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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ramadan's Pluralism Message

Ramadan’s Pluralism Message | Intrafaith and Interfaith goal

By the end of 2020, there will not be a major city in America, and perhaps in the world, where you will not find people of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races, nationalities and social backgrounds working, eating, praying, playing, marrying, and doing things together.  This is bound to create conflicts, and thus we need to prepare ourselves to deal with such eventualities.

The guidance can be found in every religious tradition; all of them were committed to creating cohesive societies where no one had to live in apprehension or fear of the other.  

I am pleased to reiterate the Islamic tradition in this essay.  

Quran 49:13 says that God has created us into different tribes, communities and nations. It was indeed his choice to create each one of us to be unique with our own thumbprint, eye print, DNA, color and taste buds. Yet, the whole creation was put together in perfect balance and harmony (55:7); Planets and plants were programmed to operate with precision (Q55:5) year after year, and humans were given a free will with the responsibility to maintain that balance for their own good or perish like the earlier species through climate changes or conflicts.

That brings us to Pluralism which is defined as, “respecting the otherness of the others and accepting the (God-given) uniqueness of each one of us.”  You are who you are, and I am who I am. Q
109:6 (Y. Ali), “To you be your Way, and to me mine.”  Your faith is dear to you as mine is to me,  together, we have to live and work on maintaining that harmony for our good and for the creator’s joy. God’s religion is peace.

God knew such diversity is bound to create conflict and mess up the delicate balance, so he encourages us in the same verse 49:13, that the best among you are the ones who know each other. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and with that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Pluralism is not a regulatory system like Secularism, or theocratic governance, but  your choice to have good manners, and  a good attitude towards fellow being as guided by Quran, the Prophet and common sense.

My focus of this essay is application of God’s recommendation “to know each other” within the fold of Islam and with members of diverse family of faiths.

Within the fold of Islam

A majority of us are saddened with the day to day events in the Muslim world, calling each other infidels and killing the other in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and elsewhere.  Quran says killing one person is like killing the whole humanity.  You are not to kill a single soul unless it is in self defense. We talk about unity, and spew so much hate for the other in the same breath; it needs to go as God wants peace.

I am appealing to those Muslims who have the integrity to match their words with their actions, and pray for the integrity of others who lack it.

During this Ramadan, please make an effort to do your Iftaar (breaking fast) in every mosque, particularly in the Shia, Sunni, Ahmadiyya and WD Muhammad or at least seek God’s guidance to remove hate and bias from our hearts for each other.  Invite each other, not to discuss differences but to know each other to learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept each other, so that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

 Take some fruits and dates if you have a few dollars or just go there and let the Imam or the volunteers know that you are from a different tradition and making a sincere effort to be part of the larger community in every which way you can. 

Over the last four years, I have been to every mosque of every denomination in the United States, except the Nation of Islam, and the Progressive Muslims. Insha Allah, I intend to make the trip to Washington DC or New York.  I have chronicled the uniqueness of each tradition with full respect at RamadanDaily.com.

When you visit your friend’s house, you don’t criticize how they have arranged their furniture; in fact you may reluctantly praise it, but never put it down.  You don’t dare criticize how their kids keep their rooms, eat, wear or talk.  For God’s sake go to other Mosques with the same attitude, the attitude of pluralism. 

This year, we have 4 Fridays in Ramadan; make an effort to attend at least four major denominations on each Friday.
Dealing with fellow members of diverse family of faiths;
Prophet Muhammad was called Amin, the trustworthy, truthful, just and around whom people felt secure. We need to be Amins of the society.  We need to have comfortable working relationships with everyone from Atheists to Baha’i, Buddhist, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Native Americans, Pagans, Sikh, Wiccan, Zoroastrians and every one in between including fellow Muslims of different denominations. We should not be dumbfounded when it comes to the right knowledge about others, preferably as they express it and not what is dished out to us about them. We ought to take pride in knowing all of God’s creation expressed in different faiths and traditions.    

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) life is a bold example to live civility, openness and with confidence.  He had offered a space in his Mosque for the visiting Christians of Najran to pray after the interfaith dialogue.  Had they prayed, they would have called on Jesus as son of God and Prophet would not have objected it. The greater value he taught was to respect the otherness of others. Remember he also had his signature revised in Hudaybiyyah treaty – From Muhammad (pbuh) Rasool Allah to Muhammad (pbuh) bin Abdullah.  It was to respect the otherness of others.  Let’s follow him and build friendships with people of faiths or no faiths, and become Amins of the Society.

Together as Muslims, let’s make the world a safe and secure place for every one of God’s 7 billion to live cohesively.  Let’s not blame others, but do our share of good in our own Masjids, neighborhoods, communities and towns on a smaller level.  This is our home.

Please study:

Additional Reading:

Friday, June 27, 2014

American Muslim Agenda, a new beginning for Muslim Americans on this 4th day of July

American Muslim Agenda, a new beginning for Muslim Americans on this 4th day of July - 1 of 3

Let this 4th day of July 2014 be a historic beginning for American Muslims, where they will put together a clear agenda to participate and contribute towards the well being of America.

God created an integrated and interconnected world in harmony and balance, and all he wants from us is to maintain that balance. That is simply the God’s will.
The World Muslim Congress, a twelve year old think tank, has worked on presenting an “initial agenda” for Muslims in America based on Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) guidance. We hope this will spur debates, followed by discussions and emergence of a Muslim agenda within the framework of American Agenda.
Due to the length of the plan, it is presented in 3 installments.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

You're Dangerous!': Sparks Fly Between 'Hannity' Panel on Radical Islam

URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/06/youre-dangerous-sparks-fly-between.html

Published at Oped News: http://www.opednews.com/articles/A-response-to-Sean-Hannity-by-Mike-Ghouse-American-Muslims_Anti-islam_Extremism-Extremists_Foreign-Policy-Failure-Iraq-140624-879.html#comment496854

YOUTUBE:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrilgYRauZY

First let me address the myth about Sean Hannity, and application of the Quranic verse “Don’t let your bias make you unjust towards the other” in this situation. Hannity is a defender of freedom and you would appreciate him, when you grasp the full meaning of freedom in its entirety.

In February 2013, Sean had called in 25 individuals for his show that included Representatives Peter King, Louis Goehmert, Ambassador John Bolton and others including me, Mike Ghouse.

In the middle of taping another segment, Sean asked me to join him on the stage, while 23 others were sitting across on the bleachers.  To paraphrase him (short version), "You are the only Muslim friend I know... and today I will do something for you that you have been asking for in the last three years....  from now on I will not use the word "Muslim terrorists" and instead call it  Terrorists among Muslims, would that make you happy? Hell yes!  I gave him a big salute while others cheered on.

Boston Marathon bombing followed in April, CNN camera goes to Peter King, and this is what he said, "96% of Muslims are good people, and it is the 4% we have to worry... That is a 180 Degrees turnaround! The same man had called in to investigate every Muslim and every Mosque a year ago.  That is reasonable change!  Thank you Sean!

Muslims don’t have to love him, but should not hold any bias against him.  I am glad that topic came up today, though we did not elaborate, we touched up on it and here I am, writing about it.  Just wanted to add, that CAIR team was vehemently opposed to my presence on Hannity and we had some fiery words about it, and finally Ibrahim Hooper had apologized to me.   I have defended the need for CAIR, just as there are Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and others have their own CAIRS defending the Civil rights of the respective groups. I will continue to do that despite their attitudes towards me.  They simply do not understand the power of engagement.

Personally, it is a mission accomplished - we place the blame where it belongs; the individuals and not religion.   We (Muslims) cry out loud to "see the change" and it won't happen unless we engage with people who differ with us.  Mother Teresa had once said, if you want to make peace, go talk with your enemies, indeed Mother, you are right!  Gandhi had said, if you want a change, be a part of it.  Both are my mentors.

Listen to Hannity carefully, he is not against Islam or Muslims, but against the radicals among us, which all of us Muslims (minus radicals) are against but don’t speak up in strong terms on a national or international microphone.

I would venture to say that,   even the stance taken by  Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and others is not against Muslims, though their language is not palatable,  they are activists and are outraged by lack of demonstrations by Muslims against the radicals, even though they have their own agenda. Unless I find information otherwise, I stand with my take.

The radicals among us are frightening not only to Muslims but to everyone else.  I would go on to say that even Jamie Glazov’s bias against Islam is not deep rooted, but stems from reading the wrong
translations of Quran, and shamefully, beefed by the false assertions of radical Muslim scholars in the past which do not contribute to peaceful societies.   As Muslims we have to fix the wrongs of Sharia Law and understand the Genesis of Sharia law to rebuild cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other. 

I would rather have many Hannity's in the world who keep every one on their toes than have sycophants who let the governments and groups become complacent and make mistakes to the detriment of the very public they serve.

This will be my 90th show with Hannity over a period of four years. Please remember, I am from Texas, and slow in responding to the fast pace of Hannity, but yet, I have always made a few points, and with humility I acknowledge that I was a disaster a few times and Hannity had beat me up,  partly due to technical difficulties in the studios and partly my slowness. I will do well face to face with Hannity than via Satellite, where I don't see any one of them but looking into the camera with no one to see, and when I don't see them, I don't get the cue.

I am getting a lot of hate mail since yesterday, and several of them have attacked me on Twitter and their own sites. "I hate this @MikeGhouse ....... @.... ! He spikes my blood pressure! Makes me clean and oil my Rifle! It is a Norinco SKS." I feel sorry for them for not having the stomach for a different point of view.

Some others have jumped about my support (or lack of denouncement) of ISNA, as if that is the only problem they have, in which case it is not bad. Their charge is based on accusations of co-conspirators, which is not true, as it has been cleared by the courts. ISNA is a good clean organization. However, I do have a gripe with ISNA's priorities. Twice, I have submitted proposals to give presentations in their annual conference - "How to become a Mayor", "how to be participants and contributors towards the well being of America", that ultimately benefits all of us, and "what does it take for us to change", but it gets run down by their bureaucracy. I understand their priorities are different, but I would place my priority on what Prophet Muhammad taught, the very foundation of Islam; to be the Amins (the Jews, Christians, Pagan and other neighbors called him "Amin" for his truthfulness, kindness, caring and justness)  of the society where he built relations with every one around him, that is how we build cohesive societies that function effectively, indeed that is the purpose of religion, all religions.  Religion should not be barrier to be friends with neighbors.  God emphasizes in the Quran (at least 18 verses) with a tag line - the best among you is the one who cares for my creation, and I know who cared for his neighbors.

I will  however present a national proposal, hopefully in Huffington Post before Ramadan about what we can do, or if Sean wants to do it on his show, I will present the proposal.  I hope they listen, if not, we have to get the grass root movement to pick it up the steam and go on with or without the support of National Muslim organizations. We have to be engaged, and we have to become major contributors towards the safety, security and prosperity of America, we have to do more than our share to be equals.

And now about the sparks

In a live TV show, you don’t get a second chance to say a few words you really wanted to say, and take back a few words you did not want them in.  All of us could have done better, but the idea is to express different points of view, and it is up to the public to choose what they will do with the information.

 Here are a few phrases, rather paraphrases that got everyone going.  “She (Brigitte Gabrielle) is as dangerous as the extremist”, “you (Jamie Glazov) are disgusting” and “You (inference) are an Islamist” and several more….

Tamara Holder said Brigitte Gabrielle is as dangerous as the extremists.  I can fully understand her take, and I have said a very similar thing to Brigitte a few months ago, “Your ‘statements’ are dangerous and are a come-on to those terrorist” while our men and women are serving in the conflict zones we should not be goading them. It negates the safety efforts of our administration.

It resonates with what I have been writing frequently, “
For every Muslim ass, there is a Christian, Jewish, Hindu or a Buddhist ass, just as those men at ISIS and Al-Qaida will declare Jihad against us Americans; we have some among us who would want to do the same. It is a serious issue, but to hype it up to the Nth degree does not bode well for the safety of fellow Americans.  I stand opposed to any pre-emptive strikes or going to war.

Jamie Glazov does not realize that hate is the mother of violence. He attacked Islam instead of the radicals and that got me going. Tamara called him disgusting and I would reiterate that his statements were disgusting. What do I wish?
I would wish that he can take out his anti-Islam bias, as it creates animosities, unfortunately if he is joined by others, we Americans sound like hateful people, and we are not. Do his statements contribute towards building bridges? Hell no!   

Blaming the religion is dumb

I want to assert a thought that very few on the right have had a chance to learn.  Religions and civil societies evolved to build cohesive societies where all the members of the society can function effectively and without fear of each other. Whether it is Zoroaster, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Nanak or any of the peace makers, their messages was same, most people get that right, and a few don't.

 Justice is the key component of a society.  When an individual commits a crime or violates others' rights, both the civil and religious societies have prescribed punishment for him, with a hope that the punishment will act as a deterrent to others. Furthermore, you don't punish the man's parents, siblings, spouse and kids, nor do you punish the man's clergy, Mayor of the town, the people of the town, his nation, his religion or people who follow his religion.

Some men do not understand a thing about religion, they may have studied the same wrong thing over and over again,  and that does not make them an expert, if their language generates fear and hate for the other.  

The reason you blame and punish the individual is to restore trust, harmony and justice.  You don't blame the religion, and don't buy the alibis of the criminals. The guy may say Allahu Akbar and kill someone, but that does not mean you have to buy that as an act of religion.  Glazov hangs on to the statements made by some radical Muslims scholars from the past ignoring what Quran says.

Blaming Islam does no good.  You cannot beat, kill, hang, slaughter, shoot or bury religion - it amounts to barking at the wrong tree, it does not produce any result. But punishing the bad guys restores justice and trust in the society, after all religion in an intangible thing and cannot do a thing but provide guidance.  

Can you call Pamela Geller a murderer, and Bill Blasio a rapist?  Because New Yorkers murdered over 1500 people, and raped over 3000 women last year? It would be dumb isn't it? Blaming Islam or Muslims for the acts of the few is equally dumb.

Caliphate is another conspiracy theory.  First of all, no two Muslims agree on anything. No doubt Islam is one, but its understanding is as different as Christ in different denominations.  There never will be a Caliphate, it is an useless dream of few on the Muslims side and conspiracy of a few on part of non-Muslims.  The Saudi version of Islam, the brotherhood, Taliban and other versions have zero tolerance for each other and the average Muslim who minds his own life taking care of his family and living his own life.  The division within Sunni is steep, let alone the animosity between Sunnis and Shias. The Caliphate is the imaginary product of conspirators.

What we all need to do is talk with each other, lay things out as bluntly as we can and then examine how we can build cohesive societies, where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other.  We need to highlight the dimension of pluralism, and we want the world to respect us for our justice, honesty and fairness.

God bless America!


Fox's Tamara Holder Blasts Brigitte Gabriel For Spewing Anti-Muslim Hatred

How Fox News Has A Conversation About Islam
# # # 
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 a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong 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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hannity Show - Muslims on March, Jihad against Christians and the west

Show: “Muslims on March, Jihad against Christians and the west.”
Air time: Friday 10 PM EST

For every Muslim ass, there is a Christian ass, just as those creeps at ISIS and Al-Qaida will declare Jihad against us, the west, we have some among us who would want to do the same. It is a serious issue, but to hype it up to the Nth degree does not bode well.  I stand opposed to any pre-emptive strikes or going to war.

We don’t have to show off that we are powerful, we are powerful. It is wrong to egg them on, and have them dig in their heels, kill many of them, destroy them, is that the way to seek pleasure?  And in the process, get a few of our own soldiers killed, screw up the economy, pile up the deficit, spur foreclosures, business shut downs, divorces and bad morale.

That is downright stupid; I would spend that time and energy in finding solutions and a dialogue.  No war!  

How can we rely on our intelligence? 

Thank you
Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916 text/talk
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 a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong 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.