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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy 2018 - a message of optimism

We wish you, your family and friends the very best of 2018. Each New Year is a milestone in one’s life. Indeed, it is as much a day of reckoning as it is of celebrations. Reckoning involves reflecting on the reasons you did not get what you had wanted in 2017, and celebrating for what you got by cheering for the effort you made to be where you are today.

Let’s go forward, if I were to ask you on 12/31/2018, that is a year from now, how was your 2o18? You may respond in one of the following ways;
1. Nothing Changed, same o same.
2. Things have gotten worse
3. Celebrating the achievements
4. Lost or gained weight
5. Relationship entanglements and distanglements
6. Financial soundness or mess
7. Spent good time with family and friends
Let’s focus on two extremes; things that got worse and celebrating the achievements. The question is did you want it to be good or worse? Did you get what you want? Did you work for getting what you got? Did you at least plan?
Nothing happens by itself; things happen because someone causes them or drives them to happen. Did you let others drive your life or did you drive it yourselves? You cannot go on vacation unless your dream about it, think about it and plan on it. You cannot buy anything unless your start it with a want. Unlike the planets, stars and many other things in the universe which are programmed to function precisely, humans were given a free will to chart their own course. God does not do anything; He simply cannot do good things for you and not for others, God is not like that, God is an idea about justness, evenness and balance.
He has laid everything out for you to pursue your own happiness and peace; it is up to you to get it.
Here is a simple way of getting what you want! The first thing is to know what you want; you should know where you are driving to when you turn the ignition on.
Buy a dozen 5x3 Cards or fold three regular blank white papers and cut them out into 12 pieces. Write the following down on top of each piece and place them in your pocket or purse. As you start driving, making coffee, watching TV or whatever you are doing, take one piece at a time and start thinking about that item, until you have clarity of what you want keep thinking. Pull the car over or go to a coffee shop and sit down and write your thoughts in bullets. Did you know you can day dream while taking a shower? You can think better sitting on the crown? Here are your 12 or more cards to jot down the points as to what you want out of each item of life.

1. Family
2. Friends
3. Profession
4. Income
5. Health
6. Vacation
7. Volunteerism
8. Spirituality
9. Retirement
10. Self-improvement
11. A new image
12. …..
An on and on.....       Wake up to the day's most important news.
At the end of the day or two, take a picture of each card/paper and save it on your cell phone. One evening sit down for a few hours and put it all together. This would be your guideline to go by, and this would be your plan for 2018. The more you stare at it, the more it becomes a part of you.

If you were to receive my note on 12/31/18, and without any doubt you will. If you’ve received this note, you will get that one too unless you block me. You can proudly say that your life was as planned on 12/31/2017. Why do I do this? It is simply because my mission in life is to build cohesive work places, communities and nations and open people’s hearts minds and souls to fellow beings. Everyone has a purpose in life, find yours now. Mine is to make life meaningful to as many people as I can.
I am pleased to share what I do.
Center for Pluralism is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 (as Foundation for Pluralism). It is based on a simple principle; the more we know about each other, fewer the misunderstandings would be.
CFP is committed to vigorously promoting and advancing pluralism in the realm of religion, politics, social and cultural aspects of life. We have published over 3500 articles on promoting harmony and reconciliation, appeared on 300 national TV shows, addressed in 700 national Radio talk shows and produced hundreds of programs. We need your wisdom, wealth and work to continue this work.
CFP will continue to focus its energies on ensuring a safe and secure America for all, where no one has to worry about his race, faith, ethnicity or other God-given uniqueness and live her life without apprehensions.
Our programs are designed to prevent chaos and maintain coherence and stability with the ongoing changes. We need to prepare the next generation to cope with these changes and minimize potential conflicts with ease. No American needs to worry about losing his or her way of life. As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our Constitution.
The Center for Pluralism has established over 20 annual programs to bring Americans together on religious, social, political and cultural aspects of life. The more we know each other, the less conflicts we would have. Please review our programs and except the Religious workshops and Unity Day all other programs can be run as your sponsorship for $5,000/year, but you can contribute any sum that is in your budget. Please review them in this mini-Brochure at - http://centerforpluralism.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/4.-CPF-Programs-4-Pages.pdf
CFP will be an antidote to Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racism, Homophobia, Hindu phobia, Xenophobia, Misogyny and other phobias. Through research and activism we are establishing a respectful space for Pluralism with the policy makers, interfaith groups, both Republicans and Democrats and of course the media and you!
The Center for Pluralism will become the energy to give a solid cohesive social structure to our nation. By the year 2025, there will not be an office, school, playground, college, restaurant, theater, train, bus or a work place where people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and national origins do not work, interact, play, live and marry together. This is bound to create conflicts in airports, public spaces, board rooms, and in bedrooms as well as places of worship, work places, politics, eateries, and schools.
We have a responsibility to shape the future of our society so our kids, grandkids and us can retire in peace and live without apprehensions.
Should Muslims Celebrate New Year? It is about building an integrated Americahttps://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fatwa-should-muslims-celebrate-new-year_us_5a465e47e4b06cd2bd03df69
Let’s stay focused on peace and prosperity and not conflicts and confusion. In 2018, you will see me a lot more of me on National TV and Radio shows, and lot more activism and research. Of course I will jump with both my feet in political campaigns to work to ensure checks and balances in our system. The House and Senate must be given a simple majority to two different parties and not the same, most of the evil decisions were made by our government when all the three; President, Senate and House were from the same party. We have to break this to make sure America remains the America we all want and dream. An America that is good for every one with no exceptions.

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A short Bio

Mike Ghouse is committed to his life mission of building cohesive work places, communities and nations. He works for an America where every one of the 322 million Americans should feel secure without apprehension or fear of the other.

He is one of the 5 people in the world who is actively pursuing research, activism and teaching Pluralism.  Just Google and find a tremendous amount of work on pluralism in religion, politics, society and culture.  Mike defines Pluralism as an attitude of “respecting the otherness of other” and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.

He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, politics, Islam, human rights and foreign policy including India and Israel-Palestine. He is a news maker, interfaith wedding officiant and a community consultant and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Happy New Year ya’ll. God bless you and God bless America.

Mike Ghouse, President Center for Pluralism Washington

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Fatwa: Should Muslims celebrate New Year?

Fatwa: Should Muslims celebrate New Year? 
It is about building an integrated America. 
A majority of Muslims celebrate New Year’s Eve like a majority of people in every group. However the orthodoxies in most faiths shun the celebrations. They falsely equate it with alcohol and lewdness and simply cannot think beyond their programmed binary mindset of Haram and Halal.

On the other hand, I urge fellow humans not to judge a people by the acts of a few. If you know 100 people closely, 97 of them would be good people and if you knew only those three, then you tend to be prejudiced, not a good thing for you or anyone.
I urge fellow Muslims to think and act, and hold on to the temptations to react. Muslims can become relevant again by going back to the basics and start thinking and questioning every dished out belief. Doesn’t Quran point out repeatedly to read, to think and to see the signs?
In the next two days many a fatwas will be hitting the market, and a “few” – yes absolutely only a few will take pride in amplifying and multiplying them on the net, as though it is an act of purifying Muslims. By the way sticklers to the traditions are a part of every faith group. No one can cast the first stone.
This essay addresses the issue that has kept Muslims in silos, ghettos, clusters or in a tiny pond. The fatwas are indeed a problem but free speech must be valued over everything, free speech is a God-given right from the day Adam was given a choice. Let people believe in whatever they want, but let them not compel others to fall in line with them. You live your life and let others live theirs. Islam strictly prohibits compulsion of any kind against one’s will.
God’s words are universal and are applicable to all aspects of life. We should not pull tricks and discretion on God’s words, then his words would not be universal and truthful.
The word Fatwa is nothing more than an “opinion” in English Language, and here is my opinion about New Year. Muslims should get out and celebrate it with fellow humans.
My knowledge is based on the instructions from Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), who said that it is the responsibility of every individual to read and understand the book, Quran is the only reliable book he has left as guidance. All other books were invented later, we should no doubt seek wisdom but never put them on par with Quran.
Bad Fatwas are the reason for Muslims to remain on side lines. Many of the Fatwas are a cause of ghettoization of Muslims. Do you recall the fatwa of the mufti of Ottoman Empire declaring it Haram to print Quran after the printing press was invented in 1450? That prevented ordinary Muslims from having direct knowledge of the Quran for 400 years, wasn’t it against Prophet’s instructions? There are many such stupid Fatwas that have been obliterated over the years, and a lot more need to go. Reason should take over. If it is not common sense, then it is not Islam. If it does not add to building cohesive orderly societies, then it is not Islam.
Muslims should celebrate New Year’s Eve. Allah has created all things for the humans to enjoy, he has laid everything for the man between heaven and earth (Quran 55:10 “And the earth has He spread out for all living beings”) and man should be thankful and celebrate the gift of life and gift of sustenance on every possible occasion including New Year. New Year is a mile stone and should be a day of accountability of one’s action in the past year and correct the course for the next year, we should be grateful for this opportunity. Quran 55:13, ”Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?”

(Please read verses 1 through 16 of chapter 55, Sura Rahman to appreciate the creator and celebrate life.)
God calls himself “Rabbul Aalameen” (creator of universe) and calls the Prophet the Rahmatul Aalameen (source of mercy for universe). Should Muslims restrict themselves or should they be servers of the universe, of all people? Isn’t the role of Muslims to contribute towards peaceful societies and be a part of the society and not apart from it? Shouldn’t Muslims be a mercy to mankind? You cannot do anything if you are not a part of the society.
 The reason Muslims have conflicts with fellow Americans is because they don’t mingle, and most of the relationships are shallow. How would anyone know them? How would people get rid of the myths about Muslims if they don’t get to know them closely in different aspects of life? Of course, every faith or political group has something or the other that holds them from being one with others and they all need to work on knowing each other. Indeed that is the case with most immigrants, one of my Hindu friends says she stopped dating a white guy because there was not much to talk with him.

Ok, you don’t want to go to someone’s house for dinner or go to a party because they drink alcohol or eat pork. That should not be a barrier unless your will power is weak or you are incapable of holding yourselves. (Hindus, Jews, Jains, Buddhists, Bahais. Sikhs and all others have one problem or the other like Muslims, we all need to raise above this to build one integrated nation)
Every human will be an angel if there was no opportunity to do wrong, an average human will resist all the temptations that go against his or her will. There is an unverified story that Buddha would sit nude among naked dancing girls and chose not to be tempted or have an erection, such was his will power. If you have a strong faith you can be anywhere and be with anyone and not get blown away with seductions. It is time to test your own faith.
Let me share an example from a few years ago, our group from Memnosyne Foundation went to Mexico to inaugurate the medicine garden that my philanthropist friend Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk had donated to the Mayan Indians to continue to traditions of shamanic healing. We stayed in an all paid resort near Chichen Itza with unlimited drinks and food at our disposal and every one in our group had a ball. Three of us did not drink Alcohol - Mary Ann, Tanaka (a Shinto Priest) and I. I did not make a big deal about it, nor did I stick religion into it. We just did not drink and had a good time knowing our friends. Of course they knew I was a Muslim and respected me for following my path without anything less about others. When we go to the dinner parties, others eat pork and I don’t, it is my choice. I am a part of the society and not apart from it.
Aren’t Muslims supposed to be peacemakers, harmony establishers, goodwill nurturers and contributors to cohesive societies? How do you do that if you don’t mix with people? How do they know that you are a good human being and not what Fox News had portrayed you to be? It behooves for Muslims to celebrate New Year along with friends. It is the right thing to do and that is how we create secure societies. The more we know about each other, the greater the trust would be.
As believers in universal God and universal prophet, shouldn’t their humanity be universal as well? Isn’t what God clearly says in Quran? Whether you are a Jew, Christian, Muslim or whatever, if you are good to fellow beings (His creation) your reward is with Him. Look it up in Quran, this verse is repeated nearly a dozen times in different formats. If the early Muslims had lived aloof, no one beyond Arabia would have known them. This trend to live in silos began in 1969 and we need to reverse it. Caring for his creation is the highest form of worship and you can care only by being with them.
Let Muslims be a part of the whole, let them be with other people, this is an opportunity to build relationships, and opportunity to let fellow Americans know that Muslims are good human beings. The more we integrate the more we become one with fellow humans, bringing a sense of security to each one of the 322 Million of us; the Americans.
Let the New Year be celebratory. Gather up your neighbors who are not going to parties, bring your own food and drinks and get to know each other as fellow Americans who have a common destiny; safety, security, job, home, children, volunteerism, grand children and retirement in peace.
Muslims must celebrate the New Year in a variety of ways within their comfort zone.
How do you plan your next year? Look for the article on Huffington Post.  
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Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America where every American feels secure. 
Mike Mohamed Ghouse is committed to his life mission of building cohesive work places, communities and nations. He works for an America where everyone of the 322 million Americans feels secure without apprehension or fear of the other.

He leads the Center for Pluralism in research and activism and brings Americans Together on the plane of religious, political, social and cultural pluralism. Pluralism is simply an attitude of respecting the otherness of other and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.

He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, politics, Islam, human rights and foreign policy. He is a news maker, interfaith wedding officiant and a community consultant and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Dr. Ghouse has appeared in over 300 national TV and 700 Radio shows including 125 on Fox News. He has published over 3500 articles on the topics he speaks.

His Google profile has been visited by over 35 million individuals with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yahoo groups and personal lists.

He is the founder and CEO of the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress. The bottom line to his work is security- no one should feel insecure about his or her religion, race, ethnicity, or other God-given uniqueness. Each one of us should look forward to retiring in peace and living without apprehensions or fear of the other.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Jerusalem decision is half baked, Netanyahu and Trump should be held responsible for rise in Anti-Semitism

Now, the rise of this ugly evil of Anti-Semitism can be squarely attributed to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He should be held accountable for the long term insecurities heaped on the people of Israel. Let me share the information in simple terms while my extensive research article is in the making.

Anti-Semitism is a wrong label in most cases, it is actually resentment born out of violation of international treaties by Israeli government. Please separate Judaism, Jews, Israel and the Israeli Government, the world has no problem whatsoever with the first three but resent the 4th one.

Full story at Huffington Post

Now this video:

Mike Ghouse is committed to working towards building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on the Political, religious, cultural and societal and human rights issues of the day. He is the President of Center for Pluralism and can be reached at www.CenterforPluralism.com  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pray for Trump, Salute Kaepernick, God bless the American Flag

Kaepernick is my hero, I pray for Trump and may God save the American Flag and for what it stands for; Freedom.
Every time I see the flag, I say a short prayer, “May justice, liberty, freedom and pursuit of happiness be the corner stones of our flag. One thing that distinguishes us from all other nations is our emphasis on those four values enshrined in our psyche. Justice is what keeps this society, the American society successful, we are safe and secure in our day to day lives, and our worries are removed knowing that there will be justice.
No one has a right to question your love for your mother, it is personal. Likewise no one has a right to question your belief or non-belief in God, it is personal. The Flag is no different.
Flag is not our God, but under that flag we can differ and disagree, but still it is our flag.
Flag is a symbol of our freedom, it can be burned, revered, messed up – that is between the individual and the Flag. If one does not stand up for the flag, that is his or her choice. That is his birth-right, we are born to be free, it is in our DNA.
Each one of has the responsibility to defend our liberty and we thank all the people who have defended that liberty from the inception of our nation and continue to do so.
I admire the football players, they have been galvanized by criticism from the president. They ‘Protest Trump And Racism In Games Across The Country. Samantha Tomaszewski, Daniel Marans write in Huffington post,
“NFL players throughout the country demonstrated before their games in defiance of President Trump’s harsh criticism of athletes who kneel during the national anthem. Former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spearheaded the movement last season as a way to call out racism. In a Friday speech in Alabama, Trump called such players “sons of bitches,” and then doubled down on his criticism in a series of follow-up posts on Twitter.
The first such protest occurred Sunday morning in London, and even included the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan. He linked arms with his players — several of whom were kneeling during the anthem — despite having donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
Trump’s comments sparked a large social media response from a variety of professional athletes and celebrities, including singer Stevie Wonder, who took a knee during a performance Saturday night. The vast majority of NFL team owners, as well as the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell, also spoke out.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for,” 49ers CEO Jed York said.
Bruce Maxwell, a catcher for the Oakland Athletics, became the first major league baseball player to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night. “
Rick Ward at Facebook shares this information ( I have not verified this info), “We didn’t even have an official national anthem until 1931, so if everybody would stop treating it as if it was the song Mary sang while rocking baby Jesus to sleep, that would be great.
The founding fathers didn’t care, and we functioned for 155 years as a nation without an official ditty.
Veterans didn’t die for the song. Aside from the ridiculousness of that assertion, the vast majority of this countries war casualties were killed long before we had an official national anthem. “
Erica Altes Cole writes at facebook, “Governments should not mandate patriotism.”
Cindy Noble Cole also writes, “The flag is secondary, not the freedom. Without the freedom the flag does not matter.”
Trump called White Supremacists ‘Very Fine People’ but an Athlete who protests is a SOB.
Trump Ranted about kneeling NFL Players, on the other hand, Obama praised their right to protest.
MLK’s Daughter: People didn’t like how ‘My Father protested injustice either.’
Colin Kaepernick is my hero, he stood up against compulsion to obey, instead he chose to be free and paid a dear price for it, lost the great paying job of a quarter back for 49’ers. That is what freedom is all about. Personally, I have lost many opportunities in life for speaking out for freedom of speech. I would rather be free, there is freedom in it.
I pray for Mr. Trump. (Eric FolkerthBill Tgs Matthews Zia Sheikh Aslam Abdullah Safi Kaskas) May God give him Sanity to work on creating a kingdom of heaven on the earth where people are not pitted against each other, nor they are afraid of each other. That is the America I have known and that is the America we all want. This is the America I love and defend.
Aslam Abdullah – please add this addition if you could.
If you go back to the history of our nation, a lot of bad things could have happened to the country had the generations before us not protested, and a lot of bad traditions would have continued.
Had it not been for the protests the Republic women would have stayed home and cooked for their husbands and produced children, they would have been the property of their men. Thanks to the women who got beaten for protesting but they got the women the right to own property and right to vote and right to live their lives as they want. Now, the women are enjoying those freedoms because of the protests.
Same goes with the race, Rev. Martin Luther King was called names for protesting against injustice and slavery, had it not been for his protests, American would have continued to live in the guilty of treating a fellow being less than what he or she is.
Had it not been for the protests we would have killed many more Vietnamese and our own soldiers and would have destroyed their lives morally, socially and economically. Had we joined in Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan, our nation would not have killed a million Iraqis, 5000+ American soldiers, closure of businesses and budget deficit of $11 Billion that former President Bush piled up.
It was these protest that cleaned our cities from fog and other ailments that haunted us in late 70’s and early 80’s. Now, we need to take up on climate change to give a better life for the next generation. We may have to open biology and climate classes in every neighborhood and enroll all those who are blinded by their political brainwashing.
We have a good life because some one cared about the future and we have a responsibility to care for the next generation.
A note about God: Even if you believe you have your own God which is better than others’ God. Let it be known that in the battle of Gods, the powerful one killed every one, and we ended up with the left over God. He is the only one now, unless you manufacture another to fight with him for supremacy. Guess what, the God that all subscribe to will win, and not your or my God.
God bless America
Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, stripes, beard, child and outdoor
Image may contain: 5 people, outdoor

Friday, June 30, 2017

July 4th event by Muslims for America and Center for Pluralism

As we become one with the nation, most of the attitudes towards Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks and others will dissipate.  What does it take to be one nation? We have to be a part of it.

CFP is the only organization that has produced unbelievable number of articles on July 4th and integration.  We need your help, please donate generously to make this program possible 


Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916
President, Center for Pluralism, Washington, D.C.,
email: Mike@Centerforpluralism.com
Web: http://www.Centerforpluraism.com

July 4th event by Muslims for America and Center for Pluralism

Washington, D.C., Jun 30, 2017 - The Center for Pluralism and its Board of Directors have every reason to be jubilant.  Each successive year, they see the vision of the Founding Fathers coming to life, where every American is treated with dignity and respect. 

Mike Ghouse, President of the Center said, “We are not a perfect union yet, but a perfect union we will be, as we can continue our efforts to be an inclusive society. The Fourth of July should not simply come and go; we must make it a remarkable day. It should be a great happening to augment National Integration, where Americans of all faiths, or no faith, races, ethnicities, nationalities, political, sexual and other orientations come together to celebrate the oneness of our nation."

This year the Muslim contributions to America are highlighted.  Each one of the Board Members is excited. Dr. Karen Hollie-Thibodeuax, Fatima Argun, Sam Madden, Dana Lankford-Russell and the supporting team members OS Modgil and Ali Azhar Fateh have provided extensive support.  The encouragement and long term support for Pluralism came from Ambassador Sada Cumber, Mr. Farooq Wazir Ali and Professor Emeritus Dr. Harbans Lal who are genuinely committed to a cohesive America.

Muslims have been contributors towards the wellbeing of the United States of America from the very beginning from the declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776.  Not only did they acknowledge the new state, but the treaty signed with Morocco and the United States is one of the oldest operating documents.

 Per Wikipedia,   Morocco’s Sultan Muhammad III was the first world leader to recognize the sovereignty of the United States followed by Nederland’s Johannes de Graaf and Tipu Sultan of Mysore (India). 

According the Dr. Range Gowda, an authority on Tipu Sultan, “That Tipu Sultan had fire crackers going up in Sriranga Patna, his Capital cheering America’s independence. He faced the same enemy that the United States had faced: Lord Cornwallis.”


What: July 4th Celebrations 
Time: 2-4 PM ( right after the end of July 4th Parade at the National Mall)
Where: Farragut Square, Washington, D.C. (right across from the Farragut West Metro) 912 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006


American Muslims uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution. Their faith reinforces the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

“The more integrated we are, the safer it is for every one of the 322 million Americans to feel and live safely.” Mike Ghouse concluded.

Don't forget to bring your flags and chairs.  

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Muslim response to the nasty Perfect Man Bill Boards

The despicable “Perfect Man” bill boards are appearing everywhere now, and like all humans, Muslims will respond differently to it. They are not a monolithic group and are as diverse as God’s creation. However, they have a choice to aggravate the conflict further or follow Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad’s formula of conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturence.  After all that is what the higher goal of Islam, Christianity or any faith is – restoring justice, goodwill, harmony and peace on earth.

What did Jesus do when he was persecuted and placed on the cross? He said, “Forgive them Lord, for they know not.”  What did Muhammad (pbuh) do when the miscreants pelted stones on him during his visit to Taif?  He was bleeding and was hurt, but not only forgave, but prayed for them, for they knew not. 
Most Muslims will follow the guidance and pray for the well being of screwed up men and women.  A few will struggle in forgiving them, and a handful of them will hold grudges and animosity towards the men and women who have placed those nasty bill boards?  Those handful of Muslims who are angry are as bad as the handful of Christians who violated the message of love that Jesus preached, unless they are not Christians.  
You cannot go wrong following the Guidance from Jesus and Muhammad.
Jesus asked people to “follow him”  and Muhammad asked people to follow a coherent system called Islam. A majority of people in all faiths believe in the beauty of their faith; however a few in each group don’t get that right and abuse it to their advantage in making enemies out of those who differ.

Prophet Muhammad taught that "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”  This is a guarantee from God and a challenge to Muslims.

If Muslims claim to be followers of the man who was called “mercy to mankind” shouldn’t they think, act and talk like him? Similarly, shouldn’t the followers of Jesus really follow him?

Dr. Zia Sheikh, Imam of the largest Mosque in Texas, and author of Silencing the Critics writes,   "No amount of cherry picked sources quoting weak accounts can taint the facts that Prophet Muhammad was the most influential person in history, affecting positively not only his immediate surroundings, but continents thousands of miles from his ancestral Homeland. History bears witness that he changed society after society in a positive way, so much so that he is loved by people today even more than those people loves their own children."

It is a game to a handful of miscreants to irritate Muslims for no good reason, and I am sure many will be easily angered, forgetting how they should behave.  Muslims are to be a mercy to mankind, and no one should fear a Muslim.  Everyone should feel safe around a Muslim and Muslims are to be a just, kind and a merciful people. If Muslims play their part and act like a Muslim that Prophet Muhammad taught, no one will be messing with them nor will they get irritates, instead they will pray for them.

Freedom of Speech
There is one value that Americans value the most: Freedom of speech.  It is an alien idea in most parts of the world, you have to be an American (born or naturalized) to understand this phenomenon.  This is what defines us – we are fiercely free and freedom fanatics, after all we live in the land of the free and the brave.   We all need to work on integrating our values on freedom, and then all of us will be on the same page.

Muslim Americans have a built-in advantage in becoming the defenders of free speech.  The Quran insists in chapter 2, verse 256, “Let there be no compulsion in faith” and Prophet Muhammad had once said, “You cannot compel anyone to believe anything
against his or her will.”
Finally, as a Muslim, I do not condemn the nasty bill boards, but I forgive them, for they know not and I urge Muslims to pray for them in the steps of Jesus and Muhammad (pbut). Let’s be the blessed peacemakers.
Once we understand freedom, a core American value, respect and live it, some of the conflicts will go away.  You might enjoy this humorous satirical short video about liberty.

Dr. Mike Ghouse has dedicated his life to the mission of building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist, speaker (Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, Politics and foreign policy) Interfaith wedding officiant and a news maker. More about him in 65 links at www.MikeGhouse.net 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Anti-Sharia rallies are bad for America – Mike Ghouse at Supreme Court

The Nation is bracing to manage the chaos coming through the nation wide Anti-Sharia rallies planned by Act for America, an organization committed to pit one American against the other and destroy the fabric of our nation.  American Muslims firmly believe in free speech and are not opposing or participating in it, but are concerned about the safety of Americans. 

These rallies are bad for America, it will generate a lot of animosity towards fellow Americans, and you will see blatant harassment of fellow Americans on the streets, schools, subways and public places. It will cause law and order issues and make it increasingly difficult to manage the nation and cities in America.  No one will be at peace; the ones who intend to frighten and the ones who are apprehensive will not live in peace, it is a mess for all Americans, is this the America we want?
The ideal thing to do is to sit down and have a dialogue and discuss the issues and find solutions. Some Americans are afraid of the word Sharia, and it is the duty of American Muslims to allay those fears.  The Center for Pluralism, an organization for all Americans has taken the responsibility to inform, educate and bring security to each one of the 323 Million Americans through Education. A Symposium on Sharia is in the making, and Republican Congressman Pete Sessions  and Democratic Congressman Andre Carson have initially agreed to support this initiative. We will invite individuals like Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel on one side and Muslim Imams on the other to present papers and let public listen, learn and absorb. We want to do the right thing for America.
Brigitte Gabrielle,  my frequent combatant on the Sean Hannity show at Fox News is organizing nationwide Anti-Sharia rallies on June 10th.  Her organization, ACT for America is divisive and pits one American against the other. Our organization, Center for Pluralism (CFP) on the other hand is inclusive and brings Americans together under one flag for the safety and security of Americans. I urge Ms. Gabriele to consider withdrawing this gratuitous act and join us in a civilized conversation on Sharia in a symposium we are planning. Let’s stay focused on peace and prosperity and not conflicts and confusion. 

What is Sharia? 
First, let’s get the position of American Muslims out of the way. They have fully subscribed to values enshrined in our constitution and strongly believe in the law of the land.  Like all Americans, they have taken a pledge to defend, protect, honor and preserve the laws of the land. We are all on the same page.
Secondly, they and their institutions are not seeking or asking for the type of Sharia that ACT for America is opposing.
Muslims around the world, like many Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and others believe that their religious laws are God’s laws to follow. As a matter of fact Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, correctly points out in his book that since the Constitution of the United States follows God’s laws which are consistent with the Quran, the U.S. is Sharia compliant. Many of the things that we hear of and abhor, such as an adulterer being stoned is not called for in the Quran. These are not God’s laws but a cultural phenomenon.  

Classification of Sharia
Based on the accountability factor, responsibility and authority to enforce the laws, the Muslim Sharia laws can be classified as Personal and public in nature.
Personal Sharia is a covenant between an individual and God, the accountability, performance or lack of performance of such covenants is between God and the individual and not anyone’s business.  Examples: Praying, fasting, Charity, pilgrimage (Hajj), caring for neighbors etc.  
Public Sharia on the other hand is a covenant between two or more individuals where the third party administers its execution.  Examples: Divorce, inheritance, rape, theft, business or personal contracts, Marriage gift (Mahr) etc.  Performance of lack of it becomes a public issue and the third party’s decision is binding on both the parties and is subject to penalties and punishments. 
The issue  
Sharia law like any other law of the land was designed to serve justice to its followers. A century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the emerging community was facing newer problems and thus the religious men at that time decided to create a body of law to address the conflicts. Most of the laws were derived from their understanding of Quran and Prophet’s practices, but some were from cultural practices at the time, and thus are technically not Sharia.  
Many a Muslims consider it as divine law and as such amendments have been non-existent in the context of changing world.  In contrast, the US constitution has allowed amendments throughout its existence to reflect the prevailing norms and commonly acceptable values of the society.
Muslims like any group of people want justice and they believe the American laws serve the needed justice, and hence they chose to abide by the American Laws for resolving conflicts between two individuals. 
However, some of the immigrant Muslims steeped deeply in religion wanted to follow the laws they were familiar with just as Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other wanted to follow their customs.  As an example a Catholic who marries cannot re-marry under God’s law in their tradition unless the marriage itself was never recognized in the eyes of God. This is known as an annulment and the Catholic Church enforces this law of God as they see it. 
Muslims have never asked that their laws be applied in all disputes but personal disputes, applicable to the individuals to give them comfort and a sense of justice.  
Given the political and economic conflicts we had with a few nations including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim majority nations,  we equated their practices like cutting the hands of the thieves, lashing or stoning the adulterers, forcing women to wear face veil and denying equal space for women as the crude form of Sharia. But in reality, none of this is even in the Quran. It is more culture based and has nothing to do with Islam. As an example, Death Penalty is not universal in all the States of the United States. Even though most of Americans laws have origins in Sharia-like laws, we have moved away from them, indeed they are appalling thoughts in America today.
Most American Muslims are clear what they want, but for a few who have made irresponsible statements that has fueled the anti-Sharia drive.  This is a legitimate fear that drives concerned Americans to attack it preemptively.  No American wants to live in tensions or fear of a fellow American.  Sharia will continue to frighten fellow Americans, if we don’t talk with each other and educate ourselves in this area.  The Muslim segment of the Center for Pluralism is committed to do that.
American Muslims are not looking for the public Sharia (as practiced in Saudi, Iran or other Muslim majority nations) to be implemented in America. However, a few men and women saw the opportunity to oppose Sharia that no Muslim group or institution had even requested it to be implemented.  They made a business out of it and nearly $100 Million dollars have been earned by the opposers of the Sharia – a gratuitous act, and waste of public time.
 Sharia will not make it in America even if Muslims were to become a majority in the year 2117, a hundred years from now. An overwhelming majority of American Muslims have no appetite for the kind of Sharia that fellow Americans fear.
For example, Muslim’s don’t want their hands cut-off, don’t want a woman having a baby out of wedlock to be buried in the ground and stoned to death. They do not want lashes for adultery. American Muslims really don’t want that kind of Sharia, and American Muslims realize it is not what God wants.
The Man made Sharia is not divine and it is not about justice, fairness, mercy and kindness, where as God’s Sharia is about justice, fairness, kindness and mercy which is not practiced anywhere.   
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