I welcome this wholeheartedly.
In 2005, a Saudi Minister visited Dallas and I was asked to organize an interfaith dialogue. Being a pluralist I resisted the idea of inviting the members of the Abrahamic faiths, but agreed, as they convinced me that this is the first step in their learning process to go from known to unknown. We had 20 members comprising three faiths at the Crescent in uptown Dallas, I still chose to represent all other faiths that were missing. My commitment has been and will continue to defend the divinity of each beautiful faith. No one can get away from me criticizing any religion. The meeting was productive and it was a new experience to the man.
However, Islam rose and flourished in a Pluralistic multi-faith environment. Indeed, Muhammad as a head of a religious group and the state, initiated the Madinah treaty and was a co-signatory to it along with Jews, Christians and people of other faiths. Unfortunately the Islam that flourished in Pluralistic environment veered off into a mono-faith environment and the pluralistic flavor of Islam dimmed for a few centuries then picked up back again in Spain and India and lost that charisma again when colonialism took over, the fight for freedom from the colonialists took a different form of Islam in practice. Thank God, it is going back to its roots of Pluralism again since the unfortunate tragedy of 9/11.
I am hopeful and positive that the mainstream majority of Muslims are not going to be silent any more, they have been more participative in defining the religion collectively as opposed to an oligarchy.
CNN Lauds King’s Call for Interfaith Dialogue
Riyadh, 2 April 2008 — CNN has commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his call for interfaith dialogue and said the king became a history-maker by taking this important initiative, the Saudi Press Agency reported yesterday.
In a report in its main bulletin, CNN said King Abdullah made the call for dialogue among divine religions for the protection of humanity from recklessness. Octavia Nasser, CNN’s correspondent said, “King Abdullah has made history by his initiative,” which has been welcomed by the religious quarters.
Head of the Religions Dialogue Committee David Rosen said: “Let us agree to shake hands with the hand that has been extended to Christians and Jews.”
Political analyst Maurice Jones said, “If it will be possible for a leader to attain an achievement with regard to peace, then King Abdullah is the most capable leader for doing that.”
The US television channel also underscored King Abdullah’s support for establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
King Abdullah made the call for interfaith dialogue during a meeting with delegates attending a cultural dialogue between Japan and the Muslim world.
“I want to call for conferences between the religions to protect humanity from folly,” he told the delegates in Riyadh. He referred to his groundbreaking talks in Rome last November with Pope Benedict XVI, saying, “I wanted to visit the Vatican and I did, and I thank him. He met me in a meeting I will not forget, a meeting of one human being with another. I suggested this idea.”
The king said the major faiths shared a desire to combat “the disintegration of the family and the rise of atheism in the world.”
Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, denied press reports that a group of Israeli religious men has been invited to attend a reconciliation conference in Riyadh. “The report is totally baseless,” the mufti said.
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
45 PICTURES AT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157641382648224/
August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
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 (www.UnitydayUSA.com) 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.
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.