Thursday, December 20, 2007

3 Eid Mubaraks - 10 Items

Three Eid Mubaraks and Ten items to reflect
posted at:

Eid Mubarak, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Zarathosht Day, Winter Solictices and Pancha Ganapati to our members from different faiths. May God help us get out and do at least one good thing towards causing peace in the communities.

Eid celebrations on three different days is an excellent opportunity God has offered Muslims to learn to be kind and good to the one's who celebrate on a different day. It is time for us to recognize, that it should be not be a divider, rather a uniter. It takes a lot to drop the arrogance that I am right. Please drop any thought to think the others are less than you, only Allah is Akbar. Kindly wish Eid Mubarak to every one celebrating on different days, say it with your heart and see the goodness you feel within you. I guarantee it.

The following 10 items were posted at today.

Mike Ghouse

Will the Year 2008 be different?- Mirza A. Beg :: Moderator - It is piece worth pondering every day and on new years eve. A question we must ask ourselves, what have we done today to make the world a better place.

New Fatwa forbids artificial conception- Zafar Iqbal :: Moderator - I wonder if the fatwa giver knows what he is talking about. Don't lose hope with Muslims like him, in the US, there are militants who will murder the doctor who performs abortion. Some Hindu's humiliate widows from participating in weddings. We have to condemn the Imam's ignorance, but at the same time, please do not get frustrated, the extremists in all religions are made of the same material.
Winning Hearts and Minds Must Begin at Home - In America - Sarwar Kashmeri :: Moderator - how many of us in this group are involved in civic, professional and interfaith organizations? If we are part of the solution, the problems diminish. Honestly they don't know about us, on the contrary we need to hold out being judgmental towards others as well. The Author has given good examples and I hope we can be part of the society.

Building bridges - India/Pakistan - Iftekhar Hai :: Moderator - Iftekhar, I am glad you are an active participant in the interfaith bridge building activity in India and Pakistan - please keep it up.

It's no sin to shun the Hijab - Irfan :: Moderator - No, we are not saying Islam is just as bad as others, what we are saying is that the act of Parvez Mohammed was not a Muslim act to begin with, even though he may scream it out loud to save his tail. It is not Islam that motivated him, it was his animal passion to control the offspring that made him kill. There are close to 6 Million Muslims in Canada and USA, and none is inspired by Islam to kill their daughters. None of you would even contemplate the thought as it is not a human thing nor a Islamic thing.

Russia's Muslims Begin Talking about a 'Muslim Russia' - Hasni Essa :: Moderator, this is dangerous and I hope Russia takes the steps to prevent this from happening, we do not want this trend to continue - Those Muslims are reckless and careless, I hope to God it does not go any further. Let's say if the idiots were to form a nation where they are a majority, that would lead to distrust of Muslims in other nations. Further more, if this were to happen, and I pray it does not happen, those few handful of Muslims living in rural Russia will bear the brunt of the extremists among majority with distrust. I pray that we do not have another country claiming to be Islamic and do un-Islamic acts and put smaller groups of Muslims in jeopardy. The possible nation, claiming to be Islamic will certainly do injustice to it's minorities. Yes democracies do that too.. US, UK, Australia, are no exception. However, democracy is one of the best alternatives. We, the Muslims living in democracies enjoying our freedom must speak out against Muslims who want to form fake Islamic governments and instead live in democracies, they can truly practice their version of the religion without hindrance.

The battle of the books - Saeeda Maher :: It sounds like there is competition, there is money to be made in selling religion and I hope they sell peace rather than conflict.
Can religion improve peace prospects in the Middle East? :: Moderator - Certainly, the moderates of all religions should speak up and be assertive to bring peace, it is in the interests of all to have peace.

Let Us Not Remain The Jews Of Silence :: Moderator - the problem is same, the silent majority's silence is causing evil to triumph. Issue is same no matter what faith it is under the gun.

Politicising Gaza's Misery


Will the Year 2008 be different?
Mirza A. Beg

Thursday, December 20, 2007

January 1, of the year 2008 of the Julian-Gregorian calendar will be just another day in the steady flow of time. Some will celebrate because it is customary, while others will rejoice in the ever present hope of renewal, but most of the teaming poor and dispossessed of the world will not notice it. The wars will go on as legalized murder. It will be yet another day of misery and deprivation.

Most people, across the globe, at least wish for peace on Earth and equity and justice for all. They are kind and considerate as individuals. But as a group, "us versus them", we conveniently forget that it requires treating the distant "others" as we, the "us" would like to be treated. It is easy to find tortuous reasons to justify selfish interests, resulting in wars based on the worst of lies, the self serving lies that we tell ourselves. They propel us to support the politicians who lie most convincingly that killing neighbors or a people in far off lands is necessary to preserve our way of life.

Religions become the most convenient hand maiden of the propagandists, and we willingly with enthusiasm profane what we purport to hold sacred.

Eventually all wars do end, often with the exhaustion of all sides. In the past two centuries, the quantum growth in modern technology has provided unimaginable material conveniences. It has brought prosperity, but sadly there is even a greater growth in weapons to feed the wars; weapons that can be used without any danger to the user; impersonalized weapons.

In my name, with my taxes, a neighborhood full of people with similar dreams as mine, in a far off place, will be destroyed by a rocket delivered by a remote controlled plane, while I am celebrating the New Year festivities and talking of peace and goodwill. If confronted by the deception, the trite explanation will be "collateral damage", or at best an oft repeated hackneyed phrase "Oops, a mistake for which we are extremely sorry."

Ours is an age of information and instant communication. No technology can be secret for very long. Every weapon invented by an established government to oppress others in the name of crass nationalism will eventually leak out or are sold to those fighting the oppression, who after gaining power, in turn become oppressors.

The wars can not be fought or sustained unless the populace is duped into believing that the "ungodly other" or "beastly other" is trying to destroy them. The propaganda is self-sustaining and it grows until we are jolted after falling off the precipice.

Those who see injustice and keep quiet, end up being silent supporters of oppression. The "innocent" bystanders are no longer as innocent as they want to believe, especially in a democracy. If we do not object to our own government's misdeeds at home and abroad, we are guilty, because in a democracy we are the government.

Many of us were not taken in by the lies of warmongers. We foresaw and wrote about the quagmire and destruction that the war would bring, but being right before a majority realizes the folly is perceived as a greater political folly. The strength of ethical principles and intellect is branded as weakness of brawn by the glib power seekers who keep trying to deceive the electorate by appealing to the baser instincts.

We need to speak in louder and clearer voices to inject backbones in politicians who want to be with the winning side. We also need to convince the popular media that people do want to hear the other side as well. It is not economically injurious. They do not need to imitate Fox news. Unless we do it in greater numbers, the malfeasances of the Bush administration in domestic policy and endless indiscriminate wars in the name of peace will continue to create more terrorists and wider wars.

The warmongers had their run. They have sown terrible death and destruction. They have the power of the latest weapons, but they suffer a great disadvantage. They have to be against others to be hegemonic. They thrive on hatred, pitting "us" against "them".

The ideals of peace and of consideration of others as human beings may appear to be powerless, but they have one great advantage. They can unite across the false divide created by forces of ignorance and war. They extend a hand of friendship across the artificial divide. They can erase the dishonest divide.

Let us make the year 2008 a watershed, when the 21st century emerges from the deathly clutches of the wars of the 20 th century to claim its much needed place to unfold an era of peace in the flow of time.

Mirza A. Beg can be contacted at and at

New fatwa forbids artificial conception

Thursday December 20, 02:14 PM
Lucknow: A rude shock is in store for all childless Muslim couples who were planning to undergo artificial insemination.

Dar-ul-Uloom, a reputed Muslim seminary based in Deoband, UP, has issued a fatwa saying Islam cannot accept a woman conceiving through such an unnatural act.

The fatwa declares that medical techniques such as in vitro fertilisation and test tube babies are un-Islamic.

The edict raises deep socio-ethical questions for the community that is grappling with modernity and change.

Said the Dar-ul-Uloom's Ulema, Mufti Imran, "A woman whose husband is not able to give children, she is not permitted to use any other means. It is forbidden and un-Islamic.

The fatwa also bans infertile women from allowing others to bear their babies.

Clerics say it is improper to masturbate in order to get a child through artificial means. Though a child born this way will be regarded as one's own descendant, the method itself is undesirable and is haraam, or forbidden, if done through a doctor.

This is not the first time that the Dar-ul-Uloom of Deoband has issued such a controversial fatwa. The edict has evoked a mix response from the Muslim leaders."

AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) member Khalid Rashid agrees with the ruling.

''You cannot make a child through any artificial manner. A child should be (created) in a natural manner," he says. "If Allah has not given a child, He has not given the right (to get one) through artificial means."

But the President of the AIMWPLB (All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board), Shaista Ambar, disagrees.

"If we have a lady doctor, then there should not be any problem," she maintains.

Religious leaders also feel that the Shariyat or the Muslim law book does not give the right of adoption. A child adopted by a Muslim family can receive gifts from his or her parents but he or she cannot become their legal heir.

With inputs from Achyut Punnekat in New Delhi


Winning Hearts and Minds Must Begin at Home - In America

Source: FPA Features
Author: Sarwar Kashmeri

Winning hearts and minds of the world's billion Muslims, has been a top American priority since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars and harnessing some of the best minds in and out of the administration in this quest, America is more despised today in Islamic countries than ever before.

One important reason, I believe, is because the target audience for this critically important project was incorrectly defined. Instead of focusing on hearts and minds of the world's Muslims, we ought to focus on the increasingly biased and negative attitude displayed by a growing number of Americans towards Islam and Muslims. Once this changes, the Internet and its powerful distribution channels will take care of winning hearts and minds around the world far more effectively than any Washington directed propaganda project.

Let me give some examples to support my argument.

In a recent discussion at one of New York's most prestigious clubs my dinner companion, by all accounts a prosperous and well educated money manager, made it quite clear she'd be very happy to never see a Muslim speaker at the club because "all they want to do is kill us." A not infrequently heard generalization these days.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was recently asked, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today, if he would consider including qualified Muslims in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, Romney's answer: "I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

Or consider the plight of Abe Dabdoub, an Arab-American engineer and plant manager in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dabdoub's pride at becoming an American citizen last year was short lived. Much of his family lives in Canada and he visits them often. Since August 2006 Dabdoub has been fingerprinted 14 times, body searched 9 times, handcuffed 4 times and isolated in a separate detention room 13 times. His wife is also subjected to the same scrutiny. The American Civil Liberties Union believes Mr. Dabdoub's experience is widely shared by those with names that sound Middle-Eastern and is based on the profiling of Arabs and Muslims at border crossing points.

It is hard to overestimate the impact of such reports as they make their way around the world on newspapers and the Internet. Is it any wonder that the U.S. funded Hearts and Minds project has been such a failure?

I'd propose expanding the initiative taken by Montana resident David Grimland, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who served in countries such as Turkey, India, and Bangladesh that have large Muslim populations. He says he was saddened and horrified at the way the American media has depicted Islam and Muslims after 9/11. "I decided then that I'd spent 30 years telling the American side of the story, and now its time for me explain Islam to non-Muslims, and try to balance the negative opinions that have been created," he told me. And he's been doing this for the last two years at universities, churches, schools, meeting halls, and even Indian Reservations. Grimland draws large audiences -- at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort, a few weeks ago he found himself speaking to one group for three hours, another for four.

"I'm going to ask you, at least for this evening, to try to put on a pair of Muslim glasses and see what the world looks like," he tells his audiences. With the exception of a handful of people who come with preconceived ideas most of the audiences I have spoken to, in Montana and elsewhere, come to listen and learn. They may not always agree, but they are interested in my side of the story," he says. Grimland has begun to draw national attention.

I am convinced he is drawing the crowds he does because he is an experienced American diplomat speaking to Americans. His message has a power that Madison Avenue inspired messages, movies, or panels of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders discussing why all religions are the same can never have.

So my suggestion to Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and James K. Glassman, the new secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs: Use those Hearts and Minds millions to hire as many retired American Foreign Service officers and diplomats as the money will buy, and saturate America with their presentations. As the Muslim world sees the attitude of Americans change, their hearts and minds will too.

Sarwar A. Kashmeri, is a corporate strategic communications advisor, Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, and author of the America and Europe After 9/11 and Iraq: The Great Divide. He can be reached through his blog.

Building bridges

India-Pakistan Trip Report

By Iftekhar Hai

I just came back from a very exciting visit to India and Pakistan during November, trying to build interfaith harmony.

I visited the Center for the Study of Society and Secularism in Bombay, where I met Indian writers dedicated to secularism and human rights so essential for eliminating religious extremism. Indians have experienced thousands of years of interfaith reactions and are intellectually and spiritually at peace with all religions. This kind of thinking infuses their daily behavior. Writers from the center hosted me, and I told them what is happening in America today and how we should all be joining together in carving a better world full of diversity and pluralism.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, United Religion Initiative of India organized an international conference on, "Peace through Reconciliation" from Nov. 22 to 25. Dr. Mohammed H. Ansari, the vice president of India, inaugurated the peace conference. Representatives of all the major religions participated. Dr. Ansari said, "Peace cannot become our destiny if it is not built on justice backed up with truth. Negotiators must realize that we all have a stake in a peaceful world." He added: "Reconciliation cannot happen if parties are not prepared to listen and accept the point of view of their adversaries. The impulse of self-righteousness forces us not to reconcile."

Dr. Mohinder Singh, a Sikh scholar, said, "We must stand up for higher values of humanity. The global religious community cannot sit idly. We all have a moral responsibility to work for peace among religions." The highlight of the program was my interaction with the students of Salwan Public School of New Delhi. They were all excited to see the leaders of interfaith community coming together to celebrate diversity and pluralism.

Personally, I felt there is hope for a better world when these students become adults and take their rightful place in the comity of nations.

I visited Pakistan on Nov. 14. It was during this time the parliament was dissolved and military rule was declared to stop suicide bombing and insurgency in Taliban-infested areas of Pakistan. The armed forces were seen at every main road lined up with AK-47s. Because of that, Pakistanis behave much better and become law abiding under the watchful eyes of the law enforcers.

One poor rickshaw driver said, "Pakistanis cannot be democratized _ they behave good when "Big Brother" watches over their shoulders _ we are unruly people _ perhaps it may take one more generation to learn from our Indian neighbor."

In Karachi, I visited a religious school and spoke to Islamic scholars. They were all too curious to learn about why America has become belligerent towards Muslims and Islam. I told them that Americans are believers in God and hold the same values as people from other faiths. But they firmly believe in religious pluralism and diversity, and that the fight is against radicalism and not against Muslims as a whole.

Muslim scholars agreed that there is a need for reforms in the traditional interpretation of the Holy Scriptures to reflect the values of the 21st century.

Iftekhar Hai is the president of United Muslims of American Interfaith Alliance in South San Francisco. He can be reached at or (650) 270-9542


Date: Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:20 pm
Subject: Re: MuslimAgenda :: re:: :: It's no sin to shun the hijab

Sorry but I have a different take on this. Abuse that happens in many Western homes is different. That abuse has nothing to do with religion. And whenever such abuse happens, it is taken seriously by people in general as well as by law-enforcement. In the so-called Muslim countries, abuse happens widely, too, but almost never gets reported, nor gets any publicity. Women are raped there, too---even the police sometimes rapes ladies who go their to file reports--and yet no one cares.

The "Hijab murder", on the other hand, has 'religious' overtones. Hence it is getting a lot of publicity--as it must in any civilized society. One cannot compare apples and oranges.

Honor killing is a crime and all of us MUST condemn it at all levels, in public speaking and writing. We must emphatically assert that it has nothing to do with Islam. As long as we keep your head in the sand and continue being apologist for irresponsible behavior saying "well, what's the big deal, the women abuse happens in the US and all other countries, too". Frankly, that is a lousy defense. Are we saying that the Islam is just as bad as anything else?

I have seen VERY FEW "ulema" actually coming out and condemning the criminal father's behavior openly. We all know that there are many "Ulema" who will condone and just shrug the whole event off---some even will justify it from some ahadith.

Let's take this moment for introspection and learn to do justice no matter what the circumstances are. That's the concept of justice the Qur'an teaches us.


Russia's Muslims Begin Talking about a 'Muslim Russia'
Paul Goble

Vienna, December 18 Russias Muslims are beginning to change the way they talk about the relationship between their religious community and their country, a shift that reflects their own growing self-confidence but one that frightens many ethnic Russians who see it as a threat to their own status.

Until recently, Daniyal Isayev writes in a commentary on the portal, the Muslims of Russia, like most analysts who discuss their community, typically spoke about Islam and Russia, Islam in Russia, and even [non-ethnic] Russian Islam. But they never referred to Muslim Russia.

Now, he writes, ever more of the faithful there are doing just that, a reflection of how much is changing both in the world and in Russia itself -- and especially in the consciousness, self-conception and position of Muslims living in that country (http://www.islam.rupressclub/analitika/bumora/? print_page).

This shift does not represent a split in Russian society, the Muslim commentator insists, but rather represents an affirmation that Islam is an inalienable part of Russia and that Russia as a state and civilization could not exist without Islam and the Muslims.

The Islamic community emerged on the territory of contemporary Russia not only centuries earlier than in many other regions of the world which today are considered traditionally Islamic but centuries before the appearance of the [ethnic] Russian people and [ethnic] Russian and [non-ethnic] Russian statehood.

Muslim Russia, he writes, is Derbent, Kazan, Astrakhan, Ufa, Tyumen, Orenburg and so on. Today, this is also Moscow and St. Petersburg. {It] is the creativity of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tolstoy, an enormous territory and peoples of Northern Eurasia who were drawn together by the Golden Horde.

Moreover, Muslim Russia is [also] the victories on the fronts of the First and Second World Wars, gold medals at the Olympics and scientific achievements of recent years. And the future of Muslim Russia, Isayev suggests, is certain to be even richer and more beneficial to the country.

That is because Muslim Russia is not a finished or finally completed phenomenon. [It] is a dynamically developing present and a magnificent future of our country, one in which Russias Muslims every day acquire ever greater certainty in their own strength, in their own goals, and their own future.

In many ways, Muslims today are playing in Russia the role of the creative minority that the English historian Arnold Toynbee suggested every country needs. And by doing so, they are thus helping others in Russia to overcome the deep crisis that many have been experiencing. . . .


The Bible v the Koran
The battle of the books

Dec 19th 2007 WASHINGTON, DC


The business of marketing the Bible and the Koran says a lot about the state of modern Christianity and Islam

CHRISTIANS and Muslims have one striking thing in common: they are both “people of the book”. And they both have an obligation to spread the Word—to get those Holy Books into the hands and hearts of as many people as they can. (The Jews, the third people of the book, do not feel quite the same obligation.)

Spreading the Word is hard. The Bible is almost 800,000 words long and littered with tedious passages about begetting. The Koran is a mere four-fifths of the length of the New Testament; but some Westerners find it an even more difficult read. Edward Gibbon complained about its “endless incoherent rhapsody of fable and precept”. Thomas Carlyle said that it was “as toilsome reading as I ever undertook; a wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite”.

Yet over 100m copies of the Bible are sold or given away every year. Annual Bible sales in America are worth between $425m and $650m; Gideon's International gives away a Bible every second. The Bible is available all or in part in 2,426 languages, covering 95% of the world's population.

The Koran is not only the most widely read book in the Islamic world but also the most widely recited (“Koran” means “recitation”). There is no higher goal in Muslim life than to become a human repository of the Holy Book; there is no more common sound in the Muslim world than the sound of Koranic recitation.

Reciting the Koran is the backbone of Muslim education. One of the most prized honorifics in Islamic society is “hafiz” or “one who has the entire scripture off by heart”. Do so in Iran and you get an automatic university degree. The great recitors compete in tournaments that can attract audiences in the hundreds of thousands—the world cups of the Islamic world. The winners' CDs become instant bestsellers.

The Bible and the Koran have both gone global. In 1900, 80% of the world's Christians lived in Europe and the United States. Today 60% live in the developing world. More Presbyterians go to church in Ghana than in Scotland. In 1900 Islam was concentrated in the Arab world and South-East Asia. Today, there may be as many practising Muslims in England as there are practising Anglicans; though in the 20th century, at least, Islam's expansion has mostly come about through population growth and migration, rather than conversion. Muslim “missionary” activity is aimed more at reinvigorating the faithful, and encouraging them to greater zealotry, than at winning new souls.

This mountain of Holy Books is a giant refutation of the secularisation thesis—the idea that religion recedes as the world modernises. “The book lives on among its people,” Constance Padwick, a scholar of the Koran, has written. “For them these are not mere letters or mere words. They are the twigs of the burning bush, aflame with God.” The same can be said of the Bible.
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It also poses a couple of intriguing questions. Why are today's Christians and Muslims proving so successful at getting the Word out? And who is winning the battle of the books? Is either of the world's two great missionary religions gaining an edge when it comes to getting their Holy Books into people's hands and hearts?

The straightforward answer to the first question is that Christians and Muslims are both proving remarkably adept at using the tools of modernity—globalisation, technology and growing wealth—to aid the distribution of their Holy Books. “Give me Scotland or I die,” John Knox once cried. Today's faithful aim for the world.

The combination of globalisation and rising wealth is proving to be a bonanza for both religions. The most prolific producer of Christian missionaries, on a per head basis, is now South Korea. The biggest Bible publishing houses are in Brazil and South Korea. An interlinked global network of 140 national or regional Bible Societies pools resources to reach its collective goal of putting a Bible in the hands of every man, woman and child on the planet. The American Bible Society, the biggest of the lot, has published more than 50m Bibles in atheist China.

Saudi oil wealth is supercharging the distribution of the Koran. The kingdom gives away some 30m Korans a year, under the auspices of either the Muslim World League or individual billionaires, distributing them through a vast network of mosques, Islamic societies and even embassies. Go to and you can have a free book in your hands in weeks.

Saudi-funded dissemination of the Koran, along with literature promoting the stern Saudi understanding of Islam, may not have much direct effect on Christians, or the unchurched. But it does increase the relative weight, within Islam, of teachings which tend to sharpen the Christian-Muslim divide. For example, traditional Muslim teaching stresses those passages in the Koran which affirm the Christian Gospel and the Hebrew Torah as valid revelations of God and paths to salvation. But there is a harsher, Saudi-influenced view which insists that since Muhammad delivered the final revelation, Christianity and Judaism have lost their power to save.

The Muslim diaspora and Muslim missionaries are bringing the faith to previously untouched areas. The Tablighi Jamaat (“the group that propagates the faith”) is a global network of part-time preachers who dress like the Prophet, in a white robe and leather sandals, and travel in small groups to spread the Word. Their annual gatherings in India and Pakistan attract hundreds of thousands.

Technology is proving to be a friend of the Holy Books. You can consult them on the internet. You can read them on your “Psalm pilot” or mobile phone. You can listen to them on MP3 players or iPods (“podcasting” has given rise to “Godcasting”). Want to “plug into God without unplugging from life”? Then simply buy a Go Bible MP3 player. Want to memorise the Koran? Then buy an MP3 player that displays the words as you listen. Want to network with like-minded people? Then the eBible allows you to discuss biblical passages with virtual friends.

Several television channels and radio stations do nothing but broadcast the Koran. At the other end of the technological spectrum, the American Bible Society produces an audio device, powered by a battery or hand crank and no bigger than a couple of cigar boxes, that can broadcast the Bible to a crowd of a hundred.
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A well-thumbed Book

There is a difference, however, between getting and understanding a Holy Book. Here both Christianity and Islam suffer from serious problems. Americans buy more than 20m new Bibles every year to add to the four that the average American has at home. Yet the state of American biblical knowledge is abysmal. A Gallup survey found that less than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), only a third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Billy Graham is a popular answer) and a quarter do not know what is celebrated at Easter (the resurrection, the foundational event of Christianity). Sixty per cent cannot name half the ten commandments; 12% think Noah was married to Joan of Arc. George Gallup, a leading Evangelical as well as a premier pollster, describes America as “a nation of biblical illiterates”.

Muslims greatly prefer to read the Koran in the original Arabic. Yet the archaic language and high-flown verse, while inspiring, can also be difficult to understand even for educated Arabic speakers. And only 20% of Muslims speak Arabic as their first language. Illiteracy rates are high across the Muslim world. Many students of the Holy Book do not understand much of what they are memorising.

This needs to be kept in mind when considering who is winning the battle of the books. For some, the question is an abomination. Can't both sides win by converting the heathen? And aren't Christianity and Islam fellow Abrahamic faiths—different versions of the Truth? Others worry that the question is impossible to answer, since there are no systematic figures on the distribution of the Koran, and the battle's front-line cuts through some of the darkest and most dangerous places on the planet. Muslims would argue that their struggle was aimed more at galvanising their own flock than at converting unbelievers. But Islam's relative introversion doesn't make for peaceful coexistence. In many parts of the world, Islamic authorities have reacted furiously to attempts by Christians to entice Muslims to “apostasise” or renounce their faith; in traditional Islamic law, the penalty for apostasy is death; and encouraging believers to apostasise is also treated as a crime.

In many parts of the world, battle seems to be in progress. The Saudis will not allow the Bible to be distributed on their soil. Many Evangelical Christians are fixated on what they call the 10/40 window—the vast swathe of the Islamic world in Africa and Asia that lies between latitudes 10 and 40 north of the equator. The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas has even created a masters degree to train missionaries in the art of converting Muslims. Some Evangelicals produce counterfeit Korans that are designed to plant doubt in Muslim minds.

And the battle of the books is certainly at the heart of the battle between the two religions. People who get hold of Bibles or Korans may not read them or understand them. Unless they are introduced to the books they will certainly remain heathens. Even an imperfect report on the state of the battle tells us a lot about the world's two great missionary religions.

The Christians entered the 21st century with a big head start. There are 2 billion of them in the world compared with 1.5 billion Muslims. But Islam had a better 20th century than Christianity. The world's Muslim population grew from 200m in 1900 to its current levels. Christianity has shrivelled in Christendom's European heart. Islam is resurgent across the Arab world. Many Christian scholars predict that Islam will overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion by 2050.

More recently, though, Muslims complain that the “war on terror” is making it much more difficult to spread the Koran. Contributions to Muslim charities have fallen since September 11th 2001. Several charities have had their funding disrupted. Missionary organisations such as the Tablighi Jamaat are under investigation by Western intelligence services, on the grounds that they may be way-stations to jihadism. And Muslims confront much bigger long-term problems in the battle of the books.

The first is Christianity's superior marketing skills. Its religious publishing houses are big businesses. Thomas Nelson, which was once owned by a former door-to-door Bible salesman, was bought in 2005 for $473m. And secular publishing houses have also got religion: HarperCollins bought Zondervan, a religious book publisher, in the late 1980s, and now most mainstream publishers are trying to produce their own Bibles. As a result, all the tricks of the publisher's trade are being applied to the Bible.

Consider product proliferation. Thomas Nelson publishes 60 different editions of the Bible every year. The Good Book now comes in all colours, including those of your college. There are Bibles for every sort of person, from “seekers” to cowboys, from brides to barmen. There is a waterproof outdoor Bible and a camouflage Bible for use in war zones. The “100 minute Bible” summarises the Good Book for the time-starved.

Consider user-friendliness. There are prayer books in everyday vernacular or even street slang (“And even though I walk through/The Hood of death/I don't back down/for you have my back”). Or consider innovation. In 2003 Thomas Nelson dreamt up the idea of Bible-zines—crosses between Bibles and teenage magazines. The pioneer was Revolve, which intercuts the New Testament with beauty tips and relationship advice (“are you dating a Godly guy?”). This was quickly followed by Refuel, for boys, and Blossom and Explore, for tweens.

The world's richest and most powerful country contains some 80m Evangelicals

There are toddler-friendly versions of the most famous Bible stories. The “Boy's Bible” promises “gross and gory Bible stuff”. The “Picture Bible” looks like a super-hero comic. “God's Little Princess Devotional Bible” is pink and sparkly.
There are about 900 English translations of the Bible, ranging from the grandiloquent to the colloquial.

There are translations into languages, such as Inupiat and Gullah, that are spoken by only handfuls of people. Bob Hudson, of the American Bible Society, wants everybody on the planet to be able to claim that “God speaks my language”. A couple of eccentric geeks have even translated the Bible into Klingon, a language spoken only by scrofulous space aliens on “Star Trek”.
Publishers are producing sophisticated dramatisations of the Bible with famous actors and state-of-the-art sound effects. Zondervan's “The Bible Experience” features every black actor in Hollywood from Denzel Washington to Samuel L. Jackson. Other outfits are making films that dramatise Bible stories as faithfully as possible.

And then there are the spin-offs. A “fully posable” Jesus doll recites famous passages of the Good Book. There are Bible quiz books, stuffed with crosswords and other word puzzles, and Bible bingo games. There are Bible colouring books, sticker books and floor puzzles. There is even a Bible-based juke box that plays your favourite biblical passages.

Muslims have also gone into the Holy Book business, but nowhere near as enthusiastically as Christians. This is partly because their commercial publishing houses are smaller and less sophisticated, but also because Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal word of God—dictated to Muhammad (who was himself illiterate) by the Angel Gabriel and then written down by Muhammad's followers. “The Koran does not document what is other than itself,” one scholar notes. “It is not about the truth. It is the truth.”

This makes Muslims uncomfortable with translations. The Holy Book says sternly that “we have sent no messenger save with the tongue of his people.” Today most Muslims tolerate translations—there are now more than 20 English translations—but do so reluctantly. Most translations are as literal as possible. Pious Muslims are expected to learn God's language.

The second advantage the Christians have is America. The world's richest and most powerful country contains some 80m Evangelicals. It supports more missionaries, more broadcasting organisations and more global publishers than any other country. Despite some countries' oil wealth, the Koran's heartland is relatively poor. The Arab world has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, with a fifth of men and two-fifths of women unable to read. It also has one of the lowest rates of internet usage.

The third big advantage is the West's belief in religious freedom—guaranteed in America by the constitution, and in Europe by an aversion to religious persecution caused by centuries of it. The heartland of Islam, by contrast, is theocratic. The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance employs 120,000 people, including 72,000 imams. Saudi Arabia bans non-Islamic worship and regards attempts to convert Muslims to another faith as a criminal offence. Pakistan has witnessed the attacks on Christian missionaries. Sudan punishes “religious deviation” with imprisonment.

Christian Evangelists complain that this creates an uneven playing field: Muslims can build giant mosques in “Christian lands” while Christians are barred from distributing Bibles in Saudi Arabia and Iran. But uneven playing fields tend to weaken the home players. Open competition is a boon to religion: American Evangelism has flourished precisely because America has no official church. And theocracy is ultimately a source of sloth and conservatism. “The Book and the Koran”, by Muhammad Shahrur, which tried to reinterpret the Koran for modern readers, was widely banned in the Islamic world, despite its pious tone and huge popularity.

This state-of-the-battle report comes with a health warning. Predicting the fate of religions is unwise, for they can burn or gutter in unpredictable ways. But two things are certain in the battle of the books. The first is that the urge to spread the Word will spark some of the fiercest conflicts of the 21st century. The area that is being most heavily fought over—sub-Saharan Africa—is a tinder box of failed states and ethnic animosities. The second is that the Bible and the Koran will continue to exercise a dramatic influence over human events, for both good and ill. The twigs of the burning bush are still aflame with the fire of God.

Can religion improve peace prospects in the Middle East?

A council of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders devised a six-point plan to help bring about reconciliation
By Jane Lampman Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the December 20, 2007 edition
Council: Members of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land met Nov. 6 in Washington at the Norwegian ambassador's residence prior to peace talks in Annapolis, Md.
Courtesy of David C. Austin/the American Jewish committee

For some 60 years, attempts to craft a lasting peace for the Holy Land have fallen woefully short. As a new round of Israeli-Palestinian talks gets under way, some leaders from the region are insisting that it's time to include a religious dimension in the peace process.

It is the Holy Land, after all, they say, with history and sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The majority on both sides recognize that the conflict is over territory and self-determination, not religion. Yet religious traditions are central to both peoples' identities and are invoked to justify nationalist claims.

"It's a territorial conflict between peoples whose identities are deeply nurtured by a religious history, culture, and mind-set," says Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. "That mind-set can be used to promote a constructive engagement with the other community, or to exacerbate alienation, self-righteousness, and demonization of the other."
In a landmark event just before last month's summit in Annapolis, Md., the highest-ranking Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders in the Holy Land took a joint public stand in favor of constructive engagement.

After a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem, Israel's chief rabbis; the Muslim sheikhs in charge of the sharia courts and Jerusalem's holy sites; and local Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican leaders traveled to Washington.

As delegates of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, they announced a six-point plan to use their positions of leadership "to prevent religion being used as a source of conflict, and to serve the goals of a just and comprehensive peace and reconciliation."

Their first steps will be to create a "hot line" to address issues of protection of and access to holy sites, and new mechanisms to monitor the media for derogatory representations of any religion. They've agreed to reflect together on the future of Jerusalem, support the designation of the Old City as a World Heritage Site, and seek "a common vision" for the city.

The leaders plan an education initiative to promote mutual respect in schools and the media. And they promise to press the message in their own communities that differences should be addressed through dialogue rather than violence. Finally, the council aims to consult with political leaders on the peace process.

Religious vacuum filled by extremists
According to the clerics and experts in conflict resolution, one of the great shortcomings of past peace initiatives has been the failure to tap into religious sensibilities during negotiations.
It is ironic that in all the previous agreements negotiated on the future of the Holy Land there were no representatives of religious leaders," says Muhammad Abu Nimer, a conflict resolution specialist who teaches at American University in Washington. "The religious dimension is fundamental to the solution."
That failure has had significant consequences, some argue, sending a message to the fervent believers in both communities that secularists were in charge of the process and their interests were not being taken into consideration.

"On the lawn of the White House in 1993, when the famous handshake took place with Arafat and Rabin, there was no identifiable religious figure present," Rabbi Rosen says. "By ignoring the religious voice, a vacuum was created that could be filled by the extremists."

A Jewish extremist killed Prime Min­ister Rabin two years later, and Palestinian suicide bombing began in earnest.

"They all thought they were doing God's bidding because they felt the peace process was against God's will," Rosen adds. "If you think the way to deal with extremist abuse of religion is to ignore religion, you are inviting that extremist religion to occupy center stage."

Political leaders have shied from dealing with religion partly because they view it as playing a negative role in the conflict. And partly, Dr. Abu Nimer says, because the norms of international politics have been to separate religion from politics and therefore from negotiations.

"Israeli and Palestinian national leaders, as well as American diplomats, are conditioned to see religion as a problem rather than a resource for peace-­building," says Yehezkel Landau, who was active in interfaith efforts in the Holy Land and now teaches at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. "They let the zealots monopolize it in the public arena rather than call upon the moderate and pragmatic leaders to have a public role."

But to play a role, religious leaders must be willing to speak out and perhaps pay a price, the experts say. In the past, many have been unwilling to do so.

According to Forward, the American Jewish weekly, the council's statement represents the first time Israel's chief rabbis have spoken of ending the occupation of the West Bank. It's the first time top Muslim clerics have agreed to work with Israelis on the peace process.

The very existence of the council constitutes a major milestone.

The historic breakthrough occurred in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2002, following 9/11. Thanks to then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the first Middle East interfaith summit of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders took place at Al-Azhar, the world's chief Islamic learning center. The group issued the Alexandria Declaration, proclaiming their commitment to ending the violence.

But it was a gathering of individuals, not institutions, Rosen explains, and as individuals retired or changed positions, the continuity of the effort faltered.

Still, the meeting spurred other developments. A new World Congress of Imams and Rabbis has met twice, and will have a third meeting in 2008. Christians and Muslims in Nigeria drew on the principles of the declaration to reach their own peace agreement. And the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, formed in 2005, is now institutionalizing the effort begun in Alexandria.

"If the council follows through on its six points, it could make a vital contribution to the negotiations and to reconciliation," says Mr. Landau. "They are in a position to say that making peace with adversaries is a religious and moral imperative, not just a political expediency."

Clerics of the three faiths have a greater desire to be engaged because they recognize that their communities are jeopardized by the rise of extremism, says Rosen, an adviser to the chief rabbis.

Ads, fact-finding missions might help

Others experienced in peace efforts in the Holy Land say that it's important the leaders are coming together in this way, but there are more visible steps to take.

"I'd like to see religious leadership engage in joint activities that have a profound spiritual and emotional impact on both sides – through the use of ritual and teaching and ethical gestures to each community," says Marc Gopin, director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

To compete with the voices of religious extremists, Dr. Gopin adds, they should mount sophisticated advertising campaigns that make religious justifications for the three religions moving forward together, and for making peace.

Abu Nimer points to such steps as using their status to promote human rights, or undertaking fact-finding missions to places like Gaza. One constraint on top Jewish and Muslim leaders: They are political appointees, and if their governments fail to support the peace process, it may be difficult for them to act. (The Palestinian president and Israeli prime minister currently back the council.)

"The religious leaders have limitless areas of joint work – if they are willing to take the risk," Abu Nimer says. "We now probably have a real window of optimism [after Annapolis]," but people want concrete change.

Let Us Not Remain The Jews Of Silence
By Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf and Steve Masters

For a minimum donation of $100, Brit Tzedek will send you a copy of Lords Of The Land: The Settlers And The State Of Israel by Akiva Eldar and Idith Zertal, the first comprehensive history of the settlements.
The American Jewish community has been one of Israel’s most stalwart supporters since its foundation. We rightly see the Jewish State as our spiritual home, and in times of trouble, never fail to stand by Israel’s side.

Why do we not do so in times of hope?

The negotiation process launched in Annapolis and set to resume early next week marks a possible turning point in decades of bloodshed, as President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas embark on a process of reconciliation – one in which painful concessions will be made, but which is intended to lead to peace and security on all sides. For the first time in seven years, Israelis, Palestinians and the U.S. are engaged in a genuine effort to resolve the conflict.

Yet rather than encourage such an outcome, most of institutional American Jewry was and remains stunningly silent regarding the Annapolis process – if not openly hostile.

As leaders in our community – for a combined 88 years – we find this inexplicable.

For years, every poll conducted has shown that an overwhelming majority of American Jews support a U.S. brokered peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. Most recently, a survey found that sixty-eight percent of us are more likely to support a Presidential candidate who pledges an active role in negotiations, and that eighty-seven percent of American Jews support a two-state solution.

Eighty-seven percent! Is there anything else in the American public discourse on which so many Jews agree?

Let’s not misunderstand the stakes: The fact that a clear majority of American Jews – and, not incidentally, a clear majority of Israelis and Palestinians – want a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict, does not mean it will happen.

The initial Annapolis conference was heartening – it gave hope when, for so long, there has been little. But for that hope to be realized, all those who would see a sustainable peace have to invest real effort in standing by Israel as it attempts to change history. As the sides ready for another meeting, controversy over Israeli settlement expansions and a recent escalation in violence – with Qassam rockets falling on Israel and Israel retaliating with airstrikes on Gaza – serve as a terrifying cautionary tale. If the talks don’t create real change, they’ll lead nowhere.

When Israel faced war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the Jewish community’s response was loud and unambiguous: Solidarity rallies were held nationwide as Israel suffered daily rocket attacks, and intense fundraising efforts were launched by every Jewish federation, to provide critical aid to the war’s victims.

It simply doesn’t make sense that we were so present at such a time, but when 20 Arab nations and the leaders of the Palestinian people sit down with Israel’s Prime Minister, our voice is barely heard. How can it be that our community speaks up in times of war, but not when there is a genuine opportunity to actually prevent war?

Our tradition teaches that we must never abandon hope; nor are we permitted to give up on what we’ve started, even if we’re unable to complete the task ourselves. We survived centuries of persecution to emerge into the light of a newly formed modern nation; we must never allow our hopes and dreams for peace to be extinguished by doubt and despair.

Now is the time for our community to rise to the challenge of peace. Israel desperately needs our support as it bravely struggles to put an end to the cycle of death and destruction through the path of negotiation. There will always be people, on all sides, dedicated to thwarting the chances for peace; it must become our highest priority not to let them succeed.

With many disappointments and seven years of inactivity behind us, it would be understandable to give up, label Annapolis a fancy photo-op, and stock-pile supplies for the next war.

But we dare not. If the Annapolis process doesn’t bear fruit, there’s no way of knowing what disasters will befall Israel and the Palestinians as they await another chance – if, indeed, another chance presents itself.

If the Jewish public truly wants to give the Jewish State the support it needs, we will stand by our convictions, and act. The current U.S. President and the one who replaces him must know: The American Jewish community stands behind the Annapolis process, and demands sustained diplomatic engagement to ensure a successful outcome.

Our love and hope for Israel demand nothing less.

Arnold Jacob Wolf is rabbi emeritus at KAM Isaiah Israel in Chicago. Steve Masters is national president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.

Politicising Gaza's Misery
By Ramzy Baroud

20 December, 2007

Intense debate over Gaza is subsiding as the status quo is delineated -- predictably -- by those with the bigger guns. But to what extent can human suffering be politicised, turned into an intellectual polemic that fails to affect the simplest change in people's lives?

Hamas's political advent in January 2006 as the first "opposition" movement in the Arab world to ascend to power using peaceful and democratic means was successfully thwarted in a brazen coup, engineered jointly by the United States, Israel and renegade Palestinians factionalists. Following this, history was rewritten, as is usual, by the victor. Thus Hamas, a party embodying democratic institutions in the occupied territories, became the party that "overthrew" Abbas's "legitimate" democracy. As strange a notion as that is (a government overthrowing itself), it went down in the annals of Western media as uncontested truth.

All parties involved, directly or otherwise, were expected to determine their position from this fallacious claim, and they did so to meet their own interests. Some had little problem in disowning Palestinian democracy altogether. The United States government, Israel, the European Union, and various non- democratic Arab governments were delighted by the outcome of Palestinian infighting. They celebrated Abbas and his faction as the true and legitimate democrats, and chastised those who disagreed. Countries such as Russia, South Africa and some Arab Gulf states followed suit, with some hesitation and disgruntlement, but too weak or indecisive to confront the status quo.

On the Palestinian front, the choices were harder, but nonetheless those who were previously aligned neither to Fatah nor Hamas now positioned themselves quickly on the side that served them best. Renowned leftists, for example, who normally spoke as though they were representatives of the voice of reason, now couldn't risk losing what few ineffective NGOs they operated in a management style more reminiscent of "grocery stores" (the actual name that many Palestinians use to mock many of the NGOs in their midst).

Fear of losing freedom of movement and access to US and European financial institutions motivated many Palestinians to disown Gaza completely. The sympathy millions of people worldwide felt towards the perpetually suffering Gazans translated mostly in the realm of the intangible. Helplessness prevailed and quickly joined the prevalent sense of powerlessness and incapacity long affiliated with Palestine in general and Gaza in particular.

To distract from this issue, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were hurriedly rushed to Annapolis for a badly needed photo-op. Exalted by the self-proclaimed champion of democracy, President Bush, both leaders are on a new quest for peace. The US-sponsored sideshow has achieved its aim. Dates such as January 2006 among others are now completely cast aside; new dates, new rhetoric and new promises are replacing the old ones; all eyes are now on Abbas and Olmert, Ramallah and Tel Aviv, with calls for future conferences and painful compromises. And Gaza is becoming a forgotten or irrelevant footnote.

The Strip is under a harsh and unprecedented siege, with people dying as a result of the lack of medical aid. Israel has cut diesel supplies to 60,000 litres, when 350,000 litres are required daily. How can an already underdeveloped economy run on such a meagre amount of energy, let alone hospitals and schools? Electricity is also being drastically cut, as per the recommendation of Israel's High Court, and unemployment is at the highest level it has ever been (past the 75 per cent mark). One and a half million inhabitants are literary trapped in a 365-square kilometre prison without any breathing room whatsoever and little food, little energy, and are told, more or less, that they deserve their fate.

If the media mentions Gaza at all, it does so in a politicised context. For example: three militants killed by Israeli missiles; Israeli army says militants were on their way to fire rockets into Israel; Hamas leader remains defiant, and so on. Much of the coverage is now focussed only on augmenting the sins of Hamas, whereby every single conduct or misconduct is blown out of proportion. The bottom line is that whatever suffering Gazans endure, it is caused by the Hamas militant menace and their "forces of darkness". Whether Hamas's violations of human rights are at all related to the state of siege, murder and chaos created by the many circumstances that preceded it, remains completely irrelevant. Gaza has become the needed leading precept for Palestinians, and others, reminding them of what they cannot dare do if they want to be spared the same fate. Palestinians in the West Bank are being asked to contrast the images of angry, bearded Hamas police officers cracking down on protesters with the soft-spoken bespectacled Abbas in international conferences brimming amid healthy, overfed faces.

The true reasons behind Gaza's suffering are entirely omitted, except by a few Arab and progressive newspapers like this one. The debate is now being moved from the immediate concern of media circles into academic conferences, books and long essays; parallels are abundantly invoked between Gaza and other spheres of US influence.

This is not to deny credit to those who have had the courage to take the right stance on the dramatic events unfolding in Gaza. Many possess enough humanity to separate the politics that led to Gaza's complete isolation from the fact that real people with feelings and hopes and aspirations are suffering, enduring and dying unnecessarily before our very eyes. Israel's camp is relentless in justifying Israel's racism and the brutality inflicted on Palestinians, using the same tired arguments, such as Israel's security and right to exist, and accusing their detractors of anti-Semitism at every turn. But what argument could there be for those who are troubled by human suffering and yet losing sight of Gaza's misery? I cannot think of any justification for apathy before a dying child, whether black, white, Arab, Jewish or any other.

Let's not allow inhumanity to become the accepted norm. If we allowed it to triumph in Gaza, we are deemed to repeat it elsewhere.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

1 comment:

  1. Regarding "honor" killings, we must all stand up and speak out for basic human rights.

    Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
    "Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"



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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.