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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Friday, January 25, 2008

Muslim response on Qur'aan

Muslim response to Wilders on Qur'aan
Using Prophet Muhammad’s model for peace.
Mike Ghouse, January 20, 2008
Commentary by Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh

http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Muslim-response-to-Geert-Wilders-using-Prophet-Muhammads-Model.asp

“Geert Wilders, Dutch conservative lawmaker, has made a ten-minute film exposing the horrific passages of the Koran. Per AP Wilders refers to the selected verses as “fascist.’” http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/29496.html
First of all, as a Muslim, I want to thank Geert Wilders for making this documentary, the verses, as he has quoted certainly sound fascist. These verses have not only been misquoted for millennia, but were mis-translated with the intent of maligning Islam in the middle ages to protect the European kings and their kingdoms. My gratitude to Wilders comes from the fact that he is putting it on the spot light, so we have an opportunity to discuss and clarify them, hopefully for ever. Otherwise a whole lot of people would have believed in the wrong thing. Thank you my friend.
Prophet Muhammad was pelted with stones by a bunch of miscreants, he was bleeding, and his associates and angel Gabriel were requesting him to give permission to go get the bad boys, the Prophet said no, instead he asked them to pray with him that God gave goodwill and a good sense to the misled miscreants.
Following the model of Prophet of forgiveness and the belief that there is good in every human soul, we have to relentlessly stoke the goodness in humans. I ask fellow humans in general and fellow Muslims in particular to pray for Geert Wilders’ safety and well being.
Mr. Wilders, I have personally prayed for your safety and well being and request our Imams to do the same across the world. The report expressed that "You do not fear being slain, claiming 24-hour protection." Again, I admire you for your courage and conviction and request you to consider another aspect of the equation that nearly 1.5 billion Muslims believe.
Note to the Muslim Leadership:
As Muslims leaders, we have a responsibility to prevent mis-haps. To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for co-existence and world peace - God wants his creation to be in peace and harmony, and that is the chief purpose of religion. Islam is indeed peace.
Geert Wilder's is going to show a 10 minute documentary on the 25th - the hell may freeze over and all of us will be scrambling to defend.... if our Imams can address this in the Friday Sermons, and urge Muslims to follow the model Prophet has created, we can avoid a big mishap and turn this upcoming nightmare into a peace building effort. I request all Imams to call their counterparts around the globe to win this war with love and kindness and it is an opportunity God has provided to become leaders. If you like, please circulate.
A Prelude to Qur'aan Translations:
When the European Kings were threatened by the invading Arab armies in early part of the millennia, to safeguard and protect their Kingdoms, they gave birth to the idea of Islamophobia and their strategy was:
1. To label the Invading Kings as Muslim, as that was one of the ways to get their subjects to fight.
2. To mis-translate the Qur'aan to create a permanent wedge between the two communities
3. To paint the religion negatively and as a Mohammedan cult.
4. To reinforce this strategy they roped in the Pope to issue a fatwa approving crusades.
Their Blueprint worked well for them and the Arab Kings were pushed back and defeated. It is important to note that a majority of the kings were thieves and robbers, whose only purpose in life was to invade and annex the neighboring territories, loot their wealth, destroy their cultures and come back home stronger and erect a statue of themselves as Heroes. Very few of them wanted to spread their faith for the purpose of spreading piety and goodwill. Their goal was to control the resources and the people; in the process they destroyed civilizations, no different than today's Neocons.
The Neocons of middle ages were exceptionally successful in steering public opinion against Islam via the translations. The foundation they laid at that time has become the basis for building baseless theories against Islam. The kings happened to be Muslims that they were against, instead their propaganda turned against all Muslims and Islam.
Dahlia Sabry is researching on the effects of this work and reports that " it was found out that translating the meanings of the holy Qur'aan offered an opportunity to distort and misinterpret its meanings. This played a crucial role in framing a negative and an inaccurate image of Islam. The problem can be ascribed mostly to translations by non-Muslims, however, also partially to translations by Muslims."
Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete (English: "Law of Mahomet the pseudo-prophet") was the first translation of the Qur'aan into Latin by Robert of Ketton in 1142. Peter the Venerable persuaded Robert to join a team he was creating to translate Arabic works into Latin in hopes of aiding the religious conversion of Muslims to Christianity. It was the standard translation for Europeans from its release until the 18th century. This translation is loaded with inaccuracies.
Another Latin translation by Ludovicus Marracci was published in 1698. It was supplemented with quotes from Qur'an commentaries "carefully juxtaposed and sufficiently garbled so as to portray Islam in the worst possible light" (Colin Turner,1997 p. xii). The title of the introductory volume of such translation was A Refutation of the Qur'an. Such translations formed the foundation for a number of subsequent translations into English, French, Italian, German, etc. The first English translation was that of Alexander Ross published in 1649. In his introduction, Ross says "I thought good to bring it to their colours, that so viewing thine enemies in their full body, thou must the better prepare to encounter … his Alcoran" (p. A3).
Similarly, H. Reckendorf (1857) says in his Hebrew translation of the Qur'an, "I can now stop writing and ask God's pardon for the sin I committed when I profaned our sacred language and transferred to it the talk of lies and falsehood" (as cited in Abdul Aal, January 29, 2006, p. 78).In 1734, George Sale’s translation came out based on Marracci’s earlier notorious work. In 1861, J. M. Rodwell’s work provided a further example of a writer "gunning for Islam" (Turner, 1997, p. xii).
That was the story of Neocons who shamelessly wore the Christian label, similar inaccurate and brazen translations were made by Muslims as well. The Noble Qur'an, also informally known as the Hilali-Khan translation was published in early 1900's and is despicable. http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Not-like-Jews-and-Christians.asp
Religions emerged to allay individual fears and bring a balance in one's life and peace for the society. It is obvious that the Kings of the past have raped the religion to their own advantage and we must not give them the religious label. Their purpose was simply expansion, exertion and oppression and religion did not figure in the conquests, they were far from it.
It is time for us to strip the wrongs people have ascribed to religion, every religion, and get to know the truth. I am amazed neither the Universities, nor the responsible Governments have under taken research project to dismantle the false castles of hate from the past. It is time now, and we have begun this process.
Further Geert Wilders adds "When taking the Koran seriously as divine revelation, a superficial review of the Koran’s extremist verses is not what meshes with democracies."
All the fourteen verses quoted below have one theme in common "Punishment" for those who do not follow the rules. Mr. Geert may understand this better, if he were to look at it from an universal perspective and not as Islam V. Christianity issue.
One can find ‘punitive’ verses in every holy book. However, the critical element overlooked is the most powerful and dominant aspect of the creator; Qur'aan 1:1 "In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace." This verse is repeated 113 times in Qur’aan, more than any other verse.
For societies to function on equilibrium there must be law and order. When there is justice in a society, peace is a natural outcome. The Criminal and Civil laws are designed to bring net-peace to the society. For every violation of a rule, punishment is determined. If there were no punishment, then crimes go un-checked creating chaos in the society.
From a common man’s perspective, the word ‘painful doom’ appears to be cruelty coming from a kind God. Well, then what should hold any one from murdering and butchering the other. If you are a good guy who holds the temptations to steal someone else's hard earned goods, and the bad guys steal with no consequences to it, then every one may resort to stealing. What will happen to a society when every one is stealing, lying or cheating? No one would trust and everyone is frightened of the other.Imagine the nightmare in America, if we were to remove the punishment aspect from the United States Constitution, civil and criminal laws.
Religions emerged to allay individual fears and bring a balance in one's life and peace for the society. It is time for us to strip the wrongs people have ascribed to religion, indeed every religion, and find the truth for ourselves. I cannot believe that the Universities and responsible Governments have not undertaken the research to dismantle the false castles of hate from the past.
We have undertaken the work to fix 60 misrepresented verses, hopefully to mitigate the conflicts and nurture goodwill for co-existence, as citizens of the world, you and I, every one included, have the responsibility to watch for the trouble makers whose business is manufacturing enemies and cashing in on fears of ordinary people.
If you wish to read both the 14 misquoted verses and the corrected ones with commentary by Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh and Mike Ghouse - Please click here

Reflections on Holocaust

Reflections on Holocaust
Item with photo at:
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Reflections-on-Holocaust.asp

Mike Ghouse, January 15, 2008
www.FoundationforPluralism.com

The United Nations has designated January 27th as the Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, in behalf of the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress, I request us to reflect upon the human sufferings inflicted by humans through out the world.

We may start out by scribbling a title for each one of the small and large injustice we have witnessed or learned through news. What did we do with that information and how did we feel about ourselves? The conflicts emanating from injustices are rife in Congo, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan and other places. Please take a moment to reflect upon the viciousness of the humans, the vulgarity of the few that has engulfed the innocent bystanders. We have to work towards the idea of “saving a life is like saving the whole humanity,” says God in Torah and Qur’aan. You and I exist because someone believed in it before us.

Six Million Jews were brutally murdered simply because of their faith. Imagine if we were in that situation, ruthlessly packed in a rail car along with 100 other humans to be thrown in gas chambers. The helplessness and the humiliation should have been palpable, but the world stood by silently finding bliss in self designed ignorance. If it happens to us we feel like tearing the world apart.

The world reacted belatedly, thank God; the evil plan of the Nazis did not materialize. We said, never again and we keep falling short on our own promise. It is time to reflect if our hearts can feel the pain and if our minds can do something about it. We should visit the holocaust museum in our area; it will upload humanity into us, it is good to be a human again and again.

Our hearts and minds are endowed with a sense of justice, and whenever we see that balance disturbed, we react to it with anger, helplessness and distress. Religion and common sense have taught us to regain that balance by taking an action, least of which is to speak up. Our minds work mysteriously, the act of seeking balance and justice relieves us from the anguish and gives us a sense purpose in life that we stand for something.

If my actions and words aggravate a conflict, then I have become a contributor toward chaos, on the other hand if my words and actions mitigate the conflict, I become a peace maker. Peace has got to be unconditional without any score keeping, “do your duty without the greed of results”, says the Bhagvad Gita.

No one is an island; we have to develop an open mind and an open heart towards each other in the process of healing and repairing the world. We should short change our humanness by thinking that we were not responsible for it.

We should honor our divine instructions to demur and honor the suffering of others. It will be a day for all of us to reflect upon and promise ourselves "never again" and hope each one of us makes a commitment to oneself to speak out against any injustice.

If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. The healing and recovery for Humanity can only occur when we each examine our own hearts, our own cultures and our own faith traditions to discern where seeds of prejudice, cruelty and even genocide remain hidden.

A Good deed is creating peace, security and balance for all creation. The wisdom of Bible is crystal clear “do unto others as you would want others to do to you”. Indeed, that is essence of all religions.

This is an invitation to people of all backgrounds to reflect upon the tragedies humans have endured, and bring about a change, however little we can. The least we can do is to speak up whenever we see injustice or words and actions that promote chaos.

In 2006, the United Nations proclaimed January 27th as a Holocaust remembrance day to commemorate the worst atrocity the world had ever witnessed. In support of that, the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress organized an event on Thursday, January 26, 2006 to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath as January 27 fell on a Friday in 2006. For more information please visit:

http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_HolocaustDay/HMD2006_ProgramReport.asp

I request you to pray and mourn for the massacres and deaths of all human beings. I beg you to forgive me if I have missed a tragedy that you are familiar with. I admire you if you could send me a 100 word description or a link from a news paper to be included in the comments.

If you felt sorrow for some and not for the others, please check out your peace meter for your bias and prejudices against groups, nations, ethnicities, religions, cultures or races. Higher the prejudice lesser the peace and vice versa.

You can increase your peace and happiness by repenting in your solitude for your biases and see the meter start rising, and when you actually do not feel any bias toward any human, see the mercury miracles. Finally if you can volunteer one hour a week for people you don't know or you did not like in the past, you can be the happiest person on the earth. God guarantees that and I will underwrite it. Ha! Try it, it is effortless and won't cost you a dime but gain you happiness.

May God help us become prejudice free,

May God give us the guts to speak up when we see wrongs,

May God remove arrogance from us and

May God bless us with the humanness to feel the pain and sorrow of others.

Please pray (wish it, if you are an atheist) and invoke the goodness in each one of us.

Pictures from top to bottom: Bosnia, Congo, Darfur, Gaza, Gujarat, Haditha, Kashmiri Pandits, Rafah, Rwanda, Sri Lanka ... Katrina, Tsunami, earthquakes, 9/11 and many other tragedies...

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Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com or (214) 325-1916

Send your comments to: FoundationforPluralism@gmail.com

Subject line write: Reflections on Holocaust

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Our Mission is to encourage individuals to develop an open mind and an open heart toward their follow beings. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. We believe that knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of a different point of view.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King

Birthday Celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on" John F. Kennedy.

First and foremost, we would like to honor two guiding lights of the Civil Rights movement in America, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ms. Rosa Parks - who taught us to view one another, not through a lens of color, but of character … and most of all, through a lens of Love.

If it was not for Rosa Parks, and if it were not for Martin Luther King Jr. none of the immigrants would have made it to America, I am here today because of them and I owe my gratitude to them.

It was their effort that lifted a huge burden from American psyche and freed every one's conscience in America. Our open minds and open heart are the reason for our relative joy and peace. We need to do more and welcome and encourage individuals regardless of their affiliation. It is because of that attitude America is where it is today.

Please refer to: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Honored_MartinLutherKing_TG20056.asp

Mike Ghouse
Birthday Celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

FEW HAVE HAD AS MUCH IMPACT upon the American consciousness as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A Baptist minister and passionate fighter for civil rights through non-violent action, he was the closest this country has come to producing a leader with the moral stature of Mohandas Gandhi. When King was assassinated in 1968, citizens in many major cities reacted violently --- while others held vigils and peaceful gatherings. And Americans, black and white, wondered what would happen to his dream.

by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guarranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

City plans events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
12:00 AM CST on Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Local and national activities commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth will be held on and in the days surrounding his birthday.

Dr. King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and died April 4, 1968. The nation's most recognized civil-rights icon would have turned 79 this year. Many schools, churches and organizations will hold events to honor him. The city's Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center will sponsor weekend activities on Jan. 18 and 19. Jan. 21 is the national holiday.

Community-sponsored events include the following:

• 7 p.m. Sunday, Dallas-area ministers and their congregations will gather at Saintsville Church of God in Christ, 2200 S. Marsalis Ave., to honor Dr. King. Bishop J. Neaul Haynes is Saintsville's pastor. The Rev. Lelious Johnson, senior pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, will speak. Mr. Johnson is the new president of the Oak Cliff Baptist Ministers Union, succeeding the Rev. Nathan Sargent, pastor of Faithful Missionary Baptist Church.

• 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dallas school district students and educators will join the public in a celebration at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, 5710 E. R.L. Thornton Freeway. St. Luke senior pastor Tyrone Gordon will speak.

City-sponsored activities include the following:

• 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will host the kickoff of activities in the seniors wing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center at 2901 Pennsylvania Ave. Dr. King was a member of the fraternity. Dr. Karry Wesley, senior pastor of Antioch Fellowship Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, will speak. After Dr. Wesley's remarks, program participants and the public will march to the front of the King Center complex for a candlelight ceremony at the statue of Dr. King.

• 10 a.m. Jan. 19, the city-sponsored King parade will feature diverse groups, dignitaries and other people representing Dr. King's emphasis on multiracial unity. The parade will begin at Dallas City Hall Plaza at the corner of Young and Ervay streets, proceed south down Ervay to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, head east on MLK – passing in front of the King center – and end inside Fair Park.

• 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins will speak at the annual King awards banquet at the Adam's Mark Hotel, 400 N. Olive St. downtown. Individuals and businesses will be awarded for community service. Tickets are $65. Call 214-670-8438 or 214-670-8418.

Other community-sponsored events include:

• 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, the 25th annual Black Music and the Civil Rights Movement Concert, sponsored by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, is scheduled at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2501 Flora St. downtown. Tickets are $10, $15 and $25. Roz Ryan and Karen Clark Sheard will be guest soloists. The concert honors Dr. King, his late daughter Yolanda King and the late Jerry Mitchell, a concert choir organist.

• 10 a.m. Jan. 21, the 22nd annual King parade, sponsored by Elite News, will begin at Forest Avenue and Lamar Street, move east along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and end at Robert B. Cullum Boulevard at Fair Park. An Elite News King festival, featuring entertainment, vendors, health screenings and children's activities, is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. in the Fair Park Automobile Building. For more information, call 214-372-6500.

ABOUT TOWN: A forum to discuss wide-ranging issues concerning ex-offenders, whom forum organizers prefer to call "formerly incarcerated persons," has been postponed indefinitely. The "Coming Home, Coming Up – Incentives for Inclusion" forum had been set for today and Thursday at the Adam's Mark Hotel downtown. For questions about a new date, call Gwen Broadnax at 214-875-2325 or e-mail gbroad nax@dallascounty.org.

• The deadline to nominate inductees to the Hall of Fame that honors living and dead black educators from the Dallas area has been extended from Saturday to Jan. 19. Nomination forms are available at The Dallas Post Tribune, 2726 S. Beckley Ave., and the African American Museum at Fair Park, where the Hall of Fame is housed. For more information, call 214-339-0375 or 214-330-0626.

Concept of oneness of God.

The concept of oneness of God.

If we can understand the concept of oneness of humankind, i.e. if one is hurt, we feel it, if one needs help, we step up to take care of him or her, then we can certainly understand the concept of oneness of God.

We have demonstrated that goodness and oneness during each calamity like; Tsunami, Katrina, Earthquake in Mexico, Pakistan or any other disaster. On an individual level there are thousand of stories every day that we come across; the recent ones that got appreciated were where an individual dived on the rail road track to save a guy who fell in the subway despite an oncoming train closing on him, that was an instant response; then there was another guy who stood up against the bullies who beat up the guys for merely wishing Rosh Hashanah. Our humanness, when not deliberated, supersedes race, religion, culture and ethnicity.

That is also the powerful message of oneness of God, it implies that, if we learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 6 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. If we are worshipping that single source of creation, despite difference in how we do that, the barriers of division evaporate into thin air, I believe God meant that. I will have to find that out one day and report back to you.

God through Qur'aan repeatedly says that he will forgive most sins but not the one where his authority is divided, or someone else is added to his singular authority. I have found that most people struggle with this concept, they simply move on instead of digging deeply and finally saying eureka. In my search for the truth, I find that, it simply means, if we do not accord the singularity of the source of creation, sustenance and destruction to one creator, we are creating a division, a conflict and that is destructive to his creation - life and matter. He (it or she) prefers the creation to be in harmony.

By the way this concept of oneness is not a mechanical one, it is a spiritual one that one feels in the bones be it a Aztec, Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucius, Hindu, Hopi, Jain, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Shinto, Wicca, Yazid, Zoroastrian and others. There is one mother and one God. Our disputes are mechanical and political. I hope, we rise above that.

Marylou, this email is dedicated to you, as you walk on a similar path in understanding God, creation and us. I have just opened a new page on the website for understanding Qur'aan from the perspective of co-existence. Please feel free to comment.

And this is my new understanding of what it means to be a Muslim; To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for harmonious co-existence and world peace - God wants his creation to be in peace, that is the chief purpose of religion.

Here the word Muslim simply means one who is committed to creating that peace for God and not the politically clustered people called Muslims.

Mike Ghouse
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Quraan-information.asp


To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for harmonious co-existence and world peace - God wants his creation to be in peace, that is the chief purpose of religion - Mike Ghouse

Qur'aan
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Qur'aan is the wisdom and the word of God, just as the Bible, Torah, Vedas, Jaina Kalpasutra, Avesta, Kitab al Muqaddas, Guru Granth Saheb, Tripitaka or holy book of any religion. It is a book of guidance for humans to follow to bring about peace, justice and co-existence. No one owns any book, owning any book exclusively takes it out from the realm of God to private ownership and it is wrong. No one owns any religion either. Each one of us by default or by choice subscribe to different ideas of living a balanced life. As beauty is the in the eyes of the beholder, faith is in the heart of the believer.

If we can understand the concept of oneness of humankind, i.e. if one is hurt, we feel it, if one needs help, we step up. That is the powerful message of oneness of God, it implies that we learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 6 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

There are about 20 translations available on the market, each one is slightly different. If you have read one that gives you grief, most likely you have the wrong translation on your hand.

I urge you to read as many as you can, so you understand the intended message - that is to be peace maker.

I urge you to read the Book "Muhammad" by Karen Armstrong first to fully comprehend Qur'aan. That is how, I refreshed my brains.

A fresh, evenhanded biography of the founder of Islam by the author of "A History of God." "Portrays Muhammad as a passionate, complex, fallible human being."-- "Publishers Weekly"

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Moderator and a Writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

This page is a repository of articles about Qur'aan; we will deal with the issues head on, especially a few verses that are presented as hateful by those whose business is to frighten people and cash in on their fears. We need people to work on goodwill and nurturing peace.

Reform Qur'aan or understand it: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Reform-Quraan-or-understand-it.asp

Qur'aan Reading: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Quraan-Reading.asp

Qur'aan, Neocons and Islamophobia: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Quraan-Neocons-and-Islamophobia.asp

Slay the idolaters, where ever you find them: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Slay-the-idolaters-whereever-you-find-them.asp

Anger like Christians or went astray like the Jews : http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Not-like-Jews-and-Christians.asp

Be ruthless to the infidels:http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Be-ruthless-to-infidels.asp

Our Mission: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Our-Mission.asp

The 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." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator. www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Am I a Hindu?

Am I a Hindu?

I came across this excellent piece "Am I a Hindu" explaining religion in its simplest terms. I recommend every one to take a few minutes to read through this. It is the simplicity of talking with a young girl that makes this article beautiful. I have added a few comments and additional information below the article.
Mike Ghouse

Am I a Hindu?
Uday Pai

Four years ago, I was flying from JFK NY Airport to SFO to attend a meeting at Monterey, CA.
An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat.
It indeed was a long journey - it would take nearly seven hours!

I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible - unusual of young Americans! (Later I came to know that September 11 has changed mind-set of lot of US citizens. They suddenly turned religious, it seemed.) After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk. I told her that I am from India.

Then suddenly the girl asked: “What’s your faith?”
“What?” I didn’t understand the question.
“I mean, what’s your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?”
“No!” I replied, “I am neither Christian nor Muslim”.
Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that.
“Then who are you…?”
“I am a Hindu”, I said.
She looked at me as if she is seeing a caged animal.
She could not understand what I was talking about.

A common man in Europe or US knows about Christianity and Islam, as they are the leading religions of the world today.

But a Hindu, what?
I explained to her - I am born to a Hindu father and Hindu mother. Therefore, I am a Hindu by birth.

“Who is your prophet?” she asked.
“We don’t have a prophet,” I replied.
“What’s your Holy Book?”
“We don’t have a single Holy Book, but we have hundreds and thousands of philosophical and sacred scriptures,” I replied.
“Oh, come on…at least tell me who is your God?”
“What do you mean by that?”

“Like we have Yahweh and Muslims have Allah - don’t you have a God?”

I thought for a moment. Muslims and Christians believe one God (Male God) who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief.

According to her (or anybody who doesn’t know about Hinduism), a religion need to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable. I understood her perception and concept about faith. You can’t compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god.

I tried to explain to her: “You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What’s more - you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu.”
This sounded very crazy to her.

She couldn’t imagine a religion so unorganized, still surviving for thousands of years, even after onslaught from foreign forces.

“I don’t understand…but it seems very interesting. Are you religious?”
What can I tell to this American girl?

I said: “I do not go to temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes.”
“Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?”

“God is a friend. No- I am not afraid of God. Nobody has made any compulsions on me to perform these rituals regularly.”

She thought for a while and then asked: “Have you ever thought of converting to any other religion?”

“Why should I? Even if I challenge some of the rituals and faith in Hinduism, nobody can convert me from Hinduism. Because, being a Hindu allows me to think independently and objectively, without conditioning… I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice.” I told her that Hinduism is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam because it is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body like the Church or the Order, I added. There is no institution or authority.

“So, you don’t believe in God?” she wanted everything in black and white.

“I didn’t say that. I do not discard the divine reality. Our scripture, or Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita - say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe.”

“Why can’t you believe in one personal God?”

"We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don’t think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.” I told her that such notions are just fancies of less educated human imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal gods. The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions.

“Good that you agree God might exist. You told that you pray. What is your prayer then?”
“Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,”
“Funny,” she laughed, “What does it mean?”

“May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.”
“Hmm…very interesting. I want to learn more about this religion. It is so democratic, broad-minded and free…” she exclaimed.

“The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. It is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way according to his temperament and inner evolution - it is as simple as that.”

“How does anybody convert to Hinduism?”

“Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single authority or organization either to accept it or to reject it or to oppose it on behalf of Hinduism.”

I told her - if you look for meaning in life, don’t look for it in religions; don’t go from one cult to another or from one guru to the next.

For a real seeker, I told her, Bible itself gives guidelines when it says “Kingdom of God is within you.” I reminded her of Christ’s teaching about the love that we have for each other. That is where you can find the meaning of life.

Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. ‘Isavasyam idam sarvam’ Isam (the God) is present (inhabits) here everywhere - nothing exists separate from the God, because God is present everywhere. Respect every living being and non-living things as God. That’s what Hinduism teaches you.

Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal faith. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas. It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity.

Ancestors of today’s Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. But there is a section of Hindus who are either superstitious or turned fanatic to make this an organized religion like others. The British coin the word “Hindu” and considered it as a religion.

I said: “Religions have become an MLM (multi-level-marketing) industry that has been trying to expand the market share by conversion. The biggest business in today’s world is Spirituality. Hinduism is no exception…”

I am a Hindu primarily because it professes Non-violence - “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma” - Non violence is the highest duty. I am a Hindu because it doesn’t conditions my mind with any faith system.

Uday
uday@udaypai.in
http://www.udaypai.in/?tag=hinduism
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Am I a Hindu?
Comments & additional information
by Mike Ghouse


“Who is your prophet?” she asked.
“We don’t have a prophet,” I replied.
“What’s your Holy Book?”

The point of reference is different for each person. When you utter the word “Vacation”, different images are conjured up in different people. Our kids in the US would think of Six Flags or Hawaii, where as our friends kids in India may have a different image. Even in the US, different levels of exposures produce a variety of images. From an interfaith perspective, the writer has hit upon a good point.

“Muslims and Christians believe one God (Male God) who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief.”

For your information, God in Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Bahai and Sikh faiths has no gender and no form; ultimately that is the case with all faiths. God is infinite, she is indefinable and it is unlimited. In Jain and Buddhist way of thinking God is not the central part of life, but goodness is, and it is your karma that is the central part of what kind of life you would lead. Zoroastrianism is right there closely with them.

All religions are expression of wisdom of humanity, and you’ll find similar tunes in every faith as in Qur’aan: 112:1 SAY: "He is the One God; 112:2 "God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being; 112:3 "He begets not, and neither is He begotten; 112:4 "and there is nothing that could be compared with Him.” Interestingly Hinduism and Christianity also see God in a personal human form, where as the others see more in Abstract format. The Jews do not even want to contain God in words; hence they spell G-d. Indeed, God is not containable.

“According to her (or anybody who doesn’t know about Hinduism), a religion need to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. The mind is so conditioned and rigidly narrowed down to such a notion that anything else is not acceptable.”

Agree with the idea, but we need to develop ways to communicate, I think it is more of a handicap of the language. It is not that it is not acceptable; it is that, they have to figure out vacation means Hawaii as well as going to the big city in a bus for a child in India.

It is a good observation and it is the case with every one. The point of reference is different and leads to a different understanding. It is good to learn about other faiths, it simply enhances one’s own faith knowing that the truth is same, expressed in different forms, as the Jains say anekantvad; many views.

I said: “I do not go to temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes.”

The truth of the matter is, it is the case with most average people. Rituals are performed more as a social want than a religious need.

“Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?”

“It is not a religion like Christianity or Islam because it is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body like the Church or the Order”

Knowledge enhancement: It is the same fear parents instill in their children, whether they live in a small tribe in a no man’s land or some in living in New York City. Kids are told that if they don’t do this, there will be a time out or get the spanking if they don’t follow certain rules. It is a behavior modification strategy that has been extended from childhood to adulthood. All religions teach God is loving, kind, merciful and caring. It is grounded purely in an idea that one must be afraid of God so they do no wrong to others, rather one must be afraid of themselves from doing wrong.

“We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don’t think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him.” I told her that such notions are just fancies of less educated human imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal gods.”

It is condescending towards ‘less educated”. The greatest saints of the world from yester years did not even go to school or had a degree, yet they imparted the greatest wisdom to us.

“The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions.”

Indeed, that is the case with people of all faiths.

“The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Excellent statement! It is the bottom line of all faiths. You do well in this life, meaning being good to yourselves and others with least amount of conflict, you will take birth in a higher life from next time around. If you become a perfect being, you may even get a Mukti (release) from the cycles of birth and death. Where as the same idea is carried little differently in the ‘Abrahamic faiths’, there is a belief of life after death and some day, each one will be reckoned. In both cases, you are individually responsible for your future. Not all, but the most prevalent thought in Christianity is to believe in Jesus as the savior, will save you, in reality the belief in Jesus hinges on being a good human being.

“Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. ‘Isavasyam idam sarvam’ Isam (the God) is present (inhabits) here everywhere - nothing exists separate from the God, because God is present everywhere. Respect every living being and non-living things as God. That’s what Hinduism teaches you.”

Qur’aan also puts forth the same idea – God is closer to you than your Jugular vein, meaning the all knowing God resides in every atom of the universe and you, and he, it or she, knows your thoughts before it materializes into action. Prophet Mohammed defines good deeds are those acts that one does for the sake of others, very similar to Jain and Zoroastrian idea of Good deeds. There was a narration where Prophets associates asked him which one of the two would be favored by the creator; the one who prays all day or the one who has a foul and is drunk, but before he goes to sleep he would knock on his neighbors and share whatever little food he has, so others don’t go to bed hungry, obviously God graces the one who takes care of others.

“Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity. Ancestors of today’s Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. But there is a section of Hindus who are either superstitious or turned fanatic to make this an organized religion like others.”

Ditto, except that the point of reference of “forms” is turned into “aspects”. God has no beginning and no end. The cosmic truths are expressed as revelations from God to the wise men like Zarthustra, Moses, Solomon, David, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Mahavir, Jesus, Muhammad, Nanak and Bahaulla.

“Religions have become an MLM (multi-level-marketing) industry that has been trying to expand the market share by conversion.”

Indeed, religion has become a business for many. Any one who fights for Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or other faiths is sure to ask for money at the end of his game. Then it is not a religion, it is his business to make money from the suckers who are willing to give. God does not care which pigeon hole you live in, as long as you care about his creation, other than you. Religion, in its simplest form is bringing a balance in one’s life and balance with what surrounds him. (Or her).

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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 and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com or (214) 325-1916
For a full bio: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp