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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Muslim's prayer for Nelson Mandela

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.

Then 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. 

All 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).

Nelson 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 Kutumbukum. 

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 us.

He is one of my heroes, and I am influenced by his unselfishness and his larger embrace of humanity.

Nostalgic day.

I 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.

Freedom 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.

Can 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 that.

What made Gandhi, Mandela, and MLK successful?

None 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.

Nelson 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 him.

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

offers 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.


  1. Shah Mohammad Rahim Bakhsh (+) validates from Sunnah too as Rasool paak (s.a.w) also showed respect to deads of non-muslims:

    Ibn Abu Laila reported: Sahl ibn Hunaif and Qais ibn Sa’d ibn Ubaidah were in Al-Qadisiyyah when a funeral passed by them, so they stood up and it was said to them, “It is one of the local people.” They both said: A funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he stood up. It was said to him, “It is a Jew.” So the Prophet said, “Was he not a soul?”

    Source: Sahih Bukhari 1250, Sahih Muslim 961

    Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi (authenticity agreed upon) according to Al-Bukhari and Muslim

    1. Once i asked my father whether is it right to utter 'Inna lillahe ...' upon hearing demise of non-muslims. He okayed with it. My faith says that if I staunchly proclaim Unity of God (tawheed) , it is my part of faith to agree that everyone returns to Him. Even when any non-muslims say my father to pray for them, he says, "fi amanillah"(be in the care of God).

      Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself prayed for his father, mother, uncle Abi talib who were by definitation died as non-muslims. Abi Talib did not pronounced 'Shahadah', we can safely say he was non-muslim. But how he got special place in muslim history? Because of his good actions, he brought up his nephew when he (saw) became orphan and he gave cruical support to him (s.a.w). Through fruits a tree shall be recognized. Faith is subsidiary, without back up good actions it is futile (ref:Surah Ma'un)2 minutes ago · Like..

  2. did he say may he rest in peace, may allah have mercy on his soul?
    you can give condolences, visit the family and such no prb but limit to what the sharia allow to do.