Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims better understand each other since 9/11?

TEXAS FAITH: Do Jews, Christians and Muslims better understand each other since 9/11?

Abstract: Jews need sincerity and not duplicity. Native Americans need an apology and there is a good amount of phobia embedded in Hindus about conversions. We believe in Jesus as a Prophet and not as a son of God. Unless we deal with tough issues about our differences, we will continue to fake being nice to each other and brood with ill-will within. There is indeed improved understanding among faiths since 9/11. But there also is deepening suspicion among them. One is spiritually motivated and the other is political. Please note, most of my writings are inclusive of all theist and atheists traditions, we all inhabit the earth and we need to figure how best to co-exist cohesively.

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Since September 11, 2001, many conversations have taken place among Muslims, Jews and Christians. There are official interfaith conversations occurring all over the globe, where participants dig into each other's texts. And numerous personal dialogues have been established over the last decade. Many of us have learned more about the three Abrahamic faiths since September 11, 2001 than perhaps we knew before that day.

But here's this week's question, which is simple in its wording but not necessarily simple to answer: Do followers of the three Abrahamic faiths really understand each other better since 9/11?

Eight Texas Faith Panelists including Mike Ghouse weighs in at:

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

There is indeed improved understanding among faiths since 9/11. But there also is deepening suspicion among them. One is spiritually motivated and the other is political.

We were better off when we knew very little about each other. But as we faced the hostage crisis in 1979, the evangelical foray into politics, the Baptist convention on harvesting poor souls and finally 9/11, religion moved on to center stage. It will get better when we know more about each other.

On September 11, 2001, I was on the radio in Dallas attempting to make sense out of the chaos of the day and pave the way for relevant actions. Interfaith-faith prayers, blood donation and fundraising for the men and women in uniform were all in place by evening. The fog was clearing up. Osama bin Laden was the bad guy and Muslim-Americans had nothing to do with his actions, nor did they authorize him to terrorize any one. Indeed, he placed a wedge between Americans that still needs to be undone.

Atheists, Baha'i, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Jews, Native Americans, Pagans, Sikhs, Wicca and Zoroastrians along with area city mayors, FBI, police and fire chiefs and community leaders graced the first interfaith event in Frisco. Out of which a new tradition evolved called Unity Day. It continues year after year.

But while we are trying to know more about each other, more needs to be done. Here are a few examples;

* Mosques in Dallas/ Fort Worth area opened their doors right after the 9/11 incident. As Christians walked in, they were naively welcomed by yet-to-be trained volunteers who said, "We believe in Jesus as a Prophet and not as a son of God." However, the volunteers were trained to welcome without conflict the very next week.

Of course, back in the 8th Century, a Syrian bishop had declared that Islam was a false religion. That declaration has remained in the psyche of a few Christians forever.

Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas reiterated the statement and added, "Quran is a false book written by a false prophet." He was asked to prove it but failed.

There are several verses in Quraan that are mistranslated for political gains. Steve Blow in Dallas Morning News quoted me, "In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders. Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews."

One such difficult passage is "Kill the infidels wherever you find them." Ten such propaganda verses were read to separate the myths from reality. They were not read by Muslim clergy, but by Baptist, Mormon, Protestant, Catholic, Unitarian, Methodist, New Age, Unificationists, Sikhs, Hindu and others at the Quraan Conference

*Shamelessly, anti-Semitism continues to operate under the radar. The anti-circumcision bills in San Francisco and Santa Monica were irksome to some, but frightening to others. Indeed, there are still a few Christians out there who cannot shake off what Fred Phelps was demonstrating with reckless posters such as "Christ Killers."

The Judeo-Christian phrase was thrown around in the 40's to build relationships between Jews and Christians. A whole industry of opportunists was born from it. The support for Jews by Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Glenn Beck and other chest thumpers have ulterior motives. They want to cash in on the name of Israel and perhaps convert them. Jews need sincerity and not duplicity to feel genuinely secure.

*Native Americans need an apology for the destruction of their religion and there is a good amount of phobia embedded in Hindus about conversions. Some of them feel that Governors Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal made it in politics because they converted to Christianity.

*The spiritual balance in the community needs to be restored through observing and following the Golden Rule, which is treat others as you would like others to treat you. Although we have failed in the past, such as when the city of Plano rejected a permit to build a Hindu temple in the early 80's and Richardson did not permit a Muslim school to open there in the mid-1990s, we still have come a long way. Thank God, those are now history and the public in the metroplex welcomes diversity.

* Interfaith meetings are still social gatherings. Leaders from smaller groups are invited as tokens rather than to genuinely get to know each other. Unless we deal with tough issues about differences, we will continue to fake being nice to each other and brood with ill-will within. There is plenty of room for honesty to grow and mature.

If we can learn to respect the otherness of other people and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. One of these days we will get there. Meanwhile, I am pleased to invite you to the 7th Annual 9/11 Memorial, the Unity Day USA on Sunday September 11 at 5:00 PM at the Unity Church of Dallas on Forest Lane. Details are at
Quraan Conference program sequence:

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Politics, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. Over a thousand articles have been published on the topics and two of his books are poised to be released on Pluralism and Islam. Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at and you can find all of his current articles 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.