Saturday, July 31, 2010

Burqa - Panipat to Paris

We need to be pro-choice, i.e., respecting the right of woman to make that choice and not impose on them or ban them for wearing. Who are we do that? We must honor every one's freedom to wear what they want to wear, as long as it is not obstructive to some elses' functioning. French commies want to force women not to wear whereas the Talibans force them to wear, who the heck are these idiots - Mike Ghouse

From Panipat To Par
is: Muslim Women And The Veil
Dr. Syeda Hameed

In 1947, my mother and other women of the family decided to shed the 'burqa' (veil). Our family comes from Panipat, which was at the time a flourishing district of Punjab, with a large population of Muslims. The distinguishing feature of this erudite, sufi-dominated town was the primacy of women. Our homes were known by the name of the woman of the house, for example 'Bi Maimuna ki Haveli' (much later I was pleasantly surprised to see in Marrakesh [Morocco] the same formulation: 'Riad dar Maimuna'). Their decision to remove the veil was accepted and respected by the men of my family.

The Panipat women were agents of their own fate. When several of these women reached Pakistan (per force they had to migrate) they did not revert to the veil. In either case, no one asked them to wear or remove; neither the State nor the family.

Sixty three years later, on July 13, 2010, France's lower house of Parliament voted to ban the wearing of face covering veils in public places. The vote was passed, 336 to 1, with the left parties abstaining. In its report, the French parliamentary committee said that requiring women to cover their faces was against the French Republican principles of secularism and equality - "It is a symbol of the repression of women and of extremist fundamentalism."

What is the link between Panipat and France on the issue of Muslim women and the 'burqa'?
France is the classic upholder of human rights. I, as many of my generation, grew up on stories of the French Revolution, Storming of Bastille, 'Liberty Equality, Fraternity', Montesquieu, Robespierre, Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and the ubiquitous Guillotine.

Panipat was the place where caravans of Sufi scholars migrated from Afghanistan and Iran to spread their teachings among a populace, which was ready and willing to learn. Many schools of Islamic jurisprudence flourished there; people openly debated religion and followed their own maslak, each according to his or her light.

Today, Panipat is a flourishing town where all the obvious signs of development hit you in the face. But the very fact for which it was distinctive has become its greatest bane; its neglect of gender issues has given it some of the lowest sex ratios in the country. From the high regard in which women were held, it has become the district with one of the worst CSR (Child sex ratio) in the country.

And France, the upholder of the rights of the marginalised has decreed that of the quarter million Muslim women, the 1,900 who wear the face veil will be fined $190 if they emerge in public wearing the veil. Men who force women in their family to wear full face veils will be fined $37,754 and a one-year jail term. If this Bill is cleared by the senate, it will become law of the land. In this manner, it will irretrievably 'disempower' at least some French citizens

In the 1960's when their economy was booming, France waived all visa requirements and opened its doors to immigrants from its erstwhile colonies. These immigrants contributed cheap labour to France's service industry and as is convenient and customary, were concentrated on the outskirts of the capital in ghetto settlements. They were relatively few opportunities for social and economic integration. Many of these immigrants were Muslims. It is the women from these areas, the poorest, who will be hard hit by the ban.

Muslim women in France will thus be caught between two hardships; hardship at home, where they prefer to adhere to 'traditional' dress codes for a variety of reasons, and hardship outside, where the State requires them to throw off the very same dress code. This fallout is certainly not going to fulfill the avowed objective of the French government of empowering and dignifying Muslim women.

The assumption is that Muslim women wear the 'burqa' always as a result of coercion. Such a construct strips women of all agencies. Sometimes, Muslim women choose to veil themselves not as a symbol of their religious identity (nor in protest against Western Imperialism) but because they want to become more pious. The body becomes a site for action. Is it not possible that the act of veiling is reflective of an inner dialogue with the self (whether we agree with the finer points of the dialogue is quite another matter)? Is it not a coercive State, which quells that inner dialogue? Is it also not a rather ignorant State, which interprets bodily embodiments in such simplistic ways? If a Muslim woman's conscience impels her to wear the veil as an act of piety, the veil is no longer a symbol; it becomes an integral part of her. What role does the State have in violating her integrity?

There is the story of the Muslim doctor in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). She is one of the thousands of veiled women of Europe. After she donned the 'burqa', she noticed that everyone around her became more patronising. Shop attendants spoke to her slowly, repeating words as to a child. If she went to return a faulty gadget to a shop, she was scolded by the manager for her inability to operate something 'modern.' While the manager's Islamophobic attitude will remain untouched, it is the woman who, if she stays true to herself, who will be unable to go to the shop. One of France's few Muslim politicians, senator Bariza Khairi fears that some of the women, thus targeted will withdraw into themselves, stay in the house. "Instead of doing education projects, we are doing a ban, which I regret," she said.

As a believing practicing Muslim woman, I choose not to wear the 'burqa', 'hijab' or veil. It is my choice. Islam is very clear in its injunction 'La ikrafiddin'. There is no compulsion in religion. There is no dress code in Islam. Its only injunction is that woman and man should dress in a dignified manner. I, therefore, protest any edict imposed by any body or organisation about my practice or dress code.

If a Muslim woman chooses to practice Islam within the 'hijab' she should be free to do so; if she wants to practice without the 'hijab', there should be nothing preventing her. Hazrat Ali, the 4th Caliph of Islam said: "Be wary of him/her who has nothing to lose". These women who are being deprived are the poorest Muslims; they have nothing to lose. Their sensitivities are being needled by such discriminatory legislation. The State needs to engage with those who wear the 'burqa' as well as with those who abhor the 'burqa'. A culture of engagement might be more empowering than a decontextualised recourse to human rights and secularism. The example of Panipat, that place of religious engagement and debate, is before us.

Related articles:

Burqa to no Burqa

Sick of French commies, Talibans and Iranians

Burqa Ban on Hannity and Fox News

Bikini to Burqa, which offers more

Burn the Burqa

Lifting the Veil on the Niqab

Me without my Hijab

Canada should not ban burqa

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sharia Law: Not in America

American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose the Public Sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have Public aspect of Sharia law here in America. A majority of Muslims (Moderates/Middle path that the Prophet suggested) will feel comfortable with this piece. However, a few need some time to absorb this, that is the way with the ultra-conservatives in any religion.

Sharia in its simplest form is a how-to manual based on the Qur'an and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's sayings). It is a human effort to understand the concept of justice enshrined in the Qur'an for day-to-day living. American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose the Public Sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have

Courtesy of Huffington Post

Mosque - U.S. should stand on moral high ground

Who are the folks opposing or supporting the Mosque near Ground Zero? The revelations are as clear as the day light, while the religious leaders are speaking boldly for freedom and co-existence, the right wing politicians have gone berserk and hanging on to tiny branches to save their political careers.

Published at Washington Post
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a write on Pluralism and Islam and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day; a frequent guest on the media. His work can be found in three websites and 22 blogs listed at



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bikini or headscarf -- which offers more freedom?

We need to be pro-choice, i.e., respecting the right of woman to make that choice and not impose on them or ban them for wearing. Who are we do that? We must honor every one's freedom to wear what they want to wear, as long as it is not obstructive to some elses' functioning. French commies want to force women not to wear whereas the Talibans force them to wear, who the heck are these idiots

The article below is a fascinating read. I am not in favor of either Bikini or head scarf, it should be the wearers comfort and choice and thank God for keeping me away from judgments about others. Her descriptive style of writing makes you imagine the reality as though you are watching a movie. I have not been glued to a story like this for a while. This was an enlightening article and I hope it takes you through your own biases and how you may over come them.

She is moving forward like a thoughtful person goes through every act of life...being aware of her surroundings and her own feelings. I resisted the temptations to be opinionated or judgmental; I wanted to feel her philosophical leanings as she was moving with the narration and I enjoyed reading this thoroughly.

A few years ago, my late wife threatened me that she is going to wear Hijab (the kind the girl in the picture is wearing) instinctively, I was going to say, "No", then the free person in me said, "Who the hell are you to tell her what to wear or not" then I reminisced, "it's her sense of comfort". I asked again, how can one be comfortable? Then I found the answer, she liked her steak well done, where as mine is medium rare... always pondered how can she eat that, then it made me shut up, as she could say the same thing to me.

It is the freedom and one's choice. It was this thought in me that ridiculed the French government, "who the xxck are they to tell a woman what she can wear" and "who the xxck are the Talibans to tell a woman to wear the Burqa". A woman has a right to be comfortable with what she wears, believes or eats and we need to resist the idea of imposing our way of life on the other.

I have been around a lot of women from Burqa clad to head scarf and in between, and the ones with bikini to bare. I feel really good for being non-judgmental about them, and am blessed that the question, “how can they….does not even pop any more. I feel freedom in it that I am not biased towards the person in what s/he wears, and believes or eats.

On the issue of Hijab, we need to learn to be pro-choice, the format of Hijab that Muslim women wear has evolved culturally and has become a part of it. Shamefully a small percentage of women (compared to the population) are forced to wear as in the case of Aghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and pockets of Muslims around the world. Whereas the Muslim girls in the west, like the girl in the example are wearing out of free will and some are wearing out of peer pressure. Whatever it is, let it be her choice.

In one of the examples I had written in an article was about the “threshold of bashfulness”. It is a rear case that a visiting mother from India, Pakistan or other places would eagerly switch from her Saree/ shalwar kameez to a skirt. She will not only refuse but will feel sad that you even suggested her to wear “that”. Your daughter would not wear mini-skirts to the church; that is your threshold.

Hijab is not a religious requirement; it is cultural attire and deeply embedded in our psyche and you simply cannot change it. It is as deep as saying thank when someone praises you. You must be comfortable telling some one to go hide where the sun don’t shine, if they tell you that they don’t like the way you talk, smile or curves of your body…. We have to get over our prejudices against the otherness of other, and then we can truly achieve civility in our society, where one is free with herself or himself and non-judgmental about others. We must stand up against oppression and stand with freedom.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day; a frequent guest on the media. His work can be found in three websites and 22 blogs listed at

Bikini or headscarf -- which offers more freedom?

Posted: 24 Jul 2010 06:49 AM PDT

Krista Bremer holds her daughter Aliya in the scarf the child decided she wanted to wear.
Krista Bremer holds her daughter Aliya in the scarf the child decided she wanted to wear.

Nine years ago, I danced my newborn daughter around my North Carolina living room to the music of "Free to Be...You and Me", the '70s children's classic whose every lyric about tolerance and gender equality I had memorized as a girl growing up in California.

My Libyan-born husband, Ismail, sat with her for hours on our screened porch, swaying back and forth on a creaky metal rocker and singing old Arabic folk songs, and took her to a Muslim sheikh who chanted a prayer for long life into her tiny, velvety ear.

She had espresso eyes and lush black lashes like her father's, and her milky-brown skin darkened quickly in the summer sun. We named her Aliya, which means "exalted" in Arabic, and agreed we would raise her to choose what she identified with most from our dramatically different backgrounds.

I secretly felt smug about this agreement -- confident that she would favor my comfortable American lifestyle over his modest Muslim upbringing. Ismail's parents live in a squat stone house down a winding dirt alley outside Tripoli. Its walls are bare except for passages from the Quran engraved onto wood, its floors empty but for thin cushions that double as bedding at night.

My parents live in a sprawling home in Santa Fe with a three-car garage, hundreds of channels on the flat-screen TV, organic food in the refrigerator, and a closetful of toys for the grandchildren.

I imagined Aliya embracing shopping trips to Whole Foods and the stack of presents under the Christmas tree, while still fully appreciating the melodic sound of Arabic, the honey-soaked baklava Ismail makes from scratch, the intricate henna tattoos her aunt drew on her feet when we visited Libya. Not once did I imagine her falling for the head covering worn by Muslim girls as an expression of modesty.

Last summer we were celebrating the end of Ramadan with our Muslim community at a festival in the parking lot behind our local mosque. Children bounced in inflatable fun houses while their parents sat beneath a plastic tarp nearby, shooing flies from plates of curried chicken, golden rice, and baklava.

Aliya and I wandered past rows of vendors selling prayer mats, henna tattoos, and Muslim clothing. When we reached a table displaying head coverings, Aliya turned to me and pleaded, "Please, Mom -- can I have one?"

She riffled through neatly folded stacks of headscarves while the vendor, an African-American woman shrouded in black, beamed at her. I had recently seen Aliya cast admiring glances at Muslim girls her age.

I quietly pitied them, covered in floor-length skirts and long sleeves on even the hottest summer days, as my best childhood memories were of my skin laid bare to the sun: feeling the grass between my toes as I ran through the sprinkler on my front lawn; wading into an icy river in Idaho, my shorts hitched up my thighs, to catch my first rainbow trout; surfing a rolling emerald wave off the coast of Hawaii. But Aliya envied these girls and had asked me to buy her clothes like theirs. And now a headscarf.

In the past, my excuse was that they were hard to find at our local mall, but here she was, offering to spend ten dollars from her own allowance to buy the forest green rayon one she clutched in her hand. I started to shake my head emphatically "no," but caught myself, remembering my commitment to Ismail. So I gritted my teeth and bought it, assuming it would soon be forgotten.

That afternoon, as I was leaving for the grocery store, Aliya called out from her room that she wanted to come.

A moment later she appeared at the top of the stairs -- or more accurately, half of her did. From the waist down, she was my daughter: sneakers, bright socks, jeans a little threadbare at the knees. But from the waist up, this girl was a stranger. Her bright, round face was suspended in a tent of dark cloth like a moon in a starless sky.

"Are you going to wear that?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said slowly, in that tone she had recently begun to use with me when I state the obvious.

On the way to the store, I stole glances at her in my rearview mirror. She stared out the window in silence, appearing as aloof and unconcerned as a Muslim dignitary visiting our small Southern town -- I, merely her chauffeur.

I bit my lip. I wanted to ask her to remove her head covering before she got out of the car, but I couldn't think of a single logical reason why, except that the sight of it made my blood pressure rise. I'd always encouraged her to express her individuality and to resist peer pressure, but now I felt as self-conscious and claustrophobic as if I were wearing that headscarf myself.

In the Food Lion parking lot, the heavy summer air smothered my skin. I gathered the damp hair on my neck into a ponytail, but Aliya seemed unfazed by the heat. We must have looked like an odd pair: a tall blonde woman in a tank top and jeans cupping the hand of a four-foot-tall Muslim. I drew my daughter closer and the skin on my bare arms prickled -- as much from protective instinct as from the blast of refrigerated air that hit me as I entered the store.
As we maneuvered our cart down the aisles, shoppers glanced at us like we were a riddle they couldn't quite solve, quickly dropping their gaze when I caught their eye.

In the produce aisle, a woman reaching for an apple fixed me with an overly bright, solicitous smile that said "I embrace diversity and I am perfectly fine with your child." She looked so earnest, so painfully eager to put me at ease, that I suddenly understood how it must feel to have a child with an obvious disability, and all the curiosity or unwelcome sympathies from strangers it evokes.

At the checkout line, an elderly Southern woman clasped her bony hands together and bent slowly down toward Aliya. "My, my," she drawled, wobbling her head in disbelief. "Don't you look absolutely precious!" My daughter smiled politely, then turned to ask me for a pack of gum.
In the following days, Aliya wore her headscarf to the breakfast table over her pajamas, to a Muslim gathering where she was showered with compliments, and to the park, where the moms with whom I chatted on the bench studiously avoided mentioning it altogether.

Later that week, at our local pool, I watched a girl only a few years older than Aliya play Ping-Pong with a boy her age. She was caught in that awkward territory between childhood and adolescence -- narrow hips, skinny legs, the slightest swelling of new breasts -- and she wore a string bikini.

Her opponent wore an oversize T-shirt and baggy trunks that fell below his knees, and when he slammed the ball at her, she lunged for it while trying with one hand to keep the slippery strips of spandex in place. I wanted to offer her a towel to wrap around her hips, so she could lose herself in the contest and feel the exhilaration of making a perfect shot.

It was easy to see why she was getting demolished at this game: Her near-naked body was consuming her focus. And in her pained expression I recognized the familiar mix of shame and excitement I felt when I first wore a bikini.

At 14, I skittered down the halls of high school like a squirrel in traffic: hugging the walls, changing direction in midstream, darting for cover. Then I went to Los Angeles to visit my aunt Mary during winter break. Mary collected mermaids, kept a black-and-white photo of her long-haired Indian guru on her dresser, and shopped at a tiny health food store that smelled of patchouli and peanut butter. She took me to Venice Beach, where I bought a cheap bikini from a street vendor.

Dizzy with the promise of an impossibly bright afternoon, I thought I could be someone else -- glistening and proud like the greased-up bodybuilders on the lawn, relaxed and unself-conscious as the hippies who lounged on the pavement with lit incense tucked behind their ears. In a beachside bathroom with gritty cement floors, I changed into my new two-piece suit.

Goose bumps spread across my chubby white tummy and the downy white hairs on my thighs stood on end -- I felt as raw and exposed as a turtle stripped of its shell. And when I left the bathroom, the stares of men seemed to pin me in one spot even as I walked by.

In spite of a strange and mounting sense of shame, I was riveted by their smirking faces; in their suggestive expressions I thought I glimpsed some vital clue to the mystery of myself. What did these men see in me -- what was this strange power surging between us, this rapidly shifting current that one moment made me feel powerful and the next unspeakably vulnerable?

I imagined Aliya in a string bikini in a few years. Then I imagined her draped in Muslim attire. It was hard to say which image was more unsettling. I thought then of something a Sufi Muslim friend had told me: that Sufis believe our essence radiates beyond our physical bodies -- that we have a sort of energetic second skin, which is extremely sensitive and permeable to everyone we encounter. Muslim men and women wear modest clothing, she said, to protect this charged space between them and the world.

Growing up in the '70s in Southern California, I had learned that freedom for women meant, among other things, fewer clothes, and that women could be anything -- and still look good in a bikini. Exploring my physical freedom had been an important part of my process of self-discovery, but the exposure had come at a price.

Since that day in Venice Beach, I'd spent years learning to swim in the turbulent currents of attraction -- wanting to be desired, resisting others' unwelcome advances, plumbing the mysterious depths of my own longing.

I'd spent countless hours studying my reflection in the mirror -- admiring it, hating it, wondering what others thought of it -- and it sometimes seemed to me that if I had applied the same relentless scrutiny to another subject I could have become enlightened, written a novel, or at least figured out how to grow an organic vegetable garden.

On a recent Saturday morning, in the crowded dressing room of a large department store, I tried on designer jeans alongside college girls in stiletto heels, young mothers with babies fussing in their strollers, and middle-aged women with glossed lips pursed into frowns. One by one we filed into changing rooms, then lined up to take our turn on a brightly lit pedestal surrounded by mirrors, cocking our hips and sucking in our tummies and craning our necks to stare at our rear ends.

When it was my turn, my heart felt as tight in my chest as my legs did in the jeans. My face looked drawn under the fluorescent lights, and suddenly I was exhausted by all the years I'd spent doggedly chasing the carrot of self-improvement, while dragging behind me a heavy cart of self-criticism.

At this stage in her life, Aliya is captivated by the world around her -- not by what she sees in the mirror. Last summer she stood at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway, stared at the blue-black outline of the mountains in the distance, their tips swaddled by cottony clouds, and gasped. "This is the most beautiful thing I ever saw," she whispered. Her wide-open eyes were a mirror of all that beauty, and she stood so still that she blended into the lush landscape, until finally we broke her reverie by tugging at her arm and pulling her back to the car.

At school it's different. In her fourth-grade class, girls already draw a connection between clothing and popularity. A few weeks ago, her voice rose in anger as she told me about a classmate who had ranked all the girls in class according to how stylish they were.

I understood then that while physical exposure had liberated me in some ways, Aliya could discover an entirely different type of freedom by choosing to cover herself.

I have no idea how long Aliya's interest in Muslim clothing will last. If she chooses to embrace Islam, I trust the faith will bring her tolerance, humility, and a sense of justice -- the way it has done for her father. And because I have a strong desire to protect her, I will also worry that her choice could make life in her own country difficult. She has recently memorized the fatiha, the opening verse of the Quran, and she is pressing her father to teach her Arabic. She's also becoming an agile mountain biker who rides with me on wooded trails, mud spraying her calves as she navigates the swollen creek.

The other day, when I dropped her off at school, instead of driving away from the curb in a rush as I usually do, I watched her walk into a crowd of kids, bent forward under the weight of her backpack as if she were bracing against a storm. She moved purposefully, in such a solitary way -- so different from the way I was at her age, and I realized once again how mysterious she is to me.

It's not just her head covering that makes her so: It's her lack of concern for what others think about her. It's finding her stash of Halloween candy untouched in her drawer, while I was a child obsessed with sweets. It's the fact that she would rather dive into a book than into the ocean -- that she gets so consumed with her reading that she can't hear me calling her from the next room.

I watched her kneel at the entryway to her school and pull a neatly folded cloth from the front of her pack, where other kids stash bubble gum or lip gloss. Then she slipped it over her head, and her shoulders disappeared beneath it like the cape her younger brother wears when he pretends to be a superhero.

As I pulled away from the curb, I imagined that headscarf having magical powers to protect her boundless imagination, her keen perception, and her unself-conscious goodness. I imagined it shielding her as she journeys through that house of mirrors where so many young women get trapped in adolescence, buffering her from the dissatisfaction that clings in spite of the growing number of choices at our fingertips, providing safe cover as she takes flight into a future I can only imagine.

By Krista Bremer, who is the winner of a 2008 Pushcart Prize and a 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. She is associate publisher of the literary magazine The Sun, and she is writing a memoir about her bicultural marriage.

This article First appeared on: O, The Oprah Magazine

Unity Day USA - 6th Annual Event

We are pleased to invite you to Unity Day USA; a purposeful event to bring Americans together. The idea for Unity Day USA was first conceived on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and took its current form on Sunday, September 11, 2005. We cannot let things happen and drift into the abyss of incoherence. It is an initiative to come together to stand up for the safety, security and cohesiveness of America.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Themes for the Parliament of Worlds Religions in 2014

The theme that might capture our imagination and encapsulate our issues in 2014 would be, “A legacy for the next generation” or “A legacy for seven generations.” It is not a new idea; it is a tradition of the native peoples of America.The issues that affect our lives in the coming decade will continue to be environment, water, hunger, religious and ethnic intolerance. If we shy away from consciously shaping our future, we may drift into the abyss of incoherence. We may be fighting against deeply entrenched positions rather than finding solutions to the common issues.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero religious freedom too far?

Thanks to Dallas Morning News for presenting different points of view. Our own Rabbis and Pastors have spoken respectfully.

Indeed, it is another opportunity to the world to see what we are made of; the world will see the spirit of our freedom and who we are, we are open to others, our freedom does not scare us, we are secure with ourselves and secure with the God given diversity; and we live with confidence of who we are.

We set the tone for the world, so other nations can emulate us and not the other way around.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Imam Hussain- The epitome of justice and tolerance

Today (Shaban 3rd) is the birthday of the blessed one; Imam Hussain ibn Ali. He was the grand son of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and son of the 4th rightly guided Caliph Hazrat Ali (ra) and Bibi Fatima (ra), the cherished and honored woman on the earth after Mother Mary (Mother of Jesus).

Imam Hussain remains an icon of principles in the Islamic world. He refused to surrender to the unjust ruler Yazid, who destroyed the concept of leadership through consensual democracy and began a spiritually destructive greedy dynasty. However, the sacrifice of Imam Hussain is looked up as the revival of the faith and justice, as encapsulated in a couplet in Urdu language, “Islam zinda hota hai, her karbala ke baad”.

Here is an article written by my facebook friend Syed Hassan Kazim, who wrote this nearly an year ago for ''Hindustan Times''. He discloses, “it is not completely mine as I have used some quotations from some historical figures also regarding Imam Hussain(as) and his martyrdom.”

The best thing you can do as a Muslim or not a Muslim is to reflect on the people who stood up for justice and righteousness and pay homage to the soul of Imam Hussain.


Mike Ghouse

Imam Hussain- The epitome of justice and tolerance

He gave his head but not his hand of allegiance in the hand of Yazid

The Holy Prophet every now and then insisted his Umma not to forget Hussain. This insistence of Prophet Mohammad shows that those who will forget Karbala and the Martyrdom of Hussain will cause compromises in his mission. The so called custodians of Islam or the radicals who are killing innocents in the name of Islam have forgotten Imam Hussain and the basic tenets of Islam just as the zealots who went on massacring thousands in Gujarat in the name of a peaceful religion like Hinduism forgetting the tolerance taught by Rama, the Hindu representation of God.

It's most important today to tell the people about the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his mission which will let them realise that the people who every now and then commit the barbaric acts of terrorism and call themselves Muslims are just terrorists and the majority of world's Muslims think these acts as going against all the ideals and principles of Islam.

Imam Hussain demarcated the truth from the falsehood forever when he said to the ambassador of Yazid ," A person like me would not give the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid.", which means that the good or the truth cannot be bowed down by the falsehood or evil, no matter how powerful is the tyrant or the dictator.

Imam fought the battle with Yazid on the spiritual plane, he opposed Yazid's might with his nobility of character, confronted power with powerlessness, met multitudes with want of material support and defied oppression with suffering and martyrdom. It has been more than 1400 years since the battle of Karbala was fought, but even after centuries is remembered with unmatchable enthusiasm.

While I was in my hometown Muzaffarpur in Bihar on the 10th day of Muharram which is called Aashura, I got in touch with a police officer who was offering flowers at the Karbala there. On being asked the reason behind his attachment with Imam Hussain's cause he replied," Please do not think that remembering the sacrifice of Imam Hussain is a copyright of Muslims only. Imam Hussain's martyrdom has given voices to the voiceless. His sacrifice was the ultimate level of tolerance and non-violence in which after losing every one of his companions and his family members he stood firm on the path of righteousness. We remember him because he is worth remembering."

In a sermon while proceeding towards Karbala Imam Hussain said to his followers," O' people The Prophet of Islam has said that if a person sees a tyrannical ruler transgressing against Allah and oppressing people, but does nothing by word or action to change the situation, then it will be just to God to place him where he deservingly belongs. Do you not see to what low level the affairs have come to…. Do you not observe that the truth has not adhered and falsehood has no limits? And as for me, I look upon death but a means of attaining martyrdom. I consider life among transgressors an agony and affliction."

About 1200 years later Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in which he said," To suffer in solace while they should protest makes cowards of men." These words of Abraham Lincoln reflect exactly what Imam said some 1200 years ago that oppressors and transgressors from the true path of justice would emerge all the time. If there remains no one on the earth to object over there transgressions that they will go unchecked. One should always point out to these tyrants of the right path of justice. This is the lesson we learn from Imam Hussain.

Hussain was a spiritual superpower that is an icon not only for the Muslims but also for each and every person with whom injustice is being done in whatever form, no matter to which religion he belongs. Nearly each and every revolution of the world got inspiration from the martyrdom of Imam Hussein.

The tragedy of Karbala took place some 1400 years back but Karbala has a universal appeal and in today's climate of violence, terrorism and communalism, it is more relevant than ever.

While addressing the enemy in Karbala Imam said one of the most inspiring words ever been said, “If you do not have religion, at least be a free man in your life of this world." because a free man can differentiate between the good and evil more easily than a biased one.

The mission of Hussain did not and could not come to an end just by the martyrdom of 72 individuals, it's everlasting, acting as a catalyst in nearly every age, era and place. Today at the remotest corners of the globe the tragedy of Karbala is remembered.

Imam Hussain raised Islam to its purest form by not letting evils to distort, corrupt or insult and destroy a peaceful religion like Islam, a non violent resistance. He taught us not to take life but sacrificing one's life in the path of truth and righteousness.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Imamat day to HH Aga Khan

The Aga Khan strongly believes and practices in serving the humanity, as it is a strong component of Islamic tradition called Huqooqul Ibad, the rights of fellow beings. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said the best among you is the one who sees to it that his neighbor is fed and cared for. Imam Hazrat Ali (ra), the 4th rightly guided Caliph (Leader) who succeeded Prophet Muhammad in providing the leadership to the Muslim community says, "The best man is he who is most serviceable to fellow humans."

Dallas, Texas. Sunday, July 11, 2010.

53 Years ago today, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan was appointed to become the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III.

Since then, every year on that day and the week around it, the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims celebrate the day called the “Imamat Day” and the week of “Khushali” peace and prosperity. The Imam, in their spiritual tradition of 1400 years is called Hazar Imam, the current Imam.

Per the tradition he interprets the Quraan for daily living to his 15 million plus followers spread out across the world. He has fulfilled his role as the spiritual leader in guiding the community to prosperity and living a responsible life in the societies they live.

In gratitude for his continued guidance, the Ismaili Muslims celebrate this week honoring him and reaffirming his leadership with a renewed commitment to serving the humanity.

The Aga Khan strongly believes and practices in serving the humanity, as it is a strong component of Islamic tradition called Huqooqul Ibad, the rights of fellow beings. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said the best among you is the one sees to it that his neighbor is fed and cared for. Hazrat Ali, the 4th rightly guided Caliph (Leader) who succeeded Prophet Muhammad in providing the leadership to the Muslim community says, "The best man is he who is most serviceable to fellow humans."

One of the sayings of Hazrat Ali that resonates with me on a daily basis is, “A wise man needs each day an hour to set apart in which to examine his conscience, and measure what he as gained or lost”. My Maternal Grand father Shaikh Hussain said “if you attend a funeral of a stranger to match each wedding you attend of a friend, the contrast will straighten you out to become a humble servant of humanity known as Khaksar.”

Both Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Hazrat Ali (ra) had continuously advocated living in a moderation and a mid path between the worldly and spiritual needs. The Aga Khan has fine tuned that balance between living for oneself materially and living for the others spiritually and has founded the Aga Khan Development Network that is committed to serving the humanity without regard to faith, origin or gender. I believe AKDN ( is one of the largest Non Governmental bodies serving humanity to stand on their own feet.

We wish a very happy Imamat day and Khushali to the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and blessing of long life to the Hazar Imam HH Karim Aga Khan. Amen!


PN: I have been sharing the essence of celebrations and commemorations of every religious and cultural traditions under the title "Festivals of the world" for over 15 years now under the banner of Foundation for Pluralism. I don't write/speak on every one of the events, but surely make an attempt to do as many as I can in the time I have avaialable to me in a given day. The idea is for us to know a little bit about each other, as it paves the way to greater understanding and a cohesive life.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India, Peace and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and is a frequent guest on the media. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Muslim acts of heroism during Holocaust

If I were to define Islam in another word, it would be justness or justice. The Muslims in Dallas have taken the initiative to commemorate and reflect on Holocaust and Genocides for three years now.
Mike Ghouse
July 7, 110 Wednesday 4 Av 3870 10:31 IST

Photo by: Courtesy
New booklet reveals Muslim acts of heroism during Holocaust

"The Role of Righteous Muslim Persons," initiated by Faith Matters, an interfaith organization.

LONDON – A new publication highlighting Muslim acts of heroism during the Holocaust will be published on Wednesday, chronicling the role played by Muslims who defended Jews during World War II.

The 34-page booklet, titled "The Role of Righteous Muslim Persons," was initiated by Faith Matters, a London-based interfaith organization that works toward reducing extremism and fostering social cohesion in the UK. The aim of the booklet is to inform religious communities and the general public about the littleknown stories of courageous Muslims who stood up against injustice, protecting Jews during the Holocaust.

Guided by their Muslim faith and personal desire to do what was right, they protected and saved the lives of many potential victims. The publication also aims to counter the narrative that no Muslims played a part in the defense of Jewish communities during the War.

The work focuses on people deemed "Righteous Gentiles" by Jerusalem's Yad Vashem and highlights the role played by individuals, families and communities in countries such as Albania, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In Albania, Jews were not victims of the Nazis because of a national code of honor called "Besa," a desire to help those in need, even those of another faith or origin.

The booklet also tells the story of Muslim lawyer Khaled Mahameed, founder and curator of the first Arab Holocaust museum in Nazareth, who believes that by understanding such atrocities, one can stand up for justice and equality.

"This booklet is needed now more than ever, especially when there is very little in the public domain about the role that Muslim communities played in the Holocaust, as well as numerous articles and Web sites which repeat the mantra that Muslim communities are overwhelmingly negative in their thoughts and views about the Holocaust," said Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters and editor of the booklet.

"It highlights the noble deeds and courageous acts carried out by Muslims towards their Jewish neighbors, and I hope that faith communities will use the booklet as a tool to encourage greater understanding and respect towards each other," he added.

"It is important to remember and learn from the actions of brave people who risked their lives to save others during the Holocaust," said Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust. "These stories of individuals who faced great dangers to help Jewish people are inspirational."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Standing up for Jews, Gays and Mexicans, why should you?

Pastor Fred Phelps is staging protest against Jews, Gays and Lesbians and the Mexicans right here in Dallas, Texas. Here is an opportunity for you to stand up for the rights of others and add purpose in life. Join us for goodwill prayers and hope the positive energy will open people’s hearts and minds towards each other, leading to appreciating the value of living in harmony. - Mike Ghouse

Action items

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sick of French Commies, Talibans & Iranian Clergy

On one hand we have the French commies and Turkish intolerant who want to tell a woman what she can wear or not wear; on the other hand we have the Talibans, Wahhabi and Ayatollavi clergy telling and forcing a woman what to wear. Similar intolerance is propagated by a few right winger rogues in America.

Who the xxck are the these men to tell what a woman should wear or not wear? It is time we all stand up for women's right to choose and let's learn to live and let live, let's be pro-choice when it comes to the veil. God guides a woman in Quraan to do what is right, and if the husband tells her to the contrary, she has a right to do the right thing and take a walk than put up with it.

Women are indeed putting up with it, is there a race, ethnic, religious, cultural or nationalistic group that does not oppress women? In most of the countries women are economically and socially dependent on men shamelessly take advantage of it.

Google it, no one is capable of casting the fist stone. It is time we stand up for the rights of women and just tell the guys to behave.

The Tehran News paper had published two of my articles before, and I hope to write to them and encourage sensitive peole to bring some sanity to these injustices.

Iranian clerics lash out on veiling

One top leader criticizes Ahmadinejad for suggesting a cultural campaign would better address the issue of 'badly-veiled women,' not morality police.

Young women argue with a conservative man about women's rights at a rally in Tehran. Morality police are cracking down against a trend of looser, less strict head scarves and tight overcoats. (Patrick Baz, AFP/Getty Images / June 21, 2005)

Iranian clerics lash out on veiling

One top leader criticizes Ahmadinejad for suggesting a cultural campaign would better address the issue of 'badly-veiled women,' not morality police.
By Meris Lutz, Special to the Los Angeles Times
June 19, 2010

Reporting from Beirut
Hard-line Iranian clerics determined to reverse the trend of what they regard as "badly veiled women" took aim Friday at an unlikely target: conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In a televised interview last week, Ahmadinejad suggested a "cultural campaign" against interpretations of Islamic dress that have been deemed improper by authorities rather than the humiliating high-profile police crackdown already underway.

His comments came weeks after law enforcement agencies stepped up efforts to curb what many within the regime see as a threat to the ruling ideology. Morality police have been stopping cars carrying women and shutting down stores that sell clothing considered immodest.

But Guardian Council chief Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told worshipers during his Friday sermon that to stay silent on the issue of improper hijab, or veil, amounts to a mortal sin. He likened women whose hair peaks out from under their scarves to hardened criminals.

"Drug traffickers are hanged, terrorists are executed and robbers are punished for their crimes, but when it comes to the law of God, which is above human rights, [some individuals] stay put and speak about cultural programs," Jannati said, referring to Ahmadinejad.

"Shall we let badly-veiled women be free in the society corrupt our youth?" he added.

Jannati called on other clergy in Iran to join his campaign, and at least some were heeding the message. In the city of Mashhad, Ayatollah Ahmad Alam Hoda said that improperly veiled women represent "a corrupt minority."
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Related articles:

Burqa to no Burqa

Sick of French commies, Talibans and Iranians

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FOX TV, Sean Hannity and Mike Ghouse about NASA tonight

I am preparing a few talking points and request you to give me short sentences and phrases to talk about this tonight Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at Sean Hannity Show on Fox News. I am particularly requesting my friends from native traditions to share their perspective.

Daniel Pipes will be opposing it and I will be supporting this intiaitive.

" NASA has outreached Russia, China, Israel, India and Saudi Arabia to put their astronauts on the space mission, let the world come together on science and exploration"

"Religion is the biggest influence in one's life, it is time we give some weight to religion, and bring aboard Muslims, Native Americans, Hindus, Bahais, Jews, Christians, Buddhist and others to be a part of creating a better world, better world through science and research"

" We Americans have borne the cost of NASA, it is time we invite others to join us and share those costs, Obama is damn smart to look at this, let the Muslims focus on science and let their monies be spent on good things.."

"What's wrong in getting every one involved in doing things that benefit the humanity?"

" Creating a peaceful world should be our goal, where every one is a partner, particularly the ones who are marginalized, get people involved and the positve change"

" I know Daniel will not be playing the old record unlike Brigette, let's hear fresh perspectives, we owe it to the American people to give different perspectives"

One liners shared by my friends:

Khalid Ibrahim

Griffin himself has indicated that "NASA has always played an important, but indirect, role in diplomacy". “I have championed the use of NASA as a powerful diplomatic and inspirational tool for U.S. policy writ large,”

“But the way NASA achieves those goals is by doing great things. NASA does those things that make people all over the world say... See More, ‘Wow.’ If NASA is making people say, ‘Wow,’ then they want to be part of what we do. "

So what is the problem? I presume Bolden is going to be doing just that. All is he is doing is helping people in Muslim realize that they can be partners in Americas space exploration. When people realize they can be partners with the US, they are not as antagonized as they are by our one-sided policy in the Middle East.


Sutton Laurus

NASA has always been a de-facto branch of the military and a de-facto branch of the state department. NASA was designed to be a tool of the government that happened to focus on space. Nothing wrong with that.

Islamist radicals are ultimately motivated by a perceived struggle against the inexorable encroachment of global ecumenism. NASA wonks have ... See Morealways been futurists with a "we-are-all-God's-children-on-spaceship-earth" mentality. While NASA looks to the heavens, Islamist radicals want to drag civilization back into caves. NASA is all about the long term survival of the human race and the empowerment of the human spirit. Islamist radicals worship death and want to trigger the apocalypse.

It's in the interests of not just our national security - but the interests of the world - that Islamist radicalism is defeated and Islamic pluralism encouraged. Seeing Muslims enthusiastically cooperate with the technological spearhead of a hated superpower is a great way to take the winds out of the sails of nihilistic lunatics who believe that the end times will be fought with bows and arrows.


Roop Gujral

God Almighty is one and any research aimed at fact finding and for over all human advancement and benefit is something which immensely pleases almighty for sure...irrespective of the faith of the researcher...


Khurshid Qureshi

International Space Station helped to cool down rhetoric of the Cold War. Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts worked side by side and found out that the Russians were as as human beings as Americans. If Pakistan can develop nuclear and rocket technology, they can also be partner in developing space ship. Invitation to a Iranian pilot to take part in training can change the relations overnight. Good Luck.


Khalid Ibrahim

Would Pipes prefer that the US have an antaganostic or a friendly relationship with the Arab world? Also as the saying goes "you attract a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar"


Sutton Laurus

That YouTube thing was meant as a joke, but I could see a good point being raised. He's a hardcore Israel supporter, and Israeli space tech has rightfully been the pride of his people, as the Nobel roster would show.

Why would he have a problem with Muslims celebrating their contributions to the field of space, especially if it's used as an ideological weapon against the likes of al-Qaeda?


Sutton Laurus

The 2003 NASA Columbia disaster saw the loss of an Israeli pilot, who was aboard the flight when it happened. That was a joint US-Israeli endeavor used to bolster relations. Typical NASA fare.

Pipe's schtick is about fighting the Islamist ideology. He's complaining against using NASA as a means to that end, when NASA has always been (appropriately) used for ideological struggles.


Hadi Jawad

First of all congratulations! Here are a couple of points I would like to offer:

1 We must remember space is the heritage of all mankind not just the rich and powerful nations. Let us use space for the betterment of all!

2. Let us not militarize space, let us keep all weapons, defensive and offensive, out of space. In fact let us declare space a "weapon free zone"!

Best wishes and good luck!


Wasim Khan



(Above lines are bolded for ease to stick in your memory)

I did not get to go on the TV tonite;

Our Mission at the World Muslim Congress is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it.

Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.

Thank you

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India, Peace and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day and is a frequent guest on the media. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at


NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

"When I became the NASA administrator -- or before I became the NASA administrator -- he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering," Bolden said in the interview.

The NASA administrator was in the Middle East last month marking the one-year anniversary since Obama delivered an address to Muslim nations in Cairo. Bolden spoke in June at the American University in Cairo -- in his interview with Al Jazeera, he described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.

"It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations)," he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.

However, Bolden denied the suggestion that he was on a diplomatic mission -- in a distinctly non-diplomatic role.

"Not at all. It's not a diplomatic anything," he said.

He said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help.

Bolden has faced criticism this year for overseeing the cancellation of the agency's Constellation program, which was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon. Stressing the importance of international cooperation in future missions, Bolden told Al Jazeera that the moon, Mars and asteroids are still planned destinations for NASA.

Science as a shaper of global diplomacy,0,5623528.story?track=rss

The U.S., admired worldwide for its leadership in technology, should pursue science diplomacy with Muslim-majority countries. Such a policy could complement efforts to promote human rights.

Ahmed Zewail

June 27, 2010
E-mail Print Share Text Size la-oe-zewail-science-20100627

In today's world, America's soft power is commonly thought to reside in the global popularity of Hollywood movies, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Starbucks. But the facts tell a different story. In a recent poll involving 43 countries, 79% of respondents said that what they most admire about the United States is its leadership in science and technology. The artifacts of the American entertainment industry came in a distant second. In the 1970s, what I, as a young foreign student studying in the United States, found most dynamic, exciting and impressive about this country is what much of the world continues to value most about the U.S. today: its open intellectual culture, its great universities, its capacity for discovery and innovation.

By harnessing the soft power of science in the service of diplomacy, the U.S. can demonstrate its desire to bring the best of its culture and heritage to bear on building better and broader relations with the Muslim world and beyond.

I felt the full force of this soft power when I came to the United States from Egypt in 1969 to begin graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. I discovered how science is truly a universal language, one that forges new connections among individuals and opens the mind to ideas that go far beyond the classroom. My education here instilled in me greater appreciation for the value of scholarly discourse and the use of the scientific method in dealing with complex issues. It sowed, then nurtured, new seeds of political and cultural tolerance.

But perhaps most significant was that I came to appreciate the extent to which science embodies the core values of what the American founders called "the rights of man" as set forth in the U.S. Constitution:

Freedom of thought and speech, which are essential to creative advancement in the sciences; and the commitment to equality of opportunity, because scientific achievement is blind to ethnicity, race or cultural background.

In January, appointed by President Obama as America's first science envoy to the Middle East, I embarked on a diplomatic tour that took me to Egypt, Turkey and Qatar. I met with officials from all levels of government and the educational system, as well as with economists, industrialists, writers, publishers and media representatives. What I learned during these visits was cause for some alarm, but also for considerable optimism.

The alarming aspect comes from the fact that education in many Muslim-majority countries now seriously lags behind international standards. Deficiencies in education, together with widespread economic hardship and the lack of job opportunities for young people, are sources of frustration and despair in many Muslim societies. They are rooted largely in poor governance and growing corruption, compounded by overpopulation and by movement away from the enlightened education I was fortunate enough to enjoy in Egypt in the 1960s.

Yet there are many positive signs as well. Muslim-majority countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are making significant strides in education and in technical and economic development. Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco and Indonesia are examples of countries still rich with youthful talents. Nor is this transfer of wealth and learning flowing exclusively from the West to the East. Today there are many Muslims in the West who have excelled in all fields of endeavor. These accomplishments and the values they represent can help the Muslim world recover its venerable heritage as a leader in science by complementing local efforts and aspirations.

It is certainly in the best interests of the United States to foster relations with moderate majorities who today often find themselves locked in struggle with minorities of fanatics. Most people I met in the Middle East believe in Obama's intentions, as laid out in his Cairo speech last year, and welcome the prospect of enhanced scientific and educational partnerships with the United States. Yet some expressed skepticism, with one high-ranking official asking me, "Will the political climate in the United States, and particularly the U.S. Congress, allow him to follow through on his promises?"

To enhance the prospects for success, we should begin by stressing three points.

First, the United States needs to define a coherent and comprehensive policy for pursuing science diplomacy with Muslim-majority countries. Despite many efforts by both public and private organizations, their initiatives remain fragmented.

Second, the focus of a better-integrated effort should be on improving education and fostering the scientific and technological infrastructure that will bring about genuine economic gains and social and political progress. One way would be for the United States to encourage and support the creation of relatively simple earth science labs in elementary schools, along with the teacher training necessary to stimulate curiosity about the workings of nature. For older students, I propose a new program, "Reformation of Education and Development," whose acronym, READ, would have special significance for Muslims, as it is the first word of the Koran. And through the program, the United States should be a partner in establishing science and technology centers of excellence for talented high school and university students in the region.

Third, these efforts must complement, not replace, U.S. efforts to promote human rights and democratic governance in the Muslim world. The United States must also continue to pursue a just and secure two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and work toward freeing the Middle East from nuclear proliferation.

All these efforts would go far toward creating goodwill, catalyzing progress and redirecting the region's energies into new, constructive and mutually beneficial channels.

The soft power of science has the potential to reshape global diplomacy.

Americans like to say that actions speak louder than words, and action is what we need now.

Ahmed Zewail, the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry and President Obama's science envoy to the Middle East, is a professor of chemistry and physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times


Is It NASA’s Job to Make Muslim Nations ‘Feel Good’? [Elliott Abrams]

In the spring of 1961, President Kennedy spoke to Congress about his desire to “win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny.” He told Congress and the nation that “now it is time to take longer strides — time for a great new American enterprise — time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.”

His inspiring conclusion: “I believe we should go to the moon” — though he noted that this would require additional expenditures of money and intellectual resources, and presidents were more serious about budgets in those days. Kennedy said, “It is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel, and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel. New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further — unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.”

A half century later, in the age of Obama, that kind of inspirational yet candid communication from Washington is gone. This past week, the current NASA administrator revealed what our current president thinks about space. “When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things,” NASA head Charles Bolden told al-Jazeera. “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

This quote is entirely believable. Mr. Bolden was not told that he must advance American interests in space, but instead to become part of the big Obama program of engagement with the “international community.” His achievements will be measured by whether he can “reach out” to make people “feel good,” and those people aren’t even Americans; no, his “perhaps foremost” job is to make Muslims around the world “feel good” about their past.

A more serious task might be to make them feel terrible about the present level of education in Muslim lands, not least for women and girls, in the hope that we could spur them to reform and improvement. The dismal state of science, math, and engineering in Muslim nations is quite clear, but Mr. Bolden isn’t assigned to improve their performance (which would presumably be the job of USAID, but whatever). No, he’s to be another Dr. Feelgood, a sad assignment for this former astronaut. Mr. Bolden should not be criticized for telling the truth about his job, for the problem is at the top, not at NASA. The space program is being transformed into a tool of Obama foreign policy, which views American national greatness as an anachronism.

— Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.


Former NASA chief: Muslim outreach is ‘perversion’ of NASA’s mission
By: Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
07/06/10 8:55 AM PDT
Michael Griffin, who headed NASA during the last four years of the Bush administration, says the space agency’s new goal to improve relations with the Islamic world and boost Muslim self-esteem is a “perversion” of NASA’s original mission to explore space. “NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin says. “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics.”

Griffin calls NASA’s new mission, outlined by space agency administrator Charles Bolden in an interview with the al-Jazeera news agency, “very bad policy for NASA.” As for NASA’s core mission of space exploration, Griffin points out that it has been reaffirmed many times over the years, most recently in 2005, when a Republican Congress passed authorizing legislation, and in 2008, when a Democratic Congress did the same thing.

“NASA has been for 50 years above politics, and for 50 years, NASA has been focused by one president or another on space exploration,” Griffin says. “Some presidents have championed it more strongly than others, and it is regrettable that none have championed it as strongly as President Kennedy. But no president has thought to take NASA’s focus off of anything but space exploration until now, and it is deeply regrettable.”

Griffin says NASA has always played an important, but indirect, role in diplomacy. “I have championed the use of NASA as a powerful diplomatic and inspirational tool for U.S. policy writ large,” Griffin says. “But the way NASA achieves those goals is by doing great things. NASA does those things that make people all over the world say, ‘Wow.’ If NASA is making people say, ‘Wow,’ then they want to be part of what we do. That’s NASA’s role — it’s to do those things that make other people want to join us.”

For all his unhappiness with the new policy, Griffin says blame for the situation does not belong with NASA administrator Charles Bolden, whom Griffin calls “one of the best human beings you will find.” “When I see reports in the media excoriating Charlie for this position, that blame is misplaced,” Griffin says. “It belongs with the administration. That is where policy for NASA is set. The NASA administrator does not set policy for NASA, the administrator carries it out.”

“This is not about personalities,” Griffin concludes. “It is about the intellectual content of the policy, which I find to be bankrupt.”

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:


The Reaction: NASA aims to reach out to Muslim world, but what ...By Michael JW StickingsWhat Obama understands is that the Muslim world needs more science, that it needs to be reminded of its own glorious scientific past and encouraged to free itself from its own self-imposed bondage. ... It did those things by pursuing solid goals of exploration of space, which is why Congress funds the agency. Those esteem-boosters came as a secondary result of actual achievement, not as an end in itself. The Obama administration wants to turn this over onto its head by ...The Reaction -

The Reaction: NASA aims to reach out to Muslim world, but what ...NASA aims to reach out to Muslim world, but what about space exploration? In a far-reaching restatement of goals for the nation's space agency, NASA administrator Charles Bolden says President Obama has ordered him to pursue three new objectives: ... NASA has always inspired children and even bolstered international relations, but not because that was its mission. it did those things by pursuing solid goals of exploration of space, which is why Congress funds the agency. ...Digital Camcorder Reviews -

Former NASA chief: Muslim outreach is 'perversion' of NASA's ...By Byron YorkMichael Griffin, who headed NASA during the last four years of the Bush administration, says the space agency's new goal to improve relations with the Islamic world and boost Muslim self-esteem is. ... As for NASA's core mission of space exploration, Griffin points out that it has been reaffirmed many times over the years, most recently in 2005, when a Republican Congress passed authorizing legislation, and in 2008, when a Democratic Congress did the same thing. ...Beltway Confidential -

“People of the Muslim World … We come in peace!”By sodumI'm not sure sending the head of NASA, which is funded by Congress using taxpayer dollars, to continue the Obama Apology Tour, and turning NASA into a bureaucracy dedicated to Muslim's self-esteem, instead of exploration of space, ...Ajarn Forum - Teaching and Living... -

Is It NASA's Job to Make Muslim Nations 'Feel Good'? - Elliott ...By (NRO Staff)Is It NASA's Job to Make Muslim Nations 'Feel Good'? [Elliott Abrams]. In the spring of 1961, President Kennedy spoke to Congress about his desire to “win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny. ...The Corner on National Review Online -

World Muslim Congress: FOX TV, Sean Hannity and... - Wingnuts ...World Muslim Congress: FOX TV, Sean Hannity and Mike Ghouse about

World Muslim Congress: FOX TV, Sean Hannity and Mike Ghouse about ...I am preparing a few talking points and request you to give me short sentences and phrases to talk about this tonight Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at Sean Hannity

News Charles Bolden : World Muslim Congress: Fox Tv, Sean Hannity ...News Charles Bolden latest updates : I am preparing a few talking points and request you to give me short sentences and phrases to talk about this tonight

Monday, July 5, 2010

Muslims condemn Blasphemy attack in Kerala

Evil continues to thrive, when good people do nothing about it. Our role as Muslims is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and work towards building social cohesion, so all the humanity can co-exist in harmony.

The Muslims in India have taken the right action and the story is appended here below.

We condemn the barbaric acts of these men without any reservation.

As Muslims we render our apology to T. J. Joseph and his family and condemn this act of arrogance.

We urge the Muslims in Enarkulam district to help find these criminals and ask them to apologize and restore the damages and pay the medical expenses of the professor.We hope they make a point to pray for goodwill in the Juma prayers.

Prophet Muhammad has taught us to pray for the goodwill of the people when one is harassed. It is our responsibility to extinguish this spark before gaining any more momentum and bring peace to the communities in the area.

Jazak Allah Khair
Mike Ghouse


Press Statements
Muslim leaders condemn the attack on Kerala academician
Press Statement: They have clearly sinned and defamed Islam by committing this crime which we condemn without reservations

The Milli Gazette
Published Online: Jul 05, 2010

New Delhi (5 July 2010): We strongly condemn yesterday's violent attack and chopping off of the hand of Mr T. J. Joseph, a lecturer in Ernakulam District of Kerala by some miscreants on the pretext of taking revenge for Joseph's act of blasphemy.

We feel that law was taking its due course against the said lecturer for his misdeed and he was already suspended from his college for a year due to his insult to the Prophet of Islam by replacing the word "madman" in a quote with that of "Muhammad" while preparing an exam paper for the students of his college.

Those who attacked Joseph forgot that the Prophet of Islam, upon whom be peace, in his own life had pardoned a Jewess who used to throw garbage on him and when she did not do so one day, the Prophet enquired about her and upon being told that she is ill, went to wish her early recovery and good health. The Prophet forgave the people of Mecca after its conquest although they had pained him, expelled him from his hometown and had waged war against him for years. We find that the attack on the Kerala lecturer is against the basic tenets of Islam and the Sunnah of the Prophet which emphasis on forgiveness. Islam explicitly forbids taking law and order into one's hands in the presence of competent authorities to deal with an issue.

We hope that law will take its due course to punish the criminals who attacked the professor. They have clearly sinned and defamed Islam by committing this crime which we condemn without reservations.

Dr. Manzoor Alam,
Secretary General, All India Milli Council

Mohammad Jafar,
Naib Ameer, Jamaat e Islami Hind & Acting President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat

Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan
Former President, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat & Editor, The Milli Gazette

Niaz Farouqui
Secretary, Jamiat Ulama e Hind

Navaid Hamid
General Secretary, Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians (MOEMIN) & Member, National Integration Council

Alleging blasphemy, fanatics hack lecturer's hand
Ananthakrishnan G, TNN, Jul 5, 2010, 01.43am IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a horrific instance of Talibanism, Muslim fanatics in Kerala on Sunday chopped off the right hand of a college lecturer, accusing him of setting a question paper with a derogatory reference to the Prophet.

Lecturer T J Joseph was returning home from church with his mother and sister around 8.30 am in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district when he was accosted by the attackers. "We had just got into our car when a van pulled up in front. Around eight people armed with swords and knives emerged and pulled out Joseph after smashing the windscreen.
They then chopped off his right hand and stabbed him in the left thigh," said Joseph's sister, Mary Stella, a nun.

"When we tried to prevent them, they attacked me and and our mother before exploding bombs and fleeing."

A police team recovered the severed hand from the compound of a house about 200m away. The 52-year-old lecturer was rushed to a private hospital where his condition is serious.

Police recovered the van in which the fanatics reached the scene. Two men, said to be activists of the Popular Front, a new incarnation of the hardline National Democratic Front, have also been taken into custody. Special police squads are searching sensitive areas in and around the town. "Personnel from this district and neighbouring places are working as a team and we'll nab the assailants soon," said IG B Sandhya.

In March this year, Islamic outfits had carried out protests against Joseph, who was a lecturer in the church-run Newman college in Thodupuzha in Idukki district over a portion in the Malayalam question paper for an internal examination for BCom students. They claimed that the question paper insulted the Prophet. The college later suspended Joseph who had set the questions and a criminal case was registered against him. The case is pending trial.

Reacting to the incident, state home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters in New Delhi that the police would probe if any communal or terrorist outfit was involved. The BJP alleged that the home department could not evade responsibility for the growth of terror outfits in Kerala. "This is a direct consequence of the soft attitude adopted by the Left and Congress towards terrorist outfits," said BJP state chief V Muraleedharan.


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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.