Thursday, January 5, 2012

Texas Faith : Do we need a Steve Jobs of Religion?

Do we need a Steve Jobs of religion, an innovative thinker who can "invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious?" If so, where would that person come from? And what would they try to offer? If you don't think we need a "Steve Jobs of religion," please explain why. Here is my response;

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
Throughout the history of mankind, the "Steve Jobs of religions" have made significant contributions to innovative universally-synthesized acceptable traditions for living a balanced life. However, they ended up becoming another competitive religion instead of the one that everyone would embrace. Indeed, there is a new focus in understanding the essence of religion and looking at all religions as valid alternative paths to achieve freedom.

Three thousand years ago, a man shared a corollary between the laws of physics and laws of society. Just as matter finds its own balance, the society will find its own order whenever it goes awry. Someone from among them will rise up and restoresthe order, or the dharma as Lord Krishna called it.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, another Steve Jobs of religion appeared with the name Gautama Buddha. He shared a simple philosophy of life to live with minimum (or no) suffering. He taught a balanced approach between ascetic life and living with given human desires. Today, it has not only become a distinct religion with adherents performing specific identifiable rituals but has split itself into three threads.

Two thousand years ago, there was another one who found a way to bring relief to mankind through teaching and prescribing the psychological medicine of forgiving and loving thy enemy. His teachings were for the whole humanity. but they got monopolized by a group. Two thousand years later,multiple groups claim their version is the truth. Jesus was his name.

Fifteen hundred years ago, yet another Steve Jobs appeared on the horizon with an innovative idea to bring harmony among creation. He said all men are equal before God and that God's love reaches out to every human and every community through the peace makers, messengers and the prophets. Prophet Muhammad said it behooves us to know each other so we can learn to co-exist. He said submitting to the idea of a cohesive society (will of God) is Islam.

Five hundred years ago, Akbar, the Great King of India, made serious efforts in finding a common ground among Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism and initiated Deen-e-Ilahi, religion of the creator. It died with that Steve Jobs.

The last four hundred years have witnessed Guru Nanak and Bahaullah initiating interfaith movements to bring people together in spirituality. However, they ended becoming Sikhism and Baha'i faiths.

Rituals are the differentiators; they signify the mile stones of our daily life. Every significant moment of the day is a ritual. It is an unwritten way of measuring our progression; a memory pattern to bring discipline to our actions. From the moment we are born to the last rites of our life and every moment in-between is laden with rituals, though some of us may deny it.
When specific rituals are prescribed or become a part of the group it will generate yet another religion rather than a commonality.

The bottom line to religion is to bring a balance to an individual and the balance with what surrounds him, people and the environment.

We have to shed the arrogance that our tradition is superior or the only way to salvation. Indeed, arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts. We have to remember that God has not signed a deal with anyone behind my back or your back, if he did, then we don't a God like that and he is not the one we need to bow.

The foundation for pluralism has done extensive experiments and workshops in religion and getting for people to see the value and essence of each religion that are deeply embedded in the rituals.

Steve Jobs would probably have echoed my belief: To build a cohesive society where no one has to live in apprehension of the other, we have to learn to respect every which way one worships (or not) the creator and accepts the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day; he is a writer, thinker and a speaker.

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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.