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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shariah at the Kumback Café, Perry, OK

I am thankful to Suze Melton, one of the attendees of the Quraan Conference on Sunday for forwarding the following article. The followin story is about Perry, Oklahoma and how the residents view things, one resident shares this, “I got on the computer, punched in Koran, and there it is in black and white: They are out to rule the world and if you don’t convert, they kill you.” We dealt with that verse yesteday, it is not what it sounds.
As an American I understand the fears and want to assure them that the American Muslims do not want the kind of Sharia Law they see on the Television confined to Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.  That is not the Sharia law; here is a simple lay person’s version of understanding what Sharia is all about – Sharia Laws Not in America.

No American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. The purpose of this conference is to understand the issues and find ways to remove such fears in an open forum and restore the cohesiveness of our society and work towards building a safe and secure America

God willing, I will go to Perry, Oklahoma and do a Sharia and Quraan conference with the folks out there to assure them that Islam and Muslims are not about what they have come to know, but about building societies for peace for all.  It is a shame the radicals, a few handful of them, make such statesments. Just as Newt, Palin and others frighten them to get the votes.

Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
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Shariah at the Kumback Café
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Roger Cohen

PERRY, OKLAHOMA — They call Oklahoma the buckle of the Bible Belt. It’s the state where all 77 counties voted Republican when Barack Obama was elected and where 70.8 percent of the electorate last month approved a “Save Our State Amendment” banning Islamic, or Shariah, law.

So I decided to check the pulse of a resurgent conservative America at the Kumback Café. The Kumback, established 1926, is a cozy, memorabilia-filled joint that sits opposite the courthouse in downtown Perry, population 5,230.

Things work like this at the Kumback: The guys, average age about 80, arrive around 8 a.m. and get talking on “the whole gamut of life”; the girls, average age too indelicate to print, gather later at a horse-shoe shaped table toward the back. Ken Sherman, 86 and spry, explained: “We’ve got to come here every day to find out what’s going on. And by the time we leave we forget.”

I asked Paul Morrow, a whippersnapper at 71, how things were going. “There’s just too much Muslim influence, all this Shariah law,” he said. “We’re conservative here, old and cantankerous.”

You might not expect Shariah, a broad term encompassing Islamic religious precepts, to be a priority topic at the Kumback given that there’s not a Muslim in Perry and perhaps 30,000, or less than one percent of the population, in all Oklahoma. And you’d be wrong.

Shariah is the new hot-button wedge issue, as radicalizing as abortion or gay marriage, seized on by Republicans to mobilize conservative Americans against the supposed “stealth jihad” of Muslims in the United States and against a Democratic president portrayed as oblivious to — or complicit with — the threat. Not since 9/11 has Islamophobia been at such a pitch in the United States.

The neoconservative Center for Security Policy in Washington recently described Shariah as “the pre-eminent totalitarian threat of our time.” Many Republicans, with Newt Gingrich leading, have signed up. Their strategy is clear: Conflate Obama with creeping Shariah and achieve the political double-whammy of feeding rampant rumors that he’s a closet Muslim and fanning the fears that propel a conservative lurch.

It’s not pretty, in fact it’s pretty odious, but to judge by the Republican surge last month, it’s effective in an anxiety-filled America.

Galvanized by State Question 755, barring “courts from considering or using Shariah Law,” Republicans swept to the Oklahoma governorship and veto-proof majorities in the Legislature for the first time.

Question 755 was “a pre-emptive strike,” in the words of its most active proponent, Republican State Representative Rex Duncan, whose portrait hangs in the Kumback. The question arises, given the quiet on the prairies, against whom? A prominent Oklahoma pastor, Paul Blair, told me it was aimed at those “whose plan is not to coexist but bring the whole world under Islam.”

A preliminary federal injunction, granted after a prominent local Muslim, Muneer Awad, challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in the nation where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” has blocked its certification for now. The very curious case of Shariah and Oklahoma may be headed to the Supreme Court.

Marilee Macias, the bubbly owner of the Kumback, swung by. “Duncan’s ahead of the game,” she said. “He’s a military guy, been around the world. I don’t know what these Muslims are preparing but I know that stoning women, we don’t want that here.”

Bud Johnson, 84, who worked in Washington and is gently mocked at the Kumback for his East Coast liberalism, shook his head. “It’s going to cost the state a lot of money to try to defend a stupid law,” he said. “There should be a reason for a law, not just hatred and emotions. But my view went down here like the Titanic. The fear element has got us.”

To understand U.S. politics today, try “It’s the fear element, stupid.”

I asked Frank Lawson, 83, about Obama. “I think the young man’s a Muslim,” he said. Case closed. He continued: “I got on the computer, punched in Koran, and there it is in black and white: They are out to rule the world and if you don’t convert, they kill you.” Cherry-picked inflammatory phrases, attributed to the Koran but more often lifted from interpretations of it, course through Oklahoman churches and spread via Internet chatter.

Sherman asked me what “that huge Muslim movement that took over Europe,” was called. I couldn’t help. “Begins with ‘O”’ he said. “The Ottoman Empire?” I ventured. Yep. Case closed again.
Things were quiet on Perry’s main square. So quiet the “Muslim threat” was hard to imagine. It was even harder to imagine that, right here, Timothy McVeigh, the homegrown terrorist who killed 168 people in a 1995 Oklahoma attack, was held after being stopped by a state trooper outside Perry for having no license plate.

Nobody initially suspected McVeigh. Suspicion fell on men “of Middle Eastern appearance,” including Imad Enchassi, now the imam of a large Oklahoma mosque, who told me, “Things are much worse now, I’m looking over my shoulder for the first time.”


  1. Deconstructing Sharia as an interfaith common could be another strategy for mitigating the problems that we face. I have listed some in this paper http://www.slideshare.net/mukhtaralam/agenda-for-ecologically-safe-cities
    Practice of prayer, prohibition of usury, adultery and homosexuality,protection of the instituion of family for the rights of children and elder, donation for social cohesion, copmassion and concern for the neighbourhood ,belief in the onenes of humanity as one family, ensuring justice even if this goes against self etc. are all life sustaining values. There is a tendency to pick up on the verses with provision of harsh punishments and ignore the ones that are acceptable to any person concerned with justice, peace and ecological safety.

  2. Brother Mike, It is wonderful to see you taking notice of the issues that are critical of social cohesion in US. U are a great asset to humanity.

  3. It is a clash of ignorance !

    There is ignorance on both sides of the fissure ! We have ignorants walking amongst the ignorants ! In Romans 7:1-4, the analogy used by Paul has made a clear distinction between "JESUS" (whom the muslims accept as a Great Prophet of Allah) and "Christ" and so paul bound Jesus and his followers to "Christ" and he brought another law altogether...

    If they follow Jesus then there would not be a conflict between the muslims and the Christians at all....

    They would be on the same page...and so this new law introduced a dimension that 'anyone who followed the teachings of Jesus had gone astray" and so with this kind of reasoning paul assembled his own doctrine of redemption and atonement, a theory which JESUS had NEVER taught !....

    This doctrine was successful as it taught that man could do whatever he wanted and not face the inevitable consequences of his actions as long as at the end of the day he merely proclaimed.." I believe in Christ"...but this basic premise is flawed since they sound fallacious...it completely changed what JESUS had taught !

    Jesus was actually transformed from a person to a "conception"...divinity was then attributed...and Jesus' true nature was obscured !!

    Now muslims need to understand also how all this has come about....there is colourful history on both sides...

    Nobody can re write or change this.....

    Allah says ..."each man to his own religion"....so is there a need to remain in conflict? has God given anyone this responsibility to police the other ? No !

    Allah is thus the best Judge ! for the most part people have inherited what they practice today....so there is ignorance....and Allah is oft forgiving and merciful !...zinakhan

  4. Paul produced a religion which encompassed different contradictory elements and this admixture was combined with some of what Jesus had taught and some what paul claimed "Christ" had revealed to him....

    Paul's theology was based on his personal experiences interpreted in the light of contemporary Greek thoughts - Jesus was deified - theory of redemption was paul's own idea - a belief entirely unknown to Jesus and his disciples !

    The birth of Hadrat Adam was a great miracle !

    The birth of Eve was also a great miracle ! and then the birth of JESUS was also a great miracle !

    The Quran says.." The likeness of JESUS is the likeness of Adam...HE created him from dust, then HE said to him...."BE" and he is..." (3:59)

    It is important for muslims to examine Jesus' life in the context of what was happening politically and socially in the society in which he was born...it was a time of great unrest !

    There were invasions, one after the other....there were fires of hatred burning....this created helplessness...

    There were Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes.....

    The Romans did try hard to wipe them off...but they survived....and then with the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the world was taken by storm intellectually and ecclesiastically...have you heard about these "Dead Sea Scrolls"? Do some research !

  5. Now the apostolic christians, as followers of JESUS and Barnabas did produce scholars and saints and whose piety and learning was respected...apostolic or as is generally known "antiochene" exegeisis of the scriptures was historical and unlike what is now the orthodox approach and they accepted the plain words and teachings of Jesus and they insisted on the One-ness of God - they abhorred any dogma which did not support this concept of One-ness...they emphasized the historical Jesus and they did not use the term 'son" - they endeavoured to live as Jesus had lived and to behave as he had behaved...some of the important people f this type were Iranaeus; Origen; Tertullian; Diodorus; lucian and ARIUS !!!

    For example the life of Arius is so much inter twined with the life of emperor constantine that it is not possible to understand one without knowing the other...at some point in time the issues between pauline and apostolic churches flared up - the leader of apostolic churches continued to affirm the belief in One Reality ! The leader was Arius, a Libyan by birth and he followed the teachings of Jesus implicitly and refused to accept the innovations of Paul..."Follow Jesus as he preached" ! This was his motto ! His importance can be gauged by the fact that his name has become a synonym for unitarianism even TODAY !!!! and so do the muslims who make wholesale condemnations know this ? I doubt !

    The pauline church has received a violent jolt from Arius who was a sincere presbyster.

    When the oral teachings of Jesus were becoming weaker or diminishing he kept the teachings alive and renewed them with his vigour and wisdom...

    He reamined aloof with the "organized" church..Arius was the disciple of the the greatest critic of Pauline church at that time, the venerated martyr Lucian of Antioch who was known for his great learning and who like his predeccessors was killed for holding views not approved of by the pauline church....