Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama should visit a mosque

Indeed, Obama should visit a Mosque, a Hindu Temple and if possible all places of worship. "He has repeatedly shown his courage during this campaign; Americans have responded to his intellectual honesty."

Obama has won just for that reason - moderation and intellectual honesty. The moderates make a wholesale majority, this is the first time, we have an individual representing the voice of masses, and he will be accpeted wholeheartedly by the Americans for standing up for the right thing.

Mike Ghouse

Cohen: Why Obama should visit a mosque
By Roger Cohen Published: June 25, 2008

ISTANBUL: I'll admit it, I'm thin-skinned about the kinds of slurs and innuendo about Muslims that have accompanied Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Years of being subjected to them while I covered the Bosnian war did that.

We heard the whole gamut back then: how the European Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo were really "Turks" engaged in a "demographic genocide" (through high birth rates) against Christians, and how they were engaged in a plot to establish a "Muslim crescent" looping up from Turkey through the Balkans, and how they roasted enemy prisoners alive on spits.

All the while, of course, said Bosnian Muslims were being herded by Christian Serbs into concentration camps that were centers of torture and systematic killing of a cruelty Europe believed it had forever banished.

That was before 9/11, of course, and before the Egyptian-born writer Bat Yeor popularized the term "Eurabia" to express her vision of a Muslim-infiltrated Europe capitulating Munich-like to Islamism, and before Pat Buchanan's apocalyptic "The Death of the West," and before Americans were encouraged in numberless ways to equate Islam with terrorists plotting Armageddon.

Give Americans the Rorschach test today and what they'll detect in the ink blots are bearded Muslim "suiciders."

Today in Opinion
Justice and decency in the face of horrorAt Justice, even the interns are politicalAnother rebuke on GuantánamoI'll admit something else: My own feelings about Islam have veered back and forth in recent years. Most of us were ignorant when the planes-turned-missiles struck. We've been searching for bearings: even the word "jihad" is variously described as a holy war against the infidel and an inner struggle for higher spiritual attainment.

When, in 2005, I talked to the Somalian-born Dutch author Ayaan Hirsi Ali in a meeting in The Hague that had to be organized like an undercover operation because of threats to her life from Islamic radicals, I was struck by her words: "Islam is not a religion of peace, or only of peace with other Muslims. We should acknowledge that it's a very violent religion, instead of pretending, like Bush, that this violence is not true Islam."

Certainly, the threat to her made in its name was violent. Certainly, the Koran is a long way from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Certainly, there are Koranic verses that Al Qaeda and other extremists have been able to use in attempts to sanctify their murderous acts.

Certainly Islam, politically expressed, has often proved irreconcilable with modern notions of pluralism, democracy and women's rights. But a "very violent religion?" No. From Beirut to Baghdad to Cairo to here in Istanbul, I have often felt the wonders of hospitality and generosity and wisdom that seem to well from Islam.

At Obama's old school in Jakarta earlier this year, an establishment scurrilously described as a "madrassa" in all the innuendo, a gentle principal showed me the large mosque and small Christian prayer room. He then invoked the words emblazoned on the coat of arms of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country: "Unity in diversity."

That's what I saw among the kids at the school, 85 percent of whom are Muslim and the rest Christian. That's also what America's supposed to be about, not religious slurring and stereotyping.

Yet, because he's called Barack Hussein Obama, and because his Kenyan grandfather was a Muslim, and because his commitment to Israel has been questioned, and because the U.S. Rorschach test is Muslim-menace mired, he's had to tread carefully.

As Andrea Elliott of The New York Times chronicled in an important piece, Obama has visited churches and synagogues but no mosque. He had to apologize after two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred from appearing behind him at a recent Detroit rally.

Obama should visit a mosque. He has repeatedly shown his courage during this campaign; Americans have responded to his intellectual honesty. One of the important things about him is the knowledge his Kenyan and Indonesian experiences have given him of Islam as lived, rather than Islam as turned into monstrous specter.

This enables him to break the monolithic, alienating view of a great world religion that is as multifaceted as Judaism or Christianity.

I've no doubt that Obama is a strong supporter of Israel. But what I find as important is that he would come to Islam without prejudice.

That's the precondition for dialogue, whether with Iran or between Israel and Palestine.

Here in Turkey, a Muslim country of myth-dispelling permissiveness, I met with Joost Lagendijk, the chairman of the Turkey delegation of the European Parliament. He's Dutch. What he hears at home is, "Fear of Islam and fear of Muslims and fear of immigrants."

Fear-mongering about Islam is a global industry. It thrives on ignorance. Obama has a unique power to break the cycle, not least by emboldening moderate Muslims to denounce terror. Nothing would do more in the long run for the security of the world.

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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.