SHORT MESSAGES

More articles at www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com about the Gaza conflict.

I will be out in DC on Tuesday and Wednesday

Mike Ghouse
__________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: Has religion lost its bite?

http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/07/texas-faith-has-religion-lost-its-bite.html

  

Has faith been boiled down into tenets that mostly make us feel good about ourselves? Or, to put it another way, has modern religion lost its ability to make us feel uncomfortable about parts of our lives?

Texas Faith is a weekly column at Dallas Morning News managed by Editors William McKenzie and Wayne Slater, the material is contributed by several panelists, for all responses please visit  http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2012/07/texas-faith-has-religion-lost-its-bite.html/

Has modern religion lost its bite?

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas


Indeed, the modern religion is reduced to a ritual to be performed as a social obligation to get it over with, rather than what it ought to do to you personally.  It is particularly dumped on children as a duty to be fulfilled. The story is similar in most religions, given the space limitations; I will keep it to the Islamic month of Ramadan.

As a part of developing the model for Pluralism in Islam, I am visiting every denominational mosque since Ramadan began ten days ago for the whole month ending on August 18th or 19th depending on the moon sighting.  It is everything you wanted to know about Ramadan and more; its politics, spirituality and traditions at RamdanDaily.com.  One will appreciate the uniqueness of each of its traditions.

Dr. Allama Iqbal, a great philosopher and a poet wrote a poem in Urdu language, and one of the most famous lines goes as follows; “Tera dil to hay sanam aashna, tujhay kia milay ga namaz main. ” Broadly translated, you heart is elsewhere, and so what do you get out of praying or fasting?

What do the Salat (ritual prayers) and fasting do to you, and what is the cumulative effect on you?  If it does not bring Taqwa, the spirituality and humility in you, then you have merely performed the ritual without being affected by it.|

Taqwa has many dimensions, one of them is humility, the essence of which is feeling, talking and acting equal with your employee, spouse, family and other members of the society, Muslim or not. How do we measure up?

Arrogance is the mother of all conflicts, whereas humility is the solution to most of them. When you bow, kneel or prostrate at your place of worship, it is an acknowledgement of the invisible superior being, and equality of fellow beings.

Has your religion lost its bite? Look at the ritual practices in your own, most people get it right, a few don’t.

To a few, religion is a powerful tool to manipulate others, or pushing their beliefs onto others. To some it is a social need to keep their status as a church going “honest” family, and some feel sanctimonious when performing the rituals in a Church, Temple, Synagogue, Gurudwara or a Mosque. When they step out of the sanctuary, the arrogance creeps right back in, and the religion loses its bite instantly.

Added

My Professor Dr. Ramachandra, shared a story about the senselessness of rituals. He said, a great Hindu Sadhu (saint) goes to the Ganges to take the holy dip in the river to wash his sins off. As he walked on the edge of the river, thousands of devotees recognized him and decided, that is was time for them to learn from him by observing his rituals.

So the Sadhu places his traditional water bucket on the sand, and goes into the river, looks back at the brass bucket and realizes that it could be stolen, the smart man walks back and buries the bucket in the sand. As he was walking into the river, he realizes that he may not find the spot in the large swatch of sand, so he comes back, and plucks a branch from a tree and plants it on the top of the buried bucket and merrily goes back into the river. When he returns from his bath, he was shocked to see thousands of tree branches buried in the sand instead the one. Many a rituals are formed thru imitations without meaning it.

...............................

Please mark your calendar for Tuesday 9/11/2012, it's a big event in Dallas- details at www.UnitydayUSA.com

..........................

No American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. There are solutions, here is a trailer of the movie in making:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMXsTo4VYh8&feature=youtu.be

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.

Ramadan day 11 Dallas Family Church


Title - Ramadan day 11 Dallas Family Church
Date - Monday, July 30, 2012 | Ramadan11, 1433
Mosque (not a Mosque) - Dallas Family Church (214) 905-9233
Address - 1922 Anson Road, Dallas, TX 75235
Website - n/a
29 Mosques - 29 days of Ramadan at: www.RamadanDaily.com
Iftaar Time today: 8:31 PM CST
Recommended reading listed below the note



Today’s Iftaar was at Dallas Family Church.
Rev. Kook Jin Moon
Dallas Family Church is a place I visit a few times a year, and it is always a joy to be there, the folks at this ministry are committed to the interfaith work. Indeed, they have become a family to me, particularly Rev. Mark Hernandez. If he asks me to drop other things and join him, I will do that out of respect for this great man. As the month progresses, I will share some extraordinary stories and experiences from the interfaith events, including the one tonight.
Reverend Moon’s ministry has made several trips to Jerusalem with the Middle East Peace Initiative, and I have been with them as well. In Korea this March, they held an international meeting with thousands attending from across the globe. They celebrated the interfaith movement with a unique concept - they made 4 Gold plated statues of major religious leaders; Moses, Jesus, Buddha and for Islam, they made a gold plated symbol of Quraan on a pedestal and conducted their meetings under the umbrella of these. They are very respectful of Islam, and I have opened many a sessions with interfaith prayers.
Today, Rev. Kook Jin Moon made it to Dallas, a Harvardian heading his father’s business, an inventor himself and a powerful speaker. He is visiting several Cities in the United States and other countries on a mission about creating freedom societies, similar to mine building cohesive societies, but his emanates from theology of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, his father.
Mark asked me to join him to hear Kook Jin this evening, and also asked me to join for lunch. I mentioned to him that I will join them, but that, I am fasting.

Mark Sat next to me and was reluctant to eat, I broke the ice, and told everyone to simply enjoy their food, the more temptations sit in front of me, the stronger I get in my fasting, indeed, I looked into each delicious dish, and took pictures as well. The food looked real good.
Delicious "looking" Korean food
Then I spoke about what fasting was all about - it’s to bring Taqwa, the spirituality in us, it is getting closer to God and acquiring those qualities - to be kind, forgiving, generous, loving and caring towards all of God’s creation, and to learn to be ourselves by being ourselves rather than go with the flow.

Kook Jin Moon shared some powerful views about freedom, less government, less regulations and let the freedom determine the outcomes. Ideologically, it sounds good and almost like the concept of “freedom wins” at last. I shared the concept of freedom expressed in Quran 2:256, that there shall not be no compulsion in the maters of faith.

Furthermore, God could have prevented or programmed Adam to be obedient, and we would not have been kicked out of heaven. God means business, when he gave free will to Adam, he meant it. He did not interrupt, nor did he slap Adam for disobedience. Adam knew there was a consequence to his decision, and we are living it.
When Christians talk about the first sin, or being born sinners, they mean that it is in our DNA to disobey, and that we have to do our inner Jihad to be free again.
On the other hand, the Saudi Police is intolerant of Muslims who do not fast, as if they are responsible to God on the Day of Judgment. I don’t know if Iran has enforcers. What an individual does is his own business and not any one’s. Similarly, a few Muslims embarrass others by blatantly asking them if they are observing the fast. On our part, we should not look down on those who don’t observe fasting, as it amounts to degrading our own taqwa. I do hope our Imams agree with this. Isn’t Islam about common sense and free will?
Rev. Mark Hernandez is Chair for the seven states area for the American Clergy Association and Family federation of Churches, in 2005 he heard me on 820 AM Radio and came to the Unity Day USA, since then we have become friends. The founder of this world wide church is Rev. Sun Myung Moon whose ministry is based in South Korea, but has flourished well in the United States. He is quite an influential person on the world stage. I have had the opportunity to have breakfast with him and his wife at 4:30 AM a few years ago, and also welcomed him in Dallas by placing a Garland on him, and my late wife Najma had welcomed his wife Rev. Hak Jahan Moon. I have met with three of their sons, who run their own businesses and head the church now, and thier daughter Rev. Injin Moon, who heads the Church in the United States.
BREAKING THE FAST

The program was from 7-10 PM and breaking of fast was at 8:32 PM. I had informed Rev. Hernandez earlier, who had informed Rev. Moon that I will be stepping out for Iftaar, thank God; Mrs. Yuri Hernandez had set a fruit plate for me and Marzuk Jami, the other Muslim among some 250 people in a packed hall to listen to Kook Jin Moon. By the way, we quietly walked out and did our Iftaar and Maghrib prayers in the fellowship hall. My i-phone compass worked to point to the Kaaba.
This is the first time I am on the other side of the fence.

Five years ago, my Sikh and Zoroastrian friends reluctantly shared a story from seven years ago, and they wanted to know why Muslims had walked out on them in the Unity Day in 2005? They asked if the prayer sequence for religious leaders be reversed this time from Zoroastrians to Atheists (though not a religion, they are a part of the Unity Day) instead of the other way around. I could not bear their hurt, and quickly did inquires and found out that Muslims did walk out on them when the Sikhs, Wicca and Zoroastrians were speaking. I don’t let these things go unverified, and found out that it was the time for Maghrib on September 11, 2005 and Muslim went to prayers. It was all in Alphabetical order. My Sikh and Zoroastrian friends were relieved knowing the truth, and the restoration of goodwill.

Our Key note speakers that evening were Daisy Khan and Mayor Pat Evans of Plano. I shared the story and added that for Muslims, duty to God takes precedence over other things, and mentioned to the Mayor and other Mayors present that even if President George Bush (2007) would be speaking, Muslims would go to pray. It was a revealing story, and the moral is, don’t hold against people without verifying the truth. Whether it is Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or any one, we really need to verify before we hold someone in contempt, it is for our own good, saving the anguish and sustaining the goodwill.
Mike Ghouse, Rev. Kook Jin Moon, Rev. Mark Hernandez

And today, it was my turn to inform the organizers of the event to let them know in advance, that I will be stepping out to do my Iftaar. Indeed, I stepped out at 8:29, right when Rev. Kook Jin Moon was being introduced. This ministry is well versed with the religious nuances of Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

Rev. Kook Jin Moon’s talk on freedom was incredible, I do see his point, he is more like Ron Paulian libertarian, and I am more like Gary John Libertarian or John Huntsman Republican. We did talk about Sean Hannity. Sean is indeed a good conservative who believes in genuine individual freedom, but somehow he slips into being a radical Republican. He did correct me once that he is a conservative rather than the Republican and I pray he remains conservative but becomes a moderate Republican.
I will write about Rev. Moon’s speech in a separate piece. However, I do want to thank Rev. Hernandez for inviting me, and appreciate the honor Rev. Joshua Cotter gave me by referencing several times from the stage.

Happy Ramadan.


Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, a positive event that brings all Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it. If you liked some of the article, you will like the description of Unity Day USA at www.UnityDayUSA.com



A few other Articles to read if you have the time:

What does God really want?

A Muslim observing the lent:
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/04/happy-easter.html


Quraan conference, dealing with mis-translated verses of Quraan
http://quraanconference.blogspot.com/2012/07/pastor-robert-jeffress-ingnites-quraan.html

Are Muslims a part of the American society? http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-muslims-part-of-american-story.html

A call from God to know each other http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/mission-of-world-muslim-congress.html


Please visit
http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/ for a record since 2010.

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.


Ramadan day 10 Masjid Yaseen, Garland


Title - Ramadan day 10 Masjid Yaseen,
Date - Sunday, July 29, 2012 | Ramadan10, 1433
Mosque - Masjid Yaseen
Address - Campbell Road, Garland, Tx 75044
29 Mosques - 29 days of Ramadan at:  www.RamadanDaily.com
Iftaar Time today: 8:32 PM CST
Recommended reading listed below the note


Masjid Yaseen is perhaps one of the first Mosques in the area that is built 10 years ahead of its time; ample parking and spacious sanctuary space to grow into. The paneling on the Mehrab is full two stories high and looks beautiful with full height windows. This mosque also has great PA system that gives out clear crispy voice of the Imam during the prayer.





Again, the dome of this mosque is first of its kind that is symmetrical, and raised above the roof top to be seen from outside. The builder in me spots things that are unusual; the dome on this mosque is raised high enough to be visible from the parking space and on either east or west, it is the south side that the dome is not visible, as the building itself is about 5 fee above street level. A few other mosques sunk the dome behind jagged edged walls on the outside, no idea why they cannot focus on street scape. However, that is a different design element altogether, the dome of this Mosque is just very pleasant and so is its color.


I was looking at the name of the organization, “Islamic Association of Arabi” unlike most other Mosques that list the name of the city. But when I browsed through the website I found what Arabi meant; it is a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana where this tradition of Mosque took root. Their website reads, “The Islamic Association of Arabi began as a small Masjid (Masjid Yaseen) and in only five years, the first boarding Islamic institute in the United States was established. From 1990 to 2005, fifty-five American Muslim children completed memorization of the Holy Quran and another thirteen went on to become Scholars of Islam. Today, Alhamdulillah, it is a sense of great pride that these products of The Islamic Association of Arabi are serving various Masjids and communities all over our nation.
Brother Mir Yusufuddin, one of the earliest Muslims in Dallas
I was early in the mosque, and searched for the Hilali Khan** translation of Quraan, thank God; I did not see it, as it is one of the most dangerous translations of Quraan that fuels Islamophobia. There was a translation in Urdu, and read through the first chapter and it was fine. I am very conscious of the wrong translation and the havoc they play in the society. Sean Hannity at Fox News had mentioned that to me, and I presented him with Muhammad Asad's translation, which is by far the best, but not perfect.

IFTAAR - Breaking the fast;

It was great to see Brother Mir Yusufuddin in the Mosque. He is one of the earliest Indian Muslims pioneers to have come to the United States. Most of the migration started in mid-sixties, right after the passage of the Civil rights acts. But Dallas was blessed with about 10 families who came in early sixties - among them were Brother Sabu, Dr. Bukhari, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Dr. Afzal and others. I believe Yusufuddin bhai came in around that time. He was on my Radio show in 1996 where we did a talk show series and he shared the story of Dallas then - there was no Halal meat nor any Indian grocery was available at that time. We talked about the history of Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and others, then Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. By the way, the oldest Indian in town is a Jewish man by the name Simon Saragon, who migrated with his mother in 1932! The second one was Ike Sekhon, a prominent Indian Sikh, who came to Dallas in 1956. He passed away a few years ago.
Prayers
The Audible Aameen chorus after Sura Fateha was toned down in this mosque, and at the Noori Masjid, it did not exist, in other Mosques it is vigorous.
After the prayers, it was time for Hadeeth reading. The gentleman, a Medical doctor was reading the Hadiths from Sahih Bukhari - In one Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says to his associates that if you can find a way to remove ill-will towards every one, keep it that way, that is the right thing to do. I was rather pleased to hear that Hadith. He shared a few other Hadiths, and repeated each one three times; I was attentive to see if the narrator of the Hadith was different, it was the same narrator. Later he told me that, it was prophet’s practice to emphasize it by repeating three times.

I wish he had clarified the depth of the words “ill-will towards none” as I have heard a few among us, who understand it be “ill-will towards no Muslim”. It should mean towards any human being. Not sure, if there is a feedback system in place to ensure the kids understood it the same way or the other way.

Last year, I was the speaker at Diwali Celebrations, and told the story of Rama and Krishna to the nearly all white non-Hindu audience, and when the time for feedback came, almost everyone understood the way it was explained to them. Everyone knew Sita and her relationship with Rama. I was surprised at the attentiveness and listening habits, and the president of Hindu Temple was rather pleased to see good feedback, so did Nishi Bhatia, a teacher and an organizer of the event.

Dinner
The Haleem was extraordinary, unlike the dark colored ones, this one was light , and maybe it was chicken Haleem, if there is a thing like that. Haleem is grinding the meat with lentil and cooking it together, creating a thick pasty pulpy food. It had the Hyderabadi touch to it - bits of cashew added to it made it delicious. I am waiting Ramadan to be over, so I can eat, Bisi Bele Baath, a south Indian vegetarian dish with Lentil, Veggies and Rice cooked together..
Taraweeh

I was stunned with the pace of Quraan recitation in this mosque. One gathering prays in the main sanctuary and the other on the second floor - the second floor guys are doing the Khatam-Khwani; i.e., completing the entire Quraan recitation in Taraweeh Prayers in 10 days! The main floor guys will finish in normal time - 27 to 28 days and these guys will do it three times. You know what time they go home? 12:30 AM! And what time do they get up? 4:30 AM!. That is dedication to Ramadan!
I hope you see the uniqueness of each mosque and will have no ill-will towards others for practicing their own version of Islamic rituals, and some times, very differently. By the time, I will finish writing about Ramadan in28 to 29 days, we all should have a pretty good idea about the uniqueness of each Masjid.
If reading this is offering you an understanding of different traditions within Islam, and is opening your heart and mind to respect other traditions, please feel free to share your comments.
One of the purposes for my visits to different Mosques each day, during the month of Ramadan is to understand various traditions and have the cushion to absorb them all and give full value to each one. I hope, some day, more and more Muslims make these rounds. It is humbling and yet powerful to have the ability to understand the differences and respect them.


Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, a positive event that brings all Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it. If you liked some of the article, you will like the description of Unity Day USA at www.UnityDayUSA.com



A few other Articles to read if you have the time:

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.

Ramadan day 9 Noori Masjid, Plano

Allama Iqbal said it well, “Tujhe kya milega namaaz may” what do you get out of fasting and prayer, if it does not make you a humble person. Humility is the other name for Taqwa or spirituality, it broadly means treating, feeling and acting equal with your employee, spouse, kids or others; Muslim or not. How do we measure up?

Title - Ramadan day 9- Noori Masjid, Plano
Date - Saturday, July 28, 2012 | Ramadan 9, 1433
Mosque - Noori Masjid (972) 423-5786
Address - 1251 Shiloh Road, Plano, Tx 75074
29 Mosques - 29 days of Ramadan at: www.RamadanDaily.com 
Iftaar Time today: 8:34 PM CST
Recommended reading listed below the note

EXPERIENCE RAMADAN AT NOORI MASJID

Artists rendering of Noori Masjid, click to enlarge the image
It is a euphoric feeling to feel at home again, I am home* at this Masjid as well, and I was thankful to God for removing every barrier in my life between me and another human being. I believe this is what God meant, to know each other, and when we do, we are home, no matter where we are, and blissfully, I am. The purpose to mention these feeling are to encourage you to have it, by merely respecting the otherness of other.
Allama Iqbal said it well, “Tujhe kya milega namaaz may” what do you get out of fasting and prayer, if it does not make you a humble person. Humility is the other name for Taqwa or spirituality, it broadly means treating, feeling and acting equal with your employee, spouse, kids or others; Muslim or not. How do we measure up?
The welcome was nice, as I was seated with a Khajoor (date) and a napkin, I was smiling to have an actual napkin in my hand.

There were at least six or seven men in bottle green turbans, something I had seen on the great grandson (14th) of Imam Bukhari, and who and I were fellow Ambassadors for peace with UPF. He passed away three years ago and I had great memories of him. At the Parliament of world’s Religions in Melbourne at the Flag Ceremony, I asked people to pick up the flag of a nation that is not theirs or the one their nation is in conflict with, I handed a Palestinian Flag to an Israeli Rabbi and the Israeli Flag to Imam Bukhari, in the spirit of goodwill both complied and actually said, it was a great feeling to be in other’s shoes.

Breaking the fast

Time for silence, everyone was ready for breaking the fast, the Imam recited a short three verse prayer before breaking the fast, and then the traditional verses after we had the date and the water, some had milk ( I am allergic to lactose). He recited and we repeated. It is not a common tradition in other Mosques.
Prayers
An after reciting the Sura Fateha in Qiyam (standing position of the prayer - the picture on left panel of the site gives different postures), it was quite, unlike the “Aameen” said in Audible Chorus Mosque wide in other Mosques. This is how it was when I was growing up, no one said Ameen out loud.

When growing up, I was taught, that in the final sitting position, the toes of the right foot remain facing in the same direction as you are, making an "L" out of your foot. Personally, I cannot do it any more due to my ingrown tow nails, and I do not see that discipline in the last 8 days, as I witnessed today. Physically, this posture brings relief to the feet.

The full prayer was identical to most of the Sunni tradition. However, after the conclusion of the prayer with a Salaam to the right and the left, there was supplication lead by the Imam, and the congregants say Aameen at the end of each verse recited, there was an invocation for Darood (reciting special verses of peace to Prophet Muhammad) as well. This practice is not common any more.


A unique tradition is observed here, and that is, whenever, the name of Prophet (pbuh) is recited, every one out of reverence, kisses his or her fingers and let the fingers touch the closed eyes for a moment.

The Iftaar dinner was delicious, The Biryani was one of the best ones I have had in a while, hot but great and the Pakoras were great as well.

The current Masjid is in a portable building, a fairly large one. When I was with Grand Homes, before we built the Model Homes, we rented these huge portable buildings for about $1000/month. The Mosque management has done a great job in customizing it to make a Mehrab for the Imam's area.
The Mufti Saheb, someone who has received special education to be able to render opinions on religious matters. Indeed, my nephew is planning to be one in Bangalore. He led the prayers short and sweet. Again, during Ramadan, let the prayers be short and avoid reciting long Chapters or taking more time in Ruku (bent position) and Sajda (prostration).
The man sitting next to me in the Masjid said he moved from Connecticut for his son’s schooling, the Plano Schools and the Religious school here at the Islamic academy of this Masjid. Wow! So many Muslims have moved to Dallas for the Religions education, I am not sure about other cities, but I do know we have great many schools. I may have to go sit and listen. It is my town, and I want to do my share of work in building a cohesive America.
The freeway was blocked and I had to cut through the traffic and barely made for the Iftaar. The Masjid is under construction, it is going to be a big one with 10,406 Square feet ground for the school and the sanctuary. It looks like a beautiful Mosque.
Visit their website www.IslamicAcademy.org

The Boston Globe News paper is one paper that captures pictures of Ramadan from around the world, there are some 50 pictures in one group showing how Eid was celebrated in 2009, and how Iftaar began this season. These are really beautiful pictures listed on this site.
My best memory of an Imam in green turban goes back to my Childhood, when an Imam visited from Hyderabad every year and gave sermons on Friday that was 45 years ago! The one I cannot forget is on Sura Fateha, the first chapter of Quraan, I don’t remember the details, but it produced good feelings then. Indeed, Sura Fateha is a summary statement of Islam.
If reading this is offering you an understanding of different traditions within Islam, and opening your heart and mind to respect other traditions, please feel free to share your comments.
One of the purposes for my visits to different Mosques each day, during the month of Ramadan is to understand various traditions and have the cushion to absorb them all and give full value to each one. I hope, some day, more and more Muslims make these rounds. It is humbling and yet powerful to have the ability to understand the differences and respect them.


Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, a positive event that brings all Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it. If you liked some of the articles, you will like the description of Unity Day USA at www.UnityDayUSA.com



A few other Articles to read if you have the time:

What does God really want?

Are Muslims a part of the American society? http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-muslims-part-of-american-story.html

A call from God to know each other http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/mission-of-world-muslim-congress.html


Please visit
http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/ for a record since 2010.

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oprah's Blunder - Indians eat with hands


OPRAH’S BLUNDER

She has done a two part series on India, and one of the insensitive remarks she made was that Indians still eat their food with hands. I hope she does a follow up highlighting the cultural value of eating with fingers. She forget, we Americans eat most everything with hands, take a look;
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/07/oprahs-blunder-indians-eat-with-hands.html




Indeed, fingers are the original forks, and we love eating with our fingers, finger licking is good when the hands are curry dipped.

By the way, this has nothing to do with being rich or poor, educated or not, it is just our culture.

She has mistaken civilization to eating with forks. No, it is not. Eating with fork is fine and works for certain foods but not most of the Indian foods.

You cannot eat Masala Dosa with fork to fully enjoy it,
Dosa is the king of South Indian food.

You cannot eat Naan/Roti, the staple food of India, 
Naan is the king of North Indian food. 

She lost her bloody mind and did not realize that;

President Bill Clinton Eats Burger with his hands,
Nominee Mitt Romney eats Chicken with his hands,President  Barack Obama eats Chicken with his hands,
President George Bush eats Corn on the Cob with his hands,
Legendary John Wayne eats Ribs with his hands...

Oprah, who eats Pizza with fork?
Which is nerdy, eating with hands or fork?
You cannot eat chicken with fork and knife;
you got to pick it up with your fingers and dig it in.

You cannot eat ribs with fork and knife,
you got to bite the meat out of the bones.

That's enough.



Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on the topics of Pluralism, Coexistence, politics, interfaith, Islam and cohesive societies. He is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day, his bio is at www.MikeGhouse.net and at www.TheGhousediary.com is his daily blog. 

Ramadan day 8 Imam Barga-e-Hujjat - Shia Masjid


Ramadan day 8- Imam Barga-e-Hujjat
Friday, July 27, 2012 | Ramadan 8, 1433
1112 Milam Way, Carrollton, TX 75006
 website:

Tonight’s Iftaar was at the Shia Mosque, known as Imam Barga-e-Hujjat in Carrollton. I went in early to familiarize myself with the Mosque, as this is in a new location; the last one I went was on Belt Line Road for Yom-e-Ashura two Muharrams ago. There are several Mosques and the main one is Momin Center in Irving.
Imam Irataza Naqvi and Mike Ghouse
The Names of  successive Shia Imams
Names of the Imams
clay tablet

The Shia Muslims follow a different time schedule for Iftaar; there is always that definition of dusk and last ray of the evening.  I went in there at 8:10, but found out the Maghrib (evening) prayers were at 9:00 followed by Iftaar.

I went out and had my Iftaar with Gatorade at 8:34 and was back at the Mosque in-time to join the Jamaat (Congregation).

As I walked in, the volunteers gave me a Sajda-gah, a clay tablet, (Clay from Karbala City, where Imam Hussain was martyred, son of Imam Ali, the 4th rightly guided Caliph of Islam) which is placed on the floor, to rest your forehead during the prostrative posture of the prayers. This practice is exclusive to Shia tradition.

Similar practices exist in Jewish tradition. Every Synagogue you visit, they have Kippah (cap) in a basket at the front that is given to you to wear as you go into the sanctuary. The Madinah Masjid in Carrollton also has a basketful of caps that you can wear if you want to. In a few Mosques in India, they give the cap to wear. I wore a cap when I was growing up. But in the last forty years, less and less people wear caps, and I have not worn it either. In the Swami Narayan Hindu Temple they put the tilak (a dot on the forehead with color, usually Red orange powder).

The Adhan (prayer call) was a long one, same Adhan is recited in other mosques, but without the additional phrases to express the uniqueness of the Shia tradition.

I met Imam Irtaza Naqvi earlier on, as we are new to each other,  and I asked his permission to take the pictures, he said feel free to do so. Last year at the Momin Center the visiting Imam said the same thing, but two years ago, I was asked not to take the pictures of the sanctuary. 

The Shia Masajid’s are decorative; they have extensive items on the walls and the benches are displayed with frames of the names of 12 hereditary Imams following Imam Hazrat Ali.  The Mehrab (Niche, where the Imam leads the prayers from) is covered with Damascus Cloth with 5 names embroidered on it; Allah, Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain. Most people in the subcontinent call it Panjatan-e-pak; the holy five.

 Invoking the Panjatan-e-Pak is a common practice among mainstream Shia and its denominations; Bohra and Ismaili traditions. Where as it is not a practice of Sunni and Ahmadiyya Muslims. However exceptions are always there, some of the Sunnis from South India do invoke Panjatan-e-Pak and I recall my father used to invoke in his supplications,  where as my maternal Grandfather did not and it is not my practice either. However, I do appreciate the devotion with which people turn to God in their own ways.

In one of the pictures, you see the Sajda-gah (clay tablet) is placed in front of everyone in the prayer, I had one too, and I rested my forehead twice on it during the Sajda (prostration with forehead on the floor) and I simply could not do it again. After the prayers, I looked around the other guys’ foreheads for the marks from the tablet, there wasn’t any, and I looked down on the floor, and I found the secret; they had the soft side of the clay tablet on the top and the printed side at the bottom and mine was upside down. No one said a word, but I knew the print on my forehead was visible to the guy next to me, as he glanced at it twice.
 Prayers are similar, 3 Rakats (units) for Maghrib (dusk) and 4 for Isha (nightly. They pray both Maghrib and Isha one after the other in a sequence. The Sunnis do that, if they are travelling and cannot come back two hours later.

In Shia tradition, during the standing position of the prayers, individuals drop their hands on side, like in the attention position,  where as in other traditions, the individuals place their hands on their stomach at various levels, from navel all the way up onto the chest.  
Before the 2nd Ruku (bent posture with hands on knee caps), Shias and their two branches do their supplication and conclude the prayers with reciting the words, where as Sunnis call on peace and turn their heads to the right and then on the left to conclude the prayers.
The Imam actually recites the phrases audibly during the bent and prostrate positions, unlike the Sunnis and Ahmadiyya.
There is no tradition of Taraweeh Prayers in the Shia, Taraweeh are late night prayers, either 20 or 22 Units to recite a chapter a night from Quraan to complete the Quraan recitation in the month of Ramadan.

The dinner was amazing, I realized that for 8 days, I had not had the Indian (ok, Pakistani to the Pakistanis, and Bengali to the Bengalis- either one) curry; I have been on a variety of foods. The curry was incredibly delicious; they must have used the Coconut milk in it, like the Thai curry or the Bangalore Curries. ( oops, no napkins again, it does not seem to be in our culture, and  I wiped my fingers in my pant pockets again - I will have to carry a few Napkins from tomorrow) 
Fida Hussain, one of my friends and I had a short conversation and his words were amazing, as a photographer/ Videographer he has been to most places of worship, he said, the more places you visit the bigger your horizon becomes. Indeed, I just wrote those words on my 7th day of Ramadan. He was the videographer of the Unity Day USA program in 2005 and I hope he finds the video of using clip on 9/11/2012 program.  
One of the purposes for my visits to different Mosques each day, during the month of Ramadan is to understand various traditions and have the cushion to absorb them all and give full value to each one. I hope, some day, more and more Muslims make these rounds. It is humbling and yet powerful to have the ability to understand differences and respect them.

It is a challenge to write different things each day, so far, I have found it easy to do, got another 22 days, and have to be more attentive to absorb it all to write later. By the way, it was a struggle to align and place the pictures in the right place.. 
# # #

A DIFFERENT MOSQUE EACH FRIDAY

Went to Madinah Masjid for Juma prayers, that is the only place I knew, where I can get a parking space and I did.

We have been hearing the same traditional, pre-written, class taught Khutbas for ages. It is time to improve on it. Last night I wrote the ideas for Jumma Khutba (Friday Sermon) and hope our Imams incorporate a few thoughts from it.

By the way, after the first part of the Friday sermon, there was a break for people to do optional prayers followed by Adhan and second part of Friday Sermon. I am still trying to figure it out, if I had experienced that in this very mosque before, but certainly not a tradition in other Sunni mosques thus far, I have a lot more mosques to visit to put it all together.
Madinah Masjid, Carrollton
Imam Seraj Misbahi had excellent lines about learning not to react to provocation, instead learn to restrain yourselves and not aggravate the conflict. That was really a good call.

The Imam delivered his sermon in Urdu sprinkled with English.  I was pondering about certain standard sentences, most writers and Imams still use them. For example, “During the month of Ramadan, abstain from sex with your spouse”… If this was videotaped and posted on the Mosque websites,  and non-Muslim watch it, or even Muslims who are born in the United Sates watch it,  it sounds like Muslims have sex all day long and they had to give it up during the fasting, poor thing! What a sacrifice! I don’t know anyone who is that engaged! May the teens are. The wordings may have to be culturally Americanized to give the right understanding. For example, this is the month of self discipline, we abstain from anything that we desire; water, coke, coffee, tea, food, intimacy and the likes…to bring a discipline, by learning to manage our desires and not impulsively act on it.


The bait sentences like “the prayers during Ramadan have 10 times more powerful with greater blessings or certain rewards are 700 times more. Looks like Allah has a big sale during the month of Ramadan do one prayer and get 70! What does it really mean and how should it be expressed. I urge my fellow Muslims to write about it.

Fasting is for the sake of Allah - what does it mean? How does it benefit the mankind? I encourage you to write about it as well. 

 
  


Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, a positive event that brings all Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it.  If you liked some of the article, you will like the description of Unity Day USA at www.UnityDayUSA.com


A few other Articles to read if you have the time:

What does God really want?

Are Muslims a part of the American society? http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/10/are-muslims-part-of-american-story.html

A call from God to know each other http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/mission-of-world-muslim-congress.html


Please visit 
http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/ for a record since 2010.

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.