2 Million Views in 5 days

It surprised the heck out of me, when I checked my Google profile for statistics at:https://plus.google.com/108969690090944956820/about

On 9/11/14 it registered 6,724,555 and on 9/16/14 it jumped to 8, 661,954. Much of it is owed to this piece - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/09/911-my-personal-journey-from-2001.html

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Intra-faith panel discusses peaceful Islamic futures




http://blog.chron.com/sacredduty/2013/02/intra-faith-panel-discusses-peaceful-islamic-futures/ 

Mike Ghouse, moderator, and panelists from the Ahmadiyya, Sunni, Shia and 
WD Mohammed traditions of Islam stand together at the Boniuk Center's
 Intra-faith panel on Islam 
In the decade since 9/11 there has been increased discussion of the importance of “interfaith cooperation.” The likes of Eboo Patel and others are calling for expanded dialogue between people of differing faiths – Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Christians, the non-religious and more. But what of “intra-faith” dialogue, a conversation between various denominations, or sects, of one faith?

On Thursday February 21, 2013 at Rice University’s Boniuk Center, an event sponsored by the Asia Society of Texas took place that invited various facets of the Islamic tradition together for an interchange across sectarian lines. Participating in the event were representatives from the Ahmadiyya, Sunni, Shia and WD Muhammed Islamic groups. It was the first event of its kind.

The Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance, “is dedicated to nurturing tolerance among people of all and no faiths.” Supporters of, and scholars at, the center seek, “to understand the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible and to promote these conditions locally, nationally and throughout the world.” Similarly, the Asia Society is, “dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.”

According to Mike Ghouse, active pluralist, Muslim and moderator for the event, “this dialogue was not an effort to reconcile the differences, or find convergence.” He said, “it was merely to begin a process of sharing where Muslims agree or disagree, and honestly acknowledging our differences without judgment.”

Interfaith cooperation and dialogue does not insist that all religions are the same at the core, and so, “intra-faith” discussions such as this also acknowledge that differences in faith and practice among Muslims cannot be watered down. There are real disagreements and exclusive truth claims that come into conflict with one another. However, in interfaith, as well as “intra-faith,” dialogue, all parties seek to discuss common values and avenues for shared cooperation.

Ghouse said, “The panel made every effort not to appease any one, but to state their own position politely without ever considering the other opinion to be anything less.” “It was not an effort to convert the other, but rather our struggle (jihad) to understand each other genuinely,” he said. As an example, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was raised up for the participants to emulate.

The program consisted of greetings from representatives of the Asia Society and the Boniuk Center before Mr. Ghouse took the podium to offer introductory remarks and invite participants and attendees into a process of what he called, “genuine dialogue.”

Preceding his questions, Ghouse noted that, “Islam is a universal faith that has embraced every race, ethnicity, language and culture” and yet, “at this precise juncture in history,” scores of Muslims from Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya, and other traditions are persecuted the world over. He noted that this dialogue is a pilot attempt at dialogue to defeat such hostility.

The participants – Imam Azhar Haneef, Imam Wazir Ali, Imam Moustafa al-Qazwini and Imam Dr. Zia Shaikh – responded to questions such as, “Has living in America affected the outlook and separation of culture and religion; what does the next generation think about these differences; and what does it mean to lead a righteous life?

Shahed Ahmed, a representative of, and advocate for, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, was happy to have his group participate and be represented by Imam Azhar Haneef, vice president of the community in the U.S. Ahmadiyya Islam was founded 120 years ago by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who modern followers believe to be a reformer and Messiah, foretold by the Prophet Mohammed, who came to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. They are persecuted in places such as Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh for what some Muslims of other traditions consider heretical beliefs.

“As an ostracized denomination in Islam, it’s important that we engage other Muslims in a more meaningful and powerful way,” said Ahmed. He said, “We need platforms like this to build bridges in order to allow pluralism to thrive and serve as a model for countries that otherwise close their doors on religious freedom.”

Ghouse agreed with Ahmed and said, “This event is critical to setting the tone of dialogue among Muslims.” He also said the event was a “God-given opportunity” for education and motivation among the Muslim community.

Still, he tempered his optimism, and that of others, and said the panel, and surrounding events such as a shared dinner, was just the beginning.

“By the end of 2020, there will not be a major workplace in America or India or elsewhere where you will not find people of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races, nationalities or social backgrounds working, eating, playing, marrying and doing things together,” said Ghouse.

To that end he said, “we need to prepare ourselves for those eventualities to prevent possible conflicts and lay a good foundation for nurturing goodwill.” He hopes that such an event, constituted among Muslims of varying ilk, was a step in such a direction.

*Follow Ken Chitwood (@kchitwood) for more on religion & culture

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Texas Faith: How to balance compassion with justice in the immigration debate?

As the Jewish scriptures say Ve’ahavta la’ger, you must love the stranger to remove the sense of discomfort in him..... Justice is the ultimate truth in preserving trust in a given society, for the society to function cohesively and effectively. Compassion is part of the equation in achieving sustainable outcomes.

Continued: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/02/texas-faith-how-to-balance-compassion.html

Texas Faith: How to balance compassion with justice in the immigration debate?

by Wayne Slater, Dallas, Morning News/ Published 3:58 pm on February 26,2013

Courtesy Dallas Morning News

Conservative evangelicals have become unlikely allies in pressing for the establishment of a path to legal status and citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents. We published a story about that last week. People of faith have long been an integral part of the immigration debate. But it’s the increased involvement of conservative evangelicals with unquestioned social-conservative credentials that is worth noting as Congress and the White House consider immigration reform. Groups like the Evangelical Immigration Forum have sought to bring together a diverse coalition around the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.

Wilshire Baptist Senior Pastor George Mason, a Texas Faith panel member, was quoted in the story:“Circumstances culturally and politically have thrown evangelicals back on their biblical authority, to ask what does the Bible really say about this. There may be lots of political positions that differ on how we accomplish it, but they want to be on the side of God in their minds. Otherwise, they feel they will be in some way accountable to God for their failure to be obedient.”

But what does the Bible say about immigration? The Bible does encourage kindness toward the outsider and the alien. But it also specifically says we are to follow the laws and obey civil authority. Millions of immigrants have broken the law. And we are a nation of laws.

At the heart of the political debate over immigration is the tension we often find in Scripture between justice and compassion. How do we reconcile that tension? How do faith-based people in a civil society do what’s both moral and just? Can we be both fair and right? Or do policy debates like immigration inevitably force us to take sides between two competing views — both of which make claims in our faith?

Considering the debate over immigration, what does your faith say about bridging justice and compassion?


MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, and Speaker on interfaith matters, diversity and pluralism

Compassion is the means to Justice, and justice is the ultimate truth in preserving trust in a given society to function cohesively and effectively.


As a nation we quietly followed the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ attitude with the undocumented workers because it suited us in boom times to meet the infrastructure needs of the 90’s. Now that we face unemployment, we are ready to throw them out, how disgustingly selfish could we be? It mocks our own sense of justice to deprive them and their children of the roots they have established here with our consent. The just thing to do is close the border first, and then offer amnesty to them as President Obama has proposed.


Here is an example of bridging justice and compassion in Islam: The 2nd Caliph of Islam Umar was known for Justice. He refused to punish a thief, as he saw that the state fell short of the responsibility to create a society where the man did not have to steal food to feed his kids, the very basic needs of life. He also removed the Christian ban on Jews to pray in Jerusalem in 638 AD after he conquered the City, the prevalent laws were no justice to him that deprived Jews to pray in what they believed.


Religion has been used, misused and abused to suit our lust for power. As a moderate Republican, I welcome the change of hearts among hard core Republicans with caution. Mason is right, “they want to be on the side of God” and I must add, hope they are sincere and not using God to gain new voters to get back in power to push their beliefs onto others.


The Bible, Quran and most of the scriptures say spread the good word to the four corners of the world. Mark 16:15, ‘Go into the entire world and proclaim the good news’ to the whole creation. Jesus, Moses, Krishna or Muhammad did not have political boundaries to worry about immigration. Do we follow them?


As the Jewish scriptures say Ve’ahavta la’ger, you must love the stranger to remove the sense of discomfort in him. Indeed, it is obligatory in all religions to greet the stranger and welcome him with a Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Namaste and other greetings. The long term security of the world comes through generosity and caring about others.

To read contributions of all the 14 panelists go to:
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2013/02/texas-faith-how-to-balance-compassion-with-justice-in-the-immigration-debate.html/ 


My 4 minutes Speech on Immigration Reforms:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjU0KULv-Y

...

 
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.

LGBT Panel discussion at UNT- University of North Texas

The LGBT Panel was organized by Dr. Mark Vosovik, head of the LGBT studies at University of North Texas in Denton on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 between 6:30 and 9:30 PM. 

The panlelist were listed as follows:


Mike Ghouse, World Muslim Congress
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, Jewish Congregation Ami Kol,
Rev. Jo Hudson, Senior Pastor United Church of Christ
Rev. Jeff Hood, Evangelical Preacher
Rev. Peter Johnson, Southern Christian Leadership
Dr. Sinivasan Srivilliputhur (Hinduim) Professor of Engineering at UNT

Rev. Jo Hudson was the only member on the panel representing the LGBT community, the rest were Non-LGBT members of the community. 

Panelists: Srivilliputhur, Dennis, Ghouse, Hudson, Johnson and Hood

The program was videotaped, so you can hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Meanwhile, the program entailed each panelist speaking for 15 minutes about who they were, their stand on LGBT, the scriptural stand, and the future of the societies followed by Questions from the audience.


The program was satisfying in the context, every one was comfortable with their take, and fortunately none of the panelists were biased towards Gay and Lesbians.


My talking points

What does God want?
Humans v Animals –horns v
Balanced creation
Freedom
Individual responsibility and accountability
Society’s responsibility toward individuals who mess up the society
Society’s responsibility towards individuals who mind their own faith
God loves us all.



This is my 2nd panel discussion on the issue. There is a need to understand the wisdom of the compassionate creator than the tyrant God we make him out to be. What the scriptures command us to do is to respect the sanctity of life that God gave us all. In a smaller pond, God is smaller and in the ocean, he is boundless, it is up to us how we see him, her or it. 

Most Muslims that I know are like myself, however my acceptance of LGBT as a normal expression of sexuality is not shared by most Muslims, just as the Majoritarian views of Christians and Jews. 

As Muslims we cannot shut ourselves out of the society; we need to be a part of it. If our youth aspire to lead the nation in the future, we had better learn about our society, rather than earning the label of a bigot like Santorum, Cain, Perry, Huckabee or Bachman.  Please note that I am a Republican myself, a moderate one driven by reason and rationality.

I am also a moderate Muslim driven by common sense. I was born and raised as a Muslim and chose to become an Atheist for nearly 30 years. In the late nineties, I was flipping through the pages of Bhagvad Gita, as I did with all the holy books, and got hit by a verse, " finding the truth is one's own responsibility". Then I was on a journey to find the truth, it meant purging all the positives and negatives I had learnt about Islam, and starting all over with skepticism. Nothing to me in life is beyond question. So I became a Muslim just around 9/11, thanks to Bhagvad Gita's wisdom, Karen Armstrong books and a few other incidents. I chose Islam not because it is superior to any faith, but because I was familiar with it and took the time to critically examine it,  and its pluralism aspect appealed to me. I could have been a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or a Jew, all are valid paths to me.  

God is nothing but a system that binds the universe together and keeps it functioning with built-in anomalies like Tsunamis and meteorites and collusion.

There was a time people were killed for saying earth was round, treating a dying person with medicine was a sin.... we have come a long ways and we will do so with the GLBT acceptance.

113 Chapters of the Quran begin with the words God is merciful and Kind, these are the most recited words- Meaning, that is the highest value we can place on this energy. Like a mother, he has allowance for all the things that we mess up - the entire world is created in a self balancing system.. if we mess it up, we are responsible for it. Messing up equates to disturbing the balance - like stealing, murdering or raping against free will.

Did you see the recent picture - a mother dog brought 12 puppies from a house on fire, each one, risking her life. God is like that...because we are his creation. OK, take God as the source of creation, or the cause of the big bang or cause of that amoeba's existence.
Humans are born with a free will and there should not be any compulsion on any one to believe otherwise. 

Morgan Davis | Dr. Mark Vosvik

To be completed later ..............


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, IslamIsrael,Indiainterfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive Americaand 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 onSean 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 atHuffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal sitewww.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links. 

Testimony of Mike Ghouse on Native American heritage Day


Note: I was to speak at the state capital, but got up late thing morning with severe headache and flu and runny noes and missed the time to be in Austin. I really regret this, this is my first down in 7 years and I cannot believe it happens on such an important date. I thank Peggy Larney to read the testimony in my behalf.

TESTIMONY OF MIKE GHOUSE
To be read at State Capital in support  of the Native American Heritage Da
y
 URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/02/testimony-of-mike-ghouse-on-native.html




As an American committed to building a cohesive America, where every American feels an integral part of the society, with no apprehension, discomfort or fear the other, it is my duty to support the H.B. No. 174, a bill to create the Native American Heritage day.

Every community, nation and the tribe has a day dedicated to honor that community. It is a day, on which the community comes together and celebrates it with fellow members of the society at large, it builds a sense of community and a sense of belonging and is a source of self esteem and recognition.

We are God’s own country; we are blessed with every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names.  We are committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.

As Texans, it is our duty to uplift each other, so together we have a peaceful cohesive society where we are no strangers exist. If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

This day, the Native American Heritage day is long overdue, with great humility we need to approve this bill and celebrate the heritage of fellow Native American Texans.


Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916
SpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234

....... 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.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Muslim Intrafaith Dialogue at Boniuk Center, Rice University

 MUSLIMS TOGETHER IN HOUSTON
Thursday, February 21, 2013. 

This was the first of its kind Intra-faith Dialogue between Ahmadiyya, Sunni, Shia and WD Muhammad Groups of Muslims.  This dialogue is not an effort to reconcile the differences, or finding convergence, it was merely to begin a process of sharing where we agree or disagree, and honestly acknowledging our differences without judgment. The panel made every effort not to appease any one, but to state their own position politely in a genuine dialogue without ever considering the other opinion to be anything less. It was not an effort to convert the other, but rather our struggle (jihad) to understand each other genuinely. Precedence to this effect was set up by the man himself; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some of which I shared last night.  

Ghouse. Dr. Shaikh, Al-Qazwini, Pardee, Ali, Haneef, Motley
CLICK ON PIC TO SEE A LARGER VERSION
I am pleased to express my gratitude to Dr. Milton and Laurie Boniuk, Chairperson, Executive Director Michael Pardee and coordinator BJ Smith of the Boniuk Center. Dr. David Leebron, President of Rice University, and Sabrina Motley, Director of Asia Society. 

Thank you for sponsoring the first of its kind dialogue among Muslims themselves, the outcome and the tone of the dialogue was very encouraging. I also thank Dr. Basheer and Dr. Saleha Khumwalla for hosting the intra-cultural dinner.

Dr. Boniuk, your center, Rice University and Asia Center have unleashed an initiative that will grow and give hopes for a better world, a world where a fellow Muslim or a human need not be  uncomfortable, apprehensive or afraid of the other. Indeed, it is small step for Muslims, but a giant leap for mankind. Your enthusiasm for Intra-faith Dialogue among Muslims is one the most critical efforts in centuries, and we appreciate it.

This program would not have been successful without Michael Pardee’s dedication; he relentlessly pursued this until the job was done executed perfectly. It was not an easy thing to bring diverse people together, congratulations Mike.

Of course, the success hinged on our guests who attended the event to a packed house, they participated with silence, applause and questions, and hopefully have walked away with a hope that there is a reason to believe that the efforts like this will bear fruit.  I cannot thank enough to our Panelists, Imam Azhar Haneef, Imam Wazir Ali, Imam Moustafa al-Qazwini and Imam Dr. Zia Shaikh for responding to some of the toughest questions with grace, precision, fullness and within the given time.

The only thing I wish different was time allotted for the program; I wish it was two hours. But, on the other hand, I am happy that due to time limitation, a good foundation is laid and a good tone is set up for Dialogue-II as a progression, and setting up a model for similar conversations elsewhere.


The Department of State has listed me as a stop to dialogue with visiting Scholars, Imams, Ministries and Religious men and women from North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and China. Our interactive conversation on Pluralism and interfaith is usually set for 4 hours and over the last ten years, I must have exchanged or taught Pluralism to over 100 such men and women, and indeed the Saudi Interfaith Dialogue was seeded here in Dallas. I must report to you, that the programs have been as exciting as our program on the 21st, they are as much tuned into Pluralism as we are here, but yet, their message has not reached their masses, no media has given coverage to such great things. Where is the gap? And what are we missing? There is a disconnect somewhere and we need to work on it in Asia, particularly in Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh and India.

This dialogue by no means was an effort to reconcile the differences, or finding convergence, it was merely to share where we agree and honestly acknowledge our differences without judgment. The panel has made every effort not to appease any one, but to state their own position politely in a genuine dialogue without ever considering the other opinion to be anything less. It was not an effort to convert the other, but rather our inner struggle (jihad) to understand each other genuinely. Precedence to that effect was set up by the man himself; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some of which I shared last night. 


Indeed, we lived up to what a real dialogue ought to be per Rabbi Gordis, “Dialogue only has meaning if it respects the autonomy of the other; absent that respect we have monologue.”



Your input for Dialouge-II in the comment section below would be appreciated, we are all in this together. If you write a fine short statement, we will include it in one of the articles in the coming months.

THE PROGRAM

Sabrina Motley, Director of the Asia Society and Michael Pardee, Executive Director of the Boniuk Center shared the visions of their respective organizations.

The Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice “is dedicated to nurturing tolerance among people of all and no faiths, especially youth, and to studying the conditions in which tolerance and intolerance flourish.  Their mission is to understand the conditions that make peaceful coexistence possible and to promote these conditions locally, nationally and throughout the world.”

Asia Society has a similar mission, “Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.”

Together, the Boniuk Center and the Asia Society have facilitated meaningful inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue series to promote understanding from within the diverse family of faiths and with other faiths. Indeed, they have had meaningful dialogue within the Christian and Jewish traditions, and now they are extending the opportunity to the Islamic tradition. 

Please note, it was not easy to put this program together, as Michael Pardee mentioned earlier. 25 Imams were invited, and only four decided to address the issue and not pass the buck on to the next generation. Indeed, these are the denominations that have most of the conflicts, particularly between Sunni, Shia and Ahmadiyya. Although WD Muhammad tradition is Sunni, their presence is critical, as WD Muhammad is the first one in America to start the interfaith Dialogue and rightfully called America's Imam. They do not have the conflicts with any group as others have,  and their embrace is larger than others and we look up to them for guidance.  
Mike Ghouse, the moderator begins the program with greetings in a few religious traditions. May we be drenched and soaked in peace, and together, let’s hope to produce peaceful outcomes.

Greetings of Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Satsriakal, Namaste, Alla-abho, Hamazor Hama ashobed, Buddha Namo and wishes in every possible way known to mankind.(The meaning of greetings at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo3a8wX6SXQ)


Tonight’s program is Unique and first of its kind, there have been efforts, but not a serious conversation like the one we are holding tonight. We have about an hour of dialogue followed by Q & A. We will do our best to cover a few topics that will subtly serve as a foundation for this process of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.



We realize this is a pilot project, the first of its kind dialogue in the United States. We, the panelists and the moderator take the responsibility seriously to lay the best possible foundation for future dialogue, and Boniuk Center becomes the guiding light. Again thanks for Mike Pardee

My role as a moderator of the event is to set the tone of the dialogue and shape the outcome of the conversation.  The outcome will stand on respecting the otherness of the other and accepting the uniqueness of each tradition without judgment. The most important aspect of this process is to have the panelists respond to the questions asked precisely, fully and within two minutes.

We will address the issues with grace, and the civility that Prophet Muhammad had advocated.

Sura Fatiha Recitation by Hafiz-e-Qur’an Mr. Khamanwalla.

Islam is a universal faith that has embraced every race, ethnicity, language and culture. Indeed, the Quran opens with gratitude to the lord of the universe and ends addressing the whole humanity as well.

Yet, at this precise juncture in history, the Ahmadiyya Muslims are persecuted in Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and the Shia Muslims are harassed and killed in Pakistan daily, and oppressed in Bahrain, Iraq and other places. The Sunnis are facing severe challenges in Syria as well.  These developments are getting worse by the day and there is a need for a way out. I hope our dialogue will be a small step in that direction, a gift from the Asia Society.

Dialogue; indeed, this is a dialogue. I am pleased to Quote Rabbi Gordis, one of my mentors in the art of dialogue, he was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, in 1964

“Dialogue only has meaning if it respects the autonomy of the other; absent that respect we have monologue. True conversation may uncover areas of convergence but is most important in helping to understand areas of divergence. The question for participants is: Is that divergence threatening or problematical or it can be a source of enlightenment and enrichment by broadening the perspectives and insights on the experience of being human that one gains from one’s own religious tradition.”

Dialogue requires active listening, and responding to the issue with the intention of mitigating conflict, we must continuously avoid going into different directions, if we need clarity to our positions.

Sura Kafirun in Qur’an is my guidance to conduct civil dialogue. In this Chapter (Sura) the Qur’an addresses the believers (in other systems) in the most dignified way, putting everyone on par without putting anyone down. It is an exceptional example of civil conduct for one to follow. Nowhere in this chapter has it claimed the faith of Muslims to be superior and other's to be inferior.

This chapter is about consciously nurturing civility in societies. It is not about overlooking the differences and focusing on commonalities, it is simply about accepting the otherness of other. You are who you are and I am who I am and let's figure out how we can co-exist with the least tensions.

Prophet Muhammad’s example served the foundation for Pluralism; he taught how to respect the otherness of others without having to agree with the other.

Briefly the peace treaty between the Quraish of Mecca and the Muslims of Medina was ready for signature, the terms were all agreed upon. However, the representative of Quraish Mr. Suhayl Ibn Amr looks at the signature line and objects to the name of the other signatory written as Muhammad, the Prophet of God. He blunts, you are not the prophet of God…… you can imagine the scenario of Prophet’s associates feeling angered for such a blasphemous statement, but the Prophet did something amazing. He asked Hazrat Ali to redo the name as Muhammad son of Abdullah, Ali refused, and most would too, so the prophet erased the part “prophet of God” and had inscribed “son of Abdullah” the deal was signed. (A few Muslims who believe in blasphemy laws need to study this phenomenon)

The point is Prophet respected the otherness of the other, without compromising on the principles, he knew Suhayl ibn Amr did not believe him to be the prophet of God, but believed him to be truthful and trustworthy man, and knew him as Son of Abdullah. The key lesson is to learn to respect the otherness of the other in prophetic tradition. Prophet’s work was mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.

(Not included in the talk but worth a serious dialogue  among Christians and Muslims about  the persona of Jesus, a source of original conflict between the two groups that began in AD 957 by a Syrian Pastor who declared, “Quran is a false book written by a false prophet” because Jesus is described as a prophet in Quran, and not the God incarnate as written in the Bible – this statement must have been repeated a million times and we held a full blown conference on the topic – The second issue that is the source of conflict between the Jews and Christians was the false, but a propagated notion that Jews were Christ Killers)  


The first interfaith dialogue in the US was established by America’s imam Warith Deen Muhammad, although Ahmadiyya Muslims have taken steps in the direction sine establishing their mission in1929.

This dialogue by no means was an effort to reconcile the differences, or finding convergence, it was merely to begin a process of sharing where we agree, and honestly acknowledging our differences without judgment. The panel has made every effort not to appease any one, but to state their own position politely in a genuine dialogue without ever considering the other opinion to be anything less. It was not an effort to convert the other, but rather our struggle (jihad) to understand each other genuinely. Precedence to this effect was set up by the man himself; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), some of which I shared last night.
Our esteemed Imams will now establish how to deal with the issue and what makes one a Muslim and who sets the theological boundaries and its impact on generational differences? Is there a need for reform and what should be the focus in building cohesive Societies within and without?

By nature religions are conservative, and hold on to the values passed on for generations. By all means feel free to be yourselves! No need to appease or no need to denigrate the other.

 Please take a minute or less to sum up about your tradition,
Please recite the verse 2:148 and explain what is good work, and what does “God has the power to will anything” mean?

 (Asad) for, every community faces a direction of its own, of which He is the focal point. [123] Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works. Wherever you may be, God will gather you all unto Himself: for, verily, God has the power to will anything.
What is good work?
What is the key issue that you hear about each one or anyone that makes you think they are less of a Muslim or no Muslim
Panelists can respond if the differences are worth mentioning.

Please explain verse 2:62, once again what does it mean to lead a righteous life?

[2:62] surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
What makes one a Muslim and who sets the theological boundaries?

Has living in America affected the outlook and separation of culture and religion? What does the next generation think about these differences?

Dr. Boniuk’s objective was to explore what Muslim organizations are out there that can bring these groups on a common platform. What does it take to heal and to come together and what does it take to create peaceful societies?
Asia Society is working on this objective and what can we do about Asia, where nearly 2/3rds of Muslim live, and nearly 75% of them live under the light of democracy. What are the solutions to what is happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia… about the intra-faith conflict, what needs to be done there?  The Ahmadiyya and Shias are persecuted, harassed and being killed, what does it take to stop it?  

What are you willing to do? What can you do? What each one of the Muslim can do, what are the simple step. (Due to time constraints I did not mention what we are doing – for the last three years during Ramadan, a few of us are visiting Mosque a day to break the fast (Iftaar) without skipping any denomination, and are make an effort to visit different mosques for Friday (Juma) sermons).

For the responses, we will wait for the video and the transcripts, meanwhile, if you the reader have viable answers, please share in the comments section below.

This dialogue is a small step for the Muslim kind, but a giant leap for humanity. I hope it will encourage more dialogue and full day conferences with a single goal; mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, the theme in every action of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
… The organizers, the Imams, much of the audience I talked with, and I have walked out with the satisfaction of producing a worthwhile dialogue for us to ponder and take the necessary steps to advance conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturence.

r-l: Dr. David Leebron, Laurie Boniuk and Dr. Milton Boniuk
Dr. Zia Shaikh, Moustafa Al-Qazwini, Azhar Haneef, Wazir Ali
Mike Ghouse in the background

Referenced links:

  Referenced links:
  1. This report - Muslim intrafaith Dialouge
    http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/02/muslim-intrafaith-dialogue-by-boniuk.html
  2. Houston Chronicle about Intra-faith Dialogue http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/02/muslim-intra-faith-dialogue-in-houston.html
  3. Rice Center's Report of the event
    http://news.rice.edu/2013/02/22/commonalities-in-focus-at-rare-intrafaith-dialogue-on-islam/
  4. Quran on how to conduct civil dialogue
     http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html
  5. Rabbi Gordis on Conducting a dialogue 
    http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/02/religious-dialogue-basics.html
  6. Saudis, Interfaith and Pluralism
    http://pluralismcenter.blogspot.com/2013/01/saudis-interfaith-and-pluralism.html
  7. Warith Deen Muhammad appreciation week in Dallas
    http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/06/wd-muhammad-appreciation-week-in-dallas.html
  8. Criticism of Prophet, God and Quraan
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/11/criticism-of-islam-prophet-muhammad.html
  9. Pluralism Greetings in Chicagohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo3a8wX6SXQ
  10. Mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill.
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/01/mission-of-world-muslim-congress.html

  11. Standing up for Jews

  12. Ramadan Daily - visiting a Mosque a day for Iftaar  
  13. Full blown conference on Qur’an by Non-Muslim Clergyhttp://quraanconference.blogspot.com/2012/12/pastor-robert-jeffress-ignites-quraan.html
  14. Pluralism Speaker
    http://www.mikeghouse.net/InterfaithSpeaker_MikeGhouse.asp
  15. Muslim Speaker
    http://mikeghouse.net/MuslimSpeaker.MikeGhouse.asp
  16. My Curriculum Vitae
    http://mikeghouse.net/MikeGhouse-CV-09192012.pdf


....... Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, IslamIsraelIndiainterfaith, 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.