Thursday, April 17, 2008

Muslims and the Pope.

Five articles on the subject:

I can understand the reluctance of Muslims to meet His holiness Pope Benedict. It is based on three mis-spokes within the last year. His words were not mitigators but provocateur of conflicts and Muslims were not clear about his intentions, they did not want to invite themselves unless they were invited.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, 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 mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.

Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to make peace, you go talk with your enemies, you don’t make peace with your friends”. God bless her soul for such wisdom.

I am glad CAIR is attending the event, if I had the invite, I would have been there too. We are all human and I would expect his Holiness will choose his words to nurture goodwill. For peace, we have to put things behind us. As a Muslim, I believe the best in people.

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. He is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to studying religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His personal website is and his writings are on the above websites as well as several of the ancillary Blogs listed on the sites.


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/17/08) - Representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will meet this evening with Pope Benedict XVI at an interfaith gathering in Washington, D.C.

The meeting, with the theme "Peace Our Hope," will take place at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and will include leaders from a number of American faith communities.
NY: Wary Reception for Pope Among Muslims
The Muslim boys at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn pass under the stone gaze of the Virgin Mary every morning, and crucifixes adorn the classrooms where they receive a solid Catholic education. The school band is to play for Pope Benedict XVI when he arrives in New York on Friday, so the buzz of his first papal visit to the United States is also inescapable.
And so is the lingering sting of the pope’s words in September 2006, when he quoted a Byzantine emperor as saying that the Prophet Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
“He brought it up from nowhere,” said Mustafa Choucair, 16, a junior and one of 76 Muslim students at Xaverian. He likes the school but suspects that the pope may not like Muslims. “It makes me feel like you shouldn’t talk about someone’s religion when you don’t know anything about it.”
At the time, the pope’s remarks prompted violence and expressions of outrage from Muslims abroad. Reactions in the United States were muted, but many Muslims today — even those closely connected to a Roman Catholic institution — remain troubled by the remarks. Their feelings are often complicated, a mixture of respect for the church and wariness about this pope, who will meet with Muslim and other religious leaders in Washington on Thursday.
While many say they continue to feel welcome at Catholic schools and hospitals, the pope’s speech has left an indelible, often negative impression.

“It reflects on him as an intolerant person at that moment,” said Dr. Yusuf Mamdani of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., who is affiliated with St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan. “The pope should be beyond these things. I believe a person should respect me.”

Benedict’s views of Islam are complicated, too, but they center on his idea of — and fears for — Europe. As a cardinal he often wrote that ever more secular Europeans were committing a sort of moral and cultural suicide in ignoring their Christian roots. Islam, a competitor, was gaining strength through Muslims’ conviction, he said, something that Europe had forgotten. The view seemed not wholly negative: He has often praised the depth of Muslims’ devotion.

US Muslims Wait to See if Pope Reaches Out

When John Paul II traveled to Syria in 2000, he became the first pope ever to visit a mosque. He stood in Damascus's Umayyad Masjid, kissed the Qur'an and stated, "For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness." It's no wonder many Muslims look back on John Paul's reign as the golden days of interfaith relations--and as Pope Benedict XVI's first few years as anything but.

Today, more than a few U.S. Muslims wonder if Pope Benedict is simply tone deaf when it comes to interfaith sensitivity, or if he really does have it in for Islam. During a 2006 lecture at a German university, he quoted these lines from a 14th-century Christian Byzantine emperor: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The lecture spurred outcry and protests, and though Benedict said that he was "very upset" that Muslims were offended, he never clearly apologized.

A visit to Turkey, where he prayed in a noted Istanbul mosque, seemed to cool things off ... until Easter Day of this year. At Rome's St. Peter's Basilica, the pope himself baptized Italian journalist Magdi Allam--an Egyptian Muslim who'd moved to Europe and become an outspoken critic of Islam. "The act of conversion itself was not offensive, but rather, the high-profile nature of how the conversion was carried out was insulting to Muslims," said Washington's Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in a recent statement. "The fact that the conversion took place at St. Peter's Basilica, one of the most sacred locations for Christians, and on the holiest day of the Christian calendar carried a negative message of competition and superiority. Unfortunately, these recent events are neither constructive, nor conducive to effective interfaith dialogue."

Though the pope's first official trip to the U.S. is likely aimed at energizing America's 77 million Roman Catholics, the nation's 8 million Muslims will also be listening--closely--for any comments or clarifications that might soothe Benedict's strained relations with the followers of Islam. Though the pope has not scheduled any sort of meeting specifically with Muslim leaders, he will host an interfaith dinner in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night with 150 representatives of every major world religion. Dr. Muhammad Shafiq, director and imam of the Islamic Center of Rochester, N.Y., and head of Interfaith Studies at Nazareth College, will be one of at least 15 Muslim attendees. "There's an awakening in Muslim America, and we know that we cannot live in isolation," says Shafiq. "We need to be global partners. If I get a chance, I would like to ask [the pope] for an international agreement that will bring us together--a mission statement from each community to abide by. We need that from the pope, and our top Muslim leaders."

CAIR: Pope Benedict Seeks Dialogue with US Muslims
Benedict XVI's arrival in Washington last night heralds a series of events intended to show solidarity with President Bush at a time of anxiety about Islamic fundamentalism, which threatens both America and the Catholic Church, and the president's pursuit of the war on terror.
On Sunday, in a display of defiance against Islamic extremism, the pope, who turns 81 today, will commemorate the lives of those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, by kneeling on the bedrock of ground zero and offering a silent prayer to the victims of Islamist terrorism.
Accompanied by Edward Cardinal Egan, he will offer personal condolences to a group of about 20 New Yorkers representing the victims, first responders, and survivors of the attacks.
The Vatican's ambassador to America, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, said the pope wants to display to the rest of the world his "solidarity with those who have died, with their families, and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace." The pontiff intends his visit to signify "a time of spiritual renewal for all Americans."
While Benedict will meet with Islamic leaders, in particular those who take part in the series of interfaith talks between Muslims and Catholics that began in the early 1990s, some mullahs have chosen to snub him. The pope will not visit a mosque during his six-day visit. He will meet Jewish, Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu leaders tomorrow. . .
"Unfortunately, some of the pope's past statements and actions have led to tensions between Muslims and Catholics," a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, wrote in a press release. "It is perhaps best not to dwell on these past events but instead to use them as a springboard to help deepen interfaith dialogue based on mutual understanding and acceptance of differences."

A few more articles on Pope Benedict

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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.