I was driving when NPR announced the death of Nelson Mandela. I pulled over in the shopping strip, closed my eyes, and prayed. May God bless his soul and grace him with his eternal love. Mandela is with Allah now, Amen!
My instant response was to recite a verse from Quran 2:156 in Arabic, "(إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un." It simply means, we belong to God and to God we shall return.
the second thought shook me up from my prayers. How would Muslims
receive my response? It took me back to a severe situation I had
encountered in April 2003. Prophet Muhammad's and Buddha's birthday
fell in the same week, and on my Radio shows "Wisdom of religion, all
the beautiful religions" I wished Peace be upon Buddha and Peace be upon
Prophet Muhammad as I do with all the spiritual masters.
hell broke loose, I was told to apologize for mixing the two
individuals, and that I cannot say Peace to them in the same breath. A
fatwa was in my face making my marriage null and void per some
technicality. This is an age old technique employed by clergy in all
religions, to frighten and to ex-communicate, thank God for the guts he
has blessed me with. After considerable exchange of words, I told him to
go ahead and make my day, and no one has made my day yet, except the
death threats I receive when I am on Hannity show.
As a Muslim
committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Quran in
building cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension
or fear of the other. I am driven to express the sentiments of a
majority of Muslims, who have prayed for Nelson Mandela, the man of
peace in their own hearts.
God says (Quran, Bhagvad Gita and
Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the holy book of Bahá'ís) that whenever a societies go in
disorder, someone from among them will emerge and restore the
righteousness. God assures that he loves us all and sends a man of peace
to every community. Indeed, blessed are the peace makers (Jesus).
Mandela was one of the righteous individuals; he was committed to
freedom, liberty and justice of his people, by extension all people. The
Bhagvad Gita says, the whole world is one family, i.e., Vasudhaiva
Quran 49:13, "O people, we created you from the
same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes that
you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is
the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant." Indeed, Mandela in
the sight of God is the most righteous one.
God does not
discriminate between Muslim, Jews, Christians and others, Quran [2:62]
"Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians or
anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day
(accountability of one's actions), and (3) leads a righteous life, will
receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor
will they grieve.
So as a Muslim, I prayed for Nelson Mandela,
and it is time we all become like God and honor every human regardless
of his belief. May God keep his wisdom and the flame of freedom alive!
Praying for him in essence is rekindling the spirit of freedom within
He is one of my heroes, and I am influenced by his unselfishness and his larger embrace of humanity.
can never forget the Sunday, February 11, 1990. I was emotionally
charged up on that day, and was glued to the TV to watch the historic
event happening in my life time; the release of Nelson Mandela from the
South African Prison. I choked, and I cried.
is the most cherished value for me, and to see freedom at last for a
man in an apartheid nation was worth crying. A new tone of democracy was
going to be set in the world for the first time in the predominantly
Black African Nation.
you imagine the power Mandela held? He shook the empire, they could
have easily killed or poisoned him, but they did not have the guts to do
What made Gandhi, Mandela, and MLK successful?
of them had anything to gain, all they wanted was justice and harmony
in the society, and that was their drive, when you become unselfish, you
can do a lot of good to the world. It begins with learning to respect
the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each
one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Mandela is one of my mentors. Some of the other joy-teary moments that I
can recall are - release of Mandela, fall of the Berlin wall, Obama's
election night, Peace treaty between Israeli and Egypt, Peace between
Ireland and England, Aung San Su Kyii's release and Freedom at last for
the Egyptian people, and now his departure. This is my way of honoring
What made these men and women unique and powerful? They were
free from the pettiness and were all embracing and affectionate like
the spiritual Masters of all religions. Several things were common to
them; among them are:
1) No wall between them and another soul
2) No religious and political boundaries for them
3) No preference when it came to serving another human
4) The good they did, benefited larger humanity than self
5) Justness was a paramount value for them
6) No bone of prejudice in them.
7) Their world is the same size as God's world.
God bless Mandela, Amen!
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He 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; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work
through many links.