Monday, April 21, 2008

Global Religious leaders

I am pleased to read this piece on HH Aga Khan by Reza Aslan. Indeed, when I wrote the article: Aga Khan, 50 years of Imamat I thought about the lack of coverage by the media to two of the worlds' greatest spirtual leaders. Mike Ghouse

The OTHER global religious leader visiting America

Reza Aslan
Author, “No god but God”

The media spotlight on Pope Benedict’s first trip to the United States seems to have completely overshadowed the American tour of another global religious leader, the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of some 20 million Ismaili Muslims. The Ismailis are Shiah who broke off from the main Shiite branch of Islam, known as the Ithna Ashari, or Twelvers, in the middle of the 8th century. Ismailis live primarily in South Asia, while some 300 million Twelver Shia live mostly in Iran, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East.

The Aga Khan — the title means something like “the Noble Lord” — is believed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. As such, his position among followers is absolute. He has sole authority to interpret the Quran and Islamic law, and his word on both subjects is infallible. But this Aga Khan, the 49th imam in a line that stretches back 13 centuries, is unlike any other spiritual leader.

He is a graduate of Harvard University. His personal worth is estimated to be in the billions. He jaunts around the globe in private jets and yachts. His father, the previous Aga Khan, was once married to Rita Hayworth. In his fitted suits and silk ties, he looks more like a well-aged movie star than a spiritual leader.

But don’t let the clothes and the fabulous riches fool you. The Aga Khan is not only a devout and transcendent man of deep religious faith, he is also one of the most generous philanthropists in the world.

His Aga Khan Development Network is a massive charitable fund dedicated almost entirely to caring for the poor. He runs nearly 200 hospitals. He funds thousands of schools, charities, arts programs, museums, and theaters.

His humanitarian services extend across the globe and, despite being funded almost exclusively by the tithes of his followers, are doled out to people of all faiths, whether Muslim or not.

He is a shining example of a moderate, pluralistic, and modern Muslim leader, which is why it’s a shame that he has come to the U.S. at such an inopportune time. (He is here to celebrate his 50th year as the Aga Khan).

For those of us who are sick and tired of media pundits always asking, “where are the moderate Muslim leaders,” and for those who want to punch something every time Tom Friedman sarcastically wonders why there are no “Muslim Mandela’s” out there, the Aga Khan, and the millions of modernist, democratically minded, reformist, and pluralist Muslims who follow him, are the perfect answer.

Too bad no one is paying attention.

Filed under: Aga Khan • Reza Aslan

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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.