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Friday, April 9, 2010

Honoring Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci today

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Dallas, Texas

I am pleased to share a few interfaith moments about Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, a scholar of Islam, a lawyer and an Imam. He has now established an institution with his name to impart education to the youth born and raised here in the D/FW Metroplex.


Tonight, April 10, 2010, he is being honored for the international recognition he has brought to the Dallas Forth worth Metroplex. He is listed among the 500 influential Muslims around the world.
When we initiated the Unity Day program in 2005, a 9/11 memorial event to bring Americans of all hues together to rededicate our pledge for the safety and prosperity of our nation, I ran into a conflict, one of my volunteers wanted additional time be given to Muslims in the interfaith prayer sequence of 10 religions, a suggestion was even made, that since it is a Muslim initiative, they should have the floor first.

However, as a Muslim deeply committed to the pluralistic values of Islam, I strongly believed in the egalitarian values embedded in every aspect of Islam including the rituals, and I was having difficulty with the idea of being treated special. I wanted every one of the ten religions be given equal time, and to avoid conflict of priority, we put them in an alphabetical order. A few of the volunteers were making it difficult for me for not listening to them.

So, I go to Imam Yusuf before the situation gets out of handle. He listened to me intently and offered this brilliant choice:

“Brother Mike, Religiously you are right, that is the right thing to do, we have to believe and practice equality, but if you want their support, you decide what you want to do, but do the right thing."
That was exactly what I wanted to hear and I asked him if I could put those words, " Islamically it was right to treat all faiths on par" that in the email and send it to the group, he said go for it, and with that conflicts faded and solutions emerged.

I cherish that moment with Dr. Kavakci.

In another personal incident about 15 years ago, when I was marrying my late wife Najma, I wanted my friends Mr. Maini and Mr. Sharma, who are Hindu by faith, to be the required witnesses of the wedding ceremony as I considered them my elder and brother, but the tradition was for the Father, Uncles or brothers to be the witness, generally Muslim, in my case they were the ones for me.

So, Imam Yusuf, Najma and I went for a walk in Dr. Asif Syed’s ranch and being an out of box thinker he was, he suggested that we increase the number of witnesses to five and include two of my friends with the other three. I adored him for that and have been admiring him since then.

Last year at the SMU, the students hosted a talk on Human rights in Islam, and one of the greatest moments of my life came upon me when I found out, I was the co-speaker with Dr. Kavakci, what an honor! A humble man by nature, he wanted me to sit right next to him during the Q& A session, and goaded me to answer the questions first, I found an unusual safety in it, after my response to the students, he would start saying perfect and then quote Qur’aan to support my response. He made my day.

Imam Yusuf calls himself a Khaksaar, a humble soul and a person who serves the humanity. I recall my Grand father also used the same title with his signature in his correspondence with Allama Mashriqi.
Imam Yusuf has been on my Radio show several times, one of them was a daily show called the Wisdom of Religion, all the beautiful religions and the other was a Saturday program called Festivals of the world, where we shared the essence of every festival you can imagine in that given week. He and I have shared many delightful moments on the radio. He is an amazing orator.

I have always enjoyed walking into his office and hear him say that, I am one of the Muslims he can speak without guards. He also gives me immense value in saying that I could bring the communities (intra and inter) together. I am proud of that. A few months ago, I wrote an article about intra faith and dedicated that to him. Today, I have reserved a table with great enthusiasm and labeled it “Islam intra-faith table” and have invited two Muslims each from Ahmadiyya, Bohra, Ismaili, Shia, Sunni and Warith Deen Muhammad traditions to start a conversation.

I am delighted to see this great scholar, Imam Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci has been recognized as one of the 500 influential leaders in the world.

Here is an article written in February honoring him: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-only-one-islam.html

A few Pictures from the dinner event and some old pics: A few dinner pictures and other pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157623704109391/show/

Jazak Allah Khair

Good for Muslims and good for the World
To be a Muslim is to be a conflict mitigater and goodwill nurturer

Mike Ghouse, Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam, India and Civil Societies. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/


  1. Mike:

    This is a query about - "pluralistic values of Islam". This was an excerpt from the following article.

    Quaran contradicts the multiple god system of Hinduism - which is the foundation of Hinduism.

    i.e. if some one's son is weak in studies, he is advised to worship Lord Ganesh or Goddess Saraswati.

    Muslims believes that there is only one god and thereby they disrespect our belief system.

    So, when the two religions disagree on their core gods and Islam is against Idol worshiping - Can you or Dr. Yusuf Zia explain us
    -How and When pluralistic values were embedded in to Islam ?

    There were core disagreements between the Mecca tribal idol worshipers and Prophet Mohammad on this idol worshiping issue.
    360 idols at Kabba were either removed or destroyed by Prophet. - I don't think that was pluralism.

    Jews are referred as pigs in Quaran and Those who don't obey Allah are also transformed to Pigs and apes (Quaran Chapter-2).

    Read this interesting court case : http://www.investigativeproject.org/1834/the-letter-dogging-tom-campbell

    In my opinion, we shouldn't poke in to each others religious scripture to claim which is more pluralistic;we shouldn't argue upon things which are not true. Interfaith activists often present arguments, which can't sustain in a cross-examination.


  2. Manoj,

    Pleased to answer your questions:

    Quraan assures every human that if they are good to fellow beings and the environment, they need not worry, all will earn his grace, this has been in Quraan from day 1. [2:62] “Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Item 2 about the day of Judgment is about individual responsibility, one’s own karma and conscience that that has do with accountability and is in every religious and civic tradition. There are plenty of verses on the topic.

    One does not have to be a Muslim to earn his grace, as God does not belong to anyone, including Muslims.

    As far as the forms of worship are concerned, there is a difference. The following is subject to research conclusions; prior to prophet each Meccan had his own personal God Icon, and they fought their battles in the name of their personal God Icon (Idol). Prophet Muhammad saw the destructive conflicts that stemmed from idol (My God vs. your God) worship in that format. So he invited to one common God that belonged to all, an abstract God, as no one would ever agree to his shape or form, hence an abstract.

    The idols were respectfully removed when Kaaba was peacefully given to the Prophet.

    <<<< Jews are referred as pigs in Quaran and Those who don't obey Allah are also transformed to Pigs and apes (Quaran Chapter-2).>>>

    The propaganda machines continues to churn out falsities – it is not in the Quraan – check 17 translations in the following: http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/01/jews-turned-into-apes.html

    <<<< Read this interesting court case : http://www.investigativeproject.org/1834/the-letter-dogging-tom-campbell In my opinion, we shouldn't poke in to each others religious scripture to claim which is more pluralistic;we shouldn't argue upon things which are not true. Interfaith activists often present arguments, which can't sustain in a cross-examination. >>>>

    I believe in free speech and free discussion in the spirit of understanding and not denigrating the other.

    The bottom line is God as describe in Quraan, Gita or any holy book can be hateful or discriminative towards any one. Bad people are bad people, no Gita, no Bible or no Quraan will help them cross the line towards goodness. They may label themselves a religion but they will be still bad people.

  3. Asalaam alaikum Br. Mike -

    This was a wonderful tribute to Dr. Kavakci, and I very much enjoyed reading it and learning more about this obviously great man. I live over in Arlington, so I don't have the benefit of knowing and listening to him as I would if I was on your side of town.

    More than that, however, I am so happy to know that ther are people who think as you do and who are in the public eye promoting what I believe (and so it seems do you) about Muslims - that they can and should live in peace and understanding with all the faiths, and that good and worthy people are found across all religions. I myself have been a long-time member of Daughters of Abraham...looking at your bio and your relationship with Thanksgiving Square, I think you must also know my neighbor Ann Garner.

    Please make sure that I am on the distribution lists for announcements of interfaith activities and dialogs.

    JAK ! - Carole Sturm

  4. Dear All,
    It's a fact, humanbeing's evolution is a long journey ,evolving senses out of beasts that had ruled for a long time on earth,with all killing instincts competently as survival of the fittest......But humanbeings also evolved using senses as raising concerns over philanthropic values based on respective civilizations....creating their own market,political needs of expressions-wisdom of religion is a healthy effort to bridge gap among potential individuals of civilizations lesser aware of each other ...........to form faith and respect to build peace and hormony among pluralist world order.....
    But raising concerns are on regional imbalances considering distribution of wealth and raising economic divides .......turning to be violent expressions of discriminations on caste /religion /Nation/Religion

    Ashok Sahyog#09968195027
    (S.A.H.Y.O.G : Secular Alliance for Harmony among Youths of Grassroot,India

  5. Dear Madam/Sir,

    Perpetrators belonging to Awami League forcefully occupied landed properties of Minority families at Kishoreganj on last Friday (12th March, 10) (The Daily Sangbad dated 16 March, 2010.

    Our correspondent from Kishoreganj:

    Serious allegation against perpetrators belonging to Awami League party in power forcefully occupied landed properties worth Taka half a billion of Hindu families at Kishoreganj town. Although police rushed at the spot soon after a general diary was lodged at Sadar police station the perpetrators continued to erect construction on the lands of Hindus illegally.

    On last Monday the Hindu victims in press conference imparted facts of case at the District Press Club in Kishoreganj that on last Friday morning the perpetrators namely –Abdul Karim son of Hashim Bepari, Siddique son of Mansur Ali and Taher along with 10-12 more perpetrators forcefully occupied .5 sataks of lands belonging to Narayan Biswas of Bhattacharjee Para, .7 sataks of lands belonging to Ms.Mala Rani Chowdhury wife of Saitten Bhattacharjee, .3 sataks of lands belonging to Ms.Beauty Bhattarjee wife of Brajesh Bhattacharjee, 03 sataks of lands belonging to Ms.Beauty Rani Sutradhar wife of Bipul Sutradhar, 03 and half sataks belonging to Monmohan Basak, 05 and half sataks of lands belonging to Nani Gopal Banik.

    It is also reported that those minority Hindus had been owning and possessing those lands since 15 to 30 years ago. All those lands grabbers forcefully erected houses.

    In this connection Mr.Saitten Bhattacharjee husband of Ms. Mala Rani started a general diary entry as complainant.

    The minority communities there in great anxiety and nobody dared to protest illegal construction of houses on their lands.

    Mr. Mir Mosharaf Hossain, Officer-in-Charge of Sadar P.S. informed that on Sunday night and on Monday morning police stopped construction on the lands in dispute. Both the parties were advised to report police station with their legal documents.

    GHRD Dhaka immediately communicated with Mr.Mir Mosharaf Hossain O.C. Kishoreganj P.S. who admitted the fact and he made a general diary entry at Sadar P.S and he called both the parties to show their documents of proof. But O.C. did not record any specific case against those perpetrators because he took initiative to make a compromise on this issue. As per law any criminal offence should be recorded and as per law perpetrators should be brought to book as the offence is not compoundable.


    Rabindra Ghosh

    President-Bangladesh Minority Watch (BDMW) AND

    Observer-Global Human Rights Defence, Dhaka

    3/2 Purana Paltan Purana Paltan P.S., Dhaka-1000 Bangladesh


  6. Monks call on UN to stop 'violence against Buddhists'
    bdnews24.com, Mar 8 2010
    Dhaka, Bangladesh -- A group of Bangladeshi Buddhist monks demonstrated Friday in front of the UN mission in Bangkok seeking its intervention in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

    "We would like to request the United Nations to press the Bangladesh prime minister to end the military operation on Jumma indigenous people and stop the campaign to grab our land."

    The protesting monks termed the recent violence in the hills as "attacks on the Buddhist community" perpetrated by the Bengali settlers and the Bangladesh military, the Radio Australia (ABC) reported.

    The report quoted the monks as saying that the attacks in late February left at least two people dead, dozens injured, and still more missing after a village was set ablaze.

    Speaking at the demonstration, Arjun Chakma, a member of the Bangladesh Jumma Buddhist Forum, said the Baghaichhari massacre occurred between February 19 and 23

    "The whole village was burned down by the military and Bangladeshi settlers."

    He showed reporters photographs of a scene of the attack in which a village was burnt down. He also claimed that a Buddha statue given to the community by Thailand was destroyed but his claim could not be independently verified.

    Amnesty International, a human rights group, has called on the Bangladesh government to launch an independent investigation into the attacks.

    The AI said that although government officials confirmed two deaths, local people claimed that at least eight indigenous people were killed and their bodies hidden away.

  7. Thank you for posting this. Although a professional acquaintance of Dr. Yusuf Kavakci, and exchanging weekly e mails, he never mentioned this particular honor. Naturally, that is quite in character for him.

    I sent along my belated congratulations to him yesterday.

    Tammy Swofford