Monday, August 31, 2009

Festivities soured by race

Muslims condemn the disgusting acts of intolerance. Two reports appended below

Evil persists not necessarily because of evil men, but because good men don't do anything about it. I hope the Muslims in Malaysia condemn these extremists who displayed the most disgusting, revolting act of belligerence towards their fellow countrymen; Hindus. I hope they did not have any connivance or permission from the majority of Malaysian Muslims.

The act of carrying a head of a bull is un-acceptable and we urge the Malaysian Government to punish these loonies as criminals bent on disturbing peace of the state. They should not be cited as Muslims and their religion does not permit them to do that, they are criminals and must be cited as such.

This act should not be a reflection on the Nation of Malaysia or her Muslims. The idea is if I commit a crime, I should be the one to be thrown in the Jail, no one but me should be resonsible for my acts, not my family, not my parents, kids, nationality, race or religion.

This is how nations can check extremism by singling out bad guys and taking them out one at a time, in this case, we hope every Muslim in Malaysia will support the government for knocking these hoodlums out as criminals and nothing but criminals.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement

Festivities soured by race

Malaysia's National Day celebrations this week have been soured by new racial troubles as minority ethnic Chinese and Indians fear Muslim Malay nationalists are gaining power. --PHOTO: AP

KUALA LUMPUR -MALAYSIA'S National Day celebrations this week have been soured by new racial troubles as minority ethnic Chinese and Indians fear Muslim Malay nationalists are gaining power.

In a rare overt display of the tensions, dozens of Muslims paraded on Friday with the bloodied head of a cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism, to protest the proposed construction of a Hindu temple in their neighborhood.

The intolerance cast a shadow over Malaysia's nation-building efforts as it celebrates 52 years of independence from British rule on Monday.

'Increasingly after 52 years, Malaysia is at a crossroad,' James Chin, a political science professor at Monash University in Kuala Lumpur, said Sunday. 'We are heading toward an intolerant society where fundamentalists and extremists are hijacking the national agenda to become a prosperous multiracial Malaysia.'

In a recent case, a Muslim woman was sentenced to caning by an Islamic court for drinking beer in public. Authorities last week agreed to review the penalty after many Malaysians said it damaged the country's reputation as a moderate Muslim-majority nation.

Also this month, officials curbed the retail sale of liquor in a central state and barred Muslims from a concert next month by the US group the Black Eyed Peas because it is sponsored by Irish beer giant Guinness.

Although these examples involve actions by Muslims toward other Muslims, many Malaysians worry they are a reflection of the growing clout of Islamic hard-liners that will eventually effect other minorities.

The inter-religious discord is a particular concern for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is trying to promote racial equality.

Malaysia has carefully nurtured harmony among its three main ethnic groups - Malays, Chinese and Indians who are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Sikh - since 1969, when the country suffered its worst racial riots. But racial tensions have increased in recent years amid complaints by minorities that their rights are being eroded as the influence of Islamic hard-liners grows.

Lim Kit Siang, an opposition leader, said the cow head protest in central Selangor was a slap to Mr Najib's racial equality campaign known as '1Malaysia.'

'The cow-head sacrilege must serve as an ominous warning that Mr Najib's first National Day celebration as prime minister will go down as a black National Day if the genies of racism and religious chicanery are allowed to get out of the bottle,' Mr Lim said.

Mr Najib hasn't made any public comment so far on the protest. Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam said the incident infuriated the prime minister, who asked the national police chief to investigate. -- AP


Protesters threaten bloodshed over Hindu temple

The group making their way to the Selangor secretariat building after their prayers. - Picture by Choo Choy May

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

SHAH ALAM, Aug 28 — A group of Malay-Muslim protesters claiming to be residents of Section 23 have threatened bloodshed unless the state government stopped the construction of a Hindu Temple.

Amid chants of "Allahuakbar," the group also left the severed head of a cow at the entrance of the State Secretariat here as a warning to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

The "residents" said that the construction of a Hindu temple in a 90 per cent Malay- Muslim neighbourhood was insensitive because activities there would disrupt their lives.

They claimed that the "noise" from the temple would disturb their own praying, and that they would not be able to function properly as Muslims.

The group of 50 over protestors marched shortly after Friday prayers from the Shah Alam State mosque to the State Secretariat.

“I challenge YB Khalid, YB Rodziah and Xavier Jeyakumar to go on with the temple construction. I guarantee bloodshed and racial tension will happen if this goes on, and the state will be held responsible,” shouted Ibrahim Haji Sabri amid strong chants of “Allahu Akbar!”

Ibrahim identified himself as the Deputy Chairman of the Resident’s Committee against the building of the temple in S23 here, which is perceived by some as being a Muslim majority area.

He told the press that the state should move the temple to Section 22 as ‘originally planned’, and also labelled Khalid a “traitor to the Malay race and Islam”.

It is understood that the protest is an immediate reaction towards the Selangor MB’s visit to the Hindu temple site yesterday, an act seen by the "residents" as disrespectful to the Muslims of the community.

Mohd. Zurit Bin Ramli, who claims to be the secretary of the "Coalition of Malaysian NGOs" echoed Ibrahim’s stand on the matter, saying that it was irresponsible on the part of the state government to approve the construction as there was apparently a “90 per cent” majority Muslim population in Section 23.

“With a temple on our residential area, we cannot function properly as Muslims. The temple will disrupt our daily activities like prayers in the Surau. We cannot concentrate with the sounds coming from the temple,” stated Zurit.

When asked whether members of the protest were affiliated with any organisations or movements, Ibrahim claimed that the people present today were members of PAS, PKR as well as Umno who are “united in the name of Islam and the Malay spirit.”

The state government was also accused of lying to the people of Selangor.

The Chairman of the Residents Committee, Mahyuddin Manaf excitedly proclaimed that the committee would uncover “the lies” and find proof of the state’s misconduct.

“Khalid Ibrahim wears a mask of a Muslim, but in truth he is a liberal. PAS stands to lose out as a result. I voted for PAS as well as Khalid in the past elections,” Mahyuddin claimed.

The issue first cropped up when the Selangor government proposed that the Sri Mariamman temple be relocated from Section 19 to Section 23.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ramadan pictures from around the world

Ramadan pictures around the world

Share your experience....what could you relate with;
I am writing another article for New York Times on the
Customs of Ramadan around the world....and if I pick your
note, it will be your quote.

1. I was surprised to see the flat bread in Jordan.. same as the Injira bread the Ethiopians make and made by my Mom - all Indian vegetarian Restaurants make that pancake like bread called "dosa" - if it were to be filled with potatoes (same as country fried potatoes + turmeric) it would be called "Masala Dosa".

2. The Egyptian man was holding a brass cup filled with flour and was squeezing with a push - and out are vermicelli (noodles)... My Grand mother used the same thing and she pushed the flour with her thumb and I did it too... again it is served in every South Indian Restaurants called Payasam - and it is a specialty at the Ramadan Festival - called Sheer Qurma... or Dum ke Saywiyan.

3. Think of it - there are two staple food items that nearly 7 billion people eat - Wheat and Rice and out come so many products - most common is Tortillas/ Roti/ Chapati/ Paratha/ Naan/ Dosa/ Bread - The most common food items are: Wheat, Rice, Tomatoes, Potatoes (Quayle) and Onions - and my kids don't even eat Onions.

Enjoy it...

Mike Ghouse




Sunday, August 23, 2009

American Qur'an - Art Exhibition

Long Beach artist's illustrations of a new take on Koran

(TERROR: "Sura 44 (A--B)" shows the towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. (Sandow Birk / Catharine Clark Gallery / March 26, 2009)

The response to the story below from LA Times concerns me and here are my notes about it.

"Mohammad Qureshi, an administrator at the Islamic Center of Southern California, had a stronger reaction. "That is not acceptable at all,"

Mr. Qureshi has apparently lived in America and must be familiar with the values of freedom and the politics of the Neocons, apparently he overlooked it and made that call as if he is the God appointed king of Muslims, and that when he says it is not acceptable the artist is going to bow down to him and back off. The Neocons are hungry and looking for fodder and thanks to Qureshi for feeding the vultures for a few more months, now they got nothing to sink their teeth into.

We have to give him the benefit of doubt, he may have said it in a different context, but that is what has been happening with the Neocons. We have to pause and figure out how to handle this art, we can react and mess up every thing or have the patience and figure out a solution.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence.

Please share your ideas, please write, do the spell and grammar check and then post it. Keep it brief - 150-200 Words and no more. Fewer people will read your message if it is long. You can write your comments at:

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Long Beach artist's
illustrations of a new take on Koran

Sandow Birk's 'American Qur'an,' heading to San Francisco and Culver City galleries, breaks away from Islamic tradition to examine the faith through contemporary images.

By Sharon Mizota

August 23, 2009
E-mail Print Share Text size

There's a long tradition of illustrating scenes from the Bible -- even a version of Genesis by alternative comics master R. Crumb. But the Koran, which Muslims consider to be the holy word of God, has never incorporated images of people or animals, according to Linda Komaroff, curator of Islamic art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

"It simply wasn't the kind of thing that would come up," she said, "In Islam, like Judaism, there's one invisible god that's everywhere, that can't be seen and can't even be comprehended." As a result, there was no need to develop figurative imagery for religious purposes. The Koran, said Komaroff, is regularly decorated with geometric or vegetal patterns, but she has seen only one example that contains more representational imagery. It depicts the facade of a mosque.

Now, Long Beach artist Sandow Birk has challenged that centuries-old tradition. His series of works on paper, "American Qur'an," is an English-language version of the central text of Islam, illustrated with scenes from contemporary American life. Selections from the project, which is ongoing and will eventually include over 300 pages, will be on view at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco starting Sept. 5 and at Koplin Del Rio gallery in Culver City as of Sept. 8.

Executed in ink and gouache in an understated, realist style, many of the 16-by-24-inch works depict everyday sights -- urban street life, office workers in their cubicles, a pregnant couple in their frontyard. Others represent more historic moments, such as the smoking towers of the World Trade Center or a funeral with a casket draped in a U.S. flag. In the center of each image are two neatly framed boxes containing the text, hand-lettered in a font reminiscent of graffiti writing.

Although the Koran does not prohibit the creation of images, it does contain an injunction against the making of idols, and the faith's second most important text, the hadith, includes additional restrictions on the use of figurative imagery, said Komaroff. Whether "American Qur'an" violates these decrees seems to be a matter of interpretation.

Birk was not available for comment, but a statement on Koplin Del Rio's website said that although he followed "traditional guidelines" for color, formatting and decoration, " 'American Qur'an' is not to be considered a 'Holy Qur'an' in that it does not contain the original text in Arabic."

Komaroff had doubts about this claim. The Koran, she said, "wasn't meant to be restricted to those who could only understand or read Arabic. It was meant to be a universal message. So I don't know that it's correct to say if you render it in English that it takes away its sacredness."

Mohammad Qureshi, an administrator at the Islamic Center of Southern California, had a stronger reaction. "That is not acceptable at all," he said after viewing images of the project on Birk's website. He was particularly concerned about images of a liquor store and a woman he described as "half-naked," and thought they would be offensive to Muslims.

Controversy is familiar terrain for Birk, who for the last 20 years has used art historical references to address contemporary social issues, creating ironic, sometimes surreal images of gang culture, prisons and the war in Iraq. A native of Orange County and a 1988 graduate of the Otis College of Art and Design, he is well known on the West Coast and has a growing international profile. Many of his projects involve extensive periods of research and travel, and his interest in the Koran stems from his visits to Muslim countries and to prominent collections of Islamic art over the last 10 years.

Yet "American Qur'an" is a bit of a departure for the artist in that its intent is neither ironic nor critical, said Darius Spieth, an associate professor of art history at Louisiana State University who has followed Birk's career for over a decade. "What he's after is more of an educational project," Spieth said, "Although Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the U.S. currently, most Americans do know relatively little about it, and I think that's also kind of his mission."
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times,0,5002675.story


Qur'aan and me

Quraan and Me by Tarek Fatah

This is one of the best narrations I have read about what a typical Muslims goes through in life. Tarke was in Karachi and I was in Bangalore. I don't know about others, but I can relate with his story word for word, My mom did the same thing as his Mom did...put her palm on my forehead and softly blow the air on my face and my Dad was the same ...except that he did his morning prayers frequently and recited Sura Rahman early in the morning ... and that sound is always mellifluous to me and am a sucker for it. When my wife was on a death bed, I recited that at least 10 times a day to her, she found comfort in it.

Tarek have weaved the Pluralism aspect of Islam in the story in a very beautiful way and I like it. I grew up with similar verses quoted to me by my Dad. I am a Pluralist - and consider myself to be a moderate Muslim who can relate with every human and respect with awe the devotion people have in their faith

I read this story half asleep, and the "As Salatu Khairan MInan noum" resonated with me. As kids in Ramadan we use to walk the neighborhoods and stop infront of Muslim Homes and wake people up.... then there were groups that went home to home and sang something about Ramadan out at the door... they would start at 2:00 AM until the Sahri time..

When the prophet said in the last sermon, I am leaving this book to you, he meant for us to have our own understanding, he did not assign any one to dish out their version for us. He wanted us to be responsible for our actions as we alone, not our Imams, not our Maulivs and not even our Prophet would come to rescue us in our solitary reflective moments or finally the day of reckoning. May Allah guide us on the right path and earn his grace with peace and balane. Amen

Mike Ghouse

Friday, August 21. 2009
The Quran and Me
"Bollywood had to wait;
Jamila Fatah was reading the Quran"

Tarek Fatah
The National Post

My earliest memory of a book is a pirated reprint of nursery rhymes and a Jack and the Beanstalk pop-up book that Uncle Joe D'souza had given as a birthday present. Then there was a treasured Tarzan comic I stole from cousin Ayaz.

But in terms of a real book, a book with a hard cover and a spine, it was the Quran. Long before I got to touch, let alone read the book, it had already become part of my existence. I am told, within an hour of my birth, my father had recited a verse of the Quran into my infant ears. Mum claimed I stopped my wailing as soon as Dad had done so.

Today, Muslims worldwide welcome Ramadan, the Islamic calendar's holiest month, marking the time when, 14 centuries ago, the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) received the first verse of the Quran from God. The Archangel Gabriel approached the Apostle, who was meditating in a cave, and commanded him to "Read." As Muhammad hesitated, the archangel persisted, as described in Sura 96 of the Quran:

Read in the name of your Lord who created --
From an embryo, created the human
Read, for your Lord is most Generous
Who taught by the pen
Taught man what he knew not ...

They were words that changed the course of human history.

By the time I was four, this book had me intrigued. Every morning, I would wake up to the soft chant of my mother reciting verses in Arabic. Gentle whispers that flowed like silken rhymes through our Karachi home, uplifting the morning breeze. It was as if my ears literally tasted sweet honey, nudging me to wake up and lap up some more. No other sound has given me as much solace and warmth as the hum of a Quranic recitation.

Even today, as a hardened secularist, bruised and battered by never-ending skirmishes with my Islamist naysayers, I am still captivated by the reverberation of the Quran. For reasons unexplainable, if I hear the recitation, I have to stop what I am doing, often tearing up, embarrassed that I cannot rationalize the magical grip this sound has on my soul.

Back in the early 1950s, it would still be dark outside when Mom's soft recitation of the Quran would be gently drowned by the neighbourhood mosque's call to Morning Prayer. Through the open windows as half curtains fluttered, the voice of the Maulana would traverse through our home, gently nudging me out of sleep.

"Haia al salaah ... Haia al falah... As salatus khairum minan naum..."
(Hasten to prayer ... hasten to success ... prayer is better than sleep...)

Memories are foggy, but I do remember being by my Mum's side, as she would resume the reading of the Quran after her Fajr prayers. As she would sway back and forth, murmuring the verses, the book itself appeared huge as it lay open on a wooden holder, the rihal. Golden edged pages, leather spine with a green satin ribbon that was wedged tightly between those majestic pages.

I would pull at it and she would give a tight slap on the back of my hand. Her devotion to the Quran was absolute. I remember in later years, Dad would get upset, as no one was allowed to speak other than in whispers in its presence -- and she would shush him as he would fidget with the shortwave radio trying to catch early-morning Radio Ceylon and sing along with K. L. Saigal and Pankaj Mullick, before he went to work.

Bollywood had to wait; Jamila Fatah was reading the Quran.

In those years, Dad never prayed more than once a year, to celebrate the end of Ramadan. She, on the other hand, prostrated herself toward Mecca five times a day.

When she was done with the daily recitation, Mum would then call us kids, one by one, touch our heads, and lightly blow into our faces. Through her loving breath and caress, the magical holy verses were supposed to bless us and protect us.

To the non-Muslim, the dedication of the ordinary Muslim to the Quran is perplexing. Whether it is a Uighur in Xingjian or a Sufiin Mexico City, be it an orthodox cleric in Toronto or a secular humanist in Tehran, the Muslim will treasure his or her Quran as if it was a member of the family, not just a holy book. The Quran is, for some, the very embodiment of God himself.


For the four-year-old Muslim child, a verse from Sura four (entitled An-Nisa, or "Women") is the most appropriate. Parents should take particular care to read to their kids, again and again, verse 135, which will instill in the child an ethic that could become their moral compass for the rest of their life -- the ethic of speaking the truth, no matter what.

O you who believe!
Stand firmly in upholding equity
Bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God
Even though it be against your own selves
Or your parents and near relatives
Whether the person concerned is rich or poor
For God can best protect both.

Mum might have felt that she did too good a job instilling this verse in me. As we passed through Canada Customs all those many years ago, we were asked: "Do you have any jewellery to declare." She said, "No." Whereupon, I whispered in her ear, "Yaa ayyuhalladhina, ammanu ..." (O you who believe...) She hesitated, and then told the Canada Customs agent, "Oh yes, I forgot, I have a 24-carat gold necklace."


By the time a Muslim reaches the age of 14, he or she would have completed reading the Quran, but few understand what they have read. This is the age where youth should incorporate the values of pluralism and universality that they can find expressed in the holy book of Islam, rather than fall prey to the forces of segregation and exclusivity.

To Muslims in high school, especially in the West, verse 62 of the second Sura of the Quran. (Al-Baqarah, or "The Cow") should be their guiding light as they navigate through the competing influences offered by a multiracial and multi-religious liberal democracy.

Those who believe [in the Quran].
And those who are Jews,
And the Christians and the Sabians,
And whoever believes in God,
And the last day [of judgment]
And do good deeds,
They shall have their reward with their Lord
And no fear need they have,
Nor should they grieve.


The number 40 has a special mystical significance in Islam. The Prophet was 40 when he received the first revelation from God. The Quran makes mention of this in Sura 46:15 when it says, "At length when he reaches the age of full strength and attains 40 years." The most respected translator of the Quran, A. Yusuf Ali, says the Quran suggests a human's "spiritual faculties gain the upper hand after the age of 40."

For those who have "gained that upper hand," here is some wisdom from the Almighty that may help you navigate through our troubled times. Here is verse 13 of Sura Al-Hujurat ( "The Private Apartments"):

O mankind. We created you,
From a single pair
Of a male and a female,
And made you into
Nations and Tribes, so that
You may come to know one another
(Not that you may despise each other).
Verily, the most honoured among you,
In the sight of God
Is the one who is most Righteous of you.
And God has full knowledge
And is well acquainted with all things.


As I approach 60, and on the last leg of my journey of life, I am drawn back to the beauty of two particular Suras. One is the very first Sura of the Quran, the Fatiha, literally "The Opening." It reads:

In the name of God, the beneficent, the merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds,
The beneficent, the merciful, Master of the Day of Judgment.
You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.
Guide us on the right path,
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed your favour,
not of those who have earned Your anger, nor of those who go astray.

Over centuries, hundreds of millions of little boys and girls have memorized these seven sentences as their gateway to Islam and as the foundation of their lives as Muslims. The Fatiha is to Muslims what the Lord's Prayer would be to Christians. These seven verses constitute the Muslim prayer for guidance and are repeated at least 32 times a day.

As the scholar Michael Sells points out, "It is the most recited of all Quranic Suras, not only in prayers and liturgy, but also in everyday life. After business transactions, for example, 'The Opening' is recited by both parties as a mark of good faith and a solemn affirmation of the responsibilities affirmed by each partner."

From the most orthodox conservative Muslims to secular liberals such as myself, the word Bismillah... (In the name of God...) is part of our psyche. I have witnessed hardened communists start their meetings asking "comrades" to come to order with the expression Bismillah.

The other Sura that comforts me as I approach the dusk of life is Sura 89, Al-Fajr, "The Dawn." Rather than explain its significance, I will merely quote from it -- and let readers understand its significance for themselves.

By the dawn
By the nights ten
By the odd and the even
By the night as it eases away
Considering all this -could there be to anyone, endowed with reason
A[more] solemn evidence of the truth?

Tarek Fatah is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State (Wiley 2008). He is currently working on a book about the roots of Jewish-Muslim friction that will be launched in fall 2010 by McClelland & Stewart.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Washington post on Ramadan

Eid Mubarak

Does the mainstream public in America, Canada, India, Australia or elsewhere relate with Muslim customs and traditions? The following articles are written with the intent of developing that understanding.

1. Traditions of Ramadan

2. Politics of Ramadan

3. Spirit of Ramadan

4. Our Mission -

The language chosen is generic and incidences are relational, so the public can relate with what they are familiar with and extrapolate that to the politics, traditions and the spirit of Ramadan. Of course, we can write a book on each. I have learned over the years that news papers have a reason to limit the length of the articles and I have followed that to the best of my ability.

You are welcome to share, forward, comment and make suggestion to make it better in the comments section of each article. You can publish it as well.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism interfaith, political and civic issues. He presides the Foundation for Pluralism and is a founder of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at


Friday, August 14, 2009

Prophet Muhammad, a Pluralist and an interfaith dialoguer

Prophet Muhammad, a Pluralist and an interfaith dialoguer

Prophet Muhammad is perhaps the first religious person to initiate interfaith dialogue, he not only invited people of other faiths to dialogue, but he also offered them to pray, their own prayers in his mosque. Didn't Prophet Muhammad accept the otherness of other faiths? He sure did! He did not believe what others believed but he certainly did not denigrate any one of them. That is the confidence we must develop in our faith, whatever faith we follow.

Prophet Muhammad was not only a Pluralist religiously, but he believed in co-existence and living in harmony with life and environment. He initiated the pluralistic form of governance, again perhaps first of its kind where he invited the Jews, Christian and others to sign along with him an agreement called “Madinah pact”. The pact honored signatories to practice their faith the way they deem it fit. There was an instance where the people of other faiths objected to his signature which added the phrase messenger of God to his name; he revised it as he was not a messenger to them.

Prophet Muhammad would have invited Darwin, were Darwin lived in his time to have a dialogue. Perhaps he would have seen the value in creation through evolution. Muhammad (pbuh) knew God's wisdom is boundless and not containable in words that we read in the holy books, he would have meditated to understand the enormity of God's words instead of confining the meaning to the words.

I am blessed to have taken the initiative on Pluralism that began with my Radio show in 1994, in the 700+ hours of talk radio on Wisdom of Religion I did between 2004 and 2005, we learned the essence of every faith (or no faith) from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every tradition in between. What is the wisdom? God wants his creation to live in harmony; each one of the religions is a formula to live in peace and balance with self and with others who surround. Those faiths that are life centered like Buddhism, Jainism, Atheism, Wicca and the African, American and other native traditions believe in living a life of balance; self balancing act is built into every piece of existence that struggles to keep the equilibrium through pleasures and pain. All faiths are either God centered or life centered and serve the same purpose; to bring peace and tranquility to one.

HH Aga Khan has made great strides in bringing back the tradition of Prophet Muhammad and has opened a Pluralism Center in Toronto. An overwhelming majority of the Muslims are in tune with the idea of co-existence, they want to get along and live a peaceful life with their families and friends.

Dallasites got to hear for the first time about Ismaili Muslims on my talk show radio, when I spoke about Ismaili traditions on the Imamat day. My Mentors are Muhammad (pbuh), Jesus, Krishna, Bahaullah, Nanak, Gandhi, MLK and Aga Khan among others. Obama is very close to becoming my mentor. Every thing I write gets articulated by him within a week. He is a shining example of Pluralism, a person who truly follows Jesus who embraced every human as fellow being without any distinction; he submits to the will of God as in Islam where God does not discriminate one soul from the other, or surrenders to Krishna and treats the whole world as one family. I am inspired by the models of co-existence they have created for us to emulate.

Personally I am committed to dust off layers of ignorance on the Islamic values of co-existence; aka Pluralism. God wants his creation to live in harmony and you find beautiful guidance in Qur'aan to create that abode. God willing I will do my share of work and you do yours. We are all in it together to create the world we would love to live.

A few among us are still clamoring to see Islam's value of Pluralism and about 1/10th of 1% of Muslims are far from getting it. In my reach out of about 24,000 Muslims across the world, my formula approximates about 240 individuals to be abhorrent to this idea... again thank God, you will find less than 24 people among the 24,000 who are obdurate to the idea, i.e., about 1/100th of 1% of Muslims. Are they significant statistically? You will find similar ratios in every faith group. A majority of all of us are good people.

A list of the Blogs on Islam and Pluralism are on my personal site, if you wish to read about them. Please read the Qur’aanic model for a civil dialogue at item # 21 at

Pluralism is not a religion, it is not an ideology, it is simply an attitude of accepting the otherness of other and respecting the God (or creation) given uniqueness of each one of us. I believe if we can learn to do that, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. The conflict is real when some one were to mess with your space, food and loved ones, all other conflicts are imaginary as they can be resolved through a dialogue.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

I am pleased to add a few comments on the write up by Jim Davis below.

As Muslims we have to learn to accept different practices of Muslims. God has intentionally created diversity, every thing in creation is different and unique, it is a model for us to accept the spiritual differences and co-exist in harmony. Prophet Muhammad expanded on that by acknowledging the otherness of other faiths and including them, as they were, with their own belief system into the Madinah pact, an inclusive form of governance.

God knew we are obdurate beings and had asked us to recite the Sura Fateha with every unit of the prayer, Muslims recite “God alone is the master of the day of Judgment” at least fifty times a day, God was hoping that it will rub off on us, he was hoping we would understood the meaning of it and not be judgmental towards others. A good majority of us do believe that only God alone is the judge in matters of faith, the few others may not be sure about God’s wisdom, so they keep on judging other people.

The Ismailia’s pray differently than the Shia’s, Sunnis and Bohra, it is their right and their belief, just as others do what they are taught. They do believe in God and the prophet like all other Muslims.

Please remember, no one is responsible for other’s deeds, each one of us is on our own.
Let's acknowledge the otherness of other and let every one take pride in their practices.

Mike Ghouse
# #

Now comes the article by Jim Davis

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim sect, or Ismaili for short, is one of the largest and little known esoteric sects in Islam. Its members otal about 15 million people and can be found in India, Pakistan, Central Asia, China, East Africa, Europe, and North America. They are all united by their common allegiance to their spiritual leader, Imam Karim Aga Khan IV, who is a direct descendant of Imam Ali, Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law and successor, appointed to lead the Islamic community.

Most people in the West view Islam as sort of monolithic religion, but in actuality it is divided into numerous sects. The basic division is the Shia/Sunni split over who should have succeeded the Prophet after his death. Before his death, the Prophet appointed Ali as his successor during his last hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) in the year 632 CE. However, Ali as rejected by a group of the Prophet's close followers, known as the Companions, who elected Abu Bakr as their Khalif (political successor the Prophet). Ali was eventually elected as the fourth Khalif, but was always considered the leader (Imam) of the Shia (party of Ali). His assassination and the death of his grandson Hussein split the Islamic community permanently into two factions: the Shia and the Sunni.

Imam-e-zaman (The Imam of the Time) must always be a descendant of Imam Ali, and has the sole authority to interpret the Koran according to the time and place. Ismailis hold that Allah's Noor (the Light) is eternal; they believe this same Noor which was with Ali resides in the current Imam. This light allows the Imam to speak authoritatively and to give out firmans.(spiritual teachings) which Ismailis follow. The Imam has also been called a speaking Koran. As an Ismaili friend once said, "Allah did not stop talking to humankind 1400 hundred years ago; he never has stopped guiding us." They see the Imam as a reflection of the Divine Reality in this world.

The Shia followed Imam Ali and each succeeding Imam thereafter, who is appointed (nass) by the Imam from amongst his male offspring (usually the eldest son, but not always). Shia Muslims have occasionally faced internal problems regarding the succession of an Imam. As a result of disagreements, the community split and a new sect came into existence. Such a split occurred over the succession of the 6th Imam, Jafar es-Sadiq. It was this split that gave rise to the Ismaili sect. They followed the Imams from Imam Jafar's son Ismail, while the majority of the Shia followed his other son, Musa al-Kazim. Musa's followers are known as Ithna Asharis (The Twelvers) which became the state religion in Iran.

Since the split from the Ithna Asharis, the Ismaili movement went on to spread throughout the Islamic world as a social revolutionary movement. Ismaili Dais (religious teachers), appointed by the Imam, would form teaching cells in local communities and conduct missionary work (Dawa).

Their mission was to lead others to recognize and give allegiance to the Imam of the Time. By the 9th century, these groups were strong enough to launch a revolt in North Africa and Eastern Arabia, which resulted in the formation of the Ismaili led Fatimid Empire in Egypt (lasting until 1171 CE).

During the later days of the Fatimid Empire, the Ismaili movement split into two factions over the succession to the 19th Imamate. The Must'ali factions, who maintained control over the Fatimid Empire, are now known as the Bohras, who live mainly in India and Yemen. Since their line of Imams went into hiding, the Dais assumed leadership of the community in the Imam's name. Before the murder of Imam Nizar by his brother Must'ali, a Dai by the name Hasan bin Sabbah established an Ismaili stronghold in the mountains of Northern Iran. When Nizar was killed, Sabbah started a Dawa called, "The New Preaching." A son of Nizar was smuggled out of Egypt and kept concealed at the fortress of Alamut. From Alamut, Ismaili missionaries (Pirs) spread the ideas of Ismailism throughout the Middle East and South Asia. They were very successful in South Asia, where several Hindu castes converted en mass to the new faith. These South Asian Ismaili's gave the Ismaili faith a body of religion called ginans.

In the year 1256 CE, the Ismaili State at Alamut came to end when the expanding Mongolian Empire destroyed it. Ismaili Imams and their followers then went into hiding. They mostly disappeared from history until Imam Aga Khan I fled Iran in 1841 and took charge of his Khoja Ismaili followers in South Asia. In Iran, the group took on the appearance of a Sufi Order, whereas in South Asia, they appeared as Hindus. This concealment, called "taqqiya," is practiced by all Shia sects for self-defense. From the time Imam Aga Khan I entered India, the Ismailis have gradually lifted taqqiya and practiced their faith openly as a group.

Ismailis today continue to practice their beliefs in secrecy for fear of persecution. The faith, however, is becoming more recognized by outsiders and no longer a secret. They meet daily in Jamatkhanas for prayer and community activities. Only Ismaili Muslims who have pledged allegiance to the Imam are allowed in the Jamatkhanas for services (though most Jamatkhanas do give tours to interested persons). It is Ismaili doctrine that unless one has taken baiyat (oath of allegiance) to the Imam, then Jamatkhans services would not be of any value to the visitor or to the Ismailis worshiping. So visitors during services would merely be a distraction.

While the religious rites are performed privately in Jamatkhanas, their doctrines are not hidden from public view. The teachings and practices of the Ismailis are readily available in books and on the Internet. The group is open to converts, though they do not seem to actively recruit new members. The Ismailis follow the Five Pillars of Islam by obeying the Farmans (official teachings) of the Imam of the Time. Their interpretation of Islamic doctrines and practice can change according to the time and place in which they live. This change can only be brought about by the Imam of the Time.

Ismailis learn from their Imam how to live ethically and find the true way o achieve union with "Divine Reality." The first step taken by an Ismaili to begin this journey is to recite the Shahada: "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and Ali, the commander of the faithful, is from Allah." Every Ismaili, or a convert to the faith, must pledge allegiance to the Imam of the Time and follow his Farmans. This is basically how Ismailis receive and follow Allah's achings.

Ismailis perform Du'a (prayer) three times a day in Jamatkhanas or at home. This is derived from the later Shia practice of combining the five regular prayers into three prayer sessions.

Ismailis pay Zakat (alms levied) to the Imam of the Time, which is collected monthly in the Jamatkhanas. It is set at 12½ % of one's income, but individual Ismailis may pledge to pay more. This tithe is called the Dasond. A portion of this money is used to finance local Jamatkhanas,with the rest being sent to the Imam. The current Imam has used these funds in various Aga Khan Foundation projects throughout the Third World, often in close association with the United Nations (many of the Imam's close family work in various U.N. developmental projects). Ismailis practice ritual fasting according to the religious customs of the regions in which they live. Some follow the typical Islamic fast of Ramadan as a form of taqqiya in countries ruled by Islamic Governments, while others living in secular societies do not. Many Ismailis fast on days of the year known as Shakravari Beej, which occurs when Fridays coincide with the appearance of a New Moon. This is a traditional fast practiced by Ismailis of South Asian origin. During this fast they repent of their sins and ask for Allah's forgiveness through their Imam.

Ismailis perform their hajj (pilgrimage) by seeking a Deedar (glimpse) of the Imam of the Time. Since the Noor (Light of the Imam) is present in every Jamatkhana, going to Jamatkhana each day is equal to performing hajj. In the Prophet's time, to go on hajj was to be with the Prophet.

Therefore, to be in his successor's (the Imam) presence is the modern hajj. Also, Imam Aga Khan IV has been the most accessible of all Imams. He regularly visits his followers all over the world. This can be seen as an interesting reversal of the pilgrimage. The ultimate goal of Ismailis is to achieve union with Divine Reality.

This part is the deepest secret of Ismailism and must be taught in person. It is pure gnosis, a gift from Allah given to those who prepare to receive the Light of Qiyamat.

Esoteric means the "inner, in the sense of the inner consciousness;
the contemplative, mystical or meditative transpersonal perspective.
This can only be understood by intuition or higher mental or spiritual
faculties.Shiites, more especially Shia Ismailis or Batinis follow the
esoteric interpretation of some of the verses of Qur'an.

Exoteric is opposite of esoteric, which means the "outer", i.e. the
outer or surface or everyday consciousness.This includes both the
scientific-materialistic and the conventional (or literal) religious
perspective.Sunni Muslims follow exoteric interpretation of Qur'an.

Peace and Light,
Jim Davis

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Apostasy and Islam

Apostasy and Islam

Three items below.

1. Dr. Abdullahi Al Naim is considered one of the 50 Muslims who are looking to removing layers of non-Islamic values that have creeped in to Islam.

2. Dr. Mohammad Farooq has created a website bringing together historical incidents and endorsements from 100 Islamic Scholars, he and I were going further to get endorsements from 100 Imams around the globe. Insha Allah, we need volunteers to do the work.

3. A few verses from Qur’aan on the subject.

Islam is about freedom; freedom from clergy and freedom from fatwa noose hanging around our necks every time some one sneezes. The Neocon Muslim are too insecure to accept and absorb the freedom Islam offers, instead they eagerly throw the noose and frighten you every time with Sharia rules; Islam is not about frightening, it is about creating a world of co-existence with justice resulting in peace. It is time we the moderate majority speak up.

Mike Ghouse

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement

A bold Muslim voice

From harsh terrain
Aug 6th 2009
From The Economist print edition

We should love heretics, not kill them, says an unconventional scholar
ON THE face of things, Sudan is stony ground for Islamic reformers. It is a country where allegations of apostasy departing from Islam, or merely straying slightly from the received interpretation of the faith have often been deployed as a lethal weapon in political power struggles. In 1985 a leading opponent of the regime was hanged after a court declared him to be an apostate. In recent years Sudan’s best-known Islamist, Hassan al-Turabi, has been decried as an apostate by certain greybeards, simply because he dared to suggest that men and women were equal.

But that is not the whole story of Sudan and Islam. That country has also produced a passionate advocate of the view that you can be a faithful Muslim while also supporting the right of more than one reading of the faith to exist.
Abdullahi an-Naâim is now a law professor at Emory University in Georgia” and when he returns to his native Sudan, it is as an American passport-holder. That is just as well, given what he practises and preaches.

For theocrats, the professor says, heresy charges have always been an easy way out, a way to explain difficult problems. And, one might add, to eliminate difficult people. Last year, he co-organised a conference (in Atlanta, a city that calls itself too busy to hate) that was provocatively devoted to the Celebration of Heresy.

Dissident views are healthy for the religion, he insists. To keep the religion honest, it is very important that somebody should take the risk of being denounced as heretical.

And if anybody (in America, at least) applies the H-word to him, he does not mind: Only God can judge that so let me take my chances with God. In any case, he insists that his liberal reading of Islam is closer to the roots of the faith than the theocrats™ interpretations are.

In its core theology, he maintains, Islam is radically democratic; for example, it is an important principle that no earthly or religious authority can come between the believer and God. The problem is simply that sociologically, the world of Islam is conservative. He is trying to break that mould.

# # #

Qur’aan on Apostasy.

Unfortunately, it is a common belief that 'death' should be the punishment for apostasy. However, the Qur’aan mentions nothing of such punishment, so why should we impose such a cruel and inhumane form of punishment? Are we so insecure about our own religion that if anyone is to leave it we kill them?

17:33 (Asad) And do not take any human being's life -[the life] which God has willed to be, sacred-otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice. [38] Hence, if anyone has been slain wrongfully, We have empowered the defender of his rights [to exact a just retribution] ; [39] but even so, let him not exceed the bounds of equity in [retributive] killing. [40] [And as for him who has been slain wrongfully -] behold, he is indeed succoured [by God] ! [41]

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالحَقِّ وَمَن قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلاَ يُسْرِف فِّي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنْصُور 17:33

Note 38 Le., in the execution of a legal sentence or in a just war (see 2:190 and the corresponding note 167), or in individual; legitimate self-defence.(Quran Ref: 17:33

Note 39 This refers to the legal punishment for homicide, termed qisas ("just retribution") and explained in 2:178 and the corresponding notes. In the present context, the term wall ("protector" or "defender of [one's] rights") is usually taken to mean the heir or next of kin of the victim; Zamakhshari, however, observes that it may also apply to the government (as-sultan): an interpretation which is obviously based on the concept of the government as the "protector" or "defender of the rights" of all its citizens. As regards the expression qutila mazluman ("slain wrongfully"), it is obvious that it refers only to cases of wilful homicide, since the concept of zulm applies in the Qur'an exclusively to intentional and never to accidental wrongdoing.(Quran Ref: 17:33 )

Note 40 Thus, the defender of the victim's rights (in this case, a court of justice) is not only not entitled to impose a capital sentence on any but the actual murderer or murderers, but may also, if the case warrants it, concede mitigating circumstances and refrain from capital punishment altogether.(Quran Ref: 17:33 )

Note 41 I.e., he is avenged in this world by the retribution exacted from his murderer, and in the life to come, blessed by the special grace which God bestows on all who have been slain without any legal or moral justification (Razi). Some of the commentators, however, relate the pronoun "he" to the defender of the victim's rights, respectively, to the latter's heir or next of kin, and explain the above phrase as meaning "he is sufficiently helped by the law of just retribution (qisas) and should not, therefore, demand any punishment in excess of what is equitable".(Quran Ref: 17:33 )

Killing someone because they left their religion (apostasy) is a cruel punishment that has no basis in Islam. Such a punishment is man-made;You shall not kill any person - for GOD has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped. ·

6:115 (Asad) for, truly and justly has thy Sustainer's promise been fulfilled. There is no power that could alter [the fulfillment of] His promises: and He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing.

وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقًا وَعَدْلاً لاَّ مُبَدِّلِ لِكَلِمَاتِهِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (6:115)

· 109:6 (Asad) Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine !"
Simple translation: As your religion is dear to you, mine is to me.

لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ 109:6
Nowhere in the Qur’aan does God say to 'kill' those who leave their own religion. On the contrary, God emphasizes that all Muslims must practice the total freedom of religion
· 6:104 (Asad) Means of insight have now come unto you from your Sustainer [through this divine writ]. Whoever, therefore, chooses to see, does so for his own good; and whoever chooses to remain blind, does so to his own hurt. And [say unto the blind of heart]: "I am not your keeper."

قَدْ جَاءكُم بَصَآئِرُ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ فَمَنْ أَبْصَرَ فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ عَمِيَ فَعَلَيْهَا وَمَا أَنَاْ عَلَيْكُم بِحَفِيظٍ 6:104

Quraan on Pluralism

Quraan on Pluralism

Prophet Muhammad was a pluralist, his goal was not to wipe out any of God’s creation, it rather was to forge peace and co-existence. Look at his very first model where he forged cooperation by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill among the conflicting tribes to place the Aswad Stone in its place. There are several models for us to emulate including the one where he acknowledges the otherness of the other and brought together the Jews, Christians and others that lived under his leadership, he created the Madinah Pact giving all believers their rights to practice their faith freely. If prophet did not believe in the otherness of other, he would not have initiated that pact.
Prophet Muhammad invited people of other faiths to discuss the faith issues in his own mosque. Today, shamelessly a few Muslims who rule the Mosques around would not let an interfaith dialogue take place in the mosques.

Islam is about creating a just world and a world of co-existence through the Madinah Pacts and not bent on converting others to become Muslims.

The Quran teaches us the correct concept on pluralism:

[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.

According to the Quran, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights:

[17:70] We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.

The Quran gives everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion:

[2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.



Friday, August 7, 2009

Interfaith, Pluralism and Islam

CAUTION: If you have low tolerance for another point of view, please do not read this. If you do read, please be independent and a critical thinker.

Pluralism and Interfaith continues to be mis-understood, it is time for us to refresh our minds and unload some of the ideas we have carried forward against the idea of Interfaith and Pluralism.

1. Interfaith is about exploring common issues from each religious point of view.
2. Pluralism is about exploring co-existence among theists and atheist.

Pluralism is an attitude of accepting the otherness of other without having to believe the other. One has to be secure in his or her faith to listen without interrupting thoughts and let the other person speak out his or her belief; if I were to believe my faith is the only way, my intellect requires me to understand that the other person is also claiming the same while the arrogance in me denies that right to the other. It is your word vs. my word.

God is not going to step in and take sides nor has God signed a deal with me or him to claim exclusive ownership of God and goodness. This is not going to be acceptable to the Neocons Muslims, Christians, Jews or Hindus, their mind set is; the other has to be wrong for me to be right. However, the majorities from the same groups are secure in their faith and acknowledge the right of other individuals to believe in their faith, without losing an ounce of their own faith. The Neocons simply cannot do that, they are too insecure.

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, faith is in the heart of the believer. Islam understood that human sentiment and said that there is no compulsion in faith, you cannot make one believe against his or her will. Islam also has delivered a wise chapter on civil conduct.

There is a myth out there among 1/100th of 1% of Muslims, who propagate with vengeance or out of ignorance that Interfaith is mumbo jumbo like Akbar’s deen-e-Elahi. That does not fit the trait of a Muslim – to deliberately spread falsity about interfaith.

Prophet Muhammad was a pluralist, his goal was not to wipe out any of God’s creation, it rather was to forge peace and co-existence. Look at his very first model where he forged cooperation by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill among the conflicting tribes to place the Aswad Stone in its place. There are several models for us to emulate including the one where he acknowledges the otherness of the other and brought together the Jews, Christians and others that lived under his leadership, he created the Madinah Pact giving all believers their rights to practice their faith freely. If prophet did not believe in the otherness of other, he would not have initiated that pact.

Prophet Muhammad invited people of other faiths to discuss the faith issues in his own mosque. Today, shamelessly a few Muslims who rule the Mosques around would not let an interfaith dialogue take place in the mosques.Islam is about creating a just world and a world of co-existence through the Madinah Pacts and not bent on converting others to become Muslims.

What else the Neocon Muslims need to know?

Islam is about creating a just world and a world of co-existence through the Madinah Pacts and not bent on converting others to become Muslims.

I am please to share Dr. Javed Jamil’s piece “Interfaith, Pluralism and Islam” with a few observations:

Dr. Jamil - “They are trying to change/reinterpret/adjust Islamic principles in accordance with the demands of Interfaith. I am trying to adjust Interfaith according to the demands of Islam”

Mike – It may be true in a few places, but that is not the whole truth. In all the groups that we participate here in the United States interfaith is “you are who you are and we are who we are” how can we mitigate the conflicts without compromising the integrity of the faith. This is what interfaith is all about.

Dr. Jamil, “It can be seen that most of these interfaith dialogues are being funded by governments and agencies that seek to dilute, diminish or readjust the role of religions in accordance”

Mike – Where on the earth is government funding this? Not in the United States. Shall we take it that if Muslims fund such a dialogue; they are dishonest in their intentions?

Dr. Jamil – “They want to marginalize religion, weaken the institution of religion and to minimize its role in influencing the world system.”

Mike – Not the interfaith groups Dr. Jamil, it may be the Christian Missionaries and the Dawah Missions who are bent on denigrating each other.

Dr. Jamil – “The ultimate aim of the Qur’aan is nothing but the unity of the whole mankind under the umbrella of Islam.”

Mike – “Which definition of Islam suits us? One is about submission to the almighty and the other is compelling or enticing every one to believe like we do. If it is the former, every one does submit to the almighty his/her own way – but if it is political, they have to do our way. The submission loses the value, and doing our way gains it.

Mike Ghouse
Our Mission is to work for a World of co-existence. What is good for Muslims has got to be good for the others and vice versa for world peace and harmony. To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement

Interfaith, Pluralism and Islam

I have spoken on several Interfaith platforms. Recently I spoke in two conferences at New Delhi organized by Interfaith Coalition for Peace and one at Bangalore organized by International Council of Churches, Geneva. In the first I was one of few Muslims in the all-religion gathering and in the latter I was the only Muslim. I spoke without in any way compromising my stand on the established principles of Islam, and yet I could present the most talked about and most admired papers in both. But I feel anguished when I see many Muslims saying things that neither required to be said nor would be acceptable to religious scholars of any religion. If some ideological stand is not acceptable to the scholars of the religions, Interfaith is simply not going to serve any purpose. The difference in the approach of these Muslims and that of mine is simple: They are trying to change/reinterpret/adjust Islamic principles in accordance with the demands of Interfaith. I am trying to adjust Interfaith according to the demands of Islam.

It can be seen that most of these Interfaith dialogues are being funded by governments and agencies that seek to dilute, diminish or readjust the role of religions in accordance with their plans, which are directly or indirectly related to the demands of the forces of globalization. These forces want to keep religious scholars busy in fighting or trying to arrive at a common point on the issues that are fundamental to the religion. They want to marginalize religion, weaken the institution of religion and to minimize its role in influencing the world system. Invariably, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists come to these meetings, discuss a few points related to the concept of “Pluralism”, exchange some pleasantries, shake hands and hug and then disperse without arriving at any common agenda about the world. They have been made to believe that religion is the root cause of all the problems in the world; and the infighting between different faiths is responsible for the bloodshed. And poor religious scholars, unable to understand what is boiling in the international area, fall prey to their designs. When I told the Bishops and priests at Bangalore that Westernism and Christianity are two different things, and both Muslims and Christians have often failed to realize this, and when West attacks Islamic countries, Muslims often tend to attack Christians, they all were hugely excited. When I said that Westernism was as much an enemy of Christianity as that of Islam, and Westernism is an ideology comprising economic fundamentalism, commercialization of human susceptibilities, misuse of science and Technology and domination of Western powers, there was a long round of clapping. When I ended my talk asserting that the time has now come when we should stop keeping on debating the theological issues and must instead focus on the evil of the current worl forming a common agenda, and together we must challenge the forces of evil, chaos and materialism, people there rose in standing ovation. I was in truth overwhelmed by the kind of response I got from Christian priests. I requested them that though the responsibility to challenge the forces should be shared by all the religions, Christians and Muslims should take the lead because together they form about half of the world and have influence over even on other parts as well.

An interfaith Muslim activist bases his arguments on a seemingly beautiful slogan of “pluralism”. He contends that God wants pluralism in the world, and this is why He has given birth to human beings in different religions and faiths. This line of argument is becoming popular with several Muslim writers recently. Had it been the desire of God to see all humans turn to Islam, they argue, He would not have given birth to most humans as non-Muslims. In favour of this argument, they present the verse of the Qur’an: “If God had so willed He would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues.”

I want to point out that though the Qur’an accepts religious plurality yet pluralism is neither the foundation of the Book of Allah nor its ultimate aim. It is at best a permitted position. The ultimate aim of the Qur’an is nothing but the unity of the whole mankind under the umbrella of Islam. Till it is achieved, plurality is tolerable. Even otherwise, this is true for every ideology that it can tolerate but will never promote other ideologies. Even the advocates of pluralism will want the whole society to adopt the ideals of pluralism and would not love the presence of those who do not believe in the ideology of pluralism.

Will versus Desire of God

Qur’an tells us that God’s Will and Desire are two different things. In Qur’an God has clearly spelled his preferences, which represent His Desire. See the following:
And spend of your substance in the cause of God, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for God loveth those who do good. (2: 195/A)
And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for God loveth not any arrogant boaster. (31: 18/A)

They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide. And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,- (saying), We feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks. (76: 7-9/A)

By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth God knoweth it well. (3: 92/A)

Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess... (4: 36/A)

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards east or west; but it is righteousness-to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (2: 177/A)

For in Gods sight are (all) His servants,- (namely), those who say: Our Lord! we have indeed believed: forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of the Fire;”- Those who show patience, firmness and self-control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of God.; and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning. (3: 15-17/A)

And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God. And God is full of kindness to (His) devotees. (2: 207/A)

God loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for God is He who heareth and knoweth all things. (4: 148/A)

Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason. (7: 33/A)

God loveth not one given to perfidy and crime... (4: 105-107/A)

Those who spend their substance in the cause of God, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury,-for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. God is free of all wants, (2: 262/A)

And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and heed not their annoyances, but put thy Trust in God. For enough is God as a Disposer of affairs. (33: 48/A)

God loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for God is He who heareth and knoweth all things. (4: 148/A)

And obey God and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes...(8: 46/A)

For God loveth not any vainglorious boaster,- such persons as are covetous and commend covetousness to men. (57: 23-24/A)

Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: “O my son! join not in worship (others) with God; for false worship is indeed the highest wrongdoing.” (31: 13/A)

O my son!”, (said Luqman), If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, God will bring it forth: for God understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them). O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs. And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for God loveth not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass.” (31: 16-19/A)

Thus God has made clear His desires: that all must follow His Book and His Messenger and must do good deeds and avoid wrong deeds. But still, most of the human beings are engaged in severe forms of wrongdoing. Does this mean that God wants people to be bad? Does He want them to fight one another, be untruthful, dishonest and arrogant? No. If people have fallen to evils this is not because God desires them to be bad but because God has let them do things of their own liking, as part of His plan. His plan was to establish a system in which humans are not physically forced to act in a particular way but they choose by their own will to act rightfully or wrongfully. They are free to establish a system of Lawful and Forbidden for them; they can do this either in accordance with the commands of God or according to their own selfish interests. If they were not free, they would not have been tested. If there were no Devil to mislead them, men and women with real mettle would not have emerged on the scene. When an interviewer or examiner interviews or examines a candidate for a big post, he tests him with the most difficult questions, often through confusing inquiries. The World is like a College, established and run by a Management. The Management creates a system to run the college, which every student has to go through. Students prepare for the examination. If Management had wanted, they would have passed all the students giving them the same marks. But the students pass and fail receiving different grades according to their capabilities and preparation. Management’s desire is to see all students passing with excellence, but their plan is to give students a free hand and then test their mettle through a system of tests.

The creation of a system in the world and letting human beings act out of free will represents God’s Will. God’s Guidance through Messengers and Scriptures represents God’s Desire. Plural society (different faiths, different deities, etc) is the product of God’s Will and not God’s Desire, which seeks the submission of the whole mankind and all the national and international systems to Him. Plural society is what God has allowed; One System and One People are what God wants mankind to achieve. Muslims must learn to bear with Plurality, but must not stop endeavouring to unite the whole mankind under the umbrella of God’s Final System

Dr Javed Jamil isExecutive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics &
Chief Editor, “Islam, Muslims & the World

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Indonesian Pluralism

Indonesian Pluralism and Politics Irfan Abubakar

6 August 2009 Muslims in Indonesia have long been accustomed to religious diversity. But such diversity is accepted merely as fact, not as a guiding principle. The future of pluralism in Indonesia is, unfortunately, still determined by political negotiations between religious and state elites, not by principles recognised by all religious followers. Consequently, religious tolerance in Indonesia stands on fragile ground.

As a country with more than 17,000 islands, its diversity is not only reflected in its natural resources, but also in the ethnicity, language and religion of its people. Before Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and other world religions arrived in the country, inhabitants 
had their own belief systems, which are still practiced in several tribal communities today.

To manage this diversity, Indonesia’s founding fathers in 1945 decided on a common platform: Pancasila, which comprises the five core principles of religiosity, humanity, unity, democracy and social justice. These principles govern public life. The significant role of religion in public life is recognised by the first principle, “belief in one supreme God”, but this principle does not uphold any particular religion, even Islam – the religion of the majority – as state ideology.

The Indonesian constitution (also written in 1945) ensures the freedom of every citizen to practice his or her faith. It declares that “the state guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own religion or belief” (Article 29).

However, in practice, the state only guarantees the freedom of certain religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism and, more recently, Confucianism. Other religions and local belief systems are not acknowledged as legitimate religions.

Even currently recognised faiths were not always so. A ban on Confucianism, which began in 1967, was only lifted in 2000. During President Suharto’s 1965-1998 New Order administration – which was dominated by the military and characterised by a weakened civil society – followers of Confucius, and those adhering to local religions, were asked to identify with one of the religions recognised by the government on their national identity card.

Since 2006, however, those who follow religions that are not officially recognised by the state are no longer obliged to list one of the state-recognised religions on their identity cards, though they are not yet allowed to list their own particular faith either.

Responding to this crisis, the government released a Joint Ministerial Decree from the Minister of Religious Affairs, the General Attorney and the Minister of Home Affairs, prohibiting Ahmadis from spreading their teachings in order to “maintain religious harmony and public order”.

Another example of the absence of clear policy is when the government refrained from taking a position on a fatwa, or legal opinion, issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council in 2005 prohibiting Muslims from “following ideas of pluralism, liberalism and secularism”. According to this edict, Muslims are not allowed to acknowledge the truth of other religions, use reasoning to understand the Qur’an or relegate religion to only private affairs, clearly contradicting the principles of diversity that shape the foundation of Indonesia as a state.

These examples show that the management of diversity in Indonesia, based on the interest of keeping social harmony, has sacrificed religious freedom and civil rights.

Currently, the parliament is discussing the possibility of revising the criminal code. This is an opportunity for civil society to advocate amending the article allowing for investigation and punishment of groups suspected of violating religious doctrines to protect every citizen from intimidation or 
violence when it comes to their religious freedom.

Genuine social harmony will not be realised by silencing diversity; it can only be attained when the rights of every citizen are upheld and every group is free from religious discrimination. For this to happen, the state must be impartial to religious doctrines.

Irfan Abubakar is a programme coordinator for conflict resolution and peace studies at the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) at Hidayatullah Islamic University (UIN) in Jakarta. This article is part of a series on pluralism in Muslim-majority countries written for the Common Ground News Service.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Defining a few words in Islam

Discussing and defining a few words in Islam

A conversation with a few Muslims on the net – it is about 12 pages long followed by some 40 comments as continuance of the debate.

Thanks for sharing your frustrations, as a moderate Muslim I seek divergent opinions on any given subject at hand. One of the reasons we muslims are divisive is our inability to accept another point of view, while the majority of Muslims like all other majorities go on enjoying the God given life getting along with every one - a tiny minority of about 1% want to stick their understanding and their version of the religion onto others, it is the same story with all religions, cultures and systems. The Neocons (i.e. the stick in the muds among Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews .....), in every faith are passionate in what they do, and are loud enough to fool others to beleive that the whole Muslim world (or Christian) thinks like them.

We at WMC discussion forum practice the god given freedom in publishing all opinions from extreme conservative to ultra liberal. Every idea of yours has been published and you will not find this on most discussion forums. No single opinion is above the other, we are equal in God's presence. We are Moderate Muslims and are learning to stand up against the radical views and hope most of us will start speaking up.

If we don't agree, we must present the reasons for such disagreement and not attack the person.
Mike Ghouse

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement


From Iftekhar Hai

Dear All:

After studying closely arguments from all sides - I would like to add my observations:

In San Francisco and around its 50 miles radius - we have people from all over the world peacefully engaged in making a living.

The silicon valley of the world consist of people from every religion. They are exposed to each other intellectual and cultural differences. They range from religion to secularism.

Males and females of every religion are marrying each other in a civil union. Religious blessing is not coming to them from their respective families - BUT live goes on. Each person respecting the other's faith.

Muslim families are highly educated and do not view religion in a private setting - not to be enforced on the environment. American society is where you leave your religion at home. You have complete freedom to practise privately.

I am reminded of the ayat in the Quran that says: 109:6 "To you be your ways and to me mine."
Islam is din of Allah - Allah will resurrect it. Allah does not need anyone's help. Our family lives in the vicinity of San Francisco. We follow our religion to the utmost as we think fit and pray to the same God who has created people of other faiths and other cultures in millions. ALL SPIRITUAL PATHS ARE ENDING IN THE SAME DESTINATION.



To you we have given the scriptures, just as we have given the scriptures to people before you (Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc). We have protected your scriptures (Quran) in its entirety. So judge among people from what knowledge has come to you (from Quran) and do not be carried over by your vain desires (that Muslims are the only righteous and chosen people to lead). To each among you (referring to diverse groups – not excluding anybody) We have prescribed the Law (teachings of the indigenous, native people and Buddhist scholars, Gitas, Vedas, Torah, Gospels and The Quran) and an Open Way (given a conscience with reference to the spiritualists people). If God had willed, all humanity would have been of one single community (this means diversity is part of God’s creation). God’s plan is to test you in what each one has received (in form of Holy Scriptures or Conscience). So strive, as in a race in all virtues. The goal of all the people is to God. God (alone) will tell you the truth in matters of which you dispute.” 5:48

(This means do not fight over religious matters, establish peace and conduct dialogues with wisdom and beautiful conduct to understand each other so all can live in peace)

Iftekhar Hai
UMA Interfaith Alliance
~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

From: Iftekhar Hai
Subject: Reply to Zahid Jamil: What is Islam & Basic Fundamentals of Quran
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2009, 3:40 PM

Salams to All:

I would love to hear from any one of you on two points that Zahid Saheb has raised below:

1) What is the definition of the world Islam. Can Javid/Zahid Saheb or any one define Islam. This is what comes up in global interfaith discussions over and over again. Our answers are in attachment.

2) What are the fundamentals of Islamic ideology? This is what Br. Zahid Jamil has implied. Is pluralism and diversity not the fundamentals of Quranic teachings? Our answers are in attachment too.

Both the below attachments are shared all over USA, Europe and UK.

1) Islamic definitions and
2) Basic & Fundamentals of Quran

Iftekhar Hai
UMA Interfaith Alliance
~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

Dear Iftekhar,


Your definition of Islam is nothing but an attempt to deislamise islam, to deprive it the supremacy it has, owing to its being the Destination of God’s Guidance, over all other ideologies, and to make it compatible with the Western ideologies of economic fundamentalism, supremacy of Western ideology over others, the dominance of West in the world and the commercialization of human susceptibilities, which is one of the major sources of its economic power.

A few years back I had given a detailed reply to all your questions. Interfaith has unfortunately been reduced to an attempt to deprive all religions of their established principles and to develop a conglomeration of ideas befitting the demands of Westernism from religion, which wants religion to be chained into the boundaries of places of worship and human brains. Interfaith has made it look to the world that the root cause of all evils is in religion, or at least in the ways they are interpreted.

The truth on the contrary is that the threat to religion in general and Islam in particular comes not from the other religions but from the modern ideology of Economic fundamentalism, Westernism being its most visible face. Interfaith must realize this and not play into the hands of the forces of globalization, and must instead concentrate on fighting the economic fundamentalism and its most dangerous component, the commercialization of human weaknesses that hassled to the death of hundreds of millions of people, disintegration of family system, huge increase in crime rates and social chaos. Islam of course has the capability t0o lead this fight, and Muslims must seek the support of all other faiths in this task.

The world must know the dangers posed by alcohol, smoking, gambling, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, lame legal system that fails to control crimes and the exploitative economic system that has created huge disparities.

Dr Javed Jamil
Chief Editor
Islam, Muslims & the World

~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

In a message dated 8/2/2009 12:42:27 P.M. Central Daylight Time, iftekhar writes:

Dear Javed Saheb:

Let me ask you a few specific questions: We would appreciate if you could answer them objectively and not go off our focus of defining key words that are repeated over and over in the Quran. This can help all of us. If we agree to key definitions of these words then the interpretation of the Quran becomes more important in the light of these definitions. AGAIN - PLEASE DO NOT ATTACK OR MAKE "PERSONAL ATTACKS." This is only to explain our two sides in the best possible way so that global message of the Quran and its wisdom from the Hadith can be available for all to see.

1) Define Islam
2) Believer
3) Dhimmi
4) Kafir
5) Non-Believer


Key Definitions: How do we define and explain key words is absolutely important to better understanding of The Quran in the light of Global Inter-religious peace movement that is going on. It creates a mind-set that can become very narrow and selective in creating antagonistic divisions or it can create a more accommodating and tolerant mind-set. Some of the key words which are essential to better understanding are the following:

Islam The Quran is very clear in explaining the definition of the word Islam. What does it mean and what does it stand for. The uniqueness of this word is - that it is not named after any person (in this case our Prophet). It means total surrender or submission to Allah (God). Islam was the religion even before our Prophet Mohammed was born (pbuh) as is evidenced in The Quran in reference to 42:13,

"The same religion (Islam or submission) has He established for you that which He enjoined on Noah. That which We have sends as inspiration to you (Mohammed pbuh) and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus: That you should stay steadfast in religion (submission to our Lord -Islam) and make no divisions therein. (this means work for the unity of humankind) As for those who worship other than God they are on (hard) wrong way to call from. God chooses and guides those whom He wills towards Him.

Commentary: According to this if a Christian, a Jew or any believer in One Supreme Being says “we surrender or submit to God.” They are falling within the definition of the word Islam. The art of surrender or submission is called Islam. This art of submission/surrende r was shown to all the Prophets and their people as evidenced in The Quran 10:47, 14:4 & 16:36. Islam is very inclusive and broad in its definition. Muslims believe in Allah (God) and take Mohammed (pbuh) as their messenger, just as Christians and Jews believe in the same God and take Jesus and Moses as their respective messengers. However Muslims believe in all the prophets from Jewish and Christian scriptures. One must refrain from judging other believers the depth of surrendering or submission of other believers. God is THE ONLY JUDGE. Here Jesus advice is more relevant, “Do not Judge others lest you be judged.”

Surah 3:85, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him.” Here the definition of Islam must be taken in its global context of surrendering and submission to One and Only One God.

Believer: Anyone who says, “We believe in One God” is a Believer. Let God be the ultimate judge. Humans will never have perfect knowledge to judge others.

Muslim: A Muslim is a person who says, “There is no God but One God (Allah) and Mohammed (pbuh) is a messenger of God.

Dhimmi: People of the Book, Christians and Jews who lived in an Islamic state were called dhimmis. This term is very often mis-interpreted. The expressed mission of Islamic state was to establish Islamic rules and regulations and form Islamic society. To convert People of Book to Islam was not the policy.

Dhimmis were exempted from military service and Islamic teachings. The Quran honored Christians and Jews as People with Revelations, the Bible and the Torah. Their property, life and places of worship were protected. For this service and protection a prorated tax “Jaziya” was collected by the Islamic state. Jaziya was not meant to be economically oppressive, on the contrary it was a compensation paid to the state for maintenance of law, order and due process in the Islamic state that guaranteed their constitutional rights. Dhimmis were exempted from paying the Zakat that was obligatory on every Muslim citizen. The rate of Jaziya was smaller than the Zakat rate. Presently, no Muslim country imposes “Jaziya” on People of other faiths. Jaziya is now history.

Kafir or Infidels:

The word Kafir is derived from the Arabic root word KFR, (Kaf, Fay and Ray) which means to cover, conceal or hide. Hiding with the intention of misleading, deceiving or suppressing the truth. Meddling with the Holy Scriptures where intentionally truth is either, concealed, changed, omitted, misinterpreted so that people either begin to doubt or lose complete faith in God, His Signs and His Revelations – this can come in the area of infidelity (being unfaithful to your Creator) or Kufr.

Character assassinations of Biblical and Quranic Prophets, done intentionally to undermine the faith or trust/believe in God, His Signs and Revelations can also be classified, as Kufr and people committing such acts are called Kafirs or infidels.

One cannot call a believer in God from Christianity or Judaism as Kafir if they do not believe in Mohammed (pbuh) as Messenger of God.

In modern language, you can say, it has to be intentional dishonesty, deception and misinformation. Just like a more sophisticated, premeditated perjury is deep rooted in misleading or deceiving people which can lead to criminal actions so also we have to consider the extent of intentional deception or perjury in explaining Kafir or Kufr.

Infidel does not really represent the true meaning of the word Kafir. The dictionary merely says an infidel is one who does not belief in any religion, especially Christianity and Islam.

Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs who comprise 2.5 billion of the world’s population cannot all be classified as non-believers or as KAFIRS. There are billions of them who belief in God, the Last Day and Life after Death and in doing righteous deeds. They have also been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion (which in Arabic is called Islam). The Quran says, “To every people we send an Apostle in their own language and in their own country to clarify God’s message in Quran 14:4, 10:47 &16:36. Muslims are commanded to believe in the revelations that have come to them (The Quran) and the revelations that came before their times (Torah, Psalms and Gospels) in Quran 2:4.

Hence believers in One God from other faiths cannot be lumped or stereotyped as non-believers. No one has the authority to judge others. Hence they cannot be called KAFIRS because they also have been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion which is the true meaning of the word Islam.

The Quran uses Kafirs in reference to the pagan Arabs who had unleashed war on Prophet Mohammed and early Muslims. All the verses on war must be taken in reference to pagan, idolatrous Arabs. Muslims look towards war in the Quran to stop tyranny, oppression of the pagan Quresh tribe. The other side of war was to establish freedom, liberty, women rights and a better law abiding society.

Christians and Jews who lived during the times of Prophet Mohammed were never defined as Kafirs or infidels. They are called as, “People of the Book” throughout the Quran. Prophet Mohammed included them as part of Medina Constitution This is a very important observation that we all should know.

Hence believers in One God from other faiths cannot be lumped or stereotyped as non-believers. No one has the authority to judge others. Hence they cannot be called KAFIRS because they also have been shown the art of surrender, submission or devotion which is the true meaning of the word Islam.

Non-Believer: Non-believers are those who do not believe in God. There could be numerous reasons, conditions, situations or factors for their lack of faith in God. There are Americans who are not taught religion at home or public schools hence they become secular in their outlook. They also grow with no negative baggage. Their conscience is clear. They have a sense of equality and justice which is God-given quality of being just and fair.

Sometimes a believer passes from being in a believing state to a non-believing state and there could be many reasons for that too.

A non-believer is not a hypocrite or infidel (kafir). It is important to know the difference.

From: Mike Ghouse
Subject: MuslimAgenda :: Defining Islam, people of the book, Kafir etc.
Date: Monday, August 3, 2009, 5:59 PM


I appreciate your comments on the words Islam, Kafir, People of the book etc, indeed a majority of Muslims subscribe to that thought process. The word Kafir and People of the book are misused to claim superiority over the others, to create a class, that which Islam stands againts. Arrogance is the root cause of all conflict and that is not what God's wishes, he wishes his creation to get along and live in harmony without any distinction of religion, race or culture. (idea of Quraan 49:13)

I know a few will jump at me without even thinking, as if they are parrots and have shut out all thinking faculties. The fact is an overwhelming majority of Muslims are open to learning, as Quran started with that word, and most Muslims subscribe to the idea that God is not owned by Muslims or any exclusive group, Praise the lord, lord of the universe, (rabbul aalameen) as Muslims we recite that at least 50 times a day.

I am writing a piece on Muslim women seeking to marry men outside their faith, in the article, I have touched up on the idea of " Kafir and the people of the book". For nearly a thousand years men who wanted to "control" women wrote most of the ideas... at times what it seems like going against the equality God has blessed to men and women. On the day of judgment no woman will have her husband stand by her, nor a man has a woman standing by him, each one is an equal individual responsible for his or her actions. Nothing but your responsibility is accounted for... of course, God is merciful and beneficent and he would always has his last word.

2:221 “AND DO NOT marry women who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for any believing bondwoman [of God]* is certainly better than a woman who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though she pleases you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to aught beside God ere they attain to [true] belief: for- any believing bondman [of God] is certainly better than a man who ascribes divinity to aught beside God, even though he pleases you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind."

God is for all times and so is his wisdom. Thank God we have the freedom to learn and understand concepts that were limited in scope but are actually universal.

In the above verse, a distinction was made between those who believe in a creator and those who reject the creator (or associate the creator with others). Do Jews, Christians, Hindus or people of other faith not believe in God? Don't the Atheist, Buddhists, Jains, Wicca and others believe in accountability? They all do, they also believe that some thing caused the world to come into being, whom we call God.

Perhaps the wisdom behind the distinction was to understand those who rejected God in medieval times, and it meant that they did not care for the moral values of the humanity and became a source of immorality. That stereo typing does not apply today as it did some ten centuries ago. Atheist and those who do not believe in a formal God are as moral as the ones who show off their belief every which possible. In all sincerity the word “Polytheist” exists without a corpus. Typically Hindus are ascribed as Polytheists without verifying that Hindus believe in one supreme God as well, and accept God in different manifestations, as Muslims also see God in 99 different attributes.

The other aspect that a few Muslims are hung up with is the phrase “People of the book” as though we belong to an “exclusive men’s club” and others don’t. That is sheer arrogance and a major source of conflict in community relations. Islam’s message was to find means to dissolve the arrogance and not manufacture it.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, indeed had wished that his people also had a book like the Jews and Christians. At that time having a book meant civility, discipline and a system and not necessarily divinity. No doubt the Christians and Jews were included in the exclusive club, but we have missed out the Hindus, Buddhist, Jains and others who all have a book of guidance. The Qur’aan uses 124,000 Prophets to mean that the cherisher of the universe (Rabbul Aalameen) has reached out to every nation and tribe although only 25 names were listed; similarly only two inclusions were listed as people of the book where as there were many others who followed the books.

God is wise, all embracing and cannot be narrow in his appeal. We the humans tend to want to own God and box up his wisdom. Let's give God all the freedom he has. After all we have created God in our own image.

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, an Islamic family law expert at Emory University , argues that gender dynamics have changed in a way that makes interfaith marriage more reasonable under Islamic tradition. "In social reality today, men are not dominant in the marriage relationship. The rationale of historic rule is no longer valid," he said. "But people are not willing to accept this. This is a major source of tensions."

There is a value we all have to realize today or tomorrow and that is peaceful co-existence is God’s will. We should be open to people who value the morals of the society to work for peaceful co-existence with or without the books.

Mike Ghouse
To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement

~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

From: javed jamil
Subject: Re: MuslimAgenda :: Defining Islam, people of the book, Kafir etc.
Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2009, 2:55 AM

Brother Mike


I am writing this letter to you in dismay and disappointment. I have been part of the forum you moderate for several years, and have been a part of most of the debates that occurred there. I have respected you as a moderator because I felt that despite your own specific inclinations, you are giving everybody an opportunity to speak. But lately I have started feeling that you are continuously pushing your own agenda, which is something not acceptable to majority of Muslims, and least to Islamic scholars. I felt it bad that slowly but steadily most of the members who had been actively participating in the debate have now stopped taking any interest in the forum debates. Many of them have left the forum; some4 forums have even put your views on “Ban”. I wrote a harsh letter to you in the hope that you will realize this, and will not allow the forum to become dead. But I feel you are now only interested in the views of people like Tarek Fateh, Farzana Hasan, both notoriously known for their campaigns against whatever the common Muslims and Islamic scholars stand for, Zeba, Aziz, Iftakhar and few others. I have no complaints if you can continue with them and run the forum as you like, as you are the owner of this forum.

I have never written or spoken anything against any other religion or community – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or anyone else. I have always advocated a unity of all religions against the evils of the world. I have also never spoken against the people of any country. I have only spoken against the systems and the government policies of different countries. Yes I have been fighting against Westernism, because I feel this is the most dominant ideology of the current world, and it has caused much greater harm than it has benefited. I have never disrespected any religion, but I know I am a Muslim because I feel Islam is the best and final version of God’s Guidance to mankind. If I didn’t believe it, I won’t be a Muslim. (I give this right to the followers of all other ideologies as well.) I believe that Allah sent Islam for the whole mankind; and it is the duty of Muslims to demonstrate to the mankind that it is indeed for them. Every human being has the right to benefit from Islam’s System in this world if he does not believe it as a religion, and in the Hereafter as well if he believes in God, Hereafter, and the finality and supremacy of Muhammad and Qur’an after they were sent to the world.

I have held you in great respect, as an elder brother. I will continue to have that respect. I can sometimes be very hard-hitting in debates but I never allow the debate to make me feel bad about the person with whom I am debating. You must have noticed that I have had debates even with my real brother, Mr Zahid Jamil.

With these words, I thank you for giving me the space in your forums for all these years and request you to kindly unsubscribe me for the future. I will no longer “jump” at you or Iftakhar and you can continue with your giving new meanings to Islam. All the best! May this world become healthier, cleaner and more peaceful in accordance with the desire of God expressed in His Final Book!

Dr Javed Jamil
~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

On Aug 4, 2009, at 7:16 AM, TSidd wrote:

Mohtram Jamil Bhai. ASA

I do appreciate your frustration as a Muslim. You have been hitting your benevolent friendly head, unfortunately, against a stubborn stony wall. But you should not stop your words of Nasiha. Please go on trying your efforts that will put some kind of restrain on his free-reigns. Some day you may be able to change his "misguided" path of self-deception which is fast tilting towards "arrogance".

Our thoughtful words of Nasiha can change his behavior and approach through our peaceful non-violent friendly "rebukes". At least we can say to Allah on the Day of Judgement to his and our Lord: "O Allah! We did our best but your salve [ABD} was full of arrogance, intoxicated with the lust of Modernism, enjoying your bounties on earth but obeying to the dictates of his whims and caprices while living under the false notion that he can deliver a new Deen. a "Cosmopolitan" life pattern to American society after your perfect Deen Al-Islam. What a self deception arrogance it is!

Mohtram Ghouse Bhai is living in the USA, a society free-for-all. He is down to earth liberal and pursuing a secular political agenda that suits all the deformed and decomposed religions of time. He is surrounded by them. He is their "Guru." Let him carry out his agenda. One day I am sure he will repent and that day is not far off. We all can encounter it any moment. The most uncertain thing that we all posses is a span of life but when it terminates we don't know at all.

Just wish him the best of luck and keep ourselves fully updated with his "achievements"


~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

In a message dated 8/4/2009 10:46:00 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, MikeGhouse writes:


Brothers Jameel and Shamim;

Thanks for sharing your frustrations, as a moderate Muslim I seek divergent opinions on any given subject at hand. One of the reasons we muslims are divisive is our inability to accept another point of view. We at WMC forum practice the god given freedom in publishing all opinions from extreme conservative to ultra liberal. Every idea of yours has been published and you will not find this on most discussion forums. No single opinion is above the other, we are equal in God's presence.

Brother shamim please don't lose your integrity by labeling me with liberal and other labels. Furthermore pl do not spread the word that I am creating another religion, it does not suit your caliber and buzurgi. Islam is my faith and it is universal enough to accomodate the essence of all goodness out there.

Javed, you can choose to remain within your circle or be open to different points of view. That is what perhaps IQRA also means. Insha Allah we will continue to bring all points of view on the subject including yours.

Jazak Allah Khair
Mike Ghouse

~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

From: TSidd
To: MikeGhouse
Sent: 8/4/2009 4:36:30 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: Re: MuslimAgenda :: Defining Islam, people of the book, Kafir etc.

Mohtram Ghouse Bhai, ASA

I don't want to argue with you and create bitterness for nothing. Just tell me if you are not "liberal"as you say what for then "liberalism" stands?

If you prefer, love the dogmas of other faiths and promote them, is it not the creation of an ultra faith equal to Akbar's Deen-e Ilahi?

I told you that if all these "Summalons" [gatherings of faiths} are for inviting them ultimately to Allah's Deen, then go ahead with my "Asherbad". If not, please don't feel ill of my comments. All are for the sake of Allah and for His pleasure.

I an not losing my "integrity" rather helping my big brother to maintain his integrity that is very much at stake and he is unmindful of what he is fast losing in the Muslim community.

Mine and Br Javed's concern about you are the same.


~~~~~~~ 0 ~~~~~~~

From Mike Ghouse
Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Brothers Shamim and Javed:

I cannot call you an extremist, because you are not.

Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji, Farzana Hasan and Asra Nomani are liberals and they are fine with that title. They reject a lot of conservative ideas. On the other hand Javed Jamil, Shamim Siddiqi and a few others are conservatives and reject every thing that is liberal.

Hasni Essa, Iftekhar Hai, Zahid Jamil, Irfan Faiz, a few others and myself are moderates because we dialogue with the conservatives, we are not 100% in tune with them, but can find sense with them.

Conservatives stick with what they are familiar with and that is the end of discussion for them.

Liberals on the other hand feel full freedom and any rejection of that ends their discussion.

Moderates on the other hand can reach out to both ends of the spectrum and are open to discussions.

Let me summarize this;

1) Liberals - reject Sharia out rightly, Hadith is not their basis and see Qur'aan as the book of guidance. Islam does not negate other faiths for them.

2) Conservatives - Stick to the Sharia dearly, Hadith is divine and Qur'aan negates all other books for them. Islam negates other faiths for them.

3) Moderates - see value in Sharia and adopt personal Sharia and adopt the civil laws of the country for justice instead of the Public version of Sharia, If Hadith is in tune with Qur’an’s universality, they will quote it; Islam does not negate other faiths for them.

I will share the difference in a more formal format in a few weeks.

Jazak Allah Khair
Mike Ghouse



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.