Sunday Morning at Martin United Methodist
Bedford, Texas, Sunday, May 2, 2010.
It was a delight to share and learn with the attentive and receptive members of the Martin United Methodist Church in Bedford, Texas. Ann Garner, my friend who invited me to speak chose the topic “understanding Islam”.
I moved from generalities of creation, evolution, big bang to existence, and the idea of co-existence that gave birth to religion, as an expression of love by the creator to provide guidance to his/her/it’s creation.
The essence of Islam can be summed up in one word; Justice. Justice brings a sense of security to the people, knowing that every action has a reaction and that no one escapes the accountability makes one feel secure which germinates into peace for the individual and the society.
Islam is the word that describes one’s submission to God’s will, and what is God’s will? It is no different than a parent’s desire for their children to do well and get along amicably. Islam is about Justice and responsibility to be good, and to do well.
There is no such thing as a Muslim God or Christian God, God is simply the creator of the universe, the one and only creator. Monotheism at a macro level means raising our little gods to be one single God that is everything to every one, an all embracing, all encompassing God. It is the idea of removing conflicts between people by elevating all of us from individual selves to a universal self.
As in governance, politics, civil socieites and your own work place, the guidelines are usually written to be just to every one, most people get it and follow it, some don't. Same goes with religion, not all Christians follow the example of Christ, not all Muslims follow the just principles laid down in Islam, not all Hindus follow the basic tenets of co-existence embedded in Hinduism or Jews follow the idea of justice focus in their own religion. The problem is not religion, it is the individuals who don't get it.
The motivation of the Neocons* (the frightened souls in every faith) is to control others, they operate out of fear and not love. Look at the actions of those rascals and the majority of people - all of us in all traditions and faiths want to get along with each other and mind our own business - a few don't. Let's focus on them and help them get out of the trenches rather than look to blame their religion.
The Qur'an stresses repeatedly the fact that, "had He so willed, He would have guided you all aright" (6:149) - the obvious implication being that He has willed it otherwise: namely, that He has given man the freedom to choose between right and wrong, thus raising him to the status of a moral being
[2:148] Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.
[10:99] had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers?
2:148 (Asad) for, every community faces a direction of its own, of which He is the focal point.  Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works. Wherever you may be, God will gather you all unto Himself: for, verily, God has the power to will anything.
[2:256] “The Quran states very clearly that there is no compulsion in religion. There is no need for compulsion, since the truth is elf evident
[5:48] For each (community) among you have We have appointed a way of providence (in conduct.)( Shir'ah=a way to a watering-place/path where everything meets/gets nourishment) and way of life (minhaj=open road, path of life). And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto, you. So, outdo one another in doing good to the society. To God you will all return, and He will then make you understand wherein you differed.
The Quraan further guarantees the mankind, when you do good (harmony, balance and peace) to people around you and the environment you will earn God's grace (a place in paradise). By the way the very first and last verses of Quraan are addressed to humanity and not any particular group including Muslims.
I went over the basics that makes one a Muslim, the principles laid down in the form of rituals to create that environs of peace, togetherness, humility and a sense of responsibility for the self and others around us.
As usual, we as the people have not taken the time to understand each others faiths…whatever we have learned, we have learned the perceived or cooked up negatives about the other. That goes against the very basic of religion, every religion; to bring peace to oneself and what surrounds one; life and matter.
The Question and Answers were very much of intellectual in nature from the inquiring minds.
My personal mission of life is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill, that’s what my mentors Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, MLK and a many of the great souls did. Every religion is beautiful and works for the believer.
I humbly state that my religion is beautiful to me and works for me, as yours works for you. I will not claim my faith to be superior to any, it amounts to arrogance and God knows, arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts and it is averse to the very idea of Islam; Peace. I will be happy to speak in your place of work, church or social gatherings about Islam, Pluralism, peace, civil societies and co-existence.
I thank Pastor Steve, Ann Garner and the dear members of the church who made our exchange meaningful and peaceful.
I also want to thank the members of the Church for pronouncing the name "Memnosyne Foundation" in unison.
May God continue to open our hearts and minds towards each other. Amen.
REFERENCE LINKS TO MY CONVERSATION:
1. Apology to Jews, Christians and others
2. Quran on civil conduct on dialogue
3. Quraan on Pluralism
4. Origins of Islam o phobia
5. Diversity is God's intention
6. Quraan and Global Ethics
7. For a partial list of articles:
8. If you hear a verse of quraan that does not sound right to you, it is because you are reading the mis-translation - check the verse out for yourselves and find the truth at: http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch/
9. Mission of our organization World Muslim Congress http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Mission-Statement.asp
* Neocons - http://hatesermons.blogspot.com/2008/03/neocons.html
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. He Presides the Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress and Co-Chairs the Center for Interfaith inquiry. He is a board member of the Dallas Peace Center and Memnosyne Foundation and a former commissioner at the City of Carrollton. Mike is a Dallasite for three decades and Carrollton is his home town.
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 Masters degrees and working on his doctorate in Psychology. He has two books on the horizon; Pluralism 101, it is all about respecting the otherness of other and Basic Islam- everything you wanted to know about Islam. He has authored over 800 articles on the subjects, many of them are published in the newspapers and magazines around the world. His work is reflected at 3 Websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/