set up at our current Record Street location, which now serves as the foundation for all that we do. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
Elly fulfilled many roles, but just last Sunday, he performed a comedy routine at the DHM/CET Purim Party in his Edmonton Oilers hockey jersey. A man of many talents and many friends. And, many have expressed an interest in making contributions to the DHM/CET in Elly's memory. Your sincere support is very much appreciated. We will be working to create a lasting and appropriate memorial to Elly, what he stood for, and his many contributions to the DHM/CET. Your input would be most welcome as we proceed in a thoughtful discussion on how to best honor Elly's legacy.
"A different world cannot be built by indifferent people"
Elliott Dlin, an internationally-regarded expert on the Holocaust and Museum Director of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, devoted his life to fighting indifference.
Dlin believed that indifference is not a neutral position. The Holocaust, he said, would not have been possible without the inaction of so many who stood by from 1933-1945. In dozens of lectures to teachers, school students and community groups, Dlin championed the term "Upstander"--someone who stands up to racism, prejudice and indifference.
"The Holocaust is the turning point in modern history that transformed the unimaginable into the replicable," he said recently. "It demands involvement and vigilance, and its lessons must be taught anew to each generation."
Dlin, 57, died Wednesday, following a heart attack. Services will be 2 p.m. Sunday in Edmonton, Canada, where he was born. A memorial service in Dallas is pending.
"Elly brought as much passion and knowledge as any one could to our mission to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference, for the benefit of all humanity," said Thomas S. Halsey, Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. "His enthusiasm for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide made it impossible for his audiences to be indifferent; he could transform bystanders into Upstanders."
Rabbis William Gershon, David Glickman and Joseph Menashe of Congregation Shearith Israel said, "Elly was not only a wonderful Holocaust Scholar, but an excellent communicator who deeply touched so many lives. Our hearts go out to the Dlin Family, his colleagues at the Holocaust Museum, as well as to the entire Jewish community. His passing is a true loss for all of us."
Dlin joined the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance as its Executive Director in January 2002, when the Museum was located at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas. In 2005, the Museum relocated to 211 N. Record St. in Dallas' West End Historic District. Dlin personally developed the Museum's current exhibition, which examines one day in the Holocaust-April 19, 1943-from three different perspectives. The Museum hosts more than 50,000 visitors annually.
"Elly's contributions to the DHM/CET were many, but his most remarkable and impressive was the exhibit he set up at our Record Street location, which now serves as the foundation for all that we do," said Halsey. "To say he will be missed is an understatement."
Last December, at the request of the Museum board, Dlin assumed the new title of Museum Director, focusing on educational, archival and other content-related programs. The Museum has purchased land for a new facility at Houston Street and Pacific Avenue, adjacent to the Sixth Floor Museum, and a fundraising campaign is being planned.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Elliott Dlin emigrated to Israel in 1977 after completing an MA in Modern European History from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Initially, he taught high school in Jerusalem, then spent 22 years in senior positions for Yad Vashem, Israel's national museum and memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem. Dlin worked in the education department where he focused on developing and writing curriculum as well as training teachers to teach about the Holocaust. He helped establish the "International Seminars for Teaching Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust," a multi-language, multi-dimensional program that continues today. From 1993 to 1999, he served as director of the Valley of Communities, a 2.5-acre commemorative site in Yad Vashem where he lectured and curated more than a dozen exhibitions.
In Dallas, Dlin was a passionate speaker and captivating educator. His lectures and presentations wove together historical fact and moral perspective, often leaving spell-bound audience members wanting to hear more. He specialized in bringing a comprehensive worldview to the approach of teaching about the Holocaust, believing memory is both personal and communal.
In January, Dlin was Guest Scholar at Temple Emanu-El for a three-part lecture series entitled, Understanding the Holocaust: Changing Reflections in Film, Media and Beyond. On February 23, he was a presenter and panelist for a program at Southern Methodist University exploring the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, established by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry last June.
At the time of his death, Dlin was nearing completion of a Ph.D. dissertation in Museum Education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, the subject of which is a comparative study of Holocaust Museums in North America.
Dlin is survived by his wife, Carol Bachman-Dlin; four sons, Yeshai, Oren, Ronen and Raviv; his mother, Helen Dlin; his brother, Dr. Arnold Dlin; a sister, Bonnie Cassios; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made in Dlin's name to the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, the American Heart Association or to Yad Vahsem.
Elly at a Feb. 23 panel
Elly was a presenter and panelist at the Museum's Feb. 23 event at SMU, exploring the Texas Commission on Holocaust and Genocide, co-sponsored by the Memnosyne Foundation and the SMU Human Rights Program
Elly at the Feb. 28 Purim Party
Elly was an avid fan of his hometown National Hockey League team, the Edmonton Oilers.
Elly at a Yom Hashoah Event
Since his arrival to the Museum in 2002, Elly has overseen planning of the annual Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at which we recognize and honor our cherished Holocaust Survivors.
The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and to teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference, for the benefit of all humanity.
For more information, visit dallasholocaustmuseum.org.
And, please visit us at 211 N. Record Street, Suite 100, Dallas, 75202.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 7:06pm | Edit Note | Delete
Religions are beautiful, if every one gets it as Jesus intended, Mohammad wanted, Moses taught, Krishna explained, Nanak practiced, Buddha enlightened, Zathustra showed or the native tradtions point out... there would be no problem. All they wanted was a better world by following a few basic principles. They were looking at the end result and not the means. Religion is not the problem.
The purpose of religion is to bring a sense of composure and a balance within oneself and with what surrounds; life and environment. All religions or traditions whether scripted or not, have the same goal; to create a continual balance.
When you buy a $700 suit for $100, you will call all your friends to go get one. I guess the same zeal enters one's mind if they are rejoiced with their faith.
Arrogance is the mother of all conflicts that is why every possible tradition out there requires one to bow, kneel or prostrate to show humility and acceptance of a greater being than ourselves. To believe my faith is better than yours is sheer arrogance, it breeds conflicts, and assumes that other faiths are less than mine; and "they" need to catch up, Hell no!
To believe that other faith is deficient is being disrespectful to the otherness of other. God has not signed a deal with any one behind my back, if God were to favor one over the other, we have not understood the nature of God, all loving, caring and generous, after he is your and my creator. But if you insist God does favors to you, keep him, we don't need it, we don't need that kind of God illusion.
Spirituality and Arrogance are inversely proportional. To be religious is to be humble and to be a peace maker.
There is no need to have institutions of proselyteziation. Every faith is beautiful, however one should have complete freedom to choose what he or she wants to believe or ritualize. Let there be no compulsion in religion. (Quraan 2:256).
After all, NO ONE is responsible for my actions other than myself, that I have to reflect upon in my solitiude and be accountable on the elusive Day of Judgment.
I am a Muslim and I proclaim, my faith is NOT superior or inferior to any. My faith requires me to be humble and my role is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill that is what leads to the kingdom of peace. My faith works for me as your faith works for you, you enjoy your faith and I will mine. (Quraan 109:6)
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
Conversion or recruitment?
Q: Is there a problem with proselytism overseas by U.S. religious groups? Isn't sharing one's faith part of religious freedom? When does it cross the line into manipulation and coercion?
I believe systematic and institutionalized endeavors to proselytize on a global stage is warfare by other means. I am not opposed to conversion per se. If someone finds meaning in a particular message and seeks to embrace it, congratulations. If one feels an urge to share one's beliefs and what it means with others, then again that is welcome. But if one starts a campaign to "recruit" people through an organized crusade, then it is, I believe, contrary to the very idea of spiritualism as understood by most faiths, and is an act of aggression.
Faith is not a commodity that lends itself to a global consumer marketing campaign. To treat it as such is demeaning to faith itself. Marketing it using brochures and not compassion, arguments and not service, providing material incentives and not spiritual comfort, is abhorrent.
Islam and Christianity have reputations for proselytizing. But often the rapid growth of Islam is assumed to be as a result of Christianity like attempts at systematic proselytizing. This is far from the truth. There are no lifelong missionaries in Muslim societies. Mosques do not have budgets or fund raisers for missionary work. Islam is today the fastest growing religion in America and Europe and that is not because of some major missionary campaign, but indeed in spite of all the demonization of Islam in the media as a false religion, as a religion of violence and as a value system intolerant towards women.
Many Western commentators interpret the extremism of al-Qaeda and other groups as indicative of the Islamic mandate to convert people to Islam. I personally have difficulty understanding this claim. How does one convince others of the virtue of one's ways through murder and slaughter?
On the other hand, many Islamic and third world countries associate Christian missionaries with crusades, colonization and imperialism. If you see a Christian missionary, run! Western armies are not far behind, or they are already there. Even the U.S., the champion of secularism and freedom of religion, has had so much trouble disassociating itself and its foreign policy from proselytizing. U.S. armies in occupied Iraq have been used to protect Christian missionaries distributing Bibles along with food to starving Iraqis and associating Christian symbols with military ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Efforts to safeguard freedom of religion, such as the now controversial U.S. Commission of on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has been shown as biased towards Christianity. It has over the years shown more concern for opening opportunities for evangelism in the Muslim World than protecting the religious freedoms of Muslim Women in France.
In India too there is a large constituency for banning conversions because they see it as a cultural invasion of India, by Islam and Christianity. Clearly proselytizing has no place in the global village.
Islamic sources, regardless of how some Muslims may act or interpret them, are overwhelmingly against active proselytization. The Quran states very clearly that there is no compulsion in religion. There is no need for compulsion, since the truth is elf evident (Quran 2:256). In several other places, the Quran states very clearly that the role of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is to only deliver the message from God. He does not have the right to exercise power over those who receive his message (Quran 88;21-22), it is God, not people, who will exercise accountability upon the creation (Quran 88;26]. The job of a Muslim is to deliver the message, not to manage, not to act as an advocate nor to seek to act as a guardian of others (Quran 10:18, 3:29, 18:29).
I like Jefferson's idea that the best way to communicate what one's values and beliefs are is by living them. If Muslims want to bring the message of Truth to others, then rather than launching global campaigns to proselytize, they should live their faiths and let its grace work. The same applies to others. Be good so we know your values are good.
To be concise proselytization is neither good religion nor good politics. Religion's objective is to build a spiritual link between the creation and the creator, not to serve as an identity marker engaged in a battle for market share of souls.
Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1:12pm | Edit Note | Delete
Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) life is filled with examples of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Indeed, in the Qur’aan God says, to every nation and every community I have sent a peace maker, a Messenger, an Avatar or a Prophet, and then adds, I have created you into nations, tribes and different communities, the best among you is the one who does good to the creation; life and matter and then he advises mankind to get to know each other. I believe knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other.
Prophet Muhammad defines a good deed is like planting a tree; where you know that by the time that tree matures to give the fruit or the shade, you are not the beneficiary, but someone else is. As we have benefited from legacy we have bequeathed, we have to leave it to the future. The best among us is one who treats life and nature as a trust that we have to preserve, protect and nurture.
I have selected ten representative things that Prophet had initiated that goes towards mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. I bet that you can relate with similar examples of the masters that you are familiar with. His whole life was about Justice and peace making. I will post the presentation in a few days or you can send an email to receive the Journal of Islamic Pluralism: firstname.lastname@example.org
His birthday is called Milaad, Moulood, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Yom–e-Nabi and other names. Please be aware that not all Muslims celebrate his birthday, it was Prophet’s humility that he asked God to be one’s focus and not him, he said praise the lord and celebrate him and his creation, and he did not celebrate his birthday nor he allowed others to, he said find your joy in gratitude to the eternal one. Of course, when you love someone you cherish them and sometimes you make a God out of them. Indeed, the romantic poetry (Urdu/Hindi) in the subcontinent is laden with it “Mera pyaar kah raha hai, ke tujhe khuda bana loon”, “my love is suggesting me to make a God out of you.” Christians can relate with that thought well when it comes to Christ.
Personally I have been comfortable with each tradition, I believe that as beauty is in the eyes of beholder, faith is in the heart of the believer. I look at the devotion of the person and not the ritual.
Last evening at Milaad Celebrations called, “Texas Mowlid Celebrations” it was euphoric. It was good to see different Muslim denominations come together and rejoice the birth of prophet. It was good to experience the differences and enrich with the diversity of praise to the peace maker. I appreciate the efforts of Dr. Mansoor Mian and Asif Effendi of ILM center in Dallas to bring the communities together.
As a Muslim Pluralist, I tend to see reflections of all faith and traditions in any event I attend or a part of. My mental translator converts things into essence from rituals.
1. The Hare Krishna folks say Lord Krishna appeared on earth rather than born, as he exists in different manifestations. A similar thought was expressed about Muhammad that he was not born, he was always there, and he appeared. Muslims of different hues, have a different take on this.
2. The idea that God became apparent through Muhammad sounds very much like Christian belief about Jesus, through Jesus you come to the lord.
3. One speaker talked about intellectual connection where as the other one talked about divine connection. I guess whatever suits one works for the one. However, this prompted me to share my own experience. When I read Karen Armstrong’s book Muhammad, I saw the man he was, a whole new dimension, someone I can relate with, someone who is human and makes decisions like we all do. Karen narrates this beautifully as how humans strive to bring a balance and sense to the society.
I recommend this book to everyone to read, it is enlightening. She has portrayed him as a human being that he was. Among Muslims we differ about his persona, to some he is divine, to some he is human. To me he was a human and he has made that clear every time… to paraphrase him, “I am like you, I will die like everyone else and be absorbed in the process of nature, do not build a tomb for me, it’s the message of God that I want you to follow, don’t paint my pictures (the picture in this article is his name and it reads Muhammad) you need to remain with and worship God the eternal and not me.” He shared the eternal wisdom of the Golden rule, what is good for you has got to be good for the other and vice versa to sustain harmony and peace.
The cultural part of Milaad is about appreciating and singing songs in praise of Prophet Muhammad, the peace maker. The devotion is identical to Janmashtami (Krishna's appearance) songs and Christmas Carrols. I am sure people of faith can relate with their own celebrations. The essence is appreciation, the rituals are different.
The Singers, called Naat Khwaans, the reciters of poem in praise of the prophet were simply outstanding, particularly the conclusionary one, “Ya Nabi Salaam Aliaka…” I found myself in tune with the chorus (Names of the speakers and singers will be updated when possible).
For Muslims there is lot more depth and meaning to it, but for non-Muslims, this gives them an idea about the festival. It is part of the Pluralism education, so we all can know each other and learns to enjoy each other with our own uniqueness. Years ago, I ran a weekly Radio program called "festivals of the world" and shared about each festival. I try to make it simple enough that most people can get the essence of it.
Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/