Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sexual harassment in the Jewish community and Solutions

Sexual harassment is rampant in every group of people with no exception. The uncivil men among men feel entitled to women, every woman that they see.  The #Metoo movement is a good beginning to end such harassment and treat every man and woman as equal and respecting the sanctity of each individual. This news is the same for Muslims, just have to switch the names - Mosque instead of Synagogue, Muslim in place of Jews.

A few Muslims are arrogant that Islam protects women, yes it does, but Muslims are men. One of the sentences in the following article is a perfect descriptor, "
Despite our moral code, however, sexual misconduct in the Jewish community too often goes unaddressed."  Replace Jewish with Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh or the other. 

Mike Ghouse

Courtesy:, January 16, 2018

6 ways to address sexual harassment in the Jewish community

(JTA) — #MeToo. #GamAni. The stories are numerous and painful. They span decades and reach every corner of the Jewish community. Enough is enough. The time is now for us to finally and fully address sexual harassment in Jewish institutional life.
When it comes to sexual harassment, Jewish teachings are unequivocal: We are obligated to put an end to the behavior for the sake of the victim, the perpetrator and the community as a whole. Despite our moral code, however, sexual misconduct in the Jewish community too often goes unaddressed. As Hollywood, media and government offices grapple with their ethical challenges, it is clear we need a reckoning of our own.
When the Good People Fund surveyed Jewish professionals in 2017, it found that sexual harassment is perceived by respondents to be tolerated in Jewish organizations. Female CEOs, fundraisers and rabbis frequently report problems in their interactions with donors and lay leaders. Female employees report feeling some level of harassment is inevitable, and most believe — and some have left the field as a result — that their organizations are ineffective at preventing or addressing it.
Indeed, the recent Leading Edge study found that only two-thirds of employees of Jewish organizations report that they are aware of their organization’s sexual harassment policies, and only about one-third know what to do or where to go if they experience harassment.
The time is now to end this reality. The time is now to move from talk to action. The time is now for us to commit to acting individually and collectively to build safer, more respectful and equitable places to work. We must come together across political, denominational and gender lines to address the power dynamics and structural inequalities that allow harassment and abuse to take root. We must raise the bar of fairness and equality in our workplaces, institutions and the spaces in between.
To succeed, we need to advance cultural and practical change. We at the Schusterman Foundation are joining with other foundations and organizations to explore how we can help create systemic change in Jewish communal life on both fronts.
Here are five crucial areas in which we can and must act:
Ensure accountability
To eliminate harassment in our community, all of us — funders, nonprofit professionals and lay leaders — must hold ourselves and our organizations accountable. I envision a pledge, akin to the Child Safety Pledge, committing us to uphold safety and respect in and around the Jewish workplace as an important step forward. A common pledge — backed by tangible resources and collective action — could ensure that organizations walk their talk and actively pursue today’s best practices for preventing and responding to sexual harassment.
Exhibit leadership
Committed, engaged organizational and philanthropic leaders are critical to changing the status quo. Thanks to the outstanding work of Commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic, who led the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, we know that “the cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated.”
Those in leadership positions must start by refraining from and putting an end to adverse behavior. Jewish leaders need to show they will not stand for or accept sexual harassment and take proactive steps to promote a safe, respectful Jewish organizational culture. Funders, too, must commit to this work — not just for the organizations we support, but also to help equalize the relationship between donors and Jewish professionals, and to strengthen our own internal cultures.
Refresh policies and procedures
In the wake of #MeToo, every Jewish organization must have in place the modern infrastructure of a safe workplace, including transparent policies, consistent training and protected reporting methods. The EEOC recommendations are clear on this front as well. Healthy work environments need “strong and comprehensive harassment policies; trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.”
In addition to updating our own policies and procedures, those who serve as funders can request anti-harassment and discrimination policies in our grant applications, share sample templates and best practices with grantees, and refer them to expert resources.
Train staff and boards
Annual, ideally in-person training of staff and boards are vital and can be customized to the fields and organizations they serve. They can transcend the harasser-victim dichotomy and focus on more effective methods, such as empowering bystanders and helping employees understand how they can advocate for one another. For models, we can look to the Respect in the Workplace training currently offered by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York or to those Keshet provides on tolerance and inclusion.
Facilitate reporting
Every employee in the Jewish sector should know and trust their organization’s reporting structure. One of the most common refrains is that employees do not know who to turn to if they experience or witness harassment. This is equally true at foundations and all other kinds of nonprofits.
It is incumbent upon us as Jews that our reporting structures allow for fair consideration and due process for both the accuser and the accused. To that end, it is worth considering external reporting structures like those suggested by Yehuda Kurtzer and Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, who have called for the creation of a neutral platform for those seeking redress without fear of retribution. We may also consider the use of ombudsmen or new tools like AllVoices, an app-based reporting service under development.
Equal opportunity
Beyond these five areas, the most important way to create sustainable change in our community is to ensure that women are treated equitably and have opportunities to advance to top leadership roles.
Starting today, we must help elevate women’s voices in Jewish life. We must advocate for pay equity for comparable roles. We must include more women on CEO search committees and candidate interview lists. We must mentor and sponsor women in advancing in their careers. We must, as Advancing Women Professionalshas taught us, make the choice not to serve on or support panels, committees and initiatives where women are not represented. When we raise up women, we raise up everyone — especially those of diverse, underrepresented backgrounds.
Indeed, we can make an inclusive, safe and respectful environment a key element of great Jewish workplaces. In doing so, we will create spaces free from harassment, gender disparagement and bias; make our offices models of what a modern workplace should be; and usher in a new era of leadership that better reflects and supports the people and communities we serve.
Let’s make 2018 the year we live up to the steadfast ethics of our people and put an end to sexual harassment in the Jewish community once and for all. Let’s join together to create a culture in which nobody ever again has to say #MeToo or #GamAni.
(Lisa Eisen is the vice president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, a global organization committed to igniting the passion and unleashing the power in young people to create positive change;

Quran (Koran) Translations Galore

The first Quran was translated in the year 1142, and it was commissioned by the European Kings to Paint Islam as a bad religion, and they frightened their subjects that Muhammad was going to slaughter the people of Europe if they don't stand up against the advancing Arab armies.  The work was carried out by the French Abbey for a fee.  They coined word the word "Mohammedan" religion for Islam.

It is a big story I would like to tell, as it is easier than writing it out. Please read the full story with many videos and write-ups

Quran is a book of guidance in building cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear or apprehension of the other; it is as simple as that.  I usually refer to at least 5 different translations to get the essence of a single verse, and of course, our formula to understand the Quran is to read three verses before and three verses after a given verse to understand the context and meaning behind the verse.

However, every faith including yours has a % of people who do things that go against the very teaching of the faith they claim to espouse. That is an insignificant number and less than 1/10th of 1% of any group.

Over the years, I have collected about 20 different translations for reference.  A few are in this picture.  I have also visited the Library of Congress and checked Jefferson's copy of Quran translation by George Sale. 

You may like this article in Dallas Morning News;

In defense of Islam, pursuing a civil dialogue

By Steve Blow, Published 19 September 2010 02:28 AM
Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it?

If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero.

It is hard to imagine that anyone has worked harder than the Carrollton resident to demonstrate the peaceful and moderate side of Islam.

And that effort includes personally visiting Dallas' First Baptist Church last Sunday just to put a friendly face on the "evil, evil religion" that the Rev. Robert Jeffress denounced a few weeks before.

"It was wonderful," Ghouse said of the visit. "We were so warmly received."
He hopes a quick chat with Jeffress will be the start of a deeper discussion about Islam and the importance of respect between religions.

"I want to have a dialogue with him, not to say he is wrong but to share another point of view," Ghouse said.

The 57-year-old Muslim was born in India and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He owns a small property management firm. But most of his day is devoted to building bridges between people of different faiths.

"It is my passion," he said in his distinctive raspy voice.

He has been a guest a dozen times on Sean Hannity's TV and radio talk shows. "I don't like the way Sean cuts me off, but I have to honor him for giving the American public a semblance of another point of view."

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history.

In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.

"It was all for politics," he said.

Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker."

Ghouse acknowledges that deep problems persist within Islam. "Three steps forward, two steps back," he said with a sigh.

And he agrees that mainstream Muslims have not done enough to counter violent images of their faith.

"That is very true," he said. "But part of it is that many Muslims have given up hope that we will ever be heard."

He said repeated denunciations of terrorism seem to fall on deaf ears.

And some efforts have backfired – like the proposed Islamic information center in New York. He said it should be hailed for furthering the moderate Muslim cause.

Instead, it has deepened hostility toward Muslims.

I have been astounded by the amount of anti-Islam propaganda that circulates via e-mail. Tons of it has come my way in the last few weeks.

One theme is that people like Mike Ghouse can't be trusted, that Islam encourages deception.

But Ghouse says actions speak louder than words. And he points to elections in Muslim nations.

More than half of Muslims live in countries with some degree of democracy. And time and time again, Islamist parties are overwhelmingly rejected in favor of secular, mainstream parties.

"The religious parties don't get more than 3 percent of the vote," Ghouse said.

Polls show deep mistrust of Muslims. "But the most important question in those surveys is: ‘Do you know anything about Islam?' " Ghouse said. "Most people say no."
What keeps him going is faith in Americans, he said.

"The majority of Americans, if they know the truth, they will change their minds."

# # #
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer, thinker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India and Civil Societies passionately offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Muslim success Stories - Jewish-Muslim romance shaped one of India’s biggest pharma giants

This is a story of Muslim-Jewish romance and it is worth reading and reflecting.  The article “How a Muslim-Jewish romance shaped one of India’s biggest pharma giants” is the courtesy of Dawn News Paper and is appended below with gratitude.  It has all the elements of harmony, and the efforts of individuals to build cohesive societies.
Interfaith romance and marriages have been around for ever, thank God, they have become common in the United States. Nearly 40% of the marriages are interfaith and interracial, and 50% of of Jewish marriages are interfaith.  Our nation will continue to lead the world in accepting the otherness of other religions, cultures, politics and ethnicities and I pray other nations follow us.
To paraphrase Goethe, “Once you are committed to an idea or an act, all sorts of things will occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”  This wisdom has been a source of inspiration to me, somehow I stumble into articles on building cohesive societies in a variety of ways.
This man’s mission is inspiring and what he has done in social and religious pluralism is admirable.  As a Muslim myself, I am deeply committed to building cohesive societies and I will do my share of work in building bridges between the communities, particularly between Jews and Muslims,  Jews and Christians, Hindus and Muslims and Hindus and Abrahamic traditions.
If Muslims and Jews can work on producing a sense of security to Israelis and Justice to the Palestinians, most of the conflicts will fade and solutions emerge. All they have to do is drop their non-nonsensical thoughts they harbor about getting even with the other, showing who has the upper hand, and proving the other to be wrong… and simply focus on looking in the eyes of each others’ children and make a commitment – I will not dump our problems on you, and I will not make life difficult for you when you grow up. I will do all I can to make your life better than we had so you guys can live in harmony. We will work on teaching you to eat, drink, school and play together to create a society we want.  Before 1948, Jews and Muslims were each others sanctuaries and safety nets, we can do it again and create an exemplary world for all humanity to live in harmony.
As we get the funding, we will have a research arm for every faith from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between. We will be holding training classes in summer for one to be a Pluralist – i.e., one who respects the otherness of others and validates the uniqueness of the other without diminishing his own political, religious, social or cultural tradition.  We have many programs to accomplish that and we invite supporters to run the program in their name.
I hope to go on a tour in the US, listening and talking about building a cohesive America, where we appreciate the otherness of others and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one. Quran guides Muslims to be inclusive and build cohesive societies with pluralism as its foundation, and I hope we can reach out to those few Muslims who did not get that message.
At the center for pluralism we continue to research on all aspects of Pluralism; politics, religion, society and culture.  I have a lot of admiration for interfaith and inter-racial couples for they are setting the new standards of harmony around the world.
Enjoy the article now and let me know if you did.
You can find more articles like this at a part of the Center for Pluralism.
Thank you.
Mike Ghouse

How a Muslim-Jewish romance shaped one of India’s biggest pharma giants

In 1992, the editor of The Times of India telephoned one of Mumbai’s most prominent businessmen, Yusuf K Hamied. The editor asked Hamied, “as a Muslim leader” his opinion on communal riots that were taking place in the city.
Hamied replied: “Why aren’t you asking me as an Indian Jew? Because my name is Hamied? My mother was Jewish!” His maternal grandparents had perished in the Holocaust.
KA Hamied and Luba Hamied.

Hamied, the chairman of one of India’s largest pharmaceutical firms, Cipla, is the son of an aristocratic Muslim scientist from India and a Jewish Communist from what is now Lithuania.
Defined by his parents’ extraordinary marriage, he unites his father’s scientific skills, business acumen, and Indian patriotism with his mother’s compassion for the less fortunate.
He charges the Western pharmaceutical industry with “holding three billion people in the Third World to ransom by using their monopoly status to charge higher prices,” and has devoted himself to making life-saving inexpensive generic medications for the inhabitants of poorer countries.
Add caption

Yusuf K Hamied: Maker of generic life-saving medications and scourge of the giant multi-national pharmaceutical houses. 
Yusuf’s father: Khwaja Abdul Hamied (1898 - 1972)

Yusuf Hamied’s father, Khwaja Abdul (K.A.) Hamied, was born in Aligarh. His paternal grandfather Khwaja Abdul Ali (1862-1948) traced his lineage through spiritual guides to the Mughal emperors of India back to Khwaja Ubaidullah Ahrar (1403-1490), a great Naqshbandi Sufi in Uzbekistan.
His mother, Masud Jehan Begum (1872-1957), came from the family of Shah Shuja ul-Mulk, the pro-British Amir of Afghanistan (1803-1809 and 1839-1842), whose family fled to India after his assassination in an anti-British uprising. Khwaja Abdul Ali’s uncle was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1819-1898), the great Muslim educational and social reformer.

KA Hamied with his his father, brothers, nieces, and son Yusuf.
The family of KA Hamied
Khwaja Abdul Ali entered the judicial service of the British government in India, but his son KA Hamied passionately opposed “the evils of foreign rule”. When Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement called for a boycott of government-run educational institutions, Hamied organised a strike at his school, Muir Central College. As a result, he was expelled from the university, then arrested when he tried to disrupt graduation ceremonies.
Hamied then returned to Aligarh, where Muslim nationalist leaders founded a new university, Jamia Millia Islamia, which refused government funding. Hamied taught chemistry there. He also supervised the production and sale of khadi, or homespun cloth, which Gandhi had made a central element of Indian nationalism. At his maternal uncle’s home, he first met Gandhi as well as Motilal Nehru and his son Jawaharlal.
KA Hamied was active in Indian Political affairs throughout his life
KA and Luba Hamied with his good friend Zakir Hussain (second from left) who became President of India

While teaching at Jamia, KA Hamied began a lifelong friendship with Zakir Husain, who went on to become the President of India. Hamied and Hussain later left for Germany to pursue graduate studies. Hamied studied with one of the world’s leading chemists, Professor A Rosenheim.
Yusuf’s mother: Luba Derczanska (1903 - 1991)

One day in 1925, Hamied joined some friends on a lake cruise near Berlin. One of the passengers on the boat was a young woman named Luba Derczanska. Luba was born in Wilno in Russian Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) and had come to Berlin to study. From their first meeting, the romance between Abdul Hamied and Luba Derczanska blossomed.
In 1928, Hamied married Luba in Berlin’s only mosque, and the following year they were again married in the Choral Synagogue in Wilno and the marriage was “solemnised” at a Register Office in London.
Luba was active in Communist circles in Berlin, and sought to bring her Indian beau into the movement: the first gift that she ever gave Hamied was a postcard of Lenin and for a time the couple were regulars at party meetings (later in life, Hamied had very strong reservations and concerns about Communism). Hamied was a prominent member of Indian revolutionary circles in India.
Berlin, 1928: KA Hamied and Luba with Maulana Mahommad Ali (trademark crescent on his hat), the leader of the Khilafat Movement.

Their parents were open-minded and welcoming, and the warmth with which Luba’s parents Rubin and Paulina greeted Hamied on his first visit to Wilno was matched by the welcome extended to Luba by Abdul Ali and Masud Jehan when she went to Aligarh.
The Hamieds with Luba’s family in 1929. In the centre are Luba’s brother Zorach and aunt. Zorach Derczanski came to India in 1934. The aunt came to India in 1938 and was joined there in 1946 by her non-Jewish husband Arthur Taenzler, a German flying ace in World War I.

Their son Yusuf was born in Wilno during his parents’ last visit there before the Holocaust. Yusuf is the Arabic form of the Hebrew name Joseph. It was the name of Luba’s grandfather, and hence pleasing to her family, as well as the first name of the Polish president, Józef Piłsudski, and so flattering to the Hamieds’ Polish friends. A month after his birth, Yusuf’s parents took him back to Bombay.
The Hamieds with her Jewish parents and their children – Yusuf and Sophie.

Yusuf and Sophie with their paternal grandmother Masud Jehan Begum, who descended from the family of Amir Shuja ul-Mulk of Afghanistan.

Though Luba was not an observant Jew, her son Yusuf chose to memorialise her in the most active Indian synagogue. He heavily supported the reconstruction of the Shaar Hashamaim Synagogue in Thane.
Shaar Hashamaim Synagogue in Thane.

Religious views

KA Hamied defined himself as an Indian who happened to be a Muslim, and he became openly hostile to the Muslim League. He rejected the notion that Hindus and Muslims were “separate nations” as Muhammad Ali Jinnah argued. Unlike his brothers, who opted for Pakistan, he always hoped for reconciliation in India between Hindus and Muslims.
In a speech to the Inter-Religious Seminar in Delhi on October 18, 1971, KA Hamied said that the “study of religion is my special hobby” and that “the basic attributes of this mysterious power, by whatever name we call it, are the same in all religions.” He said that “an ideal man must be a good man by virtue of his actions in society (and) may belong to any religion so long as he follows the tenets of his religion”.
KA Hamied believed that there should be “no compulsion in religion”.

Hamied always enthusiastically urged a partnership between Jews and Muslims. He loved to talk about Islamic Spain, where Jews and Muslims had joined to create a golden age, and once said that “if the Jews, with their wealth, knowledge and scientific skill and Arabs made a common cause, they would have a strong empire covering West Asia and the entire coast of South Mediterranean”.
He always emphasised that “the Arabs and Israelis should see the necessity of getting out of this whirlpool of Russian and Western power politics” and “sit together at a round table conference away from Western powers to thrash out their differences and carve out a new future based on ancient friendship, alliance and mutual regard”.
The Holocaust

He regularly visited Germany, where he had many friends, as well as business dealings. Once, the Germans mistook him for a Jew and insulted him. He foresaw something far worse than discrimination and insults, and urged his Jewish friends to leave Germany. They insisted that as members of the intellectual élite, they had nothing to worry about.
The horrors of the Holocaust were to touch Hamied and Luba directly. In June 1941, Nazi troops occupied Wilno, and almost immediately began the extermination of the city’s Jews.
Luba’s siblings survived: her brother Zorach was working for Hamied in Bombay, and her Communist sisters had escaped to Moscow before the coming of the Germans.
However, the Nazis murdered her elderly parents who were unable to emigrate. Hamied tried to obtain visas so his in-laws could come to India. The papers finally came through two weeks after the Derczanskis were killed.
Their son Yusuf was very moved when in 2008, during a visit to his birthplace, Vilnius, he went to the Ponary Forest, where German units massacred up to 100,000 people, the great majority of them Jews.
Recently, he commissioned statues of Gandhi and his Lithuanian Jewish disciple Hermann Kallenbach in Vilnius. In honour of his mother, he sponsored a concert there by his life-long friend, the conductor Zubin Mehta.
Yusuf, though focused on the lessons of the Holocaust, does not feel threatened personally as a Jew. He sees anti-Muslim mob violence in Bombay as particularly chilling, since to him it evokes the fear that Indian Muslims may share the same fate as European Jews.
He remembers his father’s stories of Jewish friends who believed that their elevated place in society would protect them, and he says that Indian Muslims who echo this sentiment are as naive as European Jews were.
The Cipla journey

After several years in India, Hamied gained success as a businessman, and in 1935 he founded the Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories or CIPLA. It has since become one of India’s most important pharmaceutical companies.
KA And Yusuf Hamied created a successful multinational pharmaceutical company with a social conscience.

KA Hamied had written in The Times of India on December 11, 1964 that patent law should enforce “compulsory licensing” to other manufacturers to prevent monopolistic predatory pricing.
Later, Yusuf picked up this same battle in the case of the astronomical pricing of AIDS medications by patent holders.
By retro-engineering the first medication and antiretroviral cocktail effective against HIV and AIDS and selling them at a fraction of the price, he helped saved millions of lives.
Yusuf Hamied addressing the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, 1976.

Perhaps with the murders of his own grandparents and six million other Jews in mind, Yusuf has called Big Pharma “global serial killers,” “traders in Death,” and “death profiteers”.
He sees the lack of access to life-saving medication by poor people in the developing world due to cost as a form of “selective genocide in healthcare” driven by Big Pharma’s desire for profits.

This article was originally published on Café Dissensus Magazine and has been reproduced with permission.

Dr John McLeod holds a PhD in Indian history from the University of Toronto, and is Professor of History at the University of Louisville.
Dr Kenneth X. Robbins is a collector and independent scholar. He has curated more than a dozen Indian exhibits and five scholarly conferences.
Dr John McLeod holds a PhD in Indian history from the University of Toronto, and is Professor of History at the University of Louisville.
Dr Kenneth X. Robbins is a collector and independent scholar. He has curated more than a dozen Indian exhibits and five scholarly conferences.
The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man

Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man
The scope of this article is limited to Interfaith Marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men.
The sole intent of this essay is to preserve the future of “American Muslims” and keeping them within the fold by expanding the fold to be reflective of Allah’s unlimitedness and extending Prophet Muhammad’s mercy to the entire universe.
The answer to the question has always been an emphatic NO.  Guarding the flock is a human trait and no tradition wants to lose a member of their tradition to the other, whether you are a Hindu, Christian, Sikh or a Jew, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or new, indeed, any tradition for that matter.  Muslims are no exception either and there is no need to beat up on Islam for a deficiency incomprehension.
This paper explores on possible causes for the no response, and what happens if that cause is no more applicable.
Some of us may not want to acknowledge it, but American Muslims have their own Islam that differs from others in other lands, but precisely the same as what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) practiced; a religion committed to building cohesive societies and caring for life and the environment.
If God would have said no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, it would have been said in the Quran, there is not even an inference. God does not make mistakes; instead, he empowers us to figure out our own equilibrium.
This essay is merely an expression of what many American Muslims are thinking but are afraid to express.  I am pleased to present some thoughts to reflect on; ultimately the decision to marry rests in the hearts and minds of the individuals marrying. It is their life and it is God who puts love in their hearts for each other.
Continued after the pictures

Mike Ghouse

Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man?

It is easy to stick to the traditions, on one hand we save the hassles and the agonizing process of thinking, doubting and worry about failed marriage or family. On the other hand the change is inevitable as evidenced by our eating, sleeping, communicating, housing, clothing, moving, romancing and living habits which have changed steadily over one’s life time.
We have accepted the changes in all aspects of our lives over a period of time, and if it was not for the progressives, we would still be living in caves and many of us would not have lived beyond 50.  We are doing what our Grand Parents could not have even imagined, and hopefully we will prepare ourselves to gracefully accept what our Grand Children will do.
When God created the universe, the chief products were life and matter. He chose the matter to run precisely as he programmed it (Quran 55:5-11) ; the Earth going around the Sun with precision, and the moon circumambulating around the Earth,  the change of seasons, and how a seed becomes food through a precise process.  The Jupiter, Moon or the Seed don’t make decisions (55:5), they just act according to a well defined program, and they don’t think nor do they have a brain either (Q 55:6) to act independently, except the built-in defense mechanisms.
Unlike the matter, humans were not put on a trajectory; they were given the freedom to determine their own equilibrium along with guidance. Remember God did not compel Adam but gave him the choices and honored it, he could have stopped Adam from eating the fruit but he did not. He probably told his angels, “Look, I gave them (Adam & Eve) a choice and if I do not honor my own word, who will?  Adam chose what suited him, and God decided to upload “Freedom” into Adam’s DNA.
Indeed, the freedom to choose, freedom to believe, freedom to speak and freedom to live his life with consequences for each action is an inalienable right of every human.  You see that embedded in Quran verse 2:256 – La Ikraha Fi din – No one can force the other to believe against his or her will.  This idea was beefed up again with another sage advice elsewhere in the Quran where God advices the Prophet to do his work and not worry if people would listen to him or not. God says, let me be the decider to put in their heart to listen to you or not. It is purely because of the freedom clause God has incorporated into us.  Islam is also called a deen of fitra; that is human nature.
A few Muslims are conditioned to think in binary terms – Halal or Haram, Zero and One, Day and Night, Black and White and they are comfortable with it. They need to stick to their belief if that works for them and let others go with what works for them.  No one should be compelled to believe otherwise.
If God would have said no to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, it would have been said in the Quran, there is not even an inference. God does not make mistakes; instead he empowers us to figure out our own equilibrium.
This issue is not religious, but cultural and is common to all societies and groups. It is more of a man feeling he is superior to a woman and that he is entitled to her body soul and mind.  That is not how Quran communicates – no one is responsible for other’s deeds.
Entitlement is indeed a cultural value – the scholars were driven by the need of the time and stamped their cultural understanding as religious values.  Cultural values are time sensitive whereas religious values are immortal.  Our needs are different today than were the needs of times when Muslims decided on their own that a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man.
It is time for Muslims to think and reflect instead of becoming judgmental. God would have made us into a piece of rock if he did not want to us to think and make our own decisions.
Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri, a Muslim scholar explains the idea of ‘Ilah” in her book, “An Introduction to Muslim Women’s rights” that, “Islamic law is usually based on an Illah- justification and reason for an act.   By agreement of scholars, when the Illah disappears, so must the law, unless there is another Illah for it.  Much of our heritage of ijtihad, however, was formulated hundreds of years ago and has not been reexamined recently to determine whether ilal (plural of Illah) for the related laws are still in place. The latter observation is especially significant because systems of Islamic law have often incorporated customs of local communities within them, so long as such customs were not viewed as contradicting the Quran. This practice, incidentally, is part of the Quranic philosophy of celebrating, rather than obliterating or punishing diversity.”
This principle of Illah gets violated regularly. Here is an analogy to make the point. In case of rape, witnesses are required to prove that the rape happened. The emphasis here is on “proof” and today the DNA test is the best proof one can get.  In a fatwa given in 2016, the Pakistani Ulema rejected the “proof” and insisted on witnesses.   This is a classic case of getting stuck in rituals instead of understanding the essence of the rituals.
And the same “Ilah” for preventing a marriage of a Muslim woman to a non-Muslim man does not exist anymore in American life.  We have to do our ijtihad – reasoning and justification must exist to prevent such union.
By the way, it is dumb to think that I am advocating a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man, if that is your binary conclusion; this article is not for you. This article is for those who are about to enter into a conflict zone and this piece gives them information to make their own thoughtful decision.
The scope of this article is limited to Interfaith Marriages and Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men.  The follow up article will address who are the believers and why limit it to people of the book?   Accountability is the “Ilah” here.
The question, can a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man has been around for a long time, and the answer has always been an emphatic NO.  Guarding the flock is a human trait and no tradition wants to lose a member of their tradition to the other, whether you are a Hindu, Christian, Sikh or a Jew,   Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or new, indeed, any tradition for that matter.  Muslims are no exception either and there is no need to beat up on Islam for your comprehension deficiency.
I have dedicated 20 years of my life into learning and analyzing the role of religion in the society. There isn’t a single religious group out there which allows interfaith marriages without hassle.  Thank God the goodness and ugliness is universal.
The interfaith marriage problems that we see now, may not be an issue in the near future, and we have to deal with them now.  The core belief in Islam remains the same no matter which of the ‘72’ denominations you belong to, but the cultural diversity ranges from group to group.
As a Muslim thinker, I have consciously chosen to remain within the bounds of Quran, and explore the vastness and wisdom of God’s words.
The sole intent of this essay is to shape and preserve the future of “American Muslims” and keeping them within the fold by expanding the fold to be reflective of Allah’s unlimitedness (Aalameen), and extending Prophet Muhammad’s mercy to the entire universe (Aalameen).
Aren’t Muslims supposed to have a universal vision to embrace the whole humanity with its God given diversity?  Allah is the Rab (creator) of Aalameen, and Prophet is the Rahmat to Aalameen? We should be humans for the Aalameen and such we have to find solutions to the past exclusions to make life easy for the next generation here in America.
This essay is merely an expression of what many American Muslims are thinking but are afraid to express.  I am pleased to present some thoughts to reflect on; ultimately the decision rests in the hearts and minds of the individuals marrying. It is their life and it is God who puts love in the hearts for each other.
Please don’t forget, you live in the land of the free and home of the brave, and America loves everyone.  She has her own culture that each one of us has subconsciously embraced and lives by her.  The first generation and the subsequent generation of American Muslims are an integral part of America in every which way.
A new American Muslim culture is evolving while the layers of dust accumulated on the tradition is peeling off, and along the way Islam is being restored to what it was meant to be: a common sense religion. Some of us may not want to acknowledge it, but American Muslims have their own Islam that differs from others in other lands, but precisely the same as what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) practiced; a religion committed to building cohesive societies and caring for life and the environment.
Dr. Azizah Al-Hibri writes on page 53 of her book, “The Quran states that God created humans, male and female, from the same nafs so that they may find tranquility, mercy, and affection for each other. The Quran also states that male and female believers are each others’ walis (protectors, Guardians). These themes permeate the Quran and make it very clear that there is no metaphysical, ontological, religious or ethical primacy for the male over the female. The Quran also makes it crystal clear that divine will contemplate a relationship of harmony, consultation, and cooperation, as opposed to conflicts and domination, between the two genders.”
One of the most enduring values of Islam is accountability.  God has created everything in balance and harmony (Quran 55:5-11), and has appointed us (all humans) to manage that balance effectively on a continual basis.
My Mother’s words echo frequently in my ears, “On the day of Hisab-Kitab, the day of Accountability, or the Day of Judgment, everyone is for himself or herself, I will be busy with my own deeds and you will be with your own, I won’t have time for you neither will you have time for me” and she would conclude, Son, be accountable and be responsible for what you think, say and do.  If you have a nightmare, no one else can feel your fear as you do.  Indeed, the narrative of the Day of Judgment is applicable in day today life.  If you murder someone, it’s your Heine that goes to jail and not your husband or wife’s. She was right; we are individually responsible for who we are and what we do here.  Islam has found its home in America.
Quran makes an individual acutely aware of one’s responsibility.  Q 6:163-164: “All people will reap the harvest of their own deeds; no one will bear another’s burden. Ultimately, all of you will return to your Lord, and he will resolve your disputes.” Indeed, each one of us is responsible for our own thoughts and actions.
Quran places equal emphasis on men and women, a woman cannot excuse herself on the Day of Judgment or Day to Day living.  Men need to get this straight; a woman is fully empowered and responsible for her actions and not the men.
Prophet Muhammad was obviously one of the first women’s liberators who restored her inalienable rights back to her. He further beefed it up by advising women, that if her husband commands her to do immoral things against her will,  she has the right to refuse and if unbearable, the right to divorce. Such was the empowerment of women.
According to the Pew Survey, nearly 40% of the marriages in the United States are interfaith marriages including Muslims and Hindus, and among Jews it is much higher, one out of two marriages is outside his or her faith.  The trend is gaining momentum and has no reason to stop or slow down.
For a long time, Muslim men married women of the book – that is Jews, Christians and Muslims, but the Muslim woman rarely married outside her faith. However in our land, the land of the free and home of the brave, religious goal posts are pushed further out to accommodate more inclusion of God’s creation. If that does not come through, the couple always has an option to marry outside the scope of their religious traditions with no consequences, religious vigilantism has no place in America nor will it ever gain ground. Islam is about freedom, it is in our ‘ghutti’ – DNA.
Today with the God given freedom, religious barriers are coming down.  It may take two more generations for interfaith marriages to become a norm, but norm it will become.  Men and women become friends, fall in love with each other and take their relationship to its ultimate; marriage.  We cannot deny the fact that Muhammad (before he became prophet) was employed by Bibi Khadija. She just did not propose to marry him out of the blue; she knew him over a period of time and believed he will be the right partner.  She did not send her parents to his parents either, it was one on one.
God has created all species in pairs and has made one for the other, and when that union takes place, harmony is restored.  God is about harmony, and marriage is a step to bring harmony between two people, and some even consider it to be a form of worship.
Quran 30:21. “And among His wonders is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind so that you might incline towards them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you: in this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!”
A few concerns are addressed here and I will be happy to reflect on the new ones, ultimately the couple has to make their own decision.
Head of the household
The resistance to a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man is based on the cultural practices, even though it has a religious tone to it.  No one wants to lose members of their flock to others.   An assumption was made that because man was the provider, he will direct which way the house hold runs and how children are raised. That is not the truth in America and perhaps in Canada and other democracies anymore.  Women today are equal partners and frequently contribute more to the household than men.
If the man and woman are from different races, religions or regions, it will create problems for the couple.  How would they raise their children?  What religion would they follow? Will the society look down upon them? How would they celebrate their festivities or bury their dead? How will they handle divorce and their Children? It is still a problem with many societies but not in the United States and Canada, we have figured it out.  There is a load of wisdom in Quran, Prophet’s nurturer and uncle did not become a Muslim and died as a Quraish, it is God’s design to set an example of learning to live and care for each other despite different religions.   Prophet married Maria and Safia, Christian and Jewish women respectively, and he did not compel them to become Muslims either.
The questions are endless, but the answer is a powerful one, and that is accountability.  In the traditional societies parents rightfully feel responsible to guard the happiness of their offspring, where as parents in North America are learning to believe that their kids are independent and know what they want in their lives, and will find their own happiness.  Ultimately they have to live their own lives, you cannot babysit them forever.  American Muslim parents trust their kids to do the right thing and let them run their own lives. Please note that this comparison is made with Muslims living elsewhere in the world.
There is one segment of single Muslim women that is reaching an enormous percent of all the single women.  These women are in their late 40’s and 50’s, and are divorced and certainly not looking for a provider, nor do they entertain having children.  They are simply looking to have a friend and a companion in their marriages and live their own lives.   A friend of mine puts it crudely – look,  no one in the family or work place would ever question the rituals you follow on the toilet seat, why should anyone question how one prays? In a pluralistic society, religion is increasingly becoming personal in nature applicable to the believers of that faith, just as it happened during the times of Prophet with the Madinah treaty. To you is your faith and to me is my faith, and together we can live in harmony.
Dr. Gail Saltz, New York based psychiatrists and author of “The Power of Different” writes, “In every marriage, there are plenty of issues that can divide couples, from differing cultures and religions to their stance on children, money and sex.”
Gwendolyn Seidman, associate professor of psychology at Albright College in Pennsylvania, adds that two individuals from different social strata will potentially face conflicts. “This could create conflicts where one partner thinks the other is not ambitious enough or one partner disapproves of the other’s scheming,”
“So if one partner is conservative and the other is liberal, but neither is particularly politically active, this difference is less likely to be a problem than if both partners are strong partisans.”
“An omnivore and a vegetarian can happily co-exist if the omnivore is content to cut down on meat.”
“But if he needs meat at every meal, there is going to be a problem,” Seidman said.
Seidman concludes,  “The more alike you are, the less there is to fight about,” “But the good news is that, as couples spend more and more time together, they start to become more similar, both because of their many shared experiences and because of deliberate efforts to get along.”
This is the reason why Muslim Parents (Hindu, Sikh and Jain Parents too) take charge in finding the ‘suitable” husband for their daughters. They want their daughters to be happy.  But a time comes when you have to trust your daughter to make her own decision; after all it is her own life.
A couple’s happiness is based on how they manage their affairs. Lack of communication is one of the reasons for divorce whether they are from same religion or from different religions or races.  No one wants to hear this, but Islam, the religion of common sense has made room for divorce, so the individuals can continue to live on with their lives with least misery. Acknowledging this fact may actually strengthen the relationships and become an antidote to divorces. Remember, God does not prefer disharmony but would accept if harmony of each individual is preserved by divorce.
Harmony is a mental attitude. If the couple has enough love, the issues become stepping stones to figure out how to live with harmony.  Dr. Abdul Hamid Abusulayman writes, “There is a clear distinction between doubts and problems. Doubts provoke obstruction, frustration and discouragement, whereas problems inspire motivation, action and diligence.” and solutions. To this, I will add, “Whatever you do in life, do it wholeheartedly, there is joy in it for everyone around including ourselves”
Comfort Zone
Our comfort zone is directly proportional to the predictability of our environment; the greatest conformity produces maximum comfort greater security and minimal conflict. It is in this context, I am addressing the issue of a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man.
On the face of it, it sounds like a discriminatory practice that a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman; where as a Muslim woman cannot do the same. It is not only discouraged but declared to be wrong and some have gone on to say that you are out of the pale of Islam and even against Islam.
This discriminatory practice is cultural, and has worked in societies where women are economically and socially dependent, thus are subservient to men.  However, our women, the American Muslims women are neither economically, nor socially dependent on men and nor should they be subservient to men.  We are all created equal!
God is not bound by any culture, he sees it differently and says that a man and a woman are equally accountable for their actions, and they are each other’s garments (protectors, friends, defenders, secret keepers…..) and the relationship is not that of subserviency, but that of partnership with responsibilities and duties to each other with full dignity.
A woman is as independent as a man is. Indeed, our women, the American Muslim women live the life of Hazrat Khadija, prophet’s wife, who had her own business, her own wealth, her own home and her own comfort zone. Our women are blessed to live the life of Hazrat Khadija, and we thank God for that.  Shouldn’t that help us knock out our security concerns and comfort zone issues?
Quran on a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim Man
There is no specific verse in Quran that bans a woman from marrying a non-Muslim man. How can it be? Islam is a religion of common sense, is it not? God says we are created into many nations and tribes from the same single couple; Adam and Eve. Thus we are all one large family of humans. Then he says, the best ones among you are the ones who learn about the other, and when we do, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
There is no other couple who follows God’s advice more than the Interfaith and Interracial couples. Their union is a declaration to the world, “Look we are different, but we can live in harmony, why don’t you do the same?
There are two layers to this issue – the people of the book (Jews and Christians) and the other filter is Mushrikoon; those who do not believe in oneness of God.
Shaykh Khaled Abou El Fadl, a scholar of Islam writes, “This is the law as it exists or the legal legacy as we inherited it. In all honesty, personally, I am not convinced that the evidence prohibiting Muslim women from marrying a Kitab is very strong. Muslim jurists took a very strong position on this matter–many of them going as far as saying if a Muslim woman marries a Kitabi she is as good as an apostate. I think, and God knows best, that this position is not reasonable and the evidence supporting it is not very strong. However, I must confess that in my humble opinion, I strongly sympathize with the jurists that argued that in non-Muslim countries it is reprehensible (makruh) for a Muslim to marry a non-Muslim.”
I think that would be a political consideration in most other nations, but not in America.  What we have witnessed in January 2017 is incredible, the whole nation stood up for Muslims, a tiny weenie minority. We are the nation of laws and our laws will guide us to be a just society with occasional digressions.  As Americans Muslims we have placed our trust in our constitution and will defend it with our lives, if we have to. This is the best nation on the earth and we have to preserve it for every one of us.
The fear of losing the members of the flock to others drove the Jurist to make that call, which may not be valid any more. In an article “Seven things you don’t know about interfaith marriage” author Naomi Schaefer Riley offers the following information; “Children of interfaith couples are more than twice as likely to adopt the faith of their mother as the faith of their father.” Provided the mother follows certain faith.

Two out of five Muslims marry someone from other faith. This seems to be a major driver of the integration of American Muslims. Furthermore she adds this number increases to 67% for people in the age group of 36 and 45.

Despite the passing phase of political chaos now, the young Muslims believe Islam is not a divisive religion but an all embracing religion of the Aalameen, and it accepts the otherness of others through God’s own words, “Lakum Dinakum Waliaddin” to you is your faith as mine is to me, it is a mutual acknowledgement of the otherness of others. They believe in freedom, and did not believe in pushing others to believe into your way. The Quran calls, La Ikraha fid-din – there is no compulsion in matters of faith. Indeed freedom of speech and freedom of faith are the values Islam Cherishes.  Remember, it is a common sense faith.
Verses from Quran
“Do not marry women who associate (others with God), until they believe (in God). A believing maidservant (amah) is better than a woman who associates (others with God,) even if she allures you. Do not marry men who associate (others with God) until they believe (in God). A believing male-servant is better than a man who associates (others with God,) even if he allures you…” (2:221).
The ‘Ilah’ or the cause of reason for discouraging marriage between two different people is to prevent disharmony given the several factors of economic dependency, social cultural and other factors.  Ilah becomes discretionary here as the couple is determined to live in harmony and not let the other factors to affect their relationship.  Please remember Quran is a book of guidance in most aspects of life, and commandments in a few areas such as stealing, lying, rape, incest, cheating etc.  Do not steal.  Do not lie. Don’t be unjust. Don’t cheat.
The verse 5:5 expressly allows a Muslim man to marry any believing woman regardless of religion. No argument about it. The verse, however, remains silent about whether a Muslim woman is free to marry a believing non-Muslim man as suggestive in the verse 2:221, which predates 5:5 in the revelation calendar.  Please look at this from an American cultural perspective, and American Islam is gaining its own identity.
The issue is that of compatibility.
When Quran talks about believing women over polytheists (Mushrikoon), a contrast is drawn to highlight the compatibility part of the relationship.  God has created a mate for everyone and he is happiest when that union lives in harmony.  God is within us, he is closer to us than our jugular vein, meaning he is aware of what goes on with us, as our conscience, he reminds us to consider someone who is compatible over someone who is not.  At one time in history, the Mushrikoon and Muminoon (Muslims) could not live with each other, but that is not the case today in America.
Likewise, compatibility was the key factor in the verse to marry someone who is close to you (believing) than someone who is not (Mushrikoon).
Furthermore, the strife existed between the tribes; the ones who believed in the prevalent customs hated the idea of accountability that Islam was talking about, here the issue of trust was in play, particularly when the phrase “Charming, bewitching, allurements” were used.  Don’t be beguiled with charms was the caveat.
The following two paragraphs were sent by someone, and I cannot trace back, thanks to whoever it was.
“This allusion to “slaves” (men and women) is quite indicative of the moral values that the Quranic Revelation tended to inculcate in people. On the one hand, the Qur’an showed ‘Tolerance’ towards the fact of slavery that was universally common at the time; on the other hand, it sought to break the first chains of social hierarchy by preferring these “poor” believing slaves to those wealthy people who formed the elite then.”
“Furthermore, the new believers needed to be protected from polytheists’ abuse who considered this new religion of Islam as a threat to their own interests. The Qur’an urges Muslim men and women to get married to believers who had, like them, such faith awareness and were conscious of justice on earth. The purpose was to absolutely avoid the marriage of Muslims to polytheists who made every effort to stand against a religion that was defending the most vulnerable people on earth.”
Thus the said verse stipulates that Muslim men and women are allowed to contract marriage with believers and prohibited to marry polytheists. Here the Quran takes an egalitarian approach in addressing both men and women on an equal basis.
The “proof” item in case of rape over “witnesses” can be applied here as well.  We need to understand the essence of God’s wisdom rather than the words, as the words do expand and shrink in meaning.
The rejection of Polytheist has to do more with the specific people who were harassing and making the lives of Muslims difficult than Polytheists in general.  That is not the case anymore.  Everyone is a believer, whether you are a Pagan, Hindu, Wicca or a Buddhist, you do believe in accountability of your actions, and that is the key to nurturing harmony in the world, which is an Islamic value.  The Sikhs, Baha’i and a few others are certainly the people of the book and so called monotheists that need to be included.  Even the people without books are accountable and responsible, that is how the society works now.  I always welcome the cautions in our holy books.
Why would God want you to say “to you is your faith and to me is my faith” in verse 109:6? Indeed, the entire chapter of Kafirun is loaded with wisdom.  Allah wants us to learn about carrying a civil dialogue and the ground rule for that is to respect the otherness of others and giving equal value to others’ stance as you do your own.  In each one of the six verses, the other is treated on an equal footing and zero denigration.  God chose not to denigrate other’s faith and that is pure common sense.
By the way, almost every group has a book to follow, and they all should be Kitabi’s at large, but there should be no rejection for those who do not have a book to follow.  God loves his creation, all of his creation; he does not make any distinction between one and the other.  He declared in Quran 49:13 that he has deliberately made us into different tribes, communities and nations, and that we are all from the same couple. He does not stop there, in another verse he says he sent a messenger to every tribe and each nation to bring peace and harmony to the respective groups.
Then he wraps it up by saying the best ones among you are those who take the time to know the other individuals and other groups. What happens when you sit down and talk? Conflicts fade and solutions emerge leading to peace, and name for that actions is Islam and that is what God wants- Peace and harmony on earth.  The best ones are those who care for the other.
Pope Francis is a genuine religious man; I believe he is one of the few individuals on earth who has understood God as a name to a system of harmony and balance.  His understanding on some of the key issues resonate more with Islam.  He believed in “Rabbul Aalameen”- Universal God, and embraced everyone into his fold including the Atheists, for the simple reason that they are not out to get you, to them is their belief and to me is my belief. Unlike the Atheists a few hundred years ago, the Atheists of today are responsible, and as accountable to their actions as any Muslim, Christian, Jew or a Hindu.
I hope you are still thinking.  I urge you to think and see Islam as an all embracing religion to accommodate God’s entire universe.  When we say Islam means peace, it is obligatory on us to make sure everything we say and do leads to peace and not conflict. Exclusion breeds conflict, inclusion builds bridges, and let’s build bridges and bring peace on earth.  Let’s not subscribe to divisions and go against what God wants; Unity.
A Muslim is someone who is constantly seeking to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill for humanity to live in peace and harmony.  Indeed my talk as a Muslim Speaker on Prophet Muhammad highlights 15 of his actions that led to conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance.  Creating a better world is our duty.
It is disappointing to the potential brides and grooms that their clergy or a parent invariably insists on the other person to convert to their faith tradition, and some do, and some fake it and some are not comfortable with the idea at all.
When a couple is deeply committed to marry, they go ahead and get married any way but sorely miss out on the ceremony. Over the years, I have seen too many couples miss out on the joy of that additional sense of completeness that comes with a religious ceremony. Marriage is between two individuals, and their families and friends ought to be supporters and cheerleaders to celebrate and complete their joy.
God bless the Interfaith and Interracial Couples!
Despite their religious, racial or cultural differences, they are setting the new standards of civility by showing the world how to live in harmony. We have to cherish and honor the couples who embrace genuine humanity by accepting each other’s uniquenesses.
When people are showing extreme intolerance towards each other, the interfaith and interracial couples are showing the way to live in harmony and are contributing to the idea of one nation. They are indeed exemplary patriotic Americans.
You are who you are and I am who I am, and let’s acknowledge that and live in peace. As long as we don’t mess with each other’s space, sustenance and nurturance, and respect each other’s uniqueness, we all will do well.  If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
As a society, the least we can do is acknowledge them for their contributions towards the idea of one nation that is America.
God bless them!
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a pluralist, activist, newsmaker and an interfaith wedding officiant.  He is a speaker, thinker and a writer on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, motivation, and foreign policy and is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 65 links 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.