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Friday, February 27, 2015

Austria Passes Reforms to 1912 Islam Law

I am sharing my comments

Monday, February 23, 2015

Milaad Speech by Maulan Irtaza Naqvi and Mike Ghouse

Speech at Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birth celebrations

It was a great honor to speak along with Maulana Irtaza Naqvi at Milaad- Prophet Muhammad’s birth celebrations organized by the Pakistan Club of Dallas at Sherrill Park in Richardson, Texas.  It was also a poetry session (naatia mehfil) in praise of the Prophet shared by our respected poets Syed Younus Ijaz, Syeed Qureshi and several others. I have written three pieces on Maulana Naqvi.
I was buoyed to learn a few key points in his speech that were fairly supportive of the pluralistic approach to religion. He emphasized the idea of “respecting the otherness of others” without having to agree. I narrated the story of Suleh (peace treaty) Hudabiya with precisely the same line.

Continued at:http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/02/milaad-speech-by-maulan-irtaza-naqvi.html

I was buoyed to learn a few key points in his speech that were fairly supportive of the pluralistic approach to religion. He emphasized the idea of “respecting the otherness of others” without having to agree. I narrated the story of Suleh (peace treaty) Hudabiya with precisely the same line. 

We both talked about first thing first, that is to be the Ameen; a model of sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthy, and a person around whom other people felt secure.

His point about Hazrat Bilal was powerful – it had three points; knocking the arrogance out, forging the idea that all men are equal, and respecting the otherness of other.

The Arabs like all other people in the world have the arrogance that they are the chosen people, and that their language is superior to others. So when Prophet asked Hazrat Bilal (a freed slave) to give the first public prayer call (Adhan), it must have hurt the knowledgeable literate nobility that they did not get the chance to have that honor, as the prophet said, in the presence of God we are all equal, no matter what faith or race we belong to.

Secondly, Hazrat Bilal could not pronounce the “sh” as in “she” sound in the Adhan part of “Ash-hadu-an La ilaha ilal la”. A few laughed at the mispronunciation but the prophet stopped them, and said, you may not have understood the call, but God did.

Whether you are a former slave or the king, we have to learn to respect the otherness of others.   

Then we spoke the same thought – I mentioned that Quran is not for Muslims alone, but for the entire humanity. The first sentence of the first chapter and the last chapter both address the entire humanity, and not Muslims. He emphasized that, and thoroughly explained the meaning of prophet’s title – Rahmatul Aalameen- Mercy to mankind and not just Muslims.

He also added, that Quran is a book from God as God has made it inclusive of all faiths, Quran acknowledges Judaism and Christianity and others to denote other faiths. Even though in principle there were differences, God still chose to call the people of the book to instill a sense of cohesiveness with people of different faiths. I had emphasized what I had posted on facebook a day ago. “Quran says it clearly and repeatedly - if you take care of fellow beings you need not worry, and also reasserts, whether you are a Jew, Christian, pagan or other... you need not worry as long as you take care of fellow beings.”

Of course as blunt as I am, his narration of miracles of the Prophet that he purified the water in a well and splitting the moon were not needed, but I have no problem with it as others believe in it endearingly. It is the same with Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Hanuman and others – shaft becoming a snake, walking on the water, Immaculate Conception, carrying a mountain on his hands respectively. There was a time in history, external fantastic miracles were needed, but now, their message is good enough.

I asked the audience, who is the first person to initiate interfaith dialogue in the world? I was completely taken back, no one knew it, and there was someone in the front, who called out my name. I quietly moved on.  I had asked the same question in a conference attended by majority of African American Muslims, nearly a third of them said it aloud “America’s Imam Warith Deen Muhammad.” While that is true for America, but not true for the world.

Prophet Muhammad was the first man on the earth to initiate interfaith dialogue. Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mahavir or Jesus did not have many faiths to deal when they were preaching, where as prophet Muhammad dealt with Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Pagans and others.  I need to speak in Milaad more often; usually they sing Naats/ Nasheeds (in praise of the prophet) or poetry in his honor.

I emphasized on Freedom of speech and gave the example of Adam. It is because of freedom of speech we have been able to pray, preach and propagate Islam, and we have to honor and defend that freedom of speech, we cannot bite the hand that feeds us.  Indeed, we are addressing this issue in our film “Sacred”. The film also exemplifies Prophets Amin Model, Taif-Jesus-Turning the other check Model, and conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance model. Information for sacred is at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

I share the meaning of the stories that are never told in the Mosques – of Hijre-Aswad, Suleh Hudabiya, Najran Christians visit and similarities of our immortal declaration of independence and his last sermon – all of them have the prophet’s formula for humanity; conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance.

I asked people to be merciful to others, if you ask Asiya Bibi, a Christian lady in Pakistan and Pastor NadirKhani in Iran both charged for Blasphemy and Apostasy, if they think Prophet was a mercy to mankind? I don’t think they will, then whose fault is that? Didn’t we push them to say things they really would not have said?  We need to rid of Blasphemy and Apostasy laws, both practices are contrary to the personality of the prophet – i.e., mercy to mankind.

The above points in speech came straight from the following writings:

Thank you


Mike Ghouse, President
America Together Foundation
(214) 325-1916 text/talk


Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film " Sacred" to be released on 9/11 and a documentary "Americans together" for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com - Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dr. Aslam Abdullah with Bill OReilly about condemning terrorism

It is a good interview and Dr. Abdullah said the right things. we need more of this.


Mike Ghouse


Do you need a religion?

Thank you


Mike Ghouse, President
America Together Foundation
(214) 325-1916 text/talk

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film " Sacred" to be released on 9/11 and a documentary "Americans together" for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com - Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

What are holy books for? Quran on conducting a civil dialogue

By Mike Ghouse at: www.WorldMuslimCongress.com  and www.TheGhouseDiary.com

What are the holy books for?

Of course, Quran, Bible, Torah, Vedas, Gita, Tipitaka, Kalapa Sutras, Granth Saheb, Kitab Al Aqdas, Gathas (random order) or other holy books and oral traditions are designed to build peaceful societies, where people can get along and not live in fear of each other. 99+% of people in any group get that right and few don’t. Those who don’t get it right keep finding faults with others.

Religion is really for those who have stinky attitudes towards other’s be it in the form or race, religion, culture, tradition or ethnicity.  By the way if you can function with others cohesively and peacefully, religion is not needed. Religion is merely a vehicle to make you a good human to live and let live.

Indeed, these books and their message was to restore trust in the society, create safety for every member be it invincible or vulnerable, so everyone can go on about their pursuit of their life, liberty and happiness. 

Years ago, I did a radio talk show where we read the entire Bible, Bhagwad Gita, Quran, and Parts of other books in a period of two years, one hour a day for a lay person on the street to understand each religion and remove his or her bias towards others.

Now, on a random basis, I will be writing and speaking about the essence of every religion  and I would invite everyone from every faith to propose an aspect from their tradition (Wicca, Pagans, Native or other) or a chapter from their holy book.

First lesson:

Sura Kafirun - "Un-believers"

The following understanding of Sura Kafirun was written on July 5, 2008, almost five years ago and now, on this day February 09, 2013, it is being dedicated to Pastor Bob Roberts for his bold take on respecting the otherness of others,  URL- The link http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html 

The following Chapter (Sura) from Qur’an addresses the believers (of other faiths) in the most dignified way, putting every one on par without denigrating any. It is an exceptional example of civil conduct for one to follow. No where in this chapter a claim is made that the faith of Muslims is superior to others, or others' faith to be inferior.

Kafirun is an exemplary Surah teaching civil dialogue, throughout the Sura, the other is treated respectfully and as an equal, “I do not worship what you worship, and you do not worship what I worship” – it does not say your worship is inferior to mine. The element of arrogance was not given a room in this chapter. Because you hold a different belief, your belief is not belittled.

This chapter is about consciously nurturing civility in societies. It is not about overlooking the differences and focusing on commonalities, it is simply about accepting the otherness of other. You are who you are and I am who I am and let's figure out how we can co-exist with the least tensions. This is the basis of pluralism - i.e., respecting the otherness of others.

I believe all religions are beautiful and none is graded to be superior or inferior. I am a Muslim by choice, and pleased to be one, I may not believe what others believe, as others may not believe what I believe. I will accept them for who they are, as they would accept me for who I am. I will not disrespect any faith, as it amounts to arrogance, and God simply does not like any one who is arrogant, indeed, arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts.

Arrogance kills the very spirit of Islam – Justice, peace and equality. Islam is about live and let live. Learning to accept and respect others' right to exist and figure out the best way to co-exist. A majority of Muslims get this right, and few don't, indeed that is the case with every religion.

As the saying goes "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", I would add " faith is in the heart of the believer". As a Muslim, your and my role is to to mitigate the conflicts and nurture goodwill among peoples and nations. That brings peace, and that is the other word for Islam.

In another chapter, God essentially says, I have created ya'll from a single couple, and made you into many tribes, communities and nations. Each one of you is different and unique with your own thumb print, DNA, taste bud and behavior bud. He also said, had I willed, I would have punched you all out from a factory template to exact specifications, all males to be precisely same height, weight, color and same with the females. But I chose to make you unique and gave you complete free will to create harmony and cohesiveness within and with what surrounds you. Then he concludes, the best one among is you is the one who learns about each other. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other resulting in harmony and peace (Islam).

What does submitting to God's will mean? Just as we love the food we cook, enjoy the results of the work we do, God loves his creation and likes every one to get along. God's will is that we care for the life and environment and lead a just life that leads to a state of peace and harmony for his creation. That's is the bottom line; that is what Jesus meant when he said " follow me" or Krishna said " "surrender to me".

The following chapter in Qur'aan does not say, that others' belief is inferior, in fact it says, as your belief is dear to you, as my belief is dear to me. So much respect is given to the other faith.

God willing, I have embarked on compiling the translations of Qur'aan as people of other faiths can relate with it, in a language that would be familiar to them. At this time, one of the best Qur'an translations available is by Mohammad Asad and I recommend you to use it as a reference, rather than some of the mistranslations on the market. Even this translation has a few flaws in dealing with women, but the translations is better than most other translations.

I would recommend you to check out a few columns to understand the wrong doing and deliberate mistranslations of the Qur'aan, both by the early European Kings to paint Islam in the bad light for their own gains and by the Muslims after the fall of Ottoman empire to egg on Muslims to support their cause, you also see a piece on origins of Islamophobia.

There was a movie made by Geert Wilders and he continues to dupe the Neocons (Literalist or sticklers in every faith) by quoting 14 verses from Qur'an as hateful, indeed they are, but they are not in Qur'aan. This blog is dedicated to clarify false statements recycled every day about Qur'aan. Finding the truth is your own responsibility -when you remove the ill-will from your heart, it brings freedom, salvation, nirvana, mukti, moksha, nijaat and true liberation.

Now here are the 6 beautiful verses of Quran... Indeed, I am blessed to use this language in dealing with differences.

109:1 SAY: "O you who deny the truth!
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]Qul ya ayyuha alkafiroona
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ (109:1)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 
My understanding: Addressing those individuals who denied the truth spoken by the Prophet.

109:2 "I do not worship that which you worship,
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]
La aAAbudu ma taAAbudoonaلَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
109:2 Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:3 and neither do you worship that which I worship!
[1]وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ (
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:4 "And I will not worship ~hat which you have [ever] worshipped,
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]
Wala ana AAabidun ma AAabadtum
وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ (109:4)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:5 and neither will you [ever] worship that which I worship. [2]Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Unbelievers]Wala antum AAabidoona ma aAAbuduوَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ (109:5)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:6 Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine !"
[3]Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Islam] [Muhammad:faith of] [Unbelievers]
Lakum deenukum waliya deeniلَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ (109:6) Baset Hussari Minshawi 

Islam is about free will and accountability to keep the harmony of creation intact. If someone compels you to believe, pray, eat or wear, then it is not Islam. Quran is clear many many times - no one bears the burden of others. For societal equilibrium we all agree to do certain things and give up certain things as a part of living and culture.

Please note, this good material for teaching pluralism and civil dialogue.

# # #

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim committed to understand, explore and share the idea of Rabbul Aalameen, the creator, nourisher and sustainer of the Universe, taught to us by the Mercy to mankind who was respectful of others, and whom people trusted for his integrity, honesty, civility and truthfulness. He believes if you follow God's guidance and Prophet's examples, you ought to be Mukhlooqul Aalameen - human being for the goodness of mankind.  More about Mike at www.MikeGhouse.net and www.TheGhouseDiary.com.   

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Organize and mobilize for social change

Well Said Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, "“The youth with no means to prosper tend to glorify reactionary movements!” she said."
Mike Ghouse

Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 3:15 pm
In the wake of destruction caused by the Taliban and ISIL, it is even more important that disputed territories such as the state of Jammu and Kashmir obtain stability. History teaches some bitter lessons including the slaughter of six million people in Germany. We need to prevent such atrocities from happening again by drawing attention and recognizing the genuine political and democratic aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
She stressed in her presentation that women can play an important role in building and sustaining peace. She advocated democracy, equal human rights, separation of state and religion, protecting rights of minorities, building bridges and the development of a civil society as opposed to belligerent military establishment and incoherent state policies.
Known as “Heaven on earth” for its beauty, Jammu and Kashmir is surrounded by the Himalayas in the South and the Karakoram Range of the Pamir’s in the North. The state of Jammu and Kashmir depends on India and Pakistan for its economic growth. Kashmiri arts and crafts and tourism industry have greatly suffered by the ongoing conflict that has plagued the lives of every day Kashmiri people since the bloodied partition of 1947. The welfare of the people of the state deserves responsible use of political and military powers by both countries.
The former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is presently divided into three areas that are administered by India, Pakistan and China. It is time to question, what the militarization and militancy have done for the region. People are poorer on both sides with the resources going into senseless killing and fighting. Investing into hospitals, schools and justice system for the welfare of their citizens should be the primary focus of the governments of both countries. There is a need to move beyond the troubled past as Hiroshima and Nagasaki have; green and beautiful, a proof that life is possible after destruction. It takes mothers to see it!
She mentioned concerns of the quality of the education in nationalized academic institutions in Kashmir and suggested privatization to promote healthy competition. She expressed the ideas of creating jobs in traditional tourism and advancement in science and technology. “The youth with no means to prosper tend to glorify reactionary movements!” she said. The other ideas presented by Dr. Nyla Ali Khan included the importance of pluralism, interfaith dialogue and the search for humanism in one’s own religious tradition. She writes, “People must learn to work together across ethnic and ideological divides and insist that everyone be included in democratic decision-making and be given full access to basic social services.”
Conscientious citizens in the United States, India, Pakistan, Kashmir and the rest of the world need to organize and mobilize for social change. There is need to bridge the divide between the civil societies of the world in order to improve lives for the coming generations. She said, “The identity of a state or a nation cannot be built on unquenchable hate and certainly not on cashing in on the pain and grief of other people”. Dr. Khan concluded her talk by a thought provoking statement, “Perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new regional order which would be capable of producing cross-economic, political, and cultural interests among the people of the region”.

President Obama: Our fight against violent extremism

As always, I am aligned with President's thoughts, however, when I seen him blunder, I will point that out.  It is a good speech

We appreciate the following, "
In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home. We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so." and "The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam."

I am surprised at your goofy statement, was it a mistake?  "Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon." What is the connection, if it is generic where is Denver, Wisconsin, New town, and Norway shootings?

Mike Ghouse

# # #
President Obama: Our fight against violent extremism

Commentary OpinionMiddle East Africa Terrorism Al-Qaeda Islamic State

The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.

At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon. 

In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians. In recent months, we've seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen.

Elsewhere, the Pakistan Taliban massacred more than 100 schoolchildren and their teachers. From Somalia, al-Shabaab has launched attacks across East Africa. In Nigeria and neighboring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children.

In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home. We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.

This week, we'll take an important step forward as governments, civil society groups and community leaders from more than 60 nations gather in Washington for a global summit on countering violent extremism. Our focus will be on empowering local communities.

Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam. We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.

We know from experience that the best way to protect people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders. At this week's summit, community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.

More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today's youth something better.

Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.

Finally — with al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week, we'll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It's a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.

That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We've seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community center in Kansas last year.

We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week's summit, we'll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.

Barack Obama is the president of the United States.
Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinionand Facebook

Islamic State's badass path to paradise

A very thoughtful piece, indeed for these badasses, that is the only sense of accomplishment they get in absence of a normal life. We need to develop systems to detect these dudes and find rehabilitation.

Mike Ghouse

 # # #

Islamic State's badass path to paradise
Courtesy LA Times 

In his 1988 book “Seductions of Crime,” UCLA sociologist Jack Katz devotes an entire chapter to what he calls the “ways of the badass.” “In many youthful circles,” he writes, “to be ‘bad,' to be a ‘badass' or otherwise overtly to embrace symbols of deviance is regarded as a good thing.”

According to Katz, there are three elements to being a badass. First, he is cold, “not easily influenced,” indifferent to others, unmoved by emotion. Second, he is alien, embracing “ways of living that appear hostile to any form of civilization.” And third, he is mean, engaging in violence “without the limiting influence of utilitarian considerations or a concern for self-preservation.”

The paradigmatic badass is still with us, only now he doesn't have a gangster face; now he has a jihadi face.
“Seductions of Crime” has an exotic cast of criminal characters, including novice shoplifters, gangbanging street elites, stickup men, righteous killers and cold-blooded murderers. But it is the badass who most fascinates us, who draws us in and shakes up our senses. We like Tony Soprano, Keyser Söze and Walter White's alter-ego Heisenberg, to name just a few, albeit fictional, folk devils. They are strange, awesome, larger than life. And this is precisely why we like them — and why they terrify us.

“Seductions of Crime,” published 13 years before 9/11, was written for a very different world from the one we inhabit today. But the paradigmatic badass is still with us, only now he doesn't have a gangster face; now he has a jihadi face. For the ultimate badasses are the caliphate-invoking, kafir-hating, sword-wielding men in black of Islamic State. This is in no way to glamorize the group. But it may be the key to understanding why some young men from the West give up everything to join it or affiliated groups.

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old British rapper from London, is a case in point. This is the man British officials suspect may be the killer of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The killer, masked and dressed like a ninja, was seen in the shocking videos of Foley's and Sotloff's beheadings. Abdel Bary — a.k.a. Lyricist Jinn a.k.a. L Jinny — recently tweeted a picture of himself apparently holding up a severed head. The caption read, “Chillin' with my homie or what's left of him.”

Last year Vice magazine published an article on the use of social media among British jihadis in Syria. In countless “selfies” you can see these young men proudly posing in military apparel with guns at the ready. There are loving, close-up shots of personal hardware, including a chrome AK-47 with the caption “Rolling wit d chromey homey.” These jihadis seem more like frustrated high school actors, desperate for attention, than bona fide badasses.

RELATED: Obama's strategy on Islamic State dependent on many unknowns
Who, really, are these young men? We still know dismayingly little about them. But we do know something about the jihadi groups they are joining. Despite the divisions and fractures within their ranks, their goal is to seize political power. They want to establish an Islamic state or, more ambitiously, a caliphate incorporating many Muslim-majority states.

And for all their ideological differences, these groups are united in what they're against: America, Jews, apostates, gays, women's rights, religious freedom, materialism, free speech, secular democracy, alcohol, pork and on and on. We also know something about what these groups demand of their members: discipline, physical courage, piety, murderous violence and self-immolation.

Radical Islamist Terrorists....are sociopaths, psychopaths, deranged all in the name of Allah...not bad-ass. No I am not going to read the book.
AT 7:28 AM FEBRUARY 18, 2015

In his research on jihadi terrorist attacks and plots in Europe from September 2001 to October 2006, Edwin Bakker found that of the 242 jihadi terrorists involved in 31 incidents, a clear majority were first-, second- or third-generation immigrants from Arab countries in North Africa or with roots in Pakistan. Many had come from the lower strata of society, and significantly, at least a quarter had a criminal record. Almost all were male and most were “born again” Muslims, discovering religion later in life.

It may be that the Western Europeans who reportedly represent up to 18% of the 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria share similar backgrounds. What little we do know, from news reports and social media, seems to confirm this, although there are some notable exceptions, including Abdel Bary himself, who scarcely grew up in hardship.

The attractions of jihadi groups to such men are clear. They directly answer to what is existentially missing from their lives: a sense of identity, belonging and purpose.

These jihadis seem more like frustrated high school actors, desperate for attention, than bona fide badasses.

Furthermore, and as Quintan Wiktorowicz, former member of President Obama's National Security Council, has convincingly argued, jihadi groups offer the promise of spiritual redemption. Join us and purge yourself of your sins. Join us and become a hero to your people. Join us and guarantee your place in paradise. This has a special resonance for gang members with a guilt complex, which perhaps explains why so many Western jihadis are former gang members and why Islamic State is directly targeting this group in its recruitment videos.

At the same time, jihadi groups emphatically answer to altogether more visceral desires: They promise excitement, adventure and unrestrained violence. Join us and strike terror into the hearts of infidels everywhere. Join us and prove your worth. Join us and become a martyr. Join us, in other words, and become the ultimate badass.

Islamic State's propaganda — especially its notorious execution videos — is saturated in badass iconography. Look at this material — if you dare — and you will see unspeakably terrible things. Men brandishing AK-47s, handheld rocket launchers or large, curved machetes, glistening with intent. Men gunning down defenseless victims or holding aloft decapitated heads. And you will see the look of frenzied delight as they go about their work. Unquestionably, these men project — in Katz's phrasing — the “awesome, ominous presence” so integral to the aura of the badass.

The former CIA operations officer and terrorism scholar Marc Sageman coined the phrase “jihadi cool.” But “jihadi cool” isn't quite right: Jihadi groups are not cool; they are bad. But they are also cloaked in a mythology of righteousness. They are good, fighting the forces of evil, or so their adherents believe. It is this combination that explains Islamic State's seductive appeal, especially for Western gang members in search of redemption and ever more spectacular forms of violence and excitement.

Simon Cottee is a senior lecturer in criminology at University of Kent in Britain. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. His book "The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam" will be published in November.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Imam Stir Rifts in Insular Illinois Community

Available at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com | Monday, February 16, 2015

The article from New York Times with pictures follows critical comments from the Chicago Islamic Organization, myself and Malik Mujahid.

Update: The man has turned over the school to his son, in Urdu language there is a phrase called "baap ka maal" its a community school and not his property to turn it over to his son. Why did the community support such a school in the first place? Didn't Zardari took over the Pakistan's national political party when his wife was murdered, as if it was owned by them. This mind set and the false idea of "Community's honor" will continue to ruin us, and actually dishonor the victims and the community. 

This is a major Muslim clergy sexual abuse scandal that has come into light, there are many more that need to be brought to the fore and dealt with. The Catholic community has lived through it, and the Jewish and Hindu communities have also gone through it.  It was not easy, but they have endured it. This is nothing new, abuse has always been there, it is time to punish the bad guys no matter who they are.    

This whole problem emanates from our attitudes of hiding the wrong doers and protecting the criminals to preserve the honor of the community. I hope it is not a typical Muslim behavior to hide and protect the Criminals.

Let's take this to the genesis of the problem, far too long we have been misled to believe that the 'applied Sharia' is divine. 
Then we have put questionable scholars like Maududi, Banna, Qardawi, Ibn-kathir, ibn-Tamiyya and others on the pedestal. 

To reconnect with Quran, the one and only book that God has assured to protect,  and thank God for doing that, we have to reject all of the garbage and have a strong faith in Quran. Indeed, if it is not common sense, it is not Islam.

To free ourselves we need to assertively acknowledge that Sharia as practiced is not divine, and the respect we give to those questionable scholars need to go and instead we need to respect Quran and live with it. Nothing is superior or greater than Quran. Period.

Then we need to tear down the wolves in sheep's clothes. Respect the great scholars and trust them, a majority of them are good honest individuals. However a few bad apples cause us to verify the characters who flaunt the degrees from Al-Azhar, Deoband, Barelvi, Qom, Jakarta and other places. After all it is not the institutions, it is the individuals. 

55 years ago, back in my town Yelahanka (Bangalore) a Hafiz and Imam by the name Muhammad Islam from Saharanpur had an incident with a girl,  I was a kid then and don't know the details, he was told to leave the town. Later on we learned that he was kicked out from two other towns. If he was reported, the other girls would have been saved.

Saved is the word many a men don't understand, and I am  saddened with their undeveloped neanderthal mechanical brains,  they really think if she got pregnant, abort the baby and its done with or what's the big deal, she was merely touched.  We are damned Kafirs, we hide the truth, and not understand the pain, anguish and the scar a girl or a boy suffers all through his or her life. They are traumatized for the violation of their space and body by someone they trust.

We have harmed ourselves more by hiding things.  The Mosque Guardians care more about an idiot like Mawlana Abdullah Saleem in Chicago than the victim, in fact that is the case with religious men in "every" faith with no exception.  He needs to be reported to the authorities. If he is innocent, he will be released and his respect will be intact, if not, he deserves to be punished. If we save them, we become accessory to the crime. These men are wolves in he clothes of sheep.

The Guardians of Mosques must be put to test, lie detector tests, integrity tests, civic abilities test and cut off those who do not pass, there are many out there. All it takes to be a guardian, trustee or a board member is the ability to contribute money.
We should save the oppressed and the victims and not the oppressors. Imam Malik Mujahid's comments below make a whole lot of sense. 

This needs to be reported now, we don't know what this SOB will do to children in India. This note was written before reading the article at NY Times.
Mike Ghouse

# # #

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) issued the statement below in response to the recent revelations about Mawlana Abdullah Saleem's sexual assault of a young female employee at Elgin's IIE. Here's what I think about the CIOGC's statement:

Two words came to mind over and over as I read this "statement" by the CIOGC: DISHEARTENING and PATHETIC. Nothing short of that. The CIOGC has failed the victim and the Chicago area Muslim community by

1) its refusal to condemn Maulana Saleem, despite the CIOGC's own finding that the allegations of Maulana Saleem's repeated sexual assaults were corroborated by individuals other than the victim, and included reports of similar assaults inflicted on other victims in the past; and

2) its refusal to condemn the institution where all the assaults took place, the Elgin based Institute of Islamic Education (IIE), for its failure to address the assaults, or even acknowledge them for that matter. It's known among some attorneys and others in the Muslim community that the IIE's administrators and educators have failed to act in the past when very serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse have arisen, despite being mandated reporters under the law.

The CIOGC "statement" borders on being sympathetic towards the IIE with mention of how "[t]he community over the years has contributed substantially to build and operate the school." The message appears to be something along the lines of…it's one of our own, so we'll do what we can to help it, if and when they ask for help. Yes folks, the CIOGC is content to continue the crisis of ineffective leadership in the Chicago Muslim community with "statements" like this. The Council is only committed to doing one of the very few things it is quite adept at: forming lackluster committees that make much ado about the irrelevant aspects of an otherwise important issue, and eventually lose steam before any real impact can be had. 

Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Statement
by Dr. M. Kaiseruddin, Chairman

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.

This is to address allegations of a serious misconduct by the former President of Institute of Islamic Education that was posted on the internet earlier this week by Br. Omer Mozaffar. The allegations were of sexual misconduct by the former President against a female employee of the school.

The purpose of this statement is to provide information to our community and to begin addressing their concerns.

The former President of IIE has been a person of great respect for many people in the Chicago area for decades. So these allegations shook up and hurt many in the community. On the other hand some people were very concerned that the victim’s trauma might be ignored or suppressed under the circumstances. Some people demanded that CIOGC act or speak out right away in this regard, while others understood why CIOGC needs to be more deliberate.

Realizing that there was a high level of tension and concern in the community, CIOGC took immediate steps to research the facts as much we could. Facts needed to be verified as the reliability of information on the internet is highly questionable. We also realized that we were not a law enforcement agency and hence wouldn’t be able to establish facts that could be considered legal.

CIOGC talked with five people who had spoken directly either with the former President or the victim or both. This is the best CIOGC could do given the unavailability of former President or the victim. The conversations provided the following information:

· Allegations of sexual misconduct were corroborated by two other individuals who were independent of Br. Mozaffar. They also reported of other earlier incidents of similar nature, the details of which were not provided.

· The person speaking for the school chose not to address the allegations directly. The school did not issue a statement as of now.

CIOGC is not, and did not expect to be, in a position to pass a judgment. With the facts as they are, there is a cloud of suspicion over the school. Three entities are directly impacted by this reported act of sexual misconduct: the former President, the victim and the school itself. As a community, we should demand for answers. The allegations are of very heinous acts. At the same time harassment by the community of any of these parties would not achieve anything. The harassment of the victim should particularly be avoided as clearly she is the weaker party with no institution to back her up. The harassment may, on the other hand, hinder in producing answers and corrective steps.

Br. Mozaffar is impacted indirectly for the action he took. He has explained in his posts the reasons for his disclosures. Please review them before forming an opinion about his action.

Sexual misconduct should not be tolerated from anyone. It is very heartening to see many young people and several from the older generation standing up for the victim. It should be realized that most victims of sexual abuse do not come forward to demand justice, but rather prefer to stay in the shadows to avoid further humiliation and stress. This works to the benefit of the perpetrators, as they get away with their acts. The community and society also suffers as effective steps are not taken to prevent such acts.

CIOGC will be establishing a committee of knowledgeable and experienced people to look at the broader impact on the community and to see how a potential for similar situations at other places can be avoided. IIE is an independent corporation with its own Board of Directors. The community over the years has contributed substantially to build and operate the school. CIOGC has spoken with a couple of the Board members. We will be strongly urging the IIE Board to press for answers and implement real changes to prevent even a chance of similar situations arising in the future. Should the IIE Board seek assistance from CIOGC, we will be ready to provide it through the involvement of a multitude of talented people in our community.

CIOGC expresses appreciation for the cooperation extended by so many people in getting the information in such a short time.

Abdul Malik Mujahid

If the individual accused, the IIE Imam, was reported to the police almost 10 years ago when he was first accused of sexual haramby a girl, the current victim and probably others could have been saved. Two Imams who heard the first complaint asked the accused Imam to refrain from leading prayers for two years. This voluntary suspension did not help:

------This quite punishment did not deter him.
------It did not warn other potential victims.
------His unique Islamic cover was not exposed.
------He remained THE most important Islamic authority for South Asians in Chicago. 

I even did not know this until years later when one of the Imams warned me about him. I consulted an attorney but in the absence of a criminal report, one can expose himself to libel.

The father of the victim should have reported the crime to the police instead of other Imams for mediation.

In the current sexual assault issue, once again, it seems that, the failed mediation bought him time to flee to India. A police report might have prevented that. 

There are other reports conveyed in whisper about the abuse of a few other "imams" in Chicago. What is common among all these cases is the following:

------avoiding a criminal police report
------suppressing the information, and
------selective and abusive use of Islamic teachings to achieve the first two

All those accused criminals are at large moving from community to community
The American justice system, despite its problems, is the only recourse we have as citizens. It can protect the community better from criminals. And yes, sexual abuse, harassment, and assault are all crimes not just under Islam, but under the laws of the land we have chosen to live in. If our car is stolen, we report it to the police. If someone attacks us, we call the police. At least five Chicago Masjids have battled it out in the courts over leadership disputes. Why then would we rather mediate a sex crime instead of encouraging victims to report it to the police?

Here are the benefits of using our legal system:
------All ulema will be free of suspicion since the bad one will be reported to police
------Parents will become vigilant about the bad behavior of people in authority
------Victim's identity will be protected by law
------Criminals will know that zero tolerance is in effect
------News will deter possibility of future crimes

Please encourage the community to use the existing system until we have something better.
Alhamdu Lillah, Imams, ulema and masjids by and large continue to serve the ummah in an excellent way, working beyond the call of duty. May Allah bless them, increase their reward and protect them from the bad name given to them by the action of some.

About six months ago when in a khutba I warned the community about the bad behavior of some imams, a Muslim asked me not to give out generalized statement about imams since now he is suspicious if his imam is among those mentioned in my Khutba. In hindsight I wish all Imams warn Muslims to be at guard about abuse.


# # #

Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Imam Stir Rifts in Insular Illinois Community

New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/us/sexual-assault-suit-against-illinois-imam-highlights-a-communitys-divisions.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=1

ELGIN, Ill. — She ordinarily did not wear a veil. But it was required at the Islamic school where she worked, and she remembers being surprised when the head of the school, a conservative imam, suggested that she remove it.

When the imam, Mohammad Abdullah Saleem, came into her office, she said, he would sometimes touch her cheek or put an arm around her shoulder. Mr. Saleem was revered in her close-knit community, and she did not object at first. But simply being alone together represented a forbidden intimacy, and looking back, she said those first gestures should have been more alarming.

“It’s not something that gets done,” the 23-year-old woman said recently. “Men and women don’t even shake hands.”
A woman who says that she was sexually assaulted by Mohammad Abdullah Saleem, an imam who headed the Islamic school where she worked. CreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Over time, she said the touching became more aggressive, reaching a point that she did something almost unheard-of in her community. She told people: her family, a social worker, an Islamic scholar. Recently, she went to the police. As word spread of what she had told them, three other women came forward, telling detectives that as young girls they had been molested by Mr. Saleem.

In the next few days, the women will name Mr. Saleem in a lawsuit that accuses him of decades of assault and child sex abuse, according to Steven A. Denny, their lawyer. But the accusations are already widely known and deeply felt within the community of Indian and Pakistani Muslim immigrants and their families in the Chicago area for whom the Institute of Islamic Education, the school that Mr. Saleem founded, is a focal point. They have highlighted the kinds of tensions that divide a small, cloistered segment of Mr. Saleem’s followers from a more assimilated generation that bristles at the notion that such matters should be handled privately.
Abuse allegations against Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis have brought similar anguish to insular communities suddenly exposed to outsiders, in a crisis. But the Chicago case comes with added baggage in a community where discussion of sex is taboo and many girls are forbidden to attend school health classes. Dating is uncommon or secretive, many marriages are arranged, and a blemish on a young woman’s reputation can render her unmarriageable.

The accusations are particularly jarring because of Mr. Saleem’s stature. “In the South Asian community, he is like Billy Graham. He’s the archbishop of Chicago,” said Omer Mozaffar, an Islamic scholar who serves as the Muslim chaplain at Loyola University Chicago and who acted as a mediator between Mr. Saleem and his first accuser last year.

Mr. Saleem said in a brief phone interview that his accusers “are lying.” He referred questions to his lawyer, Thomas T. Glasgow, who said that after an internal investigation by the school, “I have not seen any evidence to substantiate anything.”

In a statement posted on its website, the Institute of Islamic Education attributed the accusations to “individuals outside our community” seeking to discredit the school’s beliefs. “The individuals involved do not wish to seek privacy and resolution, but are actively seeking publicity for their claims,” the statement said, which has since been removed from the site.
Mr. Saleem, 75, was part of a generation of immigrants from India and Pakistan who settled in the Chicago area in the 1970s and 1980s. They shared apartments, prayed in a basement mosque and socialized almost exclusively among one another. Mr. Saleem was a student of the Deobandi school, a movement originating in India that espouses a fundamentalist version of Islam. He had the title maulana, an honorific given to prominent scholars. Friends let him stay in a spare room, where he taught children the Quran.

The community retained many of its beliefs and customs. Purity and honor were paramount. Girls wore head scarves, kept their arms and legs covered, and were excused from school health classes where puberty and reproduction were discussed. In some families, talking about sex in any way was unthinkable.

“A lot of the attitudes around sexuality and marriage, I would literally describe them as ultra-Victorian,” said Hamzah Maqbul, the imam of a mosque in Rockford, a nearby city.

Mr. Saleem founded his school in 1989 to teach students to memorize the Quran “in accordance with the Islamic values and traditions of the earlier periods of Islam,” according to its bylaws. It has grown into one of the country’s most prominent schools of its kind and one of the few in which the students, typically ages 10 to 17, are boarded for several years. Subjects like math and English are offered, but primarily through computer programs and never at the expense of Quran studies. The school is not recognized by the state and does not award accredited diplomas.

As the Muslim community grew, most families assimilated, finding no conflict between their faith and their adopted homeland, said Muhammad Shamsi, 70, who helped organize the school but is no longer involved with it. Raising children in America accelerated that process, he said.

But others, including some of Mr. Saleem’s most devoted followers, resisted, said Mr. Mozaffar, the scholar and Loyola chaplain. “The fear is of becoming Americanized,” he said. “And that includes a decline in morality, losing a person’s Islam, a person’s faith. And so faith gets mixed in with culture.”

The young woman who first accused Mr. Saleem was born in the United States to Indian parents and graduated from an American college. She hoped the secretarial job at the school would be a springboard to a corporate human resources position.

While she was making copies in April, she said, Mr. Saleem pulled her onto his lap and held her there, lifting her dress as he groped her. “I just looked at the wall or the ceiling and just kept saying, ‘This is very uncomfortable,’ ” she said. After he left, she said, she found something sticky on the black pants she wore beneath her dress.

She confided in her cousin, her mother and a social worker, and ultimately Mr. Mozaffar. She quit her job, and though she said she was reluctant to press the issue, she wanted an admission and an apology. Mr. Mozaffar agreed to mediate.

Hanging over the entire process was the threat that the allegations would destroy her reputation. Such concerns are common in abuse cases but are particularly acute in a community that values virginity so highly, said Nadiah Mohajir, executive director of Heart Women and Girls, a sexual health advocacy group for Muslim women.

“There is this fear of ‘Who’s going to marry you now?’ ” she said. “We can say, ‘You don’t want a man who would hold that against you.’ But in practice, that decreases their pool so much that it’s completely unfair to even say.”

Ms. Mohajir said educating Muslim women about sexual health could make people so uncomfortable that she did not talk about her job with some family members. Getting her programs accepted in mosques has been difficult, she said, and fund-raising is “incredibly challenging.”

Mr. Mozaffar said he had ultimately brokered a settlement in which Mr. Saleem signed a handwritten document saying he had apologized and “admitted to his actions.” But the document does not specify what actions. Mr. Saleem indicated that he was apologizing for the sin of zina, or consensual extramarital sexual contact, Mr. Mozaffar said.

That agreement was supposed to end things, but word spread through the community, and Mr. Mozaffar addressed them on his blog, writing that it was “public knowledge” what Mr. Saleem had done and that he had “admitted the details to me, face to face.”

Angry commenters accused him of undermining Mr. Saleem. “Dear brothers and sisters this matter does not concern you,” one wrote. “Regardless if the allegations are true or false he is a much better Muslim than all of us. Please stop spreading information regarding him. He has reached a very old age. You should be instead focusing on how you can spend more time in his presence.”
Mr. Mozaffar deleted his post, but not before two women in their 40s saw it and told advocates that Mr. Saleem had abused them in the early 1980s, when he was teaching from his bedroom. One woman said Mr. Saleem began touching her when she was 12. Once, she said, he sat on a bed, covered in a brown blanket, and put her hand on his genitals while he taught her a chapter of the Quran called al-Qari’a, about the Day of Judgment when people will be held to account for their good and evil deeds.

“The Quran is right on top of us and he is doing this,” she said. “What disrespect he had in front of the Quran.”

A second woman said that, when she was in sixth grade, Mr. Saleem kissed her and touched her, remarking, “You’re really growing up.”

The new allegations prompted the former secretary to go to the police, despite the concerns of some family members. She took with her the pants with the dry, white stain. “If this happened in my parents’ generation, nobody would’ve ever found out,” she said.

The Elgin police and prosecutors have interviewed the three women. A fourth, who declined to be interviewed, told the authorities that Mr. Saleem molested her while she was a student in 2002 and 2003, according to Mr. Denny, her lawyer. Mr. Glasgow, the lawyer for Mr. Saleem, said he was unaware of these allegations. The statute of limitations has expired on the claims dating to the 1980s.

“It’s an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual offenses,” said Cmdr. Ana Lalley of the Elgin police.

Mr. Saleem said in the interview that he was still teaching at the school, though he officially retired in October, and that his son Ubaidulla had replaced him. “These are good, peaceful, kind, conscientious people trying to do the right thing in the face of some pretty nasty allegations against a former employee,” Mr. Glasgow, the lawyer, said.

Mr. Mozaffar said he had heard criticism that he had brought negative attention on Muslims at a time when terrorism fears have made many Americans suspicious of them. “There is a notion that we are already under assault. Why add more fuel?” he said.

But he said none of this had to do with Islam. “The Catholics aren’t the only ones who have pedophiles, and the Muslims aren’t the only ones who have terrorists,” he said.

Correction: February 15, 2015 
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated the location of a prayer service Omer Mozaffar led. It is the American Islamic College, not Loyola Universty Chicago.

A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Abuse Allegations Against Imam Stir Rifts in Insular Community. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe