Monday, February 19, 2007

Secular Islam Summit

March 4-7, 2007Hilton,
St. PetersburgSt. Petersburg,


I have posted the pictures of the speakers below.

A debate roars in my mind about this conference, a few of you may have already made up your mind and few may be debating as well.

The possible responses are laid out in no particular sequence.

1. The conference is about Islam, they may have some ideas and questions that I may learn.

2. I cannot let the liberals take over Islam from the rightists. It belongs to the moderates, the 99% of us.

3. The conference may bring up questions that are tough to deal with and I don't see the need to talk about those issues, whatever they may be.

4. I do not trust these speakers, they are simply there to bash Islam. They have no sincere intent in reformation, but they are here to bash Islam and Cash dollars. If you want to make money, attack Islam, there are suckers out there to use them and be used. I have no desire to attend.

There may be other responses as well.

I invite other points about these people and those who attend the conference, please share it with us. I would have gone, had I not had commitments in Dallas.

Hasan Mahmud: I know him and I trust his intent, he is working on verifying the Sharia Laws if they meet the essence of Qur'aan - Justice and equity and questioning the ones that are not just.

Irshad Manji: She is determined to have the Muslims see another point of view, there is nothing wrong with that. She sees the mistakes the we interpret the holy book. Though many of us have a problem with her life style, she is not there to put Islam down, but some of our practices down.

Wafa Sultan - is not a reformer, she is a Islam basher. She will bash Islam and Cash all she can, that is her business. I have read about her and have written about her as well. She does not fit the bill of a reformer. A reformer stays with the people he or she desires to reform, a basher does not give a hoot about the sensitivities of his or her people. There are suckers who pay her and that is her business. But she is not there to bring any reason into Islam.

Ibn Warraq: All I have read of and about him is negative. May be there are positives things he writes about Islam, as that is the subject. I need to take time to learn. His write ups are mainly used by the Islam bashers, neo-cons and the extremists in other faiths.

You are welcome to shoot your comments;

Mike Ghouse

An international forum for secularists of Islamic societies
In the last decade we have increasingly heard calls for a "reformation," a new Enlightenment, or a secularization and liberalization of Islamic thought and practice. And yet there is to this day no organized international response. At the same time, a growing number of secular Muslims and secularists from majority Muslim countries have been undertaking these intellectual and strategic challenges independently (here “secularists” includes both those who embrace a thoroughly non-religious worldview, as well as those committed to separation of religion from government and robust freedom of conscience).


December 28, 2006, 12:23 am

Mona Abousenna - Mona Abousenna is co-director of the Center for Inquiry-Egypt, Secretary General of the Afro-Asian Philosophy Association, and also Secretary General of the International Ibn Rushd and Enlightenment Association. She is head of the English Department, Faculty of Education, and Director of the Centre of Developing English Language Teaching, Faculty of Education at Aim Shams University, Egypt. She is co-editor of Averroes and the Enlightenment.

Shaker Al-Nabulsi - Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi is a Jordanian intellectual residing in the United States who has authored widely-cited articles on Islam and Arab governments. In an article for the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa, he asked why Islamic religious scholars haven't issued a fatwa against bin Laden. In 2006 he authored an open letter to letter to Saudi King 'Abdallah Ibn 'Abd Al-'Aziz, demanding an investigation into a doctorial dissertation submitted to the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University that named 200 modern Arab intellectuals and authors whom the author accuses of heresy.

Nonie Darwish - Nonie Darwish is a founder and author of They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. She was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo Egypt and the Gaza strip. She is a writer, translator and public speaker. She has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology/Anthropology from the American University in Cairo and was a journalist and editor at the Middle East News Agency. Her father headed the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai in the 50's when Gaza was under Egyptian control. He headed the Fedayeen operations against Israel under President Gamal Abdel Nasser's leadership. He was killed in Gaza in a targeted assassinated in 1956 when Nonie was 8 years old.

Manda Zand Ervin - founder and president of "Alliance of Iranian Women," an organization working to bring the attention of the world governments and human rights organizations to the plight of the women and children in Iran. I have been actively working with some of the members of the United States Congress, some members of the Administration and European Parliament. I have spoken at the United Nations, Helsinki Commission and the congress of the United States and many other institutes and organizations. She is a frequent guest on BBC, Radio America, NPR, VOA, ABC Radio, and others.

Tawfik Hamid - Born in Egypt to a secular Muslim family, as a teenager Tawfik Hamid joined Jammaa Islameia, a terrorist organization led then by Ayman al Zawahiri. Hamid was chosen by this organization to debate and criticize Christians. To fulfill this role he started to read the Bible and began to realize his fundamental disagreements with terrorism. Hamid then began speaking regularly in mosques where he developed a peaceful understanding of Islam that is compatible with human rights. Hamid is now a medical doctor who also holds degrees in psychology and education. In media interviews and at lectures at UCLA, Stanford and Georgetown University, Hamid speaks out against jihadism. His most recent book is The Roots of Jihad.

Shahriar Kabir - Shahriar Kabir is a journalist, filmmaker, human rights activist, and author of more than 70 books focusing on human rights, communalism, fundamentalism, history, and the Bangladesh war of independence. As a result of protesting against government-sponsored minority persecution, he was imprisoned twice and declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International while several international journalist forums and human rights defenders campaigned for his release. The recipent of numerous awards for his contribution to Bengali literature, he has addressed at least sixty international conferences, seminars, and workshops on issues of peace, communal harmony, and human rights.

Nibras Kazimi - Nibras Kazimi is a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute and a weekly columnist on the Middle East for the New York Sun. Previously, he directed the Research Bureau of the Iraqi National Congress in Washington DC and Baghdad, and was a pro-bono advisor for the Higher National Commission for De-Ba'athification, which he helped establish and staff. Mr. Kazimi's research focuses on the growing threat of jihadism in the Middle East, as well as prospects for democracy in the region. His primary interest is the national security of Iraq, and how threats to the nascent democracy there are enabled and coordinated by regional Middle Eastern actors and factors. He has traveled widely, most recently to Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and speaks Arabic and English fluently.

Hassan Mahmud- Hassan Fatemolla is a Bangladeshi-Canadian journalist, playwright and human rights activist who helped lead a campaign against the introduction of Islamic Sharia law into Canada's system of civil justice. He is the author of Al-Bhodorer Deshe.

Irshad Manji - Irshad Manji is the internationally best-selling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. She is circumventing censors by posting free translations on her website: . A senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad writes columns that are distributed worldwide by the New York Times Syndicate. She is also producing a PBS documentary about Islamic reform, to be aired in 2007. Above all, Irshad is president of Project Ijtihad, which aims to reconcile Islam with freedom of thought.

Salameh Nematt - the Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat International Arab Daily (London) and the LBC, the Lebanon-based Arab satellite channel. Among his previous posts, he has been diplomatic correspondent in London for Al-Hayat, as well as the Amman Bureau Chief for Al-Hayat and freelance correspondent for the BBC Arabic Service. For a brief period in 1999, he served as Head of the Strategy Unit at Jordan's Royal Court, an advisory post for the king. He resigned two months after taking the job due to policy differences with the government over democratic reforms. He returned shortly afterwards to Al-Hayat. He was Chief Political correspondent of the English language Jordan Times daily and Al-Rai, the leading Arabic-language Jordanian daily.

Dr. Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington (2001-2006) and a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracies in Brussels (2006). He has been a Professor of Middle East Studies, Ethnic and Religious Conflict at Florida Atlantic University from 1993 to 2006. He has published several books and articles including in the Middle East Quarterly, Global Affairs, Journal of Middle East and South Asian Studies and other specialized journals. He has been interviewed by national networks including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, C-Span, BBC, Sky News, CTV, CBC, Globat TV, al Jazeera, al Hurra, Abu Dhabi TV, al Arabiya as well as local ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC and others. He appears on European, Arab, South Asian and Latin American outlets and is a frequent contributor to US and international radio programs.

Wafa Sultan - a Syrian-American psychiatrist whose essays on Middle East issues are widely circulated in Arabic. On February 21, 2006, she appeared on Al Jazeera's weekly discussion program "The Opposite Direction" to debate Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli. The New York Times estimated that the video of her appearance has been viewed at least one million times. In 2006 she was included in Time Magazine's list of 100 influential people in the world "whose power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world."

Amir Taheri - Amir Taheri was born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. He has been a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat and its sister daily Arab News since 1987 and a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. Between 1972 and 1979 he was executive editor-in-chief of Kayhan, Iran's main daily newspaper. He later served as editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique, the French weekly specialising in Africa, as well as Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times. Taheri has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and The Washington Post, Die Welt, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, La Repubblica, L'Express, Politique Internationale, Le Nouvel Observateur, El Mundo, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and the Daily Mail, among others. Taheri is a commentator for CNN and is frequently interviewed by other media including the BBC and the RFI. He has written several TV documentaries dealing with various issues of the Muslim world. Taheri has published nine books some of which have been translated into 20 languages.

Ibn Warraq - Ibn Warraq is a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism. In 1996 he published the groundbreaking work, Why I am not a Muslim. He went on to edit a serious of anthologies: What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary; The Quest for the Historical Muhammed; The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book; Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out; and Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, and the Influence of Pre-Islamic Poetry. His latest book is Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism.

The purpose of the Secular Islam Summit is to bring together these thinkers and activists in an ongoing cross-cultural forum and clearinghouse to generate and share new practical strategies and disseminate these to the public and opinion-makers worldwide.

Speakers include Mona Abousenna, Shaker al-Nabulsi, Nonie Darwish, Afshin Ellian, Hasan Mahmud, Tawfik Hamid, Shahriar Kabir, Nibras Kazimi, Irshad Manji, Salameh Nematt, Walid Phares, Wafa Sultan, Amir Taheri, Mourad Wahba, Ibn Warraq, Manda Zand Ervin, and a distinguished member of the Iraqi government, among others. Click here to see their bios.

Download Secular Islam Summit brochure (275KB)

About the organizers Valentina Colombo is Senior Research Fellow in Transitional processes towards democracy in the Middle East at IMT School of Advanced Studies, Lucca (Italy). She is Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (Brussels)and at the Center for the Liberty in the Middle East (Brussels/Washington). Her studies focus on contemporary Arab liberal intellectuals and the role of women in democratization processes. She writes a column, New Averroes, in the Italian weekly Tempi. She has just published an anthology of Arab intellectuals against Islamic extremism (Mondadori, 2007).Austin Dacey is a philosopher and writer with the Center for Inquiry specializing in the intersection of science, religion, ethics, and culture. He serves on the editorial staff of Skeptical Inquirer, Free Inquiry, and Philo: A journal of philosophy; and serves as the Center's main representative to the United Nations. He is author of The Secular Conscience (forthcoming).Michael Ledeen is an expert on U.S. foreign policy. His research areas include state sponsors of terrorism, Iran, the Middle East, Europe (Italy), U.S.-China relations, intelligence, and Africa (Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe). A former consultant to the NSC and to the U.S. State and Defense Departments, he has also written on leadership and the use of power. His latest book is entitled The War against the Terror Masters. Ibn Warraq is a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism. In 1996 he published the groundbreaking work, Why I am not a Muslim. He went on to edit a serious of anthologies: What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary; The Quest for the Historical Muhammed; The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book; Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out; and Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, and the Influence of Pre-Islamic Poetry. His latest book is Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism.

Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi is a political and human rights activist with a concentration on issues surrounding Iran, Khomeinism and political Islam. She is the editor of the English section of the website Iran Press News, which provides news and information about Iran that is generally not reported by the western media. Compiled and translated by Banafsheh, the information comes directly from the Islamic Republic's own news media, as well as activist organizations, human rights and labor groups, Iranian bloggers, and other sources. Born in Iran, she attended the American University in Paris as well as the French institute of higher cinematic studies where she studied film, linguistics and semiotics. She and her husband, Elio Bonazzi, an Italian political scientist are regular contributors to many U.S. and European political journals and publications. Banafsheh has also been a regular contributor on the John Batchelor Radio show. Banafsheh and Elio are writing their first book entitled The Unopened Persian Letters.

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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.