Friday, February 19, 2010

Can Jewish-Muslim dialogue work?

Can Jewish-Muslim dialogue work?

The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix published a letter and am glad it allowed to publish a different point of view as well. The following three letters are appended in the sequence; Cynthia Brooksworth, Dr. Jasser Zuhdi and Mike Ghouse (yet to be published).

"On Jewish-Muslim Dialogue


I found the article titled "Jewish-Muslim course uses texts to foster dialogue" (Jewish News, Feb. 12) a bit troublesome. To begin with, the author indicates that according to many Muslim scholars, Islam does not exhort Muslims to kill nonbelievers. This is blatantly untrue.

It takes very little research to find many quotes from Muhammad and the Quran that exhort the followers of Islam to "fight with the Jews 'til some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O Abdullah (slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him'" and to "make war on non-Muslims until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme."

Muhammad said: "Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war."

And Sharia Law says: "'Jihad' means to make war on non-Muslims."

There are many other such passages in the Quran and in the sayings of Muhammad that are typical of what standard Islam teaches. It's not just the murderous jihadists who follow these words. The words are those of Allah and are immutable and for all time, according to most practicing Muslims.

In order for real dialogue to take place, the offensive texts from the Quran and the sayings of Muhammad should be discussed openly, especially those that are anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-American and anti-infidel ("infidel" meaning anyone who isn't a practicing Muslim) and that exhort Muslims to kill nonbelievers. If that's what this course purports to do, I wish the teachers and students a lot of luck.

Cynthia Brooksworth


Some of us in the Valley have been doing Jewish-Muslim dialogue before it was in vogue, in fact before 9/11. Our small, local Jewish-Muslim dialogue group, the Children of Abraham, started in 2000 and continues to meet.

Rabbi Reuven Firestone's new, more ambitious efforts based in a graduate course at the University of California, Berkeley (as reported by Sue Fishkoff) seem to be headed in the right direction. But the real substance of the course will be revealed in the frankness of the dialogue between Rabbi Firestone and the interestingly unnamed Muslim scholar.

This is also, most importantly, with the assumption that they not be bogged down in tiring apologetics from the Muslim scholar, which would give students a false sense of ideological comfort.

The letter writer above dives right into the scriptural issues this type of dialogue desperately needs to address. The Islamic "scriptures" cited are radical interpretations, which radical Muslims (Wahhabis) would associate with "their" form of Islam but which are not the translations and interpretations of Muslim scripture that I learned in "my" Islam.

Yes, those excerpts do exist and do fuel global jihadists and their theo-political fascism. But the important thing is the brewing civil war within the "House of Islam" over whose interpretations will prevail.

The supremacist interpretations are real and gaining ground, but if they predominated from the faith of a quarter of the world's population, the world would have perished long ago. Each passage the letter writer cites has - and needs - an alternative interpretation and a clear rejection from modern Muslims.

For example, the so-called quotation in which the Prophet Mohammed states "And the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: 'Oh servant of Allah, Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!" is a forgery. I and many Muslims believe it was never stated by the Prophet Mohammed, regardless of what the radical imams like Yusuf Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood think.

To dismiss our evolving Muslim civil war over scriptural exegesis and authenticity in Islam and hand over the reigns of the faith to a vicious minority of radical Muslims would be to surrender.

We have a lot of work to do, and I hope and pray that some day the silent majority of Muslims wake up and convincingly demonstrate in the court of public opinion that the Bin Laden narrative is not "our Islam."

These realities can only come out in honest dialogue. If the dialogue denies the reality of radical interpretations, it will fuel dangerous apologetics. Similarly, if it exaggerates the radical narrative, it will fuel the dismissal of the most important solution to radical Islam - a modern Islam that chooses peaceful, pluralistic interpretations of scripture and history and ultimately separates mosque and state.

M. Zuhdi Jasser
President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy



Peace is the ultimate unstated goal of every faith and tradition; indeed, to be a muslim is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.

Just like Dr. Jasser, I was dismayed reading the quote ascribed to Prophet Muhammad. There is always a few among us (all of us) who find flaring conflicts as a source of livelihood and flood the market with un-verified statements, conflicts keep their business of fear monering alive.

There are several myths like that, it is time to face them squarely and adderss them. I ask the Jewish community to put every card on the table, let's find veracity to such statements and go from there. I will take up the challenge and time to address the myths, rather false myths about Islam and Quraan.

At this moment I beg apology from my Jewish, Christian, Hindu and people of other faiths for not paying attention to deliberate mis-translations of Quraan by Neocons Christians, Neocon Jews and Neocon Muslim to propagate myths about the Quraan.

Here is the link to an Apology to Jews, Christians and others

Mike Ghouse, President
World Muslim Congress,
(214) 325-1916


  1. Mike Ghouse is giving us pure Moslem propaganda. There are no "mistranslations" of the Koran by neocon Christians or Jews. The translations from which all these quotes come are all approved by the Islamic religious authorities. They are approved by the Muslim Student Association and CAIR. So, stop this deception about "mistranslations".

    Thank you for publishing Dr. Jasser's excellent letter concerning the course on Muslim-Jewish dialog in which he said that "the real substance of the course will be revealed in the frankness of the dialogue." Precisely this frankness with regard to the anti-Semitic Islamic texts is what has been missing from all Muslim-Jewish dialogues. Dr. Jasser rightly warns against apologetics from the Muslim scholar.

    Dr. Jasser errs, however, when he calls the offensive passages from the Islamic holy texts "radical interpretations." Those passages are traditional literal readings, and not interpretations at all. These literal readings are not limited to Wahhabis, but include Sunnis, in general, and Shiites, too. These readings have nothing to do with incorrect translations because the Muslim "radicals" are native speakers of Arabic and do not use translations.

    Thank you, Dr. Jasser, for acknowledging that those offensive passages exist and fuel the global jihadists. Most Muslims do not acknowledge this. Dr. Jasser says that each passage which Cynthia Brooksworth cited both "has - and needs- an alternative interpretation and a clear rejection from modern Muslims." How can these passages both "have - and need"? If they already have an alternative interpretation, they don't need it. The fact is, they do not have it; and Dr. Jasser did not offer any. We can all agree that these passages need "a clear rejection from modern Muslims." This means that, so far, modern Muslims have NOT rejected those passages.

    Dr. Jasser reproduces the genocidally anti-semitic quotation from Muhammad "And the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: 'Oh servant of Allah, Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!"; but Dr. Jasser insists that this is a forgery. The fact is that this passage from Muhammad has been considered authentic and sacred by all Muslim religious authorities for more than a thousand years! It is part of the Hamas Charter!

    Let us all join Dr. Jasser in his hope and prayer "that some day the silent majority of Muslims wake up". But, so far, they have not done so. They have not chosen "peaceful, pluralistic interpretations of scripture and history [that] ultimately separate mosque and state." And, unfortunately, there is no sign that they are about to do so.

  2. All critical comments will be published with gratitude, we all want to learn more.

    Please visit

    There are two articles about paid mistranslation by the European kings in the name of Christianity, which is an unchristian thing to do.



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.