Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christians, Muslims share ideas on loyalties

We applaud Pastor Steve Odam of Murfreesboro’s central Christian Church for speaking up. Indeed the evil purists in a society when no one speaks up against unjust men and women.

However, let me add that Muslims do not take their pledge to Sharia Law, Sharia in its simplicity is guidance manual to create just societies, and it is human to err, except three Muslim majority nation, no other nation is bent on stoning the adulterer to death or hanging the apostate… because it is not in the Quraan. What those three out of 56 Muslims majority nations practice is a cultural and not religious. Just as most of the western states do not have capital punishment, we in the United States do, still carry that primitive practices, it is our culture and not a western value. You can learn more about Sharia at or directly at

The Quraan says one must be loyal to God, the prophet’s wisdom and the elected leaders with a caveat that the rulers must be just, if not you must speak out against injustice. Islam is pure common sense.

Mike Ghouse for a cohesive AmericaGUEST COLUMN: Christians, Muslims share ideas on loyalties

Lately I've read many times and in many places that a Muslim's first loyalty is to Shariah law, as for example in Marshall Boates' letter to the editor (The DNJ, Dec. 7): "The Muslims' first pledge is to Shariah law. All other authority is subordinate to Shariah law. Therefore Muslims cannot be allowed to defend our country because it is not their highest authority."

I would guess that many if not most of those who make statements like this are church-going Christians. Which puzzles me because they seem not to have thought of equally absolute statements like the apostle Peter's "We must obey God rather than men," when sanctioned by the "council" (local government in Jerusalem) for evangelizing. Christians have ever since referenced this and other similar statements and the history of subsequent encounters with imperial government in the Roman Empire. Repeatedly, in various sporadic persecutions by Roman government, Christians were given the opportunity to acknowledge the government's role as "highest authority." Repeatedly, Christians gave up their lives rather than do so. Religious allegiance has always been a part of the history of the West and Christians have sometimes been pressed to violate their ethics or beliefs by an inordinately dominant government.

These two religions' claim to have a higher authority than government should be seen as a salutary thing, not a problem. They are, while not identical, at least analogous to one another. Christians who understand their faith know implicitly that we hold allegiance to our country and its government only at arm's length, so to speak. It is a secondary allegiance at best. God is our first allegiance, and we may not sacrifice that loyalty on the altar of convenience. Fortunately, in a well run representative republic, there are seldom occasions when a Christian is absolutely pressed to the wall of sacrificing allegiance to God in favor of government or facing the consequences.

Different Christians see the religious/governmental conflicts differently, and it is out of the pacifist heritage against all forms of violence and war that the traditions of affording citizens the opportunity to register as Conscientious Objectors originates.

Certainly Muslims have a higher allegiance than government. The problem lately has come from the misreading by certain Muslims of what that requires them to do when different allegiances clash. There is this aspect to the Islamic tradition, but it is by no means monolithic.

There are thousands of American Muslims who serve in the Armed Forces well and honorably. Rather than the rather simpleminded tactic of excluding service based on one's religion, it may well behoove the Department of Defense to be more attentive to statements like those made by Maj. Nidal Hasan prior to his murderous attacks on service members at Ft. Hood. This is simply common sense, such as the current administration has occasionally demonstrated when attacking terrorists and their leaders in recent events in Pakistan and Yemen for example.

The Christian and Islamic tradition re: Church/State relations are not identical, of course. But, we hold in common, with Jews also, the notion that God is Almighty, and to him alone belongs ultimate authority over the affairs of all. How this is sometimes put into practice reflects our different theologies and traditions. But it is not, in this country anyway, a basis for blanket exclusion from military service based on religion.

Steven Odom is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Murfreesboro and a former community member of The DNJ's Editorial Board.

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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.