Sunday, March 31, 2013

What made me go to the Catholic Church today for Easter?

What made me go to Mary Immaculate Church in Farmers Branch for this Easter,  instead of Baptist, Unitarian, Mormon, Presbyterian, Marthoma, Unity, Methodist or a New age church?

URL http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-made-me-go-to-catholic-church.html

For six years in a row, I have been taking the beliefnet quiz about one’s religiosity.  I have scored 100 straight as Unitarian Universalist, 97 for Quakers, 86 for Reformed Judaism; 85 for Neo Paganism; 78 for Baha’i and most others around 70, but the lowest score came for Catholicism; 49.


As a Pluralist, it has bothered me, what am I missing? What is it that makes me score so low?  My score for Islam remains around 74, Hinduism 69 and Catholicism 49, which was 35 six years ago. I figured my lower score for Islam (my own faith) and Hinduism – was caused by difference in the ritual side of religion and polytheism respectively. 




More pictures :http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157633131363627/show/


Three factors contributed to the lower score on Islam – i) Hijab, the scarf Muslim women wear is not mandated by religion, it is a cultural thing, whereas the quiz was geared as if Hijab format worn today is religiously mandated, ii) Sharia, the law designed to serve justice is not divine, it was a body of law created by men inspired by Quran and Prophet’s saying. But since it is human, it has flaws that need updating and iii) There is no punishment for Apostasy or Blasphemy in Quran, even though it is carried out by a few Muslim majority nations.

I had no idea why my score on Catholic faith was less than 70, so I set out to learn and remove the sense of guilt I have had.  In just one month, the new Pope, Pope Francis, the real man of the spirit has extraordinary impact on me; I have read everything about him. He is a true servant of God and I will do anything I can for him to bring about peace on earth, and about mitigating religious conflicts, particularly between Muslims, Catholics, Christians, Jews and Hindus.

God has blessed me to have a presence in every religious gathering including Native Americans and Pagans. The only one I have not been to is the Ismaili Muslim worship.  I hope to achieve that this coming Ramadan.

Few of the most beautiful Catholic Churches I have been are in Louisville, KY – London, UK - Bangalore, India - and Cathedral Guadalupe in down town Dallas.

I chose Mary Immaculate Catholic Church for Easter services for three reasons;  i) named after a woman, the woman Muslims admire and put on the highest of the pedestals, ii)  close to my office  and iii) no one knew me there.  It turns out I knew many including Richard Sombrero of Dept of Justice, and the former council man at City of Carrollton.

I sat in the same pew as the couple in the picture with me – Marci and Mike. She helped me understand a few more rituals than I knew. Even then I goofed up, I was to place my hands on my chest  as I walked in the line, and then stretch my hand to receive the Eucharist,  I just kept my hands folded, the minister and I were looking at each other for a few seconds,  she did not get the signal and I forgot to extend my hand. Any way I moved on there was a line behind me, I wanted to eat that wafer thin coin sized thing... may be next time. I  just cannot believe I did that, and now I know why my score was low on belief-net.

The 12:00 clock mass was conducted by Msgr. Andy Sagra, the parochial vicar.  I loved his sermon, even though he is from Philippines, the way he read from the Bible  was very rhythmic, when he was singing, his songs sounded like the way we Indians attempt to sing English songs in Indian tunes and Indian accent, and it was pleasant and funny.  Whether we (the Indians) recite the verses in Latin (Christians), Sanskrit (Hindus) or Arabic (Muslims), we Indians convert everything into tunes of popular movie songs of yester years.  Msgn Sagar's songs sounded like Indian songs and I just loved it. Its just not me, even the Priest sings like me, ha!

Once again, it is Pope Francis who has become a catalyst in my inclination to learn more about Catholicism. His Humility sounds like what is taught in Islam to be a Khaksaar, the one who loves dirt, meaning serving others.  I salute the new Pope and I see an emerging pluralist like Jesus in him, and God willing, I will make an effort to meet with him.

Some of my work on Catholic tradition in the last thirty days:


  • I wrote for another Journal - its not published yet, I will add the link when they do.

MUSLIM DILEMMA

We have had some serious discussions on the topic at the face book, and I have summarized the closing as follows:



I fully understand the common Muslim dilemma, and it is no stranger to me either. 
https://www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse/posts/10152723215125249?comment_id=40528766&offset=0&total_comments=248&notif_t=feed_comment


The civic and social need to know each other to remove the barrier between me/us and the “stranger” is religiously guided in Quran 49:13 – The best ones among you are the ones who know each other and learn about each other. This comes right after stating that he has created us into many nations and diverse tribes – God knows that we are bound to have conflicts because of the differences and security motivations, then he says, the best one is the one who learns about the other. And I add, If we can learn to respect the otherness of others, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

As Ismail Bey shared that Prophet and Ali attended Synagogues and Church Services,
I need a reference to consolidate this item.

Prophet has set the example of kissing the Torah to show (teach) respect to the book among his followers (even though Quran says that a few Jews have changed parts of the Torah). Making peace and nurturing goodwill is a consistent and dominant value Prophet taught.

Prophet was the first one to initiate interfaith dialogue as Moses, Krishna, Buddha and Jesus did not have that chance. When Christians of Najran wanted to take a break to go pray outside, Prophet offered them to pray in his own Mosque – the Masjid e Nabawi. Prophet knew very well that they would pray to Jesus as a son of God, but yet, he asked them to pray.

I can recall several more examples, but the point is it is not shirk ( anti-monotheism) to observe and not a shirk to participate.

At the Church today – I did not say the prayers, there was one short prayer that was generic without invoking Jesus as the lord, I said Amen to that. I did not bow, I would have if it was just God and no one but God.  I was there to be with people to understand them, to appreciate their devotion to the creator; however they may take that creator; a non-being or son of a God. It is their belief and not mine.
Understanding creates respect for the differences. Insecurity about falling into the other camp creates barriers. I rather have a strong faith in whatever I believe, rather than live in fears that I might change, in which case, I did not have the faith to begin with.

I was in Mexico for a week to visit Maya Temples with my friends, almost everyone was enjoying the drinks in the evening, I quietly drank the Soda or the Virgin margaritas, and they had their drinks. This is the real world we live in. You draw your own lines. I don't drink Alcohol and that is my choice, but don't have to flaunt it.

I chose Islam to be my religion, not because it is superior or Godly, I chose it because it is about creating societies where we all can live in harmony. God created everything in balance (spiritual and physical ) and it is our responsibility to preserve it.

I have made a careful choice to draw the line on religious terms and in the article I made it clear in that article.

Jesus is indeed a unifier and will herd us all towards the elusive kingdom of heaven, where we will live an eternal life free from anxieties, fears and disappointments. The Muslim expression for such life comes from surrendering to the will of God.

Whether Jesus was buried and resurrected, or taken up by God, faith in him is shared by more than half of the world inclusive of Muslims and Christians. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, his message of love thy enemy, love thy neighbor and forgive the other will set us free. Can we celebrate that message?

To this Muslim, Easter represents resurrection of Jesus through his message, and Easter is a symbolic day to celebrate that message. We have our own religious boundaries, but that should not prevent us from becoming the Amins (truthful and trustworthy) of the society.

Thomas, I hope this eases you a bit. Let me know.

Thanks.


 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, March 29, 2013

A Muslim Pluralist Celebrates Easter


A MUSLIM CELEBRATES EASTER

The first response from a few Muslims would be "no, no and no!" Muslims cannot celebrate resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not die, he and his message lives on! 

Whether Jesus was buried and resurrected, or taken up by God, faith in him is shared by more than half of the world inclusive of Muslims and Christians. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, his message of love thy enemy, love thy neighbor and forgive the other will set us free. Can we celebrate that message? 

Perhaps I may be the first Muslim to be baptized. It was an enriching experience to me in particular, feeling the symbolic transformation of the feeling of love towards all of God's creation. Muslims feel the same upon performance of Hajj Pilgrimage; we become child-like with love for all of God's creation; life and matter. The Hindus cherish an identical feeling when they take a dip at the Sangam in River Ganges, particularly during the Kumbh Mela.
To this Muslim, Easter represents resurrection of Jesus through his message, and Easter is a symbolic day to celebrate that message.

Continued - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/a-muslim-pluralist-celebrates-easter_b_2976582.html#es_share_ended

Facebook - about 200 comments - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152723213565249&set=pcb.10152723215125249&type=1&theater

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full story in the link at Huffington post

 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.           

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Texas Faith : Is it time for religions to double-down on evangelism?

TEXAS FAITH :: TEEN WISDOM ON SELLING RELIGION

My teen blurts out, “Dad, if my pastor were to tell the truth that all religions are good, then he stands to lose his congregants to other liars." Indeed, religion has become a sleazy product to a "few" ministers, who sell their religion to the gullible by denigrating other religions.

 How do you know they are sleaze balls? Here are a few pointers;  i) they make you believe all others are your enemies ii) they frighten you with the end of the world scenarios if others grow in numbers iii) they make you feel good by making someone else bad, iv) all other religions, races and ethnicities are inferior, and v) they have nothing good to say about other religions because they really don't believe in the goodness of their own.

These few Pastors, Imams, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans and other religious ministers are in business to entertain the congregants and cash in on their vulnerabilities.These men and women are a tiny percent of every group. 


What can you do? Ask the clergy to talk about peace and building bridges. If they quote falsities, they need to present at least three different sources. 


URL: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/03/texas-faith-is-it-time-for-religions-to.html
 

Texas Faith:  Is it time for religions to double-down on evangelism?

By Bill McKenzie/ Editorial columnist |  wmckenzie@dallasnews.com  | 16:16 pm 3:26:2013

In a Time Magazine essay this week, Meacham raised the question of whether it’s time for Christian leaders to double-down on their faiths. Meacham sees some more aggressively promoting the Gospel message instead of watering it down.

Time included his essay in its annual issue of 10 ideas that are changing how we live. And you can read his thoughts at this link:

Now, Meacham, an Episcopalian who helped start The Washington Post’s On Faith blog, is writing here largely about Christians, who are seeing a growing share of their market lose out to the religiously-unaffiliated. But his question can certainly be applied to other religions as well. And that is whether it’s best to “double-down” on evangelism.

What is your view of doubling-down on evangelism? If you agree that it’s time to do that, please explain why. If not, why not? Can your faith tradition really sit by idly and expect its followers to grow?

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


The faith in a higher power brings relative stability, and allows us to cruise through the ups and downs of life. Indeed, religion is a peace-anchor to most people as it offers them a sense of grounding.

Doubling-down on evangelism creates opportunities for the tyrants and the greedy. A pastor I know of told his congregation, “I need one hundred people to sign up this morning to be on my special team, and each one will commit to bring a new person a week to Jesus.” He was counting on 400 new guests a month for a total of 3,600 in three quarters.

His call was followed by a film, showing a few individuals who struggled to donate $1,000 once, but now God has blessed them to generously donate in millions. Was the pastor preying on the vulnerabilities of the congregants to support his life style? God only knows the truth.

Doubling-down on religion has the unstated, but expected consequence of having a larger following, usually gained through denigrating other traditions. Religious Politics is indeed a product of greed, by pumping fear and insecurity into the gullible.

When Muslims outnumbered Christians in 10th century Syria, Christians legitimately feared that they were losing to Islam through conversions. However, to keep the Christians within the fold, a pastor resorted to declaring that the “Quran was a false book written by a false prophet.” Those words continue to reverberate in through Christian corridors even today. Muslim evangelicals are no angels either; they do the same, denying legitimacy to parts of the Bible.

As a pluralist, I believe that doubling-down on evangelism will harm the teachings of Jesus. It knocks out the do unto others teaching. Instead of restoring peace to the individual, it will aggravate one’s sense of goodness by disparaging other religions. And many congregants are sick of this. They move on towards places of worship that don’t denigrate others. You can see that in the increasing number of nones.

If our goal is to create the kingdom of heaven where no one fears the other, then we need to focus on the essence of religion. It means assuring the people that all religions will bring peace, and any choice would be a good choice. My daughter could not resist the irony, and blurted out, “Dad, if my pastor were to tell the truth that all religions are good, then he stands to lose his congregants to other liars.”

To see all the 15 responses, please visit:  http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2013/03/texas-faith-is-it-time-for-religions-to-double-down-on-evangelism.html/


....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 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.

Christian Muslim Conflict mitigation

The foundation for the conflict between Muslims and Christians is genuine and is irreconcilable, but not out of the realm of solutions. The crux of the problem is God himself and how he is viewed in both traditions. The issue is the Holy Trinity V Tauheed (monotheism).
Politics is a byproduct of fear and insecurity. When Muslims outnumbered Christians through conversions in the 10th century Syria, the Christians legitimately feared the possibility of Muslim fanatics making their life difficult, although that was not the case at that time. However, to keep the Christians within the fold, a pastor in 957 AD declared that “Quran was a false book written by a false prophet” – those words continue to reverberate in halls of Christian corridors even today. 

Muslims’ strongly believe in Quran; 112:3 
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ    (Asad) "He (God) begets not, and neither is He begotten;” and the unforgivable sin for a Muslim is to associate any one with God as his deputy, assistant or a partner. The idea is articulated in many verses including  is 31:13 (Asad) And, lo, Luqman spoke thus unto his son, admonishing him: “O my dear son! Do not ascribe divine powers to aught beside God: for, behold, such [a false] ascribing of divinity is indeed an awesome wrong!” 


The above completely goes against the doctrine of trinity, Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who exists together as a communion of three persons.  Muslims just cannot fathom that, and Christians can’t grasp a God who is not a being and not a thing.

Many of us, including me, who is active in interfaith dialogue has understood Christian belief in Christ as a son of God, or God in flesh and what it means to Christians, and respecting the Christian belief without agreeing with it. Unfortunately, most Muslims do not have that opportunity and are hung up with the idea that God can have a son; likewise, many Christians do understand Muslim belief in Christ as a prophet, but those who do not interact take it as an offense that Muslims reduce God to a mere mortal prophet. 

Christianity and Islam are based on diagonally opposite idea of God, however both believe in one Supreme God, and that should be good enough.

There is a greater call from God than reconciliation; to coexist. In one of the verses of Quran God acknowledges the diversity of his creation, and conflicts are a part of that diversity. He advises, the best among you is the most righteous one among you. The righteous one is one who treats others as he would want to be treated. 

That brings me to the topic of Pluralism. Pluralism is not about appeasing each other; pluralism is not about converging or meshing our beliefs; and Pluralism is not about faking civility, but rather, genuinely  respecting the otherness of others and accepting each other's path as equally divine. It is indeed truly respecting the creator for creating us to be unique, respecting you with all my heart and mind is respecting the one who created you. If we can learn to accept each other's uniqueness, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

 49:13 (Y.Ali) “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”

Quran further guides;  you believe what works for you and I believe what works for me, as long as we do not mess with each other's space, sustenance and nurturance. Both will go to Janna (paradise) if we care about God's creation.

It is all there, what is needed is genuine leadership who can urge Muslims and Christians to accept the otherness of the other without the temptation to correct the other.  


Islam is certainly compatible with Christianity in all aspects of life except the God issue of Trinity/Tauheed.

Both the traditions are fully compatible in terms of birth control, pre-marital and extra marital sexual relations, taking care of the elderly, poor, the hungry, sharing, caring,  charity and raising kids with sound religious values. If it is not news, any Muslim who can afford to send his or her child will invariably send his child to a Catholic Convent over other schools.

Pope Francis is singularly the most influential person on the world stage besides the President of the United States who can affect positive or negative outcomes in a given society. He can aggravate the conflicts or mitigate them and become a Blessed peacemaker.

I hope and pray that he heralds a new beginning for building a better world for the humanity without distinction. After all he represents the man from the Galilee and hopefully follows him in embracing the whole humanity.

As a Muslim and a Pluralist, I welcome Pope Francis,  and make myself available to jump at his call for creating peace in the world, where no human has to live in fear of the others, let the world be the new kingdom of heaven where we all feel safe and secure with each other. Amen!


God willing, through this year, I will be writing on the deep conflicts between different communities.

...
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 aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.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.

Mike Ghouse on Sean Hannity's show about Obama's Israel's visit

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - Fox Studios in New York.

There were 25 of us, with an exception of three; all were Republicans on the right, including Ambassador Bolton, Congressman Peter King, congressman ...... and a few more big guns. 

Hannity pulled congressman Peter King, Pamela Geller and me to the stage. Where Pamela and I jumped and dueled on Sharia. I expressed my support for Sharia expressing that in Muslim nations, the only system of law they know is Sharia, and they know nothing about other laws, and obviously they will opt for the only thing they know. Sharia has of course flaws that need to be rectified and updated, on which Hannity jumped about the 4 witnesses when they can get the DNA to work. If you want to understand Sharia, please go to: www.ShariaLaws.com 

I respect Sean Hannity for not attacking Muslims but the radicals among us, as a principle and as respect to his guest who is Muslim.  I was glad to hear that distinction, I am not sure if it went on the Air. Furthermore, I  appreciate that conversation as every one present there including Congressman Peter king watched us. 



More pictures http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157633066920606/show/


Indeed, who is not against radicals whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus or anyone. Two men and a woman and walked up to me later and said, that they were glad I took that stand. He said no matter what the topic, Pamela Geller would drives the conversation towards Sharia. He was right, Sean had planned to talk about Obama's Israel trip, and I wrote a piece about it, and then we got derailed into Sharia.


I'll be on a New York Radio on Tuesday night to complete the debate about Sharia with Pamela Geller. I get asked by a few MUSLIMS about my credentials, my response is, if you call yourselves a Muslim, you had better know. The prophet expects us to know. There will be bad guys as well as good guys; let freedom prevail, bad guys can do their job, but we need to have enough good people to strengthen the good and weaken the bad.

ISNA 

I made a feeble attempt to clear ISNA from the co-conspirator list on Hannity show in response to Pamela Geller's accusations.  Dr. Syyed Syeed had shared the documentation with me,  and next time I get the chance, I will do my best to clear ISNA from such charges. 


I am sending a proposal to ISNA about presenting a program on this topic of being a part of the society at their annual convention. I hope our organizations become a catalyst in making Muslims, genuinely a part of the society. Please let me know if you wish to be a part of this presentation. 

My screaming would not change, what would change is for us to be collectively strive to be a part of the society, meaning connecting with humanity on a social level, like attending birthdays, funerals, graduations.... We should not run from any one because they drink alcohol or eat pork, I'm with them and quietly stay away from what is not kosher. I don't see the need to flaunt that I'm a Muslim.

MY BOOK 

My book is complete and revisions are underway. Sean Hannity read the abstracts of my book in the middle of all this, and I was completely taken back for the amount of time he spent on reading it despite his schedule for the evening. He said, he will talk about this book, and it will have a message to build cohesive societies. It’s about standing up for others.

CAMERA - the battery died on me after a few pics... the studio pics came out of my cell.

MY OP-ED ABOUT OBAMA'S TRIP TO ISRAEL 

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/mike-ghouse/48675/harsh-words-for-hawks-mike-ghouse-on-hannity-show-on-friday-about-obamas-trip-to-israel


FACEBOOK - DISCUSSION 
Between Khalid Ahmed, Mashood Elahi  Thomas Haidon and me, it's lenghty but makes a few points. 


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152705174420249&set=a.10152705174245249.1073741825.851280248&type=1&theater 

HERE WAS MY LAST RESPONSE 


Khalid, Thomas and Mashood, thanks.

Khalid – Sharia is human understanding of what God meant; to create just societies. Its intention was justice, but it has flaws that need be rectified because it human. The word of God (Quraan) is indeed divine, and other words may be divinely inspired but not divine.

In case of Rape, the bottom line was proof, nothing can be more factual than DNA, and there is no need for four male witnesses any more. It will have to change, because it is human.

In case of Divorce, the woman is thrown on the street at the whim of the guy, when he text messages Talaq three times to his wife, she is on the street. Allah's mercy is challenged and Prophet Muhammad becomes unmerciful to that woman. We cannot call Sharia a divine law.

in the other half of Muslim world comprising Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia, they guy can just shout Talaq three times and divorce takes place, what is divine about it? It squarely contradicts Quran which says allowing three periods – amounting to 90-120 days of wait time, a common sense, which is part of the American law as well.

Khalid you and I may argue that it is not Islamic, but what is practiced by Muslims, becomes Islamic. Have Muslims stopped the above practices? Have the Ulema’s condemned it? What does the general Muslim public believe? Don't we have the right to speak out?

There is no punishment of Apostasy in Quran, and then we have Pastor Nadir Khani in Iran, Asia Bibi in Pakistan and a number of cases out there. Is that Divine Law?

If we have the space and room, we can put forth umpteen examples, but given the space a few examples are suffice.

Sharia is not divine law, it is a human understanding of what God meant, and its practice and understanding is flawed, not completely but a significant part of it.

When Prophet talks about going to China to seek knowledge, he did not restrict mode of transportation to camel exclusively, he meant using the available transportation. God injects the wise can see his hikma/ wisdom in these examples. When Prophet said the knowledgeable among you can lead the prayers, he did not restrict women from leading the prayers; it is the misogynistic attitudes among men that make us shout that woman cannot lead the prayers. Of course, it is my personal view.

I respect your conservatism, and you don’t need to pray behind a woman, if it were my mother, or any woman who is more knowledgeable than a given group, I will pray behind her. It is common sense, and you don’t need to become a takfiri and shove it in my face that I cannot. After all, there is no compulsion in Islam and no one but the individual is responsible for his or her actions.

Khalid you made attempts to be critical of me personally; I would rather stay with the subject. But I do admit, and appreciate your contribution in keeping me and us on the toes. It is good to have friends who fires at your take on the issue, it prevents me from falling in the pit.

I make mistakes regularly, but thank God, it gives me the opportunity to put a dent in what Geller or Horowitz says.

Mashood, my understanding is similar to yours, “Sharia is based on Divine will but as a body of law has been expounded by humans like you and me and therefore, open for debate and constant change as our knowledge of Quran and the universe grows.”

Thomas, thanks for the meaningful points, and I respect your opinions.


Khalid

I could do much better, and I have done well most of the times, but poorly a few times including being trashed. Last time, I did that to Pamela Geller, this time she was respectful.

The feed back I get from the calls and emails has one common underlying theme, thank you for prompting us to do the research, your challenge that the other side is wrong, causes us to look up instead of taking it all from the right wing media.

As a moderate Muslim, I don't reject everything said by Hannity, Pamela, Spencer, Horowitz or others, they do make a few points that we as Muslims need to address. As Muslims (not Islam) we have our problems. Most Ulema agree that there is no punishment for apostasy, but don't have the courage to put their name to it, I have gone through that. Same goes with Blasphemy, the one who speaks get thrown out of their country - like Ghamidi in Pakistan. The Indian Muslim law board is working on fixing the talaq issue.

There is hope, the last decade is perhaps is a decade in our history, that can be labeled as a decade of Muslim awakening. For the first time, criticism of Sharia, apostasy, blasphemy, treatment of rape victims, Hadiths (there are some, which Prophet could not have said it at all) are all questioned in public Square. This is perhaps what Allah means by Iqra, and this is what Prophet said - I am leaving this book behind for you to understand.


Mike Ghouse

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pakistanis celebrate Pakistan Day in Dallas-Fort Worth region


Dallas Pakistanis Celebrate Pakistan Day

March 23, 2013 - Dallas, Texas

The Pakistan Society of North Texas (PSNT) celebrated the Pakistan Day, the day on which a decision was made in 1940 to create the state, and it is also the day in 1956 when Pakistan adopted her constitution.

I congratulate Mrs. Anjum Anwar, the new President of PSNT and her team for a job well done.

The leadership of the PSNT must also be congratulated for bringing stability and continuance of the policies. In the past, when the new team got elected, they mercilessly dumped the old team, all their good work was rendered useless, and it’s like someone winning the war and taking over the country and pushing the old Badshah aside.


For the last five years, this association has demonstrated stability and continuance, the immediate past President Mr. Barkat Basaria was actively participating in the program to make it successful. Indeed, this has been the case for the past few successions from Dr. Riaz Haider, to Mohammad Yunus, Shan Ali Bhagat, Dr. Rabia Khan, and Mr. Barkat Basaria down to Mrs. Anjum Anwar (Forgive me for the sequence or not remembering all the names). This is a healthy and positive change that the previous Presidents and the teams remain on the honor roll. What a delight it must be to serve. 

It was good to see many of the past presidents participate in the event. The organization is on the right path and I wish them all the success.


Each one of the presidents with no exception in the long past has served the organization and the community well, unfortunately the old system promoted hostile takeovers, and the previous teams were side lined and blamed out of pettiness.  Everyone has served well in the past and deserves to be recognized on occasions and like this, and I am glad Anjum Anwar acknowledged most of them.

The problem was never the individual, it was the system. The new system will fix most of the past ailments, as evidenced by the upbeat positive event on March 23rd. The new system is good for the Pakistani community.

The team has raised nearly $275,000.00 through individual donations and contributions to house a center for Pakistani people of North Texas. Despite  the problems, the trustees have preserved the money and  will rightfully use the funds for the purpose for which they were collected: to have a Pakistan Center.  A commitment that the Pakistani community will hopefully appreciate it.

Congratulations to Dr. Amer Suleman to start a new Organization called Pakistani American Association of Texas to attend to the un-attended. The North Texas Pakistanis ought to cherish that they will have two organizations and many events to attend. Dallas/ Fort Worth is massive area, and there are at least 40,000 Pakistanis living who will be reached out to.

I urge the community members to put things behind,  and resist the temptation to find faults or bad mouth others. Please don't beat up the Pakistani community for these attitudes, the Indians have done exactly the same thing.  Indeed, you might serve the community well, if you could tell the bad mouthers to hold it within themselves  This is what I have personally said to a few, “If you don’t have anything good to say about others, then don’t say anything. I don’t want to hear and be a party to the ill-will .” Of course, they did not like it, and I am glad, I chose not to be a carrier or their sewage.

When we have two organizations, it becomes entertainment for a few to pit one against the other, we need not fall for those rascals.  I am asking PSNT and PAAT leadership to understand that most of us, including me, will treat everyone as our friends with goodwill towards every one.  Insha Allah, time permitting, I will attend functions and events of both, just as I attend most of the India, Bangladesh and a few Nepalese and Sri Lankan events besides most of the main stream events. 

I request Dr. Amer Suleman and Mrs. Anjum Anwar, presidents of the PAAT and PSNT not to listen to any one who sows the seed of distrust in you about others from this day forward. Take the organizations forward and do a lot of good things the community needs.

My hats off to Amer for arranging the April 7th event for our kids to evaluate the colleges they may want to consider. Its a good program indeed.  My hats off to Anjum for turning the Pakistan day speeches over to the youth. The young lady’s speech was excellent, we have got to turn over the things to youth and it’s time for us to admire and watch the youth take it over.

It was good to see PSNT pay tribute to Mansur Shah, a dedicated volunteer and past president of PSNT. We have worked together on many of the events including the day of 9/11/2001. He was a great guy and may his soul rest in peace. He was the first person to write a check towards Najma's elections campaign. (Those who are new,  Najma Ghouse was my late wife who served the Pakistani community well - she passed away five years ago to Cancer). We had a misunderstood conflict between us, and I asked Mansur Shah to visit Najma on her death bed, and both forgave each other, that was one of the most beautiful moments of releasing each other from tensions. 

I am glad to see observance of silent duwas for Dr. Muhammad Khalid who is battling with cancer. Dr. Khalid has worked tirelessly on developing the constitution of the society. We have worked together on many things including the first unity day. He understands full well what the community needs to do to go forward. I pray his recovery. Amen!

The speeches were short and precise. A student delivered a perfect speech on the occasion. Dr. Arif Jamal did a fabulous job of interviewing many a members of the community, he sounded like a good TV show host. Mrs. Anjum Anwar went to each table and met with most, if not all the people, nice touch!

Here in Dallas, we have a tradition where Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Nepalese join in each others' celebrations. Perhaps the catalytic event may be the Desi Thanksgiving Celebrations in 1993, where all the Desis came together for the first time. It was beefed up with the Asian News magazine that made its debut in 1993 representing stories from all communities. Then the first commercial radio Asian News was established in 1996 that brought communities together. Its nostalgic to me, when Indians would come on my radio and sing Pakistani Qoumi taranay on the air on august 14th, and the next day, the Pakistanis would sing Indian National songs on the 15th. There was a lot of goodwill established during those formative years and I am proud, John Hammond of FunAsia is carrying the tradition forward with all his heart and mind, thank you John! Together as Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Sri Lankans, we are one of the best communities in the United States.

A few suggestions for the next event:

1. Prepare a full script for the entire program to ensure nothing is missed out. Every word we say at our events including Unity Day, Holocaust and Genocides and thanksgiving celebrations is written up and memorized. You have got to have a script, it lends concrete ideas to become a part of the program.


2. Acknowledge all, if acknowledged at all. It is difficult to acknowledge every one, but put a booklet out, not the expensive kind, but a simple one to acknowledge all. When you have a book, you will remember most if not all. 
3. Bring aboard Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other Muslim Pakistanis. You guys can be a beacon of hope to the world and other Pakistanis around the nation. Set the example, and bring aboard each one and give them a stage presence - no speeches or may be a one minute talk (as we do in the Unity day to bring everyone from Atheist to Zoroastrians and every one in between). 

Dr. Pervaz Rahman had a good idea of issuing a solidarity statement in reference to the communal conflicts in Pakistan. It's a shame how a few Sunni Pakistanis are treating fellow Pakistanis who are Shia, Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu and others. If the Dallas Pakistanis cannot speak up for unity and well being of all Pakistanis, then who will? If ten American Cities can emulate you, imagine what will do to the Pakistanis in Pakistan.  I understand GEO TV covers such events to promote goodwill.

Again, happy Pakistan Day

Mike Ghouse