Monday, November 22, 2010

Questions Muslims resist


Do Muslims resist the following questions?

Many a Muslim clergy shy away from answering the following eight questions, in reality the guardians in all religions desist responding to tough questions.
A few Imams and Muslim scholars do not have the guts to speak up and stand up, as they are pandering to their funders. They are not leaders by any means, but caterers in all reality, they are afraid of those who own fatwa factories. By the way, I believe that is the case with people of pulpits in all religions, however the majority of Muslims, like any other majority believe and practice live and let live.

The questions were presented by Mr. Iftekhar Hai and I have responded to them as clearly as I can. My opinions are my own and you are welcome to refute, differ or add to it.

Define believers. Do you consider Jews and Christians as believers?
The answer is in a larger context; believer is an individual who seeks peace for himself and what surrounds him or her through the principles of justness, fairness, truthfulness and respect for the God given life to every member of the creation. The principles of oneness of creation and God imply one world and one God. God has sent a messenger and a peacemaker to every nation and tribe.

Whether it is the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Wiccans, Mayas or any one who subscribes to the idea of oneness of mankind is a believer as the end result is peace, which comes from submission to the idea of oneness of creation; meaning we are all in it together and we have to make it better for every one of us. We cannot be safe when others around us are not.

How do you define Islam? Did it start from Adam and Eve or did it start from our Prophet?

The need for peace was born with the very first humanoids, when competition for available resources was pitching them against each other causing them to live in fear of the other, thus co-existence was a natural outcome. The idea of accountability and responsibility for one’s action became necessary for peaceful co-existence followed by surrenderance of “my ego” and “your ego” to a higher ego that both can subscribe to and abide by.  Islam broadly means peaceful co-existence and submission to a judge and it did start from Adam and Eve.
If Islam means a privately owned club by Muslims and claiming God and his bounties to be exclusively on their side, then it started long after the Prophet. This idea of private club goes against the very essence of ‘rabbul Aalameen (Lord of the universe)’ in the very first sentence of the Quraan and ‘Rahmutul Aalameen (Blessing of the universe)’ describing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  The prophet said, he is not bringing a new religion, but simply updating the existing ones.

Your way of life is dear to you as mine is to me was a new paradigm in the milestones of history expressly written in Sura Kafirun heralding a new era in accepting the otherness of others without denigrating the other.

It is human to make Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or other religions one’s personal property, it is human to own the prophets and chain the holy books to their private club. By claiming ownership rights to a religion, we are stripping the universality of that religion and creating boundaries around it and excluding others. The very boundaries religions formed to remove.

What are the criteria for going to Heaven? Can you quote authentic sources?

Private club membership sets narrower rules to have access to the property. Heaven is not a private club; it is God’s place, the universal God and not my God or privately owned God by you. Quraan could not be clearer than saying, “those who are Jews, Christians and others need not worry about my grace” those who do good need not worry, he knows what is best. Prophet defines what is best (good deed) as an act that benefits God’s creation like planting a sapling that would give shade or fruit to some one else upon its maturity. The prayers are for the individual to benefit where as serving the humanity is serving the creator.
Allah is the master of the Day of Judgment and he alone reserves the right to judge. There are numerous examples where Prophet had asked people not to be judgmental on the issues of faith (as faith is one of the motivators of morality and conduct) because he alone knows what is one’s heart. Our physical acts are not always the reflection of what is in our hearts.
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

Define the word KAFIR. Do you consider people of other faiths who believe in God as Kafirs?

Kafir is some one who has his own private agenda; his motivation is himself or his clan. He does not subscribe to oneness of creation or peaceful co-existence, he or she denies  the universality of God or oneness of God, oneness of accountability in messing up the social balance. Hinduism has a beautiful phrase for it Vasudeva Kutumbakam, we are all part of one family, one creator or one causer of what we witness, imagine and see.

This may be a stretch to some, but ultimately, even the Atheist who does not subscribe to religious version of God –(containable in scope, definable, collapsible to a word or imaginable) cannot be called a Kafir – as he is not denying the need to have one world, a world of equilibrium and respect for the genetic individuality of humans.  
God wants his creation to live in harmony, he has intentionally created each one of us to be unique, and we have our own unique thumb prints and unique DNA. Just as a Chef wants his food to be enjoyed by every customer, as mother wants her children to get along, God wants us all to get along and to get to know each other. The words in Quraan 49:13 are powerful. If we make God truly a Rabbul Aalameen, then everyone who subscribes to the idea that we have to get along and we have to co-exist in harmony, we will not be calling one a Kafir whether he or she is a Christian, Hindu, Jew, Sikh or an Atheist.
Please ponder over this, the “me and my interest” in us wants to deny others the same values, but when we uplift ourselves to be a common citizen of God who is all pervasive, omniscient and omnipotent, we will embrace every individual thumbprint.

Does Quran supersede all other previous scriptures? What are the reasons?

Quraan as we Muslims believe is the capstone, the final touch to co-existence; it is a book of guidance with a belief in one abstract God as opposed to privately owned multiple Gods in conflicts with each other. It is an inclusive and a comprehensive document for all to be had.
If we own it exclusively, then we take away its universality, and if we denigrate other scriptures we take away its comprehensiveness and completeness. Quraan has everything one needs to know to lead a peaceful life and peaceful societies, just as other books have everything one can understand to live a peaceful life as well. The issue is ownership – do you own it? If you do, then others don’t as ownership is exclusive. Does God give you the authority to shove it down others throats? There isn’t any compulsion in what one believes (2:256).

Is there Pluralism in Quran?

Islam is indeed a pluralistic faith and imbues a sense of humility and ideals of equality of humankind. These values are embedded in its rituals practices.
Quraan states that all people harvest their own deeds, and no one shall bear the burden of other.

Indeed Quraan is a document for creating peaceful societies, it addresses the whole humanity and not a specific group, and it continuously regards the existence of other nations, other tribes and other communities and teaches to share your ideals, and if they do not subscribe to it, respectfully accept the otherness of other (Sura Kafirun -  )

Qur'aan starts with the word "God of Universe" (not necessarily Muslims) and ends with "Humankind" (and again not Muslims). As such it is understood that God, the cause behind creation of life and matter belongs to all of us. No one owns him (her or it) nor does does one group have an exclusive favors over the other. The creator will offer equal opportunities to all and will not sign a deal behind one's back with the other.

Al-Fatiha (The Opening) 1:2 All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds, [2]
الْعَالَمِي الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبّ

An-Nas (The Mankind) 114:1 SAY: "I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men,
قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ (114:1
We have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence, one person at a time. We are committed, and now help us God. Amen.

Islam teaches one to be non-judgmental, and consistently encourages individuals to do good. It emphasizes about individual responsibility towards the peace and security of society at large.

He fashioned each one of you--and each one of you is beautiful. To God you will all return. He knows all that the heavens and the earth contain. He knows all that you hide and all that you reveal. He knows your deepest thoughts.  
[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.
[2:136] Say, "We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters."
[17:33] You shall not kill any person - for GOD has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped.
[4:29] O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly - only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. GOD is Merciful towards you.
[4:152] As for those who believe in GOD and His messengers, and make no distinction among them, He will grant them their recompense. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[22:17] Those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, and the idol worshipers, GOD is the One who will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD witnesses all things.

Does Quran encourage Democracy?

The human desire to monopolize World resources is the root cause of all evil. The pockets of anarchy and problems of the world are born out of fear and insecurities of evil men. Religion is not the source of wars or conflict. In fact, Religion is the best Gift humans have received from God, without which the World would be chaotic.

“No wonder that democracy does not find any foothold in nations that discriminates between believers and non-believers, men and women, masters and slaves and even slaves white, brown and black.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said nearly the same words in his last sermon "No man is superior to the other; all are equal beings in the eyes of God. All religions including Islam came into being to make us better beings and create better societies. Most of the people get it, and some don’t.

The Madinah pact, prescribes the rights of its Citizens and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the signatory to it as the head of the City State. It was an all inclusive agreement between the Jews, Christians, Sabeans, Quraish, Muslims and other tribes for a peaceful co-existence. An example was set for a pluralistic society in documenting the rights of individuals. Perhaps it was the first historical document that included diverse people with freedom to practice what they believe. The Word Ummah was used in the document to mean all residents of the City.

There is an example where Prophet removed a part of his signature which read, “Muhammad the prophet of God” and substituted with “Muhammad, son of Abdullah” as the conflicting party did not believe that he was the Prophet. Think about it, if that document is secular or religious?

Research is warranted – where I believe prophet was a secular governor, rather a pluralistic governor than an Islamic governor. The two examples above lend to that idea. Jews and Christians had their own laws under his “Civic” governance. You and I know, most Muslims shy away from this topic – due to harassment from the few. May be the word Kafir applies to them for not wanting to seek the possible truth.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Sachedina has written a monumental book of roots of democracy in Islam, it is worth reading and sharing.

Most of the Constitutions of the world have adopted Secularism as a policy. What is the Quran's position?

What do you think the Madinah pact did? Jews had their own laws to be governed by, Christians their own and in India, Hindus had their own rules as the Parsees, Jains, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists. Didn’t Quraan permit this?

Mike Presides the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, he has dedicated his life to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at  

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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.