Article follows my comments;
I hope to write that speech for Obama, understanding the essence of religion is crtical rather than its rituals. A religious person constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. His or Her words and actions do not make things worse, but bring, some sense and understanding to the situation. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; indeed that is the purpose religion, every Religion.
Article courtesy Washington post/ Newsweek.
Avoid religion and politics at the dinner table -- so goes the conventional wisdom. Tempers will flare and appetites curdle with the passions that both topics so often arouse. But in reality we need to get the kind of dinner-table discussions going that can help overcome some deep and poorly understood prejudices about religion in American life.
Keith Ellison, the first elected Muslim in Congress, observed this week that while America's founders got race and gender very wrong, they got religion right. America's foundation as a pluralistic society is one of their great legacies. A drive along 16th Street in Washington with its extraordinary array of churches, temples, and other religious centers, gives an inkling of what is happening across the country – complexity, color, variety, and change.
Ellison was hosting a three-hour event on Capitol Hill Thursday, about how the global tensions that some call a "clash of civilizations" play out in the United States. It was an eminently civil discussion among 12 experts, a diverse group chosen to represent a range of views – Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. Journalist Sally Quinn moderated the event, which was organized by the World Economic Forum (the Davos folks), which sees West-Islam relations as one of the world's greatest strategic challenges, and by Georgetown University, which oversees an annual global stocktaking about how those relations are faring.
Politics kicked off the dialogue and ended it also. What do we know about the Muslim vote? (Not much.) About Muslim views on health care? Education? The economy? (Not much.) One thing we do know: today basic civil liberties are the top issue for American Muslims, whose situation has become far more troubled since 9/11.
The extraordinarily diverse group of American Muslims numbers some 3 million today, with origins in over 80 countries. Several at the event stressed that they are proud Americans. But many are also wounded Americans, uncomfortably aware of the hostility and fear with which many view them and their religion. (One Gallup poll puts negative perceptions of Islam at 57% of respondents.) This naturally spills over into how people perceive Muslims, in the grocery store and schools as well as at the airport. There has been little political leadership to acknowledge, explore, and address this situation.
Our national perceptions seem stuck on a few issues, national security taking the prime spot. Even though the terrorist threat is linked to a small minority of Muslims, the cloud of fear and tension creeps far beyond this narrow group of extremists. And even though the causes and consequences of terrorism are ferociously complex, the public discourse is shallow and stuck like a broken record on a few narrow talking points – where are the moderates? What about Muslim attitudes towards women?
Sojourners chief Jim Wallis offered part of an answer, pointing out that Christians with extreme views-- a vocal minority skilled at communication-- had tainted all Christians until very recently. Other Christians, representing core American values, had to step up to seize back public perceptions. The same thing, he said, needs to happen within the Muslim world.
From all this rather depressing discourse, an inspiring idea emerged. It began with admiring statements about Barack Obama's remarkable and lengthy Philadelphia speech about race in America. What we need next is the same kind of speech about religion. Every presidential candidate should take the time and muster up the courage to address what religious prejudice and religious pluralism mean for America today.
Now that's an idea that's worth pushing, and it deserves to be aired at dinner tables everywhere.
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.