Thursday, February 28, 2008

Save Fawza Falih Petition

Fawza Falih to be beheaded by Saudi Arabia for making a man "impotent"
Thursday, February 28 2008 @ 11:25 AM EST
Edited by: Michael Hess

Religious Leaders Call for Halt to Saudi Arabia 'Witchcraft' Execution

BBSNews 2008-02-28 -- (AWRL) Twenty prominent religious leaders from a dozen faiths have united to call for the halt to the execution of a Saudi woman sentenced to death by beheading for the crime of "witchcraft."

Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization in the United States, has declared that the conviction of FAWZA FALIH is a travesty of justice. The BBC reports, "The illiterate woman was detained by religious police in 2005 and allegedly beaten and forced to fingerprint a confession that she could not read. Among her accusers was a man who alleged she made him impotent."

Detainees in Saudi Arabia are commonly the victims of systematic and multiple violations of due process and fair trial rights including arbitrary arrest and torture. The most frequent victims are women, who already suffer severe restrictions on daily life in Saudi Arabia and cannot appear before a judge without a male representative.

According to information posted on the Human Rights Watch website, human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia are often ignored by United States officials. Saudi Arabia is an important ally in the "War on Terror" and it is estimated that the United States has armed the Saudi's at an estimated cost of $7 billion dollars.

An international coalition of religious leaders, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Native Americans and other faith traditions, have written a letter with an attached petition, signed by more than 2,700 additional clergy and individuals, to King Abdullah bin Abd al-'Aziz Al Saud pleading for FAWZA FALIH'S release. Asking for mercy and compassion, the letter points out that "In the seventh chapter of the Qur'an it is God who tells us 'My mercy encompasses all,' a mercy which bestows profound peace and infinite love. Is it not the principle of divine compassion that rules the heart in Islam?"

Rev. Phyllis Curott, member of the Assembly of World Religious Leaders, called for a global interfaith effort saying: "Violence against women can never be justified by religion. As religious leaders of most of the world's faiths– including Muslims – we are standing together to renounce this heinous execution and to urge the King to adhere to universal principles of human rights by releasing FAWZA FALIH immediately."

Rabbi Michael Learner, Editor of Tikkun Magazine spoke out in support of Fawza's release saying, "Ancient prejudices against witches are today being manipulated into a general assault against women's autonomy in the repressive Saudi Arabian society that misuses Islam to justify its patriarchal assumptions. Just as we need to challenge every form of racism and hatred, including the misuse of these kinds of incidents to throw dirt on the entire Muslim population of the world, so we need to ask the people of the world to say unequivocally to the crude dictators who run Saudi Arabia that they must stop this outrage of contemporary witch-burning once and for all."

Mike Mohamed Ghouse, President of the World Muslim Congress was disturbed that such a trivial item has consumed international attention. "It should not have even taken up the judicial time. Fawza Falih is a human being like every one else and does not possess any such super-natural powers to affect the lives of other human beings, let alone cause one to be impotent. As Muslims, we believe that no one but God has such powers and he alone is the master of the Day of Judgment. I appeal to His Excellency King Abdullah to put an end to this by releasing Fawza Falih and offer her state protection from any public harassment."

To read and sign the petition to save Fawza Falih's life go to:

The letter will be delivered to the Saudi ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States. A campaign is also underway by US citizens urging their Senators to pressure the State Department to negotiate for FAWZA FALIH'S release.

Muslim Ismaili envoy to OIC

Sada Cumber, Ismaili Muslim
the new envoy to OIC.

Congratulations to Mr. Sada Cumber for his appointment as a special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Countries. Thanks to Jason Embry for writing such a fine piece (appended below). Indeed, I was gunning for that position and had sent a note to the state department about it. I am pleased to see Mr. Sada Cumber has been appointed. He is he right guy. At least in his last days, the President has done some thing right, it is a good decision and Sada will deliver results. When Barak takes over the office, Sada certainly can change the false perception that the same President had manufactured ”they hate us" without any substantiation and no Journalist ever asking him to prove.

Our country needs a person who can unite the nation together, and bring the people from every race, ethnicity, nationality, culture and faiths together to rededicate our pledge in one nation under God with liberty and Justice.

One nation is a concept where we learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 301 Million of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Barak will be a catalyst to realize the American vision of one nation under God.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Bush taps Austin man to reach out to Muslim world
Cumber's new post is announced in Oval Office.

By Jason Embry
Thursday, February 28, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush tapped Austin technology executive Sada Cumber on Wednesday to represent the United States to Muslims around the world.

Cumber, chairman of SozoTek Inc., an imaging technology company based in Austin, was named presidential envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which comprises 57 Muslim countries.

"The core of his mission," Bush said in announcing the appointment, "is to explain to the Islamic world that America is a friend — is a friend of freedom, is a friend of peace, that we value religion."

Cumber, a native of Pakistan, is the first U.S. envoy to the organization. He has founded six companies in 25 years. He was previously CEO of Psionic Technologies Inc., an Internet security software company that Cisco Systems Inc. acquired in 2002, and he's active in the Ismaili Muslim community in Austin.

Bush said part of Cumber's role will be to correct misperceptions about the United States. "A lot of people love America, don't get me wrong," Bush said. "After all, there's a lot of people trying to come here because of what we stand for. But we've got work to do in certain areas."

Cumber did not speak during his brief appearance with Bush, other than to thank the president.

Gov. Rick Perry has in recent years appointed Cumber to the Texas Economic Development Corp. and to an advisory committee for the Emerging Technology Fund, which awards grants and supports research that can turn into jobs in some technology fields. He also served on the board and executive committee of the 2006 World Congress on Information Technology and several advisory councils at the University of Texas.

Austinite and longtime Bush aide Karen Hughes, who as an undersecretary of state oversaw a global public relations mission to help engender good will toward the United States, said she had advocated the creation of the envoy post.

"This organization brings together all the Islamic countries in the world, and so I felt it was important that we have a high-level presidential representative to that organization," Hughes said. "I believe Sada is a perfect choice because he combines an immigrant's love of his adopted country, America, with a knowledge of his home country, Pakistan."; (202) 887-8329

Mike Ghouse
(214) 325-1916

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Islam and Pluralism

To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for co-existence and world peace - God wants his creation to be in peace and harmony, and that is the chief purpose of Islam; peace.

Islam and Pluralism
Mike Ghouse, February 26, 2008

Originally I responded to a request from Hasni Essa about Akbar, the great Mughal King and his experiments with Pluralism. It was a draft and I was going to do some study and respond in more details. Meanwhile, it got the circulation and my esteemed friend Dr. Javid Jamil and Shamim Siddiqi responded to it. All the responses are appended below. Here is my counter response. It is about co-existence. By the way, I would want you to express your understanding of the same, together we can learn more.

The attacks on Islam after 9/11 propelled me to study the veracity of the statements ascribed to Islam by the media.

The traditional translations of Qur'aan did not offer much hope, and it was a taboo to question those translations. Thank God for the internet, the net waves got flooded with information in addition to the availability of multiple translations of Qur'aan in the market. Every translation added a new dimension, and reflected translator's background; they were obviously influenced by who they keep the company with.

The need to understand Islam, as it was intended, became a priority to me. I was driven by one of my favorite passages from the Bhagvad Gita – finding the truth is one's own responsibility. The human fears, anger, ill-will, malice and the negative emotions are some times based on false propaganda, and liberation comes from it is finding the truth, as truth relieves one from anxiety and brings clarity and possible solutions, be what that truth may be.

Qur'aan is for all seasons and all ages, it is what you understand. The political criminals twist the constitution to support their agendas, just as the religious politicians twist their holy books to support their own agenda which is generally destructive. Where as the 99% of the population does the right thing by understanding the purpose of religion and live and let live.

Qur’aan, Al-Inshiqaq, Surah 84:7 "And as for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand," (whose behavior in life characterizes him as "righteous"), and Qur’aan, Al-Inshiqaq, Surah 84:10 “But as for him whose record shall be given to him behind his back; (where it is stated that the record of the unrighteous "shall be placed in his left hand". In reality, however; the present formulation alludes to the sinner's horror at his record, and his wish that he had never been shown it (69:25-26): in other words, his not wanting to see it is symbolized by its appearance "behind his back".)

Islam consistently encourages individuals to do well. It emphasizes one’s individual responsibility towards the peace and security of the society at large. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) described a good deed as an act which benefits others, such as planting a seed, knowing well that, when it grows to be a full fledged tree it will serve generations of wayfarers with fruit and the shade. The world is a better place today because of a good legacy bequeathed to humanity by people of all faiths that came before us. We owe it to coming generations to leave the world a little better than we found it, to usher an era of justice and peace.

“There are the people who have never cared for their neighbors; they thought they would never return to God. Their Lord watches all that people do.”

It was a defining moment for me when I decided to delve myself into understanding Islam. Imam Feisal Abdur Raouf of New York had made a statement to the effect that Islam means peace; and a Muslim is one who brings peace. Over the years, I have pondered over who is a Muslim or a religious person of any faith for that matter? The following statement was the result "To be a Muslim (or to be religious) is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and matter. Indeed that is the purpose religion." Each one of us is a carrier of the peace flag.

The above became my lens through which I was looking at the word of God, for me, as a Muslim, God’s word is Qur'aan. God is for every human being and no one owns him or has any exclusive rights with him (equally her or it). We are his creation and belong to him as he belongs to us all.

Islam is indeed an all embracing idea and justice is its core value. When there is justice, it puts people at ease; they are released from the fear that some one is going to take advantage of them or the fear that they will have to pay for their actions if they are unjust to others. The middle path as the Prophet called is the key for peaceful living. Qur'aan -55:9 weigh, therefore, [your deeds] with equity, and cut not the measure short!

When there is justice, one's focus turns to living the life. No one would be lying to others; no one would be cheating, abusing or usurping what belongs to others and most certainly, no one would be taking advantage of the weak. The description of the day of the judgment is simply the pinnacle of learning about individual responsibility – you would stand on your own, neither your parents, nor the kids, nor your wealth or even the Prophet is going to do anything for you, your only defense is the good you have done to others. God is just and will serve justice to every human being. By the way, Qur’aan has assured God’s blessing and grace to every human who is Just; Muslim or not.

When the universe evolved, or simply when God created the universe, it was a two part system; Matter and Life.

Matter had a defined space and role to play. In this model, the creator God did not give freedom to the matter, it was put on a trajectory and was to do exactly what it was meant to do, and it has been doing this for millions of years, precisely and on time. The Earth takes ~365 days to revolve around the Sun; the light determines the plants, ice, water content and life. Qur'aan -55:6 "[before Him] prostrate themselves the stars and the trees." Each one is simply playing its determined role; each item respects the space of other and co-exists in harmony. This is the model of peaceful co-existence.

When it came to life, God placed the brains and took away the defined role (like the role of earth revolving around the sun) and gave freedom to humans to use their intelligence and create their own abode of harmonious co-existence between billions of them. On the way, God gave manuals (for Muslims, it is Qur'aan) to each species or each community and nation to follow that model of peaceful co-existence.

Qur’aan, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware."

For the followers of the Qur'aan (manual) Islam is a complete way of life. However, others have their own manuals to follow to achieve peaceful co-existence. God offers the clarity to each one of the followers of different manuals, each nation and tribe has its own equilibrium and manual and we have to know one another.

As Muslims we have never had the chance to dig in more and find the truth for ourselves. We (followers of all faiths) are conditioned by the politics of religion to negate other manuals of God. However, God's words (Qur'aan) are beautiful and respectful toward those who follow a different manual.

109:1 SAY: "O you who deny the truth!
109:2 "I do not worship that which you worship,
109:3 and neither do you worship that which I worship!
109:4 "And I will not worship ~hat which you have [ever] worshipped,
109:5 and neither will you [ever] worship that which I worship.
109:6 unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine!"

It is a reminder for us to think about it from our manual's point of view and learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Our goal is to duplicate the perfect model of Matter that God has created. We have to make our own pathways without conflict and create that heaven on the earth.

Insha Allah, as a Muslim, I am committed to continue to study and understand the concept of Pluralism and co-existence God has presented to the followers of Islam. My reference is some of the many verses in Qur'aan that direct us to create that model of bliss between all of his creation. I welcome Muslims and others to do research on this aspect, as no one owns Islam or Qur'aan; it belongs to all, just as other faiths offer salvation, Mukti, Moksha or Nirvana.

The concept of Tauhid is certainly understood in a few dimensions, one of them is a "one-single-physical God" despite the pronounced belief that God is not a being. Qur'aan - 112:4 "and there is nothing that could be compared with Him. Still it arms the politically oriented ones to imagine that are other God(s). We need to understand the depth of this concept.

Tauhid to me, at this stage of understanding is "unison" without "conflict". – One source of creation, one originator, one universe, one people that leads to a model for conflict elimination and creating a blissful state of existence. Where fear, envy, jealousy, arrogance, ego, ill will, hate, malice and anger is overcome with the positive energy of co-existence.

God want us to succeed for human co-existence and duplicate the model of the matter. It is accepting and respecting the God given uniqueness of each one of us that reduces conflicts and brings solutions to harmonious co-existence.

I believe this was the intent of Akbar, the great Moghul King. To some of my friends and the critiques it failed in political terms, however, his legacy of harmonious co-existence will continue to inspire generations yet to come. India has been such a model with a few exceptions.


Dear Br Mike


Your ardent support for pluralism is justifiable in intent but unjustified in essence. To talk of the acceptance of a plural society is one thing and to talk of unification of all religions into one and promotion of such an approach is other. The former has nothing bad in it. Every person has the right to conscience and practices his faith within the parameters of the system in which he is or has to live. This automatically leads to a plural society. All nations on the earth are plural in nature; there is no single country where all the people belong to the same religion. Even countries like Saudi Arabia and Vatican City have plural societies. As far as pluralism is concerned, literally it means deification of a plural society, which means that one does not just accept a plural society but prefers it over every single ideology. This type of pluralism is neither desirable nor possible because if one accepts this type of ideology it would require every member of society to believe in this ideology; those who do not believe in it will be either condemned or will at least get lesser respect than those believing in pluralism. This will again lead to dominance of one ideology over the other, as pluralism in itself is a specific ideology.

As far as Islam is concerned, it is in itself a synthesis of the best of all previous religions; and who can give the best except one who knows all. God has produced the best; and by declaring Muhammad as the Last Ambassador and Qur'aan as the Last Book, He has made it known to the mankind that nothing can be better than the Best. Mankind or any single man or a group of men cannot add anything to Islam that will make it better; it will only distort, degrade and destroy the best. It is another matter that there is always a room for better understanding and better application of what has been chosen for us. Qur'aan accepts a plural society but does not promote pluralism of religion, ideology or system. The Desire of God is that the whole Mankind should submit to one ideology, one Religion and One System. That is in fact the essence and aim of Wahdat (Unity).

Brother Mike, I know you have a golden heart which shines for everybody. Love all people and respect all systems; promote the right of all people to live respectfully irrespective of their beliefs, but please for God's sake, understand the difference between Pluralism and acceptability of a plural society. If you advocate pluralism, it would mean that you do not regard Islam as the Best and Final; if you advocate for the acceptance of a plural society it is already there in Islam.

Emperor Akbar's Deen-e Ilahi was certainly not an improvement on Islam; it only diluted its supremacy. If his intention was to bring non-Muslims closer to Islam through Deen-e Ilahi, it might be a Good endeavor in the eyes of God; if he thought he could give a better Deen than that of God, God's wrath will await him in the Hereafter. Only God knows the best about his intentions; we can only hope that Akbar proves to be good to God.

I hope we all try to follow Muhammad and the Deen he preached and not Akbar and his Deen-e Ilahi. There is nothing wrong however in thinking positively about Akbar's intentions.

Dr Javed Jamil
Executive Chairman
International Centre for Applied Islamics

Mohtram Javed Bhai, ASA

Living in a pluralistic society is different from behaving pluralistically. The problem with my beloved Br Ghouse is that for all practical purposes, he is gradually symbolizing himself as an epic center of tolerance for all whether it is right or wrong. In the radiance of such cultural events that he holds, the Islamic color, the "Sibghatullah" is practically lost or diminished to obscurity.

I personally pinpointed this feature of his predominating socio-cultural-political activities many a times in the past but he seems a bit adamant to his way of life and style of thinking. In this process, I fear that gradually he is likely to "lose" his original color, with which he was born and came to this age,

May Allah help him to see the light you have tried your best to show and give him the vision that the only Khair lies in inviting the humanity, this pluralistic society, to the fold of their Creator and Sustainer, the Deen of Islam.

Shamim Siddiqi


Thanks for sharing this piece on Akbar.

In the beginning of February, on NPR Radio some author was discussing about the history of India he has sketched, particularly the Mughal period. The book is out, unfortunately I do not remember the name, and it was a British Author. I went on air with him and we talked about Akbar, he agreed the things you have said, and further acknowledge that Akbar was the first king in the history of mankind, who promoted pluralism.

Last Sunday, most of my family and friends saw Jodha Akbar, I did not get the chance to see it, but I am planning to see it this week some time.

Insha Allah, I will do some research on the Akbar and Din-e-Ilahi and write my comments. There is always a room to understand things in its perspective.

A few points I noted in the quick read;

Akbar indeed understood the purpose of religion which was to bring peace to an individual and harmonious co-existence in the society. A religious person is a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and matter. Indeed that is the purpose religion.

Marrying for political convenience was the norm of the society for nearly two thousand years. Two of the Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) marriages were social and political in nature to forge alliances between the communities to come together and remove the conflicts. It was for the greater good of the community. Akbar wanted to fall the religious barriers and establish the idea that religion was not the barrier. In fact, some 400 years later Allama Iqbal wrote "mazhab nahin sikhata aapas may byr rakhna" - religions do not teach us to keep barriers between us.

Akbar's pluralistic credentials were based on several elements including marrying to Jodha, he had Bhagvad Gita and many of the Vedas translated from Sanskrit into Persian and Arabic. I believe besides the faiths you have listed - Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, he also had Jews included in the discussion.

As Muslims, we still have to learn about Tauhid, the oneness of God on the one hand we recite Sura Ikhlas

112:1 SAY: "He is the One God:
112:2 "God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being.
112:3 "He begets not, and neither is He begotten;
112:4 "and there is nothing that could be compared with Him

God is genderless, imageless and formless; he (it or she) is all pervasive energy. When he says that he is closer to us than our jugular veins, meaning he is our reflex when we want it to be, he is our thought... and that we cannot bottle him into any thing.

The Jews express the above Sura more accurately than us; they do not even write the word God, they write G_d to indicate he cannot be limited to a word. The Bahai's have gone little closer on grasping the concept of Tauhid. And Insha Allah, I will write my understanding of it as I understood from all the religions including Islam.

Tauhid is a conflict-free world of oneness, when we learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of his creation, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. That is Tauhid, oneness, and that is indeed Pluralism. Akbar was the first real king who explored this, but some how he was misunderstood, or the religious right wanted to maintain the barriers, thus Tauhid was shot by them as it happens with every society in every time zone.

"The notion that God had created a Divine Light that is passed down in an individual from generation to generation; this individual is known as the Imam." The idea has its own reasoning and logic which has made it survive for nearly 1400 years. I am sure there is material developed to understand it.

Personally, I have subscribed to the idea that every individual has an opportunity to be in tune with the creator and that can be achieved by any of the multiple prescriptions, meaning religious paths. As a Muslim, I tread one of the few paths, that I am familiar with and it works for me, as Hinduism would work for a Hindu, Judaism for a Jew and the above idea works for the Shia, as they have learned it in that fashion. All are legitimate paths; no one has to be wrong, for me to be right.

Many of the poets (not all though) and the scholars who served the kings at that time did a lot of chamchagiri, sycophancy. They were never satisfied with the titles and accolades they heaped on the kings to remain in their favors. I am surprised Abul Fazal did not call Akbar God of all Gods. Some of the political theories of the employee servants of the kings made everything subservient to the king.

I admire Akbar for the efforts he made in removing conflicts and nurturing good will. That is the purpose of religion, any religion. Islam is peace, and peace comes through justice in addition to removing conflicts and nurturing good will.

Jazak Allah Khair

Mike Ghouse

In a message dated 2/24/2008 7:17:27 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:
Dear Mike Ghouse - President - WMC
What I am about to write to you here today perhaps going to be too controversial for many Islamists to digest. What I mean, Mike is to ask you, if what king Akbar practiced, his Din-i Ilahi during his reign deserves any merit and could be put on your MuslimAgenda as subject for discussion: WMC - as you would notice, I have also sent my message to several groups requesting them to post this in their esteemed forums to elicit response from their members.... whether it's possible to apply today Akbar's political theory by any community to bring harmony among people of all faiths, especially when extreme fundamentalism provokes denigration of Islam by West, after 9/11. As we all know, all religions are syncretic, drawing on the traditions that preceded them, and Akbar's Din-i Ilahi seem to be most inclusive of all. Shahensha Akbar as history shows had most pluralistic and political approach by his marriage of political convenience to Jodha without undermining each other's personal belief in their religion. Without question, Akbar's shrewd political move brought pluralism and moderation during his reign.

I am sure, Mike you have taste for Indian movies, especially Jodha Akbar presently being shown around the world in east and west. If you get chance, I would kindly suggest you go and see it. Personally, I enjoyed it myself very much for its grandeur and revival of Mughal Empire on screen. Also, AR Rahman's excellent Sufi musical, 'Khwaja mere Khwaja' when young king Akbar joins the Sufi dancers in trance.
Actually, main reason I had to bring this particular movie to your kind attention, Mike was to seek your opinion whether, what king Akbar tried during his reign despite his religion and culture, to bring about secular, moderate and pluralistic fervor by his intermarriage to a Hindu princess, Jodha. The movie shows, before marrying, Jodha puts two conditions to Akbar, if he wants to marry her: Allow her to remain a Hindu, and let her build a murti in her room for her to worship.
From archive:

The political theorists and Islamic scholars surrounding Akbar were deeply influenced by Shia's Islam. In particular, they subscribed to the Shia's notion that God had created a Divine Light that is passed down in an individual from generation to generation; this individual is known as the Imam. The central theorist of Akbar's reign was Abu'l Faz'l, who joined Akbar's court in 1574 and is considered one of the greatest political theorists in Islamic history. He believed that the Imamate existed in the world in the form of just rulers. The Imam, in the form of a just ruler, had secret knowledge of God, was free from sin, and was primarily responsible for the spiritual guidance of humanity. This, to a certain extent, made the padshah superior to the Shari'ah, or Islamic law, and the Islamic scholars that interpreted it. Needless to say, orthodox Islamic scholars bitterly opposed this political theory, but instead advocated a close partnership between the Ulama, or Islamic religious and legal scholars, and the Sultan or padshah.

From a religious standpoint, Akbar's state was built on the principle sulahkul, or "universal tolerance." All religions were to be equally tolerated in the administration of the state; hence the repeal of the jizya and the pilgrimage taxes. In Akbar's theory of government, the ruler's duty is to ensure justice ('adale ) for all the people in his care no matter what their religion.

Din-i Ilahi

Akbar developed a new religion he called Din-i Ilahi, or "The Religion of God." Believing, as Muslims do, that every faith contained the essential truth that God is unified and one thing, he sought to find the unifying aspects of all religions. He originally began this project, long before he came up with Din-i Ilahi, by sponsoring a series of debates at his court between representatives of the various religions, which included Christianity (Catholic Jesuits), Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Jains. Eventually he included members of the Ulama, but the debates did not go well because of the intolerant attitude and behaviors of the Jesuit participants who wanted to convert Akbar, not discuss the formation of a universal religion.

Akbar was a devout and, so he said, an orthodox Muslim; still, aspects of his belief were in part derived from Shi'a Islam. The Din-i Ilahi , the religion that would synthesize the world's religions into a single religion, that he established was predominantly based on Islam. Like Islam, it was rationalistic and was based on one overriding doctrine, the doctrine of tawhid : God is one thing and is singular and unified. Akbar also elevated the notion of wahdat-al wujud , or "unity of the real," to a central religious idea in his new religion. The world, as a creation of God, is a single and unified place that reflects the singularity and unity of its creator. Finally, Akbar fully subscribed to the Islamic idea of the Perfect Man represented by the life of the Prophet or by the Shi'ite Imamate. There is little question that Akbar accepted Abu'l Fazl's notion that he was the Divine Light and was a Perfect Man. He assumed the title, "Revealer of the Internal and Depictor of the Real," which defined his role as a disseminator of secret knowledge of God and his function of fashioning the world in the light of this knowledge.

In addition to Islam, however, the Din-i Ilahi also contained aspects of Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism. The Din-i Ilahi borrowed from Jainism a respect and care for all living things, and it derived from Zoroastrianism sun-worship and, especially, the idea of divine kingship. This latter innovation deeply disturbed the ulama ; they regarded it as outright heresy. The notion of divine kingship, however, would last throughout the history of the Mughal Empire.

Finally, we just wonder if any of Akbar's personal political and pluarist theology, if applied today would be practicle and applicable under religious pluralism, which you so wonderfully profess in your esteemed media.

Your kind response would be greatly appreciated

Hasni Essa
Peace and Pluralism

Jodha Akbar Review
Akbar in Jodha Akbar Having said that however it must be mentioned that if you
can actually sit through this phenomenally long film, you may actually walk ...

Also see with this movie review on sufism which is being shown in theaters :

'Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul'
By Sheri Linden
Like strange desert creatures, a little girl and her blind grandfather emerge from storm-shifted sands, dust themselves off and set out on a journey with no map or timetable in "Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul," a film steeped in Sufi mysticism and as transcendent as that opening sequence. Unlike the movie's wanderers, Los Angeles filmgoers must move quickly: They have but a week to experience the lyrical imagery on the big screen.

The World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Belgium-Uneasy coexistence

Between integration and discrimination
un-easy co-existence

The following article by Dr. Muqtedar Khan is worth pondering.

Dr. Abusaleh Shariff, author of the Sachhar report on role of minorities in the Indian context, spoke the other day about the idea of outward looking and inward looking. When Muslims ventured out from the Arabian Peninsula to far off lands, they held their beliefs to themselves but mingled with the locals and created a synergy to do business together successfully. They did not have self created barriers to deal with others. He questions, what makes the Muslims in India to go inward now?

Most things Muslims tend to do are directed within the community. We have to break off from serving and living in clusters and be a part of the main stream. Religion should not send one into the cocoon. I would like to see Muslims start out participating and contributing in every sphere of the society - Journalism, Politics, Volunteerism, Research and where there is involvement and contact with other members of the society. When we have our birthday parties, funerals, anniversaries, social events and festivals - the attendance should reflect the presence of our society, if not it is darn shame on our capabilities that we cannot make friends with others.

If we can transition from "talkers" to "doers", Insha Allah, we can start the process of becoming contributors in building and serving our nation; America and enjoy the blessings of being included and not left out.

When I asked Najma to run for the City council in Carrollton, the idea was to find and train Muslim women to run for the council in their respective cities. I am writing the details, however you can imagine the effect of such effort.

If each Masjid can make a requirement that to qualify to be on its board, one has to volunteer for the city for at least one year, imagine the difference it would make. No one should be on the board, if they do not have the experience in dealing with multitude of people from different races, faiths and ethnicities. I will leave it to your imagination to expand on this idea.

Mike Ghouse


While discrimination against Muslims in America has certainly risen after 9/11, it looked insignificant compared to what Muslims in Belgium face routinely.

By Muqtedar Khan,

An uneasy coexistance

I recently participated in a dialogue between American and Belgium Muslims in Belgium (Nov. 16-18), co-hosted by US Ambassador to Belgium Tom Korologos and Ambassador Claude Mission, the Director General of the Royal Institute for International Relations. An interesting group of 32 American Muslim scholars and intellectuals, community leaders, journalists and activists joined 70 of their counterparts from the Belgium Muslim community to discuss their mutual condition and explore possibilities for further dialogue and civic cooperation.

Belgium has a population of ten million and 5% of them � over 500,000 � are Muslims. Muslims also constitute about 20% of the population of Brussels, the capital of the European Union. Over 300,000 Belgium Muslims are of Moroccan ancestry and over 160,000 are Turkish. The rest include Balkan Muslims, South Asians and some non-Moroccan Arabs.

Like in France, Muslims in Belgium have enough presence to now become the �other� against whom Belgian indigenous identity is constructed. Repeatedly one heard Muslim and Non-Muslim Belgians refer to even second generation Turkish and Moroccan Muslims as "foreigners" or immigrants even though they were Belgium born, Dutch and French speaking legal citizens.

Unlike American Muslims, Belgium Muslims enjoy a strong representation in the government. They boast of two National Senators and five members in the lower house of Parliament. But unlike American Muslims they have very few civil society institutions. There are no Muslim organizations that fight for Civil rights and oppose discrimination. Even though there are over 350 mosques in tiny Belgium, Belgium Muslims remain underrepresented in most institutions of the civil society as well as the Belgium state.

A peculiar aspect of the Belgium Muslim community is the presence of government paid Imams and teachers. The Belgium government employs over 800 Imams and teachers who teach Islam and Arabic in schools and lead prayers in mosques recognized by the government. It is clear that the Belgium government has tried to co-opt Islam by hiring the Islamic teachers, financing and supporting mosques and by now creating an Executive that will govern Islamic affairs in Belgium.

The common themes discussed were issues of rising Islamophobia and the meaning of acceptance, multiculturalism and pluralism. Both communities found the challenge of constructing identities, which incorporated both the Islamic dimension and citizenship in the West fascinating. Americans found that the presence of a large indigenous Muslim population in the US, nearly 35% of American Muslims are Black, White and Hispanic, made the collective identity formation of American Muslims more complicated than that of Belgium Muslims whose fault lines were primarily ethnic.

While American Muslims lamented their inability to have a role in policy making in the US, Belgium Muslims' primary concern was systematic discrimination in the market place. Muslims with law degrees could not find jobs for years. People's application for jobs and for renting apartments was simply rejected based on their Muslim names. American Muslims were shocked to hear some of the stories of discrimination and humiliation that Belgium Muslims faced on a daily basis.

As I sat listening to the stories of Muslim life in Belgium, I caught myself repeatedly touching the tiny US flag on my lapel. Uncle Sam sure looked mighty friendly and hospitable from cross the pond. While discrimination against Muslims in America has certainly risen after 9/11, it looked insignificant compared to what Muslims in Belgium faced routinely.

Belgium's Muslims have a dearth of scholars and intellectuals as a result they are far behind American Muslims on the subject of adapting their faith to the local context.

American Muslims are streets ahead of other Western communities. Not only are there a large number of scholars pushing for this in the US, but also national organizations and many prominent Islamic centers recognize the need to adapt Islam to American conditions. An excellent example of this is the adoption of the guidelines for women friendly mosques, developed last year by Muslim organizations, by many Islamic centers. We can see American Islam in the progressive role that women play in American Muslim community, and in Islamic scholarship. Another important indicator is the absence of embedded radicalism in American Islam.

Muslims in Europe are connected to the state but marginalized from the mainstream society. American Muslims are alienated from the state but are quite integrated in the society. European Muslims benefit from state largesse, while American Muslims have enjoyed the fruits of American multiculturalism, religious tolerance, and economic and educational opportunities. Muslims in Europe cause a sense of uneasiness among the host population that is racist, xenophobic and fearful. American Muslims on the other hand are more accepted. As it becomes more and more evident that American Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11, the barriers to their reentry into the mainstream are slowly melting away.

I came home from Belgium wishing that like Belgium Muslims we too had a senator or two and a few congressman to represent us in the highest corridors of power. But I also came home with greater appreciation for the enormous opportunities we enjoy in the US and also grateful for the incredibly low levels of discrimination and exclusion that we experience in the US. Most importantly, I am proud of the vibrant, intellectually alive and traditionally rich Islam that we practice in the US with no financial favors from the government.

Muslim Women and AIMPLB

Muslim women to prepare for AIMPLB session in Kolkata
Posted January 25th, 2008 by Tarique Anwar
By staff reporter

Kolkata: Muslim women of Kolkata have begun making preparation for the meeting of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) planned from 29th Feb to 2nd March in the city.

Chairperson of women cell of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), Noor Jahan Shakil, who is also a member of the reception committee held a meeting with important Muslim women of the city.

Meeting discussed ways to mobilize a large number of women of Bengal.
Ms. Shakil appointed ten of the participating ladies as convener of their respective area.

After the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Shakil told that the ladies who have been assigned duties today will first form regional committees and the invite local women in a meeting in order to apprise them about the aims and objectives of the Board's session.

AIMPLB's 20th general body meeting is to discuss and raise demands regarding adoption of orphans ruled by Supreme Court, failure of union government in filing exhaustive reply in connection with the write applications concerning compulsory registration of marriages being heard by the court, new notification for consolidating all cases related to Babri Masjid demolition and their hearing in Lucknow court and amendment in Zamindari Act to grant share in agricultural land to Muslim girls.

Nazia wins womens rights

Nazia fights and wins a battle for Muslim women rights
Posted January 27th, 2008 by kashif

A struggle for equal rights in Ranchi
By Kashif-ul-Huda,

A 19 year old Muslim girl has successfully changed a 50 year old tradition. Nazia Tabassum, a student of History is making history of her own.

It all started when breaking stereotypes, the girl in hijab won the election for the post of Joint Secretary at the Ranchi University Student's Union. Soon after, she turned to Anjuman Islamia to become a member to participate in their upcoming election process that was scheduled for January 27th, 2008. Her application for membership was denied because Anjuman never had a female member in its 50 year history. It was time to change history, and that's what Nazia Tabassum did courageously.

Anjman Islamia is an organization of Muslims of Ranchi in Jharkhand that runs a number of educational institutions and a hospital. It has more than 1200 members, none of which are female. When Nazia Tabassum applied to become a member of Anjuman in December 2007, her application was denied. She was told that it was because the organization's by-laws did not allow women to become members.

Undeterred, Nazia went to the State Commission for Women. A constitutional body which among other things take steps against cases of gender discrimination. The lawyer representing Anjuman argued that the by-laws as written in Urdu stipulates that only a male adult Muslim can become a member.

On Thursday 24 Jan 2008, Jharkhand's State Commission for Women (SCW) ruled that nothing in the by-laws of the organization prevented women from becoming members. The rules clearly state that any Muslim over the age of 18 can become its member.
Lakshmi Singh, chairperson of SCW observed that it seems to be an unwritten rule that kept Muslim women away from becoming members of Anjuman. Arguing that rules of Anjuman do not discriminate against women, she said "The rules no where say that women are prohibited. It is altogether adifferent case that in the last 50 years no woman has become a member or contested election. I have suggested the Anjuman Islamia committee to encourage women's participation and ensure that women too participate in elections."

SCW referred the matter to Bihar Wakf Board, which governs all waqf properties of Jharkhand since the state does not have a waqf board. On Friday, Capt (Retd) M Anwar, administrator of the Bihar Wakf Board, stayed the election scheduled for Sunday, promising to send a team to supervise the future election.

Nazia Tabassum when contacted by was happy with the development. She termed it as a fight for justice and rights of Muslim women. She wants to make the Anjuman Islamia organization more responsive to the needs of poor Muslims and having women as members or in leadership roles will help achieve that. Being a student leader, she had the support of both male and female students and Muslim women.

Nazia can not contest elections for Anjuman's office since its by-laws require all contesting members to be at least 30 years of age. But her legal victory has opened the doors for Muslim women who now can become members and contest elections. Her struggle has raised interest for young Muslim students and fresh young blood will only make Anjuman Islamia a stronger and more effective organization that is more responsive to the needs of the Muslims of the area.

Old guards that have been controlling various Muslim and waqf organizations should take notice and change themselves before they are forced to change.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama - a Muslim Problem

The American Muslim Community's "Obama" Problem:

How do you root for a candidate who doesn't want you to root for him? Firas Ahmed's commentary below is one of the most thoughtful commentaries on the situation. I am rather pleased that I have not read any derogatory comment on Obama from the Muslim community, which is welcome. Obama reflects a moderate and all inclusive approach to solving the situations, the one that majority of Americans, be it Christians, Jews, Hindus or Muslims prefer.

He reflects the voice of the majority of Americans, which includes Muslims; the passionate rallies are nothing more than the joy one feels when we find some one who reflects the values of the common people - compared to the extreme values espoused by a few candidates. I agree with Firas Ahmed to go along with Obama, we need a right candidate, even though he wants to keep a clear distance from the Muslim community, I know, deep in my heart, that Obama is going to be a just ruler, a new thing in world governance. He is all about Pluralism and inclusiveness, which are Muslim values as well - Alhamdu Lillahi Rabbil Aaalameen.

The Muslim community has been exceptionally wise in this regard, not to demand a thing from him, because, he is not going to be anything like the other candidates. He is judicious and I highly recommend to read his book audacity of hope, and read this particular column, I have treasured at the foundation for pluralism website- Listen to his speeches, he is consistently inclusive. That is what we want, we do not want any special favors from any one, we want us to be treated like every one else and Obama has the propensity to deliver just that. Here is another one to read:

By the way, I am a Republican and will continue to be one, however, my individual obligation is the support the candidate who will do better than other candidates for our country, hence, I am going for Obama. I have dropped myself out from being a Republican precinct chair.

Mike Ghouse


The American Muslim Community's "Obama" Problem
How do you root for a candidate who doesn't want you to root for him?


As Obamamania continues to capture the imagination of the United States, parts of the American Muslim community are no less overcome by the Illinois senator's charismatic and overpowering vision for change. It makes sense. He is a man of diverse ethnic background who seeks dialogue over war, who can credibly represent change given his independence from establishment politics and whose life story suggests an intimate understanding of the Muslim world. In many ways he represents more than Muslims could have hoped for given the radioactive nature of Islam in America over the past several years. Someone who seemingly has a sympathetic ear and background that could build bridges.

But for many reasons, Muslims are one constituency Obama does not want to court. With a wink and a nod, Obama's Muslim supporters continue to work for a candidate who cannot afford to wink back at them. Given his perceived "closeness" to Islam, and the fact that he shares a name with a former Iraqi dictator, it could be strategic suicide for the Obama campaign to vocally acknowledge organized Muslim support. At a time when endorsements are worn like badges of honor, no major candidate is looking for the Muslim vote.

No doubt if Obama wins the nomination, the Republicans will exploit this issue far more than Bill Clinton attempted to manipulate race in South Carolina. Republican presidential candidate John McCain will never have to say a word, the "hit job" will be manufactured and executed by the sympathetic folks at Fox News, via the airwaves with Rush and Hannity (who would have overcome their issues with McCain by then) and through tabloids like the New York Post. Vocal Muslim support for Obama, if it happens, will likely be used as subtext for character attacks against his background and to fuel baseless rumors that he is actually a stealth Islamist who will subvert the establishment after taking power. As Don Imus can attest, racism and bigotry against African Americans is now largely unacceptable in public discourse. However, the same cannot be said of vitriol against Muslims. Attacking Obama for his pseudo-association with Islam is a far safer and more acceptable strategy for right-wing zealots than attacking him for being black. So if Obama has a campaign strategist worth his or her weight, we will never hear any serious public support or defense of Muslims from him or his campaign. For Muslims to demand anything from him simply demonstrates a misunderstanding of reality. Muslim support for Obama is akin to George Bush's support for democracy in the Middle East. The mere association with the former will undercut the credibility of the latter. It is an analogy that Muslims should understand.

Obama's lack of public defense of Islam is not so much an indictment against him as it is a demonstration of the infantile state of Muslim political participation in America. While it is impossible to tell, it would be reasonable to assume that if Obama could say something nice about Muslims he would because he wants votes from any and all Americans. Muslims fit squarely into the demographic that he appeals to most. Professional, educated and young. The only reason a candidate like Obama would not say something nice about Muslims is because he is making a clear political calculation. The votes he would gain from Muslims are far less than the votes he would lose from his association with Muslims. This should be startling. Unfortunately it has not initiated the kind of discussion within the community necessary to change these political ramifications for candidates in the future. To be fair, other candidates have lost votes based on their religious affiliation. Romney, a practicing Mormon, could have had a much better shot as the Republican nominee if he were from a Protestant denomination. But in terms of public perception, Muslims are a whole other category of disrepute. We are not talking about a Muslim candidate, we are talking about supporting a candidate who denies any connection, real or perceived, to Islam.

This is a political reality that Muslims in America must face. It is a clear demonstration that the collective efforts of Muslim institution building over the last 20 years have largely failed to make any real progress when it comes to impacting the American political process, at least at the national level. Muslims have found the perfect candidate, but cannot vocally support him for fear that if they do, they may be the reason he loses. How is that for a wake-up call.

At the core of the problem is the public perception of Islam in America. While global events, and of course 9/11, play an undeniable role in shaping the image of Islam for Americans, Muslims have ignored establishing some of the most basic institutions that are necessary for any minority community who seeks to have their voice taken seriously. There are no widely circulated national publications that explain Muslim perspectives. There is no widely recognized think tank expressing Muslim understandings of policy debates. There are a scant few public intellectuals from Muslim backgrounds that articulate mainstream views or who represent general Muslim thinking. While there are a number of very talented Muslim academics, very few have been able to cross-over and achieve mainstream credibility. Every other minority community has multiple inventories in each category listed above. What Muslims have are a number of smaller efforts that lack support, lack funding and lack human resources. If Muslims have failed in all these arenas it is not for a lack of talent, but rather for a lack of collective vision.

Instead, Muslim have invested in a handful of advocacy groups that, to their credit, work extremely hard to bring a "Muslim" slant to whatever breaks in the news that day. Advocacy groups play an important part of any community, but they are not sufficient for any community to make a serious play for political clout. In fact, the degree to which Muslims are publicly represented by their advocacy is inversely related to how they will be positively perceived by the general public. Advocacy groups are inherently divisive. The African-American civil rights watchdog NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups all play important roles in American democracy, but they are also polarizing organizations. Muslims need to take the edge off the way they present themselves in the broader public discussion. While this includes important and pioneering efforts like Unity productions, which has produced excellent work in the area of documentary film, much more is needed on a number of different fronts.

Policy and political decision making in America is not decided entirely on Capitol Hill. It is decided in the complex interaction of think tanks, academic institutions, book stands, radio shows, the evening news, newspapers, editorial pages, opinion polls, Hollywood blockbusters and much more. It is the confluence and interaction of all these institutions that inform how politicians behave, not the other way around. Politicians are simply seeking votes, and votes are determined by people's inclinations, perceptions, prejudices and perspectives. If you want to win politicians, you have to build constituencies by changing the way people think.

If Muslims do not want to suffer the indignation of political irrelevance for many elections to come, instead of giving money to politicians, they should start investing in journalism scholarships. They should establish fellowships for Muslim academics to take a year off and write a book for a general audience, and then back them up with a PR firm to get the book on a best seller list. They should invest in publications that demonstrate a breadth and depth of thinking on a range of issues. They should invest in think tanks that analyze public issues and present actual value to the overall public discussion. All of these institutions exist right now for Muslims in America. But for the most part they are underfunded, underappreciated and undervalued. Because the community in general has not rallied behind them, they are for the most part invisible. Because they are invisible, Muslims are effectively invisible when it comes to Obama or any other serious candidate.

Another real tragedy here is that the part of the Muslim community that has made significant headway in all these areas, the Blackamerican community, remains effectively marginalized from leadership roles in the larger Muslim establishment in America. Blackamerican Muslims have been civicaly, politically and socially engaged in America for centuries. The rest of the Muslim community discovered these words a few years after 9/11. If all Muslims did was change the public perception of Islam in America to identify more with Blackamerican Islam than Arab or Pakistani Islam, the community would move forward in leaps and bounds. It is no accident that the first Muslim congressman is black. Until the Muslim leadership in America begins to recognize and reflect this historical reality, progress on a number of fronts will be slow. The Middle East and the subcontinent will remain powder kegs for decades to come.

Muslims largely misunderstand the process by which minority communities in America achieve their proverbial "seat at the table." It is not achieved through campaign donations and political posturing. It is achieved through understanding and executing on a collective vision that nurtures real, active, social, economic and political participation that improves both one's own community and the broader community that surrounds it. It is achieved through understanding that public perception is not entirely devised by a select few, but rather it is earned through hard work and sacrifice. It is achieved when a community actually adds some value to the society from which it benefits.

There is little strategic understanding of how to develop political capital within the Muslim community in America. If there was, Obama would not have to rebuke his Muslim supporters. The proof is in the pudding. Either Muslims deal with it, or do as they have done for the last 25 years: blame the media.


FIRAS AHMAD is deputy editor of Islamica Magazine.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ijtihad now

Ijtihad - Two columns
1) Ijitihad Now by Mike Ghouse
2) Ijitihad by Dr. Ibrahim Syed


Ijtihad Now

by Mike Ghouse

Ijtihad, the intellectual effort to understand a new situation and make sense out of it is alive and puzzled with sentences like, “Muslim thinkers are demanding the right to individual interpretation.” The question is, who are we demanding the right from?

We have fallen into the trap that “some one” owns and controls our faith. Let’s clarify that first, on the Day of Judgment; it is our deeds that determine how we would be judged by the Lord. Please remember, it is not our teacher’s knowledge, the wealth of our family or the spiritual status of some one other than me or you. On that day, you are on your own and the salvation comes from enough good things you have done to benefit the humankind. Given that, the responsibility to understand the religion squarely falls on each one of us. The stress is on individual responsibility and contribution for a better world.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was clear on these items:

  1. Qur’aan is book of guidance and that is the only reference for Muslims besides the example of his own life,
  2. No one was assigned to interpret the book for us, nor he created a clergy system to administer the religion,
  3. He was a signatory to Pluralistic laws of the Madinah pact along with the Jews and Christian leaders of the time, whereby he was a secular & a pluralistic administrator working with other faiths functioning under his administration, while he was also the head of the religious institution.
  4. The separation of church and state was the form of his administration.

Wikipedia “ Ijtihad (Arabic اجتهاد) is a technical term of Islamic law that describes the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The opposite of ijtihad is taqlid, Arabic for "imitation". A person who applies ijtihad is called a mujtahid, and traditionally had to be a scholar of Islamic law, an Islamic lawyer or alim.
To become a mujtahid in theological terms is similar to having a doctorate in divinity in Islamic kalam, or in legal terms to reaching the status of a high or supreme court judge.

Ijtihad is alive in every spehere of life, we make decisions in our daily dealings based on Justness and truthfullness, the core aspects of Islam and for that matter, every religion.

Thanks to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for freeing us from the shackles of the clergy, thanks to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for liberation from ignorance and thanks to him for helping us imbibe the simplicity of God’s plan – Justice and liberty for all.

Indeed, to be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and matter. Indeed that is the purpose religion.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website He can be reached at


Ijtihad - By Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph.D
President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc

Finding the causes for the decline and fall of the Muslim Ummah has become a life long pursuit for me. One of the most important causes of Muslims deterioration is the low literacy rate. Even the Islamic faith's fundamental requirement of knowledge of the Qur'an and the Sunnah is marginal. They lack knowledge of even the simple and basic laws of Islam. Those who have read books of collections of Ahadith and have devotedly and extensively studied the Qur'an are ignorant of the many fundamental Aqaid(canons) of Islam including Fiqh. The term Fiqh means knowledge of all the laws of Islam(Shari'ah). Shariah is synonym for Fiqh. It is necessary for Muslims to understand there are four basic sources for the Sharia, viz: (1) Qur'an (2) Sunnah (3) Ijma(consensus) and (4)Qiyas(analogical deduction). These laws cover every action performed by an individual or society.

Today we live in a highly complex and technologically advanced world as a result we are facing very complex problems- to give some examples such as genetic engineering, permissibility eating of genetically altered cattle or vegetables /fruits, gene therapy, in vitro fertilization, organ transplants, space travel(in the near future), etc., Problems of this nature cannot be solved by the Shariah.

To solve problems like these, Prophet Muhammad (SAS) himself introduced the fifth component (if I would say so) of the Shariah called Ijtihad which is individual intellectual effort. One who performs Ijtihad is a Mujtahid. The word Ijtihad is derived from the Arabic root word of jihad. Ijtihad was once an important force in the articulation and interpretation of Shariah. Some of the greatest minds in the history of Islamic jurisprudence used Ijtihad during the first centuries of Hijra. With time for reasons given below, Ijtihad faltered and was replaced by the doctrine of taqlid or blind imitation. Taqlid not only discouraged individual interpretation but also prohibited it. Some Muslim scholars throughout the ages have been protesting the prohibition of Ijtihad as it violates the original spirit and intention of Islam. Muslims all over the world are fond of saying that Islam is applicable to all places and in all times. How can this be achieved without Ijtehad?

In order to perform Ijtihad, a Muslim man or woman should be thoroughly familiar with the sciences of Qur'an and the Sunnah, comprehend the wider purposes of the Sharia and understand Arabic correctly. On complicated and complex issues of law, Ijtihad should be purviewed by trained scholars. Any Muslim or Muslima with some knowledge of religion can perform Ijtihad on certain matters, particularly those of personal concern. For example Muslims have been practicing Ijtihad routinely in determining the direction of Qibla or to ascertain the times of prayer by the position of the sun. The Hanbali scholar, Imam Ibn Taymiyah(1263-1328 CE) wrote that " a Muslim can perform Ijtihad for himself or herself on certain questions, it is permitted, because Ijtihad is not an absolute-the pivotal point is ability or the lack thereof. Thus a person might be able to perform Ijtihad on certain questions and not others." Taqlid (blind imitation) is based on an absence of intellectual activity on the part of the believer, and early Muslims held that it was permissible only if one was incapable of understanding due to a lack of mental ability or faculties. Dr. Taha J. al-Alwani of IIIT (International Institute of Islamic Thought) argues that" both the Prophet (SAS) and the Qur'an rejected taqlid, the Sahabas (companions of the Prophet) and many others considered it an evil and also rejected it." He further quotes one of the successors to the companions as saying, "There is no difference between an animal that is led and a person who makes taqlid." By the end of 4th century Hijra taqlid became the rule rather than the exception in Shariah, in spite of the early contempt for taqlid and judgments against its permissibility. Ultimately a majority of the medireview.

Muslim scholars (ulama) declared the door of Ijtihad to be closed and ruled that all future Muslims must practice taqlid. Why did they do this? Because after 400 years they thought all conceivable questions and situations had been explored and resolved by the ulama, obviating the need for new judgments. Some historians say that the door of Ijtihad was closed because Muslim Ummah was under attack from external forces such as the Crusades and Mongol invasion and sacking of Baghdad on June 6, 1258 CE (seventh century Hijra). However taqlid was adopted one hundred before Crusades and 300 years before the devastation by the Mongol hordes who were still in the far Asian steppes. The real reason there was a serious split between different schools of law and theology among individual jurists and imposition of taqlid was the best way to resolve, but at a tremendous cost. Secondly the jurists such as Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik wanted to preserve their intellectual and juristic independence and did not want to rule in accordance with the wishes of the caliphs. As time passed the pressure from the rulers increased, until the ulama declared the Shariah complete to provide an excuse in the face of an angry ruler. On the one hand the ulama preserved the Shariah from dissolute and corrupt Muslim rulers, but on the other they ensured that the Shariah would remain static and therefore stagnant. As a result we are living in a state of withered intellectual activity, starved for fresh ideas and insights.

In the past a number of scholars have claimed the right to Ijtihad. Eminent scholars like Ibn Taymiyah, al-Suyuti, Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab, al-Sanusi,Muhammad Abduh of Egypt, Allama Iqbal of the Indian subcontinent and Ben Badis of Algeria (1889-1940) called for the reactivation of Ijtihad to rouse the Muslim world from its intellectual lethargy and recreate the vigor and elan of the early Muslim community. Today this calls for Ijtihad continues louder and more insistent. Modern scholars are demanding the systematic reinterpretation of the Islamic tradition using the Qur'an and the Hadith as a foundation. In the face of new technologies, new philosophies and new challenges, Muslim thinkers are demanding the right to individual interpretation.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal in his famous book "The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam" (p.178, Ashraf, Lahore, 1988) declares, "The closing of the door of Ijtihad is pure fiction suggested partly by the crystallization of legal thought in Islam, and partly by the intellectual laziness which, especially in the period of spiritual decay, turns great thinkers into idols. If some of the later doctors have upheld this fiction, modern Islam is not bound by this voluntary surrender of intellectual independence." A modern scholar said taqlid is a renunciation of "critical faith", while Ijtihad is the key to "the Islam of those who understand." Today's Muslims must be critical in their beliefs and in their actions, and have freedom to question, discuss and debate issues that are of personal and collective importance. Only through the exchange of ideas (through Ijtihad) it will be possible to safeguard the Muslim world from deterioration and empty westernization.

Esposito at Stanford

Esposito at Stanford
by Cinnamon Stillwell
February 15, 2008

Mike Ghouse: I am yet to read a piece on how to achieve peace by Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, Robert Spencer, Martin Kramer, Fouad Ajami, V.S. Naipaul, Max Boot, and Steven Emerson. Just about every thing they write is geared to manufacturing hate towards Muslims and Islam. Islam bashing is a good money making racket, fortunately there are enough suckers out there to fund their hate propaganda. I pray that these men spend their time in creating peace, they may actually achieve it.

John Esposito's work is focussed on removing the misundertandings about Islam and Muslims that will eventually lead to creating a better world. As peace makers, we have to work on mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. A majority of people of all categories are peace loving and easy going, a few will always be in the dungeon of hate, all we can do is pray for them.


Georgetown professor John Esposito, director of the Saudi-financed Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding has a reputation as an apologist for radical Islam. And it's one he lived up to with a Stanford University speech last week titled, "Dying for God? Suicide Terrorism and Militant Islam."

Esposito claimed that Islamic terrorism grows primarily out of a sense of political and economic grievance and, of course, "occupation" on the part of "neo-colonial powers." This spin allowed him to deflect responsibility for Islamic terrorism to the West while negating the need for self-reflection among Muslims.

When an attendee asked him why no other impoverished or oppressed group around the world resorts to suicide bombings, Esposito stonewalled for several minutes before giving one of the few straight answers of the night: "I don't know."

Esposito displayed contempt for anyone calling for the theological and cultural reform of Islam. He described Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis as "among the Darth Vaders of the world," and Pipes and Islam scholar Robert Spencer as "Islamophobes." Others on the receiving end of Esposito's vitriol included Martin Kramer, Fouad Ajami, V.S. Naipaul, Max Boot, and Steven Emerson. Esposito has a penchant for laying into his opponents, but this juvenile behavior fails to answer the substance of his detractors' points.

The Islamic Society of Stanford University and the Muslim Student Awareness Network at Stanford University (MSAN), co-sponsors of the Islamic Awareness Series 2008, seem to share Esposito's views. Despite calling this year's offering, "Our Jihad to Reform: The Struggle to Define Our Faith," MSAN makes clear in an op-ed on the subject that such "reform" has its limits. As they put it:

Our reform will not be dictated by the likes of Daniel Pipes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and David Horowitz, according to their desires to subvert our tradition, but by Islamic scholars according to the Islamic notion of reform.

Apparently, Esposito fit the bill.

Esposito's leadership of a center dedicated to "Muslim-Christian understanding" failed to mitigate his hostility towards Christians. He referenced the Crusades three times in the first ten minutes, each in the false context of acts of purely Christian aggression. In a relativistic attempt to paint all religions as equally problematic, Esposito compared Islamic terrorists to "Christian militants," and referred repeatedly to "Christians blowing up abortion clinics" and the "Christian Right."

He reserved particular enmity for evangelist Pat Robertson who, according to Esposito, is on par with "Muslim extremists" and should be put "in prison" for publicly expressing a desire to see Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez assassinated. Yet Esposito has no qualms about calling for the release of Sami al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor currently serving time in prison for terrorism-related charges.

Esposito's treatment of two self-described Arab Christian students in the audience further revealed this bias. When asked about the well-documented violence against Christians in Iraq and the persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world, Esposito resorted at first to obfuscation and then bullying. After trying to chalk up the violence merely to "primitive" behavior, he cut off one young woman angrily, telling her that it was "an absurd question."

Esposito's standard answer to this line of questioning was that "all religions produce violence," followed by a litany of talking points in which he compared random and universally condemned acts of violence among Christians and Jews to the routine and often sanctioned bloodshed emanating from the Muslim world.

Moreover, he peddled the usual apologist fare on the definition of jihad. Like many of his contemporaries in the world of Middle East studies, Esposito downplayed violent jihad or holy war in favor of the "personal struggle" interpretation.

Esposito spoke hopefully about the results contained in his upcoming book, Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Citing statistics from the book, Esposito declared that anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is not based on hatred, but on "disappointment" that the U.S. isn't "living up to its ideals." Furthermore, Muslims, according to Esposito, admire the U.S., but believe that "Islam is denigrated."

It was this denigration that, according to Esposito, somehow justified the outrage in the Muslim world surrounding the Danish cartoon controversy. Esposito decried the current atmosphere in the West whereby, as he sees it, Jews and Christians are protected, but anything "anti-Islam" goes. Somehow Esposito managed to miss the death threats, imprisonment, lawsuits, firings, and condemnation meeting those who dare critique Islam these days.

Thanks to Esposito's equivocation, the Stanford students, both Muslim and otherwise, who came to take part in a series based on "awareness" and "reform" walked away with little prospect for either. But perhaps that was the intention all along.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the Northern California Representative for Campus Watch. She can be reached at

The First Muslims


History and Memory
Asma Afsaruddin

Dr. Asma Afsaruddin's New Book "The First Muslims" is on the market, two reviews are appended below. History and Memory which talks about how competing views about the salaf shapes contemporary Muslim discourses on jihad, women's issues, interpretations of the shari'a, and political governance. It has already been reviewed by the Washington Post and the Times Higher Education supplement; the links to which are below:

The book is easily available through and I'm really hoping it will encourage a stimulating discussion particularly among American Muslims.

“A splendid piece of forensic scholarship. Afsaruddin exhumes relevant sources and addresses crucial issues. Highly readable and aptly revisionist, this book will be as welcome for novice non-Muslims as for devout believers.” Bruce B. Lawrence, Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Religion, Duke University

“An outstanding, panoramic view of the development of the early Muslim
community and its leading intellectual figures.” Roy Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran

The First Muslims reconstructs the first century of Islam to offer a fascinating exploration of the origins and development of the religion. Using a wealth of classical Arabic sources, it chronicles the lives of the Prophet Muhammad, his Companions, and the subsequent two generations of Muslims, together known as the “Pious Forbears”. Focusing on both the people and their beliefs, Afsaruddin presents a critical examination of the continuing influence of these first Muslims in contemporary times as figureheads for a variety of causes, from liberal Islam to hard-line “fundamentalism”. Essential reading for anyone interested in the earliest history of Islam and its impact on Muslims today, this important book will captivate the general reader and student alike.

Asma Afsaruddin is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. She is the author of Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership.

The First Muslims: History and Memory is published by Oneworld Publications in November 2007 in simultaneous hardback (£40/$60) and paperback (£12.99/$19.95. For further information please contact Lizzie Curtin at Oneworld on Tel: 01865 315915 or Email:



Jihad, Then and Now

By Geneive Abdo,

a fellow at the Century Foundation and the author most recently of "Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11"
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; Page C10

The Lackawanna Six and Rough Justice in the Age of Terror

By Dina Temple-Raston

PublicAffairs. 288 pp. $26


History and Memory

By Asma Afsaruddin

One World/Ballantine. 254 pp. Paperback, $19.95

Policymakers, pundits and scholars have long puzzled over what inspires young Muslims to take the great leap toward radicalization. If Muslims living in dramatically different societies, in vastly different circumstances and conditions in the East and West, are similarly drawn to extremism, does this mean there is something inherently violent in the Islamic tradition? Do modern Muslims interpret the tenets of their faith depending upon the political and social context in which they live, or are they trapped in the Dark Ages?

Two new books attempt answers, both historical and contemporary, to these pressing questions. "The Jihad Next Door," by Dina Temple-Raston, is a detailed account of Yemeni Americans in Lackawanna in Upstate New York, whose only desire was to become more devout. Now, most are serving jail time for convictions on various terrorism-related crimes. The American-born Muslims admitted to having visited an al-Qaeda training camp in the spring of 2001, their confessions a dream come true for the U.S. government, according to Temple-Raston. The FBI and the Justice Department cast them as the first sleeper cell on U.S. soil. They were evidence, according to the government, that the so-called war on terror was real, and more important, that jihad had moved next door.

In this breezy, well-written detective story, Temple-Raston, the FBI reporter for National Public Radio, chronicles their journey from Lackawanna to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Once the men reach the al-Qaeda training camp, they become frightened and return to New York. Temple-Raston's main point is that the Lackawanna six were victims. The jihad, she argues, existed only in their imaginations. When faced with the harsh reality of living in the camp, and ultimately engaging in violence against the United States, they abandoned their mission.

Temple-Raston outlines how easily young men practicing their faith at a local mosque and leading mundane lives can be convinced, however briefly, that taking their faith to the next level could be achieved by becoming warriors for al-Qaeda. A Muslim mentor in Lackawanna convinced the men through his teachings and regular study sessions that they lacked an understanding of true Islam. He coached them by analyzing verses in the Koran, and then lured them into believing that the ultimate test of their piety was a commitment to fight the United States on the battlefield a world away, just as Muslims had fought their invaders centuries ago.

But Temple-Raston fails to analyze why young Muslims -- not only in Lackawanna but around the world -- are vulnerable to religious interpretations that lead them toward violence. Do the Islamic sources advocate violence in certain circumstances, and if so, how have these texts been interpreted throughout history and how are they being interpreted in the modern world?

In "The First Muslims," Asma Afsaruddin, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, offers an eloquent and cogent explanation of the historical roots and meanings of many key concepts relevant to today's discussion of contemporary Islam, including the role of jihad in the Islamic tradition. Through an exhaustive examination of medieval Arabic texts, Afsaruddin explains that from the time the Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad during what is known as the Meccan period, Muslims were forbidden to retaliate against their pagan foes.

Only after Mohammad established the first Muslim polity, Afsaruddin explains, was this Koranic verse revealed: "Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged. . . . For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques -- in all of which God's name is abundantly glorified -- would surely have been destroyed." Afsaruddin also notes that the Koran forbids Muslims to initiate hostilities but permits self-defense when necessary.

Years later, as Islam spread, Islamic jurists held differing views about applying jihad to non-Muslim states. Afsaruddin concludes that the interpretations of terms such as jihad differed depending upon the juristic thinking of the time, which was highly influenced by current events. By the 12th century, for example, jurists considered jihad to be in abeyance, to be revived only in times of crisis. Quoting the Islamic philosopher Ibn Khaldun, Afsaruddin writes that he characterized the changing notions of jihad as due to "a change in the character of the [Islamic] nation from warlike to the civilized stage."

Afsaruddin's goal in taking the reader through historical interpretations of jihad is that Islam, contrary to contemporary criticism, has never been frozen in time -- and should not be. Muslims have interpreted their faith through the ages based upon the social and political context in which they lived. She reiterates this point throughout "The First Muslims" in her discussion of other concepts, such as how Muslims define infidels and how they distinguish between political and religious authority, and what constitutes an Islamic state. Her book should be required reading for any Muslim or non-Muslim who mistakenly believes the faith is immutable.

Understanding how Muslims view their lives and their faith today is now critical to the relationship between the Islamic world and the West. Educated Americans across the country are organizing salons and reading groups and compiling book lists in hope of enlightening themselves about a faith that was completely alien to them six years ago. But the greater challenge is to find sources as well-researched and measured as this book.


In the footsteps of the Prophet
31 January 2008

Youssef Choueiri considers a nuanced and erudite portrait of early Muslim lives and ideas.

This book has as its focus the formative period of Islam, with all its prominent figures and significant events. Moreover, it includes three chapters (out of seven) on modern and contemporary Islam. In this sense, it represents a major endeavour to offer a full depiction of historical Islam as well as its present embodiments.

The first Muslims stand for all those who founded the message, helped to consolidate it and spread its tenets in the newly conquered territories. They thus include the Prophet Mohammed, his companions, the companions' successors and the successors to the successors, thereby spanning a period of about 300 years. By following this system of classification, the author reproduces a familiar tradition of Islamic historiography, whereby the early historical sources are given credibility for their reliability and methodology. This is further demonstrated by Asma Afsaruddin's dismissal of some revisionist theories advanced in the 1970s by scholars such as John Wansbrough, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook.

These scholars attempted to cast doubt on the veracity and authenticity of Muslim historical accounts and sacred texts by arguing the case for using non-Arabic accounts of the same events. These accounts offered different versions and helped to assume a conspiratorial intent of concealment or pure invention by successive generations of Muslim scholars. This book quickly and convincingly demonstrates the tenuous nature of such arguments. Furthermore, by reverting to a well-established tradition, Afsaruddin rehabilitates these same Arabic sources and uses them, albeit critically, to offer a coherent narrative of the first three centuries of Islam.

This is not a conventional history book, but rather a portrait of Muslim lives and ideas as seen through the lens of a sympathetic observer. What we have is a faithful reproduction, intelligently woven into meaningful episodes, of how Muslims themselves perceived their religion and its underlying messages. Historical events are narrated as a framework within which legal, literary, philosophical and theological issues are highlighted. Thus we have comprehensive analysis of the Sharia as delineated by various legal schools, a nuanced discussion of the multilayered meaning of jihad and the status of women.

It goes without saying that the author is fully aware of the shifting interpretations that Muslim historians and theologians put forward as they operated under novel circumstances and different contexts. One of the examples given by Afsaruddin concerns the evolving perceptions of women between the early period and the 9th century. Whereas the earliest chronicles and accounts spoke freely of the role women played in the intellectual and public life of Islam, less than two centuries later the new chroniclers exhibited a reluctant and grudging tendency to accord women such functions. They were now seen as obedient wives, daughters and sisters, always deferring to their menfolk or patriarch and hardly venturing outside their assigned domestic abodes. It is in this context that relying on purely legalistic texts is often a misleading exercise, obscuring the richer social life of Muslims, both men and women.

Another significant contribution of this study concerns the evolving meaning of jihad and its polyvalent dimensions. This is the more so in light of contemporary allusions to the militant nature of Islam by fundamentalists and Western propagandists. Afsaruddin rightly points out that the Koran does not use the word "martyr" or shahid in its present connotations, but rather denotes by the term a person who is a mere witness of an event or a particular incident. However, one or two verses in the Koran consider those who die in the path of God to have overcome death and continued to enjoy life under the beneficence of the Almighty. Hence, the term is not used, but its connotations are plainly spelt out.

Nevertheless, the author offers a very erudite and well-documented exposition of the various functions of jihad as one strives to serve God's purpose or obey his injunctions. Such a duty does not necessarily imply the use of violence or warfare, for the Koran deploys other terms to denote one or the other, such as qital (fighting) and harb (war).

When Afsaruddin turns her attention to the contemporary state of Muslims and the attempts of some Islamists to relive the formative period of Islam, she is able to emphasise how present-day Muslims embrace a wide range of attitudes and ideologies. While some are modernists, others are liberal, and yet some others see no contradiction between democracy and Islam. Then there are "hardline Islamists" who aspire to create a pure version of their own imagined religion, based on a strict and arbitrary interpretation of certain texts. It is all the more remarkable that the author's rebuttal of the fundamentalist message is not anchored in appeals to modern notions of human rights and citizenship but is grounded in restating the classical and medieval juridical concepts of Muslim scholars and Islamic practices.

This is a rich and much-needed text. Its range of scholarship, balanced statements and acute sense of the past and the present makes it required reading for both specialists and non-specialists.

The First Muslims: History and Memory
By Asma Afsaruddin
£40.00 and £12.99
ISBN 9781851685189 and 4977
Published 1 September 2007

Executing Terrorists

Executing Terrorists
9/11 Justice: Executing terrorists not in nation's best interest
07:03 AM CST on Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mike Ghouse: Executing the 9/11 Terrorists is perhaps the easiest thing to do, however the editors have prudently suggested to keep them in solitary confinement for life and deny them the only satisfaction they yearn for; to be the martyrs. Heck, they are no martyrs.

This certainly will hold a few potential candidates from martyrdom and cause a few in the cells to ponder and renounce violence, as some 300 of them did in Yemen about three years ago.

It further sends a clear signal to the terrorists that we are not like them who shamelessly slaughter innocent humans and hang them on the bridges and place the disgusting video on the internet. They need to know that we are a civil society and value life, but will prevent the individual from becoming a threat to the society.

Recommended reading:


The U.S. government's plan to seek the death penalty against six Guantánamo Bay detainees in the Sept. 11 attacks is bound to have enthusiastic public appeal. It might seem fitting punishment for anyone found responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths, 600 more than in the Japanese ambush at Pearl Harbor.

Yet the effort to assign guilt for the barbaric Sept. 11 raids – this generation's own "day of infamy" – should not end in an execution chamber. That would not be in this nation's best interest.

Carrying out the death penalty would put the government's questionable and untested military tribunal system on trial simultaneously. It's a test the nation could not afford to fail as it tries to assert moral authority in the war on terror.

Justice could not be served in a trial stemming from coerced confessions. One of the six suspects, alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has undergone CIA interrogation that included waterboarding, a practice widely considered torture and prone to produce unreliable information. American and international legal traditions demand better. And make no mistake: Trying these suspects will have global implications.

The military tribunal also could very well curtail traditional rights of defendants, such as open-court proceedings and challenging government evidence. While some deviation from standard court procedures might be tolerable for security reasons, a high-stakes capital punishment trial is not the time to grope for a balance.

There is a better option for the American people, although it's admittedly a hard case to make in light of emotions that will remain forever raw on the subject: Terrorists who bring savagery to our shores should spend the rest of their lives isolated in secure prison cells.

Advantages are many. For one, the government could gain truly useful information through methodical interviews. Second, unending solitary confinement could lead a terrorist to reflect on and renounce fanaticism, which would pay rich propaganda dividends. Third, imprisonment would have deterrent value by denying Islamo-terrorists a reward they crave – the glory of martyrdom for their twisted cause.

Finally, no one should underestimate the punitive value of condemning someone to look at four bare concrete walls for the rest of his life.

In the words of the judge who pronounced a life sentence on terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui two years ago: "You will die with a whimper."


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Voice of Moderate Muslims

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Moderate Islam 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.