B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rockville, MD – Interfaith Meeting on how to deal with violent crimes

As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits. As fellow Americans this is what you can do for the other members of the family of faiths, and become a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives…. in the text below. Mike Ghouse
# # #

May 12, 2016, Rockville, MD – The Faith Leaders response team of Montgomery County’s Faith community working group held their monthly interfaith meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville.

The MCPD Asst. Chief Darryl McSwain and Asst. Chief Luther Reynolds, and MC Fire Chief, Scott Goldstein shared their perspectives in developing safe communities.  Both the departments offer facility orientation programs, that is,  training and preparing the members of worship places to ‘what if’ scenarios in case of a gunman walking in,  a fire breaks out or any other untowardly events.

Response Team Portrait
Montgomery County Faith Leaders – Photo Courtesy: Chuck Lee

Rev. Dr. Carol Flett facilitated the meeting attended by nearly 30 individuals representing many faith communities.

A member from each table shared the general conversation of his or her given table.  From our table, we shared the needs of various communities. Imam Hadji Sall from Silver Springs Mosque talked about the space needs for his Mosque, he and I have agreed to have a discussion and present the possible solutions to the group. There was an acknowledgement needed for bullying that goes on with Hindu kids along with Muslim and Sikh kids, Richa from the Chinmaya Mission shared that information.

Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Executive director of interfaith council of Washington shared about the upcoming Interfaith Bridge Builders Awards on June 2, event as a head of the Interfaith council of Metropolitan Washington, one of the pastors shared that they pray for the both the victims and the offenders in case of crises.  Of course, Scott Goldstein shared what the Fire Department does in case of crises, he made it little humorous about catching the animals.

I found the following powerful quote from the signature line of Rev. Dr. Carol Flett worth sharing, as it resonated with the theme of the verse 49:13 from Quran that I have been elaborating on for over 15 years. It is a Martin Luther King Quote, “”…I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”
AjaibSinghSiddhu-MikeGhouse ImamHodji-MikeGhouse

It was a joy to meet with Dr. Ajaib Singh Siddhu and his wife Hema, who are also friends with Dr. Harbans Lal since their college days. Hema said she and Harbans graduated from the same college same year one got the PhD and the other D. Lit.  Dr. Lal is a father figure to me, and I have always admired him and continue to seek his wisdom from time to time.

Great food, the families brought in so many varieties of vegetarian food that I have enjoyed at the Jain Temples in the past.

PROPOSAL TO THE GROUP

I am pleased to propose to the group, that in one of the upcoming meetings, we can facilitate a talk on the First Amendment; we will also hold a workshop on First Amendment at our facility at the United Methodist building soon. There is a continual need to understand the first amendment on a regular basis.  Please let me know the first time slot available to do this.

The discussion on how we are dealing with the recent violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and our County, with members of our congregations. Let’s discuss practical ways we can reduce anxiety and xenophobia in our own communities, and continue to build a socially cohesive and compassionate county.
I am pleased to share my write up.

Dealing with violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and here in the United States

The bottom line of every religion, government and the society is to create cohesive societies that function well, where rule of law is the norm, and where no one has to live in fear, or apprehension of the fellow beings.

It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting peace in a society, and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it.  Ultimately, my safety hinges on safety of others around me.
There is wisdom in the saying, “Sin is the problem and not the sinner” when we focus on the sin, there is a chance to redeem the individual from the sin, where as if we attack the sinner, we will kill the chances of redemption. The idea is to single out the cause for the situation and work on finding solutions.

Similarly, we single out the criminal responsible for the crime,  and not  blame his or her spouse, parents, siblings, kids, family members, rabbi, imam, pastor, Pundit or religious leader, mayor of the town, governor of the state, president of the country or the religion.

If a rapist is running around in our neighborhood, everyone gets apprehensive and makes sure the doors are locked, alarm is set and family members are guarded. The moment that creep is caught, everyone sighs and takes a deep breath of relief.

What’s happened here is,  the “trust” is restored in the community; people feel safe and start living their normal life again.  There is nothing like feeling secure.  Indeed, Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) work was to build secure societies and he likened the sense of security to mother’s lap where the child feels secure. No matter what is happening to him/her, the child knows he or she is safe in her mother’s lap, the child knows mother will take care of him/her.  Mother is one’s security and trust is the key.

The Prophet vision of a civilized society was when a single woman loaded with Jewelry and fine clothing could go from the City of Madinah to the City of Damascus and return without being harassed, chased or robbed of her dignity. That was the kind of civility he had envisaged.   A majority of Muslims got that message right and have become the source of such civility; however a few did not get it and we have to work with them.

Those who did not get their religion right, no matter what religion, region or race they belong to cause death and destruction. The list is endless; Brussels, Paris, Grand Bassam, Ankara, Gaza, Mumbai, Bali, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Iraq and several more across the globe including the latest rampages of ISIS.   Here at home we have San Bernardino along 354 Mass murders in 2015.   Individuals wear suicide vests and hurt others, while nations wrap mega ton bombs to their fighter jets and destroy nations and cities.  All of us should reflect on the ugliness embedded in a few men from each one of our faiths.

There is not a religion out there that preaches discrimination or hatred for others.  Isn’t that the case with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or any faith?  Religion doesn’t teach, but the Guardians make a villain out of God towards others. God is not a villain, he/she/ it is about justness, fairness, equity and kindness to the entire creation.

What can we do to cut down the fear mongering and pitting every one against Muslims?
As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits.

As fellow Americans this is what you can do for members of the family of faiths, and become  a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives;
  1. Individuals or cult leaders are responsible for their crimes and not anyone else.  Let’s not even blame their parents, pastors, mayors, or their religion or their nation.
  2. We bring justice by punishing the criminals and restore trust in the society, no one but the criminal is responsible for his or her acts.
  3. Religion is like the Nuclear power, in the right hands it is beneficial to the mankind, but in the wrong hands, it brings death and destruction.   Neither religion is bad nor the nuclear power; it is the users and abusers who are good or bad.
  4. We absolve religion from any blame, as religion is an intangible entity which you cannot kill, kick, murder, slaughter, hang, shoot or bury. Trust cannot be restored in the society by barking aimlessly in the dark.
  5. War on terror is a dumb idea; it should be war on ignorance through education and knowledge.
References:






Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) at www.TheGhousediary.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can Christians and Muslims Co-exist - Symposium Report 1 of 2

Can Muslims and Christians co-exist – Symposium report 1 of 2

San Antonio, TX, Saturday, February 27, 2916 -- Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith outreach center called on Christians and Muslims to share their perspectives on the subject matter in a symposium organized on Friday and Saturday.

 

No matter how difficult these conversations are, they are necessary to understand and learn about each other. God almighty in Quran says, the best ones among you are those who take the time to learn about each other, when we learn about each other conflicts fade and solutions emerge.     God has created everything in order and in balance, and human greed and insecurities knock this balance off, and God advises us to restore it for our own good.  The act of restoration is indeed a religious inspiration. 

Every religion is beautiful and each one is designed to bring peace, tranquility and salvation to oneself, one learns to live in peace with himself or herself and with others.  There is a shortage of Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, Pundits and religious men and women who have the integrity to say that others religions must be equally beautiful.  My daughter said when she was around 10, “Dad, if the pastor tells the truth that all religions are beautiful, why would any one flock to his church?"  The minute one feels or claims that his faith is the truth (and others are not),  and is superior, it is religion no more, politics and greed have taken over the soul. To sell religion and have larger congregations, one has to lie about other faiths, what a shame!

Thanks to Pastor Flowers and Mrs. Janice Flowers for organizing this event, we were able to clarify a few misunderstandings, but a whole lot more needs to be done. God willing we will continue to strive to create heaven on the earth, where no one has to live in fear of the other. Pastor Flowers is a genuine guy, as he moderated the event with utmost sincerity and honesty, I applaud him for that.

Misinformation about Allah, Islam, Quran and the Prophet was painful to sit through and listen, particularly coming from my brothers who were former Muslims. May God bless them, and give them the knowledge to see that God is God of all humanity despite how we perceive him, her or it is one and the same.  

On the other hand, we (Muslims) have failed to question the authenticity of the Hadiths, Ibn Hisham's Seerah, the Sharia and the exegesis by Tamiya, Katheer, Maududi, Banna and others.  Some of us have put these books on par with Quran, which we should have never done. In the next few yeas, we will be ready to sign a joint declaration that Quran is the only book for Islam - and the only quotes from Quran about Islam will be considered authentic.

We have to fix some of the Hadiths and Sharia books to be authentic and reflect Prophet Muhammad's character who was a mercy to mankind. I don't blame some of our friends from other faiths for being scared of what they read, and most of the time, they quote from these doubtful books, sincerely 
believing that it is Islam.  As a Muslim, Quran is the only book for me, the material in other book will be authentic,  only if it contributes to building peaceful cohesive societies. (Two Islams


The format of the symposium did not allow me to present another point of view except shaking my head in disagreement when I heard things were way off.  I was tempted to walk out a few times, instead I started scribbling Jesus' mantra to turn the other cheek, meaning don't do or say anything to aggravate the situation and started praying like them, asking the lord to forgive them, for they know not.   
We cannot blame others for misunderstanding us without clarifying such misunderstandings, and making an effort to know others' perspective. We have a lot of work to do. As Muslims, we have the responsibility to create a better world for all humanity.

The speakers included three former Muslims; Daniel Akbari, Kamal Saleem and Taufiq, and two practicing Muslims Raheel Reza and Mike Ghouse. Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey,   both Christian Activists laid out the programs to counter Jihadis. 

The social issues were addressed by four different speakers. Bishop Harry Jackson offered three lenses to look at the presidential candidates and I applaud him for his inclusivity, he responded positively if the candidate were a Muslim or a Hindu, if he or she would be qualified to serve.  What a joy it was to hear him out.

Mrs. Alice Patterson presented how the primaries and precincts work. Her story of overcoming bias is worth listening to, and I have fought with myself not to have any bias towards another human and related with her story. Indeed she played a major role in organizing prayers when a Blackman Alfred Wright was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas in 2013.

 Dr. Fernando Cabrera’s talk on education resonated with me, indeed, his parents told him exactly what my parents did – get education!

Gilbert Hernandez’s presentation was a big hit for me, and I hope to dedicate time for his project.  So many young men and women are lost to the vultures form Gangs and Drug cartels. Muslim Youth are also facing similar problems, as a community we are deeply concerned and want to do everything to safeguard our kids from being recruited by the extremists.   Gilbert’s passion to save our youth is admirable and I hope to connect him with Muslim organizations, they have a good system down to address this sorry state of affairs.

Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus on Mount Beatitude, which Prophet Muhammad practiced, and became a mercy to the universe. Following in their footsteps, unwaveringly, I hung on to their wisdom and remained a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer.

Raheel Raza and I gave our presentations on Friday night, which were received very well. I have full written up on my presentation, and will be available under the title of “My speech at San Antonio interfaith symposium about Muslims and Christians” at www.TheGhousediary.com

My commentary on the presentations of Kamal Saleem, Daniel Akbari, Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey will be finalized after the video or audio presentation becomes available to make sure I can quote them verbatim.

Pastor Charles Flowers concluded each segment with a summary and a graceful prayer. Fortunately, he chose to advance my calling that finding the truth is one's own responsibility. 

My last offering towards the very end of the program was that I will review each item and share my comments and suggestions about the program and publish it.  Those who want to see another perspective are welcome to it. 

My responsibility is to address the phobias and allay the fears; no American has to live in apprehensions or fear of fellow Americans.  My role is to build bridges and free my friends from ill-will and malice.

Yes, Muslims and Christians have coexisted and will continue to do so, despite the shortcomings on both sides that mess up the relationships. I'll summarize the historical, theological and social perspectives at a newspaper and then at the websites American Muslim Institution and ATF. 

This is one of the rarest conferences I have attended where the host has set the highest standards of hospitality.  How many people can I thank? Rosalie Astran, Zulmarie Santiago,  Abraham Martinez and of course,

Twenty years from now our pastors, imams, rabbis, pundits, shamans and all the religious clergy will be telling the truth – that faith is in the heart of the believer just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

My faith is Islam and it is not superior to any religion, nor is any religion superior to Islam, claiming superiority is arrogance, and God in Islam does not favor arrogance, as it is the root cause of all evil and conflicts. Most Muslims get that right and a few don’t, just as with all other religions.

May God bring humility to us.












Thank you,

Mike Ghouse, 
(214) 325-1916
Washington, DC 

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, newsmaker and a professional speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslam,  politicshuman rights, and foreign policy.  Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at TheGhousediary.com 

Monday, January 25, 2016

An Pluralist’s Republic Day Message To Indian Americans

I am proud of the pluralistic ethos of my motherland, India and my homeland,
America. It is a pleasure to call both the nations, “God’s own countries.” Let me explain why, and make a few suggestions that you can act upon as an individual to sustain the pluralistic ethos of India. Let’s do our bit in restoring dharma, the righteous living.




Our nations, Democratic Republic of India and the United States of America are microcosmic representations of the universe we inhabit. We are blessed geographically with a range of topography from deserts to fertile lands, from mountains to the shining sea and the flat lands to valleys. Seasons wise, we enjoy all the four full seasons – winter, spring, summer and the fall. Indeed, we are blessed to be represented by every race, ethnicity and religion.
PLURALISTIC ETHOS
My interest as a social scientist is in sustaining the pluralistic ethos of India and America, which are threatened by a few short-sighted, but powerful rabble rousers among us.
Pluralistic ethos simply means, living our life and letting others live theirs. It is accepting the God given uniqueness to each one of us. No matter what language we speak, how we look, what we eat, drink, wear, or how we worship the creator, we will accept each other’s uniqueness as legitimate, and then respect the otherness of others. You are who you are, and I am who I am.
Hinduism talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, an idea that we are all part of one family despite our differences. Islam, Judaism and Christianity talk about having a common father and mother; Adam and Eve and we are an extended family. Sikhism blends us all under Wahe Guru and the Baha’i faith wraps all of us as many paths but one source, similarly Jainism, Buddhism, Tribalism and other traditions have richly contributed to the idea of cohesive societies.
Cohesive Societies are communities where people mind their own business, live their own lives and let others live theirs, but yet, work together as one composite unit.
Every Indian and American has a need to feel that he or she is a part of the society, rejection will certainly create problems.As an example of cohesiveness, look at our own bodies, we are made up of several items like heart, brain, kidneys, lungs, liver, anus, mouth, nose, ears etc. No part can claim that his role is the most important one. Indeed, there was a battle once when the organs were arguing about their role in normal functioning of human body. The Anus claimed that he was the most important organ in the body, the other organs laughed and ridiculed him, and to show them, he decided to assert his claim and shuts down for two days causing unbelievable misery and havoc! Frustrated with the pain, the other organs acknowledged his importance, and rightfully called him an ass hole but begged him to start functioning, so others can function normally. A cohesive society is when all of us function together for common good.
Prime Minister Modi had surprised the nation with his inclusionary statement made on November 1, 2014. As a Pluralist, I whole heartedly welcomed that statement and congratulated him for taking that step. He said, “The BJP should be like a bouquet so that every Indian felt there was a flower in it that he or she could identify with. “And, “A poor and illiterate person living in a slum should think, ‘Yes, there is a flower for me in this bouquet’.
At this precise juncture in our history, the Dalits do not feel like a flower in the bouquet. I do invoke the Prime Minister to act on his talk, and create an environment of inclusion. Unless he gets his party men to believe in what he has said, his leadership will remain a mere talk. A few rogue elements from his party are hell bent on throwing his bouquet into gutter; and his legacy is on the line.
Modi can finish his term as another promiser and talker, or become the doer. The choice is clearly his, and he alone is the driver of his legacy. All he has to do is give a 3-minute speech on each major incident like Rape, farmers Suicide, Dalit Suicide, homicide of writers, and witch-hunting for beef and murder of Akhlaq, to assure the people that he does believe in the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, and that he will not tolerate any Indian making the life of another Indian miserable. That is all it takes for Ram’s sake. We are losing the ideal of live and let live, and PM Modi can restore it far more effectively than any one in India at this time.
As Indian Americans, most of us have cherished the values of America and have become Americanized. Being American is respecting and believing in the rights of others, and being American is to value others life liberty and pursuit of their happiness; being American is letting each faith member practice his or her faith, and build his or her place of worship; and being American is NOT drawing sadistic pleasure by denying others rights. Unfortunately, we have a few in both nations who have not imbued the great values of these nations, and it is our duty, and responsibility of each one of us to the be pracharaks of American values.
The idea of Liberty is I don’t agree with you, but I’ll fight for your rights. Yes, if we the Indian Americans can truly call ourselves Americans, we have to speak up.
Suggested actions for the organizations and individuals
We have to have the following actions in building a cohesive India, where no Indian has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, and feel included in every sphere of life.
1. Today, on this Republic Day, let India’s flag be hoisted together with fellow Indians who are Adivasis, Atheists, Bahá’ís, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Sikhs, Tribal, Zoroastrians and every Indian representation. Let no Indian representation be left out. Reach out and bring them together at the Red Fort, and let them all proudly hoist our Tiranga, then go ahead and give them a hug, it will speak million words of our good intentions. It will generate the spirit of sab ka saath on a social basis.
2. The Indian American Organizations can do the same, invite Indians of all hues to come together, and celebrate the Republic Day in the spirit of India. If your heart is dirty and a sewer runs through it, the people can see through you, and not come, clean it up, they will come. I will be happy to make the calls to those who are unwilling for the sake of India.
3. Acknowledge that we see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names, and as Indians, we should not be biased towards any one.
4. Today, proclaim that India is God’s own country, and is represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. Announce that we are Adivasis, Native Americans, Atheists, Baha’is, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, and Jains, Jewish, Muslim, Pagans, Shinto, Sikhs, , Wicca, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping out there on God’s earth. We are Brown, Black, White, and Yellow and come in all the colors nature has produced us.
5. Aspire for an India that the world can emulate; and not the other way around. India is a pluralistic democracy where everyone can eat, drink, wear or believe whatever he or she wants to in his or her pursuit of happiness.
6. Announce that from this day forward, every Indian will have equal access to education, employment, housing, business loans, and entrepreneurial opportunities and if anyone is denied that opportunity, you will step up and stand up against the violators.
7. Every Indian wants justice and demands a fair treatment of every one of the 1.31 billion Indians; rich or poor, connected or not, we must come to grips with the social and community life to create an exemplary India that will become a model nation in the world. Create an Equal Opportunity Commission based on US Model. Ask not what others will do, ask yourselves, are you capable of being a good Samaritan?
PLEDGE TO ONE INDIA
You can institute a pledge that every public office holder from the Peon to the President of India and everyone in between must take and live by it. Violation should disqualify him or her from holding the public office. Let it be monitored publicly.
As Indians we can that pledge to both India and America on the Republic Day:
1. I pledge allegiance to India, one nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.
2. I pledge that I honor and treat every Indian with “full” dignity.
3. I pledge that all individuals would be treated on par.
4. I pledge that I will treat all religions with equal respect, equal access and equal treatment.
5. I pledge that I will oppose any act that treats any Indian less than me.
6. I Pledge that I will work for an India, where every individual can live with security and aspire for prosperity.
7. I pledge that I will protect, preserve and value every inch of India and every human soul in India

This would be the first step towards ensuring a just, peaceful and prosperous India that can sustain its progress and peace. If you can do it, then you can expect others to do it.
I love my India.
Jai Hind.

Mike Ghouse

Interfaith Dialogue for Beginners - Monotheists v Polytheists

Beginner’s Interfaith Dialogue – monotheist v polytheists

I will be writing a series of short dialogues that take place between individuals when they meet for the first time. Mind you, these are individuals who are committed to learn and obviously stumble. The purpose of this for each one of to become capable of relating with fellow humans no matter what race, region or religion they belong to, as we have to work together. 


John: It’s nice to meet you Mr. Singh, we are all monotheistic faiths, and we have so much in common!  (John is a Christian meeting a Sikh for the first time and had a little knowledge about Sikhism).

Mike:  C’mon John, what would you say if he were a Hindu?
John: Don’t Hindus worship many Gods?

Mike: Yes, Hindus worship different manifestations of God, but they believe in one ultimate Creator. They simply see the creator represented by different aspects of life, and you see it all wrapped in one.


John: Polytheists?  (He did not sound pleased with the word)
Mike: Why is it wrong? As humans we believe in NO God, ONE God and Multiple forms of God, does God change because we believe differently? It is just our belief.


John: How do I deal with them then?.
Mike: Just like another human; respectfully.  So what if he believes in many God’s. No one’s faith is certified to be the ultimate truth (by others). As a Muslim my faith works for me, as your faith should work for you, and a Hindu’s faith works for him. Faith is a not a product to measure its worthiness, because it is a belief.

John, part of the learning is – we treat all humans as equals, when we do that, we are expressing humility, any sense of superiority amounts to arrogance, which without doubt creates conflicts.  Religion is about bringing peace to each one of us from within, and with others. 

For that, we have to learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 



Thank you.

Mike Ghouse

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Interfaith Language (Shouting v Chanting)

Interfaith Language | http://FoundationforPluralism.blogspot.com
As a Pluralist (i.e., respecting the otherness of others) my ears are trained to be sensitive. In one of hte discussion we had going, a Professor wrote, “Thousands of them (Hindus) are "roaming" along the banks of the Ganges in Kashi/Gaya (India) shouting "Hare-Ram! Hare Ram!"

My response?
Dear Professor, I would prefer, “Chanting Hare Ram, Hare Ram” to the phrase “shouting Hare-Ram! Hare Ram!" Likewise, I would prefer Chanting Allahu Akbar rather than shouting Allahu Akbar.

We have do the best we can in choosing the words that would not hurt others. Words can change one’s attitude towards you.
Thanks
Mike Ghouse
www.InterfaithSpeaker.com

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Genuine Interfaith Dialogue

Genuine Interfaith Dialogue | FoundationforPluralism.blogspot.com

In a Genuine interfaith dialogue, we respect the otherness of others and never claim our faith to be superior to the other as it amounts to arrogance. Religion is about humility that builds bridges between peoples and the communities, and not about arrogance which kills relationships and breeds conflicts.


One of the key things about genuine interfaith dialogue is to develop the ability to see the beauty in other faiths, without having the anxiety to flaunt yours as the best. If we were selling religion like used cars, we have to put others down to make ours look better.

But religion is not a business, it is a system to help an individual achieve his or her own peace within, and peace with what surrounds; life and matter.


When my daughter was going to the Baptist Church, I mentioned to her that if the Pastor decides to denigrate other faiths in his sermons, don't be gullible to buy it. She came back with a powerful response, "Dad, if the Pastor tells all religions are equal or beautiful, why would people go to his congregation?" He has to tell the people that others are not worthy.

Is religion a business? Is one's income tied to the number of congregants? Ultimately what difference does it make if you believe in God the Christian way, Muslim, Hindu or any other way?  God loves his creation, all of his creation, and if he does not, then why do we need a God like that?

Over the years, I have heard different versions of the following sentences uttered by Imams, Rabbis, Pastors, Pundits and clergy from other faiths. "No other faith offers this connection with God" - "Only _______ offers salvation" - "Our faith is based on science", " _____ is a very logical faith", "No other faith gives a purpose in life like our _______ faith, "  Every time I hear that, I cringe. Why are they duping their congregants?   I make quick notes and invariably ask the clergy, if they were aware that other faiths also offer the same ideals, here they are....  they walk away, or double down on it. 


A few have said to me, look, if people want to believe in my claims, let them. I reminded them that it borders on dishonesty,  as a religious person, doesn't he owe the truth to his congregants?  

I hope a day will come when more of us can speak about other religions honestly and sincerely.  That is, for a Jew to speak about Christianity as a Christian would speak and vice-versa, a Hindu to speak about Islam as a Muslim would speak and vice versa, and for a Sunni Muslim to speak about Shia, as a Shia would speak about his tradition.  We should have the integrity to articulate other people’s faith honestly, or have the common sense to believe that others faiths must be equally good for them to follow.    

You are who you are, and I am who I am. 
I can never be like you, nor can you ever be like me,
Your faith is as dear to you, as my faith is dear to me.
I like my faith as you like yours, but...

 I will never claim my faith is superior, as it generates conflict, and religion is not about conflict, it is about removal of apprehension and bringing peace.


As I study the beauty of all faiths, I pick things here and there to share.  Here is a chapter from Quran,  called Kafirun,  which has the similar language as the above four lines, and I am hoping to hear from my fellow religionists to share something like this from their tradition. No religion is superior to the other, period! Here it is - http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html

You will find a handful of religious people, who are honest enough to acknowledge the beauty of other faiths, without worrying that their faiths will become less valuable, or others may criticize you.
Again, I am blessed to have written up about every faith tradition; you can Google search the following:


  1. Atheist Mike Ghouse
  2. Bahai Mike Ghouse
  3. Buddhist Mike Ghouse
  4. Christian Mike Ghouse
  5. Hindu Mike Ghouse
  6. Jain Mike Ghouse
  7. Jewish Mike Ghouse
  8. Native American Mike Ghouse
  9. Pagan Mike Ghouse
  10. Sikh Mike Ghouse
  11. Wicca Mike Ghouse
  12. Zoroastrian Mike Ghouse
You can also Google Search
  1. Name of (most major) a Festival Mike Ghouse

God has blessed me with the ability to stand up for every one, and I have to complete compiling the list, meanwhile, you can check these out.
  1. Standing up for Atheists - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/04/speaking-up-for-atheists.html
  2. Standing up for Christians - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/01/standing-with-christians.html
  3. Standing up for Hindus - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/04/standing-with-hindus.html
  4. Standing up for Jews - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/02/standing-up-with-jews.html
  5. Standing up for Sikhs - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/08/standing-up-for-sikhs.html
  6. Standing up GLBT - http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/05/standing-up-for-gays-and-lesbians.html
  7. Standing up for Immigrants - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjU0KULv-Y
  8. Standing up for others - to be completed. 
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslampolitics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net for his writings at TheGhousediary.com and several blogs listed there in. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hindus and Muslims Celebrate Unity in Assam, India.

Hindu Muslim Unity in Assam | Foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com

How do we change the world?

If each one of us promotes the good stories, goodness will dominate the search engines, and gives hope to the people, it is as simple as that. It does not mean we have to be blind to bad things, it simply means acknowledge and fix the cancer, instead of letting the cancer tear the society apart. Let the good stories be told repeatedly.    


Somewhere in a meeting I sat down with two of my Washington friends, Razi Raziuddin and Tariq Farooqui Saheban and enjoyed their stories about how integrated and the beautiful relationships they had with Hindu families around them. I have heard similar stories from my Hindu friends in Dallas.  I think it is time for each one of us to write our stories, one short story at a time.  and I will be happy to share it at 
Foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com and or MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com. I need the ready story in word file to post it. You can create your own blog as well.

We need to tell our stories, the good stories giving hope to people.



The following story was shared by my friend Yogi Sikand, whom I admire for his pluralist credentials.

The story opened up several windows of beautiful things for me, but right now, I will share two small things from Bangalore.  I am not sure, if it is still the case, but growing up, the "Karga" festival in Bangalore, a procession of some 20-25 floats of Hindu deities starts from the Mastan Wali Dargah, and concludes at a temple in Chamrajpet ( I'll verify and correct this information).  I have no idea how long the tradition is, but it was there some 40 years ago.

My Dadi (Paternal Grandmother) became a widow when the influenza hit India around 1915-1917, much of my family was wiped out; indeed that was an international epidemic then. She used to tell us that you go bury one, and by the time they returned home they had another one to take.

I am writing a note about her as a part of the interfaith story, where people of different faiths work together without a sense of barrier or difference.

She abandoned her agricultural land and moved from a tiny village called Irgampalli, where my Grandfather, her husband was a Patel (Chief).  She walked 12 miles placing my Dad in a basket over her head and carried my aunt on her side as no transportation was available then.

She made it to Chintamani, and raised her two kids living in her brother’s house. She did not want any help, or a ‘burden’ on others for her fate.  She took charge of her own life by making flower garlands and taking care of my father and my aunt with the money earned. Then they moved to Yelahanka with the marriage of my aunt, and she continued her work, and her flower garlands decked the floats of Hindu deities on the Karga procession.

She was a Muslim and had no qualms about decorating Hindu deities. By the way my Grandfather’s brother is supposedly a saint, and they conduct annual “Urs” all evening festivities by his mausoleum.

The flowers used were Jasmine, also known as Moghra, and that sentimentalism caused me to name my daughter "Jasmina" and she is very much a proud independent woman. I am proud of my Dadi, my aunt, my mother, my sister and my daughter; I am a blessed guy to be influenced by these fiercely independent women. These women have no bias towards fellow humans. My Grandmother was an independent woman nearly 100 years ago. She was a proud woman. 


Share your story.....

Mike Ghouse

Pluralist in my heart, soul and spirit.
What is a pluralist? Check www.Foundationforpluralism.com
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In times of rising intolerance, Hajo in Assam shows the right way forward

By TwoCircles.net, Staff Reporter
Guwahati: The occasion of Magh Bihu is a cause for celebrations across Assam, but for the people of the state, it is also an opportunity to express their endeavour of living in peace and harmony with all communities. The procession rally in Hajo was a heartwarming case in point.
Hajo is the home of Powa Mecca, one of Islam’s most sacred sites in India and Hayagriva Madhava Temple, another holy place for both Hindus and Buddhists.
On Saturday, people take part in the procession rally from Powa Mecca to the Hayagriva Madhava Temple. Painuruddin Ahmed, Khadim of Powa Mecca and Siva Prasad Sarma, head priest of Hayagriva Madhava Temple exchanged flags and started the procession.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/94592664@N00/24087292919/in/dateposted-public/
“It has been a special occasion for all of us. We the people of Hajo gleefully and proudly take part in the procession to send a message across the globe about the communal harmony and brotherhood. Though the world today has witnessed an increase of intolerance among each other in the name of religion, we still belief in that harmony and humanity. We should shun violence and follow God’s teaching on peace,” said Painuruddin Ahmed after the procession.
It is said that Powa Mecca was constructed from the soil brought from the city of Mecca. Standing atop the Garurachal Hill, it has the tomb of Pir Giasuddin Auliya, who was the pioneer of Islam in this part of the world. It was built by Sujauddin Mohammed Shah in 1657 AD.
Meanwhile, Hayagriva Madhava Temple is situated on the Monikut hill. The present temple structure was constructed by the King Raghudeva Narayan in 1583.
CS Lama, head priestess of the Guwahati Buddha Vihar also took part in the rally.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/94592664@N00/24372628551/in/dateposted-public/
The locals say that they feel proud to be a part of this unique event.
“I always feel proud with Hajo. When the whole country was in tensed after the demolition of Babri Masjid, the people of Hajo got united to set an example for the rest of the country. I have never come across any kind of incident of such communal hatred in this area,” Amarendra Deka, a television journalist with Pratidin Times, told TwoCicrles.net.
People from different communities visit Powa Mecca and Hayagriva Madhava Temple on the normal days as well.
Siva Prasad Sarma, head priest of Hayagriva Madhava Temple said that this place is unique in the country for being a supreme example of communal harmony.

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