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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New year Reflections

December 30, 2009

It is time to reflect and time to look in the mirror,
indeed stare at yourselves and ask,
" what do I need to do to bring a balance in my life?"

If I am going to hold the mirror again a year from now,
am I going to see a balance in my relationships, my finances,
my health, my physical being, my spiritual being and finally contentment;
am I going to be happywith where I’m today
and where I will be a year from now?

The choice is yours and
I wish you the very best on your efforts.

Mike Ghouse
Note: I learned this from Ed Foreman

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pluralism Goals for 2010

Pluralism Goals for 2010

We are aspiring to recite the Pluralism Prayers at US Senate or Capitol Hill, Texas State Capital and the area City Council.

Three Pluralism events are scheduled; 15th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations, 6th Annual Unity Day USA and 3rd Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides.

We had conducted ten workshops on ten different religions in 2008, we are resuming it back with the same titles “Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions” and we are going to focus on the rituals.

Pluralism guest lectures will continue at places of worship, work, schools and Universities.

Pluralism articles will continue to be published in the Newspapers and Magazines.
The Journal of Pluralism will continue to express pluralism at work, society, governance, workplace, worship places, schools, family and daily life. We are planning on bringing out the hard copy.

Pluralism Membership is growing; we have added another 1000 members this month taking it to a total of 25,000 members and hope to hit 30,000 by the end of 2010.
We are looking to open up Pluralism Centers in other Cities.

We are hoping to hold a conference on Pluralism and develop a research center to be in place upon completion of my PhD.

Neocons Redefined

Neocons, a new definition
Original dated 3/29/2009

Neocons are people who choose to wear a religious label but act and talk contrary to the very belief they claim to espouse. It is their way or no way. Their attitudes are shaped by the fear that their life is at risk if others exist, if they can, they will wipe every one off from the face of the earth who ever differs from them. They are intolerant and insecure group of men. They trust their Gun power but invoke God in vain, they do not want to dialogue, as it may settle them down. They are chaotic and desperate souls.

Neocons are mindless butchers. They chop up God into bits and pieces, and their bit of God is supreme to other pieces. They do not understand that the universe was caused or created by a single one source no matter how we define or perceive that causer. They are bunch of "me, me and me" babies.

They believe God is on their side, and has exclusively given them the permission or at least they pose to the world that it is their God-given right to dominate, control, monopolize and influence the resources that God has created for the benefit of his creation. They want to have it all. And finally, the Neocons do not value other people's life; it can be applied to Neocons in every faith.

Every religion or a group has a mix of good, bad and ugly; there are saints, terrorists, extremists, fanatics, good people and every possible category. Bad apples are part of the mix you get; you’ll find them in Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and all other religions. All groups are made up of these combinations, Zionism is no different, and it has got every mix that other groups have.

The Neocon variety exists in every group;

1. They are among Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others.
2. They are in business of maligning other groups for their gains.
3. They tell a bold face lie to the public at large like the WMD's.
4. They frighten the crap out of you with their cooked up stories and documentaries
5. Their only interest is them and monies funneling to them.

Neocon is a word I will be using to describe the extremists in every group;


Islamist is a small band of individuals who fit the description of Neocons above. They do not follow their own religion, yet claim to own it. Where as Islam is a religion, like all other religions and it fits the description of religion above. Make no mistake about it; the Islamists unabashedly violate the very principles of Islam they claim to follow. Islamist no more; they will be called Neocon Muslims.


Hindutva is a political group driven by a few individuals, who fit the description of Neocons above. Where as Hinduism is a religion of co-existence, like all other religions and fits the description of religion above. Hindutva no more; they will be called Neocon Hindus.


Neocons are defined above. Christianity is the religion of love and none of the Neocons who unashamedly wear the label of religion follow the teachings of Christ.


Zionism encapsulates the dream of the Jewish people to have a homeland; it is an idea of life for the people. The Word Zionism conjures up different images, there are Rabbis who have said negative things about it and many a Jews also look to it negatively. But we have to identify the bad elements in every group and call them a different name.

The good Zionists have a right to be offended, if we lump them with bad ones, just as Islamist is a bad word to lump all Muslims or Hindutva is a bad word to lump all Hindus.
Zionism word will be used to describe the dreams of Jewish people and to describe the extremists among them. Zionist no more; they will be called Neocon Jews.


The Gaza March

Tuesday, December 29, 2009,
11:50 PM

Unless the majority of Jews and Muslims speak up, the evil men continue to do what works for their best interests. To be Evil is to kill, support or justify killing of another human. Neither Torah nor Qur’aan supports what Hamas or Israelis are doing, yet the inaction of Jews and Muslims is shameful. Both the books say, "to save a life is to save the whole humanity or to kill a life is like killing the whole humanity."

Approximately 1,000 men and women from 42 different countries, including the drivers of the move, the CODE PINK organization are daring to cross the Rafah Border going into Gaza as we speak now at midnight US Central time. This includes four of our heroes, whom I know- Aishah Schwartz (on facebook), Col Ann Wright, Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker from Dallas Peace center. I salute them. It reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March, where thousands of men and women dared bullets and marched on, got beaten, but didn't get beat.

Continued: http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2009/12/gaza-march.html


Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR – a movie about co-existence

AVATAR – a movie about co-existence

When it comes to visual effects, Avatar is the mother of all movies. However, it could have been made in two hours without losing an ounce of amazement. This movie is a good expression of living in harmony with nature exemplified by the indigenous people of Pandora. I would see this movie a few more times to absorb the special effects, nature, harmony, romance, beauty, thoughtfulness and the message of co-existence, aka Pluralism*.

Funeral and Wedding

Sunday, December 27
Funeral and Wedding

An emerging new conscience - that of inclusiveness Today, I attended the prayers for the father of a friend who passed away last month, Imam Kavakci, bless his soul, invited people of different faith to say their own prayers their own way, while Muslims recite a certain prayer. At Bishop McGriff and Dr. Hollie's weddin...g, A Rabbi, an Imam and the President of Mormon Church blessed the couple. The change is coming.


McGriff_Hollie wedding

Sunday, December 27
7:00 - 10:00 PM

Bishop McGriff of the Chrurch of Living God weds Dr. Karen Hollie, both preachers. People from every faith and race attended the event. The blessings from Rabbi Jeremy Schnieder, Imam Shakoor and President Smith of the Mormon Church added beauty to the ceremony. My Pagan friend from the Parliament of World Religions joined us to witness this wedding.



Quraan 2:62

Sunday, december 27

2:62 (Y. Ali) Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

2:62 (Picktall) Lo! those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. -

Quite a discussion on Muqtedar Khans face book


250 Religious Symbols

Sunday, December 27. 2009

There are over 250 faiths represented by these symbols, my goal is to meet every one who is bearer of these symbol, and by 2014, Parliament of World's religions event, I hope to have fully accomplished the goal. Insha Allah, that is God willing, I would be alive till then. We hope Dallas would be the City. We have what it takes to host 10,000 people.



My Books

Some of the books are scattered in my living and family rooms, hundreds more to go on topics ranging from religion, science, evolution, biographies etc at my library and office. One of these days!



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Representing other religions

If we can find comfort in others shoes, we have understood the otherness of other.

Let's make an effort to become Ambassadors for other faiths and extoll the beauty and wisdom of other, without ever denigrating any faith or tradition. In just about everything I write, several traditions are honored each time with no one excluded. Lets encourage the idea of co-existence, and inclusion.

If you have difficulties with some faith or tradtion, jump in and find meaning and value in that tradition. Things become better with one's attitude. You can change the world, by changing yourselves first.

Mike Ghouse

Religious communicators

Our Role as Religious communicators

Unlike the matter, human life was not put on a trajectory; we were not put on a plan to circumambulate around something, or hung in one place. We were given the freedom to create our own balance. Whether we believe in God or not, we still seek that balance.

God loves his creation just as each one of us loves what we create, be it the food we cook, the clothes we wear, the paintings we paint or sculptures we sculpt.

It is the love of the creator that gave each one of us, each community, each nation and each tribe a “formula” to live in peace within ourselves and with what surround us. He, she or it communicated that formula through the spiritual masters in the form of scriptures like Torah, Bible, Quran, Bhagvad Gita, Avesta and other scriptures including the oral traditions. Please remember, God has reached to every one of us and has offered that formula – to seek a balance for ourselves and a balance for what surrounds us; life and the environment.

God is about love, kindness and justice.

Hate is one of the few sources of disrupting peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society for our own individual good.

In your solitude, it is you who personally feels the anxiety, apprehension, fears or the joys of life for the actions you take in your life. Your Pastor, Pundit, Rabbi, Imam or Clergy are not responsible for it, even if they were; it is you who has to live with yourselves, so finding the truth is your own responsibility.

One of the Prophets said to his associates that if someone uploads you with words that will cause you to have ill-will, malice, hate, anger towards other beings, you have to investigate before you believe it, you should do your best to live a regret free life, you should not hate or pre-judge negatively any one without finding the truth.

We lose that balance when we let hate mongers, hate sermons and hate lectures creep in our societies, much of it is product of insecure men and it breeds arrogance. Arrogance that my way of life is superior or my religion is the only way to heaven. Arrogance is the source of most of the conflicts and much of the evil.

I am a Muslim and Islam works for me, just as Christianity works for you, Judaism works for you, Hinduism or other faiths work for you. And further I am humbled to say that my religion is not superior to others, that claim would be a sheer arrogance. Religion is an emotion, a faith and a belief to have and not to compare.

As religious communicators we need to explore and communicate that God has not signed up a deal with any religion behind our back, he just cannot do that. Let’s honor every tradition and faith whether they believe in one, multiple or no God. The essence of the creator and causer of the universe does not change with our beliefs.

Let’s learn to accept the otherness of other and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Imam, Rabbi, Pastor, Pundit

A majority of the scholars, clergy men and women are honest about other faiths, they are respectful.

They do not denigrate or draw negative conclusions about other faiths to make their own faith look good, It is a question of personal integrity to them. Being truthful is more important than taking advantage of trends that put down other faiths. They will not rest until they uncover the truth, which is love and respect for every one of God's creation and God's religion, which is every religion.

My concern is always those few, who compromise their integrity. If a big financial supporter of their place of worship tells false things about other religions - those few will go along even though deep in their hearts they know it is wrong. It is time we stand for truth.

I admire those few men and women for presenting their faith in the most beautiful way, but I'm saddened that a few of them either present the other faiths negatively or hide the truth about other faiths. It is not religion any more, it becomes business of selling religion. Religion does not require selling.

If your Pastor, Imam, Rabbi, Pundit or the clergy speaks ill about other religions, would you let it go, or do you feel obligated to speak up... because these little untruths are the cause of bigger problems we have?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A tribute to Jesus

A tribute to Jesus on this Christmas;
What does it mean to be religious?

Mike Ghouse

This column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.

Continued: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-jesus.html


Monday, December 21, 2009

National Public Radio

Monday, December 21, 2009
National Public Radio on the Parliament by Mike Ghouse and Rev. Angie Buchanan
Listen at: http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_091221k.cfm

My Notes:

The National Public Radio invited Rev. Angie Buchanan, a trustee of the Parliament of the World's religions and Mike Ghouse as an individual to be on the air between 3-4 PM to talk about the Parliament event. It was a good interview and it will be available at http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/ on Tuesday to download and listen to. Rev. Buchanan gave a wonderful analogy about religions being Islands and the need for the people in each Island to visit and build bridges.

I had a list of things I wanted to say, but due to the format of the interview, I just had to answer the questions they asked.

NPR’s "Here On Earth Program!"
Monday, December 21, 2009 : 3-4 PM
Live interview By Lori Skelton
With Rev. Angie Buchanan and Mike Ghouse

Here are my draft notes…. But the interview went little differently, all the things I wanted to say, could not be said. That is the nature of the Radio Talk Show. Please note I did not check for the grammar, it is simply my draft.

Mike - thank you so much for agreeing to be part of today's program! These are the questions I know I will have, but I also know that once the audience calls in, the conversation can go in many directions - Lori.

1. Brief history of PWR, brief outline

1893 - Chicago – The first congress at the Columbian exposition
1988 – Formation of the council
1993 – Chicago
1999 - Cape Town, South Africa
2004 - Barcelona, Spain
2007 – Universal forum of cultures – Monterrey, Mexico
2009- Melbourne Australia

The Parliament was created in 1893 – Refer to the document

"The Parliament of Religions is undoubtedly the most noteworthy event of modern times. It has stirred the spirits, stimulated mental growth, and given direction to man's further evolution. It is by no means an agnostic movement, for it is carried on the wings of a religious faith and positive certainty." –Paul Carus, 1893

IFAPA announced as the recipient of the 2009 Paul Carus Award
"Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa," an organization formed in 2002 that brings together representatives from African Traditional Religions, Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews, has been named the recipient of the Paul Carus Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Interreligious Movement by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

"IFAPA," the acronym by which the award-winning group is best known, "models in a creative way, the peace-making potential of the growing interreligious movement," said Rev. Dr. William E. Lesher, Chair of the Council’s Board of Trustees. "The organizations comprehensive, representing the major religions of Africa and also geographically significant with a continent-wide reach and concern," he said. IFAPA’s most public activity has been in the area of conflict resolution, having sent interfaith delegations to Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North and South Sudan and Togo over the last decade. Other IFAPA activities include a women’s project called, "A Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa," and a water project in rural Rwanda.

2) Who attends…how are they chosen?

We invite individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining the goal – Which was to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

3) Where was the last Parliament before this one held, what were key themes, did they carry over to this Parliament?

Barcelona, Spain
The theme was same - to to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

4) Themes of this Parliament

Hearing each other and healing the earth –

Religious harmony, inclusion of the indigenous peoples, women’s rights, women clergy, homosexuality, apostasy, environment and other issues

Giving the space to every human on this planet and hearing them out.

5) How was the city of Melbourne engaged in participating?

It is not only the City, the Australian Government, the State of
Victoria, the City of Melbourne, and the convention center.
The Governor, the Mayor, MP’s attended the event.

6) What is needed to set up interfaith dialogs?
What are some obstacles? How do you measure progress?

First let me talk about the origins of issue - The needs for the dialogue stems from the problems we have and identified with religion.

The problems of the world are ascribed to religion, The crusades, inquisition, missionizing, conversions, holocaust, genocides – Traditionally religion has been ascribed to all the destruction and death… including the 9/11 horror.

Justice gives birth to peace, one feels secure….

Religion is not the source of the Problem, and that is one of the reasons to dialogue.

The deliberate mistranslation of some 60 verses of Quraan to paint Muslims wrong for their own gains: – need to be known.

To be religious is to mitigate conflicts and nurture good will, and the purpose of religion is bring a social, psychological, spiritual and a moral balance to an individual and what surround him or her; life and matter.

7) How do you respond to the notion that “Yes, there are global problems and organized religion is one of them?”

This is one of the biggest misunderstandings we have to over come –

Our Law books
Nuclear Power

In the United States roughly 1% of the population is in Jails, but the 99% is not, 1.5 Million traffic tickets are given each year, the 199.5 Million don’t get it. Are the law books wrong or the individuals?

Nuclear power lights up Melbourne, the same power in the hands of Bullies can annihilate Baghdad or Kabul and wipe out the civilizations.
Is the problem with New-Clear power or the individuals who abuse it?

When holy books are misinterpreted, is it the book or the individuals?
It is time we blame the wrong doers and not the Religion, blaming religion is escaping from finding the justice, where as finding the culprit individual can bring justice and find solutions.

Religions do not commit murder, bomb Iraq or the twin towers, individuals do and kill 3000 to a Million people.

8) President Carter was a guest speaker; members of the Obama administration were on hand, were other governments represented? How do you engage with government officials and what are they seeking from you?

It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society. When we are at peace, we can generate peace and we can expect peace around us. Our words and actions should mitigate conflicts and nurture reconciliation and goodwill.

9) What are your next steps?

Ask not what the Parliament can do for you, instead, ask yourselves, what you can to to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Sister City programs, take the programs to every City

The international Summit on indigenous people is coming up in 2010

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy will provide a forum for Indigenous thinkers from around the world to gather in a retreat setting to discuss two important questions: - What distinguishes Indigenous Environmental Philosophy from Western Environmental Philosophy? - How should Indigenous Environmental Philosophy be incorporated in the international dialogue on Climate Change?

Programs like "experience the religion" will be initiated in February 2010, comprising ten workshops on the 3rd Sunday of every month

We have to find balance for the society, when others safety is considered, our own safety is guaranteed.

10) How can others become involved?

Log on to http://www.peacenext.org/ and
and get involved.

Mike Ghouse

Parliament event

December 3 - December 9, 2009

I want to thank the Memnosyne Foundation and the founder Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk for sponsoring my trip to the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Melbourne, Australia. I really appreciate it. It was an experience of life time.

Dr. Harbans Lal’s continuous encouragement and support was incredible, I am grateful to him to make the attendance meaningful and successful. I thank my friend Adil Khan for being persistent that I should go when I was debating otherwise due to time, school work and the work and other constraints. Yasmeen and my kids Jeff/Fern and Mina kept up with me while I was getting up at 6 AM and stayed until 11 PM daily at the conference center.

Paul Carus award

My gratitude goes to friends who nominated me for the prestigious Paul Carus award including Dr. Harbans Lal, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Phyllis Curott, Imam Feisal, Rev. Angie Buchanan and Rev. Bill Matthews to carry out the work of building bridges. The encouragement from Eboo Patel, Sada Cumber and Mary Ann is appreciated as well. I have written updates on the Facebook as well as my random diary at http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/

I was one of the nominees for the award and fortunately, the award went to the most deserving to IAPA, "Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa," an organization formed in 2002 that brings together representatives from African Traditional Religions, Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews for their outstanding contributions to the Interreligious Movement by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.


"IFAPA," the acronym by which the award-winning group is best known, "models in a creative way, the peace-making potential of the growing interreligious movement," said Rev. Dr. William E. Lesher, Chair of the Council’s Board of Trustees. "The organization is comprehensive, representing the major religions of Africa and also geographically significant with a continent-wide reach and concern," he said. IFAPA’s most public activity has been in the area of conflict resolution, having sent interfaith delegations to Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North and South Sudan and Togo over the last decade. Other IFAPA activities include a women’s project called, "A Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa," and a water project in rural Rwanda.

2014 Dallas

Tatiana Androsov was joined in by Rev. Bill Matthews and Mike Ghouse in placing Dallas for the 2014 Parliament venue. We had meetings with the Parliament executives to discuss about the viability of bringing the event to Dallas. We will be competing with Phoenix, Los Angeles, Bali, Istanbul and Bangkok. The program in Melbourne was borne by the Australian Government, The state of Victoria and the City of Melbourne. I feel positive about it, but we have to do the work and among several organizations in Dallas, we have the combined experience to put an event.

I am delighted that the Parliament gave ample time to the indigenous people from Americas, Africa, India, Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, Philippines, Japan and other areas. We needed to do that and am glad it happened, that really made me happy to acknowledge the ones, who were hitherto ignored by the society.

The theme of the parliament was “hearing each other and healing the earth” and the conference lived up to its theme by including every possible representation of humanity.

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's Blunder

Obama's Blunder on War

President Obama is wrong in this instance
Congressman Kucninich' note is a piece of wisdom

Only those who are incapable of a dialogue, only those who are short sighted secure their security through war because that is the only instrument they can understand. I am utterly disappointed in the president for lowering himself to appease the Neocons.

Neocons do not understand the nature of peace. To them peace comes when you oppress the dissenters, or annihilate them altogether. When you inflict suffering on others, the law of Karma goes to work, and brings insecurity and fear in you for the wrongs you have done.

Just war is a deranged ideology, it justifies the animal in humans to murder and annihilate, the president needs to understand religion, any and every religion and the idea of co-existence, to raise above animal instincts of survival.

We are the most powerful nation on the earth, and we should not be abusing it, our power gives us the power to bring peace through peaceful means.

There is a Chinese saying - if you want to eliminate the enemy spend half as much time and money and make them friends. War creates bitterness and insecurity, friendship removes enmity in the long run.

President Obama - you are a religious man, please reflect upon seeking peace through peace and not from bullying. Your and my mentor Martin Luther King has demonstrated that, please don't get big headed... have the humility to accept your goof up and make a turn around and earn the respect of the world and resist the temptations to be Bush.

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Congressman Kucinich’s Response to President Obama’s “Just War” Doctrine

WASHINGTON - December 11 - “Yesterday, our president mused about the inevitability of war, war’s instrumentality in the pursuit of peace and just wars. It is important for us to reflect on his words, because once we believe in the inevitability of war, war becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we are committed to war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where War IS Peace, where the momentum of war overwhelms hopes for peace. And once we wrap doctrines perpetuating war in the arms of justice, we can easily legitimate the wholesale slaughter of innocents. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are based on flawed doctrines of counter-insurgency. War is often not just; sometimes it is just war. And our ability to rethink the terms of our existence, to explore the possibility of peace without war, may well determine whether we end war, or war ends us.”

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/12/11


Ismaili Muslims

Ismaili Muslims in Dallas

I read criticism of the Dallas Morning News every so often, we need to applaud them as well for the work they do in bringing the spectrum of Dallas to us. I have met with the editorial staff and genuinely applaud them to include every possible community of Dallas in their pages.

The concept of one nation under God, that we take pledge so frequently needs to be understood thoroughly. It is one of the most unifying and pluralistic phrase that we use in our daily life. God belongs to all of us and he is at the helm of continuance of our existence.

To me, it means, that we have to think, talk and act as one nation, no matter what race, faith, ethnicity or culture we are from, we are under the same umbrella. Our Atheist friends can take comfort that God in this context means, the causer of the big bang, instigator of evolution process, and the creator for those of us who are theists.

I laud the Ismaili Muslims and every ethnic and immigrant American community for the effort they make to be a part of the American story, to be a part of the American society - contributors towards enriching American tapestry. Thank you Dallas Morning News

Mike Ghouse

Carrollton program lets Ismaili Muslim parents, kids share learning experience
07:49 AM CST on Thursday, December 10, 2009

By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News dsolis@dallasnews.com

CARROLLTON – Class springs to attention with the Pledge of Allegiance. Five-year-old Saniya Khoja takes the lead, twirling a red-white-and-blue flag the size of a napkin. Little ones with hands over hearts recite "... one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all." Then, Saniya and her classmates sing "Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" Voices rise in Arabic greetings. Mothers and a few fathers join in harmony.

Asad Bhimani (right) works with his mother, Asfia Bhimani, on spelling while Sinaan Bardaie (left) and his mother, Rozeen R. Ali, team up on the lesson at the Learning Center for Parents and Children in Carrollton. " style="CURSOR: hand" onclick="return clickedImage(this);" height=120 alt="Photos by JEFFREY PORTER/DMN" src="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/img/v3/12-10-2009.NMC_10ismaili_MAIN1.GJO2O1HJE.1.jpg" width=175 jQuery1260570930058="7">
Photos by JEFFREY PORTER/DMN Asad Bhimani (right) works with his mother, Asfia Bhimani, on spelling while Sinaan Bardaie (left) and his mother, Rozeen R. Ali, team up on the lesson at the Learning Center for Parents and Children in Carrollton.

This is an after-school program for Ismaili Muslim children in Carrollton at their social and spiritual center, known as a jamatkhana. And the program emphasizes an essential that public schools have tried to inspire for decades: parental involvement.

"This is the secret sauce," said Gulzar Babool, the national program director for the Ismaili Learning Center for Parents and Children. "It is what makes it successful."

The program at the Learning Center for Parents and Children emphasizes early literacy and school readiness and "empowers mothers to assimilate in this community," Babool said.
Ismailis are a minority within the Shia sect of the broader Muslim world of 1.5 billion. And Ismailis are 10,000 strong in North Texas.

The program is a fusion of traditional and Montessori teaching methods. Montessori methods generally are characterized by the absence of tests and grades and allow for small group instruction.

The Ismaili program places an emphasis on exercise, including yoga, and teaches children Spanish as an additional language. The program takes children ages 3 to 6 years old with at least one parent willing to commit to stay in the classroom with the child.

"They walk with a lot more confidence," Babool said of the children. "They speak very well. They can talk to older people, as well as their peers."

Saniya, for example, eyes a photographer taking a photo of her. When he's finished, she insists on taking the photographer's notebook so she may spell her name correctly.

In the school's "discovery" center, a theater of the imagination, she wraps herself in a costume of the adult world. She chooses to be a chef, puts on an apron and poofy white hat at a play stove.
In another classroom, a child is asked to name an object taken from a plastic bin. He looks at it, and, in Urdu, says "chapal." The class is taught in English.

"Yes, sandals," the teacher says gently. The little boy runs to embrace his father, who's seated on the floor and within easy grasp.

"You should never push the child because that diminishes the love of learning," Babool says quietly to visitors.

Parents can take an extra push, though. In another class, teacher Rukhsana Hussain makes sure mothers stay focused. "OK, Mommies, are you writing it down so you can emphasize it at home?"

In Carrollton, the annual cost for the program is $225 per child. The education program has spread to a dozen other spiritual and social centers of Ismaili Muslims in the United States. Ismaili centers in Plano and Euless have similar programs

Other immigrant groups run after-school programs, such as the Chinese and Koreans. Ismaili Muslim adults are largely immigrant, too, but come from countries as diverse as Pakistan, Tanzania, India and Kenya. That poses more challenges.

So, in Carrollton, at the oldest of four North Texas jamatkhanas, the program has attracted interest and praise within the local school district because of the strong parental link.
"Parents are the first teachers," says Sanil Sheriff, an elementary teacher in Carrollton. "The earlier you get the parent and child involved, the better. Can you imagine if we could do that more in public schools? That is why we all support PTAs."

Amynah Juma, a Lewisville nurse attending class with her daughter, said her child Irsya views homework as something to devour, like dessert.

"She is all excited about LCPC homework," Juma says. "I think it is more because I spend time with her."

Rahim Shamsuddin runs a barbecue franchise, a demanding job with long hours. But this night, the 40-year-old Pakistani immigrant sits on the floor with his son, who is mapping the United States in miniature.

"I am learning with my son," he says, "and I like it."

On the bulletin board is yet another lesson plan from a Saturday school at the jamatkhana. "Poverty/Unemployment. How is it a threat to humanity? How does it destroy human life? How can we defeat it? With the help of what institution?"

The answer is the Aga Khan Development Network, the bulletin board reads.
Despite their small numbers within the Muslim world, Ismailis have a high profile. It's due partly to the globetrotting ways of their English-speaking, Harvard-educated leader, known as Aga Khan, and the network's philanthropy of development agencies focused largely on Asia and Africa.

The network includes a U.S. division, the Washington-based Aga Khan Foundation, which listed nearly $188 million in assets in its 2008 filing with the Internal Revenue Service. Each year, Ismailis hold a local charity event, the Dallas Partnership Walk. It raised $550,000 in September.

In October, Aga Khan visited with Texas Gov. Rick Perry to ink an agreement that would expand cultural, health, natural disaster and education exchanges.
"He [Aga Khan] believes education is the most important thing," Babool says. If you are hit by a disaster, you can rebound with a good education, she says, paraphrasing the Ismaili leader.

"He says that if you have nothing left and you have a good, educated mind, you can start all over."
•15 million followers within a Muslim community of 1.5 billion; 10,000 in North Texas
•A minority sect within the Shia branch of Islam
•Spiritual leader since 1957: Karim Aga Khan, who is considered the 49th imam and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad
•Accomplishment: the Aga Khan Development Network, a philanthropy of development agencies largely focused on Asian countries such as Afghanistan and African countries such as Tanzania
•Notable quote of Aga Khan: "We are often told that increased contact among cultures will inevitably produce a 'clash of civilizations,' particularly between Islam and the West. ... The true problem we face is what I would call a 'clash of ignorance.' "

SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research

12 Apostles

Friday, December 11, 2009
Melbourne, Australia

Took the ocean drive tour - about 150 miles from the City

Today's hightlight was walking in the rain forest near Melbourne, it was an incredible experience of the serenity, the melody of birds cooing and the tranquility of the place... it was indeed uplifiting, and the smell of the flowers, eucalyptus and the sounds of bristling leaves was very very invogarating. May be this how it would fell in the elusive Paradise.

Visited the 12 apostles - 12 upright 100' diameter mud hills raising straight up from the ocean close to the cliff-lined shores.

Mailed post cards to Yasmeen, Jeff/Fern, Mina/Tim, Adil/Nosheen and Everett/Lilly from a town returning from the Rain Forest.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holocaust Museum

Dallas Holocaust Museum
My note and article in Dallas News

Congratulation goes to Alice and hope she can get the different communities involved in the Museum. You have to earnestly make the effort, and you will find support. I am happy to see Elliott Dlin focus on teaching respect for other traditions.

The Dallas Muslims are pleased not only to visit the Museum, but the first ones in the world to commemorate the Holocaust for the third year now. We all have to learn to share the grief and joys of humanity, we have to fall the old political lines and come to gether on a greater purpose of looking to each other as God's creation.

The Muslim initiative will bring the 3rd Annual reflections on Holocaust and Genocides on Sunday, January 24, 2010. You are invited to participate www.HolocaustandGenocides.com on 24th, followed by the event on 26th and the Holocaust Museum. I say to Jews, you are not alone my friends, we are with you.

Mike Ghouse

Dallas News: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/120909dnmetholocaust.337b113ee.html

Dallas Holocaust Museum chooses downtown real estate executive as CEO
01:40 PM CST on Wednesday, December 9, 2009
By BRUCE TOMASO / The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Holocaust Museum has selected Alice Murray, a longtime downtown real estate executive, as its chief executive officer.

Murray, who has served as president and CEO of DowntownDallas and the Downtown Improvement District, assumes the newly created post at the museum effective immediately, said Jim Hogue, president of the museum's board of directors.

Alice Murray
At the request of the board, Elliott Dlin, the current executive officer of the museum, will assume the new title of museum director, focusing on educational, archival and other content-related programs.

The museum -- formally known as the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance -- is currently housed at 211 N. Record Street in downtown Dallas. It has purchased land for new quarters at Houston Street and Pacific Avenue, adjacent to the Sixth Floor Museum. Planning for a fund-raising campaign to make that move possible is under way, according to the museum.

Dlin will concentrate in part on preparing for the move, Hogue said.

"When the new museum is built, we want it to be recognized as the finest teaching museum in the region, if not the country," he said.

Murray said of her new job, "I am thrilled, honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the museum board and staff to take the museum to its next level, especially the construction of a new museum.

"The museum's mission -- to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference -- is unduplicated in its importance for all residents of our city and region."
As a real estate developer, Murray was responsible for the remodeling of the historic Kirby Building on Main Street, which is now residences. She also worked on finishing out the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences.

In addition to her volunteer work with DowntownDallas, she has served on the executive committees of the State Fair of Texas and the Trinity Commons Foundation. She was a member of the Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness from 2004 to 2006.

Founded 25 years ago in the basement of the Dallas Jewish Community Center in North Dallas, the museum moved downtown in 2005. More than 55,000 people, including about 40,000 schoolchildren and their teachers, visit every year.


Musuem of Indigenouse People

Museum of Indigenouse people

Visited the Musuem for indigenous people, they were good to share the list of all the indigenous communities. I taped a scene where it shows the Colonialilst shooting at the Natives and the pre-recorded commentary goes, that the colonialists shoot the aboriginees less ceremoniously than they would shoot at stray dogs. ...I was stunned and took me a long time to get out of that corner. I am in no mood to visit anything

I was going to visit the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, as it is kind of sacred to me, but decided not to go anyplace as showing my cocern to fellow earthians from the native traditions. I was very committed to the development of Cricket in North Texas and I have done my share as President and recepient of the recognition for the best overall development of Cricket in the Americas.


Parliament 15

Summary of the Parliament visit

I am pleased to share some random notes from the Parliament of World's relgions. I had 3 presentations and was a moderator for two programs and attended 4 programs a day for seven days.

About 8,000 people, 250 religious traditions, people from 110 countries attended the event. It was so good to see the native people of Australia, Americas, Africa and Oceanic countries were given prominence. I met with several of the people and visiting them this Sunday in their nations within Australia.

It was a pleasure to meet all the big names in Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jews, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Wiccan, Pagan and Native traditions. Met with SriSri Ravi Shankar, Amma, Mihir Meghani, Many a Swamijis, Dalai Lama, Bhai Avatar Singh, Dr. Taranjit Butalia, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, Phyllis Curott, Angie Buchanan, Uncle Max (Native), Imam Feisal, Native Clarke, Dr. Muzaffar, Dr. Kaziwini, Dr. Quraishi, Imam Moujahid, Rabbi Lerner, Rabbi Rosen and several Rabbis... Iftekhar Hai....the list is quite big and it was a pleasure that they read my articles. The president of Islamic Association of the State of Victoria, Ahmed Rehab was a great host.


Parliament 14

Imam Abul Malik Moujahid

Dr. Imam Moujahid is elected as the chair person of the Parliament of World's religion, it a great honor for Muslims for him to be honored with this position. This is one of the well respected bodies. It is all about Pluralism and co-existence.


Parliament 13

Australian TV

It was a pleasure to be on Australia' TV at the Parliament event. I share the greetings from various traditions. Insha Allah, one of the radio stations is interviewing me on Saturday.


Parliament 12

Quraan in light of Peace

Due to heavy security for Dalai Lama, Dr. Tariq Ramadan was late by 10 minutes and I carried the presentation, when he joined, he asked me to continue... however, I came to listen to him and yeilded after summarizing. It was a thrilling moment in my life when Dr. Ramadan, one of my favorite thinkers in Islam wanted me to be on the panel with him on the topic of Quraan and the perspective of peace. It was the highlight of my day.


Parliament 11

A New Conscience

It must be my day! My presentation on " the new conscience" received tremendous reception from the gagthering including a few clergy. As I traced the development of conscience from pre-historic times to the present and predicted what it would be in the near future. I spent hours developing the program and thank God, it was meaningful to the congregation.


Parliament 10

Dalai Lama Plenary

Dalai Lama was the highlight of the closing plenary today. His speech was short and succint and he urged the audience to follow up with the work on peace. I was blessed to be seated along with the trustees and the board members of the Parliament of the World's religions, Thanks to Phyllis, Angie and Prabhu for making me part of the PWR team.

Indeed, it is a blessing that the board members and the trustees appreciate my writings on Pluralism and Islam.


Parliament 9

The indigenous people of Australia

The indigenous people of Australia have the same issues as the indigenous people of Americas, they have taken advantage of so many times that they have difficulty in trusting any one. I met with three elders and 2 medicine men and hope to be visiting them this Sunday - a 150 KM drive from Melbourne. Thank God, we connected in spirits and communicated well.


Parliament 8

Wisdom of Muslim Prayers

Dr. Suhair Quraishi, an educator from Saudi Arabia shared the wisdom of Muslim prayers and I joined her in sharing the knowledge with the public. She and I spoke the same language, the lanugage of inclusiveness and respect for every faith. It is so good to see a Saudi is also teaching respect for other traditions


Parliament 7

Islam and the West

The Plenary session was about "Islam and the west" explored by 4 giants of Islamic pluralist thought - Dr. Tariq Ramadan, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, Imam Feisal Rauf and Ali Karizimi, moderated by the Dean of BYU, Utah. One of the most attended programs. Quite a powerful talk and I hope to write it up the key points asap.


Parliament 6

Jews, who do we want to be?

A powerful panel discussion by the Jewish community on " What do we want to be " - by Rabbi Rosen and four other prominent Rabbis from US, Australia, Israel and UK. I have made the notes well debated one. They have gone through what we are going through now. It indeed helps me write a chapter on Muslim Agenda. and when I get the chance, I will write the report. It was an englightening conversation and


Parliament 5

Scriptures and their intended use

Scriptures and its intended use was shared by Christian, Sikh and Islamic tradtions. My presentation on Islam was effective and I am very pleased with the outcome and feedback. One of the members in the audience was a Christian Minister from Jerusalem and knew Arabic, I asked him to read the verse on the screen and ......he acknowledged to some 20 raised hands that the translation dished out to them for years was wrong. It was a packed house.

I recall it was like this when I presented the program "Muhammad the peacemaker" in January this year.


Parliament 4

It was an exciting day meeting with some of my favorite speakers - Rabbi Michael Lerner, Imam Feisal, Dada Vasani, Amma and Dr. Suhair, a Saudi Arabian educator, she gave an outstanding interview on the live TV today, she spoke the language of Pluralism and it was so good to meet with her.


Parliament 3

Homosexuality and Apostay

One of the packed house programs was on Homosexulaity and Apostasy, the presenters were a Judge of the High Court in Australia, a Female Pastor and a Muslim Scholar - they were pointing out how some parts of the scriptures were highlighted to portray Homosexulity as an abomination, while ignoring the other parts about adultery and other sins defined in religions.


Parliament 2

11:30 - 1:00 Session

The plenary session was a live TV show by ABC Compass, - It was refereshing to see Australian TV was about presenting differents points of view to understand and perhaps find solutions- God has to help us Americans to give guidance to Fox and CNN TV to do the same instead of spewing hate and creating chaos.


Parliament 1

December 3, 2009
Opening Plenary

The parliament of world religions conferenced opened tonite with a grand event - prayer and blessings form every faith tradition, the governor of state of Victoria and the Member of parliament attended as well. We have been doing similar programs in the thanksgiving and unity day celeberational annualy.