Monday, May 28, 2012

Moroccan Muslims and Pluralism

Monday, May 29, 2012

Pluralism (Interfaith) dialogue with international delegates. In the last five years I have met religious, academic and civic leaders from Central Aisa, Middle East and North Africa.

International Visitors.Interfaith Dialogue with Mike Ghouse

L-R : Siham Faouzi, Mike Ghouse, Dr. Mariam Ait Ahmed Ouli, Dr. Samir Boudinar, Ed Thomas, Mohammad Ait Rhanimi, Emad Hussein and Dalia Ibrahim. All pictures at

This group is from Morocco and each one is committed to cohesive societies. Dr.Boudinar went to a Christian College in Oujda, Morocco, where Christians Students were a majority, Jews were in 2nd largest group and he was a minority!  Dr. Ouli was nostalgic about the Jewish family next door, who came to her mother to cook food on Saturdays, as it was Shabbat day for Jews, and Siham was telling beautiful stories about boys and girls playing and Mohammed was sharing how much he misses his friends from school day, who emigrated to Israel....

This is the third group of people I have met from Morocco and I am amazed at the pluralism stories.
Everyone was thrilled and the conversation went from intense to humorous exchanges.
You can see the excitement of Dr. Ouli in the pictures, she is a professor and teaches interfaith, and she and I hit it off very well. She wrote a book on Interfaith and the need for it, it’s in Arabic and is called Jadliyat al Hawar.  I have asked her to get that translated in English and maybe we should work on getting her to speak to the Muslims in ISNA conferences.

The story is same three years ago, I hosted a luncheon for a 12 nations delegation from Middle East and North Africa - they were so excited to talk about interfaith... and one of the assistants of the man who issues opinions (Fatwa) on Islamic matters at Al-Azhar university was delivering the verses from Quraan for every piece of pluralism conversation and I recall the Imam from Oman was incredible in supporting my understanding of Pluralism from Quraan.  Some four years ago, my guru Dr. Imam Yusuf Zia Kavakci and I were addressing the Students body at SMU, I was thrilled with the opportunity, same thing happened there, Dr. Kavakci wanted me to address the questions from the students first, and then he would say Brother Ghouse's statement is reflected in Quraan Verse...

The group was incredible, I told them the story of how I rejected Islam and became an atheist, they expressed curiosity but no judgment and I loved that. Then I shared with them what made me come back to Islam after almost 30 years - it was a verse in the Hindu Holy book, Bhagavad Gita which said, finding the truth is your own responsibility. I shared with them my talk on Scriptural reading at the Parliament of world’s religions, and the powerful Quraan conference held in Dallas - it was a culmination of my research and subsequently my faith, pluralism was the reason I chose Islam.   

They did not even flinch when I said, Islam was a choice and I would have been equally comfortable choosing any one of the 10 major religions, the goal would have been the same. 

Dr. Ouli, added that the interfaith dialogue should include the "role of religions in pushing knowledge, the knowledge we shared about Quraan 49:13 - the best among you is the one who learns about each other. There is a presumption that by knowing each other and respecting the otherness of other, we can create cohesive societies.

The translators always amaze me, two weeks ago, I had an interfaith conversation with an Imam from China and the translator amazed me with the accurate and moment to moment translations and now Emad Hussein floored me with quick translation of the words like pluralism and wrote for me in Arabic (in the pictures).

I will finish this in two more sittings.

Mike Ghouse

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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.