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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Challenge of Religious Pluralism

The Challenge of Religious Pluralism


There are voices of faith in today’s world that sound a call of hate and intolerance. Sometimes they send whispers of fear mixed with blessings, and at other times they incite violence to the soundtrack of prayer. They feed on ignorance, conflict, and the silent compliance of the world community. They are religious totalitarians, and they are a minority—a minority that dominates our headlines, our policies, and even our intellectual discourse. But the people of faith I know speak with another voice. They call on love, compassion, and human solidarity. They believe in the promise of people from diverse backgrounds coming together to build a society based on equal dignity and mutual loyalty. They are religious pluralists, and I am one of them; I didn’t know it, however, until I encountered another.

After meeting activist and author Eboo Patel at Stanford University, where he was invited as the Heyns Lecturer a few months ago, I can’t help but believe that this is a man who may well have changed my life. Patel is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization which, according to its mission statement, “builds mutual respect and pluralism among young people from different religious traditions.” I stayed awake late that night finishing his book, “Acts of Faith—The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.” In it, he speaks of how much of his adolescence was spent trying to harmonize seemingly irreconcilable narratives—immigrant, Indian, Muslim, American. But he also recounts the influences in his life that drew each of them together and showed him the shared value of pluralism.

Patel comes into my life at a time when I am slowly realizing the magnitude of seeing Barack Obama in the White House, how this represents one of the most astounding messages of hope in our lifetime, how people will one day be studying his speeches in high school, how these are the times that test the soul of my generation. I have never wholly identified with a community, much less a country. But I hear President Obama say that “this is a country of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers,” and I know that this is my American dream. This kind of rhetoric has been missing not only from the world’s powerful, but also most glaringly from our social justice movements. We have made great strides toward respecting differing racial, ethnic, and sexual orientations. And yet, we live in a time when the crisis of religious violence is perhaps the greatest one we face, not because it is irreconcilable, but because we have not reconciled it.

The most influential peace activists of the 20th century, however, remain those of deep faith: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Dorothy Day, Badshah Khan, and so many others. They recognized that it is precisely their religious duty to work tirelessly for others, with compassion and humility and mutual understanding. And they were all guided by the faiths of others, because for them religion was simple, even as we conflate it into a tangled web of cultural particularities. Religion, they felt, as I feel now, is the shared belief that love can be and is the guiding force in the world.

We as Indian Americans are inheritors of a common narrative of pluralism: both that of an India that enriched itself over centuries with different faiths and cultures, and that of an America which is now the most religiously diverse country in the world. Thus we also inherit the responsibility of keeping alive that pluralistic narrative in a world where too often, the dialogue on religion belongs to those who would translate their difference to dominance. We can no longer draw the faith line between faiths, or between religion and atheism, but between religious pluralists and religious totalitarians. Right now, the latter are winning. They are louder, more compelling, more attractive to their youth. If we, who believe in religious pluralism, are to “provide the lie to the clash of civilizations,” as Eboo Patel says, then we must make interfaith cooperation a youth movement for social change. We must share with one another our narratives of pluralism, and join the ranks of those addressing the great social justice issues of our time: labor laws and civil liberty, health work and minority rights, poverty and women’s rights.

Our identities are fluid things, whether or not we consider ourselves religious. They constantly fall outside the rigid roles we are taught—these sad, meaningless assignations of societies and civilizations. If at all we can gather our patchwork selves and contribute some small fragrance to this world, it is only through an intense, intimate conversation on Love. For in such a conversation, everyone participates: the Hindu, the Muslim, the nonbeliever, the enlightened. This, then, must be our new dialogue on religion: a dialogue that chooses social change over theological quarrel, the passion of youth over the power of old systems of thought, love and service over division and greed. I think that the interfaith youth movement is about revitalizing this dialogue in America and around the world. It is the dialogue that inspires a Jewish rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, to march with a young Baptist preacher, Martin Luther King Jr.—in turn moved to nonviolent action by the example of a Hindu leader, Mahatma Gandhi—through Selma, Ala., and to write later: “I felt my legs were praying.” This is the true narrative of my faith, my American promise, the story through which my lips are praying.

Anand Venkatkrishnan is a junior at Stanford University, majoring in the classics.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are Muslims a part of the American story?

Are Muslims a part of the American story?
By: Mike Ghouse

Indeed, we are not connected enough with the mainstream society for a vast majority of Americans to stand up for us, empathize with us, or even understand the truth about us that we are no different than them in our endeavors and aspirations of life. We must however express our gratitude to the millions of Americans who have stood up for us, compelled by their sense of justness and fair play.

Professor Sherman Jackson observes, “Thus far, however, Muslims remain outside the American story, which is why, despite their positive contributions to society; they seldom enlist empathy when they are jailed, deported or discriminated against.” And he offers the solution, “Hopefully, however, it will not be long before Muslims come to understand this. Once they do, while guilt by association may continue, Muslims will be able to fight back. For in this they will be joined by others.”

Refreshing our identity

As good citizens it is not only our right but it is our duty to be self critical of our society; the Muslim as well as the American society. I hope that the conservatives among us will get beyond the self righteous criticism and value the freedom that we are endowed with to exercise with pride and care.

We must learn to re-examine our attitudes towards others and push the refresh button to understand the essence of Islam. We must do our inner jihad against the temptations to reduce Islam to rituals, we should not only be identified as Muslims by the ritual aspect of our religion, but also be recognized by the spiritual and social aspect of “being a Muslim”.

Being a Muslim is volunteering one’s time and effort for the general well being of the society, and serving it with blinders. Prophet Muhammad said your responsibility is to yourselves, to your family members, to your relatives, to your neighbors around you and beyond. He did not advocate exclusion; a neighbor is a neighbor is a neighbor.

A Muslim is someone who is engaged in mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill amongst our neighbors and countrymen, to help create a just and more viable society for all.  Indeed, Prophet Muhammad set that example earlier on in his life when he was called on to resolve a dispute between the tribes as to who should have the honor of setting the fallen stone in the walls of the Cube called Kaaba; they came to him because he had earned the reputation for being just and truthful. He could have chosen any one to do the honor to gain favors, he could have given it to his tribe and make himself look good, but he did not.

He believed in peaceful co-existence and wanted to mitigate conflicts between the tribes and nurture goodwill, he wanted to bring about a change. Indeed, he placed the small stone on a sheet of cloth and had all the leaders raise the sheet up in unison. Imagine the men lifting the sheet and looking at each other, they were adversaries a day ago and now they are participants.  What must have gone through their minds? The probably saw the erosion of conflicts and emergence of goodwill. It is a model for Muslims to follow; to be just, fair and truthful and goodwill nurturers. He was called the Amin, the truthful and just.

A Muslim respects the otherness of the other (2) and understands the essence of Islam; Justice and peace. Rituals are not an end in themselves; they are simply markers of being a Muslim. They are the most important aspect of our faith paving way to achieve humility and spirituality. A Just person is one who cares for what surrounds him or her; life and the environment. Isn't that what the will of God is? Isn't submitting to the will of God means working for a Just society, and bringing equilibrium between living beings and the environment?

To be just, one has to shed arrogance, indeed Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said to his associates after returning home from a victorious war; the biggest Jihad begins now, he said, it is the war with one's own seductions. It is to reign in our temptations to avenge, revenge or getting even; it is getting hold of our anger, the anger that leads to injustice.  He said, don’t let your bias towards the other mar your sense of Justice.

He said God's favorite person is the one who forgives others and repents his own short-comings. Islam is about being a just human in treating ourselves, our families and the societies we live in.

A majority of Muslims certainly practice this refreshed identity, but a few loud mouths define Muslims otherwise and sadly they get the most coverage in the media, drowning the good and encouraging the ugly. But vigorous effort to project our real identity has begun and Insha Allah, we will succeed with a realization that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the mankind and vice versa for it to sustain. We cannot have advantages over the others, such benefits are deleterious and of temporary nature.

Where did we go wrong?

The average Mohammed and Amina have realized that to be a spiritual part of the society, we have to connect, we have to care and be cared for, and we have to be with the society emotionally as they would be with us. To feel a complete sense of feeling “at home" we have to live the essence American life, which is not different from the essence of Islamic life. Please don't jump to conclusions, it does not mean you have to give up an ounce of your identity, it simply means the sense of difference "they" v "us" has to vanish from our thoughts and "us" to be ingrained in our feelings, language and actions. We are Americans.

The traditional religious leadership and the leadership that runs Muslim organizations is yet to grasp this, in the name of identity, they dig in their heels. That has been the hallmark of all insecure religious leaders to keep the flock tethered.

To be religious is to bring about a balance within oneself and with others who surround us; through humility religion seeks to dissolve the barriers between the peoples. We need to embrace other flocks, we need to look for permanent solutions of co-existence and honor every one's God given space.

As Muslims, we chase our own tails; we spend all our disposable hours at the Mosques or engaging in big talk about love for Islam and attend lectures on how to be a ritual Muslim. Unquestionably, it is a part of what makes one a Muslim, but that is not all that Muslims should be concerned with. Our focus ought to be, to become a part of that American story. Please remember no one is pushing us out or excluding us, it is us, who are not integrating to become a part of the whole and it is our loss, as many of us do not feel that we are a part to this land; that engenders an undesirable insecurity.

Justice alone cannot carry us far

In case of the Holy Land Trial; justice won the first time around. But justice alone cannot carry us far. There was no sympathy when Professor Arian was on trial, there was no support when Tariq Ramadan's visa was rejected twice to visit and teach in the United States. There was less outrage when Gaza was bombarded, the effects of which will run for generations. There is a long list, and such incidences happen ad nauseam

There are several organizations making the efforts to make that change "to become a part of the American Story" but it is not their priority to grow the feeling of hominess, something that solidly bolts us to the ground. Our priorities must take us from a ritual Muslim to a strong civic Muslim and be a part of the American story. Where the three hundred million of us feel connected with each other and talk and act as one nation. Those of us who have not grown up yet, being American is our identity as much as being a Muslim. Our ability to build relationships with people other than our own kind does not negate or reduce our religiosity, but enhances it.

Guts to speak up

The Islamic society of North America (ISNA) is developing a good outreach program, but then there are some, who are shamelessly derailing their effort. Case in Point: the Islamic society of North America (ISNA) engaged an influential Rabbi to become a part of the Muslim-Jewish dialogue, and indeed the Rabbi spoke at their annual convention. Then a few Muslims proclaiming to be legitimate representatives of Muslims (There is no such thing as legitimate representative, none are elected by public at large) wrote to the Rabbi not to be a part of ISNA, as they are the legitimate ones, instead of supporting the efforts of ISNA, they were denigrating them. Both will lose in the situation. Not enough Muslims have picked up the phone and told these other guys to be wise, and start building their own positive relationships rather than negating what others have built. What does it take? It is the simplest thing that a Muslim can do; to encourage the good efforts of any Muslim or a non-Muslim to build relationships and work for co-existence, peace and prosperity of our nation.

Things to ponder

What are the things Muslims can do to become a part of the American story? What can we do to connect with others on a human level where everyone feels like one large family to speak up from their heart when any one of the 300 Million of us is mis-served? Simply put, we have to become part of that family.

We are rightfully concerned with Halal (Kosher) meat and in our subconscious effort to show off that we are Muslims, i.e., ritual Muslims. We prevent ourselves from sharing a meal with others; one of the most connecting activity of a family. People are rightfully afraid to invite us so they do not offend us. It is human to follow the rules, Jews, Hindus and others follow their dietary requirements as well, we should not eat what is forbidden, but we should not make a big deal out of it and stay out of homes of friends and becoming a part of the American story. Let the difference not put a barrier between us.

The public transport Shuttle Muslim drivers cannot demand time off for their prayers as God has offered them choices to combine prayers or do the makeup prayers.  Serving humanity takes priority over prayers.

To develop a sense of oneness with the society, we have to put in conscious efforts till it becomes a part of our psyche and a part of our culture.

For an immigrant to feel home and feel the connection with the community at large, and to bond, we have to find opportunities to serve. Thank God, America is the land of the blessed, it provides tremendous opportunities to the ones who want to feel safe, secure and feel in tune with others and be a contributor and participant in the overall success of each one of the 300 Million of us.

Setting our priorities

Engaging with the society at large must be our priority now. We should quit making excuses that we do not have the time; we must carve out our time from the social activities. We have to invest our time in the long term goodness and to acquire a sense of being at home; we must take our time from some of the religious activity and lectures that makes us stronger ritual Muslims and invest that time for sustainable goodness to become an overall Muslim.

The Ismaili Muslims are consciously building bridges and creating a society of integration and oneness. As a Muslim I take pride in their work and urge them to work with all Muslims; their plans are worth emulating. What is good for Muslims has got to be good for America and vice-versa, for that good to be sustainable.

When we move away from “me and my interests “ to “us and our interests” we can see a sea change goodness for all the Muslim communities and other communities.  Together, the Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Nation of Islam, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Warith Deen Muhammad and other denominations contribute to the well being of America, our pettiness denies the others and reduces our wholesome share of good. We need to take cumulative credit for serving fellow Americans.

America is our home, we are going to spend our lives here, it is home to our kids and grand kids and their grand kids; and we are going to be buried here, each cemetery plot is our permanent residence till eternity. And we owe it ourselves to make this land safe, secure, peaceful and prosperous for one and all. No one can have peace for themselves, unless others are in peace. It is the responsibility of each one of the 300 Million of us to do our share.

The big small things we can do;

Be a part of some ones birthday celebration or their anniversary, don’t be hung up with food or other cultural nuances, just be there for your friend and be a part of his or her happiness. When I go to the parties, I don’t drink alcohol nor do I eat Pork, but I don’t make a big deal or show it off that not drinking or eating makes me a Muslim. I should not draw attention in the party; it is the friends’ celebration time. I have had people apologize to me and my response is, no, you should not give up anything for me; you should enjoy what gives you the joy. We have to learn to respect the otherness of others, without you becoming something you are not. Just drink water and eat Salad no one will have a problem with it, but be there for your friends.

The most human thing to do, and by the way it is the most Muslim thing to do is to share the grief when someone passes away and the least thing you can do is attend their funerals. You don’t have to say one single word to any one, just being there for their family gives them comfort and you will feel good about your humanness. Prophet Muhammad stood up when a funeral passed by him regardless of who they were, the one example often cited is a Jewish funeral procession. Next time, when you hear some one has passed away, whether you know them or not, attend their funeral and see the difference it makes to you more than others.

If you are finding it difficult to make friends with people other than your own, consider changing it. Whether it is a wedding, birthday, funeral or any happy or grim occasion, invite people from your work, from where you shop or your neighborhood. Then you have plenty of opportunities year round; Mothers day, Fathers day, Memorial day, Labors day, July 4th and religious holidays of other faiths. Then you are connected and become a part of the American Story.

July 4th Celebrations

Go to the 4th of July parties, invite every possible person other than your own kind to your own backyard or create your own party along with a few friends. It does not take a whole lot of money to grill hot dogs (Of course Halal ones for you), hamburgers and water.

Encourage the Muslim leaders and give them your support to do it in the parking lot of the Mosques. Plan it ahead. Let our Imams focus on these things rather than get bogged down with Haraam and Halal. Making friends for creating peace and goodwill is unquestionably the Halal thing to do. After all, the name of our religion is peace and we have to act it.

Model Events

Take a look at the models we have created here in Dallas, and look at what it does to ground us. If you are hung with Cultural dances, do something else that connects humans; facts and speeches don’t connect people.

I am committed to co-existence and as such, I am willing to spend my time in getting you to set up, provided you have the commitment.

Please go through the following links and grasp their value

Thanksgiving Celebrations:

Unity Day Celebrations -

II Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides :

Quraan Conference Dallas

We have to develop programs, services and activities geared to pull Americans Together in building a cohesive America that is good for every one of the 300 Million Americans, we need to focus on our overall prosperity rather than pitting one against the other.

As a society, it is our responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it and nurturing goodwill.

We owe it ourselves to make this land safe, secure, peaceful and prosperous for one and all. No one can have peace for themselves, unless others are in peace. It is the responsibility of each one of the 300 Million of us to do our share. First, it starts with you and I, we do it because it is the right thing to do and not to keep a score. Let there be purity in our intentions and God will reward every one of us with peace, security and prosperity.

Our Mission is to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other.


# # #

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Politics, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. Over a thousand articles have been published on the topics and two of his books are poised to be released on Pluralism and Islam. Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find all of his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com
America, Foundation-for-Pluralism, Mike Ghouse Pluralist, Muslims beware, World Muslim Congress

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is your faith Superior?

What is the effect of claiming one’s faith is superior?
Spirituality and arrogance are inversly proportional, aren't they?
You don't have to agree with it, but do think about it.

In reference to my speech http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/04/mike-ghouse-honored-by-rcc.html I have received a number of encouraging words, as well as some good critiquing, and am pleased to address the questions for the sake of clarity.

Dr. Javed Jamil writes below “As Muslims, we cannot support Atheism, Polytheism, etc, but we respect the right of the people to believe whatever they like.”

Javed that has been my point; to respect the right of people to believe whatever they like. I do not encourage any one to become a polytheist or an Atheist, Christian or a Muslim, however, I respect their right to believe what they believe, and certainly work with them for peaceful co-existence of one and all. My inspiration comes from Sura Kafirun that expresses that thought exceptionally well (http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html ) –

Prophet Muhammad is one of the peace makers in the world, and I have written 10 different peace models he has offered the world to follow. Remember the offer was for every one, as he was the Rahmatul Aalameen, mercy to mankind. His message was universal and one of the models was signing the treaties with the warring tribes, to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and above all to co-exist in peace. It comes with accepting them reluctantly or willingly for the sake of peaceful co-existence. There is no compulsion in the matters of faith, you can always offer Islam for people to look at, and you have got to give the same right to others, but you cannot claim it is superior as it would turn them off, if you want to convert any one to your way of thinking, your belief or if you want to sell your product to any one, you don’t kick the beehive.

Ovais writes “this is a total misconception if you think by saying and accepting that Islam is the only right way would send out a message of arrogance, then you are absolutely wrong, I think this is more of a diplomatic way of making non-Muslim comfortable with you so that you can spend time with them.”

Larry James, the President of Council of Churches, the recipient of similar recognition spoke after me and said, “it is a tough one not to claim that my religion is the only way” It will be a major change in thinking by the Church of or clergy.

Indeed, it is a tough one to crack, but the right one though. If we can make a march towards ridding the arrogance of superior claims, life would be lot easier and paves the way for peace and security. Millions of Native Indians, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and others have been killed by the Zealots who believed that their way was the only way. Neither Christianity nor Islam is about oppression, force or compulsion, neither are any other faiths. Yet people who believe that their way is the only way, do the massacres, almost every conflict in the world has root in arrogance. You and I would not be able to practice our faith if the Majority decides that their way is the only way, that is not peace, and that is not Islam.

Ovais, the later part of the comment sounds like a personal issue to me, I do not need any diplomacy either, I have ticked off the right wingers in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity, not intentionally though. We are fighting the turf - if we let them have their way, no one will have any freedom. But the 98% of the people are moderates and beleive in live and let live and that is thier understanding of their respective religion.

The source of conflict is arrogance – including the idea that my faith is superior. It is not the religion that has created problems it is indeed the arrogance of people, it is time we start shedding it. My faith's goodness is not because others are deficient, my faith is good because following it brings peace to me and what surrounds me. Other faiths offer the same peace to its followers; we need to respect their beliefs. Then conflicts fade and solutions emerge – that is Peace, isn’t that what Islam is about?

The other question raised by a few is about oneness of God.

Oneness of God means a state of conflictlessness, including the numeric one God. God (or the causer of the existence) has intentionally created diversity, when we learn to accept and respect that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge; we will be one world.

A friend shared the following “Linguistically Tawhid means: "To make something one, or to assert the oneness of something." [Lisaan ul-'Arab (3/450) of Ibn Mandhoor and also al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah (1/305) of Abul-Qaasim al-Asbahaanee] However, what we are concerned with here is the Sharee'ah or technical meaning of Tawheed, which is: "To single out Almighty God alone for worship." [Ad-Dururus-Sunniyyah (1/48) of Shaykh 'Abdur- Rahmaan ibn Hasan] “


You, me and every one of us is responsible for peace. If we are not in peace within ourselves, most certainly others are in the same boat. If we can clean ourselves from hate, malice, ill-will and anger, we can reasonably expect others to make the same effort. So, let peace begin with me. No individual or nation can be at peace, when others around it are not. So peace is every one's responsibility.

Prophet Muhammad was an ultimate peace maker (as were other spiritual masters); indeed, the name of the religion that I follow is “Peace” – aka Islam. Prophet Muhammad wanted to establish peace for humanity and offered various models for us to follow and communicated God’s wisdom through Qur’aan.

I do not consider this recognition as my achievement; it is your acheivement, it is a small step towards achieving the dream of 98% of the moderate population, be it Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews or any one; to open people’s hearts and minds towards fellow beings by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. That is what peace is all about, that is what every Religion including mine contributes to.

A few comments:
Re: Mike Ghouse is recognized as a communicator of the year 2008

Dear Mike,

While I congratulate you on your achievement, I will give a suggestion. To have respect for other religions and faiths is one thing and to honour them is different. If you respect an ideology, it means that you respect the right of an ideology to exist and the right of people to follow it. If you "honour" an ideology, it means you agree with the basic principles of that ideology. Muslims must respect other faiths and must accept a plural society, which is the position of Quran, but they must in no way dilute the basic principles of Islam, most notably monotheism and Prophethood of Muhammad. Even without diluting them, you can be a part of the Inter-fath exercises. Recently, I was invited to attend an International conference on "Religious intolerance" at Bangalore, which was organised by International Council of Churches, Geneva. Most of the invitees were Christian priests. In fact I happened to be the only Muslim invitee. I presented a paper, "Building an all-religion alliance against evils". My paper was the talk of the whole conference. I advocated the all-religion alliance against commercialisation of human susceptibilities. I also argued that Westernism and Christianity are two different things. Muslims and Christians both should realise this. The best way of diffusing tensions between communities is to unite the religions for a common agenda. Mere handshakes, hugs and common lunches and dinners would not suffice. (I will like to share the paper with the Forum and will soon post it.)

AsMuslims, we cannot support Atheism, Polytheism, etc, but we respect the right of the people to believe whatever they like.

Dr Javed Jamil

A richly deserved honor, Mike. Your brief acceptance speech is a great piece and sums up a sublime understanding of Allah (swt), God or what ever other name Mankind invented for the Gracious and Merciful Spread of Energy that envelopes and causes The Universe and the Life there-in. Viva Mike and keep up your Crusade of Humanity.
Best regards:

Sher Suleman

Brother Mike,

Please accept my heartiest congratulations for winning the recognition as communicator of the year.Indeed, it should be proud moment for those who believe in your sincere and boundless efforts to bring people of all faiths together, and bring peace and pruralism among people of different faiths, without prejudice towards none.

Communicator : What is communicator and what it means to be a communicator.
Communicator is a person who communicates, esp. one skilled
at conveying information,ideas, or policy to the public.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a great communicator, and used his communicating skill to convince and convert non-believers into Islam.

President Ronald Reagan was a communicator who used his communicating skill to
sell his republican ideology.

President Barack Obama is communicator extraordinaire who uses his skill to win
friends and influence people by his charm and rhetoric.

I personally believe, brother Mike Ghouse is a great communicator in his own rights
as muslim, who does his best by using his skill to build bridge between people of
different faiths and create brotherhood, without prejudice towards none.

Hasni Essa
Islam for pluralism

Dear Mike


Congratulations on the Award. On behalf of Community Builders Chicago, I would like to extend our felicitations to you, on this recognition for your community service and wish you continued success in the future.


Azher Quader
Executive Director
Community Builders Chicago

Dear Mike Bhai,

Here is the issue "And further I am humbled to say that my religion is not superior to others, that claim would be a sheer arrogance. " this is a total misconception if you think by saying and accepting that Islam is the only right way would send out a message of arrogance, then you are absolutely wrong, I think this is more of a diplomatic way of making non-muslim comfortable with you so that you can spend time with them.

I am not jugding you in any way, your religion is your way to Allah, whatever I say will not affect your path to Janat, but it hurts me when religion is being compromised to gain acceptance of others, I hope I am wrong, but this is what I see in your emails that you are trying to make everyone happy by saying that they are all ok. I strongly believe in peace, it is the only way, but again Islam shouldn't be compromised. I would suggest you read Surat Kafirun, you would hopefully understand the message of Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him.

Again I am all for peace, Islam stands for peace, and if I have misunderstood your message I appologize but if you still say that all religion are right, then I think this is a misunderstanding, because now this would make you superior to Porphet Mohammed peace be upon him because according to him Islam is the only correct path.

Thanks for reading the message.

Mike, thanks for continuing the good witness of your award with the blog entry and pictures.
I much appreciate having your statement, which admirably set the tone for our ceremony.
I haven't had a chance to download my pictures, but I would like to request a "big file" version of the three awardees.

Rev. Bill Matthews


Please accept our heartiest congratulations on being honored as Secular Communicator of the Year. I know you have done a tremendous amount of quality work to promote this concept. Overdue but I am glad it happened.

Also, thanks for joining us at the Swaminarayan temple for pooja for Sapna. We appreciate it.

Keep it up.........

Mazel tov Mike! Congratulations! With more advance notice I might even have tried to attend, even though it is still Passover (and even though I've never heard of the organization). You're in pretty nice company. I know of Larry James and I've met him through one of his projects.


Dear Mr Ghouse

You have stated a simpe fact which needs no further arguments to support it.
regards and bw


Mike - I'm celebrating with you! This is indeed a remarkable achievement but very much deserved. Your devotion to peace and justice inspires me everyday and keeps me moving along the path. All the best for a year full of successful campaigns. Your friend,

Rita Clarke

Congratulations Mike.

You deserve it and it is overdue. I don't know anyone who propagates such classic approach of religious harmony and tolerance in our disturbed world.

Hasan Mahmud

assalamu alaikum

this article is against the basic believe of islam, if we should honor every tradition, then we should honor those who used to kill their daughter just because they are girls???,
to those who drink dirty food??? to those who are killing humanity just for their worldly beneafits ????, to those who live naked or semi naked???.

Does it make any sense? after reading some part from the article from link, i found mike ghause state as followed

"I am humbled to say that my religion is not superior to others", that proves, mike ghause is
extremely misguided person and he may be working for kuffar to misguided muslims.
islam is not only superior to other religions but islam is the only true religion in the world until the last day world. All other religion are false, taking people to nowhere but distruction The Religion Communicators council is trying to misguid muslims, beware.

Congratulations Mike! I am so happy for you and so proud to have interacted with you. i could not agree more with your stand on God and religion, especially the concept of not having any "Superior" or "Chosen" religion has always been part of my faith.

May God bless you!

Taj Hashmi

Respected Janab Mike Ghouse saheb AADAAB
No doubt, You are great, Your mission is great and I can say that you are a jewel
of humanity and a torch of world peace.

I appreciate your efforts. I am always with you. You can take my services for more success of your mission.
with regards
Tanveer Jafri. India
Posted by Mike Ghouse at 9:34 AM 0 comments
Labels: arrogance, Mike-Ghouse-Pluralist, Superior faith
Friday, April 17, 2009
Mike Ghouse, Bio
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator.

He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, interfaith, Islam, India, Multiculturism, Terrorism, Peace, Politics and Civic issues. He co-chairs the center for interfaith inquiry of the Memnosyne Foundation and presides the Foundation for Pluralism. He is the president of World Muslim Congress a think tank with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world and vice-Versa.

His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Web sites and Blogs listed at his personal web site http://www.mikeghouse.net/ . He has authored over 600 articles on Pluralism, interfaith, Islam, India and peace.

His life mission is to open people’s hearts and minds towards fellow beings by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. He is a peace maker and an educator with two Master degrees and working on his doctorate in Psychology. He has two books on the horizon ; Basic Islam- everything you want to know about Islam and Pluralism, a text book on Pluralism 101.

Mike is a Neighborhood Commissioner at the City of Carrollton, and a Board Member of Dallas Peace Center. He is an Ambassador for Peace for the Universal Peace Federation and a member of the International leadership council. He has initiated the annual events like the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations in its 12th year, Unity Day USA in its 5th year, Holocaust and Genocides, event just finished its 2nd Annual event. Mike Ghouse Cricket Gold cup and several other initiatives were taken. He was Past President of Indian Creek HOA and North Texas Cricket Association and has been a member of several Boards.

Mike is a Dallasite for three decades and Carrollton is his home town.