B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Workshop on Hinduism

UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM
Workshops by the Foundation for Pluralism

Contact: Mike Ghouse
Cell: 214-325-1916
Office: 972-919-4466
Email: Mike@FoundationforPluralism.com
Website: www.FoundationforPluralism.com


Dr. Hasmukh Shah and Swami Nityananda Prabhu conducted the presentation. We invited friends to write about Hinduism in 600 words, and we are pleased to present the following write ups from:
Pratap Bhogilal
  1. Sunil Maini, CPA
  2. Raghu Trivikraman
  3. Akbar Hussain
  4. R Sivasankar

Please note that all articles will be edited to insure inclusive claims to the truth. We welcome presentations of 600 words or less. Please send to Foundationforpluralism@gmail.com . These will be posted at the Religion section of www.Foundationforpluralism.com and shared on several forums.

The Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress has launched an educational series to promote goodwill and understanding among different faiths. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and their wisdom, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group. Our Mission is driven by the need for peaceful co-existence of the humankind.

We believe knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of a different point of view. The very purpose of religion is to bring peace, tranquility and a sense of balance to an individual and aggregate that into a society for peaceful co-existence. The biggest single reason for conflict is the arrogance, and all religions have a formula to reduce that through prayers to the almighty. Spirituality and Arrogance are inversely proportional to each other. Greater the arrogance, lower the spirituality and vice versa. Greater humility amounts to greater spirituality.

The event is a tribute to those who are willing to think beyond the box. We have planned the educational series for all the religions this year and eventually, hope to include all faiths. We hope at least a few of the attendees would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards their fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom in it. We are committed to presenting the wisdom of each religion.

The workshops are titled “Understanding Religion” On our calendar we have listed the workshop for every faith that we could work with. Please mark your calendar for 4th Sunday of each month between 6 and 8:30 PM at Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14315 Midway in Addison. The Pluralism Calendar is at: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Calendar.asp


In the month of March we did a program with Jainism with Dr. Vastupal Parikh and Dr. Pradeep Shah, and in April I presented the workshop on Buddhism, and in May, we will be presenting a workshop on Zoroastrianism by Dr. Firdosh Mehta and Dr. Poras Balsara. Please join us, you must confirm attendance to: Confirmattendance@gmail.com

Programs are the initiatives of: Foundation for Pluralism & World Muslim Congress Office : 2665 Villa Creek Dr, suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234 (972) 919-4466.
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Basic Concepts of Hinduism
Pratap Bhogilal

God

Belief in God is the starting point of religion. As a Hindu, the God believed in is universal, omnipotent and omniscient. God is both personal and impersonal and beyond human comprehension. God is both “Sakara”’ with a human form and “nirakara” without any material form.

God appears periodically in human form, known as ‘avatar’ or incarnation. The popular avatars are Rama and Krishna. As Lord Rama, He personified the ultimate in human conduct and character. As Lord Krishna, the master of Yogashastra, He showed how to combine day-to-day living in this world of toil and turmoil with love for the entire creation.

In the ultimate analysis, not a leaf stirs without God’s will. Though our ego gives us an inflated opinion of ourselves, we are all instruments in the hands of God.

Soul
The idea of a soul is a dominant one in Hinduism. Though it is not seen nor can it be described, the belief in a soul above and beyond this body is always dominant. Many learned scriptures have dealt with the nature of the soul, and its relationship with a universal and omniscient God.

Transmigration

The belief in a soul is also linked to the idea of transmigration. One passes through six stages in life - birth, growth, existence, old age, disease and death. Beyond that lies another birth. The discussion on soul, death and beyond is elaborated in “Kathopanishad” which gives a rousing call “Wake up, stand up boldly, get a learned person to guide you. Like razor’s edge the path to tread is sharp and difficult, but nevertheless go that way.”

The process of transmigration from one birth to another birth can be put an end to by achieving liberation or ‘moksha’. It is also described as ‘nirvana’.

The meaning of all this appears to be getting freed from the compulsions of a body, overcoming its four-fold desires. As mentioned in the sacred book “Srimad Bhagavat”, these fourfold desires are wealth, power, fame and sensual pleasures. Adi Shankaracharya had categorized the desires under three heads, “Vishaya Vasana” (desires for sensual pleasures), “Shrutivasana” (desire for knowledge) and “Lokavasana” (desires for worldly recognition or fame and name).

Law Of Karma

The law of Karma is another essential concept of Hinduism. It is a very scientific law. For every action, there is a reaction. If actions are good, the result will be good; if bad, the result will be evil. One gets the fruits of one’s action depending on what one does. One can deceive the world at least for some time, but one cannot deceive oneself.

“Mahabharata” has beautifully described this law of Karma. It says: “Even if there are a thousand cows in a grazing ground, the little calf comes only in search of its own mother. Similarly, whatever one does in life comes back in search of one”.

There is no escape from consequences of one’s actions because of the law of Karma.
While in earlier ages the fruits of one’s actions were said to accrue in the next birth, or late in life, in the present “Kaliyug”, they are said to materialize very early, sometimes by end of day!

Purushartha (Human Effort) & Daiva (Destiny)

The law of Karma raises an interesting question: There is a concept of human effort (Purushartha) as the source of gains in life, as against “Daiva” which means Destiny. In other words, there is a belief that one gets what is due to one whether one exerts or not because of one’s destiny.

The best explanation I think is “purushartha” or human effort is necessary, “Daiva” is the “prerana” or inspiration from the God which leads one to put in these efforts.
“PUNYA” (MERITORIOUS DEEDS) AND “PAPA” (SINS)

One of the strongest impressions of the world is in terms of good or evil deeds. We are born to do as much good as possible and to avoid anything evil. The power of good and the merit which accrues form it, is indescribably great. The power of good and the accruing merit (Punya) is so great that it lasts beyond one’s death and the next generation benefits from it. In contrast, evil deeds and the sins which arise from it are such that it brings not only worldly disrepute but also various ill consequences.

Dharma

What is Dharma? Broadly, it means Righteousness: Etymologically, whatever is upheld by virtue of the inherent characteristic of anything is its Dharma. For instance, the dharma of sun is to give light and heat, of the ruler to maintain law and order and protect his subjects, of a householder is to look after his family.

“Srimad Bhagavata” describes “Dharma” as comprising four components. “Satya” or truth, “daya” or compassion, “tapa” or penance (self-discipline in modern world) and “dana” or charity, giving not only one’s money, but more important one’s talents and time in the service of one’s fellow human beings.

In Mahabharat the ultimate victory of the Pandava princes, led by Yudhisthira also know as Dharmaraja (the king of dharma, literally) guided by Lord Krishna who is pledged to uphold “dharma” in the world, emphasises the supremacy of “dharma” in life.

Service Of Fellow Human Beings

One of the ideas ingrained in Hindus from early childhood is of service to fellow human beings. Called “Paropakara”, one common saying is “Paropakararthamidam Shareeram” i.e. “this body is a tool for serving one’s fellow human beings”.
It is not what you give in sacrifice, but the spirit of sacrifice behind it which is all important.
Service of one’s fellow human beings is a duty which should be performed with utter selflessness.
Loyalty To Benefactors & Repayment Of Debt Of Gratitude
One of the basic concepts of Hinduism is of discharging the debt of gratitude to various benefactors.
The debt of gratitude to one’s mother can never be fully discharged. Adi Shankaracharya has pointed out how great is one’s mother. Mother’s blessings are the surest means of obtaining success in life. Gratitude towards one’s father as also “guru” or teacher is important.

The concept extends to Nature from which one gets sustenance and benefits.
Basically all religions, in essence, emphasize the importance of DUTY, COMPASSION towards fellow human beings and aspiration of every soul to reach God.
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Spectrum of Hindu Beliefs
Sunil Maini

1) Hinduism is based on the Vedas. The Vedas are divine revelations to the ancient sages. The oldest hyms are as old as 6500-7500 BC.

2) Hindus believe in the authority of the Vedas and other scriptures in deciding issues of ethics, merits, sins, duties and values.

3) Hindus believe there is only one Reality called Brahman (Bruh-mun), (the Limitless God) which appears as the world of beings and matter. The Self of all beings is no different from God.

4) Hindus believe that God is One but his names and forms and functions are infinite. He can be worshipped in various ways. ("God is One.... Wise people call him / worship him in various ways".....Vedas).

5) Hindus also believe in the authority of the self-realized masters, rational thinking and in a conscience in deciding the major issues of life.

6) Hindus believe in the Laws of Karma (Action). This is the divine Law of Justice in Action. Depending on our actions and the attitude with which they are performed we get the appropriate result in the future. Nobody can escape these laws. We reap as we sow. Whatever good and bad we are experiencing is the result of our actions performed in the past.

7) Hindus believe that the life situation we have gotten depends on our past actions, but the future depends on the choices we make in the present. We have Free Will to improve our future.

8) Hindus believe in Reincarnation. A human being after death can temporarily go to heaven or hell and is again born as human, bird, animal, plant or any other life depending on it's Karma.

9) All life forms are considered divine and worthy of proper treatment and respect.

10) Hinduism states that value based living will make our life more peaceful and prosperous and will lead one to the ultimate goal of self-realization.

11) Hindus believe in the holistic approach to life.

12) Human birth is considered a rare opportunity to realize the Self. We can strive to attain Moksha (liberation, redemption, salvation, exaltation, mukti) only in the human birth.

Other:

A person(ality) consists of four distinct entities: body (which consist of the organs of action namely: hands, feet, tongue that talks, organ of sex and organ of excretion), mind (which controls the sense organs namely: eyes, nose, ears, tongue that tastes and touch –skin. Additionally it is the mind that feels the emotions namely: happy, sad, excitement, depression), intellect (which discerns between the right and wrong, just and unjust etc) and the spirit: which is eternal, imperishable and deals with such issues.
Mind + Intellect = Heart.

The three: 1) God (Brahman), 2) his power: nature or (Maaya) and 3) a being (human) (Jeeva or the embodied Self) are of the same age and are eternal. Maaya is the Lord’s power or Shakti and can not be other than Him, just as the strength of a wrestler can not other than the wrestler.

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Understanding Hinduism
Raghu Trivikraman

Hinduism is a religion that has no founder. It has no beginnings and has evolved itself from different people over the ages, observing human behavior, a keen observation of nature and drawing parallels to lay a foundation of principles that helps an individual attain God. That is why Hinduism is also referred to as Sanatana Dharma – Sanatana means Eternal and Dharma means natural law. These principles that have evolved over the years, are what has been spelt out in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and form the guiding principles of Hinduism.

According to Hinduism, God is one, transcendent, yet fully imminent and present in all things perceivable and conceivable. God being all Supreme, besides creating physical matter also created consciousness, a form of Energy that provides life in all living organisms of the Earth. The founders realized that the Human mind has limitations and does not understand abstractions as well as it understands things that are perceivable by sense organs. To facilitate the concentration of the mind on God using sense organs, people evolved God in the form of statues and idols.

Hinduism says that the ultimate Supreme God is truly omnipresent and omnipotent – it is for these reasons and because of lessons learned from nature, even natural elements of the Earth like Fire, Wind, and the planets are worshipped in the name of Agni, Vayu, Guru, Shani etc. As consciousness is there in every human being, when Hindus greet each other and when they say the prayer “Abhivadaye” they are actually saluting the God in each other. Some people have more Godly energy in them than others and so when great souls like Rama, Buddha, Krishna, Sai Baba, Raghavendra left Earth they still continued to be worshipped as God.

By observing nature, the founders knew that all materials on Earth gets recycled including the human body. It is based on this observation that they also laid the foundation for the belief that the Consciousness or Soul has rebirth. As scientists later have found, energy neither gets created or destroyed, but gets transformed and rebirth is transformation of the energy consciousness.

Every system has some self-correcting mechanism and when the atrocities in the world increases, God through the use of the rebirth tool, comes to Earth in the form of an Avatar and restores order. To emphasize the importance of every living being (including animals) required to maintain the system in balance God also came in the form of Varaha (Pig) and Hanuman (Monkey) or Narasimha (Lion).

The beauty of the loose fabric. Sanatana Dharma is that each and every person can worship God in whatever form one chooses. Because every human mind is unique in some way, it is imperative that every mind be given the freedom to decide in what shape or form God is to it. India, with people speaking different languages and different cultures, has been in peaceful co-existence for centuries, thanks to this flexible architecture.
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Understanding Hinduism
Akbar Hussain

The general concept of religion is something divine and ordained by God through a prophet to a certain group of people. But Hinduism can’t be defined by this general concept. This is a life style, a culture and a spiritual doctrine. If someone is looking for enlightenment, then investigate into Hinduism. Looking for emancipation go through the Hindu scriptures. Want to know God discover your own self to find him within you. Want to experience a philosophical religion go to Hinduism.

Many ignorant people think that Hindu religion is all about worshipping many gods and goddesses. This notion is entirely wrong. The Indian culture is based on romance and unity. This unity is attained by Leela. Leela is a divine play to discover the self and that needs understanding between the two souls. This is the reason we have Krishna and Radha. Through their Leela we saw the beauty of love and dedication and how it makes us great, selfless and generous.

Hinduism is a deeply philosophical discipline. The teachings of Gita, Upanishada and the Vedas are unique because these scriptures are meant to show us right path to emancipation or nirvana.

Upanishad says Hrishi Yagyavalkaya before going to Vanaprastha gave many
cows to his wife Maithrayee but she said what I will do with these, they are
not going to make me immortal?
Hinduism is dear to me because it’s attached to my life and culture. My songs, my dances and my prayers all are part of my life. My every step is guided by the teachings of Hinduism. This is the a religion that gave humans the honor to become God. He came in the shape of man, played with us and lived among us and gave us that great hope the he will come again and again whenever there will be injustice, torture, untruth, he will come to save the righteous and punish the evil. Tadathmanam srijanyahum yuge yuge.

Hinduism is untouched by any foreign influence because it’s entirelyattached to our lives. Many religion came and gone but Hinduism survived all the onslaughts. Many foreigners came to India but they could not shake the foundation of this religion based culture rather they lost themselves in this huge ocean. They found peace and solace here. They found a new identity here. They discovered the way to nirvana in India.

In this age of conflicts and contradictions, the principles of peace and prosperity can be attained if we learn from the great teachings of Hinduism. The dream of an ideal world where love and tolerance will flourish can be achieved through the ideals of Hinduism.

Akbar Hussain
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Understanding Hinduism
By R. Sivasankar


Sanatana Dharma (Path of Eternal Righteousness) or Hinduism is among the oldest of religions in human civilization. Every Religion has a core philosophy, from which stems the specific practice of the religion or worship.

The Philosophy of religion attempts to answer the fundamental questions of existence, “where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?” In answering these questions, Hinduism hinges on two fundamental assumptions: the theory of Karma, and its corollary theory of Reincarnation. The theory of Karma is a universal law of cause and effect; “what you sow, so you reap”. The practical limitations of reaping every result of one’s actions within one lifetime, coupled with the fact that not all humans are born equal lends support to the hypothesis of reincarnation, where cause-effect relationships continue from one lifetime to the next.

The four pillars of Hinduism help answer the question of the goals of human existence. These four are (i) Dharma or righteousness, (ii) Artha or material wealth, (iii) Kama or the fulfillment of natural desires, and finally (iv) Moksha or the union of the soul with the Universal Spirit, Para Brahman or simply stated, the one “God”, after which there is no more reincarnating.

The Hindus believe that each one of us is an immortal soul and not the body. Just as we change clothes every day, the soul changes its “body” in every reincarnation. Initially the soul is steeped in “avidya” or ignorance; Ignorance of our oneness with God. Everyone originated from God. Through a series of reincarnations, everyone eventually evolves until they regain the conscious identity of oneness with God.

The Hindus believe that there are many paths to “Moksha”. These include the paths of “inquiry”, “devotion”, “service or action”, “yoga meditation”, “ritual worship”, “japa”, “puja”, etc. A key figure in Hindu life is the “Guru” defined as the “dispeller of darkness”. The Guru helps one on the path of life, providing guidance on the precepts of “Dharma”, until the goal of “Moksha”.

Hindus generally attribute all human knowledge, power, wisdom, skills etc. as well as all forces of nature as originating from God. Para Brahman or God manifests in many forms, hence the worship of God in these many forms is often confused as worshipping many gods.

The practice of Hinduism has several common elements for specific ceremonies such as at times of birth, coming of age, marriage, and death.

It requires volumes to cover the entire span of Hindu scriptural texts. I will briefly mention a few. The four sources of knowledge are Shruti, Smriti, Ithihasa and Purana. The Vedas, part of Shruti are further divided into four headings, Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad. These are conveyed through Bhasha, in a fivefold aspect, Brahmanda, Nada, Bindu, Pinda and Akshara. Manu’s Smriti is considered to be the Hindu equivalent of Hammurabi’s laws. Among the Ithihasa, the Mahabaratha and Ramayana are the most famous. The Bhagavad Gita, a part of the Mahabaratha is considered by many Hindus to be the Hindu Bible, if there be such an analogy.

As many scriptures attest, the ultimate end of knowledge is love; love for God, love for fellow human beings, love for all of God’s creation. It is said that the great sage Vyasa, who is said to have composed many of the scriptures felt a great void after many of his works. It was only after he was directed to compose his great scripture of love and devotion, the Bhagavatham, that he felt a sense of peace, joy and fulfillment.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moderate Muslims

Moderate Muslims
Can they escape the label?
Mike Ghouse, April 23, 2007

The words change in their meaning and context over a period of time, either they shrink in scope or become universal. The word Moderate is talked about quite extensively these days, especially in reference to Muslims. Who is a moderate Muslim?

Wikipedia, "a moderate is an individual who holds an intermediate position between two extreme or radical viewpoints."

In our life time, we have witnessed dramatic changes in understanding the words and how the meaning has changed in scope. The word Liberal is considered open minded around the world, where as in America the conservatives have reduced it to a negative term. John F. Kennedy challenged it , "But if by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.' " The neo-cons use the world "Liberal" as though it is evil. Oddly the Liberals are not as offensive to denounce the trickery played by the likes of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck and others.

Don Feder in USA today claims that, "A universe that isn't God-centered becomes ego-centered" Belief or non-belief in God does not make a big dent in one becoming an egomaniac. Morality is common social values internalized, some derive from religion, as it is a source, but morality does not necessarily hinge on being God-centric. For years, an Atheist was meant an immoral person, and it is all going to change. Morality is derived from religion but is not religion- dependent.

The tragic 9/11 was a wake up call to Muslims around the world. They felt a sense of betrayal as Jihad, a noble and comprehensive concept of struggle, was resorted to commit violence against innocent people, where Islam, even in the battle field does not allow indiscriminate violence. Such violence in the name of Islam can be better understood as abusing the religion as a political tool, just as much as the crusades and inquisitions were political tools using religion to consolidate the hold of rulers over their people.

Jihad is an Arabic word meaning a struggle or an effort in the fulfilling of the commandments of God in order to become a better human being. The war is not holy and there is nothing in the Qur'an to aggressively go after anyone, unless you're defending against an aggression. Islam forbids aggression and suicide.

Coming to the word "Moderate Muslims", Muqtedar Khan writes, "Muslims in general do not like using the term, understanding it to indicate an individual who has politically sold out to the "other" side. In some internal intellectual debates, the term moderate Muslim is used pejoratively to indicate a Muslim who is more secular and less Islamic than the norm."

Asma Khalid writes in Christian Science Monitor "The term moderate Muslim is actually a redundancy. In the Islamic tradition, the concept of the "middle way" is central. Muslims believe that Islam is a path of intrinsic moderation, wasatiyya."

In an article Civil Liberties and Uncivil Super-Patriotism: The Struggle between the Two Americas, Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq explains why the media and the government in America have made it so difficult for themselves to find moderate Muslims.

Khan, Khalid and Farooq are right. Muslims do resist the classification of any kind, and moderation is the given standard of Islam. When Muslims join in to pray at the largest annual Muslim congregational prayer on the day of Hajj, all distinctions of wealth, knowledge, age, gender, race, ethnicity and culture simply fade. There is no distinction between Shia or Sunni or any other sub-group, they may fold their hand on their chest or at the naval, but pray they do with no one looking at the other nor anyone is judgmental about others.

Prophet Muhammad always talked about the Middle path being the most acceptable path, the one that prevents you from extremes. I was teaching Buddhism in my workshop on Sunday, April 22 nd and incredibly, the philosophy of Buddhism hinges on taking the middle path. When Buddha he experimented from self-denial after the princely life of self-indulgent, he figured that the middle path was the way to go.

By definition and following the traditions of the prophet Muhammad, Muslims are given to be moderates and the phrase 'Moderate Muslim' is simply rhetorical.

However, given the current meaning ascribed to the word Moderate in all faith traditions, it is necessary to identify a meaning with the word.

Liberal Muslims can be defined as those who see a lot of flexibility in their faith; they find freedom in following their faith and making their own rules in some aspect of life as they go forward. Religion is a private matter to them; some of them don't see the need for an outward expression. The conservative Muslims on the other hand (some of them are fundamentalists or orthodox Muslims) will remain loyal to the literal meaning of the words, they don't see the need for any flexibility in following their faith as they understand it. Together these two groups constitute – i.e., strict conservatives and liberals - less than 5% of the Muslim population. That may be the ratio in all groups.

The moderate Muslims, on the other hand are religious too; religion is not a divider to them at all. The religious barrier is literally non-existent to them and they get along with all people. In practicing their faith they see some flexibility and accept some rigidity. They can also be called average Muslims, like the average Joes or Abdul's or Muhammad's. When you are with them, you get the idea that they are Muslims, but it is not a neon sign.

Ironically the moderates of any faith do not wish to be labeled, they do not want to be classified, and they want to be simply beings that follow a certain faith in person. So is the case with Moderate Muslims. They do not prefer the label and I pray it does not stick to them. However, we cannot escape being identified as Moderate Muslims and I am one.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com . Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980.

Extinguishig Hoaxes

Extinguishing Hoaxes

Dallas, Friday, April 20, 2007

This morning I scrambled for information about the deceitful propaganda listed below

Mahatma Gandhi, Einstein, Dr. Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and several great leaders have expressed their wisdom on creating a just society. Their concern was not what bad people did, rather it was, what the good people did not do. I believe much of the evil in the world exists because of our silence.

When we watch the television, and if some one is portrayed wrongly on it, our integrity ought to come alive, and at least make us state that it is wrong, and share it with the loved ones and others . Doing the right thing gives relief on one's mind. What if the wrong portrayal suits our own biases? Should we let that ride? Are we honest with our own self? How can we expect others to be?

It is a shame that there are people out there who manufacture lies with evil intentions of doing harm to others. It is a greater shame that some people let that hoax ride out and do nothing about it.

Thanks to my Christian and Jewish friends, who made an effort to verify a wrong propaganda, and hope it stops with us. At least the readers of the Blog have the links to check it out.

It is our responsibility to tell the truth, at the end, every one is better off with it.

Here is one such this morning. I have removed their names and add back if they permit.

This morning, one of my Television anchor friends sent the following note with the piece she had received “
___________________________________________________

In a message dated 4/20/2007 10:20:54 A.M. Central Standard Time, xxxx@xxx.com writes:

-- although I am now acting only in an anchor capacity and not handling the religion beat anymore for the station it's still my passion. I checked and it appears that "The Times, Online" does confirm this to be happening in the UK, following France and the EU -- I'm surprised there hasn't been more dialogue about this among interfaith scholars and clergy and why there isn't more of a movement to hold countries accountable to educating children about history; this isn't a debate, it's historical fact.”

In Memoriam

Recently this week, UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Moslem population which claims it never occurred.

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets. This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.

Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along - Thanks!

___________________________________________________

My immediate response to her was as follows;
and as in crises, sought the help of three of my Jewish Friends

xxxxx,

I have always admired your commitment to bring the truth, and another point of view. Thanks for sharing this important news. It saddens me to see this happen, if it indeed has happened. Muslims not only commemorated Holocaust, but also have a perspective on it - check these links - Next year the Director of Holocaust Museum, the Jewish and Muslim Communities will be commemorating the Holocaust together, we will bring in other communities as well. Jay Gromley from KTVT did a full coverage of the event on Jan 26, 2006.
1. http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/04/yom-hashoah-yom-milaad.html
2. http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2007/04/yom-hashoah-remembrance.html
3. http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_HolocaustDay/HMD2006_ProgramReport.asp
I still have to believe in this because there is mischief in it. France bans the scarf for Muslims, and they would not listen to Muslims to remove the holocaust from the curriculum. Let me know if it is the truth, this teaching is necessary for the world to continue to remember, never again.

Mike Ghouse
___________________________________________________

Then my Jewish friend sends this response quickly, he is as committed to the truth and building bridges, as I am;

Fortunately this story is largely FALSE! (That did not keep Fox News from broadcasting a story about it or from failing to check it out, although I don't know if it was broadcast here.)

I received two version of the note which started this thread sometime last week. When I couldn't verify the first one I forwarded it to the major internet hoax sites for investigation, and to the Anti-Defamation League. The second version of the note included a link to a news article that may have been the source of the exaggeration, a UK internet "newspaper" that promotes inflammatory headlines. The hoax sites have all responded almost immediately and investigated, as has the ADL. Here are the links. The ADL response is the most succinct.

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/holocaust_chain.htm
http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/holocaust.asp
http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/h/holocaust-uk.htm
http://www.adl.org/Internet_Rumors/UK_Holocaust_Education.htm

Thanks for being vigilant.
xxxxxx
___________________________________________________

The other friend sends this email:

“You are correct in that some hoaxes get wide circulation. I just forwarded links to you that tell a different story. You are wise to be cautious.”

Xxxxx
___________________________________________________

-----Original Message-----
From: MikeGhouse@aol.com [mailto:MikeGhouse@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 11:50 AM
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: FW: In Memoriam/
xxxxx,

Thanks for including me on the list... thanks God it was a hoax, and thanks xxxxxx for finding the information. You and I have a lot to work to repair the world. xxxxx, you too. Thank you again from my heart.

The Muslim community was scared and was in prayers when the VT happened... at least I was begging for that imaginary elusive God that let that be not a Muslim. I can't imagine the feast the Beck's, O’Reiley's and all those hate spreaders would have had, and the misery ordinary Muslims would have endured. We need neutralizers on the TV, and we need those who can check aggravations and bring sense. We the Americans just need the truth, we can handle the rest.

With love for every one God has created,

Mike Ghouse
___________________________________________________

Oh, my God -- yes, thank God for that -- the world might not have recovered so easily from that although it will have difficulty enough understanding this poor young soul who didn't seem to know another way...

Xxxxxx

___________________________________________________

On May 17, 2006, a resolution was passed in support of the Baha’i community in Iran, and released by 17 interfaith leaders in Dallas,

Resolution from Interfaith Leaders:

Whereas, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is an ages-old principle of human relationships, held in common among many faith traditions. To exclude anyone from full acceptance as persons denies them the right you would require. - http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/06/resolution-on-support-of-bahai-s-in-iran.htm

A week later on May 24th, another hoax emerged that the Iranian Government was coming with a plan to identify Zoroastrians and Jews by having them wear a bade in public as an identification of who they were. That turned out to be false. However the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress issued statement condemning the act of the Iranian Government and apologizing to the Bahai, Jews, Sufis and Zoroastrians- http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/05/apolgoy-to-zoroastrians-bahai-sufis-and-jews.htm

Iran may force badges on Jews, Christians
TEHRAN, May 19 (UPI) -- Iran's parliament passed a new law this week that would force the country's Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear color-coded ID badges.
Xxx This turned out to be a hoax as well.
Messages at Foundationforpluralism@yahoogroups.com May 2006.

Muslims and Democracy







American Muslims and democracy

Fellow Americans,

Please read through the following piece in the Conservative Voice. We need to prepare a response, and I request the members of World Muslim Congress to respond to this as succintly as possible.

11:00 AM - letter sent to the conservative voice.

Should Americans fear that if Muslims grew in significant numbers, they may resort to imposing their Sharia laws on to others? I am sure there are few out there who would dream about it, just as the neo-cons, the hard core fundamentalists in every faith and a variety of lobbies would like to get their way.

Is the fear propagated by Dave Gaubatz legitimate? The author fails to mention the sentiments of majority of Americans, be it Christian, Jews, Hindus, all others and Muslims. The overwhelming Majority of Muslims prefer democracy, a pluralistic democracy. They would rather live in a free society, where they can live their life without coercion or deferential compulsion including practicing their faith in peace.

They cherish the American values, and there is plethora of writings by American Muslims feeling proud to relate the values of Islam with the values enshrined in our constitution; the values of liberty, justice and equal opportunity. No American Muslim would want to live in an Islamic nation per se, as they exist without freedom and democratic values.

Muslims are frustrated with our support for oppressive regimes; we are constantly supporting ruthless monarchies and dictators on one hand and talking about democracy on the other. Americans of all hues including Muslims would like to see that our values of democracy and free enterprise take root in those nations, and smoothly become democracies, where the individual liberty is valued. Our economic interests ought to be in their growth, as our future consumers of services and not customers of weapons.

It is an educational process that we must plan and strive to accomplish. We could be smart and invest 1/4th of monies we blew in Iraq on this program. Our investments would produce a greater yield and peaceful societies.

Islam bashing is on rise, opinions are being manufactured and the predators are multiplying to cash in on the trend.

Muslim Americans rather subscribe to the Democratic values and want nothing but democracy for governance whether they are a majority or a minority. As Muslims, we are committed to a world of co-existence and believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for all, for it to survive and sustain.

Please respond as a comment at this link: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/04/mapping-sharia-in-america.html

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980.

Mapping Shari'a in America
http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/24527.html
by Dave Gaubatz
April 22, 2007 01:00 PM EST

Mapping Shari’a in America, a project undertaken by the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE).

The question has been asked of me, Why is it necessary to map Shari’a in America?

Implicitly this question is really two questions. Why would anyone need to map out all of the mosques and Islamic day schools in the US and assuming that this was a worthwhile project, why would a private non-profit organization such as SANE undertake this and not the FBI or some other division of the Homeland Security Administration?

The answer to the first question is based upon what I know to be true from my almost two decades working for the US Air Force (Office of Special Investigations) and the federal government (non-military) special agent specializing in intelligence and counter-terrorism, especially the Islamic variety. My professional career has required me to learn Arabic and to spend many years in the Middle East, developing human intelligence to learn who, what, where, and how the terrorists want to kill Americans and destroy our nation.

The first thing I learned was that the political ideology of winning over the West and the world for an Islamic Caliphate is NOT specific to some extremist group of Muslims. This is mainstream Islam and Shari’a. Historical, traditional and authoritative Islamic law mandates every Muslim to work to that end through personal development (or internalized Jihad), and outreach (or dawa), and external Jihad or war.

It is certainly true that not all Muslims are faithful to their full calling, but any Shari’a faithful Muslim, meaning any Muslim who accepts Islamic law as authoritative (even if he himself does not live up to its standards) strives for or at least dreams of the day when his country and the world will live under the mandates of Islamic law.

This Islamic calling can be accomplished through techniques ranging from gentle persuasion, propaganda and public relations, intellectual disputation, moral authority, implied threats, actual threats, political power, and violence. The goal remains the same: all of the non-Islamic world, and indeed all of the Islamic world, must submit to Shari’a. A Muslim who refuses to do so will be killed. That is the legal judgment in every major school of Islamic law. A non-Muslim, assuming he is not a pagan (typically a Christian or Jew) might be given the opportunity to live in a subservient status in an Islamic society and pay a special head tax to prove his submission. But this option is left to the Caliph or ruler at the time. Historically, even pagans (such as Hindus) have been given this option but the different schools of Islamic jurisprudence differ on the appropriateness of this dispensation.

Now to the Why? The question should be answered by just taking a look at your neighborhood mosque or Islamic day school. Because this country does not “discriminate” in its immigration policy, we now have several millions of Muslims in this country (the exact number is disputed but we can safely say it is at least 3 million and others suggest it might be as high as 6 million). Take a look at these statistics from a US government open source web site:

Demographic Facts

>Mosques in the United States: 1,209

>American Muslims associated with a mosque: 2 million

>Increase in number of mosques since 1994: 25 %

>Proportion of mosques founded since 1980: 62 %

>Average number of Muslims associated with each mosque in the United States: 1,625

>U.S. mosque participants who are converts: 30 %

>American Muslims who "strongly agree" that they should participate in American institutions and the political process: 70 %

>U.S. mosques attended by a single ethnic group: 7 %

>U.S. mosques that have some Asian, African-American, and Arab members: nearly 90 %

>Ethnic origins of regular participants in U.S. mosques:
South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Afghani) = 33 %
African-America = 30 %
Arab = 25 %
Sub-Saharan African = 3.4 %
European (Bosnian, Tartar, Kosovar, etc.) = 2.1 %
White American = 1.6 %
Southeast Asian ( Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino) = 1.3 %
Caribbean = 1.2 %
Turkish = 1.1 %
Iranian = 0.7 %
Hispanic/Latino = 0.6 %

>U.S. mosques that feel they strictly follow the Koran and Sunnah: > 90 %

>U.S. mosques that feel the Koran should be interpreted with consideration of its purposes and modern circumstances: 71 %

>U.S. mosques that provide some assistance to the needy: nearly 70 %

>U.S. mosques with a full-time school: > 20 %

Given the almost universal respect Muslims give to Shari’a (even if they fail to live up to its standards), it should be apparent we have a real problem in this country. What makes matters worse, is that one of the most radical and virulently violent sects of Islam, the Salafists or more derogatorily referred to as Wahhabi’ists (named after the sect’s founder as if to suggest his approach was an innovation and that he was not appropriately submissive to Allah, Mohammed and the traditions which developed subsequently), principally situated in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, are financing and providing the leadership for the vast majority of the mosques and Islamic day schools in the US.

As a result, we have a well-developed and highly reticulated network of quite militant religious Muslim leaders directing a reservoir of “moderate” Muslims who can be energized almost at will. This is especially true among the young, restless, Muslim men who scorn their parents’ effort to be accepted by the American establishment and their Christianized ways (i.e., tolerance of pluralism; Sunday off work rather than Friday; socializing with non-Muslims, as just a small sampling of their list of grievances). Once these young rebellious Muslim youth learn of a vibrant, virulent, and masculine Muslim approach to the modern, self-indulging Western world, which most certainly favors a Judeo-Christian world view, this ready-reservoir of young combatants is any military recruiter’s dream.

To understand this organized effort to militarize US Muslims, permit me to quote US Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), not something I would normally do; but, on this subject he was quite accurate. I quote from Schumer’s section of the US Senate’s web site:

US Senator Charles Schumer discussed the role that top officials in the Saudi government, including Interior Minister Prince Naif , play in spreading militant Wahhabism in the United States and throughout the Middle East. Schumer detailed how prominent members of the Saudi royal family have set up charities that funnel money to mosques and madrassah schools that advance Wahhabi teachings. In the United States alone, Saud Arabia boasts of supporting over 18 mosques and schools, including the Islamic Center in Washington. The following is Schumer's statement:

On the eve of the second anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I think it is terribly important that we take stock of our efforts to root out terrorism. These hearings can play an important part in that process and I expect that after today we will have a better understanding of how the extremist ideology held by the 9-11 hijackers was spawned and where it has taken hold today.

Wahhabism is known throughout the Muslim world for its puritanical and severe approach to the teachings of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. It preaches violence against non-believers or infidels and serves as the religious basis for Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Experts agree that Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Wahhabist belief and its extremist teachings. Unfortunately, there is mounting evidence that Saudi sponsored groups are trying to hijack mainstream Islam here in the United States – in mosques, in schools, and even in prisons and the military – and replace it with Wahhabism.

As we will hear today, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Saudi royal family made a deal with the devil, offering to sponsor the teachings of Wahhabist clerics in exchange for their support of the Royal Family’s rule.

Wahhabi teachings include examples of Allah cursing Jews and Christians and turning some of them into apes and pigs; and warnings that Muslims must consider non-Muslims or infidels their enemy.

One of the terms of the dirty deal between the Saudi Royal Family and its Wahhabi partners has been the export of Wahhabist belief as part of Saudi foreign policy. Prominent members of the Saudi royal family – including Prince Naif, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister and anti-terror czar – have set up charities that funnel money to Wahhabi madrassah schools throughout the Middle East and Pakistan, making these areas hotbeds of anti-American sentiment and extremism.

Naif is a particularly bad seed. He’s made comments insisting that Zionists were responsible for 9-11 and claimed that Saudis citizens could not have been involved in the attack, even after the Saudi government admitted that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

He also oversees the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Al Quds Intifadah, which, like Saddam Hussein, has provided families of terrorists with millions of dollars through specially designated bank accounts. It seems impossible to expect cooperation in the War on Terror from someone who sponsors extremist and hateful religious belief and encourages terrorist actions. After the bombing of the Khobar Towers in 1998 that killed 19 Americans, it was Naif who single-handedly prevented the trial of 13 Saudis indicted for the crime.

Even as I speak, he appears to be up to his old tricks as reports indicate that Saudi officials have for months denied American agents access to a Saudi with knowledge of extensive plans to release poison gas into the New York City subway system.

It boggles my mind that on the eve of the second anniversary of September 11th, we cannot access someone who may have knowledge of a new 9-11 in the making, all because of the intimate relationship Saudi bigwigs have with extremist Wahhabi clerics.

That’s why I wrote to the Saudi Arabian ambassador Prince Bandar in July calling for Naif’s dismissal. Sadly, I was rudely dismissed. Earlier this week, I wrote to Secretary Powell asking him to make Naif’s removal part of US policy toward Saudi Arabia. I eagerly await the Secretary’s response. There are indications that Prince Sultan, the Saudi Defense Minister, may also be involved in activities similar to Naif since he has also set up charities that send money abroad for apparently humanitarian purposes.

And the money we are talking about here is not small potatoes. According to the Saudi Arabian Information Resource, between 1975 and 1987, Saudi Arabia sent $48 billion overseas in development aid, second only to the United States.

While all of this is terribly alarming – and no doubt contributed to the events of 9-11 – the most disturbing news is that Wahhabism – backed by truckloads of Saudi oil money – is now making inroads here in the United States. Saudi Arabia boasts of directly supporting over 18 mosques and schools across the country, including Islamic Centers in Washington and New York.

Experts who we heard from at the previous hearing suggest the real number is much higher, reaching into the hundreds, as intermediary organizations like the Saudi-sponsored World Assembly of Muslim Youth, provide financial support to American mosques and schools. In exchange, they demand that these mosques and schools toe the Wahhabi line. Saudi textbooks that preach violence against infidels can be found in some American Muslim schools.
And that’s not all. Grass roots political organizations that claim to act as the official voice of the American Muslim community here in Washington are also major recipients of Saudi money.

The Council on American Islamic Relations – perhaps the most famous of these groups – reportedly received financial support from Saudi-funded organizations to build its $3.5 million headquarters here in Washington.

This may explain why in April 2001, the Council released a survey saying that 69% of Muslims in America say it is “absolutely fundamental” or “very important” to have Wahhabi teachings at their mosques.

Now I don’t believe that these figures reflect the true feeling of the American Muslim community because the extremist Wahhabi ideology is violent, exclusionary and intolerant. It denigrates not only Christianity and Judaism, but also Shia and moderate Sunni Islam. Yet the leaders of these extremist organizations are smart and have public relations savvy. They know how to promote their cause and are willing to do what is needed to get backing from Saudi oil money.

To make matters worse, prominent members of the Council’s current leadership – people who were invited to the hearings today but declined to testify – also have intimate connections with Hamas – a group that receives substantial funding from Saudi Arabia and subscribes to Wahhabist teachings. I wish they had taken us up on our invitation so that they could explain themselves.

Other Muslim community groups in the United States – the Islamic Society of North America, the Graduate School for Islamic Social Sciences and the American Muslim Foundation to name a few – also receive money from Saudi sources and exhibit Wahhabi influence. The Graduate School and the American Muslim Foundation are both currently under investigation by the US government for terrorist financing

As I noted during the previous hearings we held, this is why it is so disturbing that these groups – and only these groups – are used by the US military and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to help select imams to minister in their ranks. These groups, with their Wahhabist tenets, clearly do not represent mainstream Islam, a system of belief that is peaceful and preaches respect and tolerance of other religions. But there should be no doubt that these organizations are on a mission to claim the American Muslim community as their own.

Official Washington can do much to counteract this movement by recognizing American Islamic groups that do not take Saudi money and which do not endorse Wahhabist teachings. These are the people who should be invited to White House prayer breakfasts instead of those who have publicly praised suicide martyrdom.

The Bush Administration can also help by striking at the source of these organizations’ support: Saudi oil money. Secretary Powell and others must make it clear to the Saudi Royal Family that if it does not end its dirty deal with the extremist Wahhabi clerics, it will ends its relationship with the United States.

I pray they act before it’s too late.

So we see that unless someone investigates each and every one of the mosques and Islamic day schools in the US to determine what brand of Islamic law each one follows and how committed the organization, its leaders and followers are to Shari’a and Jihad, we will be effectively participating in our own destruction because we have accepted the Politically Correct notion that those of us in the West are not capable of or permitted to distinguish between good religious teachings and religious teachings which are in fact a disguise for a murderous and quite dangerous hegemonic political ideology.

And that brings me to the second part of the question, Why? Why must SANE, a private, not-for-profit organization take on the Herculean task of training a team of former intelligence and counter-terrorism professionals for the specific purpose of mapping and creating a Shari’a Index (from 1 – 10: 1 = rejects Islamic law; 10 = preaches [even if only in Arabic, Urdu, or Farsi] openly violence and promotes Jihad) for every US mosque and Islamic day school in the US?

The simple answer is that the US government won’t and no one else has the skill set or the resources we do. And, no one is as motivated as the SANE team. Each one of us have lived and worked in Islamic environments either as intelligence officers for the US military or as international legal and strategic policy experts. We know what we are up against.

The US government won’t because Political Correctness and rules and regulations prohibit “profiling” Arabs or Muslims even when you are looking for Islamic Jihadists. The FBI could no more penetrate the Islamic world than Jerry Falwell. Our team consists of, and will be further augmented by, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi speaking private citizens, former professionals who know what to look for and how to assess it.

But the real answer to Why is the fact that in this country, our government and its myriad of agencies and bureaucracies have determined that a priori Islam itself is NOT the evil ideology it in fact is; rather, it has been hijacked by a few bad souls.

So I must confess that I deleted one paragraph from Senator Schumer’s remarks above. That deletion, pure and unadulterated PC, is why even though Schumer sees the Wahhabi threat, he won’t and cannot do anything meaningful to stop it:

Before I start my statement, however, I want to make one point crystal clear: mainstream Islam is a peaceful religion that deserves the respect of all Americans. It has a proud history and many of the people who follow its beliefs here in the United States are hardworking, patriotic citizens.

But history and empirical fact make absolutely clear that mainstream Islam is the evil we face and the enemies are the majority of Muslims around the world who pledge allegiance to Shari’a, even if they observe it in the breach.

This statement by Schumer is not unlike the statement we find in EVERY public statement by every government law enforcement and counter-terrorism agency. Thus, when an FBI deputy director of counter-terrorism came to testify before Congress on the very real and organized effort by Jihadists to convert young Black convicts in our jails and prisons, he began his statement as follows:

Before I begin, I would like to emphasize that Islam itself is not the problem but rather how Islam is used by violent extremists to inspire and justify their actions. Additionally, the FBI does not investigate individuals for their religious beliefs. Rather, we investigate the activities of individuals who want to do harm to the citizens and interests of United States and those of our allies abroad. The FBI fully recognizes and is committed to protecting prisoners' civil liberties, including religious rights. These activities have led us to believe that prisons continue to present opportunities for the proselytizing of both Sunni and Shia forms of radical Islam. (Emphasis added.)

But what can this possibly mean? Is it based upon visiting mosques around the world? In America? I have done both and when I read and hear what is preached in Arabic it is no different than what I heard when I was stationed in Saudi Arabia and later, during the early days of the war, in Iraq. Are there “good” Muslims? Of course but they are simply dwarfed, overshadowed, intimidated and silenced by the faithful ones.

Moreover, in the Islamic day schools beginning to sprout up across America as adjuncts of the mosques, the young Muslim children are being taught the basics of Jihad – how to hate the infidel as a swine and monkey, if not the devil incarnate, from the earliest of ages.

That is why we have begun this Mapping Shari’a in America: Knowing the Enemy! project.

And when we’re done, we will produce an interactive digital map where you can click on any region, focus in on any state, then on any city or neighborhood, and find out which mosques and Islamic day schools are operating near your home or near a nuclear power plant or major water supply and see what they are preaching and how. You will learn who is leading their Qur’an studies and which imam and school of jurisprudence (or fiqh) they follow. We will then index that for you so you can understand the threat level.

We will produce a specialize version for law enforcement but the main purpose is for Americans. Not unlike a parent’s desire to know if a convicted pedophile has moved in next door, we deserve to know if our neighborhood has become the cover for Muslim faithful Jihadists. The American People are their own best defense.

And, while we don’t explicitly condone or promote citizen militias, we do condone and promote a fully informed and politically active citizenry. If we will not be the eyes and ears for law enforcement, they have already proven they will turn a PC-blinded eye and ear to the noble religion of peace. We will not.

It is our plan to update this work at least every year so that the networked cells operating out of these mosques and day schools will know someone is tracking them.

Finally, it is important to note that our task is not redundant of the excellent work begun by Steven Emerson and Rachel Ehrenfeld. In many respects, these two pioneering, innovative, courageous and diligent investigators have set the standard for citizen awareness of Islamic Jihad in America. Mr. Emerson has compiled a world-class data base on known terrorists and organizations. Ms. Ehrenfeld has carefully documented their financial networks and how to get at them. Both Ehrenfeld and Emerson are national security assets.

But our work addresses the problem of Jihad in America differently. We don’t want to track known Jihadists and their financial networks. These enemies of America are known and because they have already acted in some way against the US or its interests, the federal authorities are keeping tabs on them or actively pursuing criminal investigations.

Our task is prophylactic. We want to prevent the next criminal act before it even has time to fructify into a conspiracy of evil and deeds of violence and mayhem. We want to expose Islam in America for what it is at its source and the source of Islam has always been its mosques and educational institutions. Without the network of theological and Shari’a-focused instruction, Islam is lost. Our goal is to inform ourselves, the American People, what it means to be a faithful Muslim in America at any given mosque or Islamic day school in the country. It will be up to all of us as Americans to use this information to turn things around. Immigration reform; profiling; criminalizing the teaching or preaching of Shari’a as an overt act of criminal conspiracy.

Look for my periodic reports from the field at http://www.mappingsharia.us as our project progresses.

Target Publication Date of our final work proudct: June 2008 (with intermediate publications as the investigation and analysis continues).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Atheism isn't the final word

Atheism isn't the final word
Mike Ghouse comments: It is very assumptive on part of Don Feder's claim that, "A universe that isn't God-centered becomes ego-centered.
Ego is a human trait, relgions no doubt have worked on getting humans to be less egotistic, it is obvious that we are. Belief or non-belief in God does not make a big dent in one becoming a egomaniac. Morality is common social values internalized, some derive from religion, as it is a source, but morality does not necessarily hinge on being God-centric.
He further states "Why the sudden outpouring of atheist advocacy? " My friend, atheism has been around as long as theism - Mike Ghouse
Atheism isn't the final word
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/04/post_47.html#uslPageReturn

Books making the case against God seem to be multiplying, becoming more strident and absolute with each turned page. Though no one can prove or disprove God’s existence, our history reveals the unmistakable footprints of something greater than man.

Oh, for the days when one could safely stroll into a bookstore without tripping over the latest atheist title. Ironically, by writing their tracts, in the long run atheists might boost belief.

(Illustration by Sam Ward, USA TODAY)

My local Barnes & Noble has the following titles on display — Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam ; The Quotable Atheist; Letter To A Christian Nation; God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist; and The God Delusion, which is a New York Times best-seller.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., has become the first member of Congress to announce that he doesn't believe in God. He's probably just looking for a book deal.

Why the sudden outpouring of atheist advocacy? Perhaps it's a way for the cultural left to assert itself in the face of the religious right. Or maybe it's meant to show that the anti-God argument can be framed more intelligently than in a Bill Maher monologue. Whatever the impetus, as a believer, I welcome the phenomenon. After all, the great enemy of belief isn't disbelief but indifference.

Let the godless write their books and the faithful answer them. The disillusionment with religion that dominated British intellectual circles after World War I helped to shape the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. The surviving son of atheist icon Madalyn Murray O'Hair is an evangelical Christian.

The books referenced above assert that the debate is over and that atheism has won, but atheists have been saying that for more than 200 years. Since the French Enlightenment, the death of God has been confidently proclaimed. Religion has been made obsolete by egalitarian revolution, industrialism, or science, they insisted. Yet, early in the 21st century, faith endures.

Outlasting the Soviet Union

For 70-plus years, the Soviets tried everything imaginable to kill religion: show trials, mass murder of clerics, confiscations, indoctrination and even attempts to co-opt religious symbols and ceremonies. But belief survived, while scientific socialism is now defunct.

In China, where communism's war on God continues, the home-church movement thrives. Half a world away, America has the highest weekly church attendance in the industrialized world, notwithstanding attacks on faith from Hollywood, academia and a judiciary seemingly intent on purging religious symbols from public spaces.

In the USA — the most science-oriented society in history — Christian bookstores, radio stations and TV programming proliferate. It seems as though a hunger for the Creator is imprinted on the human heart.

What would a world without God look like? Well, for one, morality becomes, if not impossible, exceedingly difficult. "Thou shalt not kill" loses much of its force when reduced from commandment to a suggestion. How inspiring can it be to wake in the morning, look in the mirror, and see an accident of evolutionary history — the end product of the random collision of molecules?

A universe that isn't God-centered becomes ego-centered. People come to see choices through the prism of self: what promotes the individual's well-being and happiness. Such a worldview does not naturally lead to benevolence or self-sacrifice.

An affirmation of God can lead to the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the Declaration of Independence. In terms of morality, a denial of God leads nowhere.

There are no secularist counterparts to Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, William Wilberforce (the evangelical responsible for abolition of the British slave trade), Martin Luther King Jr., or the Christians — from France to Poland — who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

True, terrible things have been done in the name of religion. Terrible things have been done in the name of every noble concept, including love, charity, loyalty and kinship. Yet, the worst horrors of the modern era were perpetrated by godless political creeds. The death toll from sectarian conflict over the ages is dwarfed by ideological violence, from the Jacobinism of Revolutionary France to the charnel houses of communism and fascism.

This is not to say that atheism leads naturally to guillotines and gulags, but, just as "love your fellow man as yourself" can be corrupted, so too can liberty, equality and fraternity.

Signs throughout history

There is no irrefutable evidence for God's existence or non-existence. But, if you look closely, his footprints can be discerned in the sands of time.

Jews introduced the world to monotheism. They also were the first people to perceive history as linear— an unfolding story moving toward a conclusion. Is it a coincidence that this tiny, originally nomadic people generated the ideas that shaped the Western world, including equality, human rights and a responsibility to our fellow man? Jews are the only people to maintain their identity during two millennia of exile, and then return to their homeland and re-establish their nation.

Mark Twain wrote: "The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up, held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now or have vanished.

All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?" Had Twain been a believer, he might have answered his own question.

America's survival and rise to global pre-eminence are equally improbable. Challenging the greatest empire of the 18th century, America should never have won its independence or should have self-destructed during the Civil War.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the genius of our infant republic lay not in its farms and workshops but in its churches whose "pulpits flame with righteousness."

Atheists are free to disbelieve and to try to propagate their disbelief in books and other intellectual forums. But saying the debate is over doesn't make it so. A bit of humility might make their case more convincing. Then again, humility is itself a religious concept.

Don Feder is a former syndicated columnist and author of Who's Afraid of the Religious Right?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Yom HaShoah & Yom Milaad



Yom HaShoah & Yom Milaad
Mike Ghouse April 15, 2007


I had the opportunity to attend two events today – Yom Milaad-un-Nabi; celebration of birth of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Yom HaShoah commemoration of the holocaust and am pleased to share my understanding and experience.

Our mission at World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware.

In pursuing the ideals of Islamic pluralism, we have made our purpose to be inclusive of all humanity that God has created, the whole world is one family, as Hinduism puts it succinctly “Vasudeva Kutumbam”. As Muslims, we want to understand the pain and suffering of those how have endured such adversity; as Muslims, we want to be blind when it comes to serving the humankind, serve regardless of who they are; as Muslims, we believe Justice means fairness and equity with prejudice towards none; as Muslims our presence should give a sense of safety, security and peace to those around us. To us, that is Islam in a nutshell, aspiring for a just society and striving for that elusive equilibrium between man and his environment.

Yom HaShoah

The Jews in America and Canada commemorated the remembrance of Holocaust also known as Yom HaShoah on Sunday the 15th day of April, 2007. I attended their service honoring the survivors at the Congregation Tiferet Israel in Dallas, organized by the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Nearly 2/3rds of European Jewry or about a 1/3rd of the world Jewry were ruthlessly murdered for who they were; Jews. Collectively and shamelessly, the world represented by you and I stood by watching it happen, we did not take any action until 6 Million Jews were murdered. Where was the sense of Justice in the world?

Yom HaShoah is about coming together annually and reflecting about ourselves and our role in the world as individuals and as members of the world family. How do we cope with the immense pain of going through harrowing experience when faced with death, and you cannot do anything with the ruthless, cold-blooded and obdurate marauders in front of you. Worse than that is the feeling of helplessness and betrayal knowing that the world family is literally standing by and doing nothing. This is even more torturous before facing the excruciating hell. It is hell both ways, sometimes we lose faith in humanity. On this day of reflection, we need to understand, and learn how to nurture the humanness within us; salvation stems from being a human in union with God.

Regardless of the depth of our understanding of this observance, it could pave the way for us to learn and understand how we have dealt with the Holocaust. How the world and the Jews are dealing with it for the last sixty-two years? We are in great need of healing, and it would be a good beginning to share each other’s experience to strive for a better world as God has said in the above mentioned verse.

Justice exists when you are just to everyone, it won’t be justice if it is accorded to one and denied to the other. Being Muslims, we have to speak out against every single atrocity, being just and truthful is the highest value we need to foster, even if it incriminates us. There is no such thing as taking the 5th in Islam. We just have to be truthful and face the consequences for our actions. Qur’aan: 4:135 “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it is (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts); lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.”
“Holocaust is a reminder to awaken compassion in all of us as humanity.” As one of the most prominent survivor Elie Wiesel puts it. Perhaps the Holocaust can be a lesson in turning evil into blessing and make a commitment to speak up.

“Never again” is the phrase we need to understand and utter all the times. It can mean that, we who have understood the suffering of genocide commit to ourselves to never allow this thing to happen again. We have to make that commitment and become morally sensitive to honor every life form that God has created. If we want others to honor our life, we need to ask what we have done to generate reciprocation.

This week we remember the six million innocent people, who did not do any wrong to any one, except that they believed in the God the way they knew. We can turn their memory into blessings and honor their sacrifice to bring a just peace to the Middle East, one in which the security needs of the Israelis and the legitimate needs of Palestinians are recognized, as the future of Israel and Palestine is protected. Some day the peace will come, let us not postpone the responsibility to the next generation, we have passed the buck for over 60 years and it is time we make sincere efforts to end it. So never again, we will stand silent when human beings are treated unjustly, unfairly. Dalai Lama says, “Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity”. We have to work out ways to live together, co-existence is a necessity. We owe it to the next generation, so they can sleep in peace, go the school in peace and mothers can shop in peace. Peace is in our interest.

I urge every human to visit the holocaust Museum in their own city, and I do appreciate the Congregation to mention the presence of World Muslim Congress by Mr. Ely Dlin, director of the Holocaust Museum. It is a moment that I cherish; we have to acknowledge each other in the tiny steps we take in developing an understanding of each other. Thank you Mr. Dlin, we appreciate it.

Yom –e -Milaad-un-Nabi

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim community of Dallas has done an outstanding job in presenting the Yom-e-Milaad-un-Nabi, a Celebration of birthday of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] for the 4th year in a row.

This year’s theme was the essence of Prophet Muhammad’s gesture to the visiting Christians from Najran to conduct the Eucharist and the Christian prayers in his Mosque. The speaker, Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi, research associate of the Institute of Ismaili studies focused on this one issue and talked about the inclusiveness model that Prophet gave to the humankind, not just Muslims.

It meant honoring another way of worshipping the divine reinforced by the verse from Qur'an, Al-An'am, Surah 6:163-164: “I ask whether I should seek any god besides God--when he is the Lord of all things. 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.”

He pointed out the non-exclusivity embedded in the teachings of Qur’aan, and outlined the role of the religion from a belief in the creator, to believing in accountability of one’s action and understand the reward or punishment that goes with it. Ultimately it is God’s grace and mercy that gives us salvation. All People harvest their own sowing.

Qur'an, At-Taghabun, Surah 64:2-4: It was God who created you; yet some of you refuse to believe, while others have faith. He is aware of all your actions. He created the heavens and the earth to manifest the truth. He fashioned each one of you--and each one of you is beautiful. To God you will all return. He knows all that the heavens and the earth contain. He knows all that you hide and all that you reveal. He knows your deepest thoughts.

Dr. Kazemi addressed the unfortunate presence of fanaticism and extremism that has plagued the world today, how we have let a few plunder the humankind. He related a story from 1860 AD, where one of the Muslim leaders Sheikh Abd al-Qadir protected 40,000 Christians from a Muslim oppressive ruler of that district, when the ruler’s army approached Abd al Qadir’s compound where he was safeguarding the 40,000 Christians in Damascus, the Sheikh asked his guards to be prepared to fight the oppressors in the cause of Justice. Thanks God he saved the lives. That is the sense of Justice Islam preaches. The 5th was not available to them; they had to fight against their own co-religionist for defending the rights of greater humankind. Justice means justice, not favoring your own and not compromising on being just.

As an activist for Pluralism and Islam, I was thrilled to know that Dr. Kazemi was touching upon the idea that I have been writing in just about every 4th commentary I write, “It is not the religion, it is the individual that is wrong.”
Jeffrey Weiss of Dallas Morning News brought the event to a conclusion with his remarks. He held on to the ideals of Journalism, that I have cherished in Ted Koppel and Tim Russet, not to take sides with any idea lest it will be taken as biased. He gave a memorable analogy of the tapestry that can be seen as a beautiful piece of art from the front, and a whole lot of tangling and dangling thread on the back side. Every religion can be seen in that fashion. Dallas Morning News’s religion section has won national awards 7 out of 8 years for their unbiased coverage. Jeff heads the religion section of Dallas News. The Journalist in me says salutes the Journalist in you Jeff. Namaste!

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is www.MikeGhouse.net and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://MikeGhouseforAmerica.Blogspot.com and http://MikeGhouse.Sulekha.com . He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com. Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Eboo Patel, Interfaith core


Profile : Eboo Patel
April 13, 2007 Episode no. 1033
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1033/profile.html


BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: In Chicago, a dynamic young Muslim is working to help solve a problem many religious believers have -- how to relate to people of another faith tradition. Eboo Patel is an Indian-American, a Muslim, a sociologist, and the founder and leader of the Interfaith Youth Core, active now on some 50 American campuses. Judy Valente reports.

JUDY VALENTE: A Thursday night at the University of Illinois. The 40 students in this room -- Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Baha'i, evangelical Christian -- are about to meet Eboo Patel.

Dr. EBOO PATEL (Founder and Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core, speaking to students): What I want to open with is one of my favorite, and I feel like the most beautiful, verses of holy Qu'ran, which says that "God made us different nations and tribes that we may come to know one another."

VALENTE: Patel is a Muslim, a dynamic 31-year-old Indian American -- a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in sociology and a passion for mobilizing the young. The thrust of his message tonight: shared values.

Dr. PATEL (speaking to students): Show me a religion that doesn't care about compassion. Show me a religion that doesn't care about stewardship of the environment. Show me a religion that doesn't care about hospitality.

VALENTE: The students are reticent at first, but under gentle prodding from Patel and his staff they share passages from the writings of their respective faiths and talk about service projects they've worked on through their churches, temples, and mosques.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE STUDENT #1: My name is Joel and this is the Jewish teaching (reading from book): "For the Lord your God is God Supreme and Lord Supreme -- the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who shows no favor and takes no bribe."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE STUDENT #2: I 'm very moved by the passage from the Qu'ran that we have here. What I'm hearing here is that because God has blessed you, you should bless other people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE STUDENT #3: I visited New Orleans with some of my friends. We worked with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. One of the days we were there we worked at a men's shelter.

VALENTE: These University of Illinois students are being trained for interfaith dialogue and activities. Patel's plans are ambitious.

Dr. PATEL: We're looking at having this happen on every campus in America. Why shouldn't every campus in America have rooms where 60, 80, 100 people are coming together to learn the skills of interfaith cooperation?

VALENTE: That cooperation takes the form of service projects like this one not long ago in Chicago.

Dr. PATEL (speaking to audience): Today you will do something that seems small. But the blanket that you make will warm a refugee child when she goes to sleep, and the things that you say to the people next to you will give them a window into Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism that they might not have had before.

VALENTE: Patel is the founder and driving force behind the Interfaith Youth Core. Begun in 1998, the organization is active on 50 campuses across the U.S. Its members are involved in tutoring, caring for refugees, and other service projects.

Dr. PATEL (speaking to audience): We've run projects like this on four continents -- cities like Cape Town, South Africa; Hyderabad, India; London, England; all across the United States.

VALENTE: The goal is to create a new generation of leaders -- religiously inspired activists who can change the conversation from one of interreligious conflict to cooperation among people of different faiths. Patel refers to the young leaders he's looking for as "social entrepreneurs."

Dr. PATEL: A social entrepreneur is somebody who knows how to make an idea reality, and one of the great ideas of our time is pluralism. Can people from different backgrounds live together in mutual peace and loyalty? And what we need is a generation of young social entrepreneurs who know how to make that great idea reality in an historical moment where religious extremists are, frankly, making their idea reality.

VALENTE: Patel says he was deeply disturbed by the fact that the 9/11 terrorists were young men and that the suicide bombers in the Middle East and elsewhere are also young. He sees the world dividing along a "faith line" between what he calls pluralists and religious totalitarians.

Dr. PATEL: Only the smallest part of humanity wishes and acts upon the destruction of others. The pluralists are far larger. Those of us who believe in a world where we live together, we're far larger. The problem is we haven't made our case compelling across the world yet. What we pluralists have to do is say to the people standing on the faith line, particularly the young ones, no. Pluralism is the wish of the creator. It is the greatest opportunity for humanity.

VALENTE: Patel encourages Interfaith Youth Core members to explore deeply their own faith as they learn to respect the traditions of others.

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As for Patel's own spiritual journey, his best friend, Kevin Coval, is a Jewish poet he met in college. Both were influenced by a Catholic professor who had been ordained in the Hindu monastic tradition. The two met with the Dalai Lama while spending two weeks in Dharamsala, India.

VALENTE: Religious historian Martin Marty:

Dr. MARTIN MARTY (Religious Historian): The first thing he's accomplished is quickening the interest of young people. He immediately built a staff. He's got volunteers. He goes to high schools. He goes to colleges and universities. He's tireless in that way, and he proves that you can gain attention and audiences. I think he's worked very hard and influenced older people on changing the imagery of what you go about in interfaith relations.

VALENTE: Most recently, his Interfaith Youth Core arranged an exchange with students in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (speaking at Chicago youth council meeting): So this is our 12-minute trailer about our Jordan interfaith youth exchange and about the power of young people building pluralism. So here we go.

VALENTE: The video documents a recent trip by these Chicago college students to Jordan, where they met Muslim and Christian students working together on a refugee aid program.

VOICE OF NARRATOR (from video): Building communities where different people can come together and they can hear each other's stories and share experiences and build relationships.

VALENTE: Today's youth are connected. They interact as never before, says Patel. But he is determined to keep some space between the public side of faith traditions and the private side.

Dr. PATEL: One of the reasons we don't talk much about prayer or questions of salvation at the Interfaith Youth Core is we believe those are part of the private dimension. But the public dimension is, what can we do together? And that, I think, all religious communities can profitably be a part of. In fact I'm convinced it strengthens religious identities.

VALENTE: To those who argue that accepting the truth of another religion means abandoning one's own truth, Patel acknowledges there are limits to interfaith dialogue. But, he says, that doesn't have to limit cooperation -- that the Interfaith Youth Core is about earth, not heaven.

Dr. PATEL: To teach your child to only be a Muslim in Muslim spaces or only a Christian in Christian spaces means in a way that you're teaching them a religious identity that is relevant to only a very small part of their lives, because the vast majority of their lives in the 21st century are going to be lived in interaction with others.

VALENTE: Martin Marty is hopeful about what Patel can accomplish, but --

Dr. MARTY: He has tremendous odds against him, in that interfaith has enemies. It's not just enemies among intransigent religious groups that fear that if you meet the other you'll become the other. But there are a lot of people who see the value in our culture of getting militant about other religions. There's an advantage for whipping up military furor and so on by saying how evil Jews are, how evil Muslims are, how evil Hindus are.

VALENTE: And others are openly skeptical.

(to Dr. Patel): How do you respond to that possible criticism that your vision is very naive?

Dr. PATEL: I used to take being called naïve as a significant insult. I take that less and less as an insult. When people say to me, "Eboo your vision is naive," I say, yes, but it is not only naive, because there are enough times when the human condition has transcended tribalism and chosen compassion and chosen pluralism that I think that if we build on those examples we will have a world that we are proud to show our creator.

VALENTE: Patel says it may take as long as 40 or 50 years to build a student interfaith movement to the point where it is a significant social force. But he contends interfaith cooperation is the best hope for a nation with increasing religious diversity and for a world torn by religious violence.

For RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, this is Judy Valente in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.