Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trump camp quietly courts Muslims

Mother Teresa said, if you want to bring peace to the world, go talk with the people whom are your enemies or perceived enemies. I have talked with Ben Carson, and waiting for my turn to talk with Trump with the hope that he can see things differently and work on building a cohesive America.

Mike Ghouse

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Courtesy of Hill 

Donald Trump’s top foreign policy adviser has quietly opened back channels within Muslim and Middle Eastern communities in the U.S. in an attempt to win over a small but increasingly important voting bloc.

Walid Phares, a top national security adviser for Trump, has been courting prominent Muslim Republicans and conservative Middle Eastern activists in the U.S.

Some Muslim Republicans and conservative Middle Eastern activists have also engaged with other top campaign officials about furthering Trump’s outreach to those communities.
In a Friday phone interview with The Hill, Phares said Trump campaign officials had not directed him to engage with the groups. Rather, he described the talks as a natural extension of the relationships he’s built over decades of policy work on Middle Eastern affairs.

Phares said that he initiated contact with several individuals and groups to ask them to organize for Trump or to sell them on Trump’s positions in hopes that they’d at some point support the likely GOP nominee.
But the bulk of the discussions, Phares said, were initiated by curious Muslim Republicans or Middle Eastern conservatives seeking additional information on Trump’s views or hoping to influence his policies – particularly as they pertain to the temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.

“Most of those who reached out said they want to support Mr. Trump, but they’re not clear about some of the statements he’s made,” Phares said.

“These people know what they want – they’re concerned about the well-being of their communities and believe that Trump has the right economic and social agenda,” he continued. “But they’re trying to get a handle on how he’ll deal with the Middle East.”

The behind-the-scenes discussions come as Trump continues to deal with blowback over his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

The presumptive GOP nominee has also said he’s considering convening a commission headed by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) to examine the “problem“ of “radical Islam.”

Trump’s critics have cited those remarks as evidence he’s racist or xenophobic. Trump has since softened his rhetoric on the ban, saying it’s merely a “suggestion.”
Phares described the ban as a statement about how seriously Trump views the terror threat, rather than a statement of policy. He said Trump will further explain and refine his position as he takes government briefings and meets with interested parties.

“Right now the ban is just a few sentences in a foreign policy announcement and a tweet, it’s not like he’s written books or published articles or delivered lectures on this,” Phares said. “He’ll continue to add context and distinction to his position as he gets new information.”
Phares said the campaign is only in the early stages of outreach to Muslims and Middle Easterners, and that a more public outreach effort – along the lines of Trump’s recently announced meetings with Hispanic groups – can be expected later this year.

Phares, who also advised 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney on foreign policy, is an unlikely surrogate to the Muslim community.

The Beirut, Lebanon-born Christian has been demonized by the left over allegations of past ties to Lebanese insurgent groups. And some Muslims have expressed concern about his rhetoric toward Islam.
But he’s plugged into Muslim and Middle Eastern circles and well-regarded by many. Phares has testified before the State, Justice and Defense departments, led non-governmental organization delegations to a host of Middle Eastern countries, and is a terrorism expert for Fox News.
Some of those that Phares reached out to are still trying to wrap their minds around Trump’s candidacy.
One longtime conservative activist who is a Muslim told The Hill that he has been approached by several prominent members of the Muslim American community, all of whom asked for advice on how to respond to overtures from Phares or others within the Trump campaign.
“They approached me and said – ‘what should I do’?,” the source said. “I said - by all means, engage. Meet with the campaign. Speak with the campaign. Address the community's concerns.”

Some of those Phares reached out to have already come on board.

Shireen Qudosi, a California-based Muslim writer, said Phares first reached out to her before the Indiana primary. Qudosi at first declined to endorse Trump, saying that too many of her close friends supported Ted Cruz and that she was unsure if it was “worth the risk” at that point to endorse him.

After speaking with Phares – and after Cruz dropped out – Qudosi declared her support for Trump in a blog post that encapsulates the mixed feelings some in her community have toward the likely GOP nominee.

“His mannerism and language doesn’t always paint a pretty picture – but neither does the idea of a nuclear Iran, Yazidi sex slaves, more terrorist attacks, the Muslim Brotherhood, gross human rights violations, drone wars, etc.,” Qudosi wrote.

As a self-described “reform Muslim,” Qudosi told The Hill she’s attracted to Trump’s eagerness to challenge those Muslims she believes are turning a blind eye to Islam as a political doctrine – or “Islamism” - and radical jihad.

Qudosi said she feels like she has the ear of the Trump campaign through Phares.

Others said they are communicating directly with Trump’s central headquarters in New York.

Saba Ahmed, who founded the Republican Muslim Coalition and shot to fame after debating a Trump surrogate on Fox News Channel while clad in a stars-and-stripes hijab, said she texts and emails with campaign manager Cory Lewandowski and other Trump officials regularly.

Ahmed says she supports Trump despite his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. She said Trump’s proposal is nothing more than election-year rhetoric that has no chance of ever becoming law.
“Something like that could never be enacted so I can ignore it,” Ahmed said. “He’s toned down his rhetoric lately and I’m focused more on the positive messages he has about the economy and balancing the budget and improving U.S. standing in the world.

Ahmed requested a meeting with Trump late last year, but said the campaign indicated that was too politically fraught a proposition in the midst of a heated Republican primary.

Now that the primary is all but over, Ahmed hopes that she and other faith leaders will get an audience with Trump at some point after the Republican National Convention in July. Her goal is to convince Trump to visit a mosque.

The American-Mideast Coalition for Trump is doing most of the heavy lifting right now in engaging Muslim Republicans and Middle Eastern conservatives on Trump’s behalf.

The group, which formed in mid-March after Trump won the Florida primary, is a coalition of Middle Eastern Americans that counts Muslims and Christians as members.

Co-founder Tom Harb said he fully supports Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. Fellow co-founder John Hajjar was less enthusiastic on that point, saying the proposal could have been worded more “artfully” and that he expects Trump will “further refine” his position now that he’s the likely nominee.

Hajjar also said he’d like to see the Trump campaign do more public outreach to Muslim Republicans, saying that there are moderate Muslim groups, like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, that would be open to his message.

The Arizona-based forum, which describes itself as committed to advocating for “the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state,” would seem a natural target for Trump to recruit supporters.

But founder Zuhdi Jasser, who first supported Marco Rubio and later backed Cruz, is emblematic of the challenges Trump still faces in reaching skeptical conservatives of all stripes.

“I’m a lifetime Republican and a conservative and believe that Muslims need a candidate who gives us tough love and recognizes that we need to come to terms with an ideology that is sometimes incompatible with the Constitution,” Jasser said.

“But Trump is irrational and shallow and I can’t support him because of his character. His entire campaign has been scorched-earth and I have an ethical compass that I live by. I won’t support him just because the ends seem to justify the means.”
-- Jonathan Swan contributed reporting to this story.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rockville, MD – Interfaith Meeting on how to deal with violent crimes

As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits. As fellow Americans this is what you can do for the other members of the family of faiths, and become a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives…. in the text below. Mike Ghouse
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May 12, 2016, Rockville, MD – The Faith Leaders response team of Montgomery County’s Faith community working group held their monthly interfaith meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville.

The MCPD Asst. Chief Darryl McSwain and Asst. Chief Luther Reynolds, and MC Fire Chief, Scott Goldstein shared their perspectives in developing safe communities.  Both the departments offer facility orientation programs, that is,  training and preparing the members of worship places to ‘what if’ scenarios in case of a gunman walking in,  a fire breaks out or any other untowardly events.

Response Team Portrait
Montgomery County Faith Leaders – Photo Courtesy: Chuck Lee

Rev. Dr. Carol Flett facilitated the meeting attended by nearly 30 individuals representing many faith communities.

A member from each table shared the general conversation of his or her given table.  From our table, we shared the needs of various communities. Imam Hadji Sall from Silver Springs Mosque talked about the space needs for his Mosque, he and I have agreed to have a discussion and present the possible solutions to the group. There was an acknowledgement needed for bullying that goes on with Hindu kids along with Muslim and Sikh kids, Richa from the Chinmaya Mission shared that information.

Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Executive director of interfaith council of Washington shared about the upcoming Interfaith Bridge Builders Awards on June 2, event as a head of the Interfaith council of Metropolitan Washington, one of the pastors shared that they pray for the both the victims and the offenders in case of crises.  Of course, Scott Goldstein shared what the Fire Department does in case of crises, he made it little humorous about catching the animals.

I found the following powerful quote from the signature line of Rev. Dr. Carol Flett worth sharing, as it resonated with the theme of the verse 49:13 from Quran that I have been elaborating on for over 15 years. It is a Martin Luther King Quote, “”…I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”
AjaibSinghSiddhu-MikeGhouse ImamHodji-MikeGhouse

It was a joy to meet with Dr. Ajaib Singh Siddhu and his wife Hema, who are also friends with Dr. Harbans Lal since their college days. Hema said she and Harbans graduated from the same college same year one got the PhD and the other D. Lit.  Dr. Lal is a father figure to me, and I have always admired him and continue to seek his wisdom from time to time.

Great food, the families brought in so many varieties of vegetarian food that I have enjoyed at the Jain Temples in the past.


I am pleased to propose to the group, that in one of the upcoming meetings, we can facilitate a talk on the First Amendment; we will also hold a workshop on First Amendment at our facility at the United Methodist building soon. There is a continual need to understand the first amendment on a regular basis.  Please let me know the first time slot available to do this.

The discussion on how we are dealing with the recent violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and our County, with members of our congregations. Let’s discuss practical ways we can reduce anxiety and xenophobia in our own communities, and continue to build a socially cohesive and compassionate county.
I am pleased to share my write up.

Dealing with violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and here in the United States

The bottom line of every religion, government and the society is to create cohesive societies that function well, where rule of law is the norm, and where no one has to live in fear, or apprehension of the fellow beings.

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 peace in a society, and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it.  Ultimately, my safety hinges on safety of others around me.
There is wisdom in the saying, “Sin is the problem and not the sinner” when we focus on the sin, there is a chance to redeem the individual from the sin, where as if we attack the sinner, we will kill the chances of redemption. The idea is to single out the cause for the situation and work on finding solutions.

Similarly, we single out the criminal responsible for the crime,  and not  blame his or her spouse, parents, siblings, kids, family members, rabbi, imam, pastor, Pundit or religious leader, mayor of the town, governor of the state, president of the country or the religion.

If a rapist is running around in our neighborhood, everyone gets apprehensive and makes sure the doors are locked, alarm is set and family members are guarded. The moment that creep is caught, everyone sighs and takes a deep breath of relief.

What’s happened here is,  the “trust” is restored in the community; people feel safe and start living their normal life again.  There is nothing like feeling secure.  Indeed, Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) work was to build secure societies and he likened the sense of security to mother’s lap where the child feels secure. No matter what is happening to him/her, the child knows he or she is safe in her mother’s lap, the child knows mother will take care of him/her.  Mother is one’s security and trust is the key.

The Prophet vision of a civilized society was when a single woman loaded with Jewelry and fine clothing could go from the City of Madinah to the City of Damascus and return without being harassed, chased or robbed of her dignity. That was the kind of civility he had envisaged.   A majority of Muslims got that message right and have become the source of such civility; however a few did not get it and we have to work with them.

Those who did not get their religion right, no matter what religion, region or race they belong to cause death and destruction. The list is endless; Brussels, Paris, Grand Bassam, Ankara, Gaza, Mumbai, Bali, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Iraq and several more across the globe including the latest rampages of ISIS.   Here at home we have San Bernardino along 354 Mass murders in 2015.   Individuals wear suicide vests and hurt others, while nations wrap mega ton bombs to their fighter jets and destroy nations and cities.  All of us should reflect on the ugliness embedded in a few men from each one of our faiths.

There is not a religion out there that preaches discrimination or hatred for others.  Isn’t that the case with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or any faith?  Religion doesn’t teach, but the Guardians make a villain out of God towards others. God is not a villain, he/she/ it is about justness, fairness, equity and kindness to the entire creation.

What can we do to cut down the fear mongering and pitting every one against Muslims?
As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits.

As fellow Americans this is what you can do for members of the family of faiths, and become  a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives;
  1. Individuals or cult leaders are responsible for their crimes and not anyone else.  Let’s not even blame their parents, pastors, mayors, or their religion or their nation.
  2. We bring justice by punishing the criminals and restore trust in the society, no one but the criminal is responsible for his or her acts.
  3. Religion is like the Nuclear power, in the right hands it is beneficial to the mankind, but in the wrong hands, it brings death and destruction.   Neither religion is bad nor the nuclear power; it is the users and abusers who are good or bad.
  4. We absolve religion from any blame, as religion is an intangible entity which you cannot kill, kick, murder, slaughter, hang, shoot or bury. Trust cannot be restored in the society by barking aimlessly in the dark.
  5. War on terror is a dumb idea; it should be war on ignorance through education and knowledge.

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) at

Thursday, May 5, 2016

10 Reasons You Should Not Fear Muslims

A great article, must be read and circulated time and again.
Mike Ghouse
World Muslim Congress
Courtesy : Beliefnet
When I was a toddler, I was terrified of ladybugs. There was just something about how different they looked that made me fear and despise them. To me, they looked harmful. As I grew older, I learned that ladybugs are not only absolutely harmless to humans but also extremely beneficial to us because they feed on landscape pests without harming our plants or other harmless bugs. Knowing this, I no longer am scared of ladybugs and I actually enjoy their presence.
There are millions of Muslims living in the United States and I can guarantee you that every single one has either directly faced some sort of hateful discrimination or knows of a Muslim that has. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every three days. Recent polls show that more than half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam. Sadly, Muslims are today's ladybugs.
As a Muslim American who continually strives to do everything I can for the betterment of my community and this nation, it is saddening to see this hate. Yet just as my fear of ladybugs was caused by my ignorance about them, similar is the case with how Muslims are currently viewed. It's time to change that. Let this be the piece that does away with your unwarranted fear of Muslims.
Here Are Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Be Afraid of Muslims:
1. All terrorists are Muslims EXCEPT the gigantic majority that aren't.
According to the FBI, 94 percent of terrorist attacks carried out inside the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. Keyword: Non-Muslims. Looking overseas, less than 2 percent of terrorist attacks carried out in Europe in the past five years have been by Muslims.
If this miniscule percentage isn't calming enough for you, I can present better. From 9/11 to the end of 2015, less than 0.0002 percent of Americans killed were killed by Muslims. No matter where you look, every single statistic will scream to you that there is absolutely no valid association between the over 1.6 billion peaceful Muslims in the world and the terror committed by those who hijack our religion.
Furthermore, if you insist on using these single-digit and decimal statistics to justify such an association, I strongly suggest that you consider the double-digit statistics regarding non-Muslims and acts of terrorism.
2. Muslims do not plan to take over America with our religion.
One thing more hysterical than my childhood fear of ladybugs is this unfounded fear that Muslims plan to take over this country and impose Sharia law. The fact of the matter is that this is absolutely untrue as the majority of Muslims actually want to adopt American customs and ways of life, according to the Pew Research Center.
But let me humor the Islamophobes: Even if Muslims wanted to take over this nation and turn the White House into a super cool mosque (which totally isn't the case), we would not be able to. Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population. We are a minority of a minority and never in history has 1 percent of a nation's population succeeded in taking over the other 99 percent. To put things into perspective, this would be equivalent to a toddler taking over an entire elementary school during nap time.
3. Speaking of toddlers, if you are scared of Muslims then you should be terrified of toddlers.
More Americans were killed by toddlers than by Muslims in 2013. And in 2014. And in 2015. And every year for the past several years.
Based on these facts, you should be more afraid of toddlers than you are of Muslims, or more realistically, less afraid of Muslims than you are of toddlers. Please remember this the next time you are on an airplane with a Muslim. Speaking of airplanes, you are more than 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane.

4. If you are scared of Muslims, then you should also be afraid of household furniture.
Recent data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that since the 9/11 attacks, which have caused Americans to become terrified of Muslims, Americans have been just as likely to be crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture than they are to be killed by a Muslim. On this same note, in the time it took you to read this far, at least one American has died from a heart attack. In the time it takes you to finish this article, at least one American will have died as a result of suicide. By tonight, at least one American will have died as a result of distracted driving. By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, an American child will have died as a result of gun violence.
Meanwhile, not a single American would have been harmed by a Muslim as all of this is happening. Rather than fearing Muslims who pose no harm, why not work to address the aforementioned preventable deadly leading causes of death plaguing our nation?
5. When we say Islam teaches peace, we really mean it.
There is no bigger award for those who promote peace than the Nobel Peace Prize. That being said, 5 out of the 12 past people who have won this award have been Muslims. So if all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 42 percent of Nobel Peace Prize winners in the past 12 years have been Muslims.
6. Muslims play an essential role in fighting terrorism at home.
Many polls and studies conducted in the last few years show that Muslims have played a crucial role in helping law enforcement find terror suspects in the United States. In fact, a recent study by Duke University showed that Muslim Americans helped catch more terrorism suspects and perpetrators than the United States government itself. Furthermore, many Muslims have served and currently serve in the military to help protect this nation from terrorists.
7. Muslims hate ISIS just as much as you do.
Here is a fact that is not well known to many: Muslims are the the largest victims of ISIS's terror as well as the largest victims of all terrorism in general, according to theU.S. State Department. Muslims want to defeat terrorism just as much as any other American, if not more. This is why we have Muslims like Niloofar Rahmani, Kubra Khademi, many Muslim youth, and various Muslim groups and scholars that have done much more to combat ISIS than Islamophobes like Donald Trump ever will.
8. Muslims are doing amazing work in the United States.
We want to help our fellow Americans. We actually enjoy helping. You don't have look far to find evidence of this. Just last year, Muslims raised over $100,000 to rebuild burned black churches, raised nearly $200,000 to help the San Bernardino victims, and donated 30,000 water bottles to help alleviate the current Flint water crisis. Even Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, two Muslims who were killed by a hateful non-Muslim terrorist, were recently awarded the MLK Unsung Hero Award for their significant contributions to social justice, equity or diversity, and having made a positive difference in the lives of others.
9. Muslims are helping break gender stereotypes.

This nation we live in is a seen as a symbol of freedom and opportunity and Muslims lead the nation by example. American Muslims not only hold more college degrees by proportion than the general U.S. population, but also make up the second-highest level of education among major religious groups. To add, American Muslim women hold more college or postgraduate degrees than Muslim men and aremore likely to work in professional fields than women from most other U.S. religious groups.
Nearly all Muslim Americans agree that women should be able to work outside the home and a significant majority believe there is no difference between men and women political leaders. It is easy to see that Islam encourages women to aspire for greatness and use their success to help others, this is why the youngest doctor in the world is a Muslim woman and the first university in the world was founded by one as well. In addition, the same Islam that Americans are afraid of has granted women rights of equality thousands of years ago that women in the United States don't have to this very day. While an Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed in the U.S. allowing women equal rights as men, the Quran granted this right to women long before this nation was ever founded.
10. Muslims have been in the United States for centuries.
The history of American Muslims goes back more than 400 years. Scholars even estimate that a quarter to a third of African slaves brought to this nation were Muslims. Despite the unfortunate circumstance of our first arrival, Muslims played a significant role in the establishment of this nation. And despite all the hatred we continue to receive, we want to play a role in making this nation great and safe.
Twenty-one Muslims were killed by the Taliban in Pakistan this week and I'm still waiting for the world to respond as furiously as they would have if the victims were non-Muslims. As I ululate the names of the 21 Muslim university students killed on Wednesday, I ask myself: Why are Muslims hated because of terrorism when we are the largest victims of it?
There is not a single day that goes by that I don't think of Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha and how they will never be able to continue carrying out the amazing work they were doing because they were hated and killed simply for being Muslim.
I am Deah Barakat. I am Tamir Rice. I am Yusor Abu-Salha. I am Sandra Bland. I am every single American that has died as a result of hate and unjustified fear. On behalf of all Muslim Americans, I urge you to rise above your unfounded fears and trust in the truth that implores you to accept us as equal citizens of this nation. Look past our hijabs and long beards and see the love we have in our hearts. And please, stop seeing us as terrorists when it is terror that we resist. We want to help defeat terrorism and we want to help make this nation great, all you have to do is grab our hand. We have it extended out. 

Omar Alnatour is a Palestinian-American college student. He is one of the biggest voices on the Palestine-Israel conflict on Twitter with his tweets being featured on Huffington Post, CNN, , Buzzfeed, The Independent, Al Jazeera, Vice News, AJ Plus, RT News, and Mondoweiss.

A Pakistani-turned-Texan breaks down 6 misconceptions Americans have about Muslims

I came to generous Texas from Karachi, Pakistan to get my graduate degree in June of 1985 in the sweltering, 105-degree heat. I loved it. I met my beautiful wife, a first generation Mexican-American who came from a Catholic immigrant family, in school. And I loved it more. After leaving university, I got my first corporate job with the largest oil company in the largest oil state in the world. And it just kept getting better.

Now, 31 years, one fairly fulfilling corporate career, one stint as president of the largest homeless shelter in Collin County, and two college-going kids later, I think the best years for me and my country are still ahead of us.
At the entryway to my home stands an artsy statue of Ganesh, the Hindu God of wisdom and removal of obstacles, given to me on one of my visits to India. It’s next to a framed print of Jesus at the Last Supper, given to me by my wife. A few steps further there is a tapestry wall hanging with some Koranic verses in Arabic that was given to me by my mother for good luck.
You will find a splattering of the Eye of Fatima amulets all over my home, to ward off the evil eye. I am superstitious that way, call me old fashioned. In my family room you will see a very thick book on the Holocaust, to remind me of the evils that have existed in the world. Oh yes, I have a wooden cross in my home office, another gift.
I would like to clear up a few juicy misconceptions about me, as a Muslim, because there are many like me, hidden in plain sight, that you may never get to know.
1. So why do you hate the Jews?
For the record, I don’t hate Jews. In fact, I have been very inspired by Moses, the Jewish medieval sage Maimonides, and Albert Einstein. I can recite the 10 commandments, I believe in the eight levels of charitable giving of Maimonides, and I am still trying to comprehend Einstein’s Theory of Relativity well enough to explain it to my kids. Visiting Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, is on my bucket list. I believe Israel has a right to exist peacefully with its neighbors. One of my biggest supporters and mentors in graduate school is Jewish, we used to watch Twin Peaks together with his family. My dentist is Jewish, my accountant is Jewish, my orthodontist (a really good one) is Jewish. I have hired some very smart Jewish employees and worked for a talented Jewish executive. I made my first political contribution to (who else?) Bernie, a Jewish politician. My kids are Bernie-minded, I got coerced, call me a pushover.
2. How do you practice Sharia Law in the US?
This may come as a shock to many, but I don’t have much familiarity with Sharia Law, so I don’t practice it. As a teenager in Karachi, I didn’t know what this was. The laws of the land of the free and the home of the brave are good enough for me, thank you. We may have too many over-reaching government regulations, but that is another discussion for another time. No to beheadings, no to stonings for adulterers, no to chopping off the hands of thieves, no to concubines in a Harem, no to slavery, no to killing for apostasy, no to punishing gays. I am more of a “When I do bad I feel bad, and when I do good I feel good, and that is my religion,” person to quote Abraham Lincoln. And I do keep copies of the Bible, Torah and Geeta in my home alongside the Koran, for reference.
3. When would you kill an infidel as instructed by the Koran?
I have great relationships with “infidels.” I married one. I despise ISIS and what they stand for, beheadings, sex slaves and all. I find the Koranic verse “If you kill one innocent person, it as if you have killed all of humanity” more to my taste. I have not just survived, but thrived among Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Jews and atheists. They are my friends, relatives, colleagues, and bosses, and I love it. Sorry to disappoint, but you will not be seeing any violence from me unless you take away my TV when I am watching Game of Thrones. Then all is fair in love and war.
4. Are you part of a sleeper cell awaiting instructions for Jihad?
Truthfully, I love my sleep and will never do anything to sleep in a cell by myself, if you get my drift. So, no, I am not part of any sleeper cell. This term is quite new to me. I am not waiting for any ET-style communication from a religious body, alien planet, ISIS, or any other banned or not-banned terrorist organization. The only Jihad that interests me is one that is charitable: treating others well, helping the less fortunate members of my family, taking care of my old mother, raising my kids with good values, and yes, another Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl ring. That is the extent of my Jihad. It involves no killing, although I have to admit, when the Giants come to play in Arlington in the September season opener, I may use some mildly offensive language during the game.
5. Would it make you mad if I insult your prophet?
You are free to say bad things about Prophet Mohammed in my presence, my blood pressure would not change an iota. I may feel disappointed, but that would be the extent of it. Cartoons of the prophet would have the same effect, and even may get a chuckle out of me. In fact, I have a couple of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed on my iPhone from the last Mohammed Cartoon event held in Garland in 2015. I thought they were funny and actually very creative. And no, I would not go shooting anyone in my neighborhood for that, but also because I am very non-violent person, and I don’t own a gun. Feel free to burn the Koran in my presence. If it is a cold winter day, I may just enjoy the warmth, and I will throw in a Bible, Geeta and Torah, just for grins.
6. Why are your Muslims values at odds with America?
I love pizza and sushi, and love to smoke brisket and BBQ. I fry two turkeys every Thanksgiving. I go to at least two Dallas Cowboys games every season and dream of a playoff win. I vote. I believe in the right to speak freely. I believe in the constitution written by our forefathers. I speak openly against any kind of discrimination. I make charitable contributions. I respect all religions. I treat women with special respect, especially my wife, just ask her. I wear shorts and T-shirts in the summer and sometimes in the Texas winters. I tip waiters 15 percent. I celebrate all religious holidays. I put up a Christmas Tree every year in my home and expect gifts when I wake up on the December 25. I love to see the apple drop and yell Happy New Year! at midnight. I dislike most politicians. I hate our growing debt. If any of this is un-American, then I am guilty of being un-American.
I do not drink or eat pork. I go to the mosque and read the Koran occasionally. I ask for forgiveness for my sins frequently. I would like to make the obligatory trip to Mecca one day. I ask for divine guidance to keep on the path that avoids harm or grief to others. I believe in the equality of all my fellow human beings regardless of race, color, religion or sexual orientation. I believe a society that believes in justice, kindness, and freedoms, is the best society.
Some may still dislike me for my name and my faith, but many won’t, because I live in a country where people are fair and just.
Zulfi Ahmed is an insurance executive living in Plano. Email:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Passionate debate erupts over the future for women in Islam

Indeed, I agree with Zahra, Muslim understanding of Islam needs reform and not Islam.  Hibaq at the very end could have said, both Human rights and Islam go hand in hand, however the abuse of Sharia Law is what needs to be prevented. Farah's focus on the millennials was perfect. Ayan started with the Pew Survey, which is very questionable and even though I wrote about it, and have talked about it on Fox News - it needs more mileage to counter her arguments.  Here is the link questioning the Pew Survey at World Muslim Congress Hiba's comment was great, but somehow it did not make the impact - that is if you want the change the course of the boat, you have to be in the boat.

It is a good discussion, all of them made good points.

Mike Ghouse
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Sparks flew when Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who lives under a fatwa for her condemnation of Sharia law, came face to face with fellow Somali women’s activist Hibaaq Osman


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "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 same 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.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.