Monday, March 31, 2008

Muslims more than Catholics

A greater number does not add any value nor a lower number takes away any. If the Shia segment is taken out, Catholics would still outnumber Sunni Muslims. What is the point?

Is there a race? Is God sitting at the finish line watching?

Qur'aan is clear about one thing - no one has a free pass to his grace. One has to earn it the old fashion way; through good deeds.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) defines a good deed as serving mankind . He gives an example; when you sow a seed, you know it well that by the time that become a tree and gives shade or fruit, you may not be the beneficiary, but you did it to benefit others, as you benefit from what was done before you.

Worship to God is self purification, serving others is service to God and is true worship. I hope the race should be which group would do more to benefit the mankind in terms of justice and peace. Taking care of the hungry, taking care of the needy. God likes competition in serving his fellow beings with arrogantless humility.

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

Muslims More Numerous Than Catholics
Vatican: Islam Surpasses Roman Catholicism As World's Largest Religion

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO Associated Press VATICAN CITY Mar 30, 2008 (AP)

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican's yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer," the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jewish Arabs and Arabia

Jewish Arabs and a New Middle East

I noticed in various texts and articles that Jews from the Middle East, who often originated from Spain/Al-Andalus, were referred to by scholars not only as Sephardim but as Arab Jews, says Marc Gopin.

WASHINGTON - In 1998, Prince Hassan of Jordan appeared on video at the University of Notre Dame, marking one of the first academic conferences in the field of religion and conflict resolution. As he spoke via teleconference, he quoted at length and with great love from the writings of Moses Maimonides—the world-famous medieval Jewish philosopher who had been a chief conduit between Arab neo-Aristotelian philosophy and the Christian world.

It was already a thrilling moment for me – the conference was the first that I attended as an academic speaker – but Maimonides was part and parcel of my sequestered religious childhood. I went to school for 13 years as a child at a place called Maimonides School, and prayed there on Sundays and Saturdays. For Prince Hassan, a major figure of the Arab world, to be embracing Maimonides felt like an extraordinary inter-cultural and inter-religious gesture. I was so moved that I had to say something to the plenary meeting.

Then I got a shock.
When I shared my feelings of gratitude publicly, someone from the audience of scholars responded quite forcefully, "But he is our Maimonides, one of the great Arab philosophers of history." I think that if I were brought up with more Jewish wounds than I had ('Jewishness' could be defined by how many and how deep your wounds are), I might have taken offense. But I did not, and was instead stunned, intrigued, and amused at the playful re-orientation of identities afoot in the room.
That was one of those life-changing moments for me. In that instant I realized the truth of Gandhi's words when he claimed that, the more fluid and multiple our identities, the easier peace and coexistence can flourish at a very profound level. I noticed later in various texts and articles that Jews from the Middle East, who often originated from Spain/Al-Andalus, were referred to by scholars not only as Sephardim but as Arab Jews.

One decade later, Prince Turki, Saudi Arabia's current National Security Adviser and former Ambassador to America, said it was time for Israel to respond to the Arab League's 2002 offer to integrate into the Middle East. After fully withdrawing to the 1967 borders, after realizing a just two-state solution with the Palestinians—then, he added crucially, Israelis could become Arab Jews of the Middle East.

This went unnoticed by most of the enlightened press, presumably because Al Qaeda was not mentioned and no blood of Arabs or Jews was spilled. But at a deeper level, blood was very involved: this former head of intelligence – from a country from which so much of the extremism of the Middle East had emerged – was now utterly redefining identity, family, tribe and clan in terms of ethical relationships, in terms of peace and justice.

In the pages of The Forward, a centrist Jewish journal, some people reacted to Prince Turki's offer as insulting. They assumed that it was an offer from the majority group of the Middle East for a minority to attain some subsumed and subjugated status. But after working with Prince Turki for years at the World Economic Forum, I saw that he embraced the interfaith moment as a moment of absolute equality. He was suggesting, from within the most conservative religious environment in the Middle East, that "Arab" was an ethical term of belonging and community, not a racial or tribal term. It would be like the Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Israel saying that if Palestinians can live in peace with us then they will be our Jewish brothers. I have never heard anyone, no matter how progressive, say this.

Prince Turki went to the heart of the matter, to the question of how the definition of identity can drive us away from hatred, fear, and war, toward the peaceful embrace of the other, or, alternatively, how much identity can stand in the way of all rational negotiation. He has placed a challenge before every Jew and Arab as to who they really are, and who they will be in the future of the Middle East.

Marc Gopin is the James Laue Professor of World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Washington D.C. He can be reached at

This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service and can be accessed at GCNews.

Debate on Islamic State

I just received an email about the upcoming debate on Islamic state, and I was completely taken back at the fiction Mr. Zuhdi Jasser is concoting and then solving it, and of course becoming a darling to the Neo-cons* ( )
First of all, I must acknowledge my respect for Mr. Zhudi Jasser for the 99 good things he does, but on this upcoming debate, he is wrong, per the information presented in the item received from him.

He seems to have a misunderstanding of Main stream Muslims and I have to call him on this. He once stated that all mosques in America deliver hate sermons, I asked him to prove it. Which he corrected to at least not the mosques he had visited. Even Wall Street Journal had printed that a while back, I wrote to them to prove it. Both have passed out this rumor as a fact. It is not building healthy and truthful and peaceful societies.

I hope we can work on legislation that would require all public lectures and sermons to be recorded and made available through internet and public archives. Any hate sermon, any incitement or whole sale prejudices must be called to justify. Just as one cannot shout “Fire” in a public place to disrupt peace, one should not be allowed to spew hate in public. This applies to all places of worship and non profits that are using public benefit through tax exemption.

A statement is ascribed to Mr. Zuhdi Jasser as “a self-proclaimed ‘Moderate’ Muslim from Arizona…and whose views on Islam are well outside the scope of the mainstream Muslim world”. Indeed, his understanding appears to be outside the scope of the Mainstream Muslim World. Mr. Zuhdi Jasser is not in touch.

The mainstream Americans, Main stream British, Indians or Main stream Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews are moderate people who want to get along with all. They are no bigots, they believe in living their life and letting others live theirs. The do not aspire or conspire for secretive societies, they do not want to rule by injustice and push their ideas on to others, as they believe, if you are unjust, you are going to pay. They are law abiding citizens, where as the Neocons are not. Every one of them has fouled or still to be caught.

Mr. Zuhdi lacks understanding of the mainstream Muslim world, let alone mainstream America. Extremism is not a mainstream staple, it is a fringe of the society. Neocons and Islamists are indeed fringe elements of the society. They are incapable of dialogue, they rather use the megaphones or gunpowder and bulldoze all who oppose them, because they are insecure and abuse the power they have by pushing others. They will silence you by calling you unpatriotic if you question them. Their time is up now, thank God.

The Neocons, the Islamists, the Zionists and the Hindutvadis are a tiny-weenie minority driving the world by frightening the crap out of constipated men. Their time is up too and I pray that the see the benefit in dialogue and conflict mitigation as a path to peace, peace to them and every one around them. I pray that they jump on this path to bring peace, I know they will succeed, as they have the passion and funds to do it.

The mainstream Muslims do not aspire or have any thing to do with "Is the Ideological Desire to Establish an Islamic State a Clear and Present Danger to the U.S.?" They have come to America to be free and not have another lawless society in the name of any religion, be it their own.

The words appeal to the money throwing Neocons, who love the above words " clear and present danger". It is a frightening tactic to keep their grip.

The main stream Muslim knows deeply in his hearts that, democracy is the right form of governance. No doubt, there are a few out there, who dream Islamic form of government, which is about justice, but by no stretch of imagination they are main stream.

Even those in the Mainstream Muslims who may dream of the Islamic rule, will not do anything to make it happen, as no form of current label of Islamic rule works. None of the Saudi, Irani, Afghani or Sudanese brand will work. They would rather opt for the democracy as in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan (now), Turkey, Bangladesh and India – together Muslims in these democracies make about 2/3rds of Muslim world.

Main stream Muslims do want democracy, and a nation where justice prevails. They do not want the kind of Khilafat that is projected by the Neocons “they are here to dominate and subjugate others.” Absolute baloney! No significant group of Muslims wants that. However, they do wish a Pope like figure who can make small petty decisions and give relief to apostates, rape victims, divorce and other issues, but it ain’t going to happen.

Islam is not designed to have a pope. Neither the Qur’aan nor the Prophet assigned a person to interpret the Qur'aan for the Muslims. The prophet said, you are individually accountable on the day of reckoning, so it is your responsibility to read and understand the book I am leaving behind for you. Islam took the priesthood off from controlling the knowledge and influencing the masses, the community is free to learn and practice their religion on their own. It was like internet in 612 AD, Prophet Muhammad making the knowledge available to every one.
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 religion.

Thus the role of the Caliph was state administration, but people opted to seek knowledge from them, as the first four rightly guided caliphs had a full understanding of the religion. (Read the balance created between the Scholars and the Caliphs from 9th Centurn onwards -

In essence there is a separation of church and state. Muslims had a plurlistic society during the Prophet's time, infact the Madina declaration may be first of its kind where state signed a joint treaty among the people of different faiths to practice their faith freely. Muslims never had that opportunity until the mid of the last century. Indeed, America was the only nation on the earth that had democracy some 225 years ago, every nation on the earth until recently was a colony, tyranny, monarchy or dictatorship. Neocons are a hurdle for democracy, if God can help put Obama in place, we can see democracies around the world flourishing, it is his attitude, lack of arrogance and the desire to accommodate that will change the world for Good. Presently 2/3rds of Muslims live in democracy; it may go up to 75% or higher while still a whole lot of world needs to embrace democracy including our current president.

In conclusion, the debate is healthy and would be an opportunity to establish that Mainstream Muslims do not want any form of governance other than democracy.

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 or (214) 325-1916

Debate on Islamic State

You are invited to "THE GREAT DEBATE” A Muslim Debate
Is the Ideological Desire to Establish an Islamic State a Clear and Present Danger to the U.S.?"

...come and witness an example of a real contest of ideas within the Muslim community in what is one of the most critical issues of this century.

WHEN: SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 6:30 – 9:30pm
WHO: The debate will be between Dr. Zuhdi Jasser & Imam Al-Darsani

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, Arizona.
Imam Mohamed Al-Darsani of the Islamic Center for Peace in Fort Myers, Florida.

WITH MODERATOR: Michael Cromartie, Vice-President, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.

WHAT: THEY WILL DEBATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION in an established debate format:

Is the ideological desire to establish an Islamic state a clear and present danger to the United States of America? (Dr. Jasser will debate the affirmative and Imam Al-Darsani will debate the negative)

Other issues covered may include:

Islam v. Islamist
Koran v. Constitution
Role of political Islam in America
Role of political Islam as a root cause of Islamist terror
Status of Jews and Christians
Terror and Al Qaeda

WHERE: EDISON COLLEGE IN NAPLES FLORIDA. 7007 Lely Cultural Pkwy, Naples, Florida 34113

Reserve your free seats at:
Do not delay - Seating is very limited

BACKGROUND: The debate evolved after a National Security Briefing in Naples on February 23rd held by the Florida Security Council which showed the film "Obsession" followed by a panel discussion of experts concerning the threat of Radical Islamism upon the West.

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser was among the anti-terrorism experts included on the panel following the showing of the film.

Imam Mohamed Al-Darsani was present at the event and during the Q+A period objected to the film and the discussion.

Tom Trento, Director of the Florida Security Council after the event stated, “Moreover, the Imam from the ICP, Mohamed Al-Darsani, in print afterwards and before the audience of almost 400, indicated that the whole evening was just an effort to scare people with a film that is propaganda and a guest speaker who is quote, a “self-proclaimed ‘Moderate’ Muslim from Arizona…and whose views on Islam are well outside the scope of the mainstream Muslim world”.

Thus, the possibility of a public debate between Dr. Jasser and Imam Mohamed Al-Darsani was subsequently raised in order to formally discuss the central issues which divide Islamists from Americans.

The Florida Security Council stepped in to organize and sponsor the debate.

Members share, opinions are your own
this issue of World Muslim Congress is archived at:
1. Kimat gul khatak -Debate on Islamic State
2. Shamim Siddiqi - Debate on Islamic State
3. Tarek Fatah - Debate on Islamic State
4. Turkman - Debate on Islamic State
5. Mubashir - - Debate on Islamic State
From: kimat gul khatak Date: Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:43 pm Subject: Re: Dallas Pakistanis :: Debate on Islamic State

Mike asa,Great effort.
I am amazed as a Muslim why do I have to apologize for being one. No Religion has democracy AS A MODEL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE. Am I wrong ? Islam as a religion is the only one nearest to the present day collective responsibility or "Democracy".It would be very useful to debate the view point of Judaism, Christianity( the most undemocratic of all) Buddhism and Hinduism or any other ism for that matter where divine thought is based on Democracy. The thought becomes non divine when democratised.If possible it would be nice to quote biblical edits for democratic administration. A debate on the subject of Christianity and democracy would be nice to have.Let us see how democratic Christianity as a religion is?

kimat gul khatak
Moderator :: Kimat, excellent points and we need to be explore. Your principle is good, every group should be judged from the same rules.

Islam: the state and religion were one and the same during the times of Prophet and through Hazarat Ali, then it splintered, Hazrat Imam took the lead in Religion where as the state was run by Muawia. However what distinguished the times of Prophet was the multi-faith environment that led to the Madinah pact and innumerable examples of Prophet's respect for co-existence. All of that vanished in Islam's birth place, but moved to Spain and India and literally died with the fall of the empires, and with that the Islamic tradition of pluralism was decimated. Under colonialism, it took a different from altogether. Again from the independence movements in the 40's, it took ground in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and a few other nations. Thank God, the Prophets' tradition of inclusiveness and experience of multi-faith is resurfacing in the US and Canada and hope it spreads to the "Islamic" Nations. The signs are there... the opening of Temple in Dubai, Church in Qatar, and now possible church in Saudi Arabia. A full circle.
The early Christianity was simply a religion and not a state. The Romans and Kings in the 3rd and 4th century upped it to a state religion. Just as with Islam and all other religions, the Kings bent the rules to preserve their kingdom and their excesses's were indistinguishable from religion. Very few questioned them and risked their lives.
Cyrus upped the Zoroastrian faith to be the state religion, I do not know of any excesses by the Zoroastrian Kings, it does not mean they do not exist. It is the individuals that do wrongs things, not the religion.
Hinduism was both religion and a state at least from Krishna and Kurukshetra War, Ram Rajya with Lord Ram. Prior to that religion was not the domain of kings.
Buddhism was upped to State religion during the reign of King Ashoka and he sent his emissaries all over the world to spread the word. However, the state policy was no warfare, in fact, for a while he did not have a army or police in his kingdom.
Judaism was a state religion with David, Solomon and the other Kings, but for a period of 2000 years, there was no government that was labeled Jewish.
Shamim Siddiqi - Debate on Islamic State
Dear Br. Ghouse, ASA Your challenging attitude is worth more than any thing in the hours of trial of Muslim Ummah. The West has developed the tendency to generalize things, making mountains of mole hills. Then, they condemn the Muslim Ummah even its extremely routine rituals of Ebadah. The facts and figures that the WESTERN MEDIA publishes against Muslim activities in the West are highly exaggerated and are put out of context. They make a "bombshell" out of some smoking cigar and then create all hue and cry in the so-called name of terrorism. Even the legitimate demands of Muslims in Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir and elsewhere in the world are painted like the most dangerous things.
Osama is dead long ago. Pervez Musharraf confirmed it at the end of devastating bombardment of Tora Bora. But America and its anti-Islam media is keeping him alive for the sake of their propaganda stunts against Islam and General Pervez has now become its senseless tool/partner in this hegemony. Osama is now the "need" of America and it is keeping him alive by attributing false and concocted statements to him. America, in fact, is preparing the ground to attack the Pak- Afghan boarder area, perhaps very "soon", perhaps before the ouster of General Pervez from Pakistan politics. It must be condemned vehemently by brothers like you, lest it becomes too late.
Shamim Siddiqi

Moderator – Brother Shamim, your words describe the situation very well. Making mountains out of Mole Hills. Recently I wrote that when an ugly father killed his daughter for disobedience, it was all over the world and was a fodder for the talk show hosts, because the man was a Muslim. The very same week at least 50 other fathers killed their siblings for one reason or the other, one in Florida killed the baby because he wanted a son, he was not a Muslim, then one in Texas smashed the 6 months old baby’s head on the rock, he was not a Muslim either. The media has chosen to obey the Neocons ( ) and it is an uphill battle.

Fortunately there is a reservoir of Good people – greater than 95% of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists are moderates – the mainstream people, who want to get along with all and don’t care for the lies media lays out in front of them, they rather watch American Idol, and I am glad they do. We can change the perceptions by being with them. As a community we live in Islands and Mosques, do not get out and be with others… look at our weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries… do we have people other than ourselves? The only idea about Muslims they get is from TV and that ain’t good. People have to see us and believe that we are like them in being good to others, caring for the needy, helping the deprived … we are all of it, but others don’t about it. Change comes, if you, yes, you, each one of you starts being with others. No one will do it. Alhamdu Lillah, at least , I do my part in letting others know that as a Muslim I am on par with them being a good and decent human being. May Allah grant his grace for me to do more.

Tarek Fatah - Debate on Islamic State

The debate has not yet taken place and you have already declared Zuhdi Jasser as 'dead wrong'. Then you label him as a neocon, but then suggest that your 'respect' him.
As far as mosque sermons go, could you identify any mosque in the US that has distanced itself from the doctrine of Jihad as pronounced by such 20th century Islamists as Syed Qutb, Maudoodi and Hassan al-Banna? Unless one explicitly states that the doctrine of Jihad does not apply in today's world, that imam or mosque should be considered as supporting jihadi ideology and hence follows the extremist agenda set by their Saudi funders.
In a world where International treaties and multilateral charters govern international relations, there is no room for extra-state players to conduct free-lance jihad.
Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State
The author analyzes the diverging aspirations that separate the Islamist from the Muslim, and the Islamic State from the State of Islam.
Pre-order today at or

Moderator: Tarek, As a Muslim I feel duped by a few Muslim scholars from medieval times who had cleverly presented the wrong kind Jihad as the core of Islam. There is no offensive war or aggression in Islam. Thanks for the 9/11 tragedy, we are finding the truth out of necessity and I pray that Muslim majority who believes in the right Jihad have the guts to speak out against the wrong Jihad dumped on our thoughts for centuries.

I do know two of the Imams in my town who have earned the respect from others scholars nationwide. They are Imam Zia Kavakci and Imam Zia Shaikh of Dallas and Irving respectively. I don’t believe they subscribe to the methodology word for word. I am copying this to both of them and will report their response. Both of them are engaged in multi-faith dialogue and they are part of the community at large. Saudi Funding may be a reality elsewhere, but I see it as a myth at least in my City.
Turkman - Debate on Islamic State
I think, you do not read newspapers in USA. There was a news item that FBI had hired some Mosque-going Moslims to spy on, what goes on in Mosques. Though they had just submitted their report of about just over 100 Mosques, FBI had announced the result that 3/4th of Mosques in USA spread hate against USA and Non Moslim Americans. This is why I have stopped going to any Mosque.

FBI is hiring more Moslims now to finish the study with tons of audio and vedio tapes, don't worry and stop spreading hate against the West and USA yourself ...!

I understand, all new Immigrants have rights but Moslims like me, who do not know, how to become Traitors of their country, USA have some rights too.

Moderator: Mr. Turkman, do you trust FBI & CIA - whose facts were WMD's, Iran's Nuclear development... and an endless amount of concoctions. Please let me know where they have published it, I want to challenge it. Which Mosque did they spew the hate, I would like to visit that mosque and speak up, if the non-sense is still going on. Please write what exactly they said...
Mubashir - - Debate on Islamic State
Dear friends,

Where inter-state treaties apply and adhered to and where there is a trouble shooting mechanism in place (like the UN) or World Court, perhaps it may not be a good idea to lauch a personal Jihad.

However, where a situation exists where a state is waging a war for land and settlements by occupying another nation's and which is balatantly supported by a powerful state which does not play fair, and where the UN resolutions are played with, what are Palestinians supposed to do? Would not resisting an evil occupation come under Jihad?

What about the Afghans who resisted the Soviets and now the NATO allies. They had nothing to do with 911. Did Mullah Omar not offer to hand over Osama if the US furnished proof of his guilt?

What about illegal occupation of Iraq? Do it's inhabitants have the right to resist and under what circumstances their resistance qualify as a Jihad/Resistance/struggle?

What Muslims need to do is to have an organisation like OIC where such matters be referred to (after exhuasting all other available avenues) and seek advise to see if a resistance qualifies for a Jihad or not.

Any ideas?

Moderator - Palestinians have every right to defend their freedom and every human should support their right. It is indeed a struggle against occupation. Shame on us, the Americans for judging the Palestinians based on the actions of the leadership, rather than their plight. Just as the Majority of Americans want out of Iraq, but are bullied by our lousy leadership, Palestinians have endured a similar leadership trauma, so goes with the leadership of Israel. The suffering is heaped on a common Palestinian and an Israeli.

It is the leadership on all sides that is crooked and in the hands of Christian, Jewish and Muslim Neocons, who are incapable of thinking solutions, violence is all they know. The leadership did not guide the oppressed ones to express their frustration and anger in the right way. Israel and the US do not stand on moral high grounds , but the actions of Hamas and the leadership has lost them the moral grounds too. If Hamas can think about the hopeless future of their children and swallow the false pride and renounce their statement of wiping Israel out, and renounce violence towards children and women, they cannot lose in the long run. They can easily gain the moral upper hand. The good people of the world will overwhelm the Neocons with sheer goodness and morality.

Both sides need to learn co-existence. Oppression, occupation and violence will not take them where they really want - Hope for one and security for the other.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pope Benedict

Two articles on the subject follow my comments;

1. Christian Rage and Muslim Moderation
2. Don't turn faith into a hollow competition of numbers

I have been writing and re-writing the definition of a peace maker. "A peace maker constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. His or Her words and actions do not make things worse, but bring some sense and understanding to the situation. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; indeed that is the purpose religion." Indeed, peace making is the duty of a religious person.
Did Pope's conversion event on Easter, mitigate or aggravate the conflict? With all due respect to his holiness, his words have not been that of a peace maker. There have been three incidents where his non-action or silence would have been better. The revival of comments made by the Emperor Constantine he delivered in Germany irritated his counterparts in Muslim world, then revising the prayer that was not kosher and now this. What was the need to make the conversion on Easter? Provoke?

His holiness Pope Benedict knew darn well, that Muslims will jump up and down and scream to his reactions. As a holy man, was that necessary? What is the gain? What is the need to ruffle the feathers? It is a shame that those Muslims react so wildly towards his words, they need to get in control of themselves and not let the Pope make them dance. If the Pope had not said the things he said, not done the things he did, would there have been a crisis?


Wilders, Fitna and Quraan

By Mike Ghouse & Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh
It is a Muslim response to Geert Wilders documentary called "Fitna".

There are 14 mis-translated verses of Qur'aan in the movie that are listed along with the correct translation.

“Geert Wilders, Dutch conservative lawmaker, has made a sixteen minute film called "Fitna" (trouble) exposing the horrific passages of the Koran. Wilders refers to theses selected verses as “fascist.’”

First of all, as a Muslim, I want to thank Geert Wilders for making this documentary, the verses, as he has quoted certainly sound fascist.

Continued at:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Qatar - Catholic Church opens

First church opens in Qatar
Mar 14, 2008

We welcome this advancment - Mike Ghouse

DOHA (AFP) — Christians in Qatar opened their first church on Friday, joining fellow believers in most other Gulf Arab states who have long been able to worship in churches rather than homes and other venues.

An inauguration event was held for St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Doha, the first of five that will be built in Qatar.

The opening of the church was attended by high-ranking diplomats, Catholic religious leaders and Qatar's minister of energy and industry, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

"The church will send a positive message to the world," Attiyah told reporters.

The secretary of the Anglican church in neighbouring Bahrain, Yussef Haidar, boasts that the tiny state "hosts the first church of the Gulf region, founded in 1906 by American Anglican missionaries".

Kuwait has about 10 churches.

Complaints by some Christians that they were forced to rent private residences and turn them into places of worship, prompted the Kuwaiti government three years ago to allot two large plots of land for new churches.

The United Arab Emirates, which prides itself on its religious tolerance and cultural diversity, also has several churches used by hundreds of thousands of Christian expats, mostly Filipinos, Indians and Arabs.

Land for churches in Oman has been donated by Sultan Qaboos.

However, Saudi Arabia, which adheres to a rigorous doctrine of Islam known as Wahhabism and is home to Islam's holiest sites, bans all non-Muslim religious rituals and materials.

IRS- Politics & Pulpit

Politics and the Pulpit 2008

A Guide to the Internal Revenue Code Restrictions on the Political Activity of Religious Organizations

Download a printable PDF of the full report (23 pgs.)
During every election cycle, many religious congregations find themselves wondering what role, if any, they can play in the political process. Can a minister, rabbi, imam or other member of the clergy endorse a candidate from the pulpit or speak on political issues of interest to voters? Is a church or other house of worship legally permitted to register voters or distribute voter guides? Answers to these and many other questions are contained here.

This guide sets out in plain English the rules governing political activity that apply to nonprofit organizations (including churches and other religious groups) that are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The 2008 edition of the guide updates versions previously published by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2004 and 2002. The report was written by Deirdre Dessingue, Associate General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Ms. Dessingue is a leading expert on the taxation of religious organizations, and she has written a straightforward and practical guide to the law on these matters. The report also has been vetted by a number of other prominent legal experts in this field.

The current rules have been in place since 1954, when Congress amended the Internal Revenue Code to impose limits on the political activities of religious groups and certain other tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. In recent years, some have voiced strong opposition to these limits, especially as they are applied to religious groups, arguing that they amount to an unfair abridgement of free speech. Others, including some religious leaders, have vigorously defended the rules, asserting that they correctly prevent churches from getting too deeply involved in partisan politics.

The Forum takes no position in this or any other policy debate. The Forum commissioned this publication solely to better inform religious groups and others on the provisions and meaning of the law as it is currently written. The Forum's overall mission is to deliver timely, impartial information on issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.

Politics and the Pulpit is published with the understanding that the Forum is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. If legal advice or other professional assistance is required, the services of a qualified professional should be sought.

Note: Throughout this document, the term “churches” refers to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other religious congregations. The term “religious organizations” has a broader meaning, including both churches and other types of religious organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

This report is in question-and-answer format. Use the menu below to go to a particular section of the report or to a specific question. A selected bibliography is available in the PDF version.

1.Where do the restrictions on religious organizations' participation in the political process come from?

2.Has this prohibition on political campaign intervention always been part of the Internal Revenue Code?

3.Are religious organizations singled out by the political campaign intervention prohibition in the Internal Revenue Code?

4.Doesn't the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protect the right of religious organizations to engage in political activity?
IRS Restrictions on Political Intervention and Lobbying

5.What political activities are prohibited under the Internal Revenue Code?

6. Must religious organizations restrict their discussion of issues during election campaign periods?

7. When would an issue discussion violate the political campaign intervention prohibition?

8. Are religious organizations permitted to engage in lobbying activities?

9. Are religious organizations permitted to participate in referenda, constitutional amendments and similar ballot initiatives?

10. What are the consequences if a religious organization engages in excessive lobbying?

11. Does the political campaign intervention prohibition apply to the political activities of clergy and other religious leaders?

12.When are the political activities of clergy or other religious leaders attributed to their religious organizations?

13. Who is considered a candidate?

14.What rules apply with respect to candidates for non-elective office?

15.May candidates appear in pulpits during worship services?

16.What if the candidate appears in a noncandidate capacity?

17. What if the candidate is a member of the clergy?
Voter Education and Outreach

18. May religious organizations become involved in voter education?

19. May religious organizations publish or distribute voter guides?

20. Why must a broad range of issues be covered in voter education materials?

21. May religious organizations publish or distribute legislators' voting records?

22. May religious organizations distribute voter education materials prepared by a candidate, political party or PAC?

23. May religious organizations sponsor candidate forums?

24. May religious organizations conduct voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives?
Religious Organization Facilities and Publications

25. May the facilities of religious organizations be used for civic or political events?

26. Do special rules apply to websites belonging to religious organizations?

27. Do links to candidate-related materials constitute political campaign intervention?

28. May religious organizations sell paid political advertising in their publications?

29. May a religious organization sell or rent its mailing list to a candidate, political party or PAC?

30. What are the penalties if a religious organization violates the political campaign intervention prohibition?

31. Does the IRS target churches for enforcement of the political campaign intervention prohibition?

Islam and Free Speech

Islam and Free Speech
March 26, 2008; Page A15

Article follows my comments:

The only way to put the devil out of circulation is putting goodness in circulation. I hope we can make a better movie to offset the bad one... here is the article:

Mike Ghouse

Islam and Free Speech

The Netherlands is bracing for a new round of violence at home and against its embassies in the Middle East. The storm would be caused by "Fitna," a short film that is scheduled to be released this week. The film, which reportedly includes images of a Quran being burned, was produced by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the Freedom Party. Mr. Wilders has called for banning the Quran -- which he has compared to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" -- from the Netherlands.

After concern about the film led Mr. Wilders's Internet service provider to take down his Web site, Mr. Wilders issued a statement this week that he will personally distribute DVDs "On the Dam" if he has to. That may not be necessary, as the Czech National Party has reportedly agreed to host the video on its Web site.

Marked for death: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Reasonable men in free societies regard Geert Wilders's anti-Muslim rhetoric, and films like "Fitna," as disrespectful of the religious sensitivities of members of the Islamic faith. But free societies also hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental human right. We don't silence, jail or kill people with whom we disagree just because their ideas are offensive or disturbing. We believe that when such ideas are openly debated, they sink of their own weight and attract few followers.

Our country allows fringe groups like the American Nazi Party to demonstrate, as long as they are peaceful. Americans are permitted to burn the national flag. In 1989, when so-called artist Andres Serrano displayed his work "Piss Christ" -- a photo of a crucifix immersed in a bottle of urine -- Americans protested peacefully and moved to cut off the federal funding that supported Mr. Serrano. There were no bombings of museums. No one was killed over this work that was deeply offensive to Christians.

Criticism of Islam, however, has led to violence and murder world-wide. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie over his 1988 book, "The Satanic Verses." Although Mr. Rushdie has survived, two people associated with the book were stabbed, one fatally. The 2005 Danish editorial cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad led to numerous deaths. Dutch director Theodoor van Gogh was killed in 2004, several months after he made the film "Submission," which described violence against women in Islamic societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch member of parliament who wrote the script for "Submission," received death threats over the film and fled the country for the United States.

The violence Dutch officials are anticipating now is part of a broad and determined effort by the radical jihadist movement to reject the basic values of modern civilization and replace them with an extreme form of Shariah. Shariah, the legal code of Islam, governed the Muslim world in medieval times and is used to varying degrees in many nations today, especially in Saudi Arabia.
Radical jihadists are prepared to use violence against individuals to stop them from exercising their free speech rights. In some countries, converting a Muslim to another faith is a crime punishable by death. While Muslim clerics are free to preach and proselytize in the West, some Muslim nations severely restrict or forbid other faiths to do so. In addition, moderate Muslims around the world have been deemed apostates and enemies by radical jihadists.

Radical jihadists believe representative government is un-Islamic, and urge Muslims who live in democracies not to exercise their right to vote. The reason is not hard to understand: When given a choice, most Muslims reject the extreme approach to Islam. This was recently demonstrated in Iraq's Anbar Province, which went from an al-Qaeda stronghold to an area supporting the U.S.-led coalition. This happened because the populace came to intensely dislike the fanatical ways of the radicals, which included cutting off fingers of anyone caught smoking a cigarette, 4 p.m. curfews, beatings and beheadings. There also were forced marriages between foreign-born al Qaeda fighters and local Sunni women.

There may be a direct relationship between the radical jihadists' opposition to democracy and their systematic abuse of women. Women have virtually no rights in this radical world: They must conceal themselves, cannot hold jobs, and have been subjected to honor killings. Would most women in Muslim countries vote for a candidate for public office who supported such oppressive rules?

Not all of these radicals are using violence to supplant democratic society with an extreme form of Shariah. Some in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are attempting to create parallel Islamic societies with separate courts for Muslims. According to recent press reports, British officials are investigating the cases of 30 British Muslim school-age girls who "disappeared" for probable forced marriages.

While efforts to create parallel Islamic societies have been mostly peaceful, they may actually be a jihadist "waiting game," based on the assumption that the Islamic populations of many European states will become the majority over the next 25-50 years due to higher Muslim birth rates and immigration.

What is particularly disturbing about these assaults against modern society is how the West has reacted with appeasement, willful ignorance, and a lack of journalistic criticism. Last year PBS tried to suppress "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," a hard-hitting documentary that contained criticism of radical jihadists. Fortunately, Fox News agreed to air the film.

Even if the new Wilders film proves newsworthy, it is likely that few members of the Western media will air it, perhaps because they have been intimidated by radical jihadist threats. The only major U.S. newspaper to reprint any of the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons was Denver's Rocky Mountain News. You can be sure that if these cartoons had mocked Christianity or Judaism, major American newspapers would not have hesitated to print them.

European officials have been similarly cautious. A German court ruled last year that a German Muslim man had the right to beat his wife, as this was permitted under Shariah. Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, stated last month that the implementation of some measure of Shariah in Britain was "unavoidable" and British Muslims should have the choice to use Shariah in marital and financial matters.

I do not defend the right of Geert Wilders to air his film because I agree with it. I expect I will not. (I have not yet seen the film). I defend the right of Mr. Wilders and the media to air this film because free speech is a fundamental right that is the foundation of modern society. Western governments and media outlets cannot allow themselves to be bullied into giving up this precious right due to threats of violence. We must not fool ourselves into believing that we can appease the radical jihadist movement by allowing them to set up parallel societies and separate legal systems, or by granting them special protection from criticism.

A central premise of the American experiment are these words from the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." There are similar statements in the U.S. Constitution, British Common Law, the Napoleonic Code and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, hundreds of millions in the U.S. and around the world enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and many other rights.
These liberties have been won through centuries of debate, conflict and bloodshed. Radical jihadists want to sacrifice all we have learned by returning to a primitive and intolerant world. While modern society invites such radicals to peacefully exercise their faith, we cannot and will not sacrifice our fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands, is ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal1.
And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum2.

URL for this article:

Hyperlinks in this Article:
(2) t=1904

New Ismaili Center in Dubai

Prince Karim Aga Khan opens Ismaili Centre in Dubai March 26, 2008

Member of the Shiite Muslim Ismaili sect welcome their spiritual leader, the Agha Khan (C), during the opening ceremony of the Dubai Park. The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world’s Shiite Ismaili Muslims, on Wednesday inaugurated an Ismaili cultural centre in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, the first of its kind in the Middle East.(AFP/Karim Sahib)

Prince Karim Aga Khan opens Ismaili Centre in Dubai March 26, 2008
Posted by ismailimail in Aga Khan IV, Dubai, GJ Visits, Jamat Khana, Jubilee, Middle East, Trust for Culture.
Source: Gulf News

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter
Published: March 26, 2008, 15:57
Dubai: Prince Karim Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shiite Ismaili Muslims, on Wednesday said the new Ismaili Centre in Dubai is a place for peaceful contemplation.

“It is not a place to hide from the world, but rather a place which inspires us to engage our worldly work as a direct extension of our faith,” the Aga Khan told a big gathering at the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Dubai.

The gathering mainly comprised of Ismaili community members who traveled to Dubai from around the world to participate in the event.

The centre has been built on land donated by High Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shiite Ismaili Muslims, thanked Shaikh Mohammad for his generosity and said: “We welcome our new Ismaili Centre in a setting which has itself become a great hub of cosmopolitan activity and truly global crossroads. We hear a great deal these days the words ‘convergence’ and ‘connectivity’. In my judgment, Dubai is a place where those words truly come to life.”

He said Dubai has become a very embodiment of the global village, placing itself at the forefront of an enormous surge towards global convergence.

“Shaikh Mohammad has provided a powerful example of how the ethics of our Islamic faith can be taken into the world, through his affirmation of a pillar of Islamic values, the spirit of generosity towards others,” he said.

About the new Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan said the new centre is itself a profoundly spiritual place. “It’s a defining symbolism inspired by the Fatimid tradition — going back to over 1,000 years – and widely shared with sister traditions throughout the Islamic world, from Baghdad to Bokhara,” explained the Aga Khan.

He said the centre in Dubai is planned with a view to becoming a landmark in the cosmopolitan cultural picture of the city. The opening of the centre also coincided with the golden jubilee celebrations of Aga Khan being Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community for the last 50 years.

The Aga Khan Cultural Trust has also developed a park next to the Ismaili Centre as a gift from Aga Khan to Dubai residents. The 3,000sq/m park has been conceived as a neighbourhood garden based upon the concept of Islamic gardens.

The new centre in Dubai is the fourth Ismaili Centre in the world with other three in London, Vancouver and Lisbon. The centre offers a range of cultural and educational activities.

The centre in Dubai has been built over an area of about 13,000sq/m and also houses an early learning centre which has intake capacity of 225 children.
The centre will provide facilities to promote cultural, educational and social programmes from the broadest, non-denominational perspective within the ethical framework of Islam.
Source: Gulf News

Monday, March 24, 2008

Muslim Philantrophist Meet

World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists

A few articles on the subject:
1. Charity organizations unite against rising poverty
2. Muslim philanthropists seek cooperation with the rest of the world
3. New Group Meets to Promote Muslim Charity Worldwide
4. “Do good works, engage politically, and get involved”

Charity organizations unite against rising poverty

The first international World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists took place in İstanbul over the weekend under the theme "Facing Challenges and Finding Solutions."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered a speech at the event in which he said charity is a common human value that transcends cultures and beliefs.

"Because of problems stemming from changing ecological conditions, inequalities in income distribution and injustice in the world, millions of people live in difficult conditions," he said.
Pointing out the importance of nongovernmental charities at times when natural disaster strikes, Erdoğan said such institutions must work effectively and strengthen the public's charitable feelings. "One of the most fundamental ways to achieve this is by making the activities of these charity organizations transparent, with financing at the top of the list," he said. Erdoğan also highlighted the need to maintain efficiency among NGOs as they coordinate independent activities and services.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Religious Affairs Directorate head Professor Ali Bardakoğlu stated that social charities are not inferior to religious exercises. "The Quran demands of us to think about those living next to us. We should broaden the social aspect of our religious devotion," he said.

South African Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool supported Bardakoğlu's emphasis on dialogue between religions. Lamenting the Western perspective of the Muslim world as underdeveloped and violent, Rasool underlined that Muslim countries should combine to launch a $20 million grant of aid under a specific fund, even while struggling with poverty.

State Minister for Women and Children's Affairs Nimet Çubukçu also supported a point raised by Rasool that poverty is not just a problem among old people but also one affecting the young. Although feelings like benefaction, compassion and charity have not been highly valued in recent years, they will continue forever within humanity, Çubukçu said, adding, "Love, solidarity and charity are the things that make us human."

Qatar Princess Sheikha Al-Thani took the opportunity to highlight that more than 100 million children worldwide do not attend school -- most of them in the Middle East.

One of the main points raised during the congress was the pressure on Muslim countries following Sept. 11 and how this affected the battle against poverty in these regions. "Following Sept. 11, Muslim charity organizations were shut down due to pressure," said Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.

Doctors Worldwide-Turkey head İhsan Kahraman, also speaking at the congress, considered the gathering as a step to coordinate the feelings of individual compassion and benevolence to those in need across the world. British Minister for International Development Shahid Malik, on the other hand, emphasized that in order to end Islamophobia in the Christian world, there is an urgent need for Muslim politicians.

İstanbul Governor Muammer Güler, al-Jazeera Network General Director Wadah Khanfar, the heads of various charity organizations, businessmen, academics and other charitable individuals also attended the congress.


Muslim philanthropists seek cooperation with the rest of the world
Monday, March 24, 2008
Philanthropists and charitable organizations the world over are moved by different incentives, said educator Hamza Yusuf Hansor, noting that secular donors help people for secular reasons, while Muslims do it for the sake of God.

Hanson, the founder of the U.S.-based Zaytuna Institute and Academy, was in Istanbul over the weekend to participate in the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP).

“Bill Gates donates $1 billion and he doesn't believe in anything, however Muslims are not that organized and should be ashamed of it,” Hanson said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News. “Gates donates one out of every $6 billion, but it is still not enough, since people like him have billions while poorer people suffer across the world,” said Hanson.

Since Muslim philanthropists are poorly organized, their activities are not visible around the world, many Congress attendees agreed.

Another factor is a modesty inherent to Islam, one participant observed.

“Philanthropy is not visible among Muslims, because we believe in the secrecy of it, said Ebrahim Rasool, premier of the Western Cape of South Africa. “Islam says you should not tell one another about your favor and charity.”

Meanwhile, Christian charities are highly organized, because they lack the stigma of secrecy.

“Everyone who gives publicizes it,” Rasool said. “Muslims give, they but hide it; however, while we remain modest, we must be coordinated, too.”

An organization that coordinates Muslim donations is urgently needed, participants agreed.

Hanson, who converted to Islam in 1977, said Muslim donors should be organized not only to “give fish” but also to “teach poor people how to fish.” He called on nongovernmental organizations and governments to work together, since caring for the poor should not be the government's job, alone.

“People working for NGOs are much more sincere and passionate,” Hanson said.

As the number of charitable organizations increases, corruption invariably shows its ugly head, and this, too, was debated during the meeting.

“Every institution faces this problem, but we have transparency so we can be accountable,” said Peter D. O'Driscoll, executive director of Action Aid.

“One World Trust,” a global accountability project in which governments and NGOs work together, was established for just such a purpose, he said.

Turkey needs an organization that works like the International Monetary Fund to control whether funds collected by aid organizations are distributed fairly or not, Hanson said.

The WCMP and similar outfits are needed to bring Muslim philanthropists together and lead them to help not only Muslims, but also the rest of the world, participants acknowledged. This could change the world's attitude toward Muslims, said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

After the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks Muslims and many Muslim aid institutions were subject to partial treatment, Awad said.

“We should coordinate with other secular or Christian organizations and governments,” he added. “Otherwise, we will be subject to suspicion and unfair treatment.”

Shahid Malik, United Kingdom Minister for International Development, who also participated in the WCMP, said Muslims have been defined by the actions of a few extremists, but radical Islamists represent neither Muslims nor Islam.

Malik, who became the first British-born Muslim to serve in the British government, said Britain's having a Muslim minister means a lot, as does the country's tradition of championing civil rights and liberties, which makes it the best place in the world for Muslims.

“There are many people against the Iraq war,” Malik said. “We are where we are, and we should now have a stable government in Iraq.”

The killing of Muslims by other Muslims in the name of Islam should be stopped, since it does not represent Islam.

Muslims need middle class

A stable middle class should be established in Muslim countries in order to secure social peace and prosperity, Hamza Yusuf Hanson said.

Compared to other Muslim nations, Turkey's middle class is strong, serving as a firewall to a culture of corruption and bribery.

“I have seen the practice of bribery in some Muslim countries where the middle class is not strong and people are corrupt,” Hanson said.


New Group Meets to Promote Muslim Charity Worldwide
By Ian Wilhelm


Muslims around the globe contribute billıons of dollars to humanıtarıan causes a year, but their efforts are often poorly organızed and not well-known to the world, said participants at the inaugural meetıng of a group of Islamic charities and philanthropists here.

The new organization, the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, was formed to help Islamıc donors and nonprofit groups to overcome these obstacles.

It estımates that Muslim foundations award at least $20-billion annually, while one speaker at the two-day conference said that total gıvıng by Muslims worldwide ıs probably 10 times that amount.

“If you look at the Muslim world and the generosity of the 1.3 bıllıon Muslims, I am absolutely certain they give over $200-billion a year to charity collectively,” said Hamza Yusuf, founder of the Zaytuna Institute, an Islamic think tank in Berkeley, Calif.

But “much of that charıty goes unnoted because we do not have the infrastructure to regulate it and to show that charıty gıven on the books,” he told the 200 or so partıcıpants, who came from Libya, Malaysia, Qatar, and 27 other countries.

Part of the challenge to calculating Islamıc philanthropy is the Koran itself.

Islam’s version of tithing, known as zakat, is one of the faith’s five maın holy prıncıples and requires Muslims to purify theır wealth by providing 2.5 percent of theır assets a year to mosques and needy people.

But the Koran says such gifts are more sacred when they are given quietly.

“Philanthropy is not visible among Muslims because we believe in the secrecy of it,” said Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim South Afrıcan and premier of the country’s Western Cape province. “Muslims give, but they hide ıt.”

Mr. Rassol urged Muslims to promote theır giving and support causes they traditionally have not, such as protectıng the environment and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In the case of the disease, he said ıt is associated wıth sexual promıscuıty and the gay lıiestyle, which are “anathema to Islam,” but the needs of AIDS victims in sub-Saharan Afrıca are too great to ignore.

The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists ıs the brainchild of Tariq H. Cheema, a Pakistani doctor who lives in İllinois. After years of nonprofit work, including assistıng vıctıms of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, Mr. Cheema said he saw the need to bring together the world’s Islamic donors.

“Muslims, who are almost one-fourth of thıs whole globe, had to be more proactive to finding solutions,” he told The Chronicle in an interview. “We share risks with everyone on this planet.”

He said he hopes the congress wıll organize annual events and create a network to research, coordinate, and discuss Muslim gıvıng. The group will most likely be based in America with a second office ın Turkey or other Muslim nation.

As part of its work, the congress plans to create a Web site, SecureGiving, to rank charities in Muslim countries based on an as-yet-undecided criteria of governance and management standards. Mr. Cheema said the effort will help donors make sure their money is not supportıng terrorists posing as Islamic charities, a concern that has grown since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

While Mr. Cheema said he dıd not start the World Congress of Muslim Phılanthropists to improve the image of Islam to the Western world, he and other participants said raising the profıle of Muslim humanitarians could indırectly change the negative perceptıon by some that the religion ıs a vıolent one.

By giving food, buildıng schools, and undertaking other charıtable work, said Mr. Rasool of South Afrıca, Muslims can show that theır religion ıs not a “backward, ıntolerant monolith.”


Congressman Keith Ellison
“Do good works, engage politically, and get involved”

Associate Editor Wajahat Ali sits down for a rare interview with US Congressman Keith Ellison, who speaks about the challenges and opportunities of being the first Muslim elected to Congress.

By Wajahat Ali, March 24, 2008

"I urge all Muslims to engage"

Keith Ellison, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is the first African American ever elected to the House from Minnesota. Oh, he’s also the first Muslim Congressman in US history [the second Muslim American, Andre Carson, was recently elected to Congress on March 11]. By virtue of his racial and religious identity - a minority within a minority - Ellison bears the unenviable burden of representing one of the most misunderstood, feared and mistrusted identities du jour: Muslims. Ever since his election, notoriety chases Ellison often and unsubtly, most memorably after his 2006 appearance on Conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s CNN show, where the host asked Ellison point blank, “Prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” With calm and patience, Ellison answered the question head on and reassured his constituents and the American public that his religious values do not compromise or lessen his patriotism.

Regardless, his critics, including those in Muslim and right-wing circles, continue to project their doubts about not only his political credibility, but also his loyalty to both Muslims and America, respectively. Despite the controversy, in the past two years Ellison has emerged an influential and popular figure winning over a vastly diverse constituency in Minnesota and even gaining supporters and silencing initial skeptics across the nation.

We sat down for a rare and exclusive conversation with the Congressman, where he bluntly addresses a gamut of issues including the charges of his critics, Obama’s candidacy, racism in America, Muslims entering politics, the fear of Islam, the smear campaigns, and how his faith helps him become a better American and Congressman.

We’re all hearing and seeing the speech by Obama’s pastor, Rev. Wright, and the response by Senator Obama. Some say Obama’s “race” speech is historic, others say he is ducking the race issue. What do you think Obama’s response, as well as the fierce criticism of Wright’s speech, says about the state of racism in America today?

ELLISON: I think Obama’s speech was a transcendent speech. It actually moved us forward in the dialogue for national reconciliation. The fact is that Rev. Wright is coming from a perspective of over 200 years of slavery and 100 hundred years of Jim Crow. Also, he’s been a witness to some of the awful devastation that has happened to the South side of Chicago where his church is located. He has seen the awful human toll and how it affects the African American community. That’s the perspective he’s coming from. That perspective is obviously going to be informed by frustration and anger, and obviously he is a leader in that community and his speeches and sermons are going to reflect that frustration and anger. But, as a Presidential candidate, I think Obama is bringing us all together: helping us transcend; helping us go further.

The truth is the racial dialogue in America does need some updating. It does need a new way forward. Because so often, we are locked in a cycle of blame and shame; we are locked in a cycle of, you know, just really not getting anywhere. But, the fact is this dialogue does get us somewhere. It is not informed by anger, it is not informed by past wrongs or anything like that. But, it is informed by facts as they exist and it is informed by a need to heal and pull us forward. So, I was really impressed by Obama’s speech. I think it will go down in history.

Let’s talk about Geraldine Ferraro and other individuals who commented that Obama’s meteoric rise is due to his campaign playing the “race card” for his benefit. What’s your thought on this "race card” being used to help Obama – is this simple, superficial political correctness?

Well, it’s been used against him. In fact, his Democratic opponent has been trying to narrow his reach and appeal based on racial grounds from the beginning in my opinion. But, it just doesn’t work because he is truly a candidate that reaches out to all segments of the community. It just doesn’t work, because he truly is somebody who has the best interests and common good of all in mind. He doesn’t play old-line politics. That’s why you see him able to reach out to literally thousands of people. When he was in Minneapolis he drew 22,000 people in the Timberwolves auditorium. And the Timberwolves would’ve loved to get the numbers Obama drew on that day! He is pulling people who are senior citizens, kids, college students, and people who are middle aged, working adults. He’s pulling on Blacks, Whites, Latinos, people from Asia, South Asian background: everybody. He truly is a transcendent candidate. Now, he’s not a perfect candidate. Obviously, no one is. But, Obama is one candidate who I’ve seen that is able to reach across those issues that divide us and pull everybody in. I just think he’s phenomenal.

The fact is – before he gave that speech – I didn’t know. I was wondering if he was going to be able to deal with this challenge. It did look like the folks who were beating up his pastor were gaining ground – you know, causing doubt. But, you know what, he rose to the occasion as he has many times before.

Let’s tackle a question that has dogged you and Obama: The Muslim question. Many people say the label “Muslim” is used as a smear tactic, a "scarlet letter" of the 21st century. Do you think the fact that many people look at Obama as a Muslim, and thus judge him detrimentally, is a reflection of “politicking” in America or is it really reflective of an overall prejudice towards Muslims in America?

Well, the fact is that the people who are attacking Obama because of their incorrect belief he was Muslim were assuming that the American population is religiously bigoted, and they were trying to get political gain by appealing to that religious bigotry. But, it so happens Americans come from a long tradition of religious pluralism. We elected a Catholic President in the 1960’s. Mitt Romney’s meteoric descent is not due to his religion; it is due to his failed candidacy. In the 109th Congress, which was the one before the one I was in, there were no Muslims ever, ever before. In the 110th Congress, you’ve got two. Two. [Andre Carson won the Democratic nomination for Indiana's 7th congressional district recently.] I’m not the only one anymore. So, the fact is that America is a very tolerant country, and if you make an argument for the common good then people will support it. The funny thing about this latest flack about his Christian Minister is that it makes it pretty clear that he isn’t Muslim. (Laughs.) If anything, it can dispel that ridiculous rumor.

One thing I will say for Obama is that there was a temptation for him to strenuously and vociferously disassociate himself from being a Muslim, and he didn’t do that. He just said nope, in fact I’m not a Muslim, but there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. I actually liked the way he handled that. I think what they were trying to do was to falsely identify him as a Muslim which they thought would hurt him. Or, they were trying to get him to vehemently deny and therefore alienate millions of Muslims in America and put him in a “can’t win” situation, but I think he’s gotten out of that one pretty well.

Let’s talk about your own personal experiences. Some are very infamous like your moment with CNN’s Glenn Beck who had you on air and pretty much straight up questioned your patriotism and loyalty to America based on his assumption or fear regarding your Islam. So, how do you confront that daily reality where you, Keith Ellison an African American and Muslim, are seen as unpatriotic based purely due to your religious beliefs? This must get frustrating.

Well, the thing is you have to face these kinds of challenges with patience. Quite frankly, the barrage of taking hits everyday has made me a better Muslim. I find myself returning to my faith just to be able to deal with this kind of stuff on a regular basis. The Qur'an says, “The struggle is ordained.” Well, certainly it is. But, we have to deal with these challenges with patience, with confidence. We cannot let one person’s bitterness turn us bitter. We have to overcome evil with good, right? That’s how you do it. You can’t overcome evil with evil. You just get more evil. My thing is to try to urge people who are Muslim and not Muslim to understand America is a country that has deep roots of tolerance and religious inclusion. My message to the Muslim community is keep on doing good works like building clinics, building literacy sessions at the masjid, work with non-Muslim fellow Americans to try to improve things. And keep putting your best foot forward, because if we start going tit-for-tat with those putting out religious bigotry, then we end up just like them.

Lot of people are saying that Andre Carson’s election to Congress along with yours is a sign of the end of times: "The Muslims are taking over! The Muslims are taking over!"

(Laughs.) Two out of 435? I don’t think we’re taking over.

So, how do you respond to that fear that, look in two years, Muslims and immigrants are helping elect Muslim people, ethnic people, and soon enough Congress will be run by radicals?

(Laughs) You know, we are elected by the majority of the people. So, if we are seeing more people of Muslim background in Congress and more people from diverse backgrounds in Congress, and we of course have a woman speaker in the House. That just means that Congress is looking more and more like America. It’s looking more and more like the rest of the country. That’s what democracy is, isn’t it?

Why the Democratic Party? Suppose you’re talking to Muslims – and you know they voted for the first time in a block for Bush in 2000; Muslims are not too savvy but we are getting there. How do you convince the Muslims that the Democratic Party is for them and for America?

Well, the first thing I want to say is that civic engagement is something I urge all Muslims to engage in. One of my most effective fundraisers in the state of Michigan, a brother by the name of Asad Malik, is a Republican and a dear friend of mind. He and are I are tight and good friends. My brother is a Republican, my dad is a Republican. So, I don’t want to urge the Muslim community to get locked into a political party even if it is my party. What I’d urge them to do is do good works, promote fair dealing in business, help America overcome this tremendous number of people who are uninsured and don’t have any health care insurance. I think in this time, 2008 to well into possibly 2012 and 2016, the Democratic Party offers the best opportunity to express their commitment to civil and human rights for all people. To express their commitment for health care for all, to express their commitment to economic justice for everybody, and to express their commitment for peace around the world. Republicans will probably figure this out in 5 or 6 years that embracing bigotry and promoting fear is not a good thing. I think they’ll probably figure out they will need to change their positions to attract votes. And, they’ll be offering something worthwhile as well.

But, two points. I urge the Muslim community not to get locked into one political party. And two: do good works, engage politically, and get involved: can’t change anything sitting on the sidelines. The last thing is that, for now, the Democratic Party is the best vehicle to give out good values; values of peace, values of economic equity, values of family, values of civil rights. Today, the Democratic Party is the best vehicle for that.

Some of your critics in the Muslim community say that Ellison is a charismatic self-promoter. He’s a sell out. He promotes abortion rights and gay marriage. So, how can he also be Muslim and be liberal and promote a system that engages in a post 9-11 Iraq War and pro-Israeli polices?

My position for people who say that is if you don’t like my position, then you get involved and offer an alternative vision for the country. I believe it is shirk; it is religiously forbidden for one Muslim to tell another Muslim he is not Muslim. Because you don’t know my heart. You don’t know what Allah has inspired me to understand. Just because you disagree with my political position, I believe it is shirk for you to tell me I’m not Muslim because you disagree. Why don’t you just disagree? Offer your position. Convince the people that you are the one who’s right. Maybe convince me that you’re the one who is right? But, I do disagree with those Muslims who try to determine for themselves who is Muslim and who is not: that’s for Allah to decide. I’m a strong opponent of this takfir-ism [declaring another an unbeliever], you know, people who think it’s ok for them to decide who is Muslim and who is not: that’s only for Allah to decide.

On the other part, I am a person who believes in civil and human rights are for all people. I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I think America needs to have human and civil rights for all people, particularly unpopular groups. Unpopular groups like the Muslim community, unpopular groups like Latino immigrants. Unpopular groups like the gay community. How in the world can I argue that America has to have rights for Muslims, who are unpopular, but not gays? That is a hypocritical position! I’m not asking people to embrace homosexuality. I’m saying it’s wrong and immoral to kill them, beat them, or exclude them from working. You don’t have to like them. Leave ‘em alone. Let them live their lives and let God decide if He will judge them, as He will judge us all. That’s all I’m saying.

Also, I said in terms of abortion, of course I’m not in favor of abortion. But, the question is: do I want to have police arresting women who do? The answer to that is no. I think we all have to come together as a society to prevent abortion. We need to all promote sex education, we need to promote more knowledge about the human body, we need to promote pre-natal care so women don’t feel they need to get an abortion because they fear they won’t be able to feed their other children. This is what we need to do as a society to make abortion exceedingly rare, but also, we don’t want women using coat hangers and killing themselves to abort the pregnancy. We certainly don’t want to use our police force to make arrests on these women. The question is not whether abortion is bad: I think it is bad. And let me be clear: I think abortion is wrong. But, I will also tell you I’m not ready to criminalize it, because I think it is a personal decision that people should make for themselves, but we should promote a society in which people wouldn’t have to make that choice

It sounds like you’re very passionate, Congressman. There’s a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions recommending one to not try to seek leadership or positions of power. Usually, people running for Congress or the Presidency have to run on the ticket of convincing people to vote for them. So, what inspired you to run, to take this leap, to be a trailblazer knowing you’re a Black man and a Muslim running for Congress?

Well, you know, part of my involvement in politics is really rooted in my desire to try to promote unity among people, trying to promote unity with the Earth and creation, and trying to promote justice. That’s really the origin of my activism. We are also, as Muslims, urged to engage in shura, consultation, with what the community should do. So, I think my involvement is just to sort of try to help them do what’s best for the community and the world at large.

I do agree that ambitious pursuits of power acquisition are wrong. But, I’m not trying to accumulate power for my own sake. I’m not trying to accumulate power for my own sake. I’m trying to accumulate some power to improve the lot of all people and improve the common good. So, that’s the origin of my activism. You know, I have a family that was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. My grandfather was organizing Black voters in the 1950’s in rural Louisiana in a time that would seriously get you hung and it was dangerous to do it. My mother promoted that as well. It’s something I’ve always been associated with, and it’s a kind of thing I’ll continue to do and urge more people to do. So, that’s kind of where I’m coming from.

Can you talk about the spiritual and emotional transition of Keith Hakim [Ellison wrote columns in his law school paper as Keith Hakim in 1990] to modern day Keith Ellison?

The thing is the Muslim name my friends and community know me by is Keith Muhammad. And that name is still my name. It’s still what I go by; it’s still what my brothers call me. But, the thing is, from what’s on my personal birth certificate, what I’m admitted to Bar in because I’m a lawyer – the legal name is Ellison. So, I run by the name that is on my birth certificate. But, the truth is I do have a Muslim name, and I am known by my Muslim name by many of my fellow Muslims. So, there’s really no transition.

But, let me also say that it’s important to point out there are lot of people around the world who are Muslim who do not have names that are Arabic in nature. It’s not unusual at all. It’s nothing in the Quran, the Sunnah, or the hadith of Prophet Muhammad that says that if your name is a legitimate name, if it is not a bad name, if it isn’t a name promoting something wicked or evil that you have to change it. I think the essence of Islam is not about a name or a form, or anything. It’s about going beyond forms and going beyond names and getting to the essence of the fundamental and Divine unity that connects Allah with all of us – and that Allah “is.” So, it’s really not about a name. It’s really about what you do, how you behave, how you treat people, how you face adversity, and how you connect with the Divine.

You’ve traveled the world and you’ve been all over America. What’s the greatest misconception and question about Islam directed towards you? And, how do you respond in either defending your faith or affirming your faith?

The greatest misconception of Islam is that it is a religion of violence. That’s a very incorrect position, and I have to constantly help people understand that even though you have Muslims who may do things that are violent, it does not make Islam a violent religion. I have to tell people that Christianity and Judaism have many, many examples of people committing atrocious acts in the name of their religion but we should not judge the religion by those individuals. I have to point out on so many occasions Prophet Muhammad was attacked, abused, mistreated, and yet, he always responded with patience, often with non-violence. And when he did have to resort to warfare it was strictly defensive and designed to preserve and protect life. Whenever he could try to work it out, he always did. So, I don’t understand what some of our Muslim brothers today are thinking. Who did Muhammad ever bomb? What suicide mission did he ever order? There are no records of these things. So, that’s a misconception that I continually have to clear up.

Everyone is interested in the “conversion story.” What is it about Islam that inspired you to take that figurative and literal “leap” of faith?

It was really a lot about going to the masjid and seeing the Blacks, the Whites, the Latinos, the Asians, the Arabs all together – all one. The unity among the people connected in an effort to walk as one and be in harmony with God’s will. It was this unity I thought was so important. It was rational. It made sense to me. It has done a tremendous amount to help me negotiate life – quite frankly.

Do you think we’ll ever see a Muslim President of the United States of America?

Inshallah [God willing]

If a Muslim becomes President, do you think he or she can ever truly make peace with their Islamic values and the burden of the duties required by the position?

Let me just say this. Let me say this: there’s not one single Muslim on the planet today that has walked perfectly. All of us need to do better. So, if there is a Muslim president I’m sure that individual will be forced to make compromises but, hopefully God-willing, they will continue to return to their faith and do what the faith requires and do what is expected by Allah. Do I believe that somebody will face fundamental challenges? I mean, we’re talking about human beings here! Remember, Muslims aren’t perfect. There’s a big difference between Islam and Muslims.

Will you ever run for President?

I have no desire to be President. When people say, “Hey, Keith, you’re gonna’ be President!” I’m like, “Hey man! I thought you liked me? I thought we were friends?” (Laughs). I do not aspire for the Presidency. You know what I want to be? I want to be the best Congressman I can possibly be. I want to be effective. I want to encourage people to run for office. I want to get people to come together around a common humanity, and I want them to stop focusing on false divisions. That’s what I want to do.

Wajahat Ali is Pakistani Muslim American who is neither a terrorist nor a saint. He is a playwright, essayist, humorist, and recent J.D. whose work, "The Domestic Crusaders," is the first major play about Muslim Pakistani Americans living in a post 9-11 America. His blog is at He can be reached at



Email to:

Voice of Moderate Muslims

Voice of Moderate Muslims
Voice of Moderate Muslims

Moderate Islam Speaker

Moderate Islam Speaker
Moderate Islam Speaker

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.