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Saturday, September 26, 2009

3000 Muslims pray at Capitol Hill

3000 Muslims pray at Capitol Hill
The following note was posted at Washington Post.

As a Muslim, I am pleased with the demonstration of Unity and solidarity with America; however, I found some of the comments to be gratuitous.

One of the Imams in the video wearing the Arab traditional dress invites people to prayers,( links in the article below) it was indeed beautiful, but when he suggests to "lay your idols down and come to pray" was offensive to those who worship the creator in the form of Icons, which he called Idols. The act of denigrating Idol worship reduces Islam to be a faith based on absence of Idols. He knows Islam's existence is not dependent on vilifying other faiths and the call was un-neccessary, most likely the Imam did not realize that it was inflammatory to others who share the city, state, nation and the world with him.

Thank God, the majority of preachers respect and honor divinity of other faiths as they honor their own. A few, just a few preachers among Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and others simply have no regard, how the statements they make don't create goodwill.

You find bigots in your faith as well, they are right there and you know them. The Christians standing and shouting 'repent' and asking people to convert to Christianity also cheapens the teachings of Jesus. Jesus would not have approved their act; you win people by showing your goodness, if they had served the Muslims with Halal refreshments, water and helping with parking, they would have earned the good will for future harvesting of the souls.

Religion is not about reciting Mantras and doing rituals, ultimately it is about becoming a good human being. When Jesus said follow me, Krishna says surrender to me, Allah says submit to my will, they are are asking one to be a good human being like the good God who loves and cares about every one of his creation.

Some of these unspiritual religious men are brainwashed with the idea of conversion. It is time we do our individual and group renaissance - and evaluate the value of conversion. Are we open to investigate if Jesus or Mohammad really wanted people to become Christians or Muslims politically numberwise or they wanted the world to be a better place with better humans. Which route is easire to achieve and sustainable with least conflcits?

We scream at the extremists that they cannot think, are we?

Mike Ghouse

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At Capitol, a Day of Muslim Prayer and Unity

3,000 Gather to Combat Fear and 'Do the Work of Allah' Amid Christian Protests
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/25/AR2009092502183.html

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At Capitol, a Day of Muslim Prayer and Unity

3,000 Gather to Combat Fear and 'Do the Work of Allah' Amid Christian Protests

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nearly 3,000 people gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol on Friday for a mass Muslim prayer service that was part religion and part pep rally for the beleaguered U.S. Muslim community.

As faint shouts of "Repent!" from Christian protesters floated across the gathering, dozens of long rows of men in robes and white knit caps and women in head coverings prostrated themselves to God, gave praise and listened to sermons as part of the congregational prayer that occurs about noon Fridays.

"Stop being so scared!" thundered Imam Abdul Malik of New York. "You ain't done nothing wrong. Just do the work of Allah, and believe."

The service comes as the Muslim community has been rocked by verbal attacks from conservative Christians that have grown stronger since the election of President Obama and by the recent arrests in a terrorism investigation involving several Muslim men, including an imam.
"We wanted to bring people out to show you don't need to fear America," said Imam Ali Jaaber of Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth N.J., the service's main organizer. At the same time, he said, he wanted to remind non-Muslims that "we are decent Muslims. We work; we pay taxes. We are Muslims who truly love this country."

Across the street from the service, Christian protesters gathered with banners, crosses and anti-Islamic messages. One group, which stood next to a 10-foot-tall wooden cross and two giant wooden tablets depicting the Ten Commandments, was led by the Rev. Flip Benham of Concord, N.C.

"I would suggest you convert to Christ!" Benham shouted over a megaphone. Islam "forces its dogma down your throat." A few Christian protesters gathered at the rear of the Muslim crowd, holding Bibles and praying.

At one point, organizers asked them to tone it down.

"We would never come to a prayer meeting that you have to make a disturbance," Hamad Chebli, imam of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, said from the lectern. "Please show us some respect. This is a sacred moment. Just as your Sunday is sacred, our Friday is sacred."

The noise from protesters faded somewhat during the final portion of the service, which lasted nearly two hours.

Organizers said this month that they hoped to draw about 50,000 people from mosques across the country for the gathering, billed as a day of unity for the nation's Muslims. But it failed to attract the support of national Islamic organizations and drew only a fraction of that number. Some people were frightened off by the conservative Christian attacks, said Hassen Abdellah, president of Dar-ul-Islam.

Nonetheless, organizers said they were happy with the turnout.

Abdellah had become the focus of criticism in recent days because he was part of the legal team that represented one of the men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Kia Campbell, a homemaker from Durham, N.C., who came with several members of her family, said they were concerned about their safety.

"It wasn't going to keep us from coming," she said. "But it wasn't that we didn't feel cautious."

Takoma Park engineer Mohammed-Amin AbaBiya said he was happy to be at a "historical" event.

"This shows that America is one, that religion is one," he said, beaming, after the gathering ended and people began to stream off the lawn. "It shows solidarity and brotherhood. In the future, we are going to come more often, I hope."

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11 comments:

  1. I attended the Friday prayer and I was very happy to see the plurality of Muslims from all parts of the world--and everyone was respected. Also, seeing a lot of cultures represented on the West lawn, not far from where President Obama took the oath of office--it was definitely another historic moment in American history. Not surprised the national Islamic groups did not support it--yet for a few moments, I pondered the possible excuses they would use to explain why they did not? Now what we know is true--we do need to adhere to national Islamic group-think in order to have a voice on Capital Hill--another sign from Allah that they do not have all the answers. I'm sure they'll reconsider the next time a prayer vigil is called so they can pretend to speak for all Muslims and stay in the national spotlight.

    A Muslim Washingtonian

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  2. As a pluralist raised as a Christian, I find this comment by Rev. Benham ironic:

    "I would suggest you convert to Christ" Benham shouted over a microphone. Islam "forces its dogma down your throat".

    What else is he doing but trying to force his dogma down the throats of others?

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  3. TO BE IN HARMONY WITH OTHERS IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD HAPPINESS.

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  4. Dear Mike
    Could you are to explain the following comment of yours?

    "The act of denigrating Idol worship reduces Islam to be a faith based on absence of Idols"

    Khalid

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  5. Khalid, thanks for asking me to clarify the following statement;

    "The act of denigrating Idol worship reduces Islam to be a faith based on absence of Idols"

    If we talk about Islam, it is about one God, one creator, one causer, one creator and oneness of God and the creation.

    When someone talks about Islam in terms of leave your Idols and come to worship... our focus has shifted from what Islam is about to what Islam is not. That is reducing Islam to be absence of Idols, Islam is much more than that. That we can expound on the 2nd para above.

    Thanks for clarifying Khalid. Indeed, it is a Muslim character not to jump to draw conclusions about others without verifying it. We should not be eager to formulate a fatwa about others who differ.

    This pracice of yours is Alhamdu Lillah a good Muslim practice, you always verify without jumping to conclusions.

    May Allah bless all Muslims with the same quality.

    Jazak Allah Khair

    Mike Ghouse

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  6. ASAK
    With all appreciation to Mr Mike's Ghouse's endevourtowards communal harmony and interfaith dialogue in pluralistic countrieslike USA and India, I wish to say that the problem with Mike sb is that he just issues statements and never elaborates.

    I too would like to know what Khalid Azam sb wants to know as to what does Mike sb means when he says - "The act of denigrating Idol worship reduces Islam to be a faith based on absence of Idols" .

    I am amazed that Mr. Mike Ghouse, a Muslim him self is saying all this? Yes Islam definitely is a faith devoid of idols.

    Further, what is wrong in Imam's call when he says -"lay your idols down andcome to pray". Did our prophet not give a call - La iIaha illallaha" ( there is no god...except God) when idols worship was common in pre Islamic days. Did our prophet not invite neo Muslims to prayers and instructed them to pray without idols in their arms. Did he not liberate Kaaba from idols after conquering Mecca. This is the only Islam that our prophet propagated, where
    there is no place for any icon or idol.What kind of Islam Mike sb is propagating is beyond my intellect. With all humility I would like to be included in in non intellectuals ( as Mike
    put it in his forewords ) and say that one of the duties of a Muslims is to preach Islam humbly and invite others to the folds of Islam ( La ila ha Illallaha Mohammedurrasullalah ) but with concern , utmost care and respectto others emotions and belief based on the fact that "there is no compulsion in Islam" ( Lakum Deenakum Walia yadeen..)

    As regards the statement "Religion is not about reciting Mantras and doing rituals, ultimately it is about becoming a good human being."Yes agreed with Mike Ghouse sahab.
    regards

    Nafisul Hasan

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  7. Nafis Sb,

    Thanks for bringign this up and clarifying it. I have just responded to it.

    Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)was preaching when every one around his was worshipping the Idols, that was the enviromment.

    The call of Imam on Capitol hill lawn was redundant and unneccesary, there was a political tone of "we the monotheist" against "you the idol worshipper" embedded in it most likely subconsciously. Doesn't that create unnecessary conflict and wedge hatred...is that the religions of Peace?

    You share the value of you faith with others if it appeals to them, they are welcome. But you do not push them to beleive against their will.

    Religion of peace is being inclusive, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) initiated the Madinah pact, and invited Jews, Christian and others to be signatories to it. If he beleived that they were false, why would he co-sign that document?

    Not only that, he went a step further; he removed the words "Rasool Allah" from his signature when others objected to him, not to please them, but to acknolwedge their belief that he was not a prophet to them.

    There is a lot of things to think here...

    Didn't prophet run a secular government?

    Did not Prophet acknowledge the otherness of others? Wasn't he first one to initiate intefaith dialogue in his mosque?

    Not only that, he suggested them to pray "their" prayers in his mosques. Is there a greater pluralist than him and Jesus?

    A pluralist is one who respects the otherness of other and accepts the God given uniqueness of each one of us for peaceful co-existence. If you have the time, please check this out:

    http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html

    This chapter of Qur'aan is an epitome of good civil dialogue and conduct. It is about respecting the otherness of other.

    This is what I meant when I said employing our intellect to consciouly contribute our share towards a better world.

    Jazak Allah Khair
    Mike Ghouse

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  8. I agree with Mr. Azam that placing an idol in a monotheistic place of worship is a bit of a stretch. However, there are many weddings where the bride and groom belong to different traditions. They each follow their custom and bring their sacred objects into it. Many places of worship may not accept that these objects are sacred but they would not consider them profane either. In other words, I might not consider Ganpati as sacred but culturally I am rather
    attached to his myth.

    As regards the slaughter of cows, perhaps we also need to consider that in some places in India, the slaughter of cows is indeed allowed. In general, our Hindu brethren, some of whom can be very vegan, have no qualms with having
    buffaloes slaughtered for Eid-ul-Adha. In Banda, the temple across from my grandfather's house would have Kirtan every morning, even before Fajr prayers.

    However, in Ramadan, in deference to our family, the Kirtan would start after the Sahoor had been done. It was just mutual regard, but these tenuous threads need not be frayed at the altar of religious observance.

    In that sense, I find Mr. Ghouse harshly judged. I presume this of course, but in all Mr. Ghouse does, he is looking to promote amity and fraternity among all peoples. Let us not pillory him for this.

    Sincere Regards
    ateeq ahmad

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  9. Br Khalid,

    Strange posts such as below defending the very strange reasoning (that Br Mike Ghouse uses sometimes), asking Muslims to not even say anything disagreeing with idol worship, are actually a test of the patience of Muslims. If a Muslim can not say to idol worshippers , "set aside your idols and come to the true path of
    God" in respectful tones, we have to wonder what kind of Muslim he is and what kind of Islam he believes in? Mike says that Muslims who recently made that statement in Washington DC were playing derogatory politics towards others. He
    says that Mohammad preached in a place where there were many idols, which implies his tolerance of idols. What a quirk? Mohammad was never shy of decrying idol worship and as soon as he was able to, he smashed the most revered
    idols in the Kaaba. These statements remind me of Salman Rushdi's statements.

    In every religious community there are some confused refuseniks who say strange things to attract attention. So they are in the Muslim community. I recall that a couple of months ago one such person wrote an article posted here
    that emphasized that Indian Muslims should visit Hindu temples and participate in the events there very frequently, to demonstrate the "Muslims' tolerance of other religions".

    In modern times irreligiosity has become trendy and fashionable. People practicing that try to exploit terms like "tolerance", "interfaith" to peddle their confusion to others and to get attention. Such folks are in all religious
    communities and so they are in the Muslim community. Indeed they challenge and test our patience. We should understand their tactics. Also we should understand Allah has also told Muslims to exercise patience and that this trait
    of Muslims will be tested.

    So this is how we should ignore these Muslim refuseniks and not loose our cool.

    Kaleem Kawaja

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  10. Kaleem Bhai,

    May you be showered in Peace and let every word that comes out of you be about peace, that is the essence of As-Salaam Alaikum.

    Kaleem sahib said "Mohammad was never shy of decrying idol worship and as soon as he was able to, he smashed the most revered idols in the Kaaba."

    Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never smashed the idols; he took them out and placed out side the cube when he took over Kaaba. Prophet (pbuh) was a model of civility and respect. The man who said "to you is your faith and to me is my faith" could not have done that, it is a myth created. Abraham did that, not Muhammad (pbuh).
    That is not the idea of a peacemaker that Prophet was. Check the movie "Message" that ran all over the world, the producer Michael Wolfe and I had discussions about it, he has done extensive research on the topic and was released the world over where the idols were placed outside.

    I challenge you to carry on a civil conversation and not resort to lines like "there are some confused refuseniks who say strange things to attract attention." Would you take up the challenge? I am not confused and thanks to
    Allah, many Imams and Muslim scholars support the idea of thinking and learning. You may not have the inclinations to think and learn, but most Muslims do.

    Kaleem sahib, you know I can use equally derogatory language as you can, but that is not kind of Muslim I am. Islam is about civility and I will never let go of it. Please remain civil in your discourse that is one of the characters of being a Muslim, and I'm greatful to God that I am a Muslim.

    Mike Ghouse

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