Friday, February 18, 2011

Cohesiveness is one of the roles of religion

The pledge of allegiance defines the role of faith fairly well; it is to build cohesive societies, expressed as one nation under God (oneness) indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

When conflicting sides believe they have the fundamentals of faith on their side, division is an amicable outcome as a last resort in civil societies, whereas the intolerant societies will resort to harassment and oppression.

Pluralism is a culmination of an attitude in civility, if we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the genetic God given (or genetic) uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge for societies to function cohesively.
Indeed, every social, cultural and religious system has a built-in mechanism to sustain its cohesiveness, however when insecure men get threatened, the spirituality (humility) of religion gets knocked over and control aspect of fallible human beings takes over and sacrifice the very purpose of religion; cohesiveness.

Islam was endowed with such a mechanism to deal with issues that had no precedence or choice. The system was called Ijtihad, a process of achieving consensus among parties independent of a given understanding.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asked his followers to refer to Quraan for any questions that might come up after he was gone, if no answers were to be found, he said, check out my examples and if there isn't one, then consult among yourselves, struggle to be just and righteous.

That system was weakened nearly four centuries after death of the prophet. The rules were made to exclude those who did not subscribe to the ideas of men controlling knowledge and power. Thus a great tool of keeping the communities together got decimated.

Thanks to America and its spirit of freedom and fearlessness, the institution of ljtihad will flourish and influence the Islamic thinking around the world for Muslims to once again become participants and contributors towards the well being of societies at large.

Research is warranted to determine the factors that split the groups. There was one Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism once, not anymore. Even the smaller groups like Jainism, Judaism, and Sikhism have split into sub-groups and the process will continue with every group as they grow in size, as naturally as the amoeba.
How do we bring our faith to bear in situations where there is no good choice? We have to do our Ijtihad and focus on the purpose of religion; cohesiveness.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and is committed to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your place of worship, school, work place, seminars or conferences.  He is a media commentator offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at

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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.